The Rationality, Meaningfulness, and Precision of Scripture -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 15:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: The Rationality, Meaningfulness, and Precision of Scripture
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The Rationality, Meaningfulness, and Precision of Scripture

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament

The purity of Scripture includes, among other things, a freedom from irrationality. Biblical logic is rational and is distinguishable from secular logic. Examples of evangelical abuses of biblical rationality include charismatic irrationality and apocalyptic irrationality. Secular reasoning would call biblical logic irrational because it allows no room for God’s plan and omnipotence. Scripture is connected with sin only when sinful man imposes his own opinions on the text instead of allowing the Bible to express its own meaning. Common practice among contemporary evangelicals imposes an interpreter’s preunderstanding on a text at the beginning of the interpretive process, thus depriving the text of its own meaning. Each text is meaningful in its own right and deserves to be heard through an objective hermeneutical approach. Scripture is reliable because of its precision, evidenced frequently throughout Scripture itself. Its precision requires an appropriately precise response from those who submit themselves to it (see 2 Tim 2:14–26). Unfortunately, recent evangelical scholarship has not acknowledged the Bible’s precision, which extends to the very words that Jesus spoke. Earlier evangelicals, however, did specifically support the verbal inspiration of Scripture.

The title for this article deserves an explanation. After mulling over the ground to be covered, I realized the necessity to clarify some definitions. That is where we begin.

The Purity and Rationality of Scripture

Denotations

The purity of Scripture touches on some very significant trends in contemporary evangelical use of the Bible. By definition, purity of a written work entails at least the following qualities:

  • undiluted or unmixed with extraneous material
  • perspicuity or clarity
  • plain-spokenness
  • no nonsense
  • straightforward communication
  • right-to-the-point exchange of words
  • no hidden meanings unless clearly specified
  • no double-talk
  • no gobbledegook (no informal pompous or unintelligible jargon)
  • no double entendres unless clearly necessitated
  • no foolishness unless clear from the context
  • freedom from irrationality.

The last of these, “freedom from irrationality,” means that the Scriptures make sense. They are reasonable. Their Author is a reasonable person who seeks to communicate with those whom He created in His own image. The fall of man (Genesis 3...

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