31 October 2008

The bedrock of the Reformation

by Dan Phillips

The crashing juggernaut that Dr. Luther formally (if unintentionally) launched on 10/31/1517 rested on a number of fundamental variances with The Rome Collective.

Of course, one of those central truths was the glorious reality of justification in Christ alone, through faith alone - about which we've written often. But that truth itself, as Luther approached it, could be said to rest on something even more fundamental, and even more shattering to Rome's dreary stranglehold on the souls of men and women.

Note Luther's first of the 95 theses: "When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent,' He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

What does the good doctor do here? He reaches back, not to some father, council, nor church ruling, but to the words of Christ Himself. To demolish Tetzel's blasphemies, Luther reaches for Scripture.

But how does this relate to justification? It relates in that Luther did the same in approaching that truth, as well. Of course you know that the light dawned for Luther through his study of Romans 1:17, that in the Gospel "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" But have you read of the struggle that led up to that discovery?
...I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

At last, by the mercy of God,
meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which [the] merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. Here a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory ...

And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word 'righteousness of God.' Thus that place in Paul was for me truth the gate to paradise
Though a meticulous student of the Fathers and church councils, these studies had not themselves led Luther to truth nor peace. It was Scripture alone that obsessed him, that absorbed his attention. And it was from Scripture alone that Dr. Luther learned the truth that set him - and, through him, countless multitudes of others - free with Gospel liberty.

Sola Scriptura. This is that central truth on which Luther's rediscovery of Gospel grace rested.

You'll recall that this was central to the whole complex of Satan's initial assault. "Oh, really? Has God said...?" Thus Satan infected Eve with the notion that the word of God was unclear and insufficient... when in fact it was both perfectly clear and perfectly sufficient.

When a tactic works well, why abandon it? So Satan evidently reasoned, and he continued this same assault through the millennia. Distractions today, burial under the excrescence of tradition tomorrow, displacement the next day, outright denial the day after that. All aimed at unsettling that one core, central truth: the sufficiency of Scripture.

So today we Pyro's never lack, sadly, for fresh outcroppings to write about. We wish we would run out. We'd love to be able to mark that controversy RESOLVED and move on. But, alas, that day is not yet. Indeed, the apostle says that day will never come, until the Lord Himself does (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

How about Rome? Did Luther's devastating salvo's work the "reform" he hoped would occur? Evangelical creampuffs like to murmur sagely about all the changes and renewals that are (reportedly) happening in Rome. Is it true?

Not so much!

You can read here of "a forceful plea from a key papal advisor to reject the idea of Christianity as a 'Religion of the Book.'" That advisor was Pope Benedict XVI's close and trusted friend, Bishop Salvatore Fisichella, the rector of the Lateran University and President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Hear Fisichella:
“Many believers, when asked what the phrase ‘Word of God’ means, respond: ‘The Bible,’” Fisichella said. “That response isn’t wrong, but it’s incomplete , or at least it reflects an incomplete perception of the richness present in the expression, and as a consequence it tends to identify Christianity as a ‘Religion of the Book.’”

“In our language, we shouldn’t fall into the ambivalent expression ‘the three religions of the Book,’” Fisichella said, referring to Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Instead, he insisted, Christianity is properly understood as a “religion of the Word.”

“It’s important that we commit ourselves to constructing a culture that sees Scripture as a living word,” Fisichella said. Otherwise, he warned, “we run the risk of humiliating the Word of God by reducing it exclusively to a written text, without the provocative capacity to give meaning to life.”

Fisichella is said to have insisted that "it’s critical to present Scripture in its 'totality' – meaning that it’s part of a living tradition, which is ultimately aimed at salvation." This is an outright denial, in so many words, of the sufficiency of Scripture. Within that denial, unspoken but eloquent, is the recognition that no one would ever get Roman Catholicism out of the Bible itself, no matter how hard they labored.

And this is Rome today, still. Theoretically, the Bible is the Word of God. Actually, it's the word as-explained-by-Rome. I cannot see how an adherent could agree with Luke that the Bereans were "more noble" because they searched the Scriptures for themselves (Acts 17:11). Rome tells us that the noblest thing is to trust the Roman magisterium. Not our lying eyes.

