Covenantal Apologetics and Common-Sense Realism

Nathaniel Gray Sutanto joins us to speak about apologetics and his recent article titled, “Covenantal Apologetics and Common-Sense Realism: Recalibrating the Argument from Consciousness as a Test Case” in JETS, 57/4 (2014) 773–91. In this article, Gray offers a covenantal and presuppositional criticism of common-sense realism.


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Rob de Roos

5 years ago

I don’t know if Gray dealt with this, but how would he deal with the argument of a soft-naturalist if they claim common sense is grounded in something other than consciousness, such as, bio-physical perceptual experience? Perhaps he would say that as Camden said, it is just not there or as Gray said it is just a brute fact.


5 years ago

I find it helpful to understand Reid’s realism as a reaction to Locke’s doctrine of knowledge (really his doctrine of ideas). Locke famously defined knowledge in bk. IV of his Essay as “the perception of the connexion and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our Ideas.” Reid’s realism attempted to reorient the “connexion” not between ideas formed by the mind, but testable propositions and the real world.

The problem, of course, is that, while rejecting Locke’s doctrine of ideas, Reid maintained Locke’s nominalism. So the abstract predicates found in his propositions, even propositions pertaining to universal incorrigible principles, remain constructs of human language. Propositions are only ordered to particulars, the stuff of sense perception. This is the beginnings of the “correspondence theory of truth,” of course, for which, as a Thomist myself, I have naught but contempt. The classic metaphysician justifiably asks, “correspondence to what?!”

So my question still is: What is a Reformed view on ideas, propositions, abstraction, etc? For me, a great place to jump off with a rejection of Reid is with Christian theistic exemplarism (e.g. Bavinck’s and Van Til’s exemplarism). If there are divine exemplar ideas of universals natures, then how do those universals exist amongst/in particulars in some real way? Standing behind propositions are definitions, definitions taken from the most formal aspect of natural items. What is that intrinsic formality that renders a natural item both the effect of a divine intellect while also a principle of intelligibility itself so as to be known by finite intellects?


5 years ago

I also was surprised to see that in an Ohio State fan perhaps I see it as non redemptive specialas an Ohio State fan perhaps I see it as non-redemptive effective grace. 🙂
Enjoyed the discussion.


5 years ago

I also was surprised to see that Ohio State won the national championship as well. As an Ohio State fan perhaps I see it as non-redemptive effective grace. 🙂
Enjoyed the discussion.



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