Looking for a definition from some theological resource

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Mar 26 2022 1:54 PM

I am unable to find a formal definition of "efficacy of Scripture" in my resources although I have Lutheran sources that give implied definitions. Unfortunately, the two best definitions don't quite agree. Is there a resource that gives an actual definition rather than assuming everyone knows? Note this is not an invitation for a theological discussion -- I have no need to know the usefulness of the concept, I just need a definition to hang my hat on.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 2:12 PM

MJ. Smith:
I am unable to find a formal definition of "efficacy of Scripture" in my resources although I have Lutheran sources that give implied definitions.
You may find this article and its bibliography useful. The term is new to me so I can offer no analysis.

https://journal.rts.edu/article/living-active-the-efficacy-of-scripture-in-contemporary-evangelical-theology/#post-1934-footnote-2 

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 2:53 PM

Kevin Vanhoozer argues in Is There a Meaning in This Text? There are two kinds of efficacy: illocutionary and perlocutionary. Let me know if you don't have this resource.

https://ref.ly/logosres/ismeantext?ref=Page.p+427 

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 2:53 PM

I came across a footnote that looks interesting

I don't have the resource, however, so can't check what it says.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 2:57 PM

Beloved Amodeo:

You may find this article and its bibliography useful. The term is new to me so I can offer no analysis.

https://journal.rts.edu/article/living-active-the-efficacy-of-scripture-in-contemporary-evangelical-theology/#post-1934-footnote-2 

Fascinating article not to be quickly skimmed. Thank you.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 3:08 PM

MJ. Smith:

Beloved Amodeo:

You may find this article and its bibliography useful. The term is new to me so I can offer no analysis.

https://journal.rts.edu/article/living-active-the-efficacy-of-scripture-in-contemporary-evangelical-theology/#post-1934-footnote-2 

Fascinating article not to be quickly skimmed. Thank you.

Bear with me while I fix my second post and your welcome!

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

MacBook Pro macOS Big Sur 11.6 1TB SSD 

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Roy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 3:22 PM

MJ. Smith:
I am unable to find a formal definition of "efficacy of Scripture" in my resources although I have Lutheran sources that give implied definitions.

This is the closest thing I have found so far that "might" be considered a definition...

The Power of Scripture

In order to accomplish his purpose of salvation, God has given his word power. The power of Scripture is clearly taught in Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:18 where Paul speaks of the Gospel as “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” This power is often described with the word efficacious, which means the power to produce an effect. The word always has the power to do what God desires. In Hebrews 4:12, the word of God is described as “living and active.” Only through the power of the word of God can one come to faith in Jesus Christ. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). This is its power.

Called to Believe: A Brief Introduction to Doctrinal Theology Mueller, Steven P. https://www.logos.com/product/52294/called-to-believe-a-brief-introduction-to-christian-doctrine 
Along with Webster's definition...

EF´FIC̵ACY, n. [Sp. It. efficacia; Fr. efficace; from L. efficax.] Power to produce effects; production of the effect intended; as the efficacy of the gospel in converting men from sin; the efficacy of prayer; the efficacy of medicine in counteracting disease; the efficacy of manure in fertilizing land.

 American Dictionary of the English Language
https://www.logos.com/product/26428/american-dictionary-of-the-english-language 

So I guess it is still somewhat implied... I'll look more when I don't have to use the web based app...

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 3:23 PM

Graham Criddle:
I don't have the resource, however, so can't check what it says.

The second volume of this set is a goldmine of related information from the Reformed Tradition -- the thread I know little about.  Thanks for the help -- next time find something less pricey please. Wink

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 3:27 PM

Beloved Amodeo:
Let me know if you don't have this resource.

I have it but hadn't picked it up in my search. It helps explain the difference between the two usages that made me start looking for an actual definition ... and gives me clues as to what the magic words might be to find the rest. I don't speak fluid "reformedese" Sad

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 4:34 PM

An actual definition does seem to be hard to find within the resource Logos I have access to also. I found the following two discussions when focussing the search on Large Text, etc. It seems to be one of those concepts where authors assume readers will know what it means and so does not need defining.

