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Peer-reviewed explanation of Luther’s canon?


This one. My point was to emphasize that the concepts, the mechanisms, are present in both Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism. The fundamental understanding of the soteriological process is essentially shared between our two western traditions (as my Eastern Orthodox priest buddy would say, perhaps even more clearly than with the Orthodox and their understanding of Theosis… but that’s another thread…). Yet the terminology and the approach to the concepts is not.

Luckily, we are blessed with incredible minds like Benedict XVI who can see multiple approaches simultaneously and harmonize what, at first glace, may appear to be contradictory – and not with poo-poo ecumenical speak, but with a firm, solid understanding of both approaches. If only a man like him were pope 500 years ago.


Perhaps I was not clear enough; I’m not talking about ‘I’m right vs. you’re wrong.’

I am speaking to the duality of having all of the books, most of the books and some of the books–everything as the “canon.”

There’s a progression of events… first, the Oral Teaching (both Jesus and the Apostles); then the Oral Teaching coupled with the Written Teaching (the Apostles and the Church); finally, the defining elements (Church Doctrine and Practice which includes Apostolic Teaching in the form of Oral and Written Traditions [Tradition being the Oral and Written Teaching passed to the next generations]. This is what is seen developing right from Sacred Writing.

I fully agree with you that ignoring or razing the first 14 centuries of Church history is to deny our spiritual roots–which, by necessity, denies our spiritual identity.

Yet, I am not denying Church history; rather, I am arguing that the Church, as the Organic Body of Christ, grows, adapts, and engenders definition (Doctrine, Practice, Vocabulary…); there was a time when there were no New Covenant Writing; then there was a time when a few pieces were given birth; then there was a time when these pieces grew into a form (practice [Oral functionality] always preceded the Written and formalized Doctrine. Hence, the Bible Canon took shape and was adopted.

Yet, the order that arose (formal canon) cannot stand in a fluid state [“x” or “x+y” or “x+y+z.” That would be a duality: yes/no/yes or no/yes and no.

Maran atha!



Thank you for your king words.

While the utopian realm would be one where all Christians are in agreement, I am a strong believer that building the Body of Christ requires that we meet everyone with respect–Christ demands it!

Maran atha!



My perspective is that of the horse > water axiom.

Check St. Paul’s Writing:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6)

Compare with Wisdom:

16 But the just shall live for evermore: and their reward is with the Lord, and the care of them with the most High. 17 Therefore shall they receive a kingdom of glory, and a crown of beauty at the hand of the Lord: for with his right hand he will cover them, and with his holy arm he will defend them. 18 And his zeal will take armour, and he will arm the creature for the revenge of his enemies. 19 He will put on justice as a breastplate, and will take true judgment instead of a helmet. 20 He will take equity for an invincible shield: 21 And he will sharpen his severe wrath for a spear, and the whole world shall fight with him against the unwise. 22 Then shafts of lightning shall go directly from the clouds, as from a bow well bent, they shall be shot out, and shall fly to the mark. (Wisdom 5)

Compare also W-2–with the chosen leaders; W-4–with St. John 15; W-5–the saints, Justice, Eternity; W-7 & 8–Salvation–7:27-28 with 2 St. P 1:20 & 8:17-18 with 1 Corinthians 2:15-16…

If you like I can look for the info on the list of passages that others have offered and share them with you.

Maran atha!



Yet this argument is quite contaminated since it would require that Jesus and the Apostles must also be subjected to quoting from all of the Old Testament’s Writings–interestingly enough, even Scriptures tells us that not everything that Jesus Taught (said and did) was Written; this, by necessity, makes void any requirement that all of the Old Testament’s books must be found quoted in the New Testament.

Maran atha!



So the Maccabees and everything related to them did not exist?

Such argument is flawed from the inception; to make such argument would, by default, make any book of the Old Testament suspect if Jesus and the Apostles did not quote from them. It would also suggest/infer that nothing that was not Written actually took place since there was no “Written” information about it. Which would also fix the God’s Revelation in a cartoonish form as Jesus would have had only three to five birthdates: born, toddler, twelve, thirty something, death.

