Who decides?

Alister McGrath’s book is titled ‘Christianity’s Dangerous Idea’ (see last post). Here’s why as he explains in his introduction:

“The idea that lay at the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation, which brought Anglicanism and the other Protestant churches into being, was that the Bible is capable of being understood by all Christian believers – and that they all have the right to interpret it and to insist upon their perspectives being taken seriously.”

This is ‘the Dangerous new idea’. At its heart, the emergence and growth of Protestantism concerned one of the most fundamental questions that can confront any religion: Who has the authority to define its faith? Institutions or individuals? Who has the right to interpret its foundational document, the Bible?”

“Luther’s radical doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ empowered individual believers. It was a radical, dangerous idea that bypassed the idea that a centralized authority had the right to interpret the Bible. There was no centralized authority, no clerical monopoly on biblical interpretation. A radical reshaping of Christianity was inevitable, precisely because the restraints on change had suddenly – seemingly irreversibly – been removed.”

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