Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Isn't It Ironic?

I like irony, and when I detect it I like to point it out. And I'm not talking about rain on your wedding day or ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.

I have been chuckling to myself recently about how that Catholics deny the Protestant idea of the perspicuity of Scripture (that the Bible is clear enough on its basic teachings that even children can understand its message), but at the same time, Rome's doctrines represent the conclusions that any child would reach by just reading the Scripture for what it says. And contrariwise, we Protestants insist that the Bible is perfectly clear and understandable while employing our most impressive systematic and exegetical acumen to highlight just how complicated the seemingly-plain language of Scripture really is.

For example, if my four-year-old daughter were to read the words, "This is My body," she would probably conclude that the bread is Jesus' body in the most basic and literal sense of the word, and I would have to try my hardest to explain that what Jesus really meant was that the bread is his body truly, but spiritually and not physically since insistence upon the ubiquity of Jesus' human nature betrays an erroneous, indeed Eutychean, understanding of the communicatio idiomatum.

Or, if she read the instruction of Ananias to Saul to "be baptized and wash away your sins," she would most likely assume that baptism washes away sins, leaving me to point out that the administration of the signum and the reception of the res significata are not necessarily simultaneous, and that it's not the waters of baptism that really wash away sins anyway, but the blood of Christ (of which baptism is a sign and seal).

And heaven help me if I ever let her read the book of James, for then she'll probably get the idea that Abraham was not justified by faith alone, but by faith and works (which, in turn, will force me to patiently point out that Paul and James use the words pistis and dikaioo in quite different ways, even though they sound the same in Greek and English).

Does all this hassle tempt me to abandon my complex theology? Of course not. But it does make me wonder if Geneva should trade the notion of perspicuity to Rome for something that they claim, but would look better sitting exclusively on our mantle.

How about sola gratia?