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apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 03:49 PM
This is a split off from another thread.

I'd like to explain my position a bit better by quoting something from an article I wrote - it explains my view of how humans come to knowledge:


There is one view that began during the Reformation, but has been revived and popularized in the modern day which can possibly solve the problems raised by Pascal and Descartes. Reformed epistemology teaches that knowledge and the ability to reason toward truth is an innate concept placed within man by God. While Descartes taught that man’s reasoning would ultimately lead to an understanding of absolutes and Pascal taught man’s reasoning was fallen, Reformed epistemology teaches that, though fallen, man’s ability to reason is not totally lost and can lead to an understanding of truth.

Alvin Plantinga, the modern day proponent of Reformed epistemology, has stated that the cornerstone for such thinking is that the belief in God is basic in all humans, which drives the way they view the world[1]. Since all men are created in the image of God, and since all men have an innate desire to know God, it can therefore be concluded that God placed a way to know Him (truth) within all men. Reasoning, under Reformed epistemology, no longer becomes a tool used and invented by man, but instead becomes a tool that God uses to help man communicate with Him that man sometimes fails to use properly. Views that deny the one true God are not rational, but are ultimately irrational. The more rational a person is, in Reformed Epistemology, the closer to God he is[2]. Since man has the innate desire to know God, man has the innate ability to reason.

Reformed epistemology accepts two types of knowledge, much as Pascal did, but with certain reservations: the natural and the supernatural. As Brian Follis writes, “Calvin speaks of a double knowledge: the ‘simple and primitive knowledge to which the mere course of nature would have conducted us, had Adam stood upright’ and the saving knowledge revealed through Scripture that focuses upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty due to us, by which ‘salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness’[3].” According to Calvin, the natural view is what man was to be guided by from the beginning, but this view was tarnished by the Fall. God must then reveal Himself in creation in order to enlighten man to the natural view that was apparent from the beginning. Therefore, man can know the physical world through the natural sciences, but he can also understand the supernatural world through his ability to reason and also to interpret the signs within the natural universe.

Some would object and say that Calvin believed in the total depravity of man and was thus incapable of supporting any form of rationality, but this objection is wrong. Though Calvin taught that man was fallen, he taught that only in a spiritual sense – his relationship to God – was man totally fallen; man’s ability to reason was damaged, but still remained intact and useful[4]. Though Pascal taught man’s reasoning was fallen, Calvin taught man’s ability to understand true reasoning was damaged, but still useful, even to the point of salvation[5]. Man was, therefore, not only able to know truth, but has truth instilled in him from his birth. Calvin taught that man’s understanding of this truth would be incomplete, but it would still exist.

Finally, Reformed epistemology teaches a concept that both Descartes and Pascal missed – all truth, knowledge, and reasoning extends from God and not from within man. Descartes taught that man could know truth under his own power and Pascal taught man could only look at truth blindly. Reformed epistemology teaches that all truth comes from God and is naturally revealed within man due to God’s grace[6]. Reformed epistemologists tend to take John 14:6 quite seriously in teaching that all truth comes from Christ, thus truth can be known experientially and propositionally. Most importantly, however, is that subjectivity within truth is eliminated within Reformed epistemology. Descartes taught that man could only know things absolutely that could be defined physically or mathematically. Reformed epistemology teaches that man can know anything through his ability to reason, which was given to him by God. Pascal taught that man could not reason properly due to the Fall, thus what might be sinful to one person could be permissible to another. Reformed epistemology teaches that there is a way to know what a sin (an offense to God) is and what is merely unwise for a person (a non-sin). Overall, reformed epistemology acknowledges that God is sovereign over all things, including truth, and placed this truth within man.

___________________________________

[1] J.P. and Craig Moreland, William Lane, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003), 162.

[2] This is not based on intellectualism or rationalism as the term is much different than in those two beliefs. Instead, what is being implied is that true rationality comes from God and is not from man. Thus, any claim that is made outside of what God has revealed is ultimately irrational, no matter how rational man might make it attempt to appear.

