If you’ve read “Ridiculous Doctrines” part 1, you’ll know that we’re in a dilemma of knowing truth from falsehood. I’ve already established the importance of relying on Scripture, but for most in our society, the Bible is believed to be like the sacred text(s) of any religion. The assumption is that the Christian Bible is merely a human document–one that may be historically accurate, interesting and influential, but rejected as anything supernatural. Therefore, allow me to back up. How can we know anything absolutely? Here is a bit of an overview:
- One approach, which I reject, is that of empiricism (subjectivity) or (private judgment). We cannot approach an absolute with relative approaches. If I get dizzy every time I go running, is it necessarily true to conclude that running causes dizziness.
- A second approach, which I reject, is that of pragmatism. We cannot approach abstract concepts as though they were concrete. Neither should we conclude that simply because something is a certain way that it ought to be that way (naturalistic fallacy). Just because one nation can invade a country for their valuable natural recourses (and has the military might to do so) does not mean that it ought to. Matters of practicality have nothing to say to moral values and ethics.
- A third approach, which I reject, is that of rationalism (human reason). Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment thinking begins each inquiry for truth with human reason as an absolute starting point—believing that knowledge is primarily innate and/or gathered by a priori processes. There are a few problems with this approach. Generally, though, they are frustrated, admitting that we cannot have a purely rationalistic approach to anything—only one that is both rational plus knowledge borrowed from other means.
- There are others, but I’ll skip forward…
My approach: Reformed Epistemology (Alvin Plantinga, C. Van Til, J. Frame)
Central to Reformed epistemology is the claim that belief in God is a “properly basic belief”: it doesn’t need to be inferred from other truths in order to be reasonable. This view represents a continuation of the thinking about the relationship between faith and reason that its founders find in 16th century Reformed theology, particularly in John Calvin’s doctrine that God has planted in us a sensus divinitatis (a Divine sense):
Romans 1:19-20 . . . since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Moreover, I propose Paul’s assertions of I Corinthians 2.
Wisdom From the Spirit
6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
I agree with John Frame,
A presupposition is a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition…. This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing. (Doctrine of Knowledge of God, 45)