Covenantal Apologetics

Dr. Scott Oliphint returns to Christ the Center to discuss his recent book, Covenantal Apologetics. Oliphint’s forthcoming book is an accessible treatment of Van Tilian presuppositional apologetics, the fruit of years of teaching apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. We discuss with Dr. Oliphint the significance of the book’s title, namely, that the covenantal theology of the Reformed confessions underlies a covenantal apologetic approach. Oliphint explains the “quicksand quotient,” the role of common grace in apologetics, and discusses the motivation behind the example apologetic conversations found in the book.

Other Books on Apologetics

This selection is taken from our suggested reading list. For more information on how to use this list as well as books in other disciplines, please look at our list.
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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program and learn how to subscribe.

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pba

5 years ago

I look forward to the forthcoming book, particularly the dialogues. Around 25 minutes is Camden noted that Oliphint has shown why the presuppositional apologetic cannot be used by, say, a Muslim seeking to defend the existence of Allah. Camden said, roughly, that they cannot because “they do not have / start with the ontological Trinity at the center.” Let’s say that it is true that, since the God that does exist necessarily exists, then the presuppositional apologetic will only work if one indeed begins by presupposing the God that in fact necessarily exists.

I am not sure, from there, how the Van Tillian presuppositional approach can get me anything but skepticism if I am trying to figure out whether (and which) God does indeed necessarily exist (i.e., what to presuppose). For instance, the Van Tillian will say (like Camden, etc.):

-Christian VT: Unless one presupposes the Triune self-dependent God, one has no possible basis for any predication or intelligibility (though, note, this seems to leave open radical skepticism—perhaps one reason why Clark typically used to describe the only two possible options as Christianity and skepticism, describing it as a choice between the two, strangely).
-Muslim VT: Unless one presupposes the self-dependent God Allah, one has no possible basis for any predication or intelligibility.
-Of course, it is true that if one indeed does presuppose the Triune God, Allah is necessarily non-existent and the Triune God does indeed provide the basis for predication. However, if one presupposes Allah, it just as equally followed that the Triune God is necessarily non-existent and Allah does indeed provide the basis for predication etc. These are metaphysical claims. But how can I know which God is indeed the necessarily existent God? How do I know which God I must presuppose?

Nate

5 years ago

I suppose Van Til himself might first say, “you’re not supposed to ‘try to decide’; submit to Scripture.” But I understand that your question is somewhat different. In that case Van Til might say that we have misunderstood the presuppositional thesis.

Van Til’s basic position is not this: ‘Don’t defend directly whatever it is you believe or whatever brand of theism you hold to. Rather, presuppose whatever it is you believe or whatever theism you hold to.’ This is NOT his position, though it is often thought to be.

In other words, the presuppositional position is not a generic one; it is not just ‘presuppositional’–it is biblical. Van Til isn’t saying that we may presuppose any self-contained god and it comes out the same. That would be to miss the greater part of Van Til’s apologetic method.

The presuppositional apologetic is inseparable from triune, Christian theism and the full system of truth taught in Scripture. It is because of the particular nature of the God of Christian Scripture–as one substance in three persons, a se and simple, etc.–that he cannot be the conclusion of a syllogism but must exist if syllogisms are to mean anything.

The ‘god’ of Islam in fact has nothing in common with the God of Scripture, so there isn’t really any reason to suppose the god of Islam could also assume this role (necessary condition for predication, etc.). Theological predicates such as eternal, self-contained, et al., when applied to the god of Islam are mis-applied–Allah can’t actually be eternal, self-contained, etc. On ‘his’ on basis, ‘he’ can’t be. The things that Reformed theology says about the Christian God cannot be true of the god of Islam. Allah can’t be God; whatever Allah is, isn’t God.

So it just isn’t possible to presuppose the god of Islam in order to account for predication or whatever else, because of what the god of Islam is. The god of Islam cannot and does not meet any of the conditions for being that necessary presupposition for knowledge, prediction, meaning in history, etc. Even if you set aside the fact that Allah doesn’t exist, by his very nature, Allah is disqualified.

So, it IS possible to argue directly for (the existence of) the god of Islam, except that, as Van Til says, by thus proving (the existence of) the god of Islam, we prove that he is not god, but a mere abstraction, an abstract concept without properties or power. So a Muslim could take a page out of Aquinas, but he could not take a page out of Van Til–not a single page. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn’t be able to do so without losing his religion.

That’s how I’d approach it, I think.

K Scott Oliphint

5 years ago

pba,

Just a couple of points to add to what Nate rightly says. First, remember that the critique of Islam is an *internal* critique, as well as an external one. So, it is not simply that “I presuppose Yahweh” and “You presuppose Allah.” That’s already a given in the discussion. The internal question is whether or not, and if so how, the presupposition of Allah and his word is consistent *with itself.* I try to show in the mock dialog in the last chapter of the book how it is not self-consistent. It thus falls of its own weight.

Then, externally, I want to show the Muslim how Christianity, with its inimitable notion of condescension, solves the problems that bring Islam crashing down. This leads, inevitably, to a discussion of the gospel, which, of course, has to be the goal.

Remember also that in the midst of the both the internal and external discussions, the Muslim knows the true God truly, and thus knows that his construal of a god called Allah is nothing but smoke and mirrors (compare Rom. 1:18-21 with Rom. 1:32).

So, the goal here is to unmask the idolatry and show forth the gospel in all its glory. The Spirit will do His sovereign work in this, but, if the above is applied there’s no way to “lose.”

pat

5 years ago

Dr. Oliphint,

I am very excited for your book to come out. Do you have any plans to do an apologetics lecture series for the public?

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Dr. Oliphint,
Can’t one do both the internal and external critiques if one simply presupposes reason instead of presupposing Scripture? At the end of the day, one could say that Christian Theism is the only belief system that can survive both an internal and external critique. What extra does one get by taken the extra step of presupposing Scripture?

Justin

5 years ago

Ah, the old desconstruction/reconstruction trick! 🙂

Works with any non-Christian worldview, really.

Robert

5 years ago

Great episode!

K Scott Oliphint

5 years ago

Hermonta,

You’ve got to think carefully about what “presuppose” means. It does not mean “use;” we all use our reason. But if reason is the foundational presupposition of an internal and/or external critique, then the critique is stipulating that conformity to rational laws or principles is the goal of the apologetic. This simply cannot be. Conformity to Scripture is the goal, including a plea for conformity (and submission) to Christ. There is nothing inherent in reason that can offer anything like that.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Dr. Oliphint,
Conformity to rational laws and principles and conformity to Scripture are not mutually exclusive. The laws of logic/reason are basic to Scripture. For example, if one put forward a position that has Scripture contradicting itself, then one knows that one has done something wrong. The only way to argue for Conformity to Scripture against Conformity to reason is to argue that there is something in Christianity that is against reason. If such is not the case, then I do not see a benefit to presuppose Scripture instead of presupposing reason. (As an aside, I do believe that Scripture is the inerrant word of God).

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says: Conformity to rational laws and principles and conformity to Scripture are not mutually exclusive.
True conformity to the latter is only possible upon a foundation of conformity to the former. Logic is a major component of our design in the image and likeness of our creator God. It only functions correctly when self consciously surrendered to it’s source for safe keeping and sound operation. ALL men, sinners and saints alike are inextricably bound by their very ontology to operate in conformity to the logical rules and parameters built into them by their creator. Saints do so in joyous willing worship of this creator for His wisdom in making it so and sinners do so because they have no choice. All the while denying that they’re doing it.
Hermonta Godwin says: The laws of logic/reason are basic to Scripture.
The laws of logic and reason are basic to the universe, but only in the Christian scriptures do we find out why.
Hermonta Godwin says: The only way to argue for Conformity to Scripture against Conformity to reason is to argue that there is something in Christianity that is against reason.
No sir. Arguing for reason without arguing for scripture is like arguing for fish without arguing for water. Reason is only what it is and why because “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

In the Christian scriptures we find revealed a comprehensively sovereign and noncontingent God whose self contained decree alone accounts for the possibility of any and all knowledge whatsoever. A thing is what it is because God decrees it so without the possibility of an external influence exposing or producing contingency in His own knowledge or will. Contingent knowledge is self contradiction. To know ANYthing truly, one must know EVERYting exhaustively. Because even one particle of the unknown carries with it the possibility of introducing change into all the rest. We as finite creaetd beings are by definition incapable of such knowledge. Even without sin. God lends us His by faith

. Every actual and possible “fact” there is or ever could be is a created one as only God Himself is uncreated, therefore owing it’s existence to God, every fact is defined by Him. We human critters are as right or wrong as we are in agreement with the God who is singularly qualified and authorized to have an objective autonomous view of ANYTHING.

In these same scriptures we are confronted with a God who is a “triunity”. One being, three “persons”. “Neither dividing the substance nor confounding the persons”. Equally, eternally and ultimately one and many and therefore so is solved that ancient conundrum known as yes, the “problem of the one and the many”.

2+2 is equally 4 for Richard Dawkins as it is for me. And for the same reason. We are both creatures of God bearing His image, living in a heavens and earth which in the beginning God also created. Having now been raised from death in sin to new life in Christ, I see myself and the universe as they actually are. Dawkins does too, but he spends every moment of his life suppressing that truth in his unrighteousness. He sees his King and Master literally everywhere, but especially in his mirror where the image and likeness of his Lord stares back at him, broken though it is in sin.

He cannot escape the signature of his God which is upon every fact of the universe, try as he might and boy does he ever. Reason gives him some “what”. But only scripture can give him “how” or why”.

I don’t how I got on all that at 2 o’clock in the morning, but forgive my intrusion. I couldn’t help myself.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Sorry, I’m half asleep. That first sentence should read the other way round. Wadda bonehead I am lol.

“True conformity to the former is only possible upon a foundation of conformity to the latter.”

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes: True conformity to the latter is only possible upon a foundation of conformity to the former. Logic is a major component of our design in the image and likeness of our creator God. It only functions correctly when self consciously surrendered to it’s source for safe keeping and sound operation. ALL men, sinners and saints alike are inextricably bound by their very ontology to operate in conformity to the logical rules and parameters built into them by their creator. Saints do so in joyous willing worship of this creator for His wisdom in making it so and sinners do so because they have no choice. All the while denying that they’re doing it.

Hermonta response: I think that you are confusing epistemology and ontology here. Epistemology concerns what one believes, why ones believes such, etc. while Ontology concerns what is.

Now I do agree that the laws of logic etc are what they are because of the Truine God of the Bible. However I am not required to presuppose God in order to presuppose the laws of reason. Presupposing is an epistemological endeavor. Because something is true does not mean that I must presuppose it. The options are not simply that one must either presuppose something as true or deny that it is true.

Next, one does not have to self consciously bow the knee to god for logic to work correctly. If such was the case, then an internal critique of an unbelieving worldview would not work because the unbeliever is not bowing the knee when evaluating your critique. However they can see and follow that there worldview is in serious trouble when the critique is done properly.

Greg writes: The laws of logic and reason are basic to the universe, but only in the Christian scriptures do we find out why.

Hermonta response: I don’t think that you can find a reformed confession that makes such a claim. Next, natural theology and natural law are enough to investigate the laws of logic. The Bible is necessary for the Gospel and more indepth knowledge of God and His actions in History.

