Have you ever had a difficult time understanding what you read in the Bible? We all have at some point. Even the Ethiopian eunuch had difficulty understanding the prophecy of Isaiah (Acts 8:26-40).
Over the years theologians have gleaned a particular trend and thread in the Bible. It is currently called the “Clarity (perspicuity) of Scripture”
Systematician Wayne Grudem defines it as such: “The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.”
Here are some highlights of this particular doctrine.
- There are some truths in scripture that are hard to understand. Not every doctrine of scripture is simple and plain to the finite mind. – 2 Peter 3:15-16
- However, the majority of scripture is clear and generally easy to understand. So much so that even children are expected to understand it. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
- Even the “simple” minded person could understand scripture. – Psalm 19:7
- Generally speaking, any misunderstandings of scripture are our fault and not do to ambiguity in the scriptures. – Matthew 22:29
Why do people misinterpret the scriptures?
- People twist the scriptures for the advancement of an ulterior motives - 2 Peter 3:16-18
- People ask what particular verses mean to them rather than what it meant to the original intended audience. We can’t know what a verse is supposed to mean to us, until we can determine what it meant to its original recipients - 2 Timothy 2:15
- Some of us choose to twist certain verses due to a lack of cognitive comprehensibility. Thus if a particular doctrine doesn’t make sense to us, yet seems to be the plain reading of scripture, we will opt to perform theological gymnastics to change its meaning; rather than allowing the context to define the terms in the text.
- Others of us are just plain lazy, the product of a culture that has too much at its disposal and has forgotten the exercise of critical thinking and concentrated study - Acts 17:10-15
One amazing testimony to the clarity of scripture is what I call “dynamic agreement.”
That is, that Christians from all over the world are able to discern and agree upon essential biblical truths despite their cultural bias and language barriers.
God’s word transcends time and culture. It is able to penetrate the heart and inform the mind of the Salvadorian and Iranian alike. What a testimony to God’s truth!
Study like it depends on you, but pray like it depends on Him and you will grow in your knowledge of Him and His word!
Check out my blog on "How a young Christian should study"