Quodlibet

Scriptural Clarity

Analogia Fidei means “the harmony of faith,” or, practically, the consistency of our faith as it is derived from Scripture. If Scripture was inspired by God, then we can trust it to teach us the truth. And if God is a God of reason, then that truth will be a unity that is ultimately consistent. So we factor a prior commitment to the ultimate consistency of God’s self—revelation in the Bible into our interpretation of it.

Therefore, no passage of Scripture should ever be interpreted in such a way that it contradicts another passage. When it seems to, we know that we have gotten at least one of the passages wrong. Ninety percent of biblical hermeneutics is using the same procedures we use to understand any other book. But in this one place it is different. If you think I have contradicted myself, it is possible (though, I assure you, not very likely) that you are right. If you think God has contradicted himself, you can be confident that you are the one who is mistaken, not he. A second implication of this principle is that we need to be oriented to the way God has revealed himself in the total consistency of the Bible rather than in isolated statements. Therefore, we base our doctrine on that total consistency. God only needs to say something once for it to be true. But if we are basing a doctrine on a single passage rather than on the consistent message of the whole Bible, the chances that we might be taking the passage out of context, and consequently mistaking the doctrine, go up exponentially. There is safety in numbers, and God has so inspired the text that all its major doctrines are revealed “in many portions and in many ways” (Heb. 1:1).

The Analogia Fidei: for this feature of Scripture we should be humbly grateful, and to it we should be obedient.

Donald T. Williams Ph.D., is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College. He is the author of eleven books, most recently Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016) and An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of J. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Publishing House, 2018). He is a member of University Church, an interdenominational house church in Athens, Georgia.

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