Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 9, Number 17, April 22 to April 28, 2007

The Relevancy of Scripture

This article was taken from the book entitled, The Infallible Word - a Symposium, written by members of the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1946).


The most poignant longing of the average human heart is for authoritative guidance. A disheartening indication of this truth is the continued popularity of astrological books and pamphlets, the meddling with horoscopes, that still goes on. Related to it is the green, purple and yellow array of fortune tellers' parlors that decorates the business streets of the less well-to-do sections of American cities. These things point to an unsatisfied longing of human nature. That longing is justified, and there are proper ways of satisfying it.

Reasons have already been presented in this symposium for concluding that the Bible is a trustworthy source of knowledge. The question that now demands an answer is this: What particular needs for knowledge does the Bible satisfy? Obviously the Bible is not a compendium of all possible knowledge. There are a great many truths of, shall we say, chemistry, for example, which are not to be found in the Old and New Testaments. For what knowledge, in particular, can one turn to the Bible?

There are three types of need which the Bible satisfies: the need for conceptual knowledge of God and the principles which control the relationship between himself and the created universe; the need for directional knowledge as to matters of experience and conduct; the need for a knowledge of the basis for devotional meditation upon the nature of God, his relationship to man, and the meaning of the universe.

The realm of conceptual knowledge with which the Scripture deals is concerned with such matters as the being and nature of God and his activity in connection with matters external to himself, past, present and future. The nature of the physical universe, of man, and all creatures is within this sphere.

The realm of directional knowledge cannot be artificially divorced from the previous field. But it has to do with the more intimate human concerns of a way of dealing with the power and consequences of sin. What means are available for relieving the guilt of sin, what guidance can be found to mark a pathway through life, what authority is there for making the decisions of living? Can credence be given to the demands of reason, of instinct, of intuition, of irrational faith? Is there a way to secure divine guidance for human living?

Lastly, a basis of fact is provided for meditation upon the divine being, for determining the nature, limits, and possibilities of human communion with the divine, and for determining how the validity of supposed communion may be tested and assessed.

Scripture thus meets the greatest instinctive needs of the human spirit, the needs for knowledge, authority, guidance, communion, and sympathy.

But there are no divisions in Scripture over which these words stand as captions. The Bible is not systematically divided among these subjects. It is not either an encyclopedia or a handbook of technical practice. On the contrary it meets these needs by furnishing a history of God's dealings with mankind and in particular his provision for reconciliation between God and fallen man. The apostle John indicates this with reference to his Gospel when he says, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name. . . . And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written" (John 20:30f.; 21:25). The same general purpose animates not only the Gospel of John but the Bible as a whole.

The Bible, then, should not be approached with a view to finding it a comprehensive treatise on, for example, natural science. A great many statements in the realm of natural science are to be found in the Bible and they are true statements. But the Bible offers no information as to the validity of the various modern theories concerning the nature of matter and the constitution of the physical world. There is nothing in the Bible with which to test the theories of relativity. The Bible has some very definite statements to make about the creation of the universe, for the history of creation is the foundation of the understanding of all of God's dealings with man. But the Bible gives us no information about the biological history of animal forms between the time of their creation and the time contemporary with the Biblical writers. There is history concerned with the preservation of animal life when the flood occurred but not history about how the animals of that day compared in structure and habits with the animals of other ages. One could not write a biological textbook from the Bible alone.

There are other matters more immediately connected with the church about which the Bible gives such information as is necessary to ensure that the church shall carry out its mission as the body of Christ's elect, but which are not set forth in closely delineated detail. The officers of the church are named in Scripture. The functions of the elder and of the deacon are made clear. But the number of church courts is not specifically prescribed, and nothing is said about what dress the officers shall wear. God has ensured that the essential elements of the church may be found in Scripture; the non-essentials are within the realm of liberty.

