Luther and Inerrancy

I’m continuing to read through the first volume of Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics.  His cavils against Calvinism can be frustrating at times, but there is a lot of worthwhile material here.  In the chapter on Scripture, he discusses Luther’s position on inerrancy.  It is interesting how inerrancy is often pegged as a fundamentalist concept, but here we have a confessional Lutheran holding to inerrancy whilst harbouring no sympathies for fundamentalism.  He notes that Luther and subsequent orthodox Lutherans did not hold to inerrancy as a conclusion to be reached (a posteriori), but as a presupposition (a priori).  Here’s what Pieper says:

…Luther has no thought of ascertaining the inerrancy of Scripture by human investigation (a posteriori), but before all investigation he is convinced that there can be no error in Scripture.

Luther maintains this throughout.  If there seems to be a conflict between Scripture and human science, he is firmly convinced from the outset that human science is in error and Scripture in the right.  Thus Luther says of the hexaemeron [six days of creation]:  “If you cannot understand how it could have been done in six days, then accord the Holy Ghost the honor that He is more erudite than you.  When you read the words of Holy Scripture, you must realize that God is speaking them.”  Luther maintains this also with regard to all chronological data in Scripture, and he thus places himself in direct opposition to all modern theology.  (281)

[…]

In connection with Gen. 11:11 Luther deals with the question how Arphaxad could have been born two years after the Flood.  He points out possible ways of harmonizing, but then adds that our faith is not endangered if the attempts at harmonizing have no assured result.  The reason why faith is not endangered is given in these words:  “For that is certain that the Scriptures do not lie.” (282)

That is the approach of faith and even a Calvinist can appreciate that.

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

One response to “Luther and Inerrancy

  • Coosje

    Love it! You should post this in the church bulletin under book nook or perhaps even more obviously. If you could leave one legagy for our congregation inparticular, let it be this; “Scriptures do not lie”!

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