Rules of Affinity, Part 2: The Positive Application

Posted courtesy of Dr Reluctant.

(Editor’s note: Part 2 assumes you have read Part 1: Rules of Affinity—Classifying Relationships between Doctrines and Their Supporting Texts)

These “rules” are only rules to the degree that one allows them be rules or ground-rules. One’s hermeneutics will tend to determine how friendly he will be toward these ideas. All the doctrines listed below can be established via C1 (category one) or C2 (category two) formulations, with some C3’s supporting. Even if, due to a blind spot, I may be inferring more than is there in the text, I can be corrected with these same rules. None of the major biblical doctrines are established with C4’s or C5’s!

Well-known Christian doctrines

The propositions below are examples of what might be predicated of each doctrine in an evangelical statement of faith.

The inspiration of Scripture—Proposition: The Scriptures come from the God who breathed them out and caused them to be inscripturated through men who were ‘borne along’ by the Spirit. That is what makes them Scripture.—2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Matt. 4:4; Jn. 17:17; Psa. 119:89-91

Inerrancy—Proposition: The inspired Scriptures are the Word of God before they are the words of men. They must be up to the job of transmitting truth from He who is True. This truth will be as reliable in one area of knowledge as in any other, even if exact precision is not necessary.—2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 12:6; Jn. 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21

Only one God—Proposition: God the Creator is the only existing God and the only God there has ever or will ever be.—Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10; Exod. 20:3

The Trinity—Proposition: God exists as one substance yet in three distinct yet eternally inseparable “Persons.” Each “Person” is co-equal and divine yet existing in distinguishable intra-relationships and functions with one another. God is one yet three, though in different modes of being.—Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Jn. 1:1-3, 18; 14:15-17; 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 9:14, 10:28-29

Creation ex nihilo—Proposition: The Triune God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing.—Gen. 1:1f; Isa. 40:28; 45:12; Jer. 10:12; Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:2; Heb. 11:3; Rom. 11:36

Mankind made in God’s image and likeness—Proposition: After God had made the world and the plants and animals He created man and woman in His image and likeness.—Gen. 1:26-27, 9:6; Jam. 3:9

Man is a sinner (fallen in Adam)—Proposition: When Adam disobeyed the prohibition he plunged not only himself but all humanity after him into sin and misery. We are born “in Adam” and must be born-again “in Christ”—Gen. 2:17, 3:1-24; Psa. 51:5; Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22; Jn. 3:3

The virgin conception—Proposition: Jesus was born of a virgin through the Spirit without a human father.—Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23-25; Lk. 1:31-35, 3:23; Gen. 3:15

There is only one Savior—Proposition: God Himself is the only Savior of sinners, especially God the Son.—Isa. 45:21; Hos. 13:4; Acts 4:12, 17:30-31; 1 Tim. 1:1, 15, 4:10; Jn. 3:16, 20:28-29

Christ died for all sinners (whosoever believes)—Proposition: Christ died for all men (sinners).”—Isa. 53:6; Jn. 1:29, 3:16-17; Rom. 5:6; 1 Tim. 2:4-6, 4:10; 1 Jn. 2:2; Heb. 2:9, 10:29

Christ arose bodily from the dead—Proposition: Jesus died on the cross but was raised up bodily and in glory.—Mk. 9:31, 10:34; 1 Cor. 15; Mk. 16:6; Lk. 24:6-7, 36-43; Acts 17:18, 30-31; Rom. 1:4; Rev. 1:18

Justification by faith (Salvation by grace not works)—Proposition: To be saved from their sin a person must be justified before God. This cannot be achieved through our own merits, but must be imputed by God to those who believe in Jesus atoning work.—Jn. 3:36; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:21-30, 4:16, 4:26, 5:1; Gal. 2:16, 3:24; Eph. 2:5, 8-9; Isa. 64:6

Christ will return physically in power—Proposition: The same Christ who ascended from this earth will one day return visibly to this earth as Lord of lords and King of kings.—Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:27, 24:29-30, 26:64; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 19:11f.

Christians shall receive glorified bodies—Proposition: Because Jesus is risen we too shall rise glorified at His coming.—Jn. 6:40; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 35-54; 2 Cor. 5:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-17

Now for some more controversial ones:

Christ will rule on this earth after the Second Advent—Proposition: Christ will return to rule on His world before delivering it back to the Father.—Matt. 25:31-34; Lk. 1:31-33, 19:11-27; Acts 1:3,6; Rev. 19:11-20:10; 1 Cor. 15:20-27; Isa. 61-62; Mic. 5:2-4; Zech. 6:12-13, 14:9, 14:16f.

