Wayne Grudem is a North American scholar with a well earned reputation for scholarship, as well as for influence on the life of the church, through being a productive author and speaker, much referred to by many, because he offers clarity and conviction in what he writes and speaks.
In the latest edition of Themelios you can read a published lecture by Wayne Grudem entitled "The Perspicuity of Scripture". As Wayne says, essentially the doctrine of perspicuity is about 'The Clarity of Scripture' or 'The Understandability of Scripture'. I do not think you will readily find a better or easier to understand lecture on this subject than you will find here.
But what do you think about Grudem's setting out of the matter?
According to this lecture Scripture is understandable if a number of conditions are met. I readily agree that to understand Scripture these conditions need to be met. But that raises a question, for me at least:
Is it appropriate to talk about the clarity of Scripture if a series of conditions need to be met before Scripture is understandable?
There is one other matter which intrigues me in in this lecture. Grudem specifically makes the following point about ...
"4.3. Roman Catholic Teaching
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the correct interpretation of Scripture must come from the teaching officers of the church:
The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.[footnote 35]
But neither the teachings of Jesus nor the NT epistles give any hint that believing readers need an authoritative interpreter of Scripture such as the Bishop of Rome. Not even in the first century did the apostles suggest that ordinary believers needed an authoritative interpreter in order to understand Scripture rightly. The Scripture remains clear enough that it is able to be understood, now as in all previous ages, by ordinary believers who will take the needed time and effort, employ ordinary means, and rely on the Holy Spirit’s help."
I find this quite extraordinary as a claim about understanding Scripture rightly. Yes, we can readily agree that the NT does not teach that an authoritative teacher such as the Bishop of Rome is required. But can we so readily agree that,
"Not even in the first century did the apostles suggest that ordinary believers needed an authoritative interpreter in order to understand Scripture rightly."?
What was Paul doing in his writings but (often) correcting the misunderstandings of 'ordinary believers'? What were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John doing but offering an authoritative interpretation of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ for 'ordinary believers'?
Then, as if to underline my point above about the conditional clarity of Scripture, we find that Scripture is not 'clear' but 'clear enough' to those who take, time, effort, and rely on the Holy Spirit:
"The Scripture remains clear enough that it is able to be understood, now as in all previous ages, by ordinary believers who will take the needed time and effort, employ ordinary means, and rely on the Holy Spirit’s help."
But these last six words undermine Grudem's approach to denying Rome's approach to understanding Scripture: "rely on the Holy Spirit's help" ... raises questions such as 'how do we know when the Holy Spirit is helping us rather than another spirit?' The point of Rome's catechetical teaching is that an answer is given to this question, namely, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome. But Grudem gives no answer at this point. Protestantism, as any church history student will tell us, has seriously fudged the issue of knowing when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us and when the Holy Spirit is not - the fudging illustrated countless times with church division and fragmentation over "doctrine".
There is a way forward here. What suggestions do you offer?
Markus Barth Conference at Princeton
1 day ago