II. The Power and Efficacy of Scripture

A second way the canonical Scripture testifies to itself is the way it functions in the life of the reader. Its divine origins are evident not only from what it says, but also from what it does. The teachings of Scripture prove to bring wisdom (Ps. 119:98; 2 Tim. 3:16), give joy to the heart (Neh. 8:8–12; Ps. 119:111), provide “light” to the dark paths of life (Ps. 119:105), give understanding to the mind (Ps. 119:144), give peace and comfort (Ps. 119:50), expose sin and guilt (2 Kings 22:11–13; Acts 2:34–37; Heb. 4:12–13), and lead to prosperity and blessing (Ps. 1:1–3). The WCF, cited above, refers to this particular line of internal evidence when it mentions “the efficacy of the doctrine.” In other words, the teachings of Scripture not only bear the attributes of beauty and perfection (as noted above), but also prove to be powerful and effective. Paul Helm picks up on this same line of thought.

It is not simply that the Scriptures say that they are the revelation of God that is the evidence for their being so, but also that they function as the Word of God.… One element [of Scripture functioning as the word of God] is the idea that the Bible purports to give an analysis or diagnosis of the reader.… Connected with this is the power of the Scriptures to raise and satisfy certain distinctive needs in the reader.… Connected with this is the displaying in Scripture of excellent moral standards.… And connected with this is the provision of new motivations to reach out for the newly set standards.

Of course, Helm’s comments here are just a sampling of all that could be said about the efficacy and actions of Scripture. The fundamental point to be realized here is that the Scriptures are powerful and dynamic, making an impact on the reader in a way that testifies to their distinctive origins and authority. As N. T. Wright has observed, “Those who read these writings discovered, from very early on, that the books themselves carried the same power, the same authority in action, that had characterized the initial preaching of the ‘word.’ ”
In the language of historical Reformed theology, this divine quality can be summed up by saying that the Scriptures are a “means of grace.” Scriptures do more than pass along propositional information (as important as that is); they are “living and active … piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow” (Heb. 4:12). Returning to our earlier discussion of speech-act theory, to say that the canon is a means of grace is to say that the canon, when attended by the Holy Spirit, has a perlocutionary effect; it changes, shapes, and transforms its reader or hearer. The canon is not something to be judged as much as it is the thing that does the judging. When this attribute of the canon is appreciated, once again, we can see how the canon is not so much shaped by the community of faith, but a means of shaping the community of faith. Or in the words of Martin Luther, “Ecclesia non facit Verbum sed fit Verbo.”
Such a construal of canon is emphasized in the work of William Abraham, particularly his book Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology. Abraham argues that much of modern Christendom has misunderstood the function of the canon by using it as a doctrinal norm—an epistemic criterion for determining true from false beliefs—when believers should have been using it as a means of grace that can transform people’s lives. Abraham’s concern that the canon not become just an instrument to arbitrate doctrinal disputes is a valid one; indeed it is one that Reformed theology (and its emphasis on the Word as a means of grace) has long affirmed. However, Abraham’s helpful reminder goes further than it should when he insists that the canon functions only as a means of grace and not as a doctrinal norm. As Vanhoozer has noted, “Why must it be one or the other? Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14).… Doctrine’s direction serves both epistemic and pastoral purposes.” Abraham has rightly recognized an important reason why canonical books impacted the early church—because they were a powerful means of grace—but he fails to realize that the canonical books bear other divine attributes as well.
The early church fathers also recognized that the canonical books were distinctive because of their power and efficacy. Justin defends Christianity by declaring, “I shall prove to you as you stand here that we have not believed empty fables, or words without any foundation but words filled with the Spirit of God, and big with power, and flourishing with grace.” In addition, referring to the words of Christ, Justin says, “For they possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them.”38 In the Apology of Aristides (c.130), the author invites the emperor to read “the Gospel” because “you also if you read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it.” Clement of Alexandria reminds his listeners that transformation and sanctification come not by the words of men but by “those letters [of Scripture] that sanctify,” and he proceeds to cite numerous New Testament books.40 Irenaeus defends the fourfold Gospel on the grounds that these Gospels are always “breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh.” Origen, defending the Gospels against the criticisms of Celsus, declares that the words of Jesus contained therein are “accompanied with divine power” that transforms its hearers in regard to “their dispositions and their lives.”


