08 May 2002

David P. Scaer, a professor of systematic theology at Concordia Seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN), wrote an article a couple of years ago called, "Reformed Exegesis and Lutheran Sacraments: Worlds in Conflict" (the link is to a pdf file). In it he looks at how (neo-)evangelical scholars (who are largely heirs of the Reformed tradition) routinely eliminate sacramental references in their exegesis of Scripture and how such a methodology is inimical to Lutheran hermeneutics. It seems to me he scores quite a few points.

Of course, I would also suggest that the Reformed tradition is wider than Scaer admits, though he certainly characterizes the mainstream of Reformed and evangelical exegesis accurately enough. Still, there have been a number of figures within the Reformed tradition (Calvin, various French Reformed, certain Anglicans, the Mercersburg theologians, etc.) who would not as easily fall prey to Scaer's criticisms. Such figures do emphasize the true instrumentality and efficacy of sacramental means. Moreover, they read the Scriptures typologically, often exegeting Old Testament texts sacramentally. Calvin's sermons on Deuteronomy are a good example here.

My interest, I suppose, lies in revitalizing this thread of the Reformed tradition, which seems to me central both for ecumenical purposes and in for renewing the worship and life of today's church.