It [the CofC] treats Scripture like a great storehouse of spiritual and moral truth, and thinks that all the Christian may say is already explicitly said there. Thus in the CofC, all that one may do is gather together texts. One does not attempt to discern how they hang together; one does not attempt to state the Bible's most important doctrines in the form of creeds, and (heaven forbid) one does not attempt to engage in scriptural interpretation if that requires that one do more than simply restate (perhaps in a folksy way) what's already said there in exactly the way it's said. In the church of Christ, one just assembles verses, without, I should add, much regard for context.If we carve through to the heart of the doctrine, we find that Biblical Positivism is this: in the interpretation and promulgation of Scripture, all that one is allowed to do is state what Scripture already says in the ways that it says it. One cannot introduce distinctions not already there. One cannot introduce language not already there. Instead one just says what it says in the language and with the conceptual apparatus it says it.
Biblical Positivism of course assumes the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. Scripture, it assumes, contains not even a hint of error, and is sufficient to answer all questions of a moral or spiritual nature. But it also assumes more than inerrancy and sufficiency. It is at bottom a linguistic/conceptual sufficiency thesis. It says not only that Scripture is sufficient to answers all moral/spiritual questions. It says also that mere repetition of Biblical assertions, in the very language that they're made, is sufficient to answer all moral/spiritual questions. One then never need extend the Biblical vocabulary in any way. Indeed to do so is to fall into serious error.
This doctrine may be attacked in various ways. One may for instance ask for the Scriptural sanction for this principle. (There is none. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the claim of the linguistic sufficiency of Scripture. Thus Biblical Positivism seems to self-refute in much the way that Logical Positivism self-refutes. Apply the doctrine to itself and you find that it must be rejected.) But I wish to consider Biblical Positivism's consequence for Christian doctrine.
Consider first the doctrine of the Trinity. It surely has Biblical roots. (The Gospel of John stands out in this regard. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God" is but one of may assertions found there relevant to the doctrine of the trinity.) But those Biblical roots are not linguistically sufficient to generate the orthodox doctrine of the trinity, for they do not tell us the precise sense in which the three persons of the trinity are one. Might Father, Son and Spirit be one in the sense of essence only? If so, they need not be one in number, for essence is something that can be shared among a number of entities. (You and I share an essence - humanity - but are two, not one.) Might they be one in the sense of some shared property - perhaps of goodness, power or some such thing? Again if so, they need not be one in number, for goodness is something that can be shared among a number of entities. Scripture provides no explicit answer to these questions. Indeed it nowhere states the orthodox doctrine, that Father, Son and Spirit are one in substance and so in number. The language of substance is foreign to Scripture. The result is that if one assume the linguistic sufficiency of Scripture, one does not even have the vocabulary to state the orthodox doctrine.
This state of affairs is dangerous, for it can very easily descend into heresy. If we cannot say that the three persons of the trinity are one in substance and so in number, the possibility is left open that they differ in substance and so in number. But if this possibility is embraced, monotheism has been abandoned. So too is the possibility left open that only the Father is God, and that Son and Spirit are mere creations who have no share in the Godhead.
The same can be said about the Incarnation. The orthodox doctrine - shared in common by Catholic, Orthodox, and most Protestants - is that Christ is the hypostatic union of divine and human nature. But you will search in vain for this language in Scripture. No doubt Scripture alludes to this truth; no doubt it naturally - indeed I would say inevitably - leads to this truth when interpreted properly. Nonetheless, it does not explicitly state it. Thus heresy lurks. If we cannot say of Christ that he is the hypostatic union of divine and human nature, many possibilities are left open: that Christ was merely human, that he was merely divine, that he was two natures, as it were, side by side but not joined into a single human-divine nature. All are heretical, and all are to be rejected.
Now, I don't doubt that the CofC does for the most part reject these heresies. But this shows not that Biblical Positivism is sufficient for the articulation of a fully orthodox Christian world-view. On the contrary all it shows is that CofCers do not consistently adhere to Biblical Positivism. They take over many of the conclusions of past Christian thought - that Christ is fully human and fully divine, and is of one, undivided nature; that God is one god but three persons; etc. - but do not acknowledge the origin of these conclusions. As I said, these conclusions are not extra-Biblical; rather they represent inevitable conclusions derived from reflection upon Scripture. But they do go beyond the language of Scripture.