Luther on the proper use of Scripture

“Here [in the Old Testament] you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies, and to which the angel points the shepherds. Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them” (LW 35:236).

“The Holy Spirit is no skeptic, and it is not doubts and opinions that he has written on our hearts but assertions more sure and certain than life itself and all experience” (LW 33:24).

“Take Christ out of the scriptures, and what will you find left in them?” (LW 33:26)

“Whoever wants to read the Bible must make sure he is not wrong, for the scriptures can easily be stretched and guided, but no one should guide them according to his emotions; he should lead them to the well, that is to the cross of Christ, then he will certainly be right and cannot fail” (WA 1.52, 15-18).

“All upright sacred books agree on one thing, that they all collectively preach and promote Christ.  Likewise, the true criterion for criticizing all books is to see whether they promote Christ or not, since all scripture manifests Christ.  Whatever does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even if Peter and Paul should teach it.  On the other hand, whatever preaches Christ is apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod should do it!”  (LW 35:396).

“Scripture is not to be understood as against, but for Christ, hence it either refers to him, or is not to be reckoned true scripture. . . . For if opponents have pleaded scripture against Christ, let us plead Christ against scripture” (LW 34:112).

“The gospel then is nothing but the preaching about Christ, Son of god and of David, true God and man, who by his death and resurrection has overcome for us the sin, death, and hell of all men who believe in him.  Thus the gospel can be either a brief or a lengthy message; one person can write of it briefly, another at length.  He writes of it at length, who writes about many words and works of Christ, as do the four evangelists. He writes of it briefly, however, who does not tell of Christ’s works, but indicates briefly how by his death and resurrection he has overcome sin, death, and hell for those who believe in him, as do St. Peter and St. Paul.” (LW 35:360; Preface to the New Testament)

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