Clarity of scripture

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The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture (often called the perspicuity of Scripture) is a Protestant Christian position teaching that "...those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them"[1] Clarity of scripture is an important doctrinal and Biblical interpretive principle for many evangelical Christians. Perspicuity of scripture does not imply that people will receive it for what it is, as many adherents to the doctrine of perspicuity of scripture accept the Calvinist teaching that man is depraved and needs the illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to see the meaning for what it is. Martin Luther advocated the clearness of scripture in his work On the Bondage of the Will.[2] Arminius argued for the perspicuity of scripture by name in "The Perspicuity Of The Scriptures."[3]

This doctrine is in contrast to other Christian positions like that of Augustine,[4] who wrote in Against the Epistle of Manichaeus that he "should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church."[5] and in On Christian Doctrine, says "Let the reader consult the rule of faith which he has gathered from the plainer passages of Scripture, and from the authority of the Church…"[6] Vincent of Lérins concurs, "Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation."[7][8] The doctrine can also be contrasted by positions which assert that subjective experience should be preferred over knowing the originally intended meaning of scripture, since it is basically unclear.[citation needed] Finally, the doctrine is contrasted with the more literalist[citation needed] idea that "scientific exegesis" is unnecessary.[9]

In Lutheranism[edit]

Lutherans hold that the Bible presents all doctrines and commands of the Christian faith clearly.[10] God's Word is freely accessible to every reader or hearer of ordinary intelligence, without requiring any special education.[11] Of course, one must understand the language God's Word is presented in, and not be so preoccupied by contrary thoughts so as to prevent understanding.[12] As a result of this, no one needs to wait for any clergy, and pope, scholar, or ecumenical council to explain the real meaning of any part of the Bible.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Westminster Assembly (1646). "Chapter 1". Westminster Confession of Faith. 
  2. ^ Luther, Martin (1931) [1525]. "Erasmus' Scepticism: Section IV". On the Bondage of the Will. 
  3. ^ Arminius, Jacobus (1956) [1853]. "The Perspicuity Of The Scriptures". Writings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. LCCN 56007575. OCLC 2174096. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  4. ^ Mathison, Keith A. (2001). "Augustine". The Shape of Sola Scriptura. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press. pp. 39–42. ISBN 1-885767-74-9. OCLC 45835442. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  5. ^ Augustine (1890) [397]. "Against the Title of the Epistle of Manichæus". Against the Epistle of Manichæus, Called Fundamental in Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume IV.
  6. ^ Augustine (1890) [397]. "Rule for Removing Ambiguity by Attending to Punctuation". On Christian Doctrine, Book III. in Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume II.
  7. ^ Vincent of Lérins (1890) [434]. "A General Rule for distinguishing the Truth of the Catholic Faith from the Falsehood of Heretical Pravity". The Commonitory. in Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume XI.
  8. ^ Mathison, Keith A. (2001). "The Vincentian Canon". The Shape of Sola Scriptura. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 1-885767-74-9. OCLC 45835442. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  9. ^ Berkhof, Louis (1996) [1938]. "The Perspicuity of Scripture". Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 167. ISBN 0-8028-3820-0. OCLC 35115001. 
  10. ^ Engelder, Theodore E.W. (1934). Popular Symbolics: The Doctrines of the Churches of Christendom and Of Other Religious Bodies Examined in the Light of Scripture. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 29. , Graebner, Augustus Lawrence (1910). Outlines Of Doctrinal Theology. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 11–12. 
  11. ^ Graebner, Augustus Lawrence (1910). Outlines Of Doctrinal Theology. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 11. , Engelder, Theodore E.W. (1934). Popular Symbolics: The Doctrines of the Churches of Christendom and Of Other Religious Bodies Examined in the Light of Scripture. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 28. 
  12. ^ Graebner, Augustus Lawrence (1910). Outlines Of Doctrinal Theology. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 11. 
  13. ^ Engelder, Theodore E.W. (1934). Popular Symbolics: The Doctrines of the Churches of Christendom and Of Other Religious Bodies Examined in the Light of Scripture. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 28. 

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