Necessities for Doctrinal Resolution
Q: Are the things of God knowable to man?
A: Yes, some of them!
In order for doctrines to be resolved, so that certain of them can be firmly established, we need to understand certain principles. If these principles are true, then God has revealed truths to mankind, and we can surely discern many doctrines. If these principles are not true, than no one can be sure of any aspect of theological doctrine.
The following principles are logical mandates for the resolution of doctrines:
The Revelation of God - We believe in an all powerful, all knowing God who is in absolute control of the universe, and who is absolutely righteous. We believe God has chosen to directly reveal aspects of Himself and of His will to mankind in normal written form by the verbal, plenary inspiration of human authors, in the Holy Scriptures.
The Reliability of Scripture - We believe that the Holy Bible is the absolutely inerrant, absolutely authoritative Word of God. We agree with the entire Protestant canon of the Holy Bible, and We believe that this canon is closed. We believe that copies and translations of the original texts are the Word of God, with full authority, to the extent that they are faithful to the originals.
Authority of Scripture - We believe that the Bible is authoritative in all matters, including matters which are spiritual, scientific, historical, or prophetic. The authority of the Word of God is absolute, not depending upon, or being superseded by, any church, tradition, or private interpretation. We do not believe in any new or superseding revelation from God since the conclusion of books of the Protestant canon, nor that the Holy Spirit ever leads or directs in such a way as to revise, oppose, or contradict the Scriptures.
Timeliness of Scripture - We believe that the biblical authority is not limited or changed by time or varied culture in any matters of scriptural command addressed to mankind, to Israel, or to the Church. We recognize separate dispensations and progressive revelation, as well as matters limited to specific historic context, but repudiate any claims that the Bible is "out of date" or "no longer applies."
Proper Interpretation of Scripture - We believe in the literal, or natural, interpretation of the Scriptures as the consistently applicable hermeneutic method throughout the Word of God and that the Bible must be interpreted in the context of its original historical audience, which may or may not include the modern church. We do not believe in unstated, additional spiritual meanings which are overlaid upon the literal interpretations by any means of allegory or mysticism.
Given the principles above - What remains is the prayerful and logical observation and interpretation of Scripture on the part of the individual believer, and especially by Christain leaders - including parents and Sunday school teachers!
What about Unresolvable Doctrines?
There are many things which are not directly stated in Scripture. To understand these issues, we have several guides to help us:
Systematic studies - If we trace a subject throughout the Bible, collecting related statements and examples, we can quite often be reasonably assured of truths regarding the things of God, even if they are not directly stated.
Implied teaching and Examples - If something seems to be implied in Scripture, or if Scripture shows examples, and if the context is sure, then these can be reasonably considered as instruction, but without the authority of scriptural command.
Rabbinical Traditions and Ancient Church Commentary - If a passage is unclear, we should consider commentaries written much closer to the time period. Translations of ancient rabbinical and church commentaries are readily available today and often provide insight to how Scripture was understood by the closer contemporary audience.
Generally speaking, the more we learn about the nature of God, and about His revealed Word, the more understanding we will have regarding things which are not directly stated. This is the kind of individual understanding that will help us grow in our daily walk.
These "guides" will help us answer questions not directly addressed in Scripture, but we need to avoid being dogmatic or divisive regarding what we personally conclude (or what we may have been taught) regarding those things which God has chosen to leave unsaid.