The ‘Rules of Affinity’ Simplified (RePost)

Expanded Rules of Affinity

Premise: If all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, it is imperative that our doctrines line up with Scripture.  Theology may be defined as correct alignment with the pronouncements of the Bible.

The ‘Rules’ demonstrate that some doctrines line up much more closely to Scripture than others.  Those with a very strong, direct “affinity” are ranked in the first category (C1).  Those with the weakest claim to any affinity with the text of the Bible are ranked category five (C5).

C1 = a direct statement

 Examples include:

  • ·         Creation out of nothing – “The Triune God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing.” – Gen. 1:1f; Isa. 40:28; 45:12; Jer. 10:12; Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:2; Heb. 11:3; Rom. 11:36
  • ·         Christ died for all sinners (whosoever believes) – “Christ died for all men (sinners).” – Isa. 53:6; Jn. 1:29; 3:16-17; Rom. 5:6; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 4:10; 1 Jn. 2:2; Heb. 2:9, 10:29

Most fundamental doctrines are a C1.  A C1 doctrine is taught via a direct quotation of Scripture.

C2 = a strong inference

Examples include:

  • ·         Inerrancy – “The inspired Scriptures are the Word of God before they are the words of men.”

2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 12:6; Jn. 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21

  • ·         The Trinity – “God exists as one substance yet in three divine, co-equal, distinct, yet eternally inseparable ‘Persons’.  God is one yet three, though in different modes of being.” – Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; Jn. 1:1-3, 18; 14:15-17; 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 9:14, 10:28-29

A C2 is established on the witness of several clear C1 passages.

Premise: Every major doctrine is a C1 or C2.

C3 = an inference to the best explanation

Examples include:

  • The Pre-Trib Rapture – “Christ will come for His Church prior to the 7 year Tribulation.” – 1 Thess. 4:13f; 1 Cor. 15:50f,; Rom. 11:24f; Dan. 9:24-27

N.B. the G-H method is required for the formulations of Categories 1 through 3, but is usually abandoned for Category 4 & 5 formulations.

A C3 is established on the witness of C1 and C2 texts, which overlap to point to a plausible inference.

C4 = a weak inference

Examples include:

  • ·         The Covenant of Grace – based on ideas like “the one people of God” and “the church as the new Israel”

A C4 is founded on no clear or plain statement of Scripture.

C5 = an inference based on another inference

Examples include:

  • The Christian Sabbath – Sunday replacing the Jewish Sabbath

A C5 is an even weaker inference based on other theological inferences, without reference to plain statements of Scripture.

Conclusion: We should only formulate our beliefs from C1’s and C2’s with some reference to C3’s.  On the other hand, doctrines supported only by C4’s and C5’s should be suspected of relying too much on human reasoning without Scripture.

4 thoughts on “The ‘Rules of Affinity’ Simplified (RePost)”

  1. Thanks for the summary post! I reference and review the rules of affinity frequently with my church

  2. I appreciate these rules to this day. As there are limits to language, so the Rules of Affinity teach boundaries beyond which we mustn’t go.

  3. Dr. Henebury, I appreciate a lot of your teaching, but perhaps nothing as much as your Rules of Affinity. Having watched the short series on Youtube many times, I have them pretty much internalized by now (as do my two sons…). It’s such a good, uncomplicated, practical method of assessing any theological proposition “up front”- whether my own or those of others.

    You could re-post these every week and I’d read them every time! To this day, whenever I refresh myself on the “Rules of Affinity” I get the same feeling that this is so obvious, surely it should be standard operating procedure for every exponent of theology? Would that it were so!

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