In this third of three volumes addressing Luther's outlaw God, Steven D. Paulson says that readers will embark on the deepest, hardest, and most glorious of all God's ways of hiding: God hiding a third time in the preached word or sacraments. The third time is the charm, not because humans finally awaken and "get" the essence of God. God's preached word is not an act of human understanding. It is a purely passive experience of receiving God wholly and completely in the absolving word that comes through the lowliest means of a sinful preacher. Not only does this word come through a creature to a creature, but through a sinner to a sinner.
The difficulty with grasping all of this is that God works entirely outside his divine law--an outlaw God. Luther is the one who saw this more clearly than any other, because it happened to him just this way. The preacher got a preacher, and the sacraments that had once been organized by a legal scheme were set free to reveal and bestow God in the most hidden place of all. How much more hidden could God be than in water, bread, wine, and the mouth of a preacher?
Paulson's grasp of historical, theological, and hermeneutical scholarship is on full display in this volume, but always in service of proclamation of the gospel. Readers and proclaimers: prepare to be provoked, enlightened, and inspired.