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Archive for June 10th, 2014

John_Frame

What is the role of Scripture and extrabiblical data in light of the sufficiency of Scripture?

I appreciate John Frame’s definition of the sufficiency of Scripture not as “sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words” with the note that “Scripture contains divine words sufficient for all of life.” (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 157).  I think this definition is helpful because it allows us to delineates the use of Biblical and extra-biblical data in knowing and doing things as Frame explained in this extended quote:

If you remember that the sufficiency of Scripture is a sufficiency of divine words, that will help us to understand the role of extrabiblical data, both in ethics and theology.  People sometimes misunderstand the doctrine of sufficiency by thinking that it excludes the use of any extrabiblical information in reaching ethical conclusions.  But if we exclude the use of extrabiblical information, then ethical reflection is next to impossible.

Scripture itself recognizes this point.  As I said earlier, the inscriptional curses does not forbid seeking extrabiblical information.  Rather, they forbid us to equate extrabiblical information with divine words.  Scripture itself requires us to correlate what it says with general revelation.  When God told Adam to abstain from the forbidden fruit, he assumed that Adam already had general knowledge, sufficient to apply that command to the trees that he could see and touch.  God didn’t need to tell Adam what a tree was, how to distinguish fruits from leaves, or what it meant to eat.  These these were natural knowledge.  So God expected Adam to correlate the specific divine prohibition concerning one tree to his natural knowledge of the trees in the garden.  This is theology as application: applying God’s word to our circumstances.

The same is true for all divine commands in Scripture.  When God tells Israel to honor their fathers and mothers, he does not bother to define ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and to set forth an exhaustive list of things that may honor or dishonor them.  Rather, God assumed that Israel have some general knowledge of family life, and he expects them to apply his commands to that knowledge.”

(John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 163).

Some of the highlights I put in bold font.

I think Frame is building upon the observation that I first read from the apologist Cornelius Van Til of the need of general and special revelation being inter-dependent.  God’s Special Revelation always interpret His General Revelation and extrabiblical information; but note here that Special Revelation assumes that there are extrabiblical information out there; moreover, it will never contradict God’s special revelation.

For more quotes from John Frame, I invite you to “like” our blog’s face book page which will be featuring daily morning quotes from Frame’s book, The Doctrine of the Christian Life.

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