Greg writes: “No sir. Arguing for reason without arguing for scripture is like arguing for fish without arguing for water. Reason is only what it is and why because “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

Hermonta responsds: Again you are confusing epistemology with ontology.

Greg writes: “In the Christian scriptures we find revealed a comprehensively sovereign and noncontingent God whose self contained decree alone accounts for the possibility of any and all knowledge whatsoever. A thing is what it is because God decrees it so without the possibility of an external influence exposing or producing contingency in His own knowledge or will. Contingent knowledge is self contradiction. To know ANYthing truly, one must know EVERYting exhaustively. Because even one particle of the unknown carries with it the possibility of introducing change into all the rest. We as finite creaetd beings are by definition incapable of such knowledge. Even without sin. God lends us His by faith.”

Hermonta responds: Actually to know truly one does not need to know everything exhaustively. If you wish to come back with some sort of defense of that claim, I would be happy to hear it.

I am a foundationalist. I believe that some claims are more basic than other claims. Because less basic claims can be found to be in error, does not imply that everything is always in flux.

Greg writes: “Every actual and possible “fact” there is or ever could be is a created one as only God Himself is uncreated, therefore owing it’s existence to God, every fact is defined by Him. We human critters are as right or wrong as we are in agreement with the God who is singularly qualified and authorized to have an objective autonomous view of ANYTHING. ”

Hermonta responds: That there is an objective reality where one must agree with God’s view or be wrong, is true. But again that does not demand that one presuppose Scripture in addition to presupposing the laws of reason.

Greg writes: “In these same scriptures we are confronted with a God who is a “triunity”. One being, three “persons”. “Neither dividing the substance nor confounding the persons”. Equally, eternally and ultimately one and many and therefore so is solved that ancient conundrum known as yes, the “problem of the one and the many”.

Hermonta responds: I see the above as a nice argument/reason for Christianity being true but not a reason to presuppose Christianity.

Greg writes: “2+2 is equally 4 for Richard Dawkins as it is for me. And for the same reason. We are both creatures of God bearing His image, living in a heavens and earth which in the beginning God also created. Having now been raised from death in sin to new life in Christ, I see myself and the universe as they actually are. Dawkins does too, but he spends every moment of his life suppressing that truth in his unrighteousness. He sees his King and Master literally everywhere, but especially in his mirror where the image and likeness of his Lord stares back at him, broken though it is in sin. ”

Hermonta responds: Here is another disagreement that I have with covenantal apologetics. One does not have to know God in order to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. One can/could simply say that I do not know God and do not want to know him.

Justin

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin,

I would venture to guess that Dr. Oliphint would say it becomes a matter of 1) authority and 2) epistemology.

By authority, if we presuppose reason instead of Scripture, we are making reason our ultimate authority and are thereby embracing a rationalist philosophy.

By epistemology, Scripture declares knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord, not the presupposing of reason. If one presupposes Scripture as their ultimate authority, that is by definition allowing knowledge to begin with the fear of the Lord.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin,
To presuppose Reason and not Scripture does not mean that we reject Scripture being what it says it is. It simply means that such an assumption is not being made out the gate. If you wish to call that a rationalistic philosophy, is fine by me. Such a claim does not make it wrong in the least.

Next, Scripture says that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. One is able to have real knowledge, without fearing God. Now if one wishes to have a consistent and full worldview, one needs to embrace Christianity.

Justin

5 years ago

Nothing is wrong with presupposing reason. That wasn’t my point. My point was, you can only choose one to be your authority: reason, or Scripture. Therefore, Scripture isn’t to be believed based on the authority of our reason telling us so; Scripture is to be the authority by which we understand and believe everything–including reason. That does not mean reason isn’t presupposed as well; of course it is. It’s just that reason isn’t the standard or authority by which we measure or accept Scripture; instead, we subject our reason to the authority of Scripture.

Regarding knowledge, the only reason an unbeliever can have any “real knowledge” is because God gives it to him (revelational epistemology). That means true knowledge, as you put it, STARTS with God’s revelation, and that revelation finds its full authority and starting point in Scripture, as it is the verbal communication of the knowledge-giver–God himself.

Therefore, we should not circumvent the only justifiable epistemology we have–one that says we “know what we know” because God has revealed it to us; not because our reason–by its own authority–has judged it so.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin writes: Nothing is wrong with presupposing reason. That wasn’t my point. My point was, you can only choose one to be your authority: reason, or Scripture. Therefore, Scripture isn’t to be believed based on the authority of our reason telling us so; Scripture is to be the authority by which we understand and believe everything–including reason.

Hermonta Responds: And my point is that it is incoherent to attempt to put Scripture up against reason. An implication of putting Scripture above or using it to judge reason is that if if you believed that Scripture says something that is against reason, you would accept it because Scripture is your final authority. Such a position is simply incoherent.

Justin writes: That does not mean reason isn’t presupposed as well; of course it is. It’s just that reason isn’t the standard or authority by which we measure or accept Scripture; instead, we subject our reason to the authority of Scripture.

Hermonta responds: What I wrote above still fits here.

Justin writes: Regarding knowledge, the only reason an unbeliever can have any “real knowledge” is because God gives it to him (revelational epistemology).

Hermonta responds: I dont have a problem with such a statement. The only concern is that when most CA folks speak in such a fashion they don’t have any room for General Revelation. Remember Romans 1, says that everyone is without excuse regardless of them ever having seen a Bible or ever have it properly explained to them.

Justin writes: That means true knowledge, as you put it, STARTS with God’s revelation, and that revelation finds its full authority and starting point in Scripture, as it is the verbal communication of the knowledge-giver–God himself.

Hermonta responds: The Bible does not make such a claim. The Bible makes the claim that knowledge is available even if one never sees a Bible. God has revealed himself through the created order.

Justin writes: Therefore, we should not circumvent the only justifiable epistemology we have–one that says we “know what we know” because God has revealed it to us; not because our reason–by its own authority–has judged it so.

Hermonta responds: One cannot separate the authority of Scripture from the authority of reason. If one actually attempt to do such, then one will lose the ability to defeat the Scripture alternative: the Koran etc.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

I did not anticipate it, but I am honored by the time you took to respond. These are huge sprawling topics. I don’t have a ton of time, but will try.
Hermonta Godwin says: Now I do agree that the laws of logic etc are what they are because of the Truine God of the Bible. However I am not required to presuppose God in order to presuppose the laws of reason.
Before I assume incorrectly, define “presuppose” for me please. In the context of these kinds of discussions, for me, presupposition and axiom are practically synonymous. There can by definition only be one. All merely human reason eventually terminates in tautology. The ground of our certainty (2+2=4) must reside elsewhere. Every man has a first principle governing all others that is in the nature of the case unprovable by means of his own reason. He assumes it. Presupposes it. He has no choice. For unbelievers this is logic itself. For believers it’s supposed to be God. I’ll go further possibly when I see your definition of “presuppose”.
Hermonta Godwin says: Presupposing is an epistemological endeavor.
So then you agree with my definition above?
Hermonta Godwin says: Because something is true does not mean that I must presuppose it. The options are not simply that one must either presuppose something as true or deny that it is true.
And herein lies the trouble brother. We are not talking about “something”. We are talking about the one true and living God for which no analogous “something ” can be found anywhere else. For any other proposition save for Him alone, your assertion might be true. Allow anything EXCEPT Him to be this axiomatic all governing first principle, that is, to be God, and the idolatry of pure skeptical uncertainty is knocking at the door. A currently popular attempted escape from one’s creator. (I’m not saying YOU intend this)

Can we go with this for now? I agree with Justin BTW. Also, We’ll get to your demand for an argument supporting my contention that knowledge is all or nothing. Not to come off the wrong way, but I have been through this more times than I can count.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes: Before I assume incorrectly, define “presuppose” for me please. In the context of these kinds of discussions, for me, presupposition and axiom are practically synonymous. There can by definition only be one. All merely human reason eventually terminates in tautology. The ground of our certainty (2+2=4) must reside elsewhere. Every man has a first principle governing all others that is in the nature of the case unprovable by means of his own reason. He assumes it. Presupposes it. He has no choice. For unbelievers this is logic itself. For believers it’s supposed to be God. I’ll go further possibly when I see your definition of “presuppose”.

Hermonta responds: I would say that a presupposition is something that must be accepted as accurate or knowledge implodes. The laws of reason fit this bill.

I reject the view that all merely human reason eventually terminates in tautology. Eventually it will terminate in contradiction/meaninglessness. For example, an internal critique done on any worldview only stops when a contradiction is reached. As far as that contradiction is embraced, the person embraces meaninglessness.

To embrace the laws of reason as one’s presupposition, does not imply that one must deny that the Triune God of Scripture is the ontological foundation of reality.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Oh boy,, I don’t have much time again.
Hermonta responds: I would say that a presupposition is something that must be accepted as accurate or knowledge implodes. The laws of reason fit this bill.
The existence and the universally binding nature of the laws of reason are not in any way accounted for in themselves. I’m using “tautology” in an informal sense of subjectively maintaining the truth of a proposition purely on it’s own basis ie. “A is A because it is.” An ultimate begging of the question. Maybe tautology isn’t best word. Makes no difference really. The point is, that’s as far as we can go in ourselves and it that’s as far as there is then there is no valid basis for believing that 2+2=4, to say nothing of a sweeping statement like “the laws of reason are one’s first all governing all defining principle”. You must see the incurably circular nature of such a position. As I say, all merely human reason eventually is. The only escape from the circles is faith. Everybody has it. It’s only a matter of what in. The fact that most don’t consciously realize it is entirely irrelevant. Most don’t consciously realize how their brain works either, but like faith, they use it all the time.

You essentially agree by saying this :“Eventually it will terminate in contradiction/meaninglessness. For example, an internal critique done on any worldview only stops when a contradiction is reached. As far as that contradiction is embraced, the person embraces meaninglessness.

Hermonta responds: “To embrace the laws of reason as one’s presupposition, does not imply that one must deny that the Triune God of Scripture is the ontological foundation of reality.”
To deny the triune God of scripture His rightful place on the throne of the mind as one’s only ultimate, all governing, all defining axiomatic presupposition is not only to deny one’s self the only possible escape from the circles (meaninglessness), it is tantamount to inadvertent idolatry. Unless you are proposing that the “laws of reason” have rightful claim to that throne? You are also in my opinion advancing too a great a dichotomy between ontology and epistemology. They are inextricably bound with one another as are all other “____ologys” as well. If there were no being there would be nothing to think and nobody to think about it. If there were no epistemology there would be no means of so much as conceiving of ontology or anything else. In fact here, the problem of the one and the many starts to rear it’s ugly head.

Covenantally speaking, the children of the first Adam prefer the meaningless circles to moral accountability to their God. Those born again into the new covenant in the last Adam have been given the mind of Christ by faith and thereby escape from the meaningless circles. That’s the philosophical component of regeneration. You sir are attempting to live your life in the last Adam while clinging to the mind of the first. I urge you to reconsider.

This can be illustrated by a drawing of a big king on a big tall throne with a little person standing in front of it. See that king boys n girls? That’s how you see yourself before Jesus saves you. Peering down at God deciding whether He’s really there and whether He gets to be God or not. And if he does, what kind of God you’ll let him be. After He saves you? You see that He was the King all along.