Maran atha!



I think it also goes to how far people would stretch their limitations… can you imagine Jesus not familiar with the books of the Septuagint because we are arguing for or against them?

There were no books back then (scrolls); there were no deuterocanonicals nor canonicals for that matter.

It’s like claiming that Jesus was not familiar with and never Taught about the Triune God!

Maran atha!



I thought that I demonstrated that Luther did not remove (physically take away) any books from the Bible; while someone else demonstrated that he put them on a separate section, claiming them to not being inspired–along with other books such as Hebrews, St. James…

It is not bashing; it is sharing the historicity of what actually transpired!

Maran atha!



But what is held in Lutheranism is it Luther’s understanding?

IE. There’s that take on his belief (and what his theology is based on) that because Christ died once for all sin (past, present, and future) he can actually murder or commit adultery one thousand times per day and still be “saved” by God’s “Grace.” Of course, it is argued that that was an expressed opinion on a personal “correspondence.” (So apparently it does not count as a “bad.”)

Maran atha!



Thank you, that would be very kind. I’m now looking through @JohnR77’s list in greater detail, but the first thing that emerges is that some of the alleged parallels don’t stand up to closer inspection. For instance, in Sirach 15:3, “the bread of understanding” and “the water of wisdom” are linked to John 6:35 and 4:10 respectively. The trouble is that Jesus’ words are “the bread of life”, not “the bread of understanding,” and “living water,” not “the water of wisdom.” So all we are left with is the bread and water – the understanding, the wisdom, and the life have all crumbled to dust in our hands.


I have to say that I find that argument unconvincing. The logic is flawed. I can truthfully say, “All beagles are dogs,” without implying that all dogs are beagles. The beagles, in this case, are the OT writings that Jesus quotes from. I’m saying nothing about the books that he doesn’t quote from. I’m not denying that Esther and Nehemiah are authentic OT books just because Jesus never quotes from either of them, just as I’m not denying that greyhounds and collies are dogs just because they’re not beagles.


Certainly. We would agree in large part to the principle here. I think we would also agree that at Trent, we saw what you call a ‘growth, adaptation or clarified definition’ with regard to the canon. My argument was simply that Luther lived in a time that did not have that ‘growth, adaptation or clarification.’ His thought, with regard to the canon, was within the bounds of acceptable Catholic teaching (again, only with regard to the canon) at the time, as is evidenced by other Catholics -even those opposed to Luther- who held the same position, even at the Council of Trent and at the very vote applying anathemas to views on the canon!

Amen, brother.

Oh, goodness, no! The words were clearly written almost 200 years before Jesus was born. He would certainly have had knowledge of the events, which he would’ve learned orally. Personally, I think it’s a certainty that he read the stories too (though we can’t say for sure, as I noted above). But whether he considered them Scripture is another story entirely. He does not reference them explicitly as he does with the Law and the Prophets.

Facts can be presented in intentionally misleading ways. Omitting the fact that many Catholics of Luther’s time shared his views on the canon is one example.

Luther was clearly using hyperbole about a hypothetical situation. Yet as crude as that example was, it is nonetheless true: to deny that God can forgive even the serial adulterer or murderer is to deny the sufficiency of the Cross and God Himself! Look, Luther was simply noting that repentance and forgiveness are available to all, not that the regenerate somehow have license to sin. Lutherans are not Antinomians, and the Lutheran Confessions explicitly reject that sort of thinking. When saved by Grace, is the Christian to continue sinning? The Lutheran echoes Paul, “by no means!” Anyone using Luther’s teaching as a license to sin is mutilating Luther.


“Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” - Martin Luther


He did not reference the Song of Songs either; so, should we put that into an appendix with the rest?