[3] Brian Follis, Truth With Love: Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2006), 22.

[4] Ibid. 20

[5] Calvin did not teach that one could rationalize oneself to salvation - this would have gone against his soteriological viewpoint. He did teach, however, that God can use the mind in order to break down presuppositions and bring a person to truth.

[6] Edward J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: WMB. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1948), 56.


Now we must ask a few questions: What does it mean to reason, what is the role of reason in salvation, how do reason and revelation work, and what does the Scripture say about reason?

I - What it is to reason

First and foremost, there are two different understandings about reason in the modern age. Even for those that de-emphasize reason, they will still hold onto these two different views. The first one is called internalistic reasoning, or structural/coherent reasoning. In this view, we reason in order to discover what is truth within our own society. Thus, we determine what is and is not true, we declare what is and is not logical outside the realm of hard science. If society dictates that it is logical to prevent murder, then this is 'reasonable' to that society.

On the other hand, the second view is must more pre-modern. This view teaches that reason helps us to understand the Truth that is already out there. Man's reason is faulty and imperfect, thus can lead man in the wrong direction. At the same time, this reason can also lead humans to an understanding of morality that is universal and outside of the cultural context. This is called externalism or foundationalism. It teaches there are certain beliefs about the world that are properly basic and, in light of this, humans can interact with this universal Truth. Reason, therefore, is not something we created, but instead instead is something that is innate within the human mind, as natural as the ability to taste, hear, or smell (and just like the physical counterparts, is subject to functioning improperly).

Therefore, reason is not necessarily something that we start, but is merely a way we understand the world around us. This doesn't lead to a perfect understanding, but does provide a rational medium for most human experiences.

II - The role of reason in the life of the believer

What, then, does reasoning play in the life of the believer? I believe that it aids us in salvation somewhat, but is more vital for growing in our Christian walk and understanding of God:

1) Reason aids in Salvation - the important word to note is the word "aids." This shows it is merely a part of the salvation experience, but does not encompass it or necessarily play a major role. For some it might be an act of reasoning that removes all intellectual barriers so that the Holy Spirit can deal with that person. For others, it might be an encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus, where very little reasoning was involved. Thus, the amount of reason in initial act of salvation is extremely subjective to the individual, with the only absolute being that reason cannot be the total sum of the salvation experience (for this would leave out an actual experience), but cannot be totally absent either.

For instance, even if one were to have an encounter with Christ or to see an image of a man on the Cross, one would have to accept (even if subconsciously) that such an experience is valid. A person on LSD that sees purple elephants might, for the moment, believe that there is actually a purple elephant in the room. Once the high leaves the person, however, she will no longer think it is valid to believe there is a purple elephant in the room. Alternatively, however, when Paul experienced Christ on the road to Damascus he continued to believe in what he had experienced even after the experience had passed. This shows that he reasoned - again, it could have been subconsciously - that he had an actual encounter with a real being.

In order to accept an experience as valid, we simply have to reason, even if this reason is minimal. We have to assume the proposition that, "What I just experienced is actually real" if that experience is to have any effect on our lives. Much like the blind man healed by Jesus, we may not know all the inner workings of what happened, but we can reason that something actually happened to us.

At the same time, we must be careful not to say that reason saves us. To use an example by Peter Kreeft, reason is the boat that takes us across the river of doubt, but it takes faith to leap off the boat once it has hit the shore. There must be an acceptance of this faith that is based on propositional Truth, but not propositional. After all (to use Kreeft again), no one proposes in propositions, yet there is a propositional truth behind all proposals. Likewise, we must acknowledge we are entering into a relationship that is more than reason, but is based on Truth.

2) Reason aids in our walk with Christ - once again, the important word here is 'aids.' Even when walking in faith, Christianity is not purely rational, but depends upon the Holy Spirit to change our reasoning. This does not negate, however, that Christians are supposed to be reasonable people once accepting Christ.

