Blogdom potentially gives everyone a platform, regardless of their competence in the subjects about which they
That's not to say there aren't good amateur theologians out there in blogdom, there are, and I would like to encourage everyone to take an active interest in theology, because, after all, we are all theologians after a manner! But, by and large, people who have not had the opportunity - and a wonderful opportunity it is - to study theology formally will be labouring under the burden of gaps in their knowledge, particularly in the complex areas of historical and doctrinal theology. There's no shame in that; even professional theologians have been guilty - more times than you would think - of perpetuating untruths when a simple return to the sources would have revealed the errors in their interpretations. For example, Alister McGrath is one of the most brilliant theologians writing today, gifted in writing at both the professional and popular levels, and I enjoy his books immensely, but for about 20 years he has perpetuated an untruth about the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper that, well, just infuriates Lutherans (I refer to his labelling it 'consubstantiation'). Likewise Bishop N.T. Wright has pegged Luther as an antimonian and repeated that judgment in a number of his writings, despite even being sent citations from Luther where he writes on the positives of the Law and sounds very much like...well, N.T. Wright!
This is by way of preamble to a series of new posts. I can't tell you the number of times I've had on-line discussions with Catholic or Orthodox folk who try to tell me that the Lutheran position on sola scriptura = "me and my Bible" (known to theologians as "private judgment"). Luther, and those who came after him (who, I might add, were only happy to bear his name because it stood for adherence to the Gospel) are responsible for the waves of subjectivism that have swept over Western Christendom since the Reformation and the consequent collapse of religious authority which has had such a baneful effect on Western society (the next part of the argument usually includes the exhortation to "come home to Rome" or maybe even "swim the Bosphorus" to Constantinople).
I can forgive them, after all it's what their priests and theologians, who really should know better, teach them. But I find it harder to deal with the closed-mindedness and well, 'arrogance' I think is the only word, that they display when I try to tell them that isn't the Lutheran position and that we have a place in our tradition for Tradition rightly conceived and ordered under the Word of God: "Private judgment"..."me and my Bible" comes the sneering response again. So, I abstain from such discussions now...my time is too valuable to waste on dead end, on-line conversations with people who persist in attacking straw men that only exist in their own unteachable imaginations (or in the 'Fundamentalist Baptist' church down the road).
But, I am going to devote a series of posts this year to the Lutheran position on scripture. I'm starting with something very apropos by Dr Hermann Sasse, who studied New Testament, philology and historical theology in Berlin beginning in 1913, under men who formed what was at the time probably the most learned, if liberal, theological faculty in the world. The extracts from Sasse are from a lecture he delivered in Brisbane (my home town, as it happens) in 1967 called Holy Church or Holy Writ?, The Meaning of the Sola Scriptura of the Reformation. The occasion of th electure was an invitation from the Inter Varsity Fellowship (IVF) to discuss the issues raised by the then recent promulgation of Dei verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) by the Fathers of Vatican II (18 November 1965).
These posts - and I'll be offering citations from other theologians as well - will be posted under the category 'Sola Scriptura'. That way I have a body of authoritative writing I can refer to in the future when receiving missives from misinformed Catholics and Orthodox. I also have a couple of readers who are Catholic and who are considering the Lutheran position, and I very much hope this series will be of assistance to them also. The first post will appear later today or tomorrow. Stay tuned!