Perspicuity Of Scripture: The Emergent Approach -- By: John MacArthur

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 17:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Perspicuity Of Scripture: The Emergent Approach
Author: John MacArthur


Perspicuity Of Scripture: The Emergent Approach

John MacArthur

President and Professor of Pastoral Ministries

The most recent battle being waged in the evangelical church is one related to the perspicuity of Scripture. Within the larger context of the Emerging Church Movement is the Emergent Church, whose leading spokesman is Brian D. McLaren. Because of his prominence as a leader of both the Emergent Church and the Emerging Church Movement, what he says about the clarity or perspicuity of Scripture needs to be scrutinized. McLaren undermines the clarity of Scripture by questioning whether biblical doctrine can be held with certainty. He questions the clarity of Scripture by needlessly introducing complexity into biblical interpretation. He further dismisses scriptural clarity by questioning the possibility of deriving propositional truth from the Bible. Also, his refusal to abide by the Bible’s emphasis on the exclusive nature of the Christian gospel raises questions about the Bible’s clarity. McLaren’s pointed criticism of conservative evangelicals who insist on the clarity of Scripture is another indication of his disdain for the perspicuity of Scripture. McLaren’s position on the perspicuity of Scripture is clearly at odds with what the Bible itself says about its own clarity.

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From the very beginning, the battle between good and evil has been a battle for the truth. The serpent, in the Garden of Eden, began his temptation by questioning the truthfulness of God’s previous instruction: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? … You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:1, 4–5). And this has been his tactic ever since—casting doubt on the straightforward revelation of God.

Throughout the centuries, that ages-old war on truth has been repeatedly fought, even within the church. The biblical writer Jude, for instance, faced such a situation when he wrote his epistle. Though he had wanted to write about the wonders of the common salvation that he shared with his readers, he was compelled instead to urge his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3). False teachers, like spiritual terrorists, had secretly crept into the church (v. 4). The lies they were spreading, like doctrinal hand grenades, were spiritually devastating. They were enemies of the truth, and Jude was compelled to confront and expose them.

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