A child may not understand how a train works, but the train will enthrall him nonetheless. An engineer, however, will know all the inner workings of the train, but still be impressed. How much more, then, is a Christian's view of God? God is both transcendent and immanent. This means that a new-born Christian may not understand as much about theology as someone that has studied it for 30 years, but both can love God with the same fervor and both still view God as a mystery.

It is a mistake to think that by studying God we will figure Him out. Rather, we study God and His commands just to get a tiny grasp on who He is and what He wants us to do - we have knowledge of God, but this knowledge is far from comprehensive. We often forget that God is infinite and, therefore, no matter how hard we try we will never comprehend Him. This is important for both the theologian and layperson to understand: It shows there shouldn't be any fear in studying theology, because there is always something new to discover, but one shouldn't become haughty in it either because God can elude us no matter how studied we are.

Instead, one must rely on the Holy Spirit for illumination in these matters. Though we are called to use our minds, we are also called to conform our minds to Christ. This would indicate that illumination and reasoning actually go hand in hand and are not diametrically opposed to each other (as many Christians sadly believe). Rather, one uses one's reason, but asks the Holy Spirit to illuminate the knowledge to that one.

III - The function of reason and revelation

Some might be curious as to how one can reason when our reasoning is faulty. After all, we are told not to lean not unto our own understanding. We are told that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, that our thoughts are not the Lord's thoughts, and so on. It seems the Bible would rather us trust in God rather than reason about what He has to say.

The above would stand true if the first definition of reason given were the actual definition. However, due to the second definition we are allowed to acknowledge there is a fallibility within our faculty of reason.

The Bible tends to teach a dual concept for understanding - natural understanding and Divinely illuminated understanding. The natural understanding teaches that reasoning is something that was implanted in humans from the beginning of creation, that we can know God through His creation. It also teaches that such reasoning is faulty and that we have often ignored it in order to partake in a lie (due to our sinful desires). Thus, we are also told that the Lord illuminates all knowledge to humans when they seek after Him. It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of all knowledge. If one wishes to have proper reasoning, then one must seek after Him.

This works well within Reformed Epistemology. RE teaches that there is a design plan within all humans that is aimed toward truth with the probability of obtaining truth. This fits in perfectly with the Bible, showing that God wants us to know Him through nature and the physical world. At the same time, RE also teaches that we are fallen creatures and, therefore, will not always willingly follow this design plan aimed toward truth.

Sin, therefore, would cause the human mind to function improperly (another component in RE). In light of this, a mind functioning improperly is not a mind that can gain knowledge. It is in this improper function that we are to seek God and begin to conform to Him so that we might function properly. It is through illumination caused by sanctification that the Christian mind begins to function in a proper fashion that allows a believer to grow.

IV - Scriptural support

Romans 1 - almost the entire chapter teaches that God has been known since the beginning of creation and that He has created humans with the ability to know. Unfortunately, as Romans 1 states, we have willingly traded His truth in for a lie because of our perverse nature, showing that we chose to be irrational creatures.

Proverbs 1:7 - this shows that in order to gain true knowledge one must fear the Lord first and foremost. This means one must acknowledge His place as the creator of the human mind and, therefore, the redeemer of it as well.

Proverbs 2:6 - this is a passage that supports an external epistemology, showing that God is the one that illuminates knowledge onto humans, rather than knowledge coming from within. We can say knowledge comes from within if we mean this loosely, but we must ultimately acknowledge that God implanted this knowledge in us due to His design plan for the mind.

1 Peter 3:15 - here Peter implores Christians to be ready to make a logical and evidenced defense (apologia) for the reason (logos) of Christianity.

Matthew 22:37 - Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. When He says mind (dianoia) He is meaning our understanding, thoughts, and reason. This shows that reason does play an important part in the growth of a Christian (but, as this verse shows, it is not the biggest role, just a partial role).

Romans 12:2 - Paul shows that sanctification is more than our actions, but extends into our reasoning abilities and thought processes.