…and I’m saying that the reasoning is flawed because it would mean that Jesus and the Apostles must actually quote all of the books from the Old Testament with the exclusion of the 7; not only that but to ignore where St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s writings are mirrored in Wisdom or the pre Paul use of the term “saint” in in Wisdom or the Revelation of the Holy Spirit found in Wisdom–it takes hard effort to deny that St. Peter is speaking of the same “holy men” as Wisdom, those who He makes into God’s friends… even if there were no other mirroring or quotes from other books there’s only one reason why a Christian would doubt the connection to the Septuagint: pride–talk about flaw!

Maran atha!



To make such assertion is to dismiss history:

The first Council that accepted the present Catholic canon (the Canon of Trent of 1546) may have been the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa (393). A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the Council of Carthage (397) and the Council of Carthage (419).[37] These Councils took place under the authority of St. Augustine (354-430), who regarded the canon as already closed.[38] Pope Damasus I’s Council of Rome in 382, if the Decretum Gelasianum is correctly associated with it, issued a biblical canon identical to that mentioned above.[32] If not, the list is at least a 6th-century compilation.[39] Likewise, Damasus’ commissioning of the Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible, c. 383, proved instrumental in the fixation of the canon in the West.[40] (

The above quote twice makes it known that there existed a Canon, as early as the 4th century.

Now you are intimating that Jesus’ source was “stories” told and embellished; that those who kept the Sacred Writings did not differentiate them from folklore as they would include all sorts of scrolls alongside with the Sacred Scrolls.

I can say the same about adultery and murder–does that make it right?

It is also to delve in dismantling the Call to Holiness.

Yes, Christ died for sin. No, we are not to abound in sin 'cause Christ got our back!

But this is how it translates. Just look at how many “Christian” jump on the merry-go of divorce and remarriage… even when Christ Himself declared divorce void!

Christians are quick to take interpretation as the Word of God and make void the Word of God through interpretation.

Maran atha!



…wait, I get it; Luther is using reversed psychology–his theology is anti sin because it teaches to sin to defeat Satan’s attempts to tempt man… wow, why couldn’t St. Paul write such gems?

Maran atha!



Auggie, this is a silly game. Please, stop.

Luther is not condoning sin, and if you think he is, you’re willingly ignoring the whole of his teaching. One can find a Luther quote for everything, and taken out of context, make it mean whatever one desires. I’ve seen Reformed folks try to say Luther didn’t believe in Baptismal regeneration! Here, Luther is pastoring to people burdened by fears that they were not doing enough to live holy lives. You might identify these people as dealing with “scruples.” Dancing and drinking and playing games were viewed by many in that time to be “sinful” in every context. Obviously, these things can be useful and even God-pleasing (as Kevin Bacon once taught the world, but that might’ve been before your time :grin:). Luther is saying that Christians need not fear the Devil. That God’s Creation is meant to be enjoyed by the Christian in moderation. So to those Puritans, teetotalers, those little ‘devils’ who say dancing and drinking and and playing are sin? Spite them with a “little sin” and enjoy the gifts God gives us.


…yet, that’s not what the text reads.

It actually reads that, as hollowood often portrays, evil is conquered with evil; as for footloose, do you actually believe that Jesus was pleased with the exaggeration of “forbidden dance” and street-wise gospel dancer showing “Christians” the light?

Maran atha!



Well, it kind of is. There are and have always been ‘canons within the canon.’ Christ Himself notes this when He refers to “the Law and the Prophets” as two distinct parts of Scripture, which serve unique purposes to the whole of the accepted canon. It is good to keep this in mind when looking at the whole of Scripture. The Gospels -with their clear witness to Jesus and provable historical facts- take precedence over, say, the more poetic and interpretive words of the Song of Solomon, or Revelation. These are all God-breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, training in righteousness, etc., but not all are identical. Roman Catholics acknowledge this too.

Worth noting that the canonicity of the Song of Solomon was still debated by the Jews up to 200 years after Jesus death. We Christians have essentially always accepted because of its sweet witness to Christ and his Bride, the Church.

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