Israel (as the Remnant) will inherit its covenanted promises—Proposition: God entered into irrevocable covenants with Israel which He must and shall fulfill in accordance with their stipulations.—Gen. 15,17:4-9; Psa. 105:6-11; Isa. 9:6-7; Mic. 5:2; Jer. 32:42, 33:14-26; Ezek. 34:11-31, 36:1-37:28; Zeph. 3:20; Zech. 8; Lk. 1:32-33; Acts 1:6-7; Rom. 11:23-29

There will be a temple and sacrifices in the future kingdom—Proposition: One of God’s everlasting covenants concerns Phinehas and his descendents (Zadokites) and this requires us to take statements of a post Second Advent temple literally, whatever our present lack of understanding on the subject.—Num. 25:11-13; Psa. 106:30-31; Ezek. 36:32-38, 37:12-28 37:40-48; Zech. 6:12-13, 14:16-21; Mal. 3:2-6

“Heaven” (New Jerusalem) will come to the new earth after the millennial kingdom—Proposition: When God creates a new heavens and earth the “New Jerusalem” will descend from God out of heaven to earth and God shall dwell with men. The gates of the city will be opened to the nations.—Rev. 20:1-22:5; Isa. 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13

There are more doctrines and propositions which could pass muster under these rules, but we have shown above a good specimen of doctrines where the distance between theological assertion and texts used to support them is close.


One of the most controversial ones would be that God created all that we see in six 24 hr. days. The references would be Gen 1 and Exodus 20:11

Paul, I think you are completely scriptural in all of these. I think you can also add another important one, the idea of the penal atonement. While I am at it, I think an immediate justification of the believer, something under assault these days.

To me, the whole millennial rule, the temple, and Israel’s inheritance are not peripheral; they are clearly deduced from Scripture and amazingly reinforced every time we see sun, moon, or stars (Jeremiah 31:35-36) much like the promise that the earth will not be destroyed by a worldwide flood as long as we see a rainbow (Genesis 9:13-17).

Good stuff, my brother.

"The Midrash Detective"

[Pastor Shaun] One of the most controversial ones would be that God created all that we see in six 24 hr. days. The references would be Gen 1 and Exodus 20:11
Yes Shaun, it would be controversial, but it would not affect the application of these rules per se. Rather, anyone wishing to introduce a “Framework” or “Analogical” model would be importing more details into the proposition which would then require scriptural support - support which is unforthcoming. Thus, the “propositional distance” between Bible and assertion would need more added inference. This in turn would alter C1 and C2 propositions for six normal days into (I think) C4’s and C5’s! What one would do about this is their lookout. The fact would remain that the Rules of Affinity would uncover the wider gap between text and proposition needed for non-24 hour day interpretations.

Hope you follow :)


Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Thank you Paul for the response.

I think I get the gist of what you are saying. It would be interesting to see if those who cling to either the extremely old earth (have hard time thinking 6,000+ yrs as young) or theistic-evolution try to apply this rule arguing for a reinterpretation of terms to be equated with the C1/C2.

I would agree that it would be highly unlikely even if possible.

Hi Paul, Thank you very much for this framework. I will be using it in my personal study. Do you have any copyright restrictions on teaching it to my congregation?

Also - how would you apply this framework in determining what I would call Essential Christian Doctrine from “doctrinal distinctives and personal preferences”?


Thank you for your appreciation. You are more than welcome to teach this material to your people if you think it would benefit them. I would only say that you make sure they understand that it doesn’t replace hermeneutics, neither does it settle every matter.

For instance, because pre-tribbers and post-tribbers can accrue plausible textual arguments for their respective positions they should be be considered C3’s. My preference is that the pre-trib view is the inference to the best explanation, but you don’t have to agree with me. This is why only C1’s and C2’s, once verified for proper context, etc, are “hard-and-fast” so to speak. C3’s are defeasible. Another example of this sort of thing is the matter of security. I believe the texts in favor of eternal security for the Christian far outweigh those (say in Hebrews) which are depended upon by those who say we can lose our salvation. Nevertheless, while I would award eternal security a C1 or C2 for the Christian, I think one could see a C3 for the other position.

As far as distinctives and preferences are concerned, I really think these rules help us to examine ourselves and some of our cherished non-fundamental beliefs. they also help us to shore up fundamental beliefs being supported by rather flimsy proof-texts when better ones are available.

Hope this helps.

Your brother,

Paul H.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.