There’s some more, but I have to get some work done.

ChiChung Wang

5 years ago

“You must see the incurably circular nature of such a position. As I say, all merely human reason eventually is. The only escape from the circles is faith.”

I’m so very glad that Dr. Oliphint did not base his book on this premise (ie, fideism). And I’m extremely pleased with the last chapter in the book which deals with the type of faith that result from pure rationality on its own terms (such that Islam employs). After Hermonta and Greg read the book, this discussion ought to go MUCH differently.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

My copy is on the way. If Dr. Oliphint proposes that autonomous human reason is equipped to resolve ultimate questions in itself, then he and I will unfortunately disagree.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes: The existence and the universally binding nature of the laws of reason are not in any way accounted for in themselves. I’m using “tautology” in an informal sense of subjectively maintaining the truth of a proposition purely on it’s own basis ie. “A is A because it is.” An ultimate begging of the question. Maybe tautology isn’t best word. Makes no difference really. The point is, that’s as far as we can go in ourselves and it that’s as far as there is then there is no valid basis for believing that 2+2=4, to say nothing of a sweeping statement like “the laws of reason are one’s first all governing all defining principle”. You must see the incurably circular nature of such a position. As I say, all merely human reason eventually is. The only escape from the circles is faith. Everybody has it. It’s only a matter of what in. The fact that most don’t consciously realize it is entirely irrelevant. Most don’t consciously realize how their brain works either, but like faith, they use it all the time.
——-
Hermonta responds: To affirm the laws of reason (the law of identity in this case) in and of themselves is in no way question begging. To be guilty of question begging, there must be an alternative that one rejects “just cause”. In this case, there is no coherent alternative. How does one beg the answer to a question that has only one possible answer?
——
Greg writes: You essentially agree by saying this :“Eventually it will terminate in contradiction/meaninglessness. For example, an internal critique done on any worldview only stops when a contradiction is reached. As far as that contradiction is embraced, the person embraces meaninglessness.
——
Hermonta responds: I don’t agree with what you stated above. My point is that human reason can gain certainty because one can push wrong thought until it becomes incoherent. It does not end with “I want to stop here just cause”.
———

Greg writes: To deny the triune God of scripture His rightful place on the throne of the mind as one’s only ultimate, all governing, all defining axiomatic presupposition is not only to deny one’s self the only possible escape from the circles (meaninglessness), it is tantamount to inadvertent idolatry.

—–

Hermonta responds: Who said anything about denying anything about the truine God of scripture. The question has been whether or not one must presuppose the truth of the Bible before any discussion/knowledge etc can take place. The bottom line issue is one of fideism. One can hold to something that is true for a bad reason. To hold that the Bible is the infallible word of God is not a logically basic claim. It is a true claim but not logically basic in the way that affirming the laws of reason is logically basic.

——-

Greg writes: Unless you are proposing that the “laws of reason” have rightful claim to that throne? You are also in my opinion advancing too a great a dichotomy between ontology and epistemology. They are inextricably bound with one another as are all other “____ologys” as well. If there were no being there would be nothing to think and nobody to think about it. If there were no epistemology there would be no means of so much as conceiving of ontology or anything else. In fact here, the problem of the one and the many starts to rear it’s ugly head.
—–

Hermonta responds: An analogy of your claim seems to be this: “One cannot trust that their car will start and take them to work or school etc until they understand what is happening under the hood. The analogy is not perfect but I think the point is clear.

Next, I am not making too much of a dichotomy between epistemology and ontology. To say that epistemology and ontology are not the same thing, does not require me to deny that being exists etc.
——
Greg writes: Covenantally speaking, the children of the first Adam prefer the meaningless circles to moral accountability to their God. Those born again into the new covenant in the last Adam have been given the mind of Christ by faith and thereby escape from the meaningless circles. That’s the philosophical component of regeneration. You sir are attempting to live your life in the last Adam while clinging to the mind of the first. I urge you to reconsider.
—–
Hermonta responds: This seems to be an example of a problem that many Van Tillians have. They believe that if one does not presuppose the Bible, then the radical uncertainty, confusion etc found in postmodernity is the only option that is left. Such is just not the case.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Justin says: Nothing is wrong with presupposing reason. That wasn’t my point. My point was, you can only choose one to be your authority: reason, or Scripture. Therefore, Scripture isn’t to be believed based on the authority of our reason telling us so; Scripture is to be the authority by which we understand and believe everything–including reason. That does not mean reason isn’t presupposed as well; of course it is. It’s just that reason isn’t the standard or authority by which we measure or accept Scripture; instead, we subject our reason to the authority of Scripture.

Regarding knowledge, the only reason an unbeliever can have any “real knowledge” is because God gives it to him (revelational epistemology). That means true knowledge, as you put it, STARTS with God’s revelation, and that revelation finds its full authority and starting point in Scripture, as it is the verbal communication of the knowledge-giver–God himself.

Therefore, we should not circumvent the only justifiable epistemology we have–one that says we “know what we know” because God has revealed it to us; not because our reason–by its own authority–has judged it so.
Magnificent.
Lemme get outta the way. I apologize again for the intrusion.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

I have another quick second here and simply must say:
ChiChung Wang quotes me as saying:
“You must see the incurably circular nature of such a position. As I say, all merely human reason eventually is. The only escape from the circles is faith.”

And then responds with
I’m so very glad that Dr. Oliphint did not base his book on this premise (ie, fideism). And I’m extremely pleased with the last chapter in the book which deals with the type of faith that result from pure rationality on its own terms (such that Islam employs). After Hermonta and Greg read the book, this discussion ought to go MUCH differently.
To which I then further responded with:
My copy is on the way. If Dr. Oliphint proposes that autonomous human reason is equipped to resolve ultimate questions in itself, then he and I will unfortunately disagree.

I should clarify that I do not believe for a second that Dr. Oliphint would propose such a thing. He believes, as do I, and as I Have heard him say, that the reformed worldview is built upon the “principium” of holy scripture. That is, the SELF attesting nature of the scriptures as that first principle upon which all others are built and which is by definition not rationally verifiable. This IS WCF I:IV:
IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.
I stand by and say again that ALL human reason left to itself reduces ultimately to question begging circularity. Or tautology.

“The law of non contradiction is true because…. it just is…. and I like it that way”

The law of non contradiction must itself be used to prove it’s own validity. Unless somebody’s ready to declare themselves divine, we are incapable of escape from this irrational state of affairs without “faith” which Hebrews 11:1 tells us is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. We cannot see beyond this creaturely threshold by ourselves.

Call this whatever you want. “Fideism” actually works I suppose. As Dr. Oliphint says, as soon as somebody adds a “BECAUSE _____________” after WCF I:IV they have exalted whatever fills that blank over the word of God. No sir. The scriptures are self attesting and self verifying because THEY ARE God’s mind written. Accept them on any other basis and we are back in the arms of Aristotle and Aquinas. I’m not afraid of the charge of “fideism” as long as I’m allowed to explain why.

Of course if he sees this, Dr. Oliphint is free to straighten me out if I have in any way misrepresented him. I’m also not afraid to be wrong. It means I have more truth than I did before. A thing I am always grateful for.

Justin

5 years ago

Hermonta,

I am not putting Scripture “up against” reason. I am putting it in its proper place over and above reason.

Reason is a tool used by the finite human mind. Scripture is truth given from God’s infinite divine mind. Therefore, Scripture must take authority over “reason” as so-called.

And your assertion that “if you believed that Scripture says something that is against reason, you would accept it because Scripture is your final authority” is again a misrepresentation of my position (and likely other CAs).

What I am saying is that reason is subject to Scripture. It (reason) is also informed by Scripture; not opposed by it. There is no antithesis here. In other words, if I read something in Scripture that appears to be against human reason, I will give Scripture the “benefit of the doubt” and assume I am reasoning incorrectly. This would be an example of Scripture having authority over my reasoning. To say it this way: If my reasoning makes it appear that what Scripture says is true is actually false, then I must be reasoning incorrectly, and need to allow Scripture to further inform my reason until I get it right.

Regarding General Revelation, I can understand your concern, but I believe if done correctly, the CA approach is no threat to giving it its rightful place. If someone has never encountered Scripture, and has true knowledge of something, it is only because God revealed it to him through that General Revelation. The point is, we have things in Scripture that are revealed that give us a rational basis for knowing that truth in the first place that aren’t found in General Revelation.

Regarding the Bible “never making such a claim,” I think you misunderstood me. When I said true knowledge starts with God’s revelation, I was including General Revelation in that statement. But my point is that when we are presented with Scripture, we cannot circumvent it and submit it to our the authority of our own reasoning.

Regarding the separation of the authority of Scripture and the authority of reason, I think I have clearly demonstrated 1) that there is a difference between them both, and that 2) only one can hold a place of ultimate authority. That doesn’t mean we can’t USE reason to tangle with other worldviews, we just can’t give it a place of authority, as if we share it as some neutral ground with unbelievers. That would take the ground right out from under our feet.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin writes: I am not putting Scripture “up against” reason. I am putting it in its proper place over and above reason.

Reason is a tool used by the finite human mind. Scripture is truth given from God’s infinite divine mind. Therefore, Scripture must take authority over “reason” as so-called.
——
Hermonta responds: It seems that you are making a similar mistake to what Greg is doing by confusing epistemology and ontology.

Next, Scripture is also a tool used by a finite human mind. The laws of reason are also given from God’s infinite divine mind, so you still havent shown why Scripture is or has to be over reason.
—–
Justin writes: And your assertion that “if you believed that Scripture says something that is against reason, you would accept it because Scripture is your final authority” is again a misrepresentation of my position (and likely other CAs).

What I am saying is that reason is subject to Scripture. It (reason) is also informed by Scripture; not opposed by it. There is no antithesis here. In other words, if I read something in Scripture that appears to be against human reason, I will give Scripture the “benefit of the doubt” and assume I am reasoning incorrectly. This would be an example of Scripture having authority over my reasoning. To say it this way: If my reasoning makes it appear that what Scripture says is true is actually false, then I must be reasoning incorrectly, and need to allow Scripture to further inform my reason until I get it right.
—-
Hermonta responds: It looks like you have the situation backwards. If you read something in Scripture that appears to be against human reason, then it simply means that you are misunderstanding Scripture in someway. Reason is judging Scripture. (Now it is possible that one is not reasoning in a valid manner, and one should be sure to verify that one is reasoning correctly, but normally this is not at issue).

As far as giving Scripture the benefit of the doubt, such still does not help your cause. If you simply mean that you say to yourself, “I know that Scripture is infallible, but I am running into what looks like a contradiction, so I know that my knowledge of Scripture is not what it should be. As my knowledge increases, I will see why X is not a contradiction”; then I have no problem with the position. One would not be judging reason using Scripture in such a case.

