The Reformed interpretation of Scripture

from “A Comparative Study of Church Bodies” by Pastor Rob Raasch


The Reformed Interpretation of Scripture

1. The common denominator in Reformed doctrine is the misguided use of reason.

2. Calvin’s presuppositions:

a. “The Lord has instituted nothing that is at variance with reason.”

b. “Reason and faith are not opposed to each other.  Hence we maintain that we must not admit anything, even in religious matters, which is contrary to right reason.”

3. Luther’s presuppositions:

a. “Man is to render his reason captive and to submit to divine truth.”

b. “The knowledge of lawyers and poets comes from reason and may, in turn, be understood and grasped by reason.  But what Moses and the prophets teach does not stem from reason and the wisdom of men.  Therefore, he who presumes to comprehend Moses and the prophets with his reason and to measure and evaluate Scripture according to its agreement with reason will get away from the Bible entirely.  From the very beginning all heretics owed their rise to the notion that what they had read in Scripture they were at liberty to explain according to the teachings of reason.”

 4. Luther insisted that reason helps us “understand” Scripture, but hinders our “believing” Scripture. 

 5. Reason is to be appreciated as a gift from God and used ministerially (as a servant) rather than magisterially (as a master).

 6. Reason, by its nature, judges by what it sees, feels, or grasps by the senses.  Faith, however, judges independently of and even against the data furnished by the senses, and clings to what God says in his Word.  (cf. 1 Cor 1:25  “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.”)

 7. Consider how “unreasonable” the following Scriptural truths are:

            God condemned Adam (and all mankind) for eating one piece of fruit

            God freely forgives every person for every sin

            The Christian is a sinner and a saint

            Without faith it is impossible to please God

 8. Remember God’s declaration in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

 9. Question:  If the heart of the gospel is unreasonable to the human mind, how can we trust the human mind to be the judge of anything else God says?  Answer:  We can’t.  We must let God’s Word overrule our reason.   

 10. The primary principle of Lutheran interpretation:  Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture (rather than by human reason or experience)

 11. The Reformed “rationalistic” approach to Scripture is especially evident in their view of the following doctrines:

            The Lord’s Supper

            Holy Baptism



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s