Perspicuity of Scripture

Clarity of scripture

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture (often called the perspicuity of Scripture) is a Protestant Christian position teaching that "the meanings of the (Biblical) text can be clear to the ordinary reader, that God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His person and will. "The witness of the Church throughout the ages is that ordinary people, who approach it in faith and humility, will be able to understand what the Bible is getting at, even if they meet with particular points of difficulty here and there." Clarity of scripture is an important doctrinal and Biblical interpretive principle for many evangelical Christians. Perspicuity of scripture does not imply that people will receive it for what it is, as many adherents to the doctrine of perspicuity of scripture accept the Calvinist teaching that man is depraved and needs the illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to see the meaning for what it is. Martin Luther advocated the clearness of scripture in his work On the Bondage of the Will, published 1525. Arminius argued for the perspicuity of scripture by name in his private disputation The perspicuity of the scriptures.

This doctrine is in contrast to other Christian positions like that Augustine, who wrote in Against the Epistle of Manichaeus that he would not believe the gospel "except moved by the authority of the Catholic Church," and in On Christian Doctrine, says "Let the reader consult the rule of faith which he has gathered from the plainer passages of scripture, and from the authority of the Church,...". Vincent of Lerins (AD 434) concurs, "Therefore, on account of the number and variety of errors, there is a need for someone to lay down a rule for the interpretation of the prophets and the apostles in such a way that it is directed by the rule of the catholic church." The doctrine can also be contrasted by positions which assert that subjective experience should be preferred over knowing the originally intended meaning of scripture, since it is basically unclear. Finally, the doctrine is contrasted with the more literalist idea that "scientific exegesis" is unnecessary

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