What perspicuity of the Scripture does not mean

Peter writes that there were things in Paul's Epistles that were hard to understand:
 

2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

 

The perspicuity of Scripture does not mean that all things in the Bible can be or will be easily understood by every believer. Paul understood things in the Scripture that he wrote that others found hard to understand.

God does not give all believers illumination about His truth equally. Those who immerse themselves in His Word will be given treasures from His Word that others who do not immerse themselves in His word will not be given (Prov. 2:1-9). 

To think that everything that is important in a passage will be and can be equally understood by anyone who reads the passage is to hold a defective view of interpreting the Bible. Even extensive study of a passage by multiple students of Scripture does not guarantee that each one will understand what's in the passage equally well.

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josh p's picture

I just read a book about perspicuity and have submitted a review of it for posting on this site. Everything that you said is true of course. Is anyone saying otherwise on this site or elsewhere in conservative Christian circles? Or is this just a general observation?

TylerR's picture

Editor

No kidding.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Kevin Miller's picture

Rajesh, I'm not all that familiar with the term. You've written down what perspicuity does NOT mean. Could you give your understanding of what it DOES mean?

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

I just read a book about perspicuity and have submitted a review of it for posting on this site. Everything that you said is true of course. Is anyone saying otherwise on this site or elsewhere in conservative Christian circles? Or is this just a general observation?

It is an observation that I am making based on things that have been said by people in discussions that I have had previously.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Rajesh, I'm not all that familiar with the term. You've written down what perspicuity does NOT mean. Could you give your understanding of what it DOES mean?

Here is a link to an article that might help you: https://www.tms.edu/m/tmsj15i.pdf

I only briefly skimmed the beginning of the article and am not saying that I agree with everything that it says.

You can also do a Google search and find others.

 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Rajesh, I'm not all that familiar with the term. You've written down what perspicuity does NOT mean. Could you give your understanding of what it DOES mean?

 

 

Here is a link to an article that might help you: https://www.tms.edu/m/tmsj15i.pdf

I only briefly skimmed the beginning of the article and am not saying that I agree with everything that it says.

You can also do a Google search and find others.

 

Wow, perspicuity must be a really complicated concept to explain, if it takes a 17 page paper to do so, and even then you're not sure if that paper explains your particular perspective.

Jay's picture

The Westminster Confession of Faith explains what Protestants believe about the perspicuity of Scripture: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all. Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” (1.7).

https://www.gotquestions.org/perspicuity-of-Scripture.html

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Kevin Miller's picture

Jay wrote:

The Westminster Confession of Faith explains what Protestants believe about the perspicuity of Scripture: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all. Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” (1.7).

https://www.gotquestions.org/perspicuity-of-Scripture.html

Ah, thank you. That was a much easier to read overview. I will get around to reading the 17 page article in order to get more of a sense of the facets of the concept.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Wow, perspicuity must be a really complicated concept to explain, if it takes a 17 page paper to do so, and even then you're not sure if that paper explains your particular perspective.

I only had a few minutes to search for something on Google and this article looked like it might be helpful. My "particular perspective" is not what I want this thread to be about.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

I only had a few minutes to search for something on Google and this article looked like it might be helpful. My "particular perspective" is not what I want this thread to be about.

Here's the way in which you're confusing me. You said in this thread that the opening post is "an observation that I am making." Surely that observation is based upon things you already understand about perspicuity. Anytime anyone starts a thread, I don't think they can escape the fact that they have started to share their "particular perspective." After all, when you told us what perspicuity is NOT, you were sharing your perspective on what it is NOT. I was simply wanting your perspective on what it IS. Do you think you may be wrong about what it is and thus were hesitant to describe what you think it is? Do you think that your correct viewpoint about perspicuity may be challenged and you would not be able to explain yourself adequately? I think you would do fine at explaining. But if it turned out that your explanation could use a little adjustment in order to be clearer, wouldn't you want to know that? Do you think a question about the accuracy or clearness of your perspective is a sign of hostility?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

I only had a few minutes to search for something on Google and this article looked like it might be helpful. My "particular perspective" is not what I want this thread to be about.

 

Here's the way in which you're confusing me. You said in this thread that the opening post is "an observation that I am making." Surely that observation is based upon things you already understand about perspicuity. Anytime anyone starts a thread, I don't think they can escape the fact that they have started to share their "particular perspective." After all, when you told us what perspicuity is NOT, you were sharing your perspective on what it is NOT. I was simply wanting your perspective on what it IS. Do you think you may be wrong about what it is and thus were hesitant to describe what you think it is? Do you think that your correct viewpoint about perspicuity may be challenged and you would not be able to explain yourself adequately? I think you would do fine at explaining. But if it turned out that your explanation could use a little adjustment in order to be clearer, wouldn't you want to know that? Do you think a question about the accuracy or clearness of your perspective is a sign of hostility?

 

As I shared with you on at least one other post, I am one who wants to study a subject intensely and stick to discussing Scripture passages and what they say. Discussing theological definitions is not one of my strong points. I have not read much on this topic and have not done much research on a formal level on the subject. If you have something specific from my opening post that you want to discuss or if you have a specific passage that you want to ask about . . .