Inner Logic is an important concept to realize when approaching Scripture and its interpretation. These two words actually signify another way of saying theological exegesis; yet I find that many in my own tradition of “Evangelicalism” shy away from such thinking when it comes to Biblical interpretation. There is this unspoken (but often spoken) belief that when we interpret scripture that it is simply a staightforward exercise (of course the multitudinous interpretations of scripture put this belief to death quickly). The irony of this perspective is that so many of our Essential Christian Beliefs are grounded in anything but straightforward exegesis. Let me provide an example:
One of the bedrock, touchstone foundations of Historic Christian Belief is the doctrine of God known as the Trinity. Of course nowhere in the Bible will we find the nomenclature of Trinity; in fact one of the so called church Fathers, Tertullian, coined the term Trinitas very early on in the Churches’ genesis; here’s what J. N. D. Kelly says:
. . . He, too, is a ‘Person’, so that the Godhead is a ‘trinity’ (trinitas: Tertullian is the first to employ the word). The three are indeed numerically distinct, being ‘capable of being counted’. . . . Thus Tertullian can state: ‘We believe in on only one God, yet subject to this dispensation, which is our word for economy, that the one only God has also a Son, His Word, Who has issued out of Himself . . . which Son then sent, according to His promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete out of the Father’; and later in the same context he can balance the divine unity with ‘the mystery of the economy, which distributes the unity in Trinity, setting forth Father, Son and Spirit as three’. (J.N.D. Kelly, “Early Christian Doctrines,” 113)
I mention this to further substantiate that the language of Trinity, itself, is indeed foreign to the text of scripture; in fact as Kelly notes it came from a church Father. What I would like to further add, in flow with the context of this post, is that while the language of “Trinity” may be foreign to the text of Scripture; indeed, the grammar or concept is not. This brings us back to the language of inner logic or theological exegesis. In other words, how did Tertullian and the other church Father’s come to conclude that God is not only one (de deo uno); but in fact He is three (de deo trino) in one and one in three? Simple they read scripture, and discerned that when they read the Apostle Paul, for example, that there was an unstated theological concept about God that Paul was assuming in order to make benedictions like this:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” ~II Corinithians 13:13
As you engage the rest of Paul’s writings (like all of II Corinthians for example) there is this constant assumption that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are at work in salvation. This is what discerning the inner logic leads to; i.e. key and fundamental doctrines upon which the Christian faith hangs — starting in the early church and into the present.
So there is more to scripture interpretation and exegesis than engaging in exegetical and syntactical analysis of the Koine Greek of the New Testament; there in fact is an inner logic that holds the text of scripture together. It is the theologian’s job to discern and lay bare this “logic” and work out the implications of that “inner logic” for the church and all of her exegetes. The Trinity is just one example of working out the inner logic of scripture; all of Scripture actually hangs together on Christo-logic, but this is discussion for another post.
I hope folks realize the depth embedded within the scriptures themselves; if you do you will be set up to enjoy the richness and freshness that scripture has to offer.