Posted in theology

“Don’t Be So Dogmatic!”

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST/AUDIO here

My literal, autistic brain always saw things in black and white. I like it that way.

Only problem was, for the first 43 years of my life as a heathen, I sought and looked and searched for a match-up of a life manual that would agree that things were spelled out starkly. There HAD to be a place where there was no gray area. Non-Christians LIVE in the gray areas. Gray areas were my downfall. I knew that somewhere there was ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ My mother always used to yell at me, particularly when we had moral conversations, “Don’t be so dogmatic!” But there is a right and a wrong…isn’t there?

Dogmatic: characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts.

(The Non-Christian world doesn’t believe the Bible is a fact. They believe it’s opinion).

Dogma: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

When I was graciously saved, I learned that the Bible is that manual. Further, things were starkly spelled out in black and white. There were two sides to things. There is a right and a wrong. Furthermore, I learned that there’s-

black and white
love and enmity
in and out
narrow and wide
light and dark
righteous and lawless
justice and injustice
lost and saved
heaven and hell

There is no gray area. (I am not speaking of things not spelled out in the Bible where we use Christian liberty). There is no gray area. Gray areas, fence sitters, anything lukewarm…Jesus spits out of his mouth in a righteous vomit. (Revelation 3:16).

Morally, according to God’s law, there is a right and a wrong. God sets the Law. He is judge. He alone determines who is a transgressor.

In these postmodern Christianity days, we are so used to hearing about “my truth and your truth” we forget there is THE truth. (John 14:6). We’re so used to hearing about “the ‘hermeneutic of humility‘ where [t]he idea was to interpret God’s Word but stop short of coming to any definitive conclusions that would exclude alternative interpretations,” we forget that the entire Gospel is one of exclusivity- it excludes any other means of attaining heaven, excludes any other interpretation of how to get to heaven, and excludes any person who rejects Christ. We keep hearing about this famous “nuance” in interpretation that we forget that the Bible, thanks to the perspicuity of scripture and the aid of the Holy Spirit, can be and should be clear.

Sadly, this week someone said to me of the end time doctrines, also known as ‘Last Things’ or ‘Eschatology’ that “only the Father knows for sure.” Well, He knows how things will end because He ordained it, and He told us in the Bible. He didn’t spend 65 books speaking clearly and whiff it at the end, muddying the waters and petering out with a whimper of confusion and mystery.

We wrap too many clear doctrines with layers of gauze that should not be there, making the crystal, sterling, shining doctrines of God dim and shrouded in enigmas. In some cases, when it comes to our assurance of God’s will, His righteousness, and His intentions for His people, absolutely be dogmatic! God is the only God! He is holy! He will come again! We are all sinners! There is a hell! The end will come! Be clear and firm.

Here are some resources on both the Doctrines of God, and the perspicuity (clarity) of scripture. Strip back those layers and see God and His works for what they are, clearly amazing!

SERMONS

Martyn Lloyd Jones: Great Biblical Doctrines (all of them are on this list)

RC Sproul: For the Doctrine of the Trinity

Thomas Boston: The Sinfulness of Man’s Natural State, Doctrine of Sin (Read by Carlton Pruitt)

Truth for Life (Alistair Begg’s ministry) Rico Tice preaches the Doctrine of Hell in this sermon called “The Reality of Hell

WA Criswell Great Doctrines of the Bible

pdf called The Night Watches by John MacDuff here, exploring,
The Glory of God, The Immutability of God, The Omnipotence of God, The Omnipresence of God, The Wisdom of God, The Holiness of God, The Justice of God, The Love of God, The Grace of God, The Tenderness of God, The Patience of God, The Faithfulness of God, The Sovereignty of God, The Providence of God, The Word of God, The Ordinances of God, The Spirit of God, The Promises of God, The Warning of God, The Chastisements of God, The Invitations of God, The Consolations of God, The Paths of God, The Secret of God, The Name of God, The Favor of God, The Jewels of God, The Judgment of God, God’s Banqueting House, The Presence of God, God’s Closing Call.

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth, John MacArthur

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.

GotQuestions: What is Dogma?

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Perspicuity of Scripture

By Elizabeth Prata

Knowing and understanding our historical theological words helps the next generation continue the thread of common understanding of our great faith. Hence the Word of the Week.

I’ve been asked for the list of all the essays I’ve written of the Word of the Week. The list is below the picture at bottom. You can also search category “Word of the Week”.

This week’s Word is Perspicuity of Scripture. Do we need “Bible codes”? Is scripture unclear enough so that only a few, more intelligent or higher-up, can understand it? It is too much to expect that the layman study it?

No. No. And no.