But the insanity is that Rome tries to build this case of the insufficiency of Scripture on Scripture itself. A site titled "Christ did not found a Book. He founded a Teaching Church" tries (and fails miserably) to demote Scripture... by quoting Scripture.

So no, Rome was not reformed.

Nor has Scripture changed: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Since faith is God's sole instrument of justification, and the Word brings faith, Satan's tactics remain. Roman Catholicism, emerg*** play-times, PoMo meanderings, charismatic excesses - our adversary doesn't care, so long as the Word is displaced.

Because it is the only weapon he fears (Ephesians 6:17).
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
Dan Phillips's signature

54 comments:

Kyle said...

Whoa, you're back. Isn't this a day early?

DJP said...

First comment: a criticism.

Yep. We're back, all right.

And no. For, this is that which was spoken of by Phil: "we will reopen at the end of the month with Dan Phillips's annual Reformation Day post."

And lo, it has come to pass.

(c:

Nathan W. Bingham said...

@ Dan

Thanks. I've had my fix (re previous comment) and am feeling back to my normal self.

May I add to your quotation from A Mighty Fortress is our God:

The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still...


Happy Reformation Day TeamPyro!

Bob said...

Welcome back, guys. Hope your sabbatical was helpful; now get back to the business of stirring us up to love and good works

Matt said...

And DJP opens fire with a real humdinger!

Excellent, excellent post, Dan. We should never forget what was at stake in the Reformation. Contra Cryin' McBlarin' or whatever the dude's name is, the Reformation was not just about corruption and excess. It was deeply theological.

Thank you for the annual reminder!

Nik Papageorgiou said...

Welcome back! Time to rekindle the flames...

(now to get my own blog going again...)

And what a great post to open with. As a Greek (not bearing gifts though) may I also add that the Eastern Orthodox Church espouses the same works-righteousness doctrines, perhaps even more vehemently than the Roman Church. A smaller scale, perhaps, but it still holds millions of people enslaved in their sins.

We need the Word and prayer so much.

DJP said...

Yep, Nik. I remember my horror when I discovered that very fact, after reading an Orthodox writer's book from (as I recall) an "evangelical" press.

MarieP said...

DJP:

But can you make a lame blog to walk again? ;-)

LOL my word verification is "sparchan" Yeah, sparring over Chan...

Welcome back!!!

candy said...

Interesting post in light of a teacher's roundtable we had yesterday. I was arguing the point that my students needed more than cute little Bible stories with insipid questions during their Bible time in school. I told the administrator that I really want to equip my students with the Word of God because many of them will go on to public middle school and high school and many of their parents attend churches that have lost their bearings. I want to give them a good foundation of Biblical truth. It is the Word of God that will not go out void.

Good to have you guys back, even though you have been quite busy on your blog Dan!

Tim Bertolet said...

Welcome back, its great to see the annual reformation day post. The topic of Scripture and indeed the sufficiency of Scripture is of vital importance today.

I also got a chuckle out of the opening Star Trek reference.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Welcome back and Happy Reformation Day to all fellow Pyromaniacs!

Excellent post, DJP!

I also got a chuckle out of the opening Star Trek reference.

Was that the episode of the planet-eater in which the Enterprise was about to get sucked in, and Kirk was replaced by some higher ranking bureaucrat?

Barbara said...

I followed the links. Oh, wow. Oh, my. Aye-yi-yi-yi.

I don't argue the idea that the Word is a living and active document, suitable for reproof and doctrine and as a mirror - the Word lives, written in Scripture and incarnate in Jesus - we have that in John 1 and Revelation 19. But changeable? No. A toy? Absolutely not.