Romans 8:6 - Paul points out that there are two minds; one of sin and one of life. Note that he says mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life. He does not say that once one has become a Christian, one has given up reasoning or given up one's mind - rather, one's reasoning is in the process of sanctification.



There are many other passages that show how God is known through creation, but also how He must interact and change our minds. However, the above should suffice for showing that the Bible supports the role of reason in the life of the believer.

Questions?

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 04:33 PM
One cannot reason himself to God AK. Who was one of the smartest men in the NT? How did he come to God?

Though if a man has a pure heart, his reason will aid him in coming to grips with what God is trying to say to him. It is the word of God that has power.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 05:43 PM
One cannot reason himself to God AK. Who was one of the smartest men in the NT? How did he come to God?

Though if a man has a pure heart, his reason will aid him in coming to grips with what God is trying to say to him. It is the word of God that has power.

I thought I made it clear that reason alone can't bring someone to God:

At the same time, we must be careful not to say that reason saves us. To use an example by Peter Kreeft, reason is the boat that takes us across the river of doubt, but it takes faith to leap off the boat once it has hit the shore. There must be an acceptance of this faith that is based on propositional Truth, but not propositional. After all (to use Kreeft again), no one proposes in propositions, yet there is a propositional truth behind all proposals. Likewise, we must acknowledge we are entering into a relationship that is more than reason, but is based on Truth.

Now, to say that reason doesn't bring us to God or doesn't aid in it, we would have to discredit quite a few conversion stories.

As for the smartest person in the NT? Christ Himself - He was the source of Truth in person.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 05:56 PM
I thought I made it clear that reason alone can't bring someone to God:

At the same time, we must be careful not to say that reason saves us. To use an example by Peter Kreeft, reason is the boat that takes us across the river of doubt, but it takes faith to leap off the boat once it has hit the shore. There must be an acceptance of this faith that is based on propositional Truth, but not propositional. After all (to use Kreeft again), no one proposes in propositions, yet there is a propositional truth behind all proposals. Likewise, we must acknowledge we are entering into a relationship that is more than reason, but is based on Truth.

Thing is, I don't agree fully with this statement. I'll explain why below.


Now, to say that reason doesn't bring us to God or doesn't aid in it, we would have to discredit quite a few conversion stories.

Agreed. It can aid in it, though it is not necessary.


As for the smartest person in the NT? Christ Himself - He was the source of Truth in person.

Good answer. But I was referring to Paul. All his reasoning did nothing to show him who Jesus was. It actually prevented it. When Jesus did show up, he told Paul, "Why do you persecute me". Paul responded "Who are you?" He believed before he even knew who. That's the point.

Why doesn't reason always work? Because mankind is willingly ignorant. If you show me a person with an honest heart, one that is seeking God, reason will have an impact. Show me someone that doesn't seek God and has no desire for real truth, and I will show you someone that suppresses the truth in their heart and chooses to believe a lie rather than the truth.

God speaks of revelation in scripture. For instance, a lost man, using reason can teach from the bible. He can dissect language with the best of them. But can he really teach from the word with power and might and in revelation knowledge?

There is a place for reason. But there is a much greater place for preaching not in wisdom, but in power and might. Here's another way of putting it...

How does one understand the parables? Can he do so through reason alone? No! For God specifically hid the meaning from those that would use reason! So we search it out, not only with reason, but with the Holy Spirit as well.

But cutting to the chase, it seems you are asking the question, what must one know before he can be saved. I say nothing. For when God shows up, as he did with Paul, all paradigns shift. IOW, I am a much bigger fan of revelation or epiphany from the Holy Spirit than I am a fan of reason, though I do find reason very useful as long as it remains under the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 1:26-31

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
NASB

I really don't think we are far apart, but I do think our difference is a major one. Perhaps I am wrong but we will see.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 05:58 PM
[/I]Thing is, I don't agree fully with this statement. I'll explain why below.