If however you mean that you will believe it anyway even though you can’t remove the contradiction, then that is simply false/impossible. It is impossible to affirm the belief of the form X and ~X at the same time in the same way. So again it is impossible to use Scripture to judge reason.
——–
Justin writes: Regarding General Revelation, I can understand your concern, but I believe if done correctly, the CA approach is no threat to giving it its rightful place. If someone has never encountered Scripture, and has true knowledge of something, it is only because God revealed it to him through that General Revelation. The point is, we have things in Scripture that are revealed that give us a rational basis for knowing that truth in the first place that aren’t found in General Revelation.
——-
Hermonta responds: Accepting the dictates of reason in no way needs Scripture to be justified. One does not need to know the ontological basis of reason in order to be fully justified in trusting reason. Next, we can know that the ontological basis of reason is the being who created the world without ever having seen the Bible.
——

Justin writes: Regarding the Bible “never making such a claim,” I think you misunderstood me. When I said true knowledge starts with God’s revelation, I was including General Revelation in that statement. But my point is that when we are presented with Scripture, we cannot circumvent it and submit it to our the authority of our own reasoning.
—–
Hermonta responds: But remember this discussion concerns the necessity of presupposing Scripture. I have yet to see a good defense of that claim. I am not nor have I ever in this discussion denied the truth of the Bible.
—–

Justin writes: Regarding the separation of the authority of Scripture and the authority of reason, I think I have clearly demonstrated 1) that there is a difference between them both, and that 2) only one can hold a place of ultimate authority. That doesn’t mean we can’t USE reason to tangle with other worldviews, we just can’t give it a place of authority, as if we share it as some neutral ground with unbelievers. That would take the ground right out from under our feet.

—–

Hermonta responds: You have demonstrated no such thing.

Patrick

2 years ago

Hi Justin,

I’ve enjoyed following your comments. You should start an apologetics blog!

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Very VERY good Justin. Amen! Scripture is the manufacturers operating manual for reason. Not it’s enemy. (I’m trying to shut up, but it’s not workin 😀 )

Justin

5 years ago

I think you may be confusing the “laws of reason/logic” with the reasoning process, or the process our minds go through to sort out various realities.

The “laws of reason/logic,” i.e. non-contradiction, are just ontological realities that explain basic ontological truths primarily about God, i.e. God is God, and any other attributes that would remove that “Godness” cannot be attached to the ontological being of God. What we call the “law of non-contradiction” is simply a category our minds use to comprehend that reality.

If by “reason” you mean the “ontological realities of God,” then they cannot be separated from the rest of the facets that make up the Godhead (i.e., his trunity, infinity, immutability, goodness, etc.) to form its own authority. They are a part of, and included in, the whole of who God is; and it is that whole of who God is that is our ultimate authority; and that whole of who God is–as much as he had decided to communicate to us–is found in his revelation (general and special). Therefore it his word–which communicates those realities to us–that carries the authority we are to embrace.

(At this point, I can see potential clarity that is needed to justify the accepting of Scripture over and above the truth of God conveyed in General Revelation; I’m not sure I can provide that at this point and would appreciate anyone knowledgeable on the subject to provide some insight.)

Now, if by reason you mean the “mental process humans use to sort and organize truth,” then it cannot be seen as an authority, since it is by definition subject to primary reality that is not identified with it; that primary reality being God and his being, and then any contingent realities (creation) that exist alongside that human mind. Such a finite tool used by human creatures is subject to misinterpreting reality even when used “correctly”; as an example, see Parmenides rationalism that produces such absurdities as the impossibility of change, the impossibility of space, etc. etc. There is nothing within the “reasoning process” that can oppose this kind of rationalism which is why the intuition of proceeding philosophers sought counters to his rationalism.

No. Nothing in the human mind or experience can be given any place of authority whatsoever. It is the human mind and experience that needs to be imposed UPON by the only vehicle of truth in reality–God himself.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin writes: I think you may be confusing the “laws of reason/logic” with the reasoning process, or the process our minds go through to sort out various realities.

The “laws of reason/logic,” i.e. non-contradiction, are just ontological realities that explain basic ontological truths primarily about God, i.e. God is God, and any other attributes that would remove that “Godness” cannot be attached to the ontological being of God. What we call the “law of non-contradiction” is simply a category our minds use to comprehend that reality.
——
Hermonta responds: As long as you you write : “What we call the “law of non-contradiction” is simply a category our minds use to comprehend that reality.” does not exclude it from being a category that reality much conform to, I have no problem here.

——-

Justin writes: If by “reason” you mean the “ontological realities of God,” then they cannot be separated from the rest of the facets that make up the Godhead (i.e., his trunity, infinity, immutability, goodness, etc.) to form its own authority. They are a part of, and included in, the whole of who God is; and it is that whole of who God is that is our ultimate authority; and that whole of who God is–as much as he had decided to communicate to us–is found in his revelation (general and special). Therefore it his word–which communicates those realities to us–that carries the authority we are to embrace.
——–
Hermonta responds: Okay let me try a different tack. I am not denying an attribute of God revealed in General or Special Revelation. Nor am I making the laws of reason an authority over God. Such laws are an authority as we evaluate the various claims made in the name of God and other such claims. It is not idolatrous to judge the claims made from the Bible or that the Bible is actually the Word of the Real God. I have made no claim that the only things that we should know about God are the laws of logic. Our discussion is whether or not the Bible must be presupposed at the beginning of all endeavors.
——–
Greg writes: (At this point, I can see potential clarity that is needed to justify the accepting of Scripture over and above the truth of God conveyed in General Revelation; I’m not sure I can provide that at this point and would appreciate anyone knowledgeable on the subject to provide some insight.)

——

Hermonta responds: That you even ask this question is huge. Most Van Tillians that I have encountered seem to practically eliminate knowledge of God outside special revelation. But if you accept Romans 1, which states that General Revelation has teeth, then why must Special Revelation be presupposed?

——-
Greg writes: Now, if by reason you mean the “mental process humans use to sort and organize truth,” then it cannot be seen as an authority, since it is by definition subject to primary reality that is not identified with it; that primary reality being God and his being, and then any contingent realities (creation) that exist alongside that human mind. Such a finite tool used by human creatures is subject to misinterpreting reality even when used “correctly”; as an example, see Parmenides rationalism that produces such absurdities as the impossibility of change, the impossibility of space, etc. etc. There is nothing within the “reasoning process” that can oppose this kind of rationalism which is why the intuition of proceeding philosophers sought counters to his rationalism.

——-
Hermonta responds: The biggest problem out the gate for your position is that Special Revelation is also subject to misinterpretation. Since that is the case, presupposing Scripture can’t gain what you want.

Next Parmenides’ problem was not rationalism but rationalism done poorly. His problems is that he confused Geometry (space) with numbers. Space is continuous while numbers are discrete. It is basically the same problem of not being able to write down irrational numbers.

——
Justin writes: No. Nothing in the human mind or experience can be given any place of authority whatsoever. It is the human mind and experience that needs to be imposed UPON by the only vehicle of truth in reality–God himself.

——

Hermonta responds: I think that I can agree here but it still does not defend the notion that one must presuppose Scripture instead of simply presupposing reason.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

It seems you are addressing me Justin. Before I answer and find out you’re not.

Justin

5 years ago

Hi Greg,

My apologies for the confusion; I was addressing Hermonta. I probably should’ve made that clearer. 🙂

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Justin says:
Hi Greg,

My apologies for the confusion; I was addressing Hermonta. I probably should’ve made that clearer. 🙂
No trouble at all. Did throw me off just a bit. 🙂 It sounds like you and I are in at least fairly substantial agreement.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta mistakenly alleges: Greg writes: (At this point, I can see potential clarity that is needed to justify the accepting of Scripture over and above the truth of God conveyed in General Revelation; I’m not sure I can provide that at this point and would appreciate anyone knowledgeable on the subject to provide some insight.)
To which I am obligated to say that I did NOT write this. Justin did.
——

Hermonta then responds to Justin mistakenly through me: That you even ask this question is huge. Most Van Tillians that I have encountered seem to practically eliminate knowledge of God outside special revelation. But if you accept Romans 1, which states that General Revelation has teeth, then why must Special Revelation be presupposed?
My lip is bleeding and my eyes are watering, but I’ll let Justin answer.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Sorry about that Greg, I was writing a bit too quickly. I was not attempting to ascribe to you what was written by Justin.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says:Sorry about that Greg, I was writing a bit too quickly. I was not attempting to ascribe to you what was written by Justin.
No problem brother. I figured that. I sent someone I’m pretty sure was you a Facebook message btw.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg,
My facebook name is the same one that I use here and I have not received anything from you.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

I have yet another quick second here and simply must say:
ChiChung Wang quotes me as saying:
“You must see the incurably circular nature of such a position. As I say, all merely human reason eventually is. The only escape from the circles is faith.”

And then responds with
I’m so very glad that Dr. Oliphint did not base his book on this premise (ie, fideism). And I’m extremely pleased with the last chapter in the book which deals with the type of faith that result from pure rationality on its own terms (such that Islam employs). After Hermonta and Greg read the book, this discussion ought to go MUCH differently.

I would submit for ChiChung Wang’s consideration this piece I cut from the episode of “Christ the Center” where Dr. Oliphint equates the scholastic’s view at large. Owen’s in particular and Van Til’s, as asserting that the inevitable circularity of merely human reason is resolved only by faith in the Christian God. As I also said.
http://gregnmary.gotdns.com/audio/circular_oliphint.mp3

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says:
Greg,
My facebook name is the same one that I use here and I have not received anything from you.

Look in your “junk” or “other” folder, or whatever it’s called. It was no big deal, I was just telling you I wasn’t ignoring you, but was only trying no to further step on Justin’s toes. I have a tendency to be rude sometimes.

C. Clark

5 years ago

Finished the book last Tues. The main points I got out of this book were: do not automatically cede “common ground”/understandings with the unbeliever; remember that the unbeliever often appeals to (in order to object to) Christian values and understandings which come from the biblical text and therefor it is perfectly reasonable to appeal to the same source to explain the Christian understanding of the unbelievers objection(s); and to keep in mind that the objective to defending the faith is not to win the argument, but present the Gospel in a clear,precise, and loving way.

Comments about the chapter on Islam:
I have been involved in the Christian-Islamic apologetics “scene” for the last 2 1/2yrs and I can tell you that it most often is about winning the argument, not sharing the Gospel. It often comes down to who can quote the most verses or ayats and prove who’s book/prophet is false, Most often the debates will be titled–[insert Christians name here] vs [insert Muslims name here]”–like a boxing match or UFC title bout.

I can also tell you this is a direct result of what Muhammad actually teaches in the Quran. The Quran is not simply another religion, it is diametrically opposed to Christianity (and Judaism–but mostly Christianity). It flat out denies fundamental Christian beliefs(Q19:88-92,112:3, 4:157, etc), purposely only refers to Jesus as “son of Mary”, and even lays out instructions for Muslims on how to argue certain points against Christians/Jews (eg Quran5:18).

The last chapter in this book, although I did learn something new about Islam (pertaining to Allah’s transcendence), is not realistic whatsoever. In all of the conversations/debates I have been in and have witnessed (hundreds if not a thousand) between Muslims and Christians, I have NEVER once encountered anything similar to what I read in that chapter. The only people I can think of that MIGHT have such a dialogue would be maybe William Lane Craig (or maybe James White) with Shabir Ally(Muslim from Canada). 99.9% of the time the objections you will hear from Muslims are 1)the Bible is corrupt, 2)the Trinity is false(polytheism), 3)God does not have a Son(or children), 4)Jesus is not divine;he was just a prophet, 5)Jesus did not die in the cross, 6)the Bible is corrupt, 7)the Bible is corrupt, 8)the Bible is corrupt. Did I mention they will argue the Bible is corrupt?