The other link you reference - the "teaching church" one. Wow. That guy presents one of the biggest straw men I've ever seen in my life. I felt so many arguments with that one (not with your assessment of it, but I have so many more to add) and my blood pressure began to rise. WOW. So, if I have this concept straight - they wouldn't even know what Jesus said or commanded if nobody had written it down in the first place, but their argument is for - what? Oral tradition? Without a written record of a Gospel to teach, what would they teach? Or are they arguing against the Gospel itself (rhetorical q)? Isn't that the kind of thing that got the Pharisees - and every other gossip in the world - in trouble? Rewriting truths according to their own understanding? And this guy is defending that very thing on that web site, using every "teaching" reference in Scripture, refuting his own argument as he attempts to make it?

And using the Great Commission as an argument against a written Gospel, not considering that we are to - yes, go out and teach all that He has commanded us - which we wouldn't even know if we didn't have it WRITTEN DOWN -

Wow. Just wow.

Tim Brown said...

Phil:

Nice to have you back. I do have a question, that I believe is on topic because your post includes a reference to the Bible as The Word of God.

My question has to do with something John MacArthur said some time back. Something like it's not really accurate to say "The Bible is God's Word" but rather that it is the *meaning* that is God's Word. He said this at Moody a few years ago.

I love John and his ministry. I'm not questioning him nor am I trying to bring him into question. However, I am confused and I think my confusion is "Ok, how do we say this. . .that the scripture contains God's WOrd provided it is properly interpreted?" I don't believe he means it that way but I don't know how else to take it.

Please Phil, rescue me from my confusion!!! Meanwhile I will try to find the precise quote. But I think I am pretty close. I remember typing it to you in an email to you at GTY a year or two ago. I had asked your secretary about this.

So I have been "Watiently Paiting" until the topic could be brought up here.

Thanks,

Tim

DJP said...

Exactly right, Barbara.

It's as if he just searched every verse with "teach" in it, copied them, then declared victory.

Begging the question, "Teach what?"

Tim Brown said...

Hi Dan, nice to see you back too...

DJP said...

Tim Brown

Again, yep, we're back, all right.

First comment is a complaint.

Thirteenth calls me "Phil."

:^D

Let's see, what's next?

As to MacArthur, I haven't read much of his works. I'll leave it to Phil.

DJP said...

Ah, you beat me.

Tim Brown said...

Well, at your blog at least you get *comments*. Over at reformed gadfly, they are precious few. But at least the trolls seem to be gone.

I remember now. John said what he did at the Moody Pastor's Conference, maybe two years ago.

I will let you defer to Phil.

Good to hear from you.

Tim Brown said...

Oh. I see! My comment was the 13th! and I did call you Phil. Tells you how well I read, doesn't it? WHen I saw the reference to "The Word Of God" I immediately stopped and posted my question.

I'm sorry, if not very slick.

Phil Johnson said...

Tim Brown:

What MacArthur probably said was "The meaning of Scripture IS Scripture." He says that from time to time. What he is saying is that you may quote the words correctly, but if you don't get the meaning right, whatever "truth" you think you see in the text is not the truth of God's Word.

Suppose, for example, you are trying to decide whether to become a missionary to Singapore. One morning you flip open your Bible and read the words "come over and help us" in Acts 16:9. If you think that is a private message affirming your call to Singapore and you try to claim the authority of God's Word for your "calling," you are wrong. That is not what that passage means. You can't impose a foreign meaning on the text and call THAT "the Word of God."

MacArthur was definitely not suggesting that it's wrong to speak of the Bible as "the Word of God," nor was he suggesting that the Bible only contains the Word of God. It IS the Word of God--but that doesn't mean you can misuse and misinterpret it (as Satan himself did in Matthew 4) and claim your twisted interpretation of it is "the Word of God."

Everyday Mommy said...

Happy Reformation Day and welcome back all ye Pyro Gentlemen.

The attack on the sufficiency of Scripture endures and I would submit that it's conjoined twin is the attack on the deity of Christ. I see this insidious pair at the root of almost every false teaching which has ever reared it's ugly head.

Tim Brown said...

Hi Phil (not Dan). There. I think I got that one right.

Yeah, I do remember him saying that "the meaning of the scripture is the scripture". I'm still looking for the source on the rest. I went to MBI at their Pastor's conference site and couldn't find any archives.

