Horton on Hearing Something Outside of Ourselves

Horton’s new one, People and Place, is not just about word, sacraments, and church.  It is has many implications for homiletics, for preachers of the gospel.

“In our day, the market promises to give us all the resources necessary for… self transformation, yet, far from autonomy, this only makes us slaves of the choices that the market gives us.  To the extent that the Bible facilitates these transformations, it is God’s Word, according to a view of inspiration that is essentially Romantic in character.  Where modern atheism from Fueuerbach to Freud argued that religion is essentially a projection of the self and its felt needs, much of contemporary church practice actually seems implicitly to embrace this perspective instead of recognizing it as a devastating critique.”

“It is precisely the aim of the sacramental Word to pull us out of ourselves – our pious experience, works, history, solemn pronouncements, hopes and fears – and to fasten our hearing gaze (the mixed metaphor is intentional) on the Savior who is outside of us (Heb. 12.2).  Since the essence of sin is being curved in on ourselves, turning to the familiar ‘god within,’ even in the name of pious introspection or spirituality, can only finally lead to the discovery of the God of wrath, not the God of grace.”

What does this “drawing outside of ourselves” mean?  “First, we are drawn out of ourselves to God and his grace in Christ.  Second, we are drawn out of our isolated experience to the covenant community; and finally, we are liberated from spiritual, moral, and emotional narcissism to love and serve our neighbor in the world” (89-91).

shane lems

sunnyside wa

3 thoughts on “Horton on Hearing Something Outside of Ourselves”

  1. Hmmm… interesting. I’ll have to look this one up.
    My wife’s become disenchanted with what she feels may be an unbalanced external only God, and has recently been critiquing works of the reformed-ish French quietist Guyon. The idea being that as the Holy Spirit Himself lives inside of us, we should be both inwardly and outwardly focused on God.
    I know myself, from my own “experience”, that the leadings I’ve felt from God have often been “within”, in my gut, so-to-speak. Whereas the whisperings of the fallen ones, telling me things I could never know myself (i.e. intuit), have always been somewhere between my ear and my thoughts.
    I think there is something to approaching the transcendence and immanence simultaneously in prayer, the enthroned and indwelt Triune God. Hmmm-m-m-m

    I like Mike’s stuff, and he’s a great and warm guy in person, not all stuffy. Gonna have to give this a read. Thanks!


  2. (And yes, I know I’m bending definition and intent when I incline transcendence and immanence from the relational towards the spacial in a sense; but I feel the modern “God is my wonderful cosmic Uncle” spirit-of-the-age misses out on both T&I entirely, especially in relational aspects. I think even we in reformed orthodoxy have drifted far in our relationship with both the Emmanuel and Paracletos of the Bible, and this is one of the reasons the body here in America is , er… weak and even “fallen asleep” in places.)

    Thanks again for highlighting this resource.


  3. Thanks for the notes, David. Horton does balance transcendence and immanence well(as with the other good Reformed teachers/theologians even way back in history). You’ll see in the book – let me know when you’re in it – you’ll especially like the first section, no doubt.



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