The Primacy of Scripture
It was believed by the Reformers that during the middle ages, the Church had fallen into darkness through a failure to know the clear and simple truth of the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, there grew up over a thousand years a snowball of well-intentioned but misguided traditions that essentially buried the simple message of the Gospel.
For these reasons, the commitment to the Scriptures, especially as translated directly from the original Greek and Hebrew was essential to uncovering this simple Gospel and recovering healthy Gospel preaching Churches. This concept of the simple Gospel, so important to Luther and his followers, was inseparable from the Scriptures themselves.
It was then held by the Reformers that this simple Gospel message was readily apparent to any and all men. This did not mean that all Scripture was simple to read. It had to be interpreted. But when interpreting the obscure texts in light of the clear ones, any thinking man or woman who could read could comprehend the message of God’s grace and be saved. This simple message was that man was created good, that he fell into sin, that God provided a savior in Jesus Christ, and through faith in him, mankind was justified and could inherit the Kingdom of God and its attendant blessings of eternal life. This doctrine of the simple Gospel understandable in the Scriptures was known as the “perspicuity of the Scriptures.” This concept pervades the English reforms, not just Anglican, but also the Presbyterian, Puritan, Congregationalists, and the Baptists.
A Simple But Difficult Task
Perhaps the saddest commentary on the church today is broad incompetence with the Scriptures. We can truly say that the message of Scripture is simple, but applying it is often not as simple as it looks on the surface. In fact, it can be quite difficult.
The common reason for this difficulty is the broad illiteracy with the Scriptures among not only the rank-and-file Christian but especially with her leadership and teachers.
Many Seminaries have sacrificed higher standards of biblical education in the name of “practical” or “pastoral” concerns. This props up a false dichotomy that serious study of the Scriptures is not necessary if you are “just doing ministry.”
Every word that Scripture teaches is of utmost importance and has far-reaching implications for not only the salvation of individuals but the longterm health of the Church. Teaching the wrong things in regard to this topic or the other can impact that person’s life and many people’s lives for the rest of their lives. The uninformed pastor who supports an unbiblical divorce can be at fault for not only the separation of the spouses but cast the influential vote that decides whether children will grow up in a unified home where their parents learned to repent of their pride and mature together or be raised in a broken home.