Agreed. It can aid in it, though it is not necessary.



Good answer. But I was referring to Paul. All his reasoning did nothing to show him who Jesus was. It actually prevented it. When Jesus did show up, he told Paul, "Why do you persecute me". Paul responded "Who are you?" He believed before he even knew who. That's the point.

Why doesn't reason always work? Because mankind is willingly ignorant. If you show me a person with an honest heart, one that is seeking God, reason will have an impact. Show me someone that doesn't seek God and has no desire for real truth, and I will show you someone that suppresses the truth in their heart and chooses to believe a lie rather than the truth.

God speaks of revelation in scripture. For instance, a lost man, using reason can teach from the bible. He can dissect language with the best of them. But can he really teach from the word with power and might and in revelation knowledge?

There is a place for reason. But there is a much greater place for preaching not in wisdom, but in power and might. Here's another way of putting it...

How does one understand the parables? Can he do so through reason alone? No! For God specifically hid the meaning from those that would use reason! So we search it out, not only with reason, but with the Holy Spirit as well.

But cutting to the chase, it seems you are asking the question, what must one know before he can be saved. I say nothing. For when God shows up, as he did with Paul, all paradigns shift. IOW, I am a much bigger fan of revelation or epiphany from the Holy Spirit than I am a fan of reason, though I do find reason very useful as long as it remains under the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 1:26-31

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
NASB

I really don't think we are far apart, but I do think our difference is a major one. Perhaps I am wrong but we will see.


I don't get it. I give Scripture, analysis on the Scripture, good reasons for what I'm saying...and I'm met yet again with talking points. Why? The Scriptures given run contrary to your interpretation of one passage that is severely out of context. I'm just not understanding what is going on...it's as though the article wasn't even read.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 06:14 PM
The Bible tends to teach a dual concept for understanding - natural understanding and Divinely illuminated understanding. The natural understanding teaches that reasoning is something that was implanted in humans from the beginning of creation, that we can know God through His creation. It also teaches that such reasoning is faulty and that we have often ignored it in order to partake in a lie (due to our sinful desires). Thus, we are also told that the Lord illuminates all knowledge to humans when they seek after Him. It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of all knowledge. If one wishes to have proper reasoning, then one must seek after Him.

OK. Maybe this paragraph can be used to show more what I am speaking about. I do agree, in general, with what you wrote. Here is what I would make very, very clear... God is taking a very active role in teaching us. It is not our reason that teaches us but rather God himself. It is reason that is submitted to God that is capable of learning.

An example I used earlier, a lost man can dissect scriptures. But will the Holy Spirit open his eyes and show him the mysteries? No. The mysteries do not come from reason, but rather from revelation.

For instance, how did Author Pink know that Noah's ark was a type of Christ? How did John the Baptist know that Jesus was the Passover Lamb that would take away the sins of the world?

When the donkey preached to Balaam, what was his world view prior to God miraculously intervening in his life?

Now, reason can be used. But it's not just that God helps all men. It is far more relational than that. It is God personally blinding or healing the spiritual eyes of men depending on the condition of their heart.

John 9:39-41
39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind." 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.
NASB

In other words, God will see to it that if we choose to neglect him, that we will be blind. It is why some of the great men of wonderful knowledge miss Him. While they are smart and highly educated, their reason leads them astray. I know you make a distinction and it is a distinction I agree with in part.

Let me try another way. Paul, had a great mind. He was highly intelligent. John was a simple fisherman. Which of them had more understanding of God and what God was going to do? IMO, John for sure, and most likely Paul, were taken up into the third heaven. Were the things revealed to them revealed by reason? Or only by the power of God?

Now, if you say John had to have some understanding of words, etc. in order to understand what God was saying, OK. I agree with that. It's just that reason is not what leads us to God. It is God himself that draws us and teaches us. God will use reason for some, as he did with Isaiah when he said "Come now, let us reason together. For though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow." But for others, he just bust their bubble.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 06:18 PM
I don't get it. I give Scripture, analysis on the Scripture, good reasons for what I'm saying...and I'm met yet again with talking points. Why? The Scriptures given run contrary to your interpretation of one passage that is severely out of context. I'm just not understanding what is going on...it's as though the article wasn't even read.