Kruger, M.J. (2012) Canon revisited: establishing the origins and authority of the New Testament books. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, pp. 130–133.

The wider context of the Paul Helm quote is as follows with the quoted text underline.


Having looked at two types of argument or strategy that are unsatisfactory, we now come to the main thesis of this chapter: There are reasons for accepting the Scriptures as the Word of God and these reasons are chiefly to be found within the Scriptures themselves. This is a fideistic position of type 3, mentioned on page 307.
Perhaps we could express this more precisely as follows: It is a necessary condition of properly accepting the Bible to be the Word of God that one’s main reasons for doing so arise out of the Scriptures themselves. In my defense of this position I hope to avoid, on the one p 310 hand, the externalism of Archibald Alexander and on the other hand the strong fideism of Alvin Plantinga. For all their obvious differences, what both arguments have in common is that they defend the divine authority of the Scriptures (in Plantinga’s argument wholly, and in Alexander’s partly) in abstraction from the actual content of the Scriptures.
The basic approach to the question of the origin and authority of the Scriptures must be a posteriori. It is wrong to decide such questions, either for or against, without considering the content of the Scriptures themselves. “Considering the content of the Scriptures” means not merely looking at what the Scriptures say about themselves but examining the force or impact of the Scriptures. Part of the reason for believing that a person is a king may be that he says that he is a king. But the evidence that he is a king is much stronger if he is seen exercising the prerogatives of a king. It is not simply that the Scriptures say that they are the revelation of God that is the evidence for their being so, but also that they function as the Word of God. Let us try to look at this in a little more detail.
We need, in the first place, to examine the basic “logic” of the meaning of the Scriptures. Though the Bible purports to provide its readers with information not available to them elsewhere, its basic stance is not merely that of an information-provider but that of a document that, on the basis of the information that it provides, makes claims on and offers invitations to its readers. Basic here is the idea of God’s personal address to people, an address that calls for a response.
It is possible to break this down into a number of different elements. One element is the idea that the Bible purports to give an analysis or diagnosis of the reader. The Scriptures offer this diagnosis as the truth about the reader. Now if the Scriptures are what they claim to be, the Word of God, then one would expect that careful examination and self-scrutiny would reveal that the diagnosis “holds good” in the life of the reader. Connected with this is the power of the Scriptures to raise and satisfy certain distinctive needs in the reader, particularly the recognition of his sin before God and the enjoyment of forgiveness and reconciliation to God through Christ. Connected with this is the displaying in Scripture of excellent moral standards that focus and integrate the life of the reconciled person. And connected with this is the provision of new motivations to reach out for the newly set standards.
These ideas, briefly and inadequately expressed here, arise out of the meaning of the words and sentences of the Scriptures. They are briefly and inadequately expressed in that they need to be set in a fuller theological context than we are able to provide here and to be shown to be grounded in the data of Scripture. These are complex and never-finished tasks.


Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, J.D. (1992) Scripture and truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, pp. 309–310.

This the other discussion I came found that discussed the topic, it is written an author coming form an SDA perspective on the topic.

4) The efficacy of Scripture [Efficacia]

 Luther saw the danger of separating the Word of God from the Spirit of God. Lennart Pinomaa states: “Hardly any one in the whole history of Christendom has seen more deeply than Luther into the problem of the Word and the Spirit.”

