Office Hours: The Perspicuity Of Scripture In A Skeptical Age

Office HoursWe live in a skeptical, suspicious late-modern age. When I was a boy, when someone knocked on the door, we opened it and let him in to talk. Today, we are just just as likely to talk to a visitor through a security door or camera. In our age we have come to be skeptical about truth claims too. The Millennial generation, young people between 18-34, are reported to be particularly skeptical about truth claims, which they have been taught to regard as arbitrary and political. One place this suspicion manifests itself is in the neglect or rejection of the great biblical and Reformation doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. As the Westminster Confession of Faith (1.7) puts it:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

We recognize plainly and unequivocally that there are difficulties in Scripture but in our age we seem to major in them and we seem to delight in making what was always regarded as clear and basic into an intellectual sandstorm.

The alternative to the essential clarity and sufficiency of Scripture is, ironically, the Romanist doctrine of implicit faith (fides implicita) according to which we should trust not in Scripture principally as we wait confidently for difficulties to be resolved in future but rather, according to Romanist doctrine of implicit faith, we begin with doubt about the clarity of Scripture and we trust that the church knows. This turn to the old Romanist doctrine of implicit faith is attractive to skeptical millennials and others because it fits the prejudice of the age toward personal relationships over than fixed truths.

The Rev Dr Mark Thompson has been facing these questions for a number of years as a scholar and as a teacher. He is Principal of Moore Theological College in the Diocese of Sydney, Australia. He was in town last autumn to the speak to the Evangelical Theological Society and he also spent some time on campus with the students..

Here’s the episode.

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  1. Loved the interview! These are some of my favorites where you sit down and chat with visiting lecturers. I would suggest that it’s title is misleading. There was very little time spent on Perspicuity Of Scripture in my opinion. There was much more time spent on Australian Evangelicalism and Anglicanism in Australia. All worthy of discussion; just not quite what the title tells you your going to get.

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