March 29, 1523—German reformer Martin Luther wrote in a letter: ‘There has never been a great revelation of God’s Word unless God has first prepared the way by the rise and the flourishing of languages and learning, as though these were forerunners, a sort of John the Baptist.’
Advocates of Solo Scriptura (if only we could link to the article on Solo Scriptura, you’d see what I’m talking about!), when referring to the Holy Spirit’s work of illuminating the Word of God to the believer, seem to assume that his work is primarily supernatural. However, Luther’s comments fly in the face of this assumption. God uses means. Granted, he does at his appointed times and for his own reasons, can and does work supernaturally, but as it has played out providentially in the world, his supernatural work is the exception, rather than the rule. The rule is that God works by his providence through ordinary means. Academics like “languages and learning,” are among those ordinary means the Holy Spirit utilizes to illuminate the truth of God’s Word, centered in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, to the heart/mind of the believer.