What would I be classified as?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by charliejunfan, Sep 22, 2009.

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  1. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    So then faith really is as far back as your reason can go biblically speaking. Even my ability to refer back to the Bible is caused by the Holy Spirit. That is what I would tell people anyways, because that is what I believe.

    I do not have faith based on the Koran because I have faith based on the Bible.

    I don't have to go further back do I? I thought faith that the Holy Spirit granted me faith was the end...
  2. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Just be sure not to confuse this with the notion of a blind leap of faith. Such is not faith it all; it is folly. When we hear God's voice commanding us, it is never a blind leap to follow. You don't believe the Koran because it is contrary to what God has said.

    This being said, the Christian faith is most reasonable; and now that you are possessed with reason rectified by the true knowledge of God, you can demonstrate the reasonableness of your faith. You can show how fitting it is that God should speak, and demonstrate that the scriptures are of divine origin by evidences.
  3. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    So if these evidences were proven false somehow then we would no longer believe?

    Is this typically what both presuppositionalists and evidentialists believe?

    I definitely need to read more on each of the apologetic methods and general philosophy...
  4. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    By no means! Your faith rests upon God's authority, not evidence; and because of the true light shed upon you by this faith, you are then able to demonstrate the reasonableness thereof to confirm and strengthen you. Faith produces evidence; it does not rest upon it.

    Regretfully, I am too unfamiliar with modern schools of apologetics to provide any useful answer to this question. I think modern "presuppositionalists" often display way too strong a tendency to jump on anyone who brings forth evidences or rational argumentation for God's existence, not considering the purpose for which one is making use thereof; and it seems that many modern "evidentialists" attempt to use evidences for way more than they can be used for (e.g., as a foundation for our faith).
  5. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    I see, I really appreciate how you said, "Faith produces evidence; it does not rest upon it." That is what I thought, only I was afraid I was out of line with everyone else who studies these things, and that might be scary
  6. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    As stated before: fideism. That is, that we have knowledge based on faith alone. Presuppositionalism and Neo-Orthodoxy are both fideistic in that they deny any rational basis for faith (though Van Til tried desperately to say otherwise).

    The way I see it, faith consists in knowledge, assent, and trust. I look at the chair and I say, "That is a chair that looks tolerably good for holding me up." Next, I conclude that, since my perceptions in this area are usually correct, that the chair is a good basis. Finally, I actually sit down, demonstrating the faith that I now have in that chair.

    Warrant for faith may consist in actual encounters, the influence of those around, or even argument--who knows what the Holy Spirit will use?--but that's no reason to say that our faith has no reasonable basis. You can't believe the Bible, though, unless you already know that it is God's word.
  7. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    The content of our gospel faith, indeed, involves all those things (knowledge, assent and trust): see any treatment by a Reformed theologian; and the content of that knowledge is found in scripture. Faith cannot rest upon mere human deduction, but requires divine authority.

    You said, "that's no reason to say that our faith has no reasonable basis." Faith by definition does not have a basis of reason: it has a basis of authority. I don't understand what is so abhorrent to you about the Reformed understanding: divine faith can have its basis in nothing but the firm and sure word of God. The content of our faith is, of course, most reasonable, though much of it is above the reach of reason. We do not start with reason, however; we start with "Thus saith the LORD."

    I am curious: would you explain to me how you know the scriptures are the word of God? If possible, I would like a very clear answer to this question, along with (since this is a Reformed board, after all) a description of how you will avoid espousing the rationalism that our forefathers fought so hard against.

    In another thread a few weeks ago (to which I very rudely have not responded, and I apologize), you asked me:
    I have now several times provided an answer to the question why do I believe those 66 books are the inspired word of God: the internal witness of the Spirit. This is not blind faith, but faith resting on the most sure and firm foundation. The reason I have for the hope that is within me is the content of the gospel: that Christ Jesus came to world to save sinners, and that having satisfied God's justice he rose from the dead, in which resurrection I, too, will share.

    I would further ask you, whence cometh this knowledge you have of "who God is," upon which you base your conclusion that scripture is in keeping with this knowledge? I don't see how you are not caving in to a full-blown rationalism here, though I would like to believe you're not.
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    My reasons are twofold:

    One reason is, well, reason. Where you start with "thus saith the LORD", I start with "God is the greatest possible being" (greatness here means worship-worthiness in the Anselmian sense). This entails trinity, omnipotence, justice, holiness, goodness, wisdom, and truth. Then, I compare the various "holy books" and find that all points to the Christian Scriptures. Here I also find that all along it wasn't me, but God guiding me and leading me to Himself.

    The second reason is that of the heart. I have sought God and found Him in the Scriptures, His special revelation. I have sought the LORD and He answered me in His word.

    First, I would ask where you are getting this definition.

    Second, as I have stated before, one has to know God and know that He is in order to trust Him and His authority. Why did I trust my parents as a child? Because they provided for me and helped me to know. I knew that they were there when I needed them. Unless I know that God is there, I have no reason to believe in Him.

    But again, I can know that God is there.

    I am not going to succumb to Van Tillian circular reasoning because it is fallacious--and faith cannot be based in a fallacy or else we are fideists. A circular reason is no reason at all. My purpose is that we avoid irrationalism, as exemplified by Barth and (ultimately--though he would not admit it and desperately tried to avoid it) Van Til.
  9. steven-nemes

    steven-nemes Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am doubtful that this is true. I don't think we ought to be skeptical of everything unless we have faith that the Bible is true. Why be skeptical of everything except the Bible? Why not be skeptical of the Bible too?

