Friday, December 14, 2012

A.G. Dickens, commenting on Luther’s Grasp of Critical Scholarship

By focusing too narrowly upon his emotional experiences many observers have failed to grasp that he became an expert in the critical methods of textual study introduced by Valla, Erasmus, and Reuchlin. Luther saw in the flight of Byzantine scholars to western Europe a divine plan to expand Greek scholarship, the essential key to Christ’s and St. Paul’s teaching. He demanded an expert application of linguistic humanism as the foundation of a scriptural Christianity, distinct from both scholasticism and the popular cults. This renewed religion should be related not solely to salvation but also to Christian service on the lower plane of the commonwealth. Without these rational and humanist approaches, Luther could not have attracted so many scholars and statesmen to his cause. (Dickens, “The English Reformation,” pg 82).

It’s interesting to see that Luther’s approach here was not only doctrinal at the core, but that he did not hesitate to enlist the help of scholars and statesmen.

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