Similarly, in the realm of public worship the Bible mentions the essential elements, but it makes no attempt to impose a limitation upon the methods of praise, for example. Saved men should worship God. There are certain appropriate avenues for the expression of that worship. The Bible sets them forth. It does not declare the exact forms in which these avenues shall be walked.

It is of the utmost importance, then, that when Scripture is read its purpose should be kept in mind and no attempt made to draw final conclusions from it concerning matters about which it does not speak. On the other hand, for the purposes which it is designed in the plan of God to serve, it is sufficient and it is clear. Its infallibility in its original manuscripts was perfect, and the principles which it sets forth are applicable to the whole of life.

What, more specifically, is meant by its sufficiency? For one thing, Scripture contains all the information which a man needs in order to set forth the way of salvation. Further, the Bible contains all the guidance which is needed for the continuous living of the Christian life.

It is completely sufficient at this point. If there are absolute rules which must be followed, the Bible states them. In the absence of such rules the Christian is at liberty to follow a course or courses which accord with the general principles presented in Scripture.

There is one very important consequence of this fact. God does not today guide people directly without using the Scriptures. There are no divinely given "hunches." God does not give people direct mental impressions to do this or that. People do not hear God's voice speaking within them. There is no immediate and direct unwritten communication between God and the individual human being. If the Scriptures are actually sufficient, such communication is unnecessary. On the other hand, if such communications were actually being made, every Christian would be a potential author of Scripture. We would only need to write down accurately what God said to us, and we would be legitimately adding to the Bible, for such writings would be the Word of God. Many people have thought they were writing new Bibles. Many more people have thought that God spoke to them directly. But when these supposed revelations are examined, what a strange mass of nonsense, contradiction and triviality this so-called Word of God proves to be. Many of my readers could construct a pot-pourri of such supposed revelations from the accounts which they have heard themselves and what a sorry mess they would make!

That people have "hunches" is obvious; that many of them work out very well and others quite poorly is also obvious. It is probable that they involve the use of some means or source of communication with which science is as yet very imperfectly acquainted. But that they come directly from God is no more to be supposed than it is that the waves that bring sounds to our radios come immediately from God.

Scripture is not only sufficient to direct Christians in every respect in which they must have guidance, but it is also clear. Its clarity, like its sufficiency, is with respect to its particular purposes.

Clarity, however, should not be confused with superficiality or with simplicity. The Bible is deep. Skimming will not exhaust its contents. The themes with which the Bible deals would hardly begin to be touched if the Bible were to speak only in simple terms. There is, then, complexity in the Bible, and study is of the greatest value. It is here that we who live in the twentieth century have a great advantage over our predecessors. The longer the study of the Bible is pursued, the more truth may be gathered from its pages. Those who disregard the labors of past generations and feel themselves sufficient for the task of understanding the Bible practically assure themselves that they will be limited in their appreciation of Biblical truth. Study, then, enhances the clarity of the Scriptures and adds new knowledge to that which has been more quickly gained.

"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged" (I Cor. 2:14). The essential point for our purpose in this quotation from Paul is that there is a difference of viewpoint between the Christian and the nonChristian, between the man who has been renewed by the Spirit of God and the man who has not. That difference in viewpoint has a vital bearing upon the question of the clarity of the Scriptures. The spiritual man has, through his regeneration, a basis for comprehension which the natural man lacks. Given equal mental gifts and powers, therefore, the spiritual man has a key, as it were, which the other lacks to unlock the meaning of Biblical statements.

The characteristic of infallibility which the Scripture possesses has been set forth elsewhere in this volume by one of my colleagues (cf. chapter 1) and needs no further comment at this particular point.

It should be noted now, however, that there is no realm of life which is exempt from the applicability of Scripture. As God is the sovereign of the whole universe, so his Word has meaning throughout that universe. The details and particularities of application will vary tremendously, but the principles are the same wherever God is God and humanity human.

One of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, obstacle to the proper use and understanding of Scripture is a series of misunderstandings which are commonly diffused throughout Christendom and which interfere in the most serious way with the acceptance by modern men of the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. I propose to devote attention to a series of these and to endeavor to remove them.

