Something occurred to me about the Bible recently, that opened it up in new ways. Basically, certain truths seem to be assumed in Scripture, without any real justification or explanation. The most obvious example is the existence of God. But are there other truths that are presented the same way?
The first thing that comes to mind is the concept of the Trinity. It’s generally noted that this doctrine is not clearly stated in the Word, yet the truth of it seems evident all throughout. Another example might be the deity of Christ. Although scholars point out many passages where this truth is taken as evident, nowhere is it unambiguously stated or described in detail.
The last example is particularly relevant for me. There was a time in my life when I struggled with the concept. Even reading passages that seemed to show Christ’s divinity, it never really clicked, and I began to struggle with accepting that truth. Then I prayed and sought the Lord. He gave me a clear understanding through some passages in John, and I’ve never doubted since. Even though I’ve gone back to those passages and don’t really see it presented with the same clarity, the certainty remains unchanged.
This experience suggests for me that there might not have been any way to really prove His deity in an intellectual sense. It’s as if such things, although true, are not provable from Scripture — they need to be revealed to us by God. Certainly His existence falls in this category, for the Bible nowhere tries to prove it. It only proclaims His existence and nature. Instead, it says that we are given knowledge of Him directly, so that we have no excuse for not recognizing Him (Romans 1:19-20). Could this extend to other truths, as well?
One place where this came up recently is with regard to hearing God’s voice. Someone commented to me that the idea that He talks to us, especially in any specific way such as intuition or inner voice, is not described in Scripture and so could not be real. But what if this idea (not necessarily any specific technique) is one of those things that the Bible takes as simply true, without any justification?
This really seemed to be the case when, in order to answer that comment, I gathered a bunch of passages related to Him speaking. Upon reflection, it seemed possible to argue that none of them unambiguously proved that God speaks to us today, let alone in any specific manner. Yet when the group of passages was gathered together, they shouted the idea. In other words, it’s as if all of Scripture was written with that idea in mind, and that it didn’t need describing any more than the fact that people talk; it’s just obvious.
In all these cases, including the existence of God, it would follow that intellectual argument is insufficient to convince anyone. And to flip this, if anyone insists on being intellectually satisfied before they can accept such ideas as true, then they are bound to be disappointed. So, for example, when people struggle with the presence of evil, or some apparent aspect of God’s character that they don’t like or understand, it can get in the way of belief.
This suggests that there is a limit to the value of good exegesis, and goes a long way toward explaining why there are those who simply can’t accept certain truths. In fact, if this is more common that just these few concepts, then it would help explain why even good scholars disagree on many things — because it’s not really a matter of scholarship. Perhaps the only way to be really certain is to ask the Author.
In a follow-up post, I’ll present the passages mentioned above, that include the concept of God speaking to us.