November 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Gordon H. Clark’s book Three Types of Religious Philosophy is a powerful little work that dismantles non-biblical epistemologies. Clark proposes that deductive Scriptural reasoning is the only means we have of knowing truth. He also addresses criticisms raised by opponents of Scripturalism/Revelational Deductivism. What follows is a short excerpt in which Clark responds to a popular objection that confuses Christian rationalism/Scripturalism with rationalism (as espoused by men like St. Anselm, Spinoza, etc).
It is said, if the mind is competent, time and experience will wolve all problems, and no revelation will be necessary.
[ . . . ]
The expressed conclusion is, No revelation is needed [ . . . ]
But no man has sufficient time to solve all problems; even on optimistic assumptions it is not likely that any man has sufficient experience; and it is surely the case that some men are not very intelligent. For these reasons it does not follow that no revelation is needed. [ . . . ]
Aside from this practical consideration, the main point is the objection’s irrelevancy to [Scripturalism]. The objection is irrelevant because it is a tautology. Its premise is: “If the mind is competent….” One must always remember that competent means without revelation. But it is mere tautology to say that if the mind needs no revelation, it needs no revelation.
[ . . . ]
[Scripturalism] does not assert man’s inability to construct valid syllogisms. It most assuredly asserts man’s inability to deduce theological content from non-revelational material. Therefore the [objection] is without force.
November 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I had the honor of preaching on Philippians 1:6 today. As soon as the sermon is posted on my church’s website, I’ll provide a link for any who are interested in listening. Until then, here is Spurgeon on the same text.
There is a world of argument in the quiet words which the Apostle uses. He is confident, knowing what he does of the Character of God, that He whohas begun a good work in His saints will perform it until the day of Christ.[...]Notice the time mentioned in the text—the good work is to be perfected in the day of Christ, by which we suppose is intended the Second Coming of our Lord. The Christian will not be perfected until the Lord Christ shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel, and the Voice of God.
That day of the Second Coming is set as the day of the finished work which God has begun, when without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, body, soul, and spirit, shall see the face of God with acceptance, and forever and ever rejoice in the pleasures which are at God’s right hand. This is what we are looking forward to—that God who taught us to repent will wholly Sanctify us; that He who made the briny tears to flow, will wipe every tear from that same eye; that He who made us gird ourselves with the sackcloth and the ashes of penitence, will yet gird us with the fair white linen which is the righteousness of the saints! He who brought us to the Cross will bring us to the crown! He who made us look upon Him whom we pierced, and mourn because of Him, will cause us to see the King in His beauty, and the land that is very far off. The same dear hand that struck, and afterwards healed, will in the latter days caress us! He who looked upon us when we were dead insin, and called us into Spiritual Life, will continue to regard us with favor till our life shall be consummated in the land where there is no more death, sorrow, nor sighing! Such is the Truth of God which the text evidently teaches us.
November 11, 2013 § 9 Comments
The recent Strange Fire conference has been the talk of the Christian blogosphere, so I didn’t want to comment on it. However, after listening to Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Sam Waldron debate the issue of whether or not the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased, I found myself very frustrated with what seems to be a fashionable cop-out in debates on various theological subjects.
To put the matter simply: There are many who foolishly assert that a deductive argument from Scripture (i.e. an argument that deduces necessary consequences from Scriptural propositions) is not a sound approach to arguing one’s position. This is foolish for multiple reasons, a few of which I am going to explain in this post.
1. Jesus Used Deduction to Prove Theological Truths: A very clear example of this can be found in Matthew 22:23-33, where our Lord, the Logic of God, deductively infers life after physical death from the proposition spoken by God, viz. “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
But also consider John’s numerous accounts of our Lord’s use of deductive reasoning. In John 8:38-47, where He makes the following three deductive arguments.
I. MP: If Abraham were your father, you would be doing the works he did.
Mp: You are not doing the works Abraham did.
C: Therefore, you are not children of Abraham.
II. MP: If God were your father, you would love Me.
Mp: You do not love Me.