    I am doubtful that this is the case too. If it is the case God sees things differently (and significantly differently) than we do, then God is playing some kind of big joke on us. He made us such that we all have radically false beliefs (and we can't help but have them)! I am doubtful that God is such a deceiver.

    This epistemology is sketchy, for the reason that this proposition (p): All knowledge must be such that you are not possibly wrong about your beliefs and this one (q): The only source of knowledge is scripture and all other sources are unreliable and ought not be considered valid.--both of those propositions are dubious at best. In the case of both of them, there are issues of self-referential incoherency.

    As far as p is concerned, are you possibly wrong about p? Yes, you are; so then you can't say to know p and therefore you can't dismiss knowledge from the senses (since it is possibly wrong) as uncertain or invalid.

    As far as q is concerned, scripture doesn't teach that, so it is wrong on its own principles.

    Maybe its important to define "know".
  10. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I'll have to respond to the rest later, but for now it should be noted that even Anselm's "proof" was not a proof at all, but a praise to the God he already knew. His faith sought understanding; his philosophy was within the context of a faith he already had.

    Also, as a quick note, this has nothing to do with Cornelius van Til, by the way. It is the entire Reformed tradition that you're throwing under the bus. You keep coming back to stating that we're using circular reasoning. In a sense that is true, but not in the manner in which you're indicating. If we truly believe and confess that we're made in the image of God and possess by nature an inherent knowledge of him (though shattered by the fall), we are most capable of knowing his voice when he renews us by his Spirit. At the judgment day, will unbelievers be confused as to who the being is sitting on the throne? They won't first need to ask who he is and whether they should believe he exists. It will be most evident when they hear his voice thundering judgment; and it is much more evident and recognizable to his children when they hear him gently whispering the promise of the gospel to their hearts.
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I wouldn't say here that I'm throwing the whole reformed tradition under the bus. Calvin pointed out (Institutes I) that it would be equally proper to begin with knowledge of God or knowledge of self. The reason he starts with the one is because he is writing theology rather than philosophy or apologetics. He had no need for the others because of epistemological common ground with his audience. Had he been writing to an atheist audience, he probably would not have started with knowledge of God.

    The trouble here is that, in a culture which presupposed the truth of the Scriptures, one could argue that they were self-evident--that is, until the "enlightenment" threw all that into confusion. Once the dust had cleared, one could no longer presuppose the scriptures, but instead needed an argument for them. That is the situation today: we cannot presuppose the scriptures for apologetic purposes because our audience does not presuppose them.

    Now, when I speak of reasons for faith, I will include reasons that may be somewhat subjective (ie: not constituting objective proof). For example, the work of the Spirit in my life bears witness to God's existence and the truth of His word. This kind of a reason has little apologetic value, but is nonetheless a valid warrant for faith.
  12. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Phillip, I apologize that I will not have time to continue to interact on this issue for a while. But for now, I think it can most fairly be said that you're misunderstanding Calvin's intentions there. It's quite ironic, since most people attempt to use Calvin to pit him against natural theology trends in later Reformed teaching and claim that he no room for a positive use of proofs of God's existence. They wrongly pit the early and late traditions against each other, in my opinion, but it is still ironic to me to see someone attempting here to argue the exact opposite.

    The autopistic nature of scripture does not depend upon the philosophical milieu of the day: it depends on the Spirit's witness, whether society in general is willing to accept it or not.

    I urge to consider deeply the consequences of making faith to rest upon reasonable demonstration of God's existence. But again, for the time being, I must bow out of this conversation.
  13. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't think I'm using Calvin to necessarily support natural theology, merely pointing out that he wasn't necessarily against it. He didn't really try to address the question because he was doing theology rather than apologetics or philosophy.

    I'll probably start a new thread on faith in a bit in any case as we seem to have gotten off-topic.
  14. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Then I would state that you cannot know anything absolutely, as your interpretation of what you think scripture says absolutely can be wrong, so you should not ever be able to make an affirmative statement that you hold to be absolutely true.

    I agree the scripture is absolutely true, but our fallibility in interpretation means that anything we state, other than the very words of scripture, are fallible and subject to error.

    So for me to state "God exists in trinity" I hold to be true, and I would argue the point relentlessly, but it is of less certainty than "εν αρχη ην ο λογοϚ και ο λογοϚ ην προϚ τον θεον και θεοϚ ην ο λογοϚ" (John 1.1) which is absolutely true regardless of what I might think it means.

    -----Added 9/23/2009 at 09:55:49 EST-----

    This is probably the most useful statement I have seen on the subject (I've seen it elsewhere as well) but we cannot hear the right answer too many times (as I tell my students).

    Our system of reason has a starting point (axiom) which is "God has said." And that he has said in a way that, while not clear in all places equally, is sufficiently clear in one place or another that we can know with certainty the gospel.
  15. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Exactly so. However, this simply serves to prove the point that it is not the eyes that see, nor the ears that hear, nor the heart that understands.

  16. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    I can know fully what God causes me to know, do I KNOW that God created in 6 literal days or 6 thousand years represented by days? No, I do not know absolutely(and I would argue that to know is to know absolutely) but I accept by faith that it is 6 LITERAL days and also I have faith that the Holy Spirit is causing me to pray for wisdom and understanding when reading.
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