I understand what you are saying but I think I'm struggling with trying to separate "the meaning of the scripture is the scripture" from the meaning being in "the proper interpretation".

Again, I'm not trying to say John is wrong, just trying to really understand precisely what he is saying. Maybe I'm making more out of it than it is and complicating it.

If you have a copy of his Pastor's Conference from '06 (or '07), it's there. I thought I saw it in a transcript of a sermon at BibleBB.com. Looking.

Thanks Phil, and I'm not taking issue with him, I'm just a bit confused.

Solameanie said...

That photo of Joseph Ratzinger looks like he's on "Dancing With the Stars."

As I read this, I was struck anew with the chumminess of the Emergent Crowd and the "Come Home to Rome" crowd. Joined at the umbilical cord by a shared low view of Scripture.

Tim Brown said...

Phil, Ok. I think I have found something that represents what I head him say at the MBI conference. From BibleBB.com:

"OK, “cognition”—knowledge. Knowledge and understanding what the Bible means—that’s where it starts. Since sanctification is by the knowledge of God we are called to renew our minds. This is repeated again, and again in the New Testament, that we are sanctified by the renewing of our minds. All that means is the premium is on your brain to start with, it’s not mystical. It’s not mystical, you must know the truth. You must know what Scripture says and what it means by what it says—the meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture, as I’ve said to you. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t have the meaning, you don’t have the Scripture. It’s not the words, they’re not magic—it is the accurate interpretation of those words that is the Scripture, and cognition is essential. This then is the discipline of putting the truth constantly into your mind."

The link is:
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/90-287.htm

What I'm keying in on is "...it is the accurate interpretation of those words that is the Scripture..."

And I have been struggling with that because in my mind it sounds like a variation of "...it is the Word if it is properly interpreted."

And you can see why I have been wanting to ask.

Again, I believe that the Word is sufficient, verbally and plenary inspired, infallible and all that. And I know John does. But I'm just trying to differentiate what he says in that quote with what many say when they say "The Bible is the Word of God, properly interpreted".

Phil Johnson said...

Tim:

It seems self-evident that the true meaning is determined by the proper interpretation. I'm not sure what your difficulty is with that. Someone who twists the Bible's meaning is not teaching the Word of God, no matter how many Bible verses he quotes. Right?

But to say that the Bible "contains" the Word of God suggests a denial that every word of it is true. MacArthur would never use that kind of language, and it's not a particularly helpful way to paraphrase what he was saying. He obviously believes the Bible--every word of it--IS the Word of God. That's one of the reasons its so crucial to get the meaning right.

Rabbit said...

A confession: as my children gleefully anticipate the Day Of Too Much Candy, I've been thinking, "candy, schmandy. We don' need no stinkin' candy. The Pyros will be back!"

(No offense to dear reader and fellow Nevadan, Candy in Sierras!)

Seriously, glad to have you back, gentlemen. Dan has kept us thoroughly entertained and informed and I sincerely appreciate the effort he's put in to fill the gap. Y'all do some great work and I hold you in my prayers. This post in particular will, I think, speak loudly to a friend of mine coming out of RC.

BJ Irvin said...

Welcome back guys! I had forgotten you were starting back today, what a welcome surprise. Great way to end the week. Hope you had restful month!

Frank Turk said...

If we could posit such a thing as reincarnation, Dan would plainly have been a magisterial reformer in a past life.

And I have to fix the problem that I haven't written any posts on justification. Perhaps that will be the theme for me for 2009.

Great post, Dan -- next time you make a Rome/Borg comparison, give me 36 hours heads-up and I'll make some really stellar drones for you to dress up the post.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, that shotgun graphic never gets old.

stldispensationalist said...

Welcome back, Pyromaniacs!

This Reformed Dispensationalist has missed you!

We should make much more of this day in evangelicalism. A true demonstration of God's majestic sovereignty took place on (and leading up to) 10/31/1517. The truth, based solely on God's Word, "emerged".

Happy Reformation Day!

Justin said...

