Francis Turretin, Scripture Without Error

David Burchard Doctrine, Quotable Quotes Leave a Comment

IX. Whatever contradictions seem to be in Scripture are apparent but not real. [They appear] only with respect to the understanding of us who are not able to perceive and grasp everywhere their harmony. They are not in the material itself. If the laws of true contradiction are observed, so that seeming contradictions are brought together in accordance with simple identity of qualities (secundum idem), circumstance (ad idem), or time, the various so-called contradictions of Scripture can readily be reconciled, for either (1) they are simply not discussions of the same things, as when James ascribes justification to works, although Paul disparages them. One speaks of an explanatory justification of effect, a posteriori; the other of a justification of cause, a priori. So also in Luke 6:36 mercy is required, “be merciful,” while it is forbidden in Deuteronomy 19:13, “you shall show no mercy.” One commandment is for private citizens; one for magistrates. Or (2) the same thing is not described according to the same qualities, as Matthew in 26:11 denies the presence of Christ in the world, “You will not always have me/, while in 28:20 he promises it, “I am with you always, to the end of time.” One statement is made with respect to the human nature [of Christ] and his bodily presence; the other with respect to the divine nature and his spiritual presence. Or (3) the statements are not made with regard to the same circumstances, as when one is absolute and the other relative. “Honor your father,” but, Luke 14:26, “if anyone does not hate his father.” One statement is to be understood as absolute; the other as relative, in that our [earthly] father must be loved less and placed after Christ. Or the statements do not refer to the same time, whence the maxim, “Distinguish the scriptural times and relationships.” Thus circumcision is both exalted, as the great privilege of the Jews (Rom. 3:1- 2), and deprecated as a thing of naught (Gal. 5:3). One statement refers to the time of the Old Testament, when it was the ordinary sacrament and seal of the righteousness of faith; the other to the time of the gospel after the abrogation of the ceremonial law. Likewise the apostles were sent on a special mission to the Jews alone before Christ’s passion, and were forbidden to go to the Gentiles, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:5), but after the resurrection [they were sent] on a general mission to all people (Mark 16:15).

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