Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Welcome to Christforums the Protestant Community. You'll need to register in order to post your comments on your favorite topics and subjects. You'll also enjoy sharing media across multiple platforms. We hope you enjoy your fellowship here! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Christforums

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible- believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non- Nicene, non- Biblical heresy. God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now
Sign in to follow this  
William

Coping with Protestantism’s Dangerous Idea: A Rubric for Evaluating Competing Interpretations

Recommended Posts

by Paige Britton

 

The title of this essay echoes the title of Alister McGrath’s newly published primer on the origins, influence, and implications of Protestantism, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea (HarperCollins, 2007). In his book, McGrath identifies this “dangerous idea” as the right of every Christian to read the Bible for him- or herself, quite independent of priest or pope or council. From the time of the Reformation, such liberty has produced inevitably complicated results. As McGrath explains,

 

since every Protestant has the right to interpret the Bible, a wide range of interpretations cannot be avoided. And since there is no centralized authority within Protestantism, this proliferation of options cannot be controlled. Who has the right to decide what is orthodox and what is heretical?

 

In other words, as a popular assessment of the situation goes, “People can make the Bible say anything they like. So who’s to say that one person’s interpretation is better than another’s?”

 

Protestants could answer the question with a defeatist shrug, overwhelmed by the “proliferation of options” available to us. Or we could bow to postmodernism, accepting all interpretations indiscriminately and ignoring the logical contradictions that result. Or perhaps we should appeal to the democratic spirit within the Protestant movement and assess the majority opinion: surely so many believers cannot be wrong! We might even take a stance of firm conviction and state with R. C. Sproul that

 

the differences we see in interpretation are due to sin or an unwillingness to understand Scripture in its original context…Otherwise, we embrace a Christian irrationalism and relativism which says that our God speaks to His people in conflicting ways.

 

This last assessment may be true, much of the time; but I would gently suggest that even Dr. Sproul has respected colleagues whose interpretations occasionally differ from his, whom he would hesitate to accuse of irrational relativism.

 

The fact remains that Christians are faced with a multiplicity of messages, contemporary and historical, from the popular Christian press and speaking circuit to the pulpit and the commentary. Sometimes we need assistance to identify and evaluate what we have heard or read or concocted in our own minds. Of course, as Protestants, we may not appeal to any higher human authority for this evaluation; we must make our judgments according to the standard of the Bible itself. From part to whole, Holy Scripture is the measuring stick by which we must test the teaching we receive, whether at the level of sermons and books or at the level...

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×