The apostolic teaching that Scripture as the Word of God “is living and active … and penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit … and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12) completely dominates Luther’s theology. He stressed that Scripture is the instrument of the Spirit of God, “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), even an incarnation of the Spirit. “As the rays of the sun have heat as well as light, so the outward Word includes the Spirit. This order must not be changed. First the Word, then the Spirit.” Without the work of the Spirit, Christ remains just a moral example and faith only a historical faith. Not the Pope but the Spirit of God makes Scripture effective and fruitful. Without the outward Word, however, Christ cannot be proclaimed. If the outward Word is the promise, the inner Word signifies fulfillment.
Only when the Word is preached as the gospel, does it offer the whole Christ. Only the Spirit creates faith and makes Christ an actual and real presence.
This concept prevented Luther to use force and coercion to succeed in his reformation. Against the violent acts of smashing altars in Wittenberg by Karlstadt, Luther argued: “Since I cannot pour faith into their hearts, I cannot, nor should I, force any one to have faith. That is God’s work alone, who causes faith to live in the heart. Therefore we should give free course to the Word and not add our works to it.” He then pointed to the example of Paul who in Athens discovered altars devoted to many idol gods. Paul did not smash any of those altars, but preached the living Lord and when the Word took hold of their hearts, they forsook their idols voluntarily. Luther concluded: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word, otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing, the Word did everything.”24 Luther meant the Word preached as the liberating gospel of God.
Calvin likewise united the words of Scripture and the Holy Spirit. He became even known as the theologian of the Holy Spirit, because he developed the doctrine of the testimonium Spiritus Sancti internum, “the inward testimony of the Spirit.” Calvin rejected the Roman claim that Scripture must receive its authentication as the Word of God from the judgment of the church. Appealing to Eph. 2:20, he argues: “If the teaching of the prophets and apostles is the foundation [of the church], this must have had authority before the church began to exist.” The post-apostolic church only recognized Scripture to be the truth of God as her pious duty. With inexorable logic Calvin concludes: “Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste.”26
Thus Calvin trusted more in the testimony of the Spirit than in the human reason for the conviction that Scripture is the Word of God. Calvin explained: “For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in His Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.” Calvin thus insisted that Scripture is autopistos, self-authenticating because the Word and the Spirit belong inseparably together. As an illustration, Calvin explained that Stephen’s expression of the Ten Commandments as “living words” (Acts 7:38), implied that “Christ is contained in them!” The preached Word of God becomes the garment in which Christ comes to us. Then Scripture is effective for our salvation.


LaRondelle, H.K. (2015) LaRondelle Articles and Lectures. Bradentown, FL: Barbara LaRondelle, p. 10.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2022 5:18 PM

Kruger got me on the right track with regards to intrinsic vs. extrinsic characteristics of canonical books. Combined with a resource which contrasted the views of Luther vs. Calvin (which are similar enough to easily accidently merge), I think I understand now ... Now can I make it succinct and clear for an argument map?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 13 2022 1:40 PM

MJ. Smith:
Is there a resource that gives an actual definition

Have you considered that maybe a definition is an attempt at describing an actual experience? the definitions may vary according to the angle that calls more attention to the particular observers.

Try some Blake Healy's books, he is able to see and describe what goes on in actual Bible study (an example given of a friend involved in it in a cafe), also what happens in the spiritual realm concerning Biblical promises, when actual conditions allow the bestowing of the same to the recipient.

Once you read the description of what actually seems to happen in the spiritual realm, then you can more precisely understand the key concepts that should be in a definition of efficacy.

Different angle for further research, not polemics.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 13 2022 2:43 PM

Try also searching for "efficacy of the Word".

The verse that came to my mind immediately when I saw that phrase "efficacy of Scripture" was Isa 55:11, so I did a search for <Isa 55:11> "efficacy" and found a bunch of things. I don't think "efficacy of Scripture" or "efficacy of the Word of the Lord" are formal phrases. But the word "efficacy" is used just as in English: it accomplishes something. From the resources I have that mention "efficacy" in the context of this verse, it appears to refer to both the written and spoken Word of God.

The closest I can find to a definition is what can be gleaned from this passage in the Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings (my bold):