The perspicuity of scripture means that the Bible can be understood by anyone. The Holy Spirit illuminates it to us. For the most part, scripture is clear, if one studies it properly (and is saved, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” 2 Corinthians 4:3, also 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Yes, Peter said that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, (2 Peter 3:16), but scripture itself can be understood clearly, without codes, mystics, or pretzel logic.

The Lord gave the word to Nicodemus, The Teacher of Israel and to the brilliant Paul, and He also gave it to fishermen and shepherds.

THE PERSPICUITY OF SCRIPTURE
Larry D. Pettegrew
Professor of Theology

The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders.

The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures.

Further reading

Grace to You: The Clarity of Scripture part 1

Ligonier: The Clarity of Scripture

bible with glasses

Previous and future entries in the Word of the Week Series:

Light

Justification 

Immutability 

Aseity

Regeneration 

Perspicuity of scripture 

Transcendence

Immanence

Propitiation 

Sanctification

Sovereign

Glorification

Orthodoxy

Heresy 

Omniscience 

Fruit of the Spirit, Love

Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness

Fruit of the Spirit, Faithfulness

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit, Kindness 

Fruit of the Spirit, Patience 

Fruit of the Spirit, Joy

Fruit of the Spirit, Self-control 

Fruit of the Spirit, Peace 

Posted in theology

Is scripture clear? Should we speak declarative truth?

By Elizabeth Prata

I hope this fine fall week has offered you beautiful glimpses of God’s creative intellect and His wonderful power. It’s finally cooled down here in north Georgia. We always enjoy the march of the seasons. “He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.” (Psalm 104:19, KJV). Wherever we are in the world, reading this blog, we see and understand the times and seasons. We look for the colorful leaves, the pumpkins, the migrating geese. The orderliness and consistency of the seasons since His ordination of them is a comfort. Yet even in Jeremiah 8:7 it is said of the seasons, meaning HIS season, “Yes, the stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.”

I’ve always been interested in language, and how language, particularly through media, influences the mind. How it can clarify or obfuscate. The Emergent Church’s penchant for insisting on ‘respectful dialogue’ was part of the tactic of obfuscation. It brought muddiness to the clarity of scripture and it is simply a defense mechanism for satan to deflect dogmatic truth. I posted a blog entry a long while ago titled “It’s 2012 and homosexuality is still a sin” as a jab at emergent post-modern culture that says we have to get with the times and dialogue about these points to see whether they are still relevant. I have an answer for you. They are still relevant. End of dialogue.

Phil Johnson has said,

“Let’s just agree to disagree.” Well, no. How about we just argue until one of us actually refutes the other and we come to a common understanding of God’s Word?

As a result of my interest in how language is used or misused, I’ve heard much of what John MacArthur has said or written on the subject. Here is his explanation of the tendency toward “tolerant dialogue” in his essay “The perspicuity of scripture

“A new movement is now arising in evangelical circles. Apparently, the main object of attack will be the perspicuity of Scripture. Influenced by postmodern notions about language, meaning, subjectivity, and truth, many younger evangelicals are questioning whether the Word of God is clear enough to justify certainty or dogmatism on points of doctrine. Ironically, this new movement to a certain extent ignores all the previous debates. Instead, its proponents are more interested in dialogue and conversation. As a result, they scorn and rebuff propositional truth (which tends to end dialogue rather than cultivate it) as an outmoded vestige of twentieth-century modernism.”

He’s right. Proclamation of an incontrovertible truth tends to shut down conversation. It’s supposed to, because there is no debating it. Strong’s Concordance says the authoritative (binding) word of God, brings eternal accountability to all who hear it.

Do you really believe that scripture is so unclear about what’s a sin? It isn’t.

It is also just as clear on Jesus’ love for us. People will accept that incontrovertible truth, while dismissing the truth of sin. God Sent His Son into the world to die for our sins. Jesus is the best person to ever live, die and live again. He is superlative, beautiful, and perfect. He saves us from our sins. Scripture is clear on that.

 

Posted in theology

Sunday Word of the week: Perspicuity (of scripture)

By Elizabeth Prata
8341e-word2bcloud

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.Do we need “Bible codes”? Is scripture unclear enough so that only a few, more knowing, can understand it? It is too much to expect that the layman study it?

No. No. And no.

The perspicuity of scripture means that the Bible can be understood by anyone. The Holy Spirit illuminates it to us. For the most part, scripture is clear, if one studies it properly (and is saved, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” 2 Corinthians 4:3, also 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Yes, Peter said that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, (2 Peter 3:16), but scripture itself can be understood clearly, without codes, mystics, or pretzel logic.

THE PERSPICUITY OF SCRIPTURE
Larry D. Pettegrew
Professor of Theology

The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders.

The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures.

Further reading

Grace to You: The Clarity of Scripture part 1

Ligonier: The Clarity of Scripture

bible with glasses