Biblically Chaste

One of the reasons why I appreciate John Calvin (1509 – 1564) is his insistence upon the central importance of Scripture. The bulk of Calvin’s work consists of sermons and  biblical commentaries. Even in his Institutes, his goal was not to produce a logically consistent systematizing of doctrine, so much as to “prepare and instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word, in order that they may be able both to have easy access to it and to advance in it without stumbling.”[1] Calvin was happy to leave speculation to the philosopher; theologians, however, were to remain anchored in the Bible.

In preparation for our study Christian Thought through the Centuries starting on January 1, we will see the extent to which the principle of Bible-centeredness was observed by the Church. In the meantime, let us step into the New Year resolved to live as people of the Book, even as Paul describes in 2 Tim 3:16-17:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”


1. Inst. 1.2.2.

About the author

Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.


  1. I have an interesting comment for your 2nd Timothy 3:16 quote.

    It turns out the first two words of that verse, pasa graphe in Greek, are more accurately translated “every [individual] book or passage of Scripture” (since graphe is singular). Thus, reading it as “all Scripture as a whole” is not likely.

    In Kittel’s well respected Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 1, P30, he says this on graphe as it appears in this verse:

    3. graphe for a Single book. There are no NT instances except perhaps 2 Tim. 3:16, though contemporary parallels suggest that this means “every passage.”

    Given this, I think it’s wrong to use 2nd Timothy as a Sola Scriptura proof text, for it would prove too much, specifically that every *individual* book or passage would be sufficient, which clearly doesn’t work.

    1. Thanks Nick. You’ll want to be careful with Kittel. As Catholic and Protetestant scholars alike acknowledge, it’s context that informs the meaning of words, something which Kittel and books like his (i.e. Kenneth Wuest) are famous for overlooking. The point that I wish to emphasize is that Scripture is sufficient to equip God’s people for every good work. This is the heartbeat of Sola Scriptura. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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