This approach has been referred to by some as “a hermeneutic of humility”—as if it is inherently too prideful for any preacher to think he knows what God said about anything. Of course, such a denial of all certainty has nothing to do with true humility. It is actually an arrogant form of unbelief, rooted in an impudent refusal to acknowledge that God has been sufficiently clear in His self-revelation to His creatures. It is actually a blasphemous form of arrogance, and when it governs even how someone handles the Word of God, it becomes yet another expression of evil rebellion against Christ’s authority.
Christ has spoken in the Bible, and He holds us responsible to understand, interpret, obey and teach what He said—as opposed to deconstructing everything the Bible says. Notice that Christ repeatedly rebuked the Pharisees for twisting Scripture, disobeying it, setting it aside with their traditions and generally ignoring its plain meaning. Not once did He ever excuse the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and false religion by apologizing for any lack of clarity in the Old Testament.
Jesus held not only the Pharisees but also the common people responsible for knowing and understanding the Scriptures. “Have you not read… ?” was a common rebuke to those who challenged His teaching but did not know or understand the Scriptures as they should have (Matthew 12:3). The problem lay not in any lack of clarity on Scripture’s part but in their own sluggish faith.
The apostle Paul, whose writings are most under debate by scholars today, wrote virtually all his epistles for the common man, not for scholars and intellectuals. Those addressed to churches were written to predominantly Gentile churches, whose understanding of the Old Testament was limited. He nevertheless expected them to understand what he wrote (Ephesians 3.3–5″ data-version=”nasb95″>Ephesians 3:3–5), and he held them responsible for heeding his instruction (1 Timothy 3.14–15″ data-version=”nasb95″>1 Timothy 3:14–15).
Paul and Christ both consistently made the case that it is every Christian’s duty to study and interpret Scripture rightly (2 Timothy 2:15).
Protestant Christianity has always affirmed the perspicuity of Scripture. That means we believe God has spoken distinctly in His Word. Not everything in the Bible is equally clear, of course (2 Peter 3.16″ data-version=”nasb95″>2 Peter 3:16). But God’s Word is plain enough for the average reader to know and understand everything necessary for a saving knowledge of Christ. Scripture is also sufficiently clear to enable us to obey the Great Commission, which expressly requires us to teach others “all things” that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28.18–20″ data-version=”nasb95″>Matthew 28:18–20).
Two thousand years of accumulated Christian scholarship has been basically consistent on all the major issues: The Bible is the authoritative Word of God, containing every spiritual truth essential to God’s glory, our salvation, faith and eternal life. Scripture tells us that all humanity fell in Adam, and our sin is a perfect bondage from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Jesus is God incarnate, having taken on human flesh to pay the price of sin and redeem believing men and women from sin’s bondage. Salvation is by grace through faith, and not a result of any works we do. Christ is the only Savior for the whole world, and apart from faith in Him, there is no hope of redemption for any sinner. So the gospel message needs to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth. True Christians have always been in full agreement on all those vital points of biblical truth.