Yes!!! They're back and to top it all off the first post has a Borg Cube! Man, I missed you guys. I mean, seriously, I really did. Okay, I'm tearing up, this is just sad, I need to get out more.

Stefan said...

Welcome back, gentlemen.

We know how much Rome valued the authority of the Bible, when it persecuted believers at the time of the Reformation who sought recourse in the authority of Scripture—like Wycliffe, Hus, and Tyndale.

Daryl said...

Welcome back guys.

Great post Dan. Great reminder of how we got here and why it matters.

Thanks for holding the written Word up so high.

Red and Black Redneck said...

Nice to see y'all back in action. Good post. In our southern baptist sunday school class, we have turned from the Lifeway dreck and are working through John Stott's Sermon On the Mount. As we have been discussing Jesus' exposition of murder and adultery, the first of Luther's theses keep coming to mind. Once we begin to have a "better" picture of ourselves, i.e. as God sees us, i.e. as we are described in Scripture, we cannot help but begin to have a life full of repentence.

witness said...

Speaking of Reformation Day, did you know there is an official rap?

95 Theses Rap

Rita Martinez said...

Pyros You're back! finally! :D
Happy Reformation Day!...Ahh Sola Scriptura...I've had quite the discussion times before about the sufficiency of Scripture...it seems God's word is not enough and so we need to hear "words from God"(translation=someone else's opinion/idea/thought they got from a dream/vision/apparently audible voices) to know if a certain doctrine is correct, or to know if the pastor's preaching is biblical, etc...Thanks but I'll stick to the Bible, alone.

~Mark said...

Welcome back Pyros, and with a powerful post too!

Tim Brown said...
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Tim Brown said...
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Tim Brown said...
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Tim Brown said...

*It seems self-evident that the true meaning is determined by the proper interpretation. I'm not sure what your difficulty is with that. Someone who twists the Bible's meaning is not teaching the Word of God, no matter how many Bible verses he quotes. Right?*
-----------------------
Yup I agree completely.
-----------------------

*But to say that the Bible "contains" the Word of God suggests a denial that every word of it is true. MacArthur would never use that kind of language, and it's not a particularly helpful way to paraphrase what he was saying. He obviously believes the Bible--every word of it--IS the Word of God. That's one of the reasons its so crucial to get the meaning right.*

-----------------
Again, I agree.

I think that somehow I was being confused by the statement that "...it's not the words...".

Again, I *know* that John believes in verbal inspiration. That's why I was confused. I wasn't doubting his stand, I have the utmost confidence in John and his teaching. I just didn't know what he meant by that phrase.

Thanks for your patience and help. It was hard for me to verbalize where my difficulty was but I think you have addressed it.

Can I leave a tip? :)

trogdor said...

"And this is Rome today, still. Theoretically, the Bible is the Word of God. Actually, it's the word as-explained-by-Rome."

I love how James White explains this. For Protestants the source of authority is sola scriptura; for RC's the source is sola Roma.

They have three sources: scripture, tradition, and papal bull. The third is obviously just the blathering nonsense of Pope Palpatine and his fellow cardinals, the second is clearly also just more nonsense from Rome (it's a tradition because we say it is!). But surely their submitting to the authority of scripture is good, right?

And therein lies some of the most infuriating nonsense the Roman dictatorship (I should stop referring to it as a church, since they stopped teaching the gospel and became nothing more than a power-mad money-grubbing tyrannical collective centuries ago) has produced. In no way do they even pretend to be subordinate to the Word of God. No, these arrogant monsters dare claim authority over God's Word! Not just to have the sole authoritative knowledge of its meaning (no, not knowledge - declarative power: it means exactly what El Popo says it means, and nothing else, even when he's clearly wrong). No, they even claim power to declare what is God's Word. It's not God's Word because the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe spoke it as his sovereign authoritative communication to man, oh no! That would be silly! No, it's God's Word because some dork in a stupid hat in a city built with money extorted from his victims in exchange for a non-gospel of subservience to Rome says it is! If said dork decides tomorrow that Green Eggs and Ham is God's Word spoken through the prophet Geisel, a billion victims will soon be chanting Sam I Am in Latin.

