“It needs to be remembered that Martin Luther [and several of the leading Reformers] had earned a doctorate in theology. According to the academic regulations honored in his day, that accorded him special privileges. Those who had only earned lower degrees could teach, but they were restricted to the enunciation of the major text–in biblical instruction, Scripture itself; in theological studies, Peter Lombard’s Sentences, the chiefhandbook of medieval theology in Western Christendom–and to the glosses which respected scholars of bygone days had added to the text. Such instructors were strictly prohibited from adding their own interpretations or glosses to the material presented to the students: that privilege was restricted to those who had earned a doctor’s degree [not just a master’s or “magister’s,” i.e. “teacher’s” degree]. Thus, when Luther set forth his perspectives, often enough in contrast to the words of earlier scholars, he was using the privilege he had earned by his extensive studies. . . . It is, consequently, difficult to make the charge of subjectivism stick for Luther: his degree and his position (as a professor of Bible) authorized a certain degree of independence in his teaching and assertions” [one that Lutheran, Presbyterian and Reformed churches have generally recognized since the Reformation: those ordained as pastors and doctors in the church have the office and authority for biblical interpretation that individual congregants do not possess].

—-James R. Payton, Jr., Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings (IVP Academic Press, 2010), pp. 137 (in Ch. 6: “What the Reformers Meant by Sola Scriptura“)

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