(1) The word.—Divines often call this ‘the instrumental cause.’ The efficacy of the written or spoken word as the expression of the mind and heart and will of God is often taught in Scripture. When we read that ‘man does not live by bread alone, but [is endowed with a life which is nourished] by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Dt 8:3), when we read that ‘the word of God is living and powerful’ (He 4:12), when Jesus says, ‘My words are spirit and they are life’ (Jn 6:63), and when Paul reminds the Corinthians that ‘in Christ Jesus’ he had ‘begotten’ them ‘through the gospel’ (1 Co 4:15), we cannot escape the conviction that a ‘word’ was believed to be endowed with potency. Certainly the rabbis held this view; and, when they read in the story of Creation that God said ‘Let light be,’ and light was, they considered that the very words were a vera causa, operating in the physical realm, and effectuating ‘that whereunto they were sent’ (Is 55:11), as we read in Is 9:8, ‘Jehovah sent a word into Jacob and it alighted upon Israel,’ and as in Zec 5:4 we read of ‘a curse’ that should ‘enter a house and consume its timbers and its stones.’ In a similar manner the causality of a divine word is taught in the NT, where we read that we are ‘begotten again … through the word of God’ (1 P 1:23), that ‘God gave us birth through the word of truth’ (Ja 1:18), that ‘the word of the message worketh in those who believe’ (1 Th 2:13), and that the gospel is ‘God’s δύναμις’ (Ro 1:16). Evidently the ‘word’ is conceived as having the efficacy to regenerate and sanctify; and, when those of us who have listened to the recital of Christian experience recall how often the decision for Christ—the entrance into joy and liberty—is traced to the effect of some divine word, embodied in some hymn or passage of Scripture, we cannot but feel that there was some ground for the peculiarly Semitic conception of the potency of a word.

John Turner Marshall, “REGENERATION,” in Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings, John A. Selbie, and Louis H. Gray (Edinburgh; New York: T. & T. Clark; Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908–1926), 643.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 13 2022 2:59 PM

Hamilton Ramos:
Have you considered that maybe a definition is an attempt at describing an actual experience?

That depends. All language is rooted in actual experience and concepts abstracted from it - recalling, of course, that even imagination is experience. Definitions are simply a way for two (or more) people using the language to synchronize their understanding of language's meaning so that the communication between two (or more) people is effective. For my current purposes that is all I am interested in. Please don't pull my question off topic -- I am perfectly capable of doing that myself. Please understand that I have many years experience looking at the broad picture - not just within Christianity or Abrahamic religions but across many religious expressions. My effort in the forums is always to narrow the questions down sufficiently to (a) not offend those with different beliefs than I especially when it comes to ecumenical and interfaith issues (b) not to come across as a know-it-all when I am genuinely asking for specific information that anyone in the forums might have and (c) to ask my question precisely, so that the forum members can all understand what I am looking for and therefore know if they can provide the information. For myself, given the way my mind works, the big picture is easy ... knowing what details are needed is easy ... it's getting the details right that takes lots of effort.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 13 2022 3:08 PM

MJ. Smith:
Definitions are simply a way for two (or more) people using the language to synchronize their understanding of language's meaning so that the communication between two (or more) people is effective.

Often people writing in a particular realm (say, Reformed Theology) are not as precise as you are about language, and they will not have a working definition or even be able to articulate one when asked to be specific. So it might be hard to actually pin down these writers on something that they would all agree on is THE definition of that phrase, and that others outside their tradition would be able to understand in an objective way.

That said, I admire your efforts to find some common language for understanding what people in other Christian traditions mean when they use some phrase. I think by doing this, you help people to realize that their language is not universally understood even by other native English speakers and even by other Christians.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 13 2022 3:46 PM

I have a friend who grew up going to church three times every Sunday:

  1. with his Irish Catholic father (before breakfast)
  2. with his Dutch Reformed mother - where her father was pastor
  3. with his Eastern Rite Catholic grandmother - his favorite

With the right prompt you could get him telling very funny stories of the different ways the same word was used to mean very different things in each context. I fear his humor may have taught me too well to be sure we were on the same subject not just using the same words. But it serves me well for minimizing the number of times I misrepresent another's beliefs.

I still laugh at the time on a forum for Orthodox converts, I had corrected a misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine as well as a grossly incorrect presentation of Greek Orthodox doctrine -- topic original sin in Catholic terminology. You can imagine that did not go over well -- until a Greek Orthodox priest stepped in and pointed out that my understanding of the Orthodox position was correct, and they needed to review their fundamentals.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 16 2022 10:01 AM

MJ. Smith:
Please understand that I have many years experience looking at the broad picture - not just within Christianity or Abrahamic religions but across many religious expressions. My effort in the forums is always to narrow the questions down sufficiently to (a) not offend those with different beliefs than I especially when it comes to ecumenical and interfaith issues (b) not to come across as a know-it-all when I am genuinely asking for specific information that anyone in the forums might have and (c) to ask my question precisely, so that the forum members can all understand what I am looking for and therefore know if they can provide the information. For myself, given the way my mind works, the big picture is easy ... knowing what details are needed is easy ... it's getting the details right that takes lots of effort.

