Thursday, March 29, 2007

Martin Luther on the Church Fathers #1

“I cannot tolerate their [read: Catholic apologists] slandering and blaspheming Scripture and the holy fathers. They accuse Scripture of being obscure, although all the fathers attribute the brightest light to it and draw from it, as David says in Psalm 119[:105], “Your word is my light.” Again, they attribute to the fathers the light with which to illumine Scripture, even though all the fathers confess their own obscurity and only illumine Scripture with Scripture. That is the real art, to gather Scripture correctly. The father who can do this best is the best father. One should read the books of all the fathers with caution, not believing them but rather watching out whether they also cite clear passages and illumine Scripture with clear Scripture. How could they have overcome the heretics if they had fought with their own glosses? They would have been regarded as fools and senseless people. But since they cited such clear passages, which did not need glosses, that all reason was captivated by them, the evil spirit himself, along with all the heresies, had to retreat before them.” [LW 39:164]

“Indeed, the writings of all the holy fathers should be read only for a time so that through them we may be led into the Scriptures. As it is, however, we only read them these days to avoid going any further and getting into the Bible. We are like men who read the sign posts and never travel the road they indicate. Our dear fathers wanted to lead us to the Scriptures by their writings, but we use their works to get away from the Scriptures. Nevertheless, the Scripture alone is our vineyard in which we must all labor and toil.” [LW 44:205]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Thanks for posting a reply and letting Dr. White know about my post. I appreciated that both he and you took the time to reply to my concerns regarding how fast his book came out. I understand that the point was to produce as quick of a response as possible to this whole tomb controversy. That seems reasonable. That really isn't the issue, though. The issue is how long is takes to provide a scholarly work.
After reading Dr. White's response, however, I am still quite troubled about the whole situation. He basically gave two reasons for why he was able to write and publish a book so quickly (a fact that he is now posting again on his website):

1.) He is already very familiar with the material, and didn't need to do a whole new set of research.

2.) He has a very sharp mind and is able to analyze arguments very quickly.

While I don't disagree with either of those statements - I'm sure he is very knowledgeable and very quick-witted - that doesn't really address the main problem that I am having with this whole thing.
I asked how he was able to write a supposedly scholarly book so quickly when no one else is. Can you name a single respected scholar who has written a scholarly book in two weeks? The fact that he is really knowledgeable about the subject and really smart doesn't change that fact. There are plenty of scholars who are just as knowlegeable about their own field of study and just as intelligent as Dr. White and yet none of them attempt a book so quickly. Why? Because the process of writing, editing, researching, rewriting, editing, etc. simply takes longer than that. Why would it be different for Dr. White?
I told a friend (a Christian who completely agrees with Dr. White's position) who is involved in scholarly writing about this book, and he laughed and said that the editing process itself often takes longer than two weeks, let alone the reasearching and writing of a book.
Finally, Dr. White refers to a few people who say he has done a great job with his book. But, it's really not that convincing when the choir praises your work. The fact that he could find four Christians who agree with his thesis to endorse his book is not really that telling . If he could find some secular scholars to read through his book critically and endorsed it, that would say something.
Anyway, my point in all of this is not to bash you or Dr. White. I think both of you do a lot of good work. However, I am concerned that a work like this will only serve to provide further fuel for the fire of those who oppose Christianity and see Christians as unscholarly and already preset in their viewpoint, just trying to find facts to support their premade conclusion. Plus, I'm worried that this kind of work, will only serve to discredit his work in other areas (such as on Mormonism, KJ only, Roman Catholicism, etc.). Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and I just wish that those of you whom he respects would call him to task once in a while and let him know when is going a little overboard and making a fool of himself. Thanks so much for all you do.

God Bless,