Dan Erlander is a pastor, teacher, writer, illustrator. He makes books to teach the faith that are almost like comic books or coloring books. They are full of images, and the words are his own handwriting. In fact, the image above comes from one of Erlander’s books, called Baptized, We Live. His unique style helps the meaning come to life.
In this “bible basics,” I want to talk about the Living Word. This little piece of theology helps me recognize God’s Word, whether I’m reading the bible or just living life.
Erlander is so good on this point: both his words and images. All the quotes below are his. He writes:
“What is the Living Word? First we need to understand the opposite…’Dead Word’–truth packaged in propositions with which we can argue, agree or disagree.”
Too many Christians see the bible as a book for Dead Word, says Erlander. Both conservative and liberal Christians read scripture for its moral code, steps to salvation, or universal truths–Dead Word. Lutherans hear it differently, listening for Living Word.
“Living Word is truth manifest in an event, a story or an encounter through which God addresses us and calls for repentance, revolution, a redirection of life.”
Living Word isn’t just God speaking to us. It’s God changing us. Living Word is “God’s passionate, invoking, calling, begging, confronting appeal to us” that creates change.
In the Christian traditions I grew up in, people spoke of being “convicted” by scripture, a sermon, an experience, or even a person. They meant, God was inviting them to do something new or be a different person or change somehow.
In this way, I might say, “Maria in that slum in Mexico City convicted me.” God was speaking to me through her, her hospitality, and her story, changing me. That’s Living Word. That’s real Truth.
“Truth is the Living Word which breaks into our lives, into our history, shattering old ways and creating NEW LIFE, NEW VALUES and NEW COMMITMENT.”
So don’t look for answers in the Bible. Listen for the living voice of God, Jesus Christ.
Also, Dan Erlander’s books are so great, for kids and adults! Check them out online or visit Pastor Clark’s personal library.