Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Truth and Clarity

Liberal postmodernism is a passionate lover of the ancient Gnostics. Both use as an interpretative grid some form of higher knowledge, whether that is “secret” knowledge available to only a few, or philosophy. Ancient or modern, wolves continue to creep in, wanting to distort scripture by denying the clarity with which God has spoken. Both ancient and modern repeat the first lie ever told: “Has God really said…”

Here is a small sample of those who fought against that lie. Notice what each appeals to in their own struggles.



Basil wrote against those who would deny that the scriptures were sufficient to establish the Trinity:

"But all who maintain that either Son or Spirit is a creature, or absolutely reduce the Spirit to ministerial and servile rank, are far removed from the truth. Flee their communion. Turn away from their teaching, they are destructive to souls. If ever the Lord grant us to meet, I will discourse to you further concerning the faith, to the end that you may perceive at once the power of the truth and the rottenness of heresy by Scriptural proof." (Letter 105)

1)Notice who is denying the scriptures.
2)Notice what it is that Basil makes his appeal to.

This in itself presupposes not only the clarity but the sufficiency of scripture as well. Notice that there is no appeal to such nonsense as “well, that is just your interpretation.”


Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary is another example much like the above. Lest some postmodern misunderstand, the point isn’t about the Trinity. The point is about how the heretics wanted to distort what was clear in the scriptures. Hilary writes:

"For there have risen many who have given to the plain words of Holy Writ some arbitrary interpretation of their own, instead of its true and only sense, and this in defiance of the clear meaning of words. Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not in the word written; the guilt is that of the expositor, not of the text." - Hilary of Poitiers (On the Trinity, 2:3)

As the above, notice that it is the heretics who gave some “arbitrary interpretation of their own” in the face of the “plain words” of scripture. Hilary also affirms what all who hold to the Perspicuity of Scripture, that error lies not in the written word, but in the motivation of the expositor.


Julius Africanus

Julius Africanus refers to the clarity of Biblical prophecy, such as Daniel's 70 weeks prophecy, which is surely one of the more difficult passages of scripture. He says that Jews and other non-Christians can easily understand these things:

"But I am amazed that the Jews deny that the Lord has yet come, and that the followers of Marcion refuse to admit that His coming was predicted in the prophecies when the Scriptures display the matter so openly to our view." (The Extant Fragments of the Five Books of the Chronography of Julius Africanus, 18)


John Chrysostom

"All things are dear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain." (Homilies on Second Thessalonians, 3, v. 5)

That should be very easy to understand. That is as plain as saying that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Yet to remain consistent, who is it that would have to deny what is mentioned above? We have seen a demonstration of that here on this very blog.


Theophilus of Antioch

Theophilus of Antioch doesn't seem to have thought that scripture is as unclear as neither ancient nor modern (postmodernism) Gnosticism would want everyone to believe:

"And why should I recount the multitude of prophets, who are numerous, and said ten thousand things consistently and harmoniously? For those who desire it, can, by reading what they uttered, accurately understand the truth, and no longer be carried away by opinion and profitless labour” (Theophilus to Autolycus, 2:35)



What does the man who wrote against the early heretics have to say? Quite simply:

"A sound mind, and one which does not expose its possessor to danger, and is devoted to piety and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate upon those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge, and will make advancement in acquaintance with them, rendering the knowledge of them easy to him by means of daily study. These things are such as fall plainly under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures....the entire Scriptures, the prophets, and the Gospels, can be clearly, unambiguously, and harmoniously understood by all" - Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 2:27:1-2)

As in the previous examples, his arguments were against heretics. And it is Irenaeus who affirms clarity, which is something no Gnostic, ancient or modern, would ever support.

As the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." As such, one thing is guarenteed: Those who do not hold to the clarity of the written word will prolly not get what this post was about.


Scribe said...

Yet, we are to doubt the perspicuity of scripture...the bible has an internal commentary, though post-moderns beg to difer.

Thanks for the references Doug.

Gordan said...

Thanks for posting this, Gojira. Great info!

Gojira said...

I posted it due to a comment that E-D made. You know, just to see which side he falls on.