Bags of Bran

Reformations Need Reformers
January 2, 2015, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Bible, Bibliophilia, Destined to get me in trouble

We (inclusive) could use a few.

I refer you to the two ire-provoking articles. If you’d like, you can come back and read what happened when I became provoked. Or you can go and do something productive about it. I trust your judgment.

Popular Scholarship, they know about popular…


Salvation by Grace

We’re ripe for reformation for lots of reasons, but one (among many) is the low level of popular scholarship that gets published. What makes it worse is the predictable list of established men who are willing to lend their own marketable credibility to slovenly, derivative works; and whatever their motivation might be, it’s not helpful. We’ve got ourselves a hot-footed stampede of nascent Ph.D.’s who wish, more than anything, to become conference-circuit gurus, and they’re writing books by the conference-circuit tablefull. This is not a recipe for good theology, but for repetitive, reductionist, populist theology. How new ideas could make their way into such an insular matrix is matter for more serious minds to explore.

You’d never guess it (pfft), but I’m not really a man of letters myself. I and others like me need to lean on men of letters to do our jobs well. When the men of letters all seem to be doing tricks for treats, seminary students, pastors, and lay folk (who laudably desire to improve themselves) are lulled into thinking  Zeitgeist thoughts after them. And people like me, not wanting to join all that Zeitgeist, tend to use older works or works from different traditions where derivation is not so much celebrated. That’s one reason, for example, I use Markus Barth when studying Ephesians; and probably one reason (besides contractual obligations) why some guys don’t. Not that it necessarily makes me a better preacher: I only hope that listening to different voices will keep me from becoming a windsock.

I commend to you a survey the lives of the major Reformers: they were educated men from a day when a good portion of your education would have been writing a commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences. Now, that may have been a good exercise, but it tended to narrow one’s speculations considerably!

So, how did the Reformers find their way clear of the labyrinth of medieval scholasticism? Read some of their works, such as Calvin’s Institutes, Luther’s Bondage of the Will, and anything you can find by Zwingli. Ten pages from each author will probably suffice to demonstrate that these men were sailing before a different wind than most of our contemporary scholars. They were educated in the company schools, but were not company men.


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