So I’m posting other random fragments of posts I started this summer but never got around to finishing. Here’s another one:
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Originally composed June 2011
“These things are written that you may believe, and that bybelieving you may have life in His name.”
There seems to be a fundamental difference in theology that we’re overlooking here, and that is this: we Lutherans have no problem whatsoever admitting that there is no authoritative fiat made vicarius Dei which gives force and credibility to Scripture. Scripture itself supplies this. Rather, Scripture is this. But we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in the truth that it reveals, i.e., the Lordship of Christ. We cannot confess Him as Lord, but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and Sanctifies the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. The Holy Spirit works through the Word— read, preached, and proclaimed— to accomplish this good purpose. Christian belief, then, is not traceable back to the various affirmations of the Bishops of Rome, but to the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the Word. Not by power, not by might, not by all the pomp and opulence of Rome, but by His Spirit will it be accomplished.
Now, Rome, too, believes in the working of the Holy Spirit. But Rome teaches (indeed, their entire sacerdotal system is premised upon the notion) that the Holy Spirit works through the Roman popes as the authoritative interpreters of the content of the Scriptures. The plain sense of Scripture, then, must bow to their word. The Word is beholden to the word of the pope, who construes the authority of his office to be one of making meaning. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” does not necessarily mean what it seems to say; its meaning is instead contingent upon what they say it says. It necessarily means what the pope says it means. If this is taken to its logical conclusion, it obviates any need for a canon of Scripture, or Scripture at all. It should then come as no surprise that Rome has fared so well in its enterprise without Scriptural support for its doctrines.
Related post: On Private Judgment