27 November, 2016


The Rule of Interpretation of Scripture

If we are to take our interpretation of Scripture from the meaning of words and passages, which appear to teach a universalism, as the Professors Murray and Stonehouse do in their study The Free Offer of the Gospel, we should also apply the same method to such texts as:

John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

I John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.”

By the same method of interpretation, such texts teach a universal atonement, as indeed some today who claim to be Calvinists, are now teaching. Their claim to particularism, like that of the Amyraldians rests on the idea that the atonement is sufficient for all, and that its effectiveness is in its application. In other words, Christ died for all men, but the effectiveness of the atonement is in God’s eternal election. This differs little, if at all, from the doctrine of hypothetical redemption of the schools of Davenant and Amyraut. Ultimately, modern modified Calvinists, who in their inconsistency do not presently take the position of universal atonement, must in time logically move to that position. Tradition, not Calvin’s Calvinism, is the only thing preventing them.

We have seen that the interpretative method of modern modified Calvinism involves giving to Scripture texts a double meaning, thus involving its system of theology in a series of ambiguities and contradictions. Such method of interpretation does not stand up to examination in the light of the principle of interpretation of Scripture which is stated in the Westminster Confession, Chapter 1, Of the Holy Scripture, Section 9:

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.

“Which is not manifold, but one,” simply means not with more than one meaning.

Robert Shaw in his exposition of the Westminster Confession has written concerning the above statement: “No Scripture can have two or more meanings properly different, and nowise subordinate one to another, because of the unity of the truth, and because of the perspicuity (clearness) of the Scripture.”

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