Lessons From Luther On The Inerrancy Of Holy Writ’s -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 36:3 (Spring 1974)
Article: Lessons From Luther On The Inerrancy Of Holy Writ’s
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

Lessons From Luther On The Inerrancy Of Holy Writ’s

John Warwick Montgomery

To say that the Bible was important to Luther is as informative as to say that mathematics was important to Einstein. Anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with the Reformer’s work knows that for him the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone were the only true source of true theology and the place where he rediscovered the central teaching of the Christian religion: that a man is saved, not by what he does, but by what God has already done for him in Jesus Christ. A passage such as the following — from one of Luther’s sermons on John 3:16 — is entirely typical:

If a different way to heaven existed, no doubt God would have recorded it, but there is no other way. Therefore let us cling to these words, firmly place and rest our hearts upon them, close our eyes and say: Although I had the merit of all saints, the holiness and purity of all virgins, and the piety of St. Peter himself, I would still consider my attainment nothing. Rather I must have a different foundation to build on, namely, these words: God has given His Son so that whosoever believes in Him whom the Father’s love has sent shall be saved. And you must confidently insist that you will be preserved; and you must boldly take your stand on His words, which no devil, hell, or death can suppress .... Therefore no matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go. The Word must stand, for God cannot lie; and heaven and earth must go to ruins before the most insignificant letter or tittle of His Word remains unfulfilled.1

* Invitational address at the International Conference on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, convened at the Ligonier Valley Study Center, Stahlstown, Pennsylvania, October 22-26, 1973.

The great monumental statues of Luther are indicative of his lifelong attitude toward Scripture. They invariably show the Reformer holding an open Bible. This is true of the statue by Siemering in Eisleben, the East German town where the Reformer was born and died ;2 Schadow’s statue of Luther in the Wittenberg town square; and — greatest of all, with six replicas in the United States alone — the statue by Rietschel at Worms, commemorating Luther’s stand before the Emperor. Those who wished to give the Reformer permanent artistic representation could not think of him apart from the Bible.

But the centrality of Scripture in Luther’...

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