If God Spoke Would We Understand (Part 2)

What do Seth’s wife, the Nephilim, and the circumcision of Moses’ son have to do with reading and preaching Scripture? Part two of my three part series on the clarity of Scripture in the Reformation is up over a Christward Collective this week.

In the first post in this series we briefly considered the way in which the Reformers viewed the Scriptures–as they are in truth, the authoritative written word of God. But God’s Word is not only uniquely authoritative; it is also uniquely clear, or perspicuous.  It is intelligible and accessible to ordinary Christians for the work of faith.  This teaching of the scripture’s clarity is as crucial to Reformed view as the teaching of inspiration.  After all, no matter how inspired scripture is, it causes little practical effect if it is not knowable to ordinary humans.

The Westminster Confession, that great document of the English Reformation and the governing theological document for certain confessional churches like my own, teaches the following:

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…(WCF 1.6)

In other words, the scholars and pastors who gathered to compose the confession recognized that scripture was not without its difficult passages.  As an Old Testament professor I am often asked about certain passages that have vexed the church for millennia and also fed not a few horrible theological errors.  There are usual suspects:  “Who were the Nephilim?” is a common one.  “Who were Seth’s wives?” “What is going on between Zipporah and Moses during the circumcision scene in Exodus 4?” The early books of the Bible provide a home to some of the Bible’s most titillating mysteries. Then there is always Jude 9. There is a lot we can say about these questions, but at the same time, we have to admit that their meaning is just not explained in full.

Read the rest here.

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