What Christians need is the Quran to undergo the kind of scrutiny the biblical text has undergone. More Quranic higher/lower criticism is needed because the Quran can not and will not hold up to those kinds of studies. Also, in order to engage a Muslim in apologetics you need to know what the Quran(and Ahadith) says, where it says it, and how to use it against Muhammad and Islamic traditions.

You can not convince most Muslims about the Gospel with the type of argument laid out in this book, it simply will not work. The only way to get to them is to demonstrate Muhammad was not a prophet and therefor the Quran is not from God. If you do not start there, you will usually get nowhere because of the #1 argument of any Muslim: the Bible is corrupt.

Anyways, I am thankful to the Lord for brothers in Christ like Dr. Oliphint who have invested their lives to edifying the body of Christ in a meaningful way. Especially in these modern times of horrid unbelief and fierce spiritual warfare.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

C. Clark says: Finished the book last Tues. The main points I got out of this book were: _______________________________________________________.

Anyways, I am thankful to the Lord for brothers in Christ like Dr. Oliphint who have invested their lives to edifying the body of Christ in a meaningful way. Especially in these modern times of horrid unbelief and fierce spiritual warfare.
I had a big long post I was writing to you, but suffice it to say that you have entirely missed what Presuupositional (should we stop using that now?)/Covenantal apologetics is all about. Even after reading the book which I have still barely started. I intend by this absolutely NO commentary on your intelligence or love of the Lord. I’m only say that you have.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg,
I have responded fully to every question/counter that you have presented to me. Do you have any further responses or should I consider the discussion to be over?

C.Clark

5 years ago

Well thanks for the response Greg, but you have entirely missed the point of my post. My post wasn’t really about Covenantal apologetics itself. It’s not that hard to understand–we are all in covenant with the Triune God who created this universe, either in Adam(sin) and suppressing the truth or in Christ(grace), and that only those in Christ can have presuppositions based on truth, not suppression of it…etc…etc… — What I brought up was that the kind of argumentation I read in the last chapter was completely unrealistic pertaining to Islam. Again, so you hear me out my brother, my comment is about the mock conversation in the last chapter between a Christian and a Muslim and how unrealistic I found it. I can tell you this because, as I said, I have been involved/witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of Christian-Islamic debates in the last 2 1/2yrs–in reality, not just reading a book. I even went to the Philippines in 2011 and on a certain occasion I witnessed to a group of about 15 Muslims for over an hour and a half.

As for my intelligence is concerned (which you say you’re not commenting on) what I can tell you is that while I’m not in seminary (which that right there would make certain people comment on my intelligence or lack thereof, right?), I am somewhere between seminary and reality. It doesn’t matter what you call your apologetics, if you try to dialogue with a Muslim in the same way as the example given in the last chapter of this book you will run into a brick wall; that’s called “where the rubber hits the road” my brother. Also, maybe you should actually read the last chapter (like I did) and get involved with actual debates in real life with Muslims (if you have, then I will apologize in advance for my incorrect assumptions).

You can not rationalize with most Muslims about the contradictory understandings they have about Allah’s transcendence, oneness, etc. (read the last chapter to see what I mean). The only way you can get through to Muslims is to show them the true Muhammad found in the Quran and Ahadith = the contradictory things he said, the type of man he was, and the life he lived. Then demonstrate to them how the Bible is reliable. Those are the presuppositions (eg Muhammad was the pillar of humanity; the Bible is corrupt) that must be addressed when dealing with Islam. That’s what works on the streets and in their hearts.

Quite frankly, I wasn’t looking to argue with another Christian (I have enough atheists and Muslims to deal with). I was just commenting on the section in this book on Islam. Maybe the info would be useful to whom ever wants it.

Lord Bless.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

I was trying not to further interfere between yourself and Justin who it appears has become engaged with other things.
Hermonta responds: My point is that human reason can gain certainty because one can push wrong thought until it becomes incoherent. It does not end with “I want to stop here just cause”.
Tell me if and why (or why not) you are unassailably certain that 2+2=4 if you would please.

I said: To deny the triune God of scripture His rightful place on the throne of the mind as one’s only ultimate, all governing, all defining axiomatic presupposition is not only to deny one’s self the only possible escape from the circles (meaninglessness), it is tantamount to inadvertent idolatry.
Hermonta responded with: Who said anything about denying anything about the truine God of scripture. The question has been whether or not one must presuppose the truth of the Bible before any discussion/knowledge etc can take place. The bottom line issue is one of fideism. One can hold to something that is true for a bad reason. To hold that the Bible is the infallible word of God is not a logically basic claim. It is a true claim but not logically basic in the way that affirming the laws of reason is logically basic.
I said “to deny the triune God of scripture His rightful place on the throne of the mind as one’s only ultimate, all governing, all defining axiomatic presupposition”. Atheisits, Arminians and inconsistent Calvinists do this all the time. Please do tell me sir whether the one true and living God is the standard by which absolutely all else is measured or not. Would you do that? If you ignore everything else I say please do answer this question.

I said: “The fact that most don’t consciously realize [that their whole intellectual life is based on faith] is entirely irrelevant. Most don’t consciously realize how their brain works either, but like faith, they use it all the time.”
Hermonta later says, having clearly either missed or ignored the point I’d already made : An analogy of your claim seems to be this: “One cannot trust that their car will start and take them to work or school etc until they understand what is happening under the hood.
I say again as I did in my first post here, “ALL men, sinners and saints alike are inextricably bound by their very design to operate in conformity to the logical rules and parameters built into them by their creator. Saints do so in joyous willing worship of this creator for His wisdom in making it so and sinners do so because they have no choice. All the while denying that they’re doing it.” I also say again. Anybody’s recognizing it or not is entirely irrelevant to whether it is in fact the case. To use your analogy. Non Van Tillians (all of em) drive their intellectual car while denying that it necessarily runs on the gasoline of God’s word which it does whether they like it or not. According to you, your car just runs. No gasoline needed. If you decide it does need gasoline after all, you’ll fill er up later on. Not that it won’t start at all without it for God’s sake, that would be fideism.

Hermonta raises my eyebrows by stating: Next, I am not making too much of a dichotomy between epistemology and ontology. To say that epistemology and ontology are not the same thing, does not require me to deny that being exists etc.
I was going to ignore this, but it is too great an illustration of the communication issue we are having. I neither said nor implied anything that could even accidentally be construed as the immediately above. My point was that they inescapably presuppose one another. Not that one negates the other.

you quote me as saying:
“Greg writes: Covenantally speaking, the children of the first Adam prefer the meaningless circles to moral accountability to their God. Those born again into the new covenant in the last Adam have been given the mind of Christ by faith and thereby escape from the meaningless circles. That’s the philosophical component of regeneration. You sir are attempting to live your life in the last Adam while clinging to the mind of the first. I urge you to reconsider.”
And then respond with:
This seems to be an example of a problem that many Van Tillians have. They believe that if one does not presuppose the Bible, then the radical uncertainty, confusion etc found in postmodernity is the only option that is left. Such is just not the case.
This is an assertion. Not an argument.

Your answers to my questions would be most instructive.
Tell me if and why (or why not) you are unassailably certain that 2+2=4 if you would please.
Especially do tell me sir whether the one true and living God is the standard by which absolutely all else is measured or not. Would you do that? If you ignore everything else I say please do answer this question.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

@ C.Clark:
I haven’t even had time to get past the first chapter yet, butt I am very familiar with this school of thought. I still believe you’re missing the point after reading this last post in full, which I always do before answering anybody and I’m not looking to create animosity in any way. I would be very sorry if that were to happen.

You mention Craig and White together. Trust me. They are light years apart in theology, epistemology and method. Craig wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot molinistic pole.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes:Tell me if and why (or why not) you are unassailably certain that 2+2=4 if you would please.
—-
Hermonta responds: There is no coherent alternative.
—–

Greg writes: I said “to deny the triune God of scripture His rightful place on the throne of the mind as one’s only ultimate, all governing, all defining axiomatic presupposition”. Atheisits, Arminians and inconsistent Calvinists do this all the time. Please do tell me sir whether the one true and living God is the standard by which absolutely all else is measured or not. Would you do that? If you ignore everything else I say please do answer this question.
—–

Hermonta responds: Yes He is. Of course this does not in anyway answer the question of whether Scripture or the Truine God of Scripture is a proper presupposition to knowledge etc.

——-
Greg writes: I say again as I did in my first post here, “ALL men, sinners and saints alike are inextricably bound by their very design to operate in conformity to the logical rules and parameters built into them by their creator. Saints do so in joyous willing worship of this creator for His wisdom in making it so and sinners do so because they have no choice. All the while denying that they’re doing it.” I also say again. Anybody’s recognizing it or not is entirely irrelevant to whether it is in fact the case. To use your analogy. Non Van Tillians (all of em) drive their intellectual car while denying that it necessarily runs on the gasoline of God’s word which it does whether they like it or not. According to you, your car just runs. No gasoline needed. If you decide it does need gasoline after all, you’ll fill er up later on. Not that it won’t start at all without it for God’s sake, that would be fideism.
—–
Hermonta responds: Who said anything about the car just running? My position from the beginning of this convo is that one does not have to presuppose the ontological trinity in order to have confidence in the laws of reason/logic. Reason properly used will show that Christianity is true etc, but that does not imply that the Bible etc needs to be presupposed. Fideism is holding to something on bad reasons/grounds.

——
Greg writes: I was going to ignore this, but it is too great an illustration of the communication issue we are having. I neither said nor implied anything that could even accidentally be construed as the immediately above. My point was that they inescapably presuppose one another. Not that one negates the other.
—–
Hermonta responds: An epistemology implies an ontology. The problem for your position, is that one does not have to presuppose the Christian view of ontology in order to have confidence that their epistemology is correct. Now when one properly investigates the situation, one will conclude that Christianity is true, but against that does not imply the necessity of presupposing the Bible etc.

——-
Greg writes: This is an assertion. Not an argument.
—-
Hermonta responds: No more an assertion than the position to which I was responding.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta quotes me as asking: Tell me if and why (or why not) you are unassailably certain that 2+2=4 if you would please.
And then
Hermonta responds: There is no coherent alternative.
I’ll take that as a yes for the “if”. Now tell me why please?

Hermonta also quotes me as asking: Please do tell me sir whether the one true and living God is the standard by which absolutely all else is measured or not.
Hermonta responds: Yes He is EXCEPT [that doesn’t mean that] Scripture or the Truine God of Scripture is a proper presupposition to knowledge etc.
Hmmm. He’s the absolute measure of all except that He’s not. Let’s look a little further.

