So here’s a classic Luther quote that tends to bother people a bit:
For it is the duty of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and Resurrection and work of Christ, and thus lay the foundation of faith, as He Himself says, in John 15, “You shall bear witness of me.” All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach Christ and inculcate [treiben] Him. That is the true test, by which to judge all books, when we see whether they inculcate [treiben] Christ or not, since all the Scriptures show us Christ (Rom. 3), and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ (1 Cor. 15). What does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or Paul taught it; again, what preaches Christ would be apostolic, even though Judas, Annas, Pilate and Herod preached it.1
This is from his Preface to the Epistles of Saint James and Saint Jude (1545). He’s discussing why he doesn’t think James is truly apostolic.
The critical idea is that the Gospel makes scripture; not the other way around. There is one, and only one, key for interpreting scripture, and even for determining what scripture is: the Good News. And the Good News is something very specific: it is the promise of God’s totally free, unmerited gift of salvation, forgiveness and eternal life, given in Christ, with nothing required from us. Luther’s shorthand for this is simply “Christ.”
- Trans. C.M. Jacobs, in Works of Martin Luther, vol. 6, Philadelphia: A.J. Holman Company, 1932, p. 478, altered; emphases mine. [↩]