C: Therefore, God is not your father.
III.MP: Whoever is of God hears the Words of God.
Mp: You do not hear the Words of God.
C: Therefore, you are not of God.
This string of deductions emphasizes just how foolish it is to criticize theologians who validly deduce their position from the propositions of Scripture. Christ employed deductive inference to prove that the Pharisees were of their father the devil. The three arguments work in unison, further strengthening His judgment upon them. They neither do the works of Abraham, the works of God (i.e. loving the Son), nor hear the Words of God – they are, therefore, not of God. And those who are not of God are of the devil. Therefore, the Pharisees are of the devil.
2. Paul Used Deduction to Prove Theological Truths:
This is evident from Paul’s argument in 1st Corinthians 15:12-18, which is known as a Sorites argument. Essentially, the argument is a deductive chain of necessary inferences. The argument:
a. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
b. If Christ has not been raised, our preaching and your faith are in vain.
c. If our preaching is in vain, then we are liars.
d. If the apostles are liars, then you are still in your sins.
d1. If the apostles are liars, then the dead have perished.
The chain of inferences cannot be broken. Apparently, Paul and our Lord did not get the memo from these men who think that deductive inference from Scriptural propositions is not a proper way of coming to theological conclusions. And here is the problem, if we take Dr. Michael Brown’s position seriously we end up asserting the following foolishness:
1. Anyone who deduces from Scriptural propositions is doing theology incorrectly.
2. Jesus deduces from Scriptural propositions.
3. Therefore, Jesus is doing theology wrong.
Don’t want to affirm that? Then stop saying that deductive inference is not a proper tool of studying Scripture! Look at it this way:
1. Anyone who affirms theology deduced from Scriptural propositions is mistaken.
2. The Holy Spirit affirms theology deduced from Scriptural propositions.
3. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is mistaken?
See the problem? It is irresponsible thinking that leads men to say that deductively inferred theology is invalid or unsound. God is gracious to us in correcting our thinking, even in a matter as serious as theological methodology. However, this doesn’t mean that we should condone irresponsible thinking and pretend as if logical conclusions can just be ignored out of existence.
If Christ says that only His sheep hear His voice, then the Arminian cannot break the Scripture and say that those who do not hear Christ’s voice could do so but choose not to. No. It is simply never going to be the case that the non-sheep will behave like sheep and hear the voice of the Shepherd. To even suggest so, is to speak irrationally.
But here is another problem.
If the whole of Scripture is Truth, and Truth is not self-contradictory, then a soundly deduced theological position cannot ever contradict explicit teaching in Scripture. If someone deduces a theological position from Scripture that contradicts explicit teaching in Scripture, then (a.)his supporting premises are unsound, (b.)his argument is invalid, or (c.)his premises are unsound and his argument is invalid. Now, it is the case that the whole of Scripture is Truth; consequently, Scripture contains absolutely no contradictions; therefore, no soundly drawn inferences from the explicit teachings of Scripture can ever contradict the explicit teachings of Scripture.
To deny deductively drawn inferences from explicit Scriptural propositions is to, unwittingly perhaps, identify Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures as being in error. Of course, one could escape such blasphemy by refusing, again, to draw the necessary inferences from their explicit rejection of deduction. But if they did that, then they could never affirm that because (1.)anyone who infers theological teaching from explicit teaching is in error, and that (2.)person X infers theological teaching from explicit teaching, (2.)is, therefore, in error.
It is unscriptural to belittle the use of deduction.
Soli Deo Gloria
November 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The comparison shows that Goethe was indeed opposed to the Logos, but that he was mistaken in his understanding of the Logos on two accounts: (i.)the Christian Logos is not identical to the secular Logos of Heraclitus, Aristotle, the Stoics, and others, and (ii.)the word and the deed of God are identical – what God says is what God does. His criticism of the opening to John’s Gospel, therefore, is based upon his misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine of the Divine Logos (i.e. Jesus Christ is the Wisdom and Power of God).
Soli Deo Gloria!