I agree with the scriptures you posted AK. But I don't agree with the concept above them. That's the point I am making.

Let me say it this way... God gives us light. When we respond correctly, he gives us more light. When we don't respond correctly, even that light he gave us is taken away. So again, it is our response to the knowledge of him, i.e. our hearts, not our heads that make knowing him possible. That, along with the power of the holy spirit.

I am NOT saying reason doesn't play a necessary role in our life, either spiritual or physical. What I am saying is that it generally plays a greater role than does our faith and revelation. Unfortunately, that is to our loss.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 06:48 PM
I'm assuming you had lunch today. When you ate, did God illuminate the taste of the food to you, or was it your taste buds, which are part of God's design plan that allow for you to taste?

Buzzword
Aug 9th 2008, 07:15 PM
I believe reason has a very definite place in our conversion experience, and also in our discernment and "filtering" of what we are told is truth.

It isn't the whole deal in either, which is one way the Modernist methodology of evangelism and apologetics fails.

I think the modernist method has spent so much time trying to objectivize every part of Christianity using logic (make everything logically concrete, and therefore "absolute") that it has left out the very subjective emotional experiences each of us go through individually when coming to Christ, and in our Christian walk.

Which is one thing I believe the postmodern mindset is at least approaching correctly:
Making testimony and personal experience a larger part of witnessing and apologetics, taking over areas where only objective logic and the accompanying method of scriptural interpretation had previously dominated.

Not that logic can be entirely kicked out, or NOTHING would be concrete and absolute.

Rather it seems an attempt to bring the subjective and the objective closer to balance, bringing together reason and "the words on the page," with experience and "what is it saying to you".

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 07:30 PM
I believe reason has a very definite place in our conversion experience, and also in our discernment and "filtering" of what we are told is truth.

It isn't the whole deal in either, which is one way the Modernist methodology of evangelism and apologetics fails.

I think the modernist method has spent so much time trying to objectivize every part of Christianity using logic (make everything logically concrete, and therefore "absolute") that it has left out the very subjective emotional experiences each of us go through individually when coming to Christ, and in our Christian walk.

Which is one thing I believe the postmodern mindset is at least approaching correctly:
Making testimony and personal experience a larger part of witnessing and apologetics, taking over areas where only objective logic and the accompanying method of scriptural interpretation had previously dominated.

Not that logic can be entirely kicked out, or NOTHING would be concrete and absolute.

Rather it seems an attempt to bring the subjective and the objective closer to balance, bringing together reason and "the words on the page," with experience and "what is it saying to you".

I think the flaw is in assuming that apologetics is a modernistic thing in Christianity. Instead, we can trace apologetics to the first century.

The application of apologetics as a tool of evangelism, however, is certainly modernistic. Instead, apologetics is a defense mechanism to explain why we're Christians and works as a 'pre-evangelism' tool to break down intellectual barriers to accepting Christ. It does not, however, cause someone to be saved.

Postmodernism, alternatively, is a miserable failure because they rely on the Enlightenment definition of 'reason' and go from there, denying the objective truth within Christianity.

Buzzword
Aug 9th 2008, 07:36 PM
I think the flaw is in assuming that apologetics is a modernistic thing in Christianity. Instead, we can trace apologetics to the first century.

The application of apologetics as a tool of evangelism, however, is certainly modernistic. Instead, apologetics is a defense mechanism to explain why we're Christians and works as a 'pre-evangelism' tool to break down intellectual barriers to accepting Christ. It does not, however, cause someone to be saved.

Postmodernism, alternatively, is a miserable failure because they rely on the Enlightenment definition of 'reason' and go from there, denying the objective truth within Christianity.