1. One of the more surprising of them, one which is widely found, however, is that the Bible is not only a unique book but a magical book. People use the Bible to find out the will of God by turning to it at random when a problem arises and seeking the answer to their difficulties in the first section that they read. Sometimes they even let the Bible fall open "at will" and then start reading; or they let it fall open and then blindly put their finger on a verse and, having read it, force it into a plausible meaning for their particular difficulty. It may sound peculiar to some of my readers, but very good men have attempted this type of magic. For such purely mechanical systems are of the essence of magic.

But Christianity is not a religion of magic. Magicians and sorcerers are condemned throughout both the Old and New Testaments (see, for example, Mal. 3:5 and Rev. 22: 15). The command of God is, "be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5: 17). Reference to a concordance to the Bible will easily show the reader how frequently our Lord's emphasis dwelt upon understanding the truth, but he does not so much as suggest methods for pursuing magical arts in order to determine God's will. Rather the New Testament tells us to give diligence to present ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15).

The only way of ascertaining the will of God, as well as the truth of God, is to learn it by zealous application as students of the revelation of that will contained in the Scriptures. Such short cuts as pulling verses out of boxes, getting guidance by daily motto books, and letting the Bible fall open like a casting of dice are not only useless; they are deceptive.

2. A more serious misapprehension concerning the Scripture is that the Holy Spirit so inspired the writers as to cause them to use modern scientific canons in their use of language. For example, it is argued that, when the inspired writer said, "it is he that sitteth above the circle of the earth" (Isa. 40:22), there is in this form of statement a reference to the sphericity of the earth. Such an interpretation is mistaken for several reasons. a) Revelation came to an inspired writer for a specific purpose. Scripture was not written by mechanical dictation and God did not reveal to its writers truths quite irrelevant to the purpose in hand. The prophet at this particular point had no need of a revelation concerning the shape of the earth. b) The writer often, as we shall see, did not understand the entire import of his writing but he was not writing what were to himself obscure conundrums, and the interpreter of Scripture must not read into it meanings of an entirely different genus from those of the writer. The author here doubtless had in mind the rough circle visible to an observer from a point elevated above the earth's surface. He was not talking about astronomical truth at all. c) Figurative forms of expression, when they appear in the Bible, are to be recognized as such and not interpreted as natural science.

3. If the writers of the Bible were not inspired to use modern scientific canons, neither were they enabled to use modern historical canons. They employed popular forms of speech, without regard for the meticulous reservations as to approximations, probabilities and definitions which often encumber, as well as assist, a modern historian. When the historian who wrote the First Book of Kings stated that Solomon "made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones" (I Kings 10:27), this is obviously not to be taken as a crass literalism. It is a popular way of expressing the simple truth that silver had become commonplace.

4. The writers of Scripture were under the necessity of using words in the common meaning attached to them at the time. It is true that there may have been a fuller meaning within the purview of the Spirit of God but the Bible was written to be intelligible to contemporaries. It was not something essentially esoteric which could have no immediate usefulness to the people of the times when its various parts were being written. That means that we cannot without question apply to terms used in the Scriptural writings their current modern meaning. An example of this is found in Luke 2: 1,where it is stated that "there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled." Does this mean that the Eskimos of Greenland were to be included in this census? Obviously not. It did not even mean that all the peoples of the then known world were included. There were many peoples within the knowledge of the Roman world but outside of the scope of this taxation in Mesopotamia, in Arabia, in India, for example. Similarly the statement that "all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom" (I Kings 10:24) is obviously not to be understood in a meticulously literal sense. A meaning natural to the times, sometimes even a colloquial meaning, is to be sought for words when we are reading the Bible.

5. In the interpretation of Scripture the meaning will only be apparent if a due regard is had to the form of literary expression the writer is employing. The difference between the imagery of poetry and the more sober diction of prose is often apparent. But is it always recognized that the description of Leviathan in the book of Job (ch. 41) is poetical not only in form but in content? It should not be interpreted as a pedestrian recital of biological data.

