“It Is Neither Safe Nor Right To Act Against Conscience”
On 31 October 1517, Dr. Martin Luther, posted ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, according to university custom. Luther was a Catholic German priest and professor of theology who became the primary voice of the Protestant Reformation of 16th century Christianity. He essentially refuted ecclesiastical tradition over the sole authority of the Word of God.
Since then, much of the controversy regarding the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures has focused on how to approach the study of the Bible to properly understand its divine message.
Luther is quoted saying at the Imperial Diet of Worms as he defended his case before the pope’s emissaries:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures or evident reason (for I believe in neither the Pope nor councils alone, since it has been established that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures that I have adduced, and my conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God; and I am neither able nor willing to recant, since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.” (WA, 7, 836-38.)
Dr. Luther brought to light the importance of understanding Scripture within its historical context and the technicalities of its original languages.
Today, there are two methodologies for studying the Bible that are quite opposite to one another: (1) The Historical Critical Method (HCM) and the (2) Historical Biblical [or Grammatical] Method (HGM).
In brief, HCM places the interpreter as judge over the Scriptures to determine what in the Bible is of value and what is just human invention and therefore could be discarded, particularly miracles and the supernatural intervention of God throughout human history.
HGM places great value over the divine content of the Scriptures and the interpreter is subjected to the authority of the Scriptures. It seeks to discover the Biblical author’s original intended meaning in the text. HGM asserts that the interpreter ought to be faithfully bound to revealing, through grammatical and historical analysis, the author’s original intended meaning for their audiences.
The ultimate goal is to arrive at a proper understanding of what the Word of God is looking to communicate to humanity, to understand His expressed will.
Today, we begin a series of 10 Steps to Deeper and Meaningful Bible Study. The approach holds the Word of God to be self-evident:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, New International Version, ©2010)
We pray the next 10 weeks will enrich your life as you discover God’s will for you. Apply these 10 steps to your personal study of the Scriptures and see the Bible unfold before your eyes.
Your comments are welcomed!