Of What Value are the 16th and 17th Century Theological Opinions for 21st Century Biblical Interpretation?

For years, and years, maybe most of my life I have operated under the theological premises offered up by the 16th and 17th centuries of the Protestant church, and from the post-Reformed-scholastic era of Protestant Christianity. As of late I have seriously been wondering why most, if not all of what is on offer from that period has any kind of binding or biblically categorical authority in my life? If one of the primary guiding principles of that period, on of the principium of that era–sola Scriptura–is at the center of my mode of theological and Christian engagement, then of what authoritative significance are all of the musings of these various theologians from that period? And I am wondering this in terms of the categories, the metaphysical ones, that the 16th and 17th centuries produced, respectively, in terms of interpreting Scripture.

I am aware that my reticence is already fully blossomed in the work of N.T. Wright and others, but I am not necessarily going where Wright has apparently gone in my wonderings. Instead, I do think at some level there is some level of value associated with 16th and 17th century Protestant musing, but as far as using their categories in order to interpret the categories on offer from Scripture seems less and less appealing to me everyday.

It is possible that 16th and 17th century proximate biblical categories, but I am inclined to think that more than not the substance metaphysics employed by said theologians and exegetes of the period do not. If this is the case, the 16th and 17th century period becomes less determinative towards my reading of Scripture, materially, and just more interesting in regard to their theologoumena or theological opinions.

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2 Responses to Of What Value are the 16th and 17th Century Theological Opinions for 21st Century Biblical Interpretation?

  1. Steve Scott says:

    Methinks that because “semper reformanda” isn’t one of the five solas, it might be that it is given less attention, including in the area of interpretation.


  2. Bobby Grow says:


    And I am overstating a bit in this post. It is not that I don’t see much much value in these periods–I obviously do!–it is just that I don’t want to become slavishly committed to the categories supplied in this period when engaging with Scripture. I think that has happened with many of us today, esp. in particular pockets of evangelical Christianity in North America.


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