Monday, October 11, 2010

The Clarity of Scripture--A Review of Chapter 6 of Grudem's Systematic Theology

In chapter 6 of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Dr. Grudem puts forth the case for the clarity of scripture. For instance, he notes that the God instructs parents to teach the Bible to their children. Further, he notes that the epistles of Paul were written to be read to the entire congregation. However, while the bible is accessible to even children, this accessibility is not a result of a person’s intellectual aptitude but rather is a result of the illumination of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Grudem notes that there are many people with high IQ’s who completely missed the point of scripture during Jesus’ ministry on earth (Paul and other Pharisees). In addition, there was confusion in applying the biblical truth to the inclusion of Gentiles in the church and how that related to the Old Testament law. Grudem then points out that we can take practical encouragement from this doctrine. First of all, he states that this doctrine should help Christians focus on doctrinal disputes that really matter. If the bible is silent on a topic we can be encouraged to seek unity while allowing for differences of opinion on a matter. Secondly, we should be encouraged by the fact that the bible is not accessible only for people with advanced theological education. Rather, any Christian who is willing to prayerfully apply themselves to study can be sure that they can come to understand the bible and grow in their faith. Finally, while the bible may be simple enough that any Christian can study it and understand it, it is also filled with enough intellectual challenges that even the brightest biblical scholar will never exhaust themselves of things they can learn from God’s word.

I took particular encouragement from Grudem’s statement on page 110, that we should never assume that only professional theologians with advanced technical knowledge of biblical languages can read and understand the Bible. I used to regularly point this out to my congregation when I would preach that any insights or knowledge I had were not the result of my IQ but that they too could hear God speak to them through the Bible if they were willing to put in the study and work to understand the scriptures prayerfully. I believe helping Christians realize this and encouraging them to investigate the scriptures themselves is very important.

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