Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Lutheran Historian Looks at Sola Scritpura

Is the Bible Really all you Need to Determine Christian Doctrine?

That is the central question surrounding much of the Protestant Reformation. Here is what one respected, contemporary, Lutheran historian and theologian has to say about it. It is the Catholic position, clear and simple. Why are not more Lutherans and other Protestants as honest and truthful as this?  (Stan Williams)

Perhaps the Reformers were somewhat naive in the way they isolated the apostolic witness, in their belief that they could determine this by simple reference to the Scriptures. They did not always realize how bound they were by their own past, their outlook on life, their schooling in philosophy, their personal predilections. They were somewhat unrealistic about the ease with which one could slice through the complications of centuries to an original witness. "The Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) is fraught with the difficulty that the Scriptura has never been sola!" (1) We can still observe this: "Give a basic New Testament passage to an Orthodox, a Lutheran, a Calvinist, an Anglican, and a Congregationalist to interpret and the discrepancies in their interpretations will correlate much too closely with the various historically conditioned traditions in which they stand to justify any claim that they did no more than reproduce the original meaning." (2) History, liturgy, tradition, psychic make-up, the experiences of life color the interpretation of Scriptura.

--Martin E. Marty, pp 164-165

Quoted from: A Short History of Christianity (Second Edition) by Martin E. Marty a well-respected Lutheran historian, theologian, author, Senior Editor of The Christian Century, and Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Modern Christianity at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Marty quotes:
(1) Jaroslav Pelikan in More About Luther. Luther College Press, 1958, p. 50.

(2) Albert C. Outler in The Christian Tradition and the Unity We Seek. Oxford University Press, 1957, p. 36.

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