4. This statement assumes that we have become convinced that Scripture is indeed the very words of God, and that we have understood at least some portions of Scripture correctly. Yet at this point the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture discussed in the previous chapter assures us that we will be able to understand the teachings of Scripture correctly, and the overwhelming testimony of Scripture to its own divine authorship (discussed in the chapters above concerning different forms of the Word of God and concerning the authority of Scripture), made persuasive to us by the work of the Holy Spirit, convinces us of the divine authorship of Scripture. In this sense the argument becomes not so much circular as something like a spiral where each section of the doctrine of Scripture reinforces the other and deepens our persuasion of the truthfulness of other sections of the doctrine of Scripture. By this process, our persuasion that Scripture is God's Word, that it is truth, that it is clear, and that knowledge which we attain from it is certain, becomes stronger and stronger the more we study and reflect on it.
We can of course speak of degrees of certainty that we might have concerning the fact that the Bible is God's Word, and degrees of certainty that our interpretation of any one teaching in Scripture is correct. Then from the standpoint of individual personal experience, we could say that our certainty of the correctness of knowledge
This concept of the certainty of knowledge that we attain from Scripture then gives us a reasonable basis for affirming the correctness of much of the other knowledge that we have. We read Scripture and find that its view of the world around us, of human nature, and of ourselves corresponds closely to the information we have gained from our own sense-experiences of the world around us. Thus we are encouraged to trust our sense-experiences of the world around us: our observations correspond with the absolute truth of Scripture; therefore, our observations are also true and, by and large, reliable. Such confidence in the general reliability of observations made with our eyes and ears is further confirmed by the fact that it is God who has made these faculties and who in Scripture frequently encourages us to use them (compare also Prov. 20:12: "The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both").
In this way the Christian who takes the Bible as God's Word escapes from philosophical skepticism about the possibility of attaining certain knowledge with our finite minds. In this sense, then, it is correct to say that for people who are not omniscient, the Bible is necessary for certain knowledge about anything.
This fact is important for the following discussion, where we affirm that unbelievers can know something about God from the general revelation that is seen in the world around them. Although this is true, we must recognize that in a fallen world knowledge gained by observation of the world is always imperfect and always liable to error or misinterpretation. Therefore the knowledge of God and creation gained from Scripture must be used to interpret correctly the creation around us. Using the theological terms that we will define below, we can say that we need special revelation to interpret general revelation rightly.6
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