Excellent MJ, I know you try to be thorough and objective.

I am just trying to give a different perspective. Think of a time when the Word of God was efficacious in your life... you see, in some charismatic groups we think the Word is alive and efficacious, that produces outstanding results, and helps change situations, circumstances, traits, character, etc.

We have been blessed to see lives changed, problems solved, health restored, etc. because God in His graciousness allows incredible things to happen when His Word is allowed to work in human affairs.

So efficacy for us is real, how should we define that? 

God's Word does accomplish that for which it was sent: salvation, restoration, deliverance, healing, it is efficacious for real now and forever, maybe that is the definition we can offer you.

Before someone from Catholic tradition honks, remember there is a great tradition of Saints, where the Word of God efficaciously did the most incredible actions on their behalf and on the Kingdom's behalf, I was born a Catholic due to family tradition, and hearing about such saints, is what attracted me to the study of Christianity in a more detailed way. I tried to retain what was good, and is obvious to see that Peter was right: Only Jesus has Words of eternal life.

Peace and grace.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Apr 16 2022 1:38 PM

Hamilton Ramos:
I am just trying to give a different perspective.

I know that ... but in this context that is not how it comes across. It comes across as changing the subject not as a different perspective on the topic at hand. And I do have plenty of experience in not coming across as I intended ... and having difficulty understanding why.

Hamilton Ramos:
Before someone from Catholic tradition honks,

This is a good example of how you seem to go completely off topic. My question had no denominational slant beyond excluding the small sliver of Christians who deny the inspiration of scripture. And bringing up the bogeyman Catholic only shows ignorance of the Catholic stance on the topic.

Other people may not mind, but I am truly bothered when I feel I cannot ask questions on the forums because other forum members will hijack the thread and turn it controversial.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Roy | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 17 2022 4:49 PM

MJ. Smith:
I am unable to find a formal definition of "efficacy of Scripture" in my resources although I have Lutheran sources that give implied definitions.

This one kind-a comes close...

The announcement of the word of God is the efficacious proclamation
which brings about the reality of which it speaks, the grace announced.
It is a way in which the reality being proclaimed discloses itself.
The word being spoken and then embraced by those who hear explains the efficacy of the word.

Fink, Peter E.
The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000.

then there is the following. I ran a google search and found a wikipedia page on efficacy. One of the footnotes lead to an older resource that was available as text on archive.org. This is a quote from that resource.

EFFICACY.

Sec. 16.  The _efficacy_ of the Bible is that property by which 
the Bible has indissolubly united with the true and genuine
 sense expressed in its words the power of the Holy Spirit,
 who has made it for all times the ordinary means by which
He operates on and in the hearts and minds of those who 
properly hear and read it.
  1.  Graebner AL (1910). Outlines of Doctrinal Theology.
    Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. p. 11.


Here is the Theological portion of the Wikipedia article with appropriate links...


Theology[edit]

Scripture[edit]

In Protestant Theology (esp. in Lutheran but also in Calvinist doctrine) efficacy is an attribute of Scripture. The efficacy of Scripture means that it is united with the power of the Holy Spirit and with it, not only demands, but also creates the acceptance of its teaching[13][14][15] and that this teaching produces faith and obedience. Efficacy further means that Holy Scripture is not a dead letter, but rather, the power of the Holy Spirit is inherent in it[16][17][18] and that Scripture does not compel a mere intellectual assent to its doctrine, resting on logical argumentation, but rather it creates the living agreement of faith.[19][20] The Smalcald Articles affirm, "in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word."[21] The Formula of Concord teaches that when humans reject the calling of the Holy Spirit, it is not a result of the Word being less efficacious. Instead, contempt for the means of grace is the result of "the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word..."[22]

Footnote 15 above leads to another archive.org doc that might be of interest to you but I did not want to quote it here as it could be somewhat disparaging.

 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 17 2022 6:46 PM

Thank you these are helpful.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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