He answers further with my following accurate redaction and reconstruction:
Hermonta says: one does not have to presuppose the ontological trinity…one does not have to presuppose the Christian view of ontology…[there is no] necessity of presupposing the Bible… in order to have confidence in the laws of reason/logic. BUT… Reason properly used will show that Christianity is true.
So what it appears we have here is reason and logic being properly used in independence from a God he’s told us is and isn’t the absolute measure of everything, depending on which part of a sentence we’re focusing on at the moment. Hermonta, I’ve looked over your Facebook page. You’re a good man and no dummy. The position you are attempting to advance is just so…. Arminian 😀 It is irrational, incoherent and unbiblical. Not to mention unworthy of a covenant brother of the risen Christ. I say again. You are intellectually contorting yourself in order to live your life in the last Adam while clinging to the mind of the first. This method is not serving you well. I hope ya knock it off.

Why is 2 n 2 4 and how do you know?

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg,
I am supposed to tell you why there is no coherent alternative? Well because it is true.

Next, I never said logic was independent of God. To make such a claim stick, you must show that if one does not presuppose Scripture etc, then one is using logic in independence of the ontological trinity. Good luck with that.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says:
Greg,
I am supposed to tell you why there is no coherent alternative? Well because it is true.

Yes. What is the origin of both the equation itself and the utterly universal and inescapably certain nature of it’s truth? Your answer “because it’s true” is pure undiluted tautological fideism. A = a just because it does. Don’t you see what’s goin on here? Fideism is just a 10 cent word for “blind faith”. You don’t really mind conceding that you’ve been reduced to that as long as that blind faith is not in God. You prefer that 2+2= 4 because there’s no coherent alternative because there isn’t, rather than it be the case that 2+2=4 to us because it equals 4 to a God without whom 2 + = and 4 all have no meaning. In other words a God who IS necessarily presupposed by every one of HIS creatures bearing HIS image before even the most basic of mathematical/logical propositions can so much as exist, nevermind being answered. Ya jist gotta see this.

Hermonta Godwin says
Next, I never said logic was independent of God. To make such a claim stick, you must show that if one does not presuppose Scripture etc, then one is using logic in independence of the ontological trinity. Good luck with that.

Luck is for atheists and Arminians. I believe we may be having some kinda semantic communication issue here. It is only in the special revelation of the Christian scriptures that we find the specific truth of the ontological trinity. if you are agreeing that it is not possible for logic and reason to function independently of this God then even the Chinese rice farmer who has never heard of this God or His scriptures still necessarily sees 4 grains of rice in 2 groups of 2 because of the nature and design of this God. What this farmer is, denies him any other choice and his conscious knowledge of that divine fact has NO bearing on it’s factuality.

I think we’re havin trouble because by “presupposition” I am primarily referring to that knowledge of God inescapably confronting EVERY man in his own consciousness and the creation about him as reported by the apostle in Romans 1. By “presupposition” you are referring to an intentionally and consciously held pre-commitment of principle. In other words I think you are denying that a man need presuppose Christianity ON PURPOSE to know that 2+2=4. If so I agree. This the very suppression of truth Paul also declares in the same passage.

Once again as I said above :“ALL men, sinners and saints alike are inextricably bound by their very design to operate in conformity to the logical rules and parameters built into them by their creator. Saints do so in joyous willing worship of this creator for His wisdom in making it so and sinners do so because they have no choice.”

There is no such thing as a non ethical proposition Hermonta. The simple equation 2+2=4 is a morally and ethically charged notion because there are only 2 possible responses to it.

1. Joyous willing worship of the creator for His wisdom in making it so.

2. Attributing it to anything else which is idolatry.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes: Yes. What is the origin of both the equation itself and the utterly universal and inescapably certain nature of it’s truth? Your answer “because it’s true” is pure undiluted tautological fideism. A = a just because it does. Don’t you see what’s goin on here? Fideism is just a 10 cent word for “blind faith”. You don’t really mind conceding that you’ve been reduced to that as long as that blind faith is not in God. You prefer that 2+2= 4 because there’s no coherent alternative because there isn’t, rather than it be the case that 2+2=4 to us because it equals 4 to a God without whom 2 + = and 4 all have no meaning. In other words a God who IS necessarily presupposed by every one of HIS creatures bearing HIS image before even the most basic of mathematical/logical propositions can so much as exist, nevermind being answered. Ya jist gotta see this.
—-
Hermonta responds: First, do I need to know the ontological foundation of the laws of reason or 2+2=4 in order to be completely certain about its truth? The answer is no. Unless you can show otherwise, then line of discussion will get you nowhere. I am not opposed to such investigation to get to know the answer to the question. The problem with your position is that I do not have to presuppose a particular ontological foundation in order to be certain about logic. The truth of Scripture and the ontological trinity is not a presupposition, it is a conclusion. Both presupposition and conclusions can be true. One do not need to deny anything about the ontological trinity in order to say that it is a conclusion instead of a presuppositon. Again you are having issues confusion epistemology with ontology.

A simple analogy might help. One could consider the laws of reason the John the Baptist of the situation. Because one started out following John the Baptist who then pointed to Jesus, does not imply that one sees John the Baptist as equal/greater or independent of Jesus. It is an issue concerning the order of knowledge.
——-
Greg writes: I think we’re havin trouble because by “presupposition” I am primarily referring to that knowledge of God inescapably confronting EVERY man in his own consciousness and the creation about him as reported by the apostle in Romans 1. By “presupposition” you are referring to an intentionally and consciously held pre-commitment of principle. In other words I think you are denying that a man need presuppose Christianity ON PURPOSE to know that 2+2=4. If so I agree. This the very suppression of truth Paul also declares in the same passage.
——
Hermonta responds: If that is the way that you are using presupposition, then you should not have any problem changing your use of presupposition to the term: conclusion. One can simply say that the truth of Scripture is an inescapable conclusion to proper investigation. Presupposition implies a starting point. That is not what Scripture is.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta responds: First, do I need to know the ontological foundation of the laws of reason or 2+2=4 in order to be completely certain about its truth? The answer is no.
I’m going to heroically resist the temptation to respond to anything else in your post and am going to stick with this for right now.
I’m not makin funna ya man, but I’m runnin outta ways to ask you this. You’ll note above that you have once again told me THAT you are certain 2+2=4. I am once again asking you WHY you are certain that 2+2=4.

Consider this conversation with a six year old girl at my church. My church is mostly black (though I am white). Some dancin goes on there. I posted this to a guy who has a PHD in and teaches graduate level mathematics who was having the same trouble you are only a different way. About a year ago now I guess.

Me, in kiddy voice to a 6 year old girl dancing around at my church: “How many is 2+2 _______(name)?”
6 year old still dancing in tone calculated to indicate the silliness of the question: “4 brother Greg”(duh)
Me, to tirelessly dancing 6 year old: “are you sure?”
6 year old in respectful tone: “yes sir.”
Me: “why are you sure?”
6 year old states matter of factly without missing a step: “because that’s how God made it”.

She gets it see? This is what happens when we come to Him as little children. Are you going to dispute with our young Van Tillian here? Please tell me your answer. (I can hear you already :D) You’re gonna say “of course that’s how God made it!!” and then miss the revolutionary implications of that for the way you do life. Ya know, I had to read “The Defense of the Faith” twice in a literal row 25 years ago. I finished it, and became of aware of a strained wince on my face as I pondered what I’d just read for a good while. I picked it up and started over. It was like I could smell a sumptuous feast on the other side of a wall with a door I couldn’t find.

I don’t remember the exact quote of what I was reading at the time, but the second time through the shade went up and the light came flooding in. I felt like an idiot for it having to have been pointed out to me. I actually chuckled out loud: “of course. How could it possibly be otherwise?” I understood the full Godhood of God like never before. I’m not being over dramatic. Today it’s second nature. Well actually first nature. Biblical epistemology is really not difficult so much as it is entirely foreign to how we think as children of Father Adam.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg,
The answer again is that there is no coherent alternative. I am at a loss as to why you don’t accept that as a valid non question begging answer. The only way that you can reject such as a proper answer is by showing there to be a coherent alternative.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says:
Greg,
The answer again is that there is no coherent alternative.

Did God make it that way like our little friend says or no? (no coherent alternative?)

Hermonta Godwin says:I am at a loss as to why you don’t accept that as a valid non question begging answer. The only way that you can reject such as a proper answer is by showing there to be a coherent alternative.
I never said I rejected it. Of course there’s no coherent alternative. That’s just another way of saying it’s true. By what intellectual mechanism are you justified in asserting that there’s no coherent alternative? There just isn’t? Is God responsible for the powers and parameters of analysis by which you reach this conclusion?

Jon

5 years ago

Hermonta

You wrote: “First, do I need to know the ontological foundation of the laws of reason or 2+2=4 in order to be completely certain about its truth? The answer is no. Unless you can show otherwise, then line of discussion will get you nowhere. I am not opposed to such investigation to get to know the answer to the question. The problem with your position is that I do not have to presuppose a particular ontological foundation in order to be certain about logic.”

This is a very confused statement. “Certainty” ? Hmmmm is that like Wittgenstein’s definition or JTB in the classical school? Logic? I mean, come on brother, the Vienna circle yearnings are such a philosophical throw back. These are such thrusted brute fact terms that become self referentially incoherent after one or two line of investigation.

Greg was pointing you in the right direction on the discussion of presupposition and Romans 1. The point being that you and every Christian, atheist, man, woman, and child does presuppose God and his entire Godly character because God, not Man, gets the knowledge through to us. We are God-knowers ….

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Jon,
Show me the incoherency in my position, and then we proceed. Otherwise you are simply making claims.

The issue currently is whether or not I can be certain (however you want to take that) about the truth of the laws of logic without assuming/presupposing a particular ontological foundation. This is not a question that needs to/can be settled before we do further investigation.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Jon says: “Certainty” ? Hmmmm is that like Wittgenstein’s definition or JTB in the classical school? Logic? I mean, come on brother, the Vienna circle yearnings are such a philosophical throw back. These are such thrusted brute fact terms that become self referentially incoherent after one or two line of investigation.
You bring up a good point, but to be fair, I’m the one who’;s pushing him for the why certainty. I should have said this up front, but by “certainty” in reference to 2+2 equaling 4, I referring to pragmatic certainty. That is, the simple fact that we are unable to function without it for a half a second. We cannot live as if the laws of logic are not certain. Our entire reality is utterly unnavigable if 2+2 does not actually equal 4. This goes for everybody. Lotsa sinners drivin cars filled with engineering that is not possible in a universe where 2+2 does not equal 4. Lotsa engineers designing cars and all their parts under the assumption that 2+2 definitely equals 4. We one and all cannot sustain consciousness without at once being certain of a whole metaphysical structure underlying ALL that we think say, see, do and are.

Why? From whence arises this pragmatic certainty without which one cannot so much as even object to it’s existence?
I started this post this morning and still don’t have time to finish it. This will have to do for now.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Look at all those ugly typos. It’s no fun having to post in a hurry.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg writes: Did God make it that way like our little friend says or no? (no coherent alternative?)
—-
Hermonta responds: Yes, God made it that way.
—–
Greg writes: I never said I rejected it. Of course there’s no coherent alternative. That’s just another way of saying it’s true. By what intellectual mechanism are you justified in asserting that there’s no coherent alternative? There just isn’t? Is God responsible for the powers and parameters of analysis by which you reach this conclusion?

——
Hermonta responds: I know that there is no coherent alternative. There is no magic being done here. The question has never been whether or not Christianity or any of its claims being true. The question has been what has to be assumed/presupposed at the beginning in order to begin investigation.

