Tuesday, January 25, 2011

to instruct common readers...

Noah Worcester (1758-1837) was a truly fascinating figure in early American Unitarianism. The Dictionary of Unitarian Universalst Biography tells his story here It reports that:
In 1810...he published "Bible News of Father, Son and Holy Ghost," a treatise that attracted wide attention during this period of the Unitarian controversy. Henry Ware Jr. wrote, "The appearance at this moment of a bold and free-minded advocate of liberty and truth, bursting away by solitary study and the unaided action of his own mind from the old prescriptive theology, was well adapted to make a sensation. Mr. Worcester became an object of much interest and sympathy, and his cause was made identical with the great movement against ecclesiastical authority."

Worcester relates five rules for Biblical Interpretation all of which he uses to prove his central proposition that God is one, Jesus is the Son of God and that the Bible does not support the doctrine of the Trinity...

"Rule I. "The Scriptures were inspired, to instruct common readers, by using words according to their Common acceptation, and not to confound them by an abuse of language."

Rule II. The terms used in Revelation must be understood in a sense corresponding with some analogy known to men.

Rule III. So far as the Scriptures may interpret themselves, by eomparing Scripture with Scripture, sueh interpretation is to be preferred to any human hypothesis

Rule 1V. In many instanees, it is neeessary to take into view the customs of the people to whom the Scriptures were originally communicated and to consider in what light they would most naturally understand particular passages.

Rule V. Particular phrases, terms, and epithets", are to be understood in a sense which is eonsistent with the general tenor of the gospel, and the character of the objects to which they are applied."


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