Perspicuity – What the Scriptures Are vs. What They Say.

Turretin askes regarding the Perspicuity of the Scriptures,

“Are the Scriptures so perspicuous in things necessary to salvation that they can be understood by believers without the external help of oral (agraphou) tradition or ecclesiastical authority? We affirm against the papists.

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, Second Topic, Q. 17.

First the term perspicuity,

“perspicuitas: perspicuity, clarity of thought, lucidity;

one of the traditional attributes of Scripture. The attribution of perspicuitas to Scripture does not imply that all passages are clear; rather, the point is that all things necessary to salvation are clearly stated and the obscurities in the text are to be elicited through comparison to and collation with clear passages in accordance with the analogy of scripture (analogia Scripturae, q.v.) and the analogy of faith (analogia fidei, q.v.).”

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, Term: perspicuitas.

One thing necessary to salvation is that God be a truth-teller. For salvation to be salvation and redemption, redemption, God cannot be a liar. As such, a necessary thing of salvation is to believe that God’s words, the things God says, are true. Hence, we get the words of Scripture reminding us of this fact, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). Abraham believed God’s promise to him. Abraham believed God’s words. Furthermore, without faith it is impossible to please God and faith only comes by hearing the word of God. Is the word of God itself necessary for salvation? Yes. Is what the word of God says necessary for salvation? Yes, again.

So, before we get into Turretin on this question we must ask, “Can the Scriptures be understood apart from ecclesiastical, and for that matter, academic tradition?” We argue in the affirmative here at The Scripture’s testimony is so clear that not only can we understand what the Scriptures say, but we can also understand what the Scriptures are. And we can do all of this without the intervention of ecclesiastical or academic authority. Put another way, it is no more necessary for a believer to have a Ph.D. or the imprimatur of a Ph.D. before that believer can understand what the Bible says than it is for a believer to have a Ph.D. or the imprimatur of a Ph.D. before that believer can understand what the Bible is [i.e., what reading is Scripture and what is not]. And why is this?

Well as you recall from a prior post and a prior argument from Turretin, there is a twofold way we can know that our translation conforms with the original: grammatical and spiritual. The former is an academic enterprise while the latter takes place in the heart of the believer by faith when the Spirit of God speaks through the word of God. The point is, the Scriptures are clear about what they teach concerning salvation and seeing that Scripture is an integral part of salvation, both ontologically and epistemologically, the Scripture is also clear concerning itself as Scripture. Touching the version issue, this clarity is born out academically, but more importantly spiritually in that the Spirit of God speaks through the word of God to the people of God by faith. The end result being that the church believes they have a standard sacred text in their hand. For us, that standard sacred text is, in the original, the Masoretic Hebrew and the TR. For the English-speaking church, it is the King James Version. Perhaps you disagree with us on the point of the original text or the version, but do you at least have a standard sacred text?

7 thoughts on “Perspicuity – What the Scriptures Are vs. What They Say.

      1. You’re welcome. I like what you’re doing here. Hopefully the link might direct a few readers to your site (not that I have that many). I also added a link to Jeff Riddle’s blog. May the Lord you all as you labor in his vineyard.

        Hope to listen to the Psalm 12:6-7 video tonight.


  1. Meant to type: “May the Lord BLESS you all as you labor in his vineyard.”

    Enjoyed the video. Interesting about the guy born in the 1300s commenting on the meaning of Psalm 12:7 as the preserved words way back then.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Paleofundamentalist. Most of the church around the world and throughout time has achieved spiritual health and theological success without the machinations of the Roman Catholic Magisterium or Post-Enlightenment text-critical suppositions. It remains unclear to me why these structures are so dearly needed now seeing that proponents of such machinations have not produced a theological or textual product demonstrating that need.

      Liked by 1 person

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