Alright, I need to get back to work. Maybe I'll come back later when I'm ready to stop holding back.

witness said...

Trogdor: No please! Tell us what you really think and don't hold back this time. :-)

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

"next time you make a Rome/Borg comparison, give me 36 hours heads-up and I'll make some really stellar drones for you to dress up the post."


I would pay good money to see that.

Marie said...

Hey! Happy Reformation Day and awesome post.

I am so glad you guys are back shooting from the hip. I haven't gone and read the links yet but now Barbara's comments leave me intrigued - my b.p. will probably go up too. I've had a Catholic lurker on my blog e-mailing me all kinds of links for weeks now telling me why I should "come home to Rome". This one would be a good one to "coincidentally" link to. You pretty much cover all the bases.

blackreformingkid said...

Great post, sir.

Gilbert said...

Frank, Or Phil, or whatever your name is... ;-)

OK, OK...Dan,

Great first post after your hiatus (well, TeamPyro, certainly and absolutely not on your blog, yow!).

In all seriousness, I know a friend who has capitulated to the teachings of Brian McLaren, and for the first time, I had to defend myself against this Pomo nonsense. Thanks to the Bible, the grace of God, and a little help from the Pyros and other sites, I was able to come up with some good answers, but wow...the way Satan gets us train-wrecked is eye-opening, jarring and very scary sometimes. I never would have thought this person would believe it, but (sigh)...I hate Satan and his ways. I just do. Taking my friends away from Jesus...grrr...

OK, ending now before my blood boils. Welcome back! And praise Jesus for Mr. Luther.

Kyle said...

Ha! That wasn't a criticism. lol

Although I was mistaken. I thought you were taking off all of October and would be back November 1. Glad I was wrong. :)

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Does catholicism really dominate the US as this map might suggests?

US map of religious affiliation by county @ http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/church_bodies.gif


If true, than the Borg comparison might be even more true than I originally thought.

Gilbert said...

Here's a thought:

I have held many things in mh hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.

And may that thought from the bedrock of the reformation remind you of the rock-solid Father we have full access to, solely by the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As long as we place ourselves in God's hands, we will have Him, always...and we'll see the next spiritual train wreck coming from Hell, Inc.

Stefan said...

Nothingnewunderthesun:

I see that there are 10 counties that are majority Mennonite, in Pennsylvania (Lancaster, natch), Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Kansas.

Go, Mennonites!

pastorbrianculver said...

It is the misuse of Scripture that gets the Mormon religion in trouble. They claim it to be the Word of God so long as it is translated correctly. What they fail to see is how incorrectly their church translates His Word. They have been blinded. Many churches today do not properly "teach" God's Word. I hear story and story about a pastor's personal life with very little reference to the life of Christ. I have heard pastor's read a whole chapter out of the Book of Revelation and go on to tell their own personal life story.

My wife and I are starting a young adult bible study in our home this month. We have already got about 10 people who plan to come. Our hope is to teach them God's Word completely. We want to exposit the Word and train them on how they too can read Scripture and search out the meanings. we will then take our group of young adults and hit the streets reaching the lost and witnessing to people. We plan to also go anywhere God leads us to help feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the widows. We want to do disaster relief. Our group of young adults are very excited about this because they have never heard or been taught any of this in their own churches. Please keep us in your prayers. We are taking them to a Code Blue Rally in Moline, Illinois on Nov 14th. I appreciate your post. Very well done. God bless you all

suussolus said...
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suussolus said...

I'm curious: where did the Scripture come from? Did Luke write his gospel from having seen it himself or from having talked with eyewitnesses? Is our written tradition not based, to some extent, on oral tradition of the eye-witnesses as well as the apostles? And what of the Church fathers? Were they not trained by the Apostles and their disciples? Who is to say that we can get as close to the context, as you quoted Luther as having written, as the Church fathers? I believe that we in the age of written information underestimate oral traditions because we have little or none today. It seems to me that we don't have to remember anything very well because we can look it up.
Faith, Hope, and Love,
Curious in Chicagoland