What is the Enlightenment definition of reason?

While I do think the postmodern approach to language (deconstructionist) is flawed, I still think the Christian community has spent far too much time trying to logically sort out our system of belief, without spending nearly enough time acknowledging and studying the individual subjective experiences of believers.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 07:40 PM
What is the Enlightenment definition of reason?

While I do think the postmodern approach to language (deconstructionist) is flawed, I still think the Christian community has spent far too much time trying to logically sort out our system of belief, without spending nearly enough time acknowledging and studying the individual subjective experiences of believers.

It was provided in the article:

First and foremost, there are two different understandings about reason in the modern age. Even for those that de-emphasize reason, they will still hold onto these two different views. The first one is called internalistic reasoning, or structural/coherent reasoning. In this view, we reason in order to discover what is truth within our own society. Thus, we determine what is and is not true, we declare what is and is not logical outside the realm of hard science. If society dictates that it is logical to prevent murder, then this is 'reasonable' to that society.

As for subjective experiences - this is why we don't study them, they're subjective. We study the objective so we can make sense of the subjective.

Buzzword
Aug 9th 2008, 07:47 PM
As for subjective experiences - this is why we don't study them, they're subjective. We study the objective so we can make sense of the subjective.

However, that lack of study has led to a general sentiment among scholars and laity alike that the whole Christian experience is objective.

BroRog
Aug 9th 2008, 08:09 PM
I don't get it. I give Scripture, analysis on the Scripture, good reasons for what I'm saying...and I'm met yet again with talking points. Why? The Scriptures given run contrary to your interpretation of one passage that is severely out of context. I'm just not understanding what is going on...it's as though the article wasn't even read.

I was asking myself, "Why is this in the controversial section?" If reason is the antithesis of irrationality, I would think all Christians would be in favor of it.

AK, I would use this opportunity to tighten up your definitions in case there are any closet Van Till readers who might read your paper. It would appear as if the term "reason" has a connotation you didn't intend. As some have already said, reason might be an essential, necessary part of belief, but it isn't adequate by itself. As any Van Tillian will tell you, a person can not come to belief unless the Holy Spirit opens his eyes.

I don't agree with Van Till's Presuppositional Apologetics, but I think, in general, folks are right to point out, as you also have done, that the Holy Spirit must play a role in our coming to truth.

Perhaps if you switched to using the term "rational", this might help. The term "rational" will encompass reason, but will also include the intuition, the subjective experience, and the influence of the Holy Spirit: each of these being rational aspects of being human.

Disbelief has an irrational component due to the fact that the denial of the truth amounts to a suppression of it, living AS IF the contrary were true. The idea of "self-deception" boggles the mind if one thinks about the nature of deception. What is deception, if not the withholding of information from another person? And how can we withhold information from ourselves? Well, in our rationality, we can't. But in our capacity to be irrational, we can pretend to ourselves that we don't know something and act as if we lack that knowledge.

I believe Paul had this irrational process of the suppression of truth we already know to be true in mind when he penned the latter half of Romans the first chapter.

And so, disbelief isn't a lack of reason, but a moral problem with those who purposely think irrationally, unrighteously suppressing the truth.

BroRog
Aug 9th 2008, 08:11 PM
It was provided in the article:

First and foremost, there are two different understandings about reason in the modern age. Even for those that de-emphasize reason, they will still hold onto these two different views. The first one is called internalistic reasoning, or structural/coherent reasoning. In this view, we reason in order to discover what is truth within our own society. Thus, we determine what is and is not true, we declare what is and is not logical outside the realm of hard science. If society dictates that it is logical to prevent murder, then this is 'reasonable' to that society.

As for subjective experiences - this is why we don't study them, they're subjective. We study the objective so we can make sense of the subjective.

But our subjective experiences and thinking aren't any less rational than our empirical ones.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 08:58 PM
I don't have time now to post a bigger post (I will later), but I agree very much with what you said in both posts BroRog...very much.