The poetry of the Bible is full of non-literal images such as "his [Jehovah's] eyelids try the children of men (Psa. 1 1:4). But such figures are not confined to poetry. It is in prose that John is told that the seven heads of the woman whom he had seen "are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth" (Rev. 17:9), where one symbol is interpreted by another. Such an example obviously teaches caution in interpretation.

The parables of Christ are, of course, works of fiction, composed to point a lesson and make vivid a particular truth. They are not accounts of actual happenings, nor does every detail of them have a meaning or a lesson. The details are there to lend point to the main thrust. The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) is likewise most probably a piece of fiction, told by our Lord to illustrate a point. There are other examples of this in the Scriptures. Symbolism and story are to be recognized as such.

6. The Bible is the Word of God, but it is not identical with what it would he were it possible to imagine that God had written it without human intervention or operation. An indication of this is the variety of style, vocabulary, grammatical construction and manner of treatment which characterize the various books. It is, of course, impossible to conceive of the Bible being written without mediation of some sort, but it is also impossible to maintain that that mediation was without effect upon the finished product.

One result of this is that while the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts, its statements are not to be interpreted as though they were the statements of omniscient masters who knew all truth concerning the subject in hand. They are true statements but they are not always complete statements. The entire Bible is, of course, an illustration of this point, but perhaps it may be clarified by a reference to the fact that there are four Gospels, not one. It is the fact of human mediation which makes four separate Gospels appropriate. Each one supplements the other and serves to amplify and complete the picture. The three accounts of healing the blind in the vicinity of Jericho in the synoptic Gospels (Matt. 20:29ff.; Mark 10:46ff.; Luke 18:35ff.) need not at all be understood as contradictory to one another. It is quite possible to harmonize them. But each one supplements the other and makes the picture more complete.

When this principle is applied to details, it means that the Bible is not to be understood as always giving such a balanced, well-rounded, all-comprehensive account of an event, or enunciation of a truth, as one might, may I say, anticipate from omniscience. On the contrary the Bible is written by men, preserved from error, but not given the perceptive faculties of God.

7. Another reason why Biblical accounts are not always entirely comprehensive, however, is that such completeness was not necessary for the purpose which the writers had in mind. An example may be found in the omission from the Gospels of any appreciable amount of information on the years of Jesus' life which intervene between the visit to Jerusalem at the age of twelve and his baptism by John the Baptist. Such information would doubtless have been satisfying to human curiosity, as is indicated by the popularity in the early church of non-canonical gospels which purported, at least, to supply this lack. But there was no need for it in order to accomplish the purposes of the Holy Spirit and of the Gospel writers, which were centered particularly upon preserving a record of the events and words which were of especial, universal significance.

8. It is not to be thought, however, that the writers of Scripture always understood the full meaning or the full application of their statements. They were, of course, as has been said above, not writing nonsense in their own eyes. They understood a meaning of what they wrote. But that was not necessarily the entire meaning which subsequent readers were rightly to draw from the passage. The most obvious examples of this are probably to be found in connection with predictive prophecy. There is no reason to suppose, for example, that Jeremiah, when he wrote, "Thus saith Jehovah: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not" (Jer. 31:15), had any notion that this would find a fulfillment in connection with a royally authorized murder of the children of Bethlehem in an effort to kill the infant king of the Jews. But the same principle applies in less obvious cases. The apostle Paul did not know that there would ever be such things as motion pictures which would be made the subject of ecclesiastical ordinances when he wrote, "If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch (all which things are to perish with the using), after the precepts and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2:20-23). But the principle he set forth applies to motion pictures as much as to the interests of his own day.

9. A related principle is the truth that although the writers of Scripture were kept from error in their inspired writing, they often had wrong notions in their heads. They certainly, for example, did not all know of the rotation of the earth. Not only that, but they, at times, had wrong views as to the implications of what they wrote. Hosea gives no evidence of understanding that "I will say to them that were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God" (Hosea 2:23) was to apply to any one but the Jews. Yet Paul makes it clear that the statement has application to Gentiles (Rom. 9:25).

