Turn on Christian radio anywhere in the United States and see how long it takes before someone declares that “Scripture clearly teaches [fill in the blank].” There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the very origins of Protestant Christianity more than five hundred years ago.
The Protestant Reformation coalesced around five core doctrines: sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. But another founding principle served as bedrock for all of them: the doctrine of clarity, or perspicuity. According to this doctrine, which was upheld in various forms by all the major Reformers and remains central to Protestantism today, the Bible is clear enough so that any Christian, relying on the Holy Spirit, will be able to determine at least what is necessary for salvation, if not much more.
The Obscurity of Scripture: Disputing Sola Scriptura and the Protestant Notion of Biblical Perspicuity catalogues and analyzes the historical, theological, and philosophical dimensions of perspicuity and finds the doctrine not only confused but erroneous, destructive, and self-defeating. The Obscurity of Scripture exposes the hopeless dead ends of clarity and, through a consideration of Catholic teaching on the Bible, offers the only way out.
Casey J. Chalk holds degrees in History and Teaching from the University of Virginia and a Master’s Degree in Theology from the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology at Christendom College. He serves as an editor or regular contributor for many publications, including The New Oxford Review, The Federalist, Crisis Magazine, The American Conservative, and The Spectator. He is the author of The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands. Casey, his wife and their five children live in his native Northern Virginia.
Instructor of Systematic and Moral Theology,
Dominican House of Studies
Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology, Graduate School of Theology,
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Author of The Biblical Names of Jesus:
Beautiful, Powerful Portraits of Christ
Associate Professor and Dean, Notre Dame Graduate School, Christendom College
Warren Professor of Catholic Studies, The University of Tulsa