Justin

5 years ago

Leaving Romans 1 aside for the moment and whether or not every human being presupposes the God of the Bible in their thinking (and those in Adam suppress it, while those in Christ embrace it), I think one can be certain of facts without having a rational explanation of that certainty (which is pretty much the case for every non-Christian worldview). But to have a rational basis for that certainty, you need to presuppose the God of the Bible, and the propositions of that God are communicated through general & special revelation, the former of which is dependent on the latter (therefore special revelation is to be our ultimate authority).

How is general revelation dependent upon and subservient to special revelation, you ask? Because God said, “Let their be light” (special revelation) which created and set general revelation in motion.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin,
The laws of logic/reason are self attesting. There is no needed other rational basis. This is not said that refute the true belief that God is the creator/sustainer of the laws of reason. It simply means that I can be confindent about my epistemology without having a fully worked out ontology.

Let us imagine that someone who grew up in an Islamic country and never had seen/read Bible decided to presuppose an Islamic ontology to be the ontological foundation of the laws of logic. If or when they lost confidence in the Islamic worldview, would they also lose confidence in the laws of logic? The answer is no. The reason is that one does not need a fully worked out and true ontology in order to have confidence in the self attesting rules of reason/logic.

Next, general revelation is the foundation for special revelation. The simple counter to your position is that those who never are introduced to a Bible still know various things and are responsible for knowing things about God; specifically due to the created order (Romans 1) even though they never see a Bible.

Referring to God creating light or anything else that He created as Special Revelation is an abuse of the term. Show me a Reformed Confession, that uses the term in that fashion!

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

OUTSTANDING Justin. Great comments. Every word.

You are a more efficient communicator than I am.

Justin

5 years ago

Thank you for the kind words Greg!

Justin

5 years ago

“The laws of logic/reason are self attesting.”

Whether or not they are self attesting, you still need a rational explanation for how we know them. If you deny the God of the Bible, you have no rational explanation. If you deny a revelational epistemology, you’re stuck with an inadequate rationalism, empiricism, or existentialism that not only fail to explain how we know what we know (including the laws of logic), but in fact contradict the very possibility of knowing them at all (as the transcendental argument demonstrates).

If you’re making the claim that you’re aware of an epistemology that explains how we know what we know that does not include divine revelation, then please, provide it here.

“There is no needed other rational basis.”

So there’s no need for an epistemology?

“This is not said that refute the true belief that God is the creator/sustainer of the laws of reason. It simply means that I can be confindent about my epistemology without having a fully worked out ontology.”

And what exactly is your epistemology?

“Let us imagine that someone who grew up in an Islamic country and never had seen/read Bible decided to presuppose an Islamic ontology to be the ontological foundation of the laws of logic.”

First thing to note here is that if they presuppose an Islamic ontology, they are usurping the revelation given through creation, which testifies to the very Godhead of the triune God, and exchanging it for a lie, and at the same time destroying any possible justification for how they can know the laws of logic to begin with.

“If or when they lost confidence in the Islamic worldview, would they also lose confidence in the laws of logic? The answer is no. The reason is that one does not need a fully worked out and true ontology in order to have confidence in the self attesting rules of reason/logic.”

This, I would argue, is clearly false. People hold irrational worldviews all the time, and undercut all epistemological justification for knowing what they know–the laws of logic included.

“Next, general revelation is the foundation for special revelation. The simple counter to your position is that those who never are introduced to a Bible still know various things and are responsible for knowing things about God; specifically due to the created order (Romans 1) even though they never see a Bible.”

I think you missed my point entirely. You state “specifically due to the created order.” Let me ask you, what set that created order into motion? Was it not his very Word spoken? And, if not for that Word, general revelation would not exist.

“Referring to God creating light or anything else that He created as Special Revelation is an abuse of the term. Show me a Reformed Confession, that uses the term in that fashion!”

Are you saying our access to the knowledge that God said “Let their be light,” which set the world into motion, is not special revelation?

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin writes: Whether or not they are self attesting, you still need a rational explanation for how we know them. If you deny the God of the Bible, you have no rational explanation. If you deny a revelational epistemology, you’re stuck with an inadequate rationalism, empiricism, or existentialism that not only fail to explain how we know what we know (including the laws of logic), but in fact contradict the very possibility of knowing them at all (as the transcendental argument demonstrates).
—–
Hermonta responds: Oh they are easy to know: every assertion is either consistent with them or meaningless. A better question is how does one not know them. Next, who said anything about denying anything about the God of the Bible? The question has been what must be affirmed as true/binding etc before we can confidently start our inquiry. I do not have to affirm the God of the Bible being the true God in order to investigate which religious claims are true.
—–
Justin writes: If you’re making the claim that you’re aware of an epistemology that explains how we know what we know that does not include divine revelation, then please, provide it here.
——
Hermonta writes: When you reference – “divine revelation” are you excluding General Revelation? If you including General Revelation, I have no idea what you question is. If you are excluding it, then you have to deal with Romans 1 and all the unbeliever is responsible for knowing without ever being introduced to a Bible.
——
Justin writes: So there’s no need for an epistemology?
—-
Hermonta responds: Accepting that which is self attesting is a self explanatory epistemology.
——
Justin writes: And what exactly is your epistemology?
—–
Hermonta responds: The laws of logic are true/binding and whatever works against them being true is false/meaningless.
——
Justin writes: First thing to note here is that if they presuppose an Islamic ontology, they are usurping the revelation given through creation, which testifies to the very Godhead of the triune God, and exchanging it for a lie, and at the same time destroying any possible justification for how they can know the laws of logic to begin with.
——
Hermonta responds: Again having a worked out ontology, true or false, is not necessary to have justification for the laws of logic. That is what self attesting means.
—–
Justin writes: This, I would argue, is clearly false. People hold irrational worldviews all the time, and undercut all epistemological justification for knowing what they know–the laws of logic included.
—–
Hermonta responds: Many people do hold to false worldviews, but such does not undercut the laws of logic because the laws of logic are more basic than the false worldview claims. The proper response to a collapsing worldview is that one needs to find the true worldview and not they they should question the laws of logic/reason.
——
Justin writes: I think you missed my point entirely. You state “specifically due to the created order.” Let me ask you, what set that created order into motion? Was it not his very Word spoken? And, if not for that Word, general revelation would not exist.
——
Hermonta responds: Does one need to know that God spoke the world into existence before one is responsible for knowing what General Revelation says about God and what He requires of us? If you say yes, one needs to know that then everyone who either never has seen the Bible or has never had the Bible explained properly etc, is with excuse and all that comes with that. If the answer is no, then my claim of general revelation does not need Special Revelation to be properly understood is confirmed.
—–
Justin writes: Are you saying our access to the knowledge that God said “Let their be light,” which set the world into motion, is not special revelation?
——
Hermonta responds: I said it was an abuse of the term, and you have not shown any reason to believe otherwise. One learns of how God created through the Bible, which is what the Reformed Confessions claim is Special Revelation.

Justin

5 years ago

“Hermonta responds: Oh they are easy to know: every assertion is either consistent with them or meaningless.”

I did not ask if they were hard or easy to know; I asked how it is we have knowledge of the laws of logic in the first place. Are you asserting there is no explanation?

“A better question is how does one not know them.”

Easy. God never reveals it to them.

“Next, who said anything about denying anything about the God of the Bible? The question has been what must be affirmed as true/binding etc before we can confidently start our inquiry. I do not have to affirm the God of the Bible being the true God in order to investigate which religious claims are true.”

You’re presupposing some form of neutrality. But Scripture is clear; we are either actively suppressing true religious claims, or we are embracing them. And again, Scripture is clear–for the latter, we must be born again and given new hearts which no longer suppress the truth, but rather embrace it.

Therefore, without knowledge of the God of the Bible, and special revelation (Scripture), in conjunction with a new heart, we will suppress all religious truth and put in its place a false religion.

“When you reference – “divine revelation” are you excluding General Revelation?”

No I am not.

“If you including General Revelation, I have no idea what you question is. If you are excluding it, then you have to deal with Romans 1 and all the unbeliever is responsible for knowing without ever being introduced to a Bible.”

My question is simple…without presupposing the God of Scripture, and being made privy to his Word as found in Scripture, there would be no such thing as a divine revelational epistemology in ones mind, would there? I mean, just look at history until God made himself known through special revelation; not a single philosopher came to the conclusion that we get our knowledge from a divine creator.

And if a divine revelational epistemology is inaccessible without Scripture, then those without Scripture have an irrational worldview, and cannot therefore account how they know the laws of logic themselves, nor how they can exist, etc.

“Accepting that which is self attesting is a self explanatory epistemology.”

Again, you’re confusing the laws of logic with the knowledge of those laws. Are the laws of logic self-attesting? Of course. But how we know those laws–or anything at all–isn’t. Hence the whole study of epistemology in the first place; the propositions that describe the laws of logic aren’t somehow abstract from ones epistemology. The knowledge of them needs to be accounted for as well.

“The laws of logic are true/binding and whatever works against them being true is false/meaningless.”

Again, that’s not an epistemology. That’s ontology. That truth could exist without us ever knowing it.

“Again having a worked out ontology, true or false, is not necessary to have justification for the laws of logic. That is what self attesting means.”

Self-attesting simply means the laws of logic are evidently real and need no argument for their reality. That is completely separate than the question regarding how we can know anything at all, nor how they exist in the first place. Whatever epistemology you choose to explain it, save for divine revelation, will collapse on itself.

“Hermonta responds: Many people do hold to false worldviews, but such does not undercut the laws of logic because the laws of logic are more basic than the false worldview claims.”

Again, you’re confusing ontology with epistemology (which you seem to continue to do).

I never said false worldviews undercut the laws of logic themselves; I said it simply makes them irrational most fundamentally, since the very things they claim contradict the possibility of a rational universe (i.e. a logical universe).

“The proper response to a collapsing worldview is that one needs to find the true worldview and not they they should question the laws of logic/reason.”

It’s those very laws that point to the God found in Scripture, without which, such laws make absolutely no sense…indeed, reality itself makes no sense apart from Scripture.

“Hermonta responds: Does one need to know that God spoke the world into existence before one is responsible for knowing what General Revelation says about God and what He requires of us? If you say yes, one needs to know that then everyone who either never has seen the Bible or has never had the Bible explained properly etc, is with excuse and all that comes with that. If the answer is no, then my claim of general revelation does not need Special Revelation to be properly understood is confirmed.”

The truths communicated through general revelation are properly understood in themselves, enough to make the receiver of those truths without excuse. But the God who created “into nothing” is a necessary truth we need to embed what we get from general revelation into a coherent worldview, and that truth is found in Scripture alone.

“Hermonta responds: I said it was an abuse of the term, and you have not shown any reason to believe otherwise. One learns of how God created through the Bible, which is what the Reformed Confessions claim is Special Revelation.”

Special revelation is the divine Word of God being spoken in propositional form to human beings, and that is only found in Scripture. God does not speak literal words through general revelation; he does that in Scripture, and he did it when he created the world. General revelation is a result of his spoken, literal Word…a literal Word we have in Scripture, not general revelation.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Justin writes: I did not ask if they were hard or easy to know; I asked how it is we have knowledge of the laws of logic in the first place. Are you asserting there is no explanation?
—–
Hermonta responds: Not at all. I am saying that they are part of the created order that we can know without special revelation.
—–
Justin writes:Easy. God never reveals it to them.
—–
Hermonta responds: On what basis do you make such a claim?

