The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture (often called the perspicuity of Scripture) is a Protestant Christian position teaching that

"...those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them". Westminster Confession of Faith

According to denominations which hold to the doctrine of the clarity of scripture, is Trinitarianism something which is necessary to be known and believed for salvation, and therefore clearly propounded and opened such that not only the learned, but the unlearned may attain to a sufficient understanding of them?

  • Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I AM". Thomas confessed Christ as "my God". Now, Unitarians have other explanations of these verses, but I think Trinitarians have a pretty good case that these verses (and others) make the matter pretty clear.
    – Matthew
    May 29, 2022 at 15:48
  • @Matthew The beggar also said "I AM". What does that put us at, 4 Persons in the Trinity? ;) May 30, 2022 at 5:07
  • Uh, citation, please?
    – Matthew
    May 30, 2022 at 14:35
  • @Matthew John 9:9. The Greek is identical. 'I AM' is a tendentious translation put forth by Trinitarians who want to think Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh. Normally, this phrase is just translated as 'I am he' or 'I am the one'. It's a self-identifier from a question from the context. Jesus says the same thing also in John 4:26, but there translators don't usually mess around and instead translate it as the obvious 'I am he', i.e., the Messiah. It's the same identifier at John 8:58, which is referring to his identity as Messiah at John 8:56. "The Messiah Abraham saw? It's me." May 30, 2022 at 15:59
  • @Matthew Remember, the whole point of John is to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Not God the Son. Don't believe me? Then perhaps you'll believe John himself, who states the purpose of his Gospel at John 20:31. "these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" If Thomas was actually claiming Jesus was God Almighty, don't you think John would have noted that in his summary? May 30, 2022 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


The section of the Westminster Confession you have quoted, Chapter I, section VII, explains how there is no limiting factor within the scripture, regarding those things necessary for salvation, which gives advantage to the learned over the unlearned.

Just prior to that Chapter 1 Section VI reads (in part):

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.(m) Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word

And again in Section X:

The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined; and in whose sentence we are to rest; can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

In short the spiritual truths necessarily relating to our salvation are spiritual truths recorded in a physical media and are thus to be discerned in both ways. The natural man cannot, by nature alone, apprehend the things of the Spirit:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Cor 2:12-14

For one example, Peter confessed Jesus to be the Son of the Living God and Jesus declared that Peter did not come by that knowledge through flesh and blood. Another example is Nicodemus' complete ignorance regarding the new birth even though he was 'the' teacher of Israel.

Trinitarian belief is necessary for salvation (according to Trinitarians) for two major reasons outlined in the confession:

  1. Chapter VII, section 1 - The gulf between Holy God and creature is so unbridgeable and immense to man that reconciliation must be an act of God:

The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which He hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

  1. Chapter VIII, section II - Jesus Christ is that voluntary condescension of God, taking upon Himself the nature of a created being to accomplish as a man and for mankind, what man is utterly incapable of doing:

The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

The Holy Spirit is said to be eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son in Chapter II, section III:

In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

This is that Spirit that searches all things, even the deep things of God; who has been sent into the world to convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgement; severally referred to as the Spirit of God, the Spirit from God, the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit of Christ and who dwelt in the flesh of Jesus without measure. This same Spirit was present and active in creation, inspired and illuminates Scripture to human hearts, regenerates and adopts the lost, lives and strives within the redeemed to produce conformity to Christ, and guarantees the inheritance. It is the same eternal Spirit by which Christ offered Himself without blemish to God on our behalf and who Jesus promised to send to be with us and in us forever.

Simply put Trinitarians are convinced from Scripture by natural apprehension and spiritual illumination of what is written that a Jesus who is not the only begotten Son of God, the Logos who was God in the beginning and never ceased to be God during the incarnation, is not capable of providing salvation to all mankind because the chasm between God and Man is uncrossable to Man. Therefore trinitarian belief is considered necessary for salvation because a merely human Jesus cannot save and man, unaided by the Holy Spirit, cannot apprehend salvation.

This is not to say that full doctrinal understanding is necessary in advance. Indeed, all (in whatever condition they currently exist) who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Following the new birth, however, the Holy Spirit will never illuminate scripture and enable understanding of that which is untrue. A saved individual, then, who from a sincere heart desires to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ can reasonably expect, over time through prayer, study, and a heart of obedience, to increase in apprehension of the Triune God.

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    'a merely human Jesus cannot save' This is the heart of the deception thrust onto the early church. To have God, as Jesus, be tempted by the devil, and win against all temptation that is common for man, makes a mockery of what was accomplished and therefore, 'He had to be made like His brothers in every way.' is just another lie. Heb 2:17
    – steveowen
    Mar 3, 2021 at 9:14
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    @user47952 "Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit. - Psalm 49:7-9" Mar 3, 2021 at 12:52
  • It's a bit like looking in a 1939 Britannica to check the price of Gold today! Jesus is not like us if he is God. If he is God, he is not like us in every way. Look into that instead of trying to wriggle out from the simple and plain revelation with a proof text taken out of context..
    – steveowen
    Mar 4, 2021 at 2:11
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    @user47952 Perhaps you are pressing "like us in every way" beyond it's intention. Jesus is God (Spirit) and Man (flesh). "Like us in every way" then would refer to Jesus' humanity; the flesh and blood of which he partook (participated/shared). Logos took on flesh not metamorphosed into flesh. Mar 4, 2021 at 12:46
  • :) rubbish - you jam the text into a narrow definition constrained by a theology. Let the text show the way. "like us in every way" is but one of many verses that say the same thing - Jesus was a man - period.
    – steveowen
    Mar 4, 2021 at 19:55

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