10. The question of the use of source materials by inspired writers also arises in this connection. When a writer of Scripture incorporates a passage from another source into his work, does that source bear the same character as the context? Obviously not in every sense. Its style, for instance, is different. There may be cited as an example the poetical passage in Joshua 10:12, 13 which appears to be a quotation from the book of Jashar.

Was the writer of any particular source inspired in the same sense in which the immediate Biblical writer was? It would be rash and without warrant to affirm that he was. The inspiration of the Biblical writer doubtless extended to his selecting activity in choosing the material to be incorporated. For statements beyond that, there probably is no warrant.

11. Another pitfall to avoid is that of applying a scriptural precept to conditions other than those to which it is truly applicable. The decision in cases of this type is one which must be left to the individual reader and student. It is often a difficult one to make. Yet it is part of the responsibility of the individual Christian. The Roman Catholic Church has undertaken to provide infallible guidance in the interpretation of Scripture on the basis of its doctrine of the authority of the Church. The Church does not always undertake a pronouncement upon any given question, but if it does do so, its decision is final and the responsibility of the individual is limited to the acceptance of that decision. There is no actual evidence, however, to show that God has designed to endow his church or any branch of it with such authority. Evidence for the authority of Scripture, from the lips of our Lord and otherwise, is multiform but not for that of the church. The individual Christian must, therefore, undertake the task of interpretation for himself. He may, and should, secure all of the assistance possible from other scholars and sources of learning, but the final decision must lie with himself.

An example of a decision of this sort is that which must be made with reference to Paul's statement that he desired that women should not adorn themselves "with braided hair, and gold or pearls" (I Tim. 2:9). Since the First Epistle to Timothy is inspired Scripture, how is this statement to be understood by Christian women in America in the twentieth century? It is an expression of a desire of Paul. Can it, for that reason, be held to be nothing more than a personal pious wish of the apostle? I think not. The statement occurs in the middle of a series of exhortations directed by Paul to Timothy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If one exhortation is authoritative, all are. The series, which covers the first three chapters of the epistle, is concluded by the statement, "These things write I unto thee, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:14, 15). The exhortations are all parts of a series designed for the authoritative guidance of Christian people. Should one, therefore, conclude that a Christian woman today may not braid her hair or wear any ornament made of gold or including pearls?

Some Christians have so decided. There are many of them to be found among members of Mennonite congregations. I think, however, that their decision is erroneous. This opinion is based upon the fact that the use of braided hair, of gold, and of pearls was much less common in the first century A.D. than it is now. Such usage therefore was more conspicuous. Gold and pearls were proportionately more expensive. Their use then marked the wearer as one who gave considerable attention and money to personal adornment. The purpose of Paul, judging from the immediate, and the remote, context was to exhort women to personal inconspicuousness and a balanced outlay of effort and money. In his day braided hair, gold, and pearls were incompatible with this end. Today in America they are not. The use of braided hair, of gold, and of pearls is, therefore, not always to be avoided today as it was then.

Another example of this type of problem is raised by Jesus' washing of the feet of his disciples and concluding with the statement, "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). Should Christians today wash one another's feet? Many members of the Church of the Brethren so believe.

But foot washing was a constant practice in first century Palestine. It was customary whenever one came in from a walk on the dusty roads. It was similar to our modern hand washing. But in the case of the feet it was a service more easily performed by another than by oneself. Christ was teaching that Christians should perform humble, ordinary services for one another. Foot washing was such a service then. It is quite inappropriate now, and to give the commandment of our Lord a binding literal interpretation is out of place.

