The idea that anything interprets itself seems like a kind of intellectual cancer. I had no idea that its roots might be this deep or this reputable.
we should abandon the following rock-hard persuasions of the liberal tradition: that Luther believed that readers should interpret the Bible freely, making up their own minds about the truth of Scripture; that Luther placed the liberating text of Scripture above the institution of the Church; and that Lutheran theology is more “democratic.”
Instead, we would be well advised to reread Luther and his vigorous English followers, especially William Tyndale (c. 1494-1536). There we discover that the Lutheran moment was the source of fundamentalism, and the source of different kinds of persecutory violence. ... Luther detested what he called “private interpretation.” He promoted, instead, a movement that repudiated interpretation itself. A recurrent theme in Lutheran theology is that Scripture interprets itself. Scripture is not, and cannot be subject to the messy negotiations of history in which all other texts are immersed. It does its own interpreting (i.e. Scripture interprets itself, but my interpretation is right).
Thursday, February 28, 2008
16th century Protestantism still matters
Luther's reformation wasn't about freedom, let alone freedom to interpret the Bible, argues historian James Simpson (Burning to Read) at History News Network, and he chastises religious liberals for thinking otherwise: