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Taken from Martin Luther’s Table Talk, p 352
May 7, 1539
There was talk on May 7 about the clarity of the Scriptures in this age, though in former times much had been written and read but little understood. He [Martin Luther] replied, “Surely a great light has gone up, for we understand both the words and the content [of the Scriptures] according to the testimony of the ancient writers. None of the sophists [scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages] was able to expound the passage, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17], for they interpreted ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ differently. Except for Augustine, there was great blindness among the fathers. After the Holy Scriptures, Augustine should especially be read, for he had keen judgment. However, if we turn from the Bible to the commentaries of the fathers, our study will be bottomless. (more…)
Who were the Fathers? I was listening to a discussion on Jason Stellman (the apostate PCA minister). One of the issues he mentions in his conversation is that after he had been researching different Protestant doctrines and challenged on them, he was then “ambushed” by the Fathers. I pictured the scene from the movie Braveheart where out of nowhere from the trees come the Fathers on horseback. I felt bad for him because I knew that even a quick look through the Fathers and they discredit themselves from having too much authority.
Stellmen in his interview talked about the task of having to search through the 37 volumes to legitimize the doctrine of imputation. Definitely a daunting task when understood like that, however it was terribly presumptuous and not what he thought. The Fathers are bigger than 37 volumes and though they’re important, helpful and fundamental, they’re not always a source to trust in all matters of doctrine. (more…)
Wherefore, let no one be perplexed because ancient writers labor to distinguish the one from the other. Their views ought not to be in such esteem with us as to shake the certainty of Scripture. For who would listen to Chrysostom denying that remission of sins was included in the baptism of John (Hom. in Mt. 1:14), rather than to Luke asserting, on the contrary, that John preached “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?” (Luke 3:3). Nor can we admit Augustine’s subtlety, that by the baptism of John sins were forgiven in hope, but by the baptism of Christ are forgiven in reality. For seeing the Evangelist clearly declares that John in his baptism promised the remission of sins, why detract from this eulogium when no necessity compels it? Should any one ask what difference the word of God makes, he will find it to be nothing more than that John baptized in the name of him who was to come, the apostles in the name of him who was already manifested (Luke 3:16; Acts 19:4). Institutes, Book 4.15.7