Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Scripture And False Teachings

In the history of the Church there has been 3 basic false teachings concerning how the Christian should read and handle Scripture.

1) Fundamentalism/Biblicism - This view does not take seriously into account the human side of Scripture. It ignores the context of passages and the historical situation of the authors. It also disregards the historical interpretation of texts in the writings of the Fathers and Councils. It also disregards the Creeds as unnecessary and emphasizes the individual over and against the Church.

2) Romanism - This view I would characterize as a medieval fear. It states that Christians should not be encouraged to read their Bibles because they will come to incorrect understandings and will challenge the views of the Church.

3) Liberalism - This view states that the Bible is not God's Word, but only contains God's Word. It states that the Bible is not inerrant, but that it does have error and cannot be trusted. When an extra-biblical source contradicts the Bible, the extra-biblical source is favored.

What is the Lutheran view? The Lutheran view is that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit (SA, III, 8, 13; SD, X, 14-15; XI, 12; Ap, IV, 107-108; AC, XXVIII, 49) and are without error (LC, IV, 57; V, 76; Ep, XI, 14; VII, 13; SD, VII, 96). All teachers in the Church of God are judged by the Scriptures (Ep, Rule and Norm, 1-2, 7-8; SD, Rule and Norm, 9-10), and when Pastors in the Church teach falsely, the Scriptures must be adhered to (AC, XXVIII, 28, 49).

From this we can already see that the Lutheran view of the Scriptures rejects Liberalism. But what about Fundamentalism and Romanism?

Concerning Fundamentalism, Lutherans do not have an individualistic mind set when it comes to the Scriptures. The New Testament was written by individuals to communities of Christians. For the Lutherans of the 16th century, it was necessary to see how the early community of Christians received those documents. What did they confess as Apostolic teaching? What heresies crept into the Church, and how was Scripture used to combat those heresies? For Lutherans today, the first six Ecumenical Councils are held in high regard, since they combat false teachings concerning Christ. The teachings of the Fathers, especially of Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, and Leo have always been held in high regard for there solid Christology. If any interpretation of Scripture runs contrary to the teachings of these Councils, there teaching was not accepted, since these Councils adhered to the Scriptures. The Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds are held to be accurate confessions of the true Apostolic faith. They are necessary because people disagree over the meaning of Scripture and these Creeds confess the orthodox teaching over and against the heretical ones on the basis of Scripture. The Creeds are also summaries of the orthodox Christian faith. Further, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds have historically been confessed at baptisms. In conclusion, Lutherans have always confessed Sola Scriptura, but have not meant in the way that other Reformers like Calvin, Zwingli, and the Ana-Baptists meant it. It was unthinkable to believe in something that was never believed before. For more on the Lutheran view of Scripture and Tradition see this link: Scripture and Tradition

Concerning Romanism, Lutherans hold that this fear results in damnation. If people are not hearing the the words of Christ read in their own language, how are they supposed to be followers of Christ? How are parents supposed to raise their children as Christians? What if the Priests are preaching false doctrine? How will the hearers know if they are not familiar with Scripture? The Church is not infallible and should always be ready to repent and refute false doctrine. In 1522, Martin Luther completed his German translation of the Scriptures in the language the average German citizen could understand. He did this because he desired people to constantly keep the words of Christ on their hearts and lips. Concerning Bible reading by Christians, the Lutheran Confessions say:

"Truly, we Christians ought to make every day such a holy day and devote ourselves only to holy things, that is, to occupy ourselves daily with Gods Word and carry it in our hearts and on our lips (LC, 3rd Commandment, 89)."

"In addition, after God has made his beginning through his Holy Spirit in baptism and has ignited and effected true knowledge of God and faith, it is necessary to pray unceasingly that day by day, through this same Spirit and his grace, he strengthen this faith and preserve his heavenly gifts in us by means of daily exercise in the reading and use of Gods Word, and preserve us until the end. For where God himself is not the school teacher, nothing can be studied and learned that is pleasing to him and beneficial for us and others (SD, II, 16)."

All three false teachings: Fundamentalism, Romanism, and Liberalism, are harmful to the Church, and it would behoove Lutherans if they combated all three false teachings even today.


Anonymous Katarina said...

Your post is good, but in my opinion, leaves out something very important. The major thing about the Lutheran view of Scripture that sets us apart from everyone else is our belief that the Word is efficacious--it does what it says. It is the Word that gives Baptism the power to forgive sin. It is the Word in the Holy Sacrament that forgives our sin there. It is the Word in Absolution that forgives our sin. Why? The Word is Christ (John 1:14. It is this same Word that created the world. "God spoke and it was done" Psalm 33:9. No one else believes and teaches this view of Scripture/the Word. If they did, they would have the Sacraments as we do. See also 1 Thess. 2:13.

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