Sunday, December 29, 2013

Luther and the canon of Scripture

James Swan published a most interesting page of links and observations in 2004 on this topic called Luther and the canon of Scripture
Here are a few of his most interesting comments:
The most frequent charge against Luther’s view on the canon is his opinion on the book of James.  Luther wrote this statement in his original Preface To The New Testament in 1522:
In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw,  compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it. But more of this in the other prefaces.”
Rarely is Luther accurately quoted on this topic. Luther says James “is really an epistle of straw” compared to “St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle.” Luther wants his readers to see a comparison.

An interesting fact about this quote (hardly ever mentioned by Luther-detractors!) is that it only appears in the original 1522 Preface To The New Testament. John Warwick Montgomery points out: “Few people realize — and liberal Luther interpreters do not particularly advertise the fact — that in all the editions of Luther’s Bible translation after 1522 the—Reformer dropped the paragraphs at the end, of his general Preface to the New Testament which made value judgments among the various biblical books and which included the famous reference to James as an “Epistle of straw.” Montgomery finds that Luther showed a “considerable reduction in negative tone in the revised Prefaces to the biblical books later in the Reformer’s career.”  For anyone to continue to cite Luther’s “epistle of straw” comment against him is to do Luther an injustice. He saw fit to retract the comment. Subsequent citations of this quote should bear this in mind.

John Warwick Montgomery has rightly concluded:
“Even in his strongest remarks on the four antilegomena (Hebrews, James, Jude, Revelation), Luther intersperses positive comments and makes quite plain that the question of how to treat these books must be answered by his readers for themselves. If he can speak of James as an “Epistle of straw,” lacking the gospel, he can also say of it—simultaneously: “I praise it and hold it a good book, because it sets up no doctrine of men but vigorously promulgates God’s law.” Since Luther is not exactly the model of the mediating personality— since he is well known for consistently taking a stand where others (perhaps even angels) would equivocate—we can legitimately conclude that the Reformer only left matters as open questions when he really was not certain as to where the truth lay. Luther’s ambivalent approach to the antilegomena is not at all the confident critical posture of today’s rationalistic student of the Bible.”

Monday, December 23, 2013


Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them.  The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. Rick Warren

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to write a book review

Tim Challies' explanation of the plan he uses for book reviewing is worth reading. [And bookmarking, so I can find it again!]

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Jesus On Every Page

This is an attempt to help me to find David Murray's great article, Seven Ways The Old Testament Deepens Our Love For Jesus again.

My bookmarking is not working for me. Will this work, I ask myself?

This is the guts of David's article. Please read it with a wonderful Scots brogue:
1. We are reading Jesus’ Bible: The 39 books of the Old Testament are the Scriptures He heard and read. These are the verses He memorized. This was His Sunday school syllabus. He fed His hungry soul on the Law, the Prophets, and the Poets. They nourished and edified Him.
2. We are learning Jesus’ language: Jesus was so familiar with the Old Testament that His vocabulary was saturated with Old Testament words and concepts. He spoke the Old Testament, taught the Old Testament, applied the Old Testament, and consciously and deliberately fulfilled the Old Testament. Like Bunyan, if you were to prick Him, He would “bleed Bibline.”
3. We are singing Jesus’ songs: The Psalms were Jesus’ hymnbook. They were what He worshipped with in the Temple and Synagogue. He used them to express faith, hope and trust; but also fear, anxiety, and even abandonment. He sang them on the eve of his death and even many of His last words were Psalm words.
4. We are feeling Jesus’ feelings: Paul prayed that he might know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Phil. 3:10).One of the best ways to do this is to read the Psalms that predict Christ’s sufferings, especially the emotional sufferings, the agony of human betrayal and desertion, and ultimately the horror of divine abandonment (e.g. Ps. 22, 69). We feel Christ’s feelings there in a an even deeper way than in the Gospels.
5. We are hearing Jesus’ voice: We must banish the false idea that it’s God the Father who speaks in the Old Testament and it’s God the Son who speaks in the New. Even if we say that it’s the voice of the triune God we hear in the Old Testament, the Son’s voice is equally joined to the Father’s and the Spirit’s. However, we can go further and say that it is God the Son who is specially speaking in the Old Testament. He is the Word of God, the usual way God speaks to sinners, the one mediator between God and man. “Thus says the Lord” effectively means “Thus says the Messiah.” (Rev. 19:10).
6. We are seeing Jesus in action: The Son of God visited the earth as the Angel of the Lord at least 20 times (and maybe many more times that are not recorded). We can see what kind of Savior he was in human form long before He came in human flesh as He frequently brought gracious messages and powerful help to His needy people.
7. We are admiring Jesus’ trophies: In some ways the Old Testament saints are even more amazing than New Testament saints. When you think of how little truth they had, how little of the Holy Spirit they had, how few the believers were, and how rare their encouragements, it’s utterly amazing that they believed in the coming Messiah and kept believing. It can only be explained by the almighty work of Christ in the soul by His Holy Spirit. His Old Testament trophies of grace shine with a special luster in His “showcase.”
Open the Bible at Genesis, travel back in time, connect with Christ in the Old Testament, deepen your relationship with Him, and increase the heat of your love for Him.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Why Read The Old Testament?

A church which discards the Old Testament does not achieve a true meeting with Christ.
Jean-Jacques Von Allmen