——-
Justin writes: You’re presupposing some form of neutrality. But Scripture is clear; we are either actively suppressing true religious claims, or we are embracing them. And again, Scripture is clear–for the latter, we must be born again and given new hearts which no longer suppress the truth, but rather embrace it.
—–
Hermonta responds: I dont have to deny Scripture in any fashion. It is both true that there is no neutrality in one way and there is neutrality in another way. Without an objectively true/neutral standard, one would never be able to judge someone as out of bounds and worthy of punishment. The laws of reason are a part of that neutral standard. Without such a standard, we would not be able to call sin irrational etc. Now the non neutral aspect is that our will is bound and we hate God and will do whatever we can to avoid his commands and constraints on our conduct. Again the only reason the non neutral aspects are blameworthy is that we misuse the neutral aspects.
—–
Justin writes: Therefore, without knowledge of the God of the Bible, and special revelation (Scripture), in conjunction with a new heart, we will suppress all religious truth and put in its place a false religion.
——
Hermonta responds: We suppress the truth not due to lack of information but due to hating of God and his standards. This is seen when we hand a person special revelation, they do not instantly bow the knee etc.

Remember WCF Chapter I Clause I – I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;[1] yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.

The point of special revelation is salvation not to fill in the gaps of General Revelation so that we can finally be without excuse.
——
Justin writes: My question is simple…without presupposing the God of Scripture, and being made privy to his Word as found in Scripture, there would be no such thing as a divine revelational epistemology in ones mind, would there? I mean, just look at history until God made himself known through special revelation; not a single philosopher came to the conclusion that we get our knowledge from a divine creator.
——-
Hermonta responds: I am not a defender of your divine revelational epistemology so I am not sure why you present such as if it is a given. Next, that no philosopher came to any particular conclusion is easy to explain without an appeal to special revelation.

Romans 3
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Given such being the case, it is no surprise that no one comes to the correct conclusion. It is not due to the insufficiency of General Revelation but our unwillingness to use it correctly.
———

Justin writes: And if a divine revelational epistemology is inaccessible without Scripture, then those without Scripture have an irrational worldview, and cannot therefore account how they know the laws of logic themselves, nor how they can exist, etc.
—–
Hermonta responds: If the laws of reason are self attesting, then there is no need to appeal beyond them before being justified in using them fully. The Why question is a great one but it is not a question that needs answering before investigating the various options. To deny such is just to be confused on what self attesting means.

——
Justin writes: Again, you’re confusing the laws of logic with the knowledge of those laws. Are the laws of logic self-attesting? Of course. But how we know those laws–or anything at all–isn’t. Hence the whole study of epistemology in the first place; the propositions that describe the laws of logic aren’t somehow abstract from ones epistemology. The knowledge of them needs to be accounted for as well.
————-

Hermonta responds: Okay let me try it this way, I know them because they cannot be coherently denied. To go further is to get into ontology which again is not necessary to be settled before investigating the alternatives.
————

Justin writes: Again, that’s not an epistemology. That’s ontology. That truth could exist without us ever knowing it.
——–

Hermonta responds: You have been asking me why I know that the laws of logic are true and I gave you my reason. A truth could exist without us ever knowing it, but this truth is not such a truth because to know anything assumes that this is true. So you could deny that you know anything but then you get into incoherency.
——–

Justin writes: Self-attesting simply means the laws of logic are evidently real and need no argument for their reality. That is completely separate than the question regarding how we can know anything at all, nor how they exist in the first place. Whatever epistemology you choose to explain it, save for divine revelation, will collapse on itself.

————
Hermonta responds: I don’t need special revelation for my epistemology and if I did, then again I would be with excuse without it which would contradict Romans 1. But to be fair, you made a claim concerning what happens without special revelation, so it is up to you to defend such a claim!
———–

Justin writes: Again, you’re confusing ontology with epistemology (which you seem to continue to do).
I never said false worldviews undercut the laws of logic themselves; I said it simply makes them irrational most fundamentally, since the very things they claim contradict the possibility of a rational universe (i.e. a logical universe).
———–
Hermonta responds: You have just proven my point, if a false ontology does not under cut the laws of logic, then I dont need to presuppose the Christian one in order to be justified in using such laws.
————

Justin writes: It’s those very laws that point to the God found in Scripture, without which, such laws make absolutely no sense…indeed, reality itself makes no sense apart from Scripture.
————-
Hermonta responds: Such laws do in fact point to the God found in Scripture. But again to claim that reality makes no since apart from Scripture leave a subset of the population with an excuse for the evil that they do and judgment unjust.
—————–

Justin writes: The truths communicated through general revelation are properly understood in themselves, enough to make the receiver of those truths without excuse. But the God who created “into nothing” is a necessary truth we need to embed what we get from general revelation into a coherent worldview, and that truth is found in Scripture alone.

————-

Hermonta responds: Please tell me clearly who is and who is not without excuse. Next, if general revelation can be clearly understood by itself, then why are we having this convo about the laws of logic etc. Such laws are part of general revelation and are known in themselves. The problem here is that you wish to give with one hand but then take back with the other. To claim that Scripture is necessary to build a proper worldview seems to imply that general revelation cannot be understood in by itself so we are again left with an excuse.
———————

Justin writes: Special revelation is the divine Word of God being spoken in propositional form to human beings, and that is only found in Scripture. God does not speak literal words through general revelation; he does that in Scripture, and he did it when he created the world. General revelation is a result of his spoken, literal Word…a literal Word we have in Scripture, not general revelation.
————–
Hermonta responds: It is true that God does not speak literal words in general revelation, but why does such matter. General Revelation is clearly understandable anyway which is why Romans 1 is written the way that it is.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Justin says of Hermonta: :Again, you’re confusing the laws of logic with the knowledge of those laws. “
Yes, this is very key right here. A thing I have been thus far unable to successfully get from my mind into Hermonta’s, by which I intend NO insult whatsoever. He keeps telling me the “that” and I keep asking him the “why”.
And
“Again, you’re confusing ontology with epistemology (which you seem to continue to do).”
The reverse of what he was alleging of me. Confusing epistemology with ontology.

Ya know what I’ve found? Almost nobody knows what epistemology is. Not the average lobotomized post modern Joe six pack and not even those with some learning who’ve heard the word and claim to.

AND, scientists are the very least likely of all to have any idea and the more educated they are the less likely they are to have a clue. I’ve had this debate with numerous mufti lettered scientists of various types. Though highly intelligent and impressively capable in their chosen disciplines, they have in my experience to a man, never ONCE had it dance across their consciousness to question WHY 2+2=4.

Justin

5 years ago

Greg,

Exactly. I am not arguing that the laws of logic aren’t self-attesting, and they need to be argued for in the mind of a skeptic. Indeed, if one says they need an argument for the law of contradiction’s validity, they are in effect validating the law simply by requesting “proof.”

My point is, given those laws of logic that clearly exist, how is it possible that we know them at all? Is that knowledge accessible without God giving us that knowledge? And if so, are you asserting a reality that exists outside of God wherein accessible knowledge dwells, that we can go “to and fro” in our efforts to collect that knowledge? If so, then you need to avoid the very same pitfalls all the other epistemological theories run into (rationalism, empiricism, existentialism, etc.). If not, then you would be asserting a divine revelational epistemology as the means by which we can know the laws of logic, and if that’s what you’re asserting, then anyone who knows those laws without acknowledging the very source of that knowledge–God himself who reveals it to us–then you are fundamentally stuck with an irrational, self-defeating worldview, which crumples under the very weight of your own knowledge of the laws of logic.

Therefore, presupposing the God of Scripture is necessary to construct a worldview that is rational and sees reality for what it is…the expression of God’s mind INTO (not from) nothing. And that epistemology is inaccessible without Scripture. It follows, then, that Scripture–the source of our rational basis for how we know what we know–is to be the very authority by which our own fallen, corrupt, rebellious reasoning must fall into subjection to.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Justin says:
Greg,
the expression of God’s mind INTO (not from) nothing.

I can take a not so subtle hint. 🙂 I don’t mean by the phrase “from nothing” to imply that nothing is a sort of specie of unique”something” out of which God formed the universe. I simply mean that there was no eternally preexisting stock material which God then molded into all that is save for Himself alone. Creating “into” nothing may be a different way of saying the same thing. Unless I am missing your point. I don’t wanna get too far afield of yourself and Hermonta, but if you could clarify briefly it would be greatly appreciated.

Hermonta Godwin

5 years ago

Greg,
What you continue to fail to see is “that” is a separate question from “why”. I dont have to answer “why” before I am entitled to “that”. Eventually everyone must answer why, but that is not the first question that needs an answer.

Justin

5 years ago

Hey Greg,

I don’t recall you saying God created “from” nothing, so that wasn’t a direct shot at you in any way. And if you did use it, I certainly know you do not mean God created “from nothing” as if nothing existed outside of him that he created from (especially if you’re a Van Tillian). I just tend to be overly precise when I state things…

😀

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Justin says:
Hey Greg,

I don’t recall you saying God created “from” nothing, so that wasn’t a direct shot at you in any way. And if you did use it, I certainly know you do not mean God created “from nothing” as if nothing existed outside of him that he created from (especially if you’re a Van Tillian). I just tend to be overly precise when I state things…
😀

Oops, my mistake then. 🙂 I wasn’t taking it as a jab so much as a friendly clarification/correction. Precision is good in these kinda conversations. Actually it’s necessary.

Greg - (Tiribulus)

5 years ago

Hermonta Godwin says:
Greg,
What you continue to fail to see is “that” is a separate question from “why”. I don’t have to answer “why” before I am entitled to “that”.

Not if you’re an atheist, Arminian or inconsistent Calvinist you don’t. There are plenty of each. Then you you can delude yourself into believing that non covenantal non revelational knowledge is an actual possibility. This is called “autonomy” and is the very thing promised by the serpent to Eve.

The consistently Christian worldview however sees the very notion and possibility of “THAT” itself, to any degree, in any form, on any level as by divine definition unintelligible without the “WHY” of it’s origin. That is Van Til’s entire epistemological method in a sentence. It is also the one screaming at us from scripture as soon as we take the doctrines of Scripture and God advanced in WCF 1 and 2 seriously from a philosophical perspective.

Hermonta Godwin says: Eventually everyone must answer why,
No everyone does NOT need to eventually answer why? Just ask em. The modern God hating skeptic is perfectly happy with a head and a universe full of that with no why whatsoever.

Hermonta Godwin says: but that is not the first question that needs an answer.
My dear man, you are now confusing logical order with chronological order though this is just another way of stating the famous first section of Calvin’s institutes. Which comes first? Logically OR Chronologically? The knowledge of God or the knowledge of self?

Here’s what autonomous man does NOT wanna hear. The answers are there before the questions can even be asked. The answers are absolutely required before we can so much as conceive of the questions they are the answers to. Our refusal to acknowledge that IS the rogue mind of broken father Adam pretending that, though certainly the largest, God is in the end just one more object of our independent investigation among all the rest.

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