Peter J. Leithart, in a recent article, asks the question, “Do we have a hermeneutics of the open ear?” This kind of hermeneutical method describes one who has an open ear for God’s word, allow the hearing of the word to produce humility in the hearer.
In a culture where teens and twenty-somethings in churches know more movie quotes and pop song lyrics than Scripture and lines from hymns, we must ask, “What is being heard in our churches and in our homes?” Disclaimer: Lest you think I’m in favor of tossing iPods and blu-rays into a church-sponsored bonfire, I am not. But what I am longing for is more of what Paul told to his son in the faith: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1Timothy 4:13 ESV). Paul desired the word to be heard. Elsewhere Paul writes, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14 ESV). Clearly, there is a necessary part of our faith that includes our ability to hear.
Israel’s basic statement of faith included the call to hear: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV). This declaration led to an appeal to “teach [the commandments] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house;” actions which required hearing. This hearing was an active hearing with the intention of producing trust in the Lord leading to righteousness (Deut. 6:23-25). Prophets proclaimed the Word of God for people to hear. The law, likewise, was heard and produced repentance (2 Ki. 22:11-13). We know, of course, that no Israelite owned a pocket Torah for their own personal reading time but the point is that hearing was integral to knowing God’s Word. I think that imperative has mostly been lost.
Jesus, in his high-priestly prayer, declares “Sanctify them in your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 ESV). Sanctification, therefore, can come through hearing truth, that is, God’s Word. We must not discount the act of hearing. We can not assume that personal reading does the trick. We ought to be a people who longs to hear God’s Word. For by hearing people come to know and trust in Christ. By hearing, countless believers through the centuries have digested God’s Word and had it transform their hearts and minds. May we seek to hear the truth, and be humbled by the Word. May we continue to promote the act of hearing God’s Word read, sung and preached.
Looking for more? Here are some wonderful tools I’ve found for hearing truth:
- Lyrical Theology
- The Attributes of God
- Lyrical Catechism
- YouVersion (which includes numerous audio bibles. I prefer the ESV audio bible).