Reading the Bible with the Reformers – Timothy George
Even though I was raised in a Romanian Baptist family without any access to the church fathers or the reformers (it was under communism when Christian literature was very scarce), I was attracted toward them from the very beginning. While many of the church fathers are usually associated with the Orthodox Church which was understood as being (mostly) dead in Romania when I grew up as a Baptist, there is no doubt in my mind that many of the writings of the church fathers are still very useful for the church. After all, the Holy Spirit has a history, and to read the Bible with the church fathers, the Reformers, and the Puritans is like having a bible study across the centuries.
Later in life, when I started to read some of the writings of St John Chrysostom who is much praised in the Romanian Orthodox Church (and rightly so), I could not help but think that it would be great if the orthodox in Romania read his sermons and obeyed. As a Romanian, I always hoped for a revival in Romania, and the best one would be the one that takes place in the Orthodox Church.
Since they are very suspicious of Protestants, and generally successful in getting their parishioners to wrongly consider the Protestant churches as “cults,” I still think that the best revival in Romania would be the one that starts in the Orthodox Church (they are more than 85%? of the population). It could start with the reading of St John Chrysostom if he is made available and is read by the priests (I believe many don’t read him and even less pay attention to what he says) and also by the people. After all, he did preach the Gospel, and he did it with power and clarity.
But I am digressing. This post was to draw your attention to what seems to be a great book by Timothy George, the Dean of Beeson Divinity School.
The book is called:Reading Scripture with the Reformers.
The following are some very relevant quotes about this book and interpretation from a brief interview.
“One prominent leader in 19th-century America encouraged his disciples to “read the Bible as if mortal eyes had never looked on it before.” Luther, Cranmer, Calvin, Bucer, Zwingli, Bullinger, Beza, Peter Martyr, and the other great reformers of the 16th century knew better than that. They read the Bible alongside the church fathers, scholars, and reformers who had come before them in the family of faith. They certainly dared to challenge those exegetical traditions in the light of a fresh encounter with the Word of God. This is what made them Protestants.”
As I put it in Reading Scripture with the Reformers: “From the reformers we learn that the true purpose of biblical scholarship is not to show how relevant the Bible is to the modern world, but how irrelevant the modern and postmodern world—and we as persons enmeshed in it—have become in our self-centered preoccupations and sinful rebellion against the God who spoke and still speaks by his Spirit through his chosen prophets and apostles.”
Hard to argue with the Dean! We should certainly read the Bible alongside the church fathers, Reformers, Puritans, etc. It would make us wiser and hopefully humbler! 🙂