Saturday, 27 February 2010

Luther on the Church Fathers

Here is a quote from Luther on the authority of the early church Fathers which is made en passant in his discussion of the days of creation in his commentary on Genesis. An aspect of this comment that I find particularly interesting is that Luther is not content just to state the truth of the matter of the Father's authority, but he draws a pastoral application from it for theologians and ministers in regard to their teaching.
"...this also has a bearing on our firmly holding the conviction that there were really six days on which the Lord created everything, in contrast to the opinion of Augustine and Hilary, who believed that everything was created in a single moment. They, therefore, abandon the historical account, pursuing allegories and fabricating I don't know what speculations. However, I am not saying this to vilify the holy fathers, whose works should be held in high regard, but to establish the truth and to comfort us. They were great men, but nevertheless they were human beings who erred and who were subject to error. So we do not exalt them as do the monks, who worship all their opinions as if they were infallible. To me the great comfort seems to lie rather in this, that they are found to have erred and occasionally to have sinned. For this is my thought: If God forgave them their errors and sins, why should I despair of His pardon? The opposite brings on despair-if you should believe that they did not have the same shortcomings that you have. Moreover, it is certain that between the call of the apostles and that of the fathers there is a great difference. Why, then, should we regard the writings of the fathers as equal to those of the apostles?"
Martin Luther
"Lectures on Genesis"
American Edition of Luther's Works [AE,1:121]
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1958)

No comments: