Posted courtesy of Dr Reluctant. The series so far.
These guidelines (the “rules of affinity”) test the distance between a given theological proposal and the actual textual references alleged to lend them authority. As already mentioned in previous posts, all the major non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian Faith have a strong affinity with the wording of the biblical text. Under the Grid of Category Formulations of these Rules of Affinity, all these first level doctrines are C1 and C2 (category 1 and category 2) doctrines. Doctrinal propositions which are arrived at by the consent of several converging biblical texts to bring about an “inference to the best explanation” are C3′s. C3′s are open to revision if better scriptural conclusions from clear texts are forthcoming.
The two other categories in the Grid, which reveal little or no affinity between the words of Scripture and the doctrines supposed to be borne out of it, are C4′s or C5′s. These categories are heavy on inference and light on affinity. They are chock full of human reason and empty of clear, definable connection to the verses which are being unfairly summoned to support them.
Problem Features of C4′s and C5′s
1. Another feature of C4′s and C5′s is that they often come into contention with clearer verses which contradict them (C1′s & C2′s). Why then, are they allowed to stand? It is because of our faith in our own rational faculties.
2. Yet another interesting fact about doctrines based on C4′s and C5′s is that they usually command large areas of systematic theology. For example, “the covenant of grace,” which as defined by covenant theologians (or the limp “Edenic covenant” of Confessional dispensationalists like Scofield and Chafer), enjoys no C1 – C3 support. Moreover, the texts used in support of it are not talking about it at all, but about biblical covenants like those with Abraham or David.
3. This brings up the third interesting feature of C4 and C5 formulations; because they are formulated by human reason they are already believed before the search is made for scriptural support-texts. That is to say, the doctrine is already in hand and cherished so the Bible must be ransacked for any verse which might give the impression that it supports the cherished teaching.
4. A fourth negative characteristic is that C4 and C5 formulations highlight the fact that doctrines have been manufactured not unusually from other doctrines. Although this may lend them a certain logical coherence, which can in itself be deceptive, it does nothing to show that the doctrine in question is built up from the clear statements of Scripture (C1′s – C3′s) which the fundamental doctrines are.