The Scholastics and the Van-Tilians Have Only Created Light by Drake

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Drake, Dec 18, 2010.

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  1. Drake

    Drake Puritan Board Freshman

    2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

    John 17: 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth

    Psalm 36:9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

    Aquinas said in Summa Whether created truth is eternal []

    “Objection 1: It seems that created truth is eternal. For Augustine says...“Nothing is more eternal than the nature of a circle, and that two added to three make five.” But the truth of these is a created truth. Therefore created truth is eternal.
    Objection 2: Further, that which is always, is eternal. But universals are always and everywhere; therefore they are eternal. So therefore is truth, which is the most universal.
    Objection 3: Further, it was always true that what is true in the present was to be in the future. But as the truth of a proposition regarding the present is a created truth, so is that of a proposition regarding the future. Therefore some created truth is eternal.
    Objection 4: Further, all that is without beginning and end is eternal. But the truth of enunciables is without beginning and end; for if their truth had a beginning, since it was not before, it was true that truth was not, and true, of course, by reason of truth; so that truth was before it began to be. Similarly, if it be asserted that truth has an end, it follows that it is after it has ceased to be, for it will still be true that truth is not. Therefore truth is eternal.

    On the contrary, God alone is eternal, as laid down before (Q[10], A[3]).

    I answer that, The truth of enunciations is no other than the truth of the intellect. For an enunciation resides in the intellect, and in speech. Now according as it is in the intellect it has truth of itself: but according as it is in speech, it is called enunciable truth, according as it signifies some truth of the intellect, not on account of any truth residing in the enunciation, as though in a subject. Thus urine is called healthy, not from any health within it but from the health of an animal which it indicates. In like manner it has been already said that things are called true from the truth of the intellect. Hence, if no intellect were eternal, no truth would be eternal. Now because only the divine intellect is eternal, in it alone truth has eternity. Nor does it follow from this that anything else but God is eternal; since the truth of the divine intellect is God Himself, as shown already (A[5]).”

    Yet what does the scripture say? “Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature.” So if the knowledge is the means then created knowledge gives us access only to created nature. Van Til taught no point of coincidence, between God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge. In this case what else is there but a created knowledge?

    In the 14th century Gregory Palamas and Barlaam of Calabria debated this issue. According to Palamas, Barlaam said, “God is only knowable through the mediation of his creatures.”[33] In context of other conversations, he also believed that knowledge could come through direct revelation, which produces some kind of vision. Romanides says of Barlaam,
    “What Barlaam is actually saying is that there are two ways of arriving at a knowledge of God – through TA MATHIMATA (the philosophical sciences) and through revelation.”[34]
    Palamas seems to understand Barlaam as saying that secular education was required to understand God. What is clear to me is the typical demand for empirical means to knowledge, as if these sensations are infallible agents that always produce a uniform effect, which is nonsense.

    Palamas often quoted 1 Cor 1 and 2 and Matt 11:25 much the same way a Scripturalist would, claiming that all secular epistemology is the wisdom of this world and gives no knowledge. Scripturalists believe also that God directly reveals the knowledge of his mind to the minds of men. Yet, we do not necessarily commit ourselves to the requirement of an empirical second cause. Now we do believe that the reading of the Bible, the “hearing” of preaching etc, is a required occasion when this happens. The “hearing” and the “seeing” of the words do not give us knowledge. This is simply the occasion in which God directly reveals his knowledge to our mind. This must be distinguished from a second cause because a second cause by definition would eliminate the possibility of God directly revealing the propositions to the mind. However, we must stress that the preaching and the reading etc. are required, as an ad extra decree, though they do not cause the knowing to happen. 1 Cor 2:9-10 denies that the senses give this knowledge and teaches that we know these things “by his Spirit.” Palamas said, “Do you not clearly see that it is not the study of profane sciences which brings salvation, which purifies the cognitive faculty of the soul, and conforms it to the divine Archetype?”[44] It is on these points that the Scripturalist view overlaps with the Eastern view because we believe in a more mystical view of immediate knowledge and we have tenable interpretations of 2 Peter 1:3-5, though we differ greatly on what knowledge is and the Scripturalist demands the occasion of reading or listening to the propositions of the Bible. Scripturalism teaches univocal predication. This principle states that the proposition in God’s mind is the same proposition in the mind of the man to whom God reveals himself. Thus the man possesses eternal propositions, i.e. uncreated light.
    Does the Scripturalist view not provide a solution to end such epistemic debates that divide professed Christians in Eastern and Western Churches? I believe it does.
    [33] Gregory Palamas, ed. John Meyendorf, Gregory Palamas The Triads, (New York*Ramsey*Toronto: Paulist Press., 1983), 12
    [34] John S. Romanides, “Notes on the Palamite Controversy pt. 1,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review Vol VI, N. 2 (1960-61)
    [44] Gregory Palamas, ed. John Meyendorf, Gregory Palamas The Triads, (New York*Ramsey*Toronto: Paulist Press., 1983), 30
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  2. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Why do we have to accept the idea that in order for there to be knowledge at all we must have it directly revealed to our intellect by God? This seems to be a false dichotomy, either we accept Clark's view or we have no basis for knowledge. I think this is one important difference between Clark and Van Til. What we would refer to in contemporary philosophical lingo as the aquisitions of true beliefs would roughly be what you mean by knowledge, they are analogicaly (theres that word again!) related at least. A true belief is propositional in the sense that it is either right or wrong. So Clark was right there but he seems to me to be too preoccupied with giving a simple or axiomatic foundation to the aquisitions of true beliefs or beliefs at all. Van Til on the contrary as far as I can see isn't concerned with that question at all. He starts with the idea that we do aquire beliefs in various ways and these beleifs roughly become a system of sorts, Quine's web analogy fits well here.

    Clark very skillfully, along with Van Till, destroyed both rationalism and empiricism as a foundation for aquirng true beliefs but (heres where they go their seperate ways) Van Til never beleived that we couldn't gain true beleifs through empirical or rational means, Clark it seems did. In this sense Van Til is more contemporary than Clark. Clark was working withen a basically enlightenment mindset that was out of fashion when he turned it on the contemporary scene. Now it is true that he never really fell into the views of the enlightenment and that he provided a third way but he was preoccupied with the same problems and questions that the enlightenment was. Destroying empiricism as the only basis for true knowledge does not rule out the idea that we aquire knolwedge through our senses.
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