Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Setting aside Luther?
During October each year, I read some books about the Reformation to inform myself about that vastly important time in church history. October 31st is Reformation Day, of course, and so I thought I’d share a quote this Reformation Sunday from one of the books I’ve been reading. This year, Reformation Readings of Paul was high on my list, and I received a review copy from InterVarsity Press to devour.
There is a danger in the Protestant Church to enshrine the interpretations and methods of the Reformers such that the way they read the Bible becomes a new authority or at least lens through which Scripture must be read in order to be rightly understood. There is a fine line between referencing, respecting, and gleaning insight those who have come before as opposed to mechanically sticking to them. David C. Fink points out that even Reformers like Luther would have advised against this:
Luther showed no hesitation in setting aside the views of Jerome, Erasmus, or even Augustine. If we take him at his word, there is no reason to think he would not expect the same handling from modern exegetes today. (33-34, cited below)
Luther referenced these church fathers but did not see them as the authority on exegesis or interpretation of the biblical text. Similarly, Fink notes, we should not be afraid to set aside Luther if we should find that his interpretation of a passage is mistaken.
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David C. Fink “Martin Luther’s Reading of Galatians” in Reformation Readings of Paul eds. Michael Allen and Jonathan A. Linebaugh (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2015).
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Yes, I am quite sure Luther would support setting his readings aside were they found to be wrong. (I’m also sure he’d stubbornly argue, beer stein in hand, that he wasn’t wrong, but that’s another matter!) He said, “The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans, but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone… How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name? Not so, dear friends, let us do away with party names, and be called Christians, for it is his teaching that we have.”
Apologies for the late response. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I knew Luther didn’t want to have a church named after him, but, as the song goes, “We can’t always get what we want…”
On a more serious note, if only the church were not split such that we could all simply call ourselves “Christian” and know what was meant immediately!
I enjoy reading Luther. But I agree…we must be driven by the desire to be biblical and not just a person for the sake of the person. Thanks!