The interpretation of a text is aided by a proper understanding of a set of principles, among them the scope of the passage. Unless proper weight is given to its scope—interpretation cannot produce an accurate result…Biblical texts ripped out of their context can be made to say and teach anything; the same texts understood in light of the design of the author engender orthodoxy.
We have already cited the common language of the great English Protestant Confessions, Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist; we are now prepared to consider their relevant words. Among the attributes of Scripture is the fact of its scope:It gives all glory to God. This brief statement allows us to conceptualize the Puritan notion of scope–all of Scripture points to the glory of God. Its purpose is, at all places, a demonstration of God’s glory. While this may be hidden to blind eyes, and only received by a work of the Spirit, it is nevertheless certain. Divine origination and thus divine authority provides Scripture with a reflexive quality. In all of its parts its purpose is to glorify God. The divine author has ensured that it always aims at this target; that it always points to this compass position.
Way - Scope - Whole - Light - Glory
This is not to say that the only way to view the scope of the whole is in light of the glory of God narrowly defined, for that does not reflect the totality of the Puritan vision. In a fascinating paragraph that largely parallels the statement of the three Confessions cited above, John Owen (who played a principal role in the editing and publication of the Savoy Declaration) speaks to the subject. He says:
This is, too a large degree, a comment on the Confessional paragraph. As such, it expands the sense given to the succinct statement in the theological symbol. Owen...
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