12. It is not only the alteration of physical conditions in the external world by distance, by time, or by place which changes the application of Scripture. There are injunctions which are simultaneously appropriate to certain undertakings and circumstances and not to others. At the Last Supper Christ said to his disciples, "But now . . . he that hath none [purse and wallet], let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword" (Luke 22:36). A few hours later in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said to one of his company, "Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26:52). Was the first injunction abrogated a few hours later by the second? Not at all. The first statement was for later immediate application than the second, and is still just as true as the other. Proper equipment, even to weapons for defense if needed, is always the Christian's responsibility. It is, also, always true that violence will provoke violence. A given Biblical text cannot be applied as a universal plaster for any conceivable condition. Its use depends upon its specific applicability.

Karl Barth has propounded a doctrine which, superficially, has some resemblance to this truth. It is his contention that the Bible is not always the Word of God. Any given portion of it may be the Word of God for a particular person at a particular time. The character of the Scripture, says he, is dependent upon the circumstance of mind and environment. But, in fact, it is the applicability of the Word, not its character, which is affected by the circumstance. And, most important, that applicability, if effective, is the same for all Christians. It is not dependent, as Barth contends, upon the character or state of the individual Christian.

13. There is one broad rule which goes far to obviate the several types of difficulty which we have recently been discussing. All Scriptural statements must be understood and applied in the light of the conditions and circumstances which they were intended to describe or under which they were originally written. The truth of the statements, in the strict sense, is not dependent upon those circumstances but the meaning frequently is, and the truth can only be understood if the meaning is understood. That cannot be determined apart from a knowledge of the circumstances. An obvious example is the fact that the impact of the first two plagues imposed upon Egypt would not be apparent without a knowledge of the importance of the river Nile in the life of the country. Turning the waters of the river into blood and making the river swarm with frogs meant far more in Egypt than in a country which was not exclusively dependent for its existence upon the river.

A more important example is the case of the speeches of Job's so-called "comforters." These speeches are true because they are accurate representations of the points of view and positions of the different individuals. But these individuals were, of course, not always speaking absolute truth with reference to any external or objective standard of reference. What they said may have been false but the account of their saying it is accurate.

A still more important example of this type of reporting is the book of Ecclesiastes. It is a presentation of the scene of human life, and man in the midst of the scene, from a humanly self-determined point of view. It does not represent the wisdom of God, but the experience of man. At the conclusion of his series of ventures, the author, doubtless a regenerated man, presents a picture of life as it appears to one who has tried all that human experience has to offer. The record is viewed under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, but the report is of human experience. It is set forth with divine authority as a warning against reliance upon man's unaided powers.

14. The last principle is of such outstanding importance that it is unique and deserves not only the final place but, logically, a category of its own. This is the principle that Scripture is to be interpreted as a whole, in the light of all of its parts. It is set forth in the Westminster Confession in the words, "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly" (I, 9). Excellent examples of the truth of this are to be found within the Sermon on the Mount, Christ assures us, "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. 5:17), and later declares, "Ye have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil: but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also" (Matt. 5:38-40). The one passage illuminates the meaning of the other.

Often the interpretation of a statement is to be found not in the immediate context but at a point at considerable distance. The meaning of Old Testament prophecy is best illustrated by the examples of its fulfillment given in the New. The command of Christ, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged" (Matt. 7:1), is to be understood in the light of Paul's questions, "Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (I Cor. 6:1, 2).

The application of each passage for the Christian believer is limited and explained by the other. The original writer, as indicated above, may not in every case have known as much concerning the divinely-intended meaning as does the modern Christian who can compare Scripture passage with Scripture passage and thus reach a unified conception of the divine intention. The teaching of Scripture for the Christian is the sum of all its parts. No single passage should be used as the basis for moral action without asking whether other passages throw additional light upon the teaching on the subject in hand.

If Scripture is read and applied by Christians today in the light of these considerations, they will ever approach more nearly to a valid understanding of God's revelation to men. Viewed in accordance with these principles, the Bible will shine forth as a great, many-faceted jewel, sparkling with an internal divine fire and giving a clear and adequate light to every pilgrim upon his pathway to the Celestial City.

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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