Yesterday my family and I continued reading Chapter 6, “The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (2) Clarity,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology in our after breakfast Bible reading time. We read its last two sections (Sections E and F), which explain respectively why the doctrine of the clarity of the Bible should encourage all Christians to read the Bible and how Bible scholars can benefit the church.
Realizing that the Bible’s teachings can be understood by all who read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it tells us that when we disagree over the teaching of the Bible it is because we are trying to make affirmations where the Bible doesn’t give answers or because we are making mistakes in interpreting the Bible and not because the teaching of the Bible is confusing. Thus when we are genuinely concerned about some subject that Christians don’t agree on, we should ask God’s help and search the Bible believing that He will help us reach a correct conclusion on the subject.
Sometimes we assume that only those knowing Hebrew and/or Greek or only pastors or Bible scholars are able to understand the Bible correctly. However Grudem points out something that I hadn’t thought about before. The Old Testament was written was written in Hebrew and most of those to whom the New Testament was written didn’t know Hebrew and had to read the Old Testament in a Greek translation, but the writers of the New Testament assumed that their readers could read and understand the Old Testament. Thus we shouldn’t surrender to such experts the right of interpreting the Bible.
However Bible scholars and those knowing Hebrew and/or Greek can perform some important functions for the church, including these ones:
– They can teach the Bible.
– They can explore new areas of understanding the Bible’s teaching by applying it to new areas of life, by answering difficult questions raised about it by believers and unbelievers, and by making more precise our understanding of it.
– They can defend the Bible’s teachings against attacks by other scholars and against the false teachings of cults and sects.
– They can enrich the study of the Bible by lay students of the Bible, such as my family and me.