Mograce2U
Aug 9th 2008, 09:37 PM
...Disbelief has an irrational component due to the fact that the denial of the truth amounts to a suppression of it, living AS IF the contrary were true. The idea of "self-deception" boggles the mind if one thinks about the nature of deception. What is deception, if not the withholding of information from another person? And how can we withhold information from ourselves? Well, in our rationality, we can't. But in our capacity to be irrational, we can pretend to ourselves that we don't know something and act as if we lack that knowledge.

I believe Paul had this irrational process of the suppression of truth we already know to be true in mind when he penned the latter half of Romans the first chapter.

And so, disbelief isn't a lack of reason, but a moral problem with those who purposely think irrationally, unrighteously suppressing the truth.Disbelief surely is the real clincher to explain. I suppose that is why theologians lean more toward trying to give a reasonable explanation for how faith works, because there is no sense or reason to explain unbelief!

Given the evidence that is. Which AK, is the word I found lacking in your article. Paul didn't have to "reason" about his experience on the road to Damascus since the evidence of the reality of it left him blind! Any more than the blind man did who was healed by Jesus - the evidence was he had his sight. Therefore unbelief in light of such evidence is the real marvel. If man is supposed to be able to know God exists because of the evidence which creation gives him, then explaining how he comes up with evolution is what is needed.

Faith comes because of revelation and the faith it produces is the evidence God gives; whereas unbelief is our natural bent regardless of what truth one may know. So I tend to agree with Pascal here that sin is the main obstacle, not man merely misapplying his God given gift of reason.

That fact that the natural man is able to create a "moral" society from being able to apply reason - is only because God sees to it that consequences come because of sin. If it weren't for those consequences no man would choose anything that was not wholly self-serving. Death and its fear serves a real purpose to help hold sin at bay - else mankind would have wiped themselves out long ago. The fall has totally permeated the nature of man - but God still sends His rain (meaning all earthly blessing/ curses) upon him, lest mankind would become totally depraved.

Therefore I will hold to what I said earlier that it is all about the power of God sustaining His creation and interjecting His will upon man, which power lies not in man's reason or his will apart from Him. We are not autonomous creatures in that sense since we wouldn't even be alive had He not breathed into us. But revelation is what brings response-ability upon man when he knows the One with whom he has to do. That alone will quicken him to right reason and a right response. Until then he will go on with business as usual until the day he dies.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 09:42 PM
Disbelief surely is the real clincher to explain. I suppose that is why theologians lean more toward trying to give a reasonable explanation for how faith works, because there is no sense or reason to explain unbelief!

Given the evidence that is. Which AK, is the word I found lacking in your article. Paul didn't have to "reason" about his experience on the road to Damascus since the evidence of the reality of it left him blind! Any more than the blind man did who was healed by Jesus - the evidence was he had his sight. Therefore unbelief in light of such evidence is the real marvel. If man is supposed to be able to know God exists because of the evidence which creation gives him, then explaining how he comes up with evolution is what is needed.

Faith comes because of revelation and the faith it produces is the evidence God gives; whereas unbelief is our natural bent regardless of what truth one may know. So I tend to agree with Pascal here that sin is the main obstacle, not man merely misapplying his God given gift of reason.

That fact that the natural man is able to create a "moral" society from being able to apply reason - is only because God sees to it that consequences come because of sin. If it weren't for those consequences no man would choose anything that was not wholly self-serving. Death and its fear serves a real purpose to help hold sin at bay - else mankind would have wiped themselves out long ago. The fall has totally permeated the nature of man - but God still sends His rain (meaning all earthly blessing/ curses) upon him, lest mankind would become totally depraved.

Therefore I will hold to what I said earlier that it is all about the power of God sustaining His creation and interjecting His will upon man, which power lies not in man's reason or his will apart from Him. We are not autonomous creatures in that sense since we wouldn't even be alive had He not breathed into us. But revelation is what brings response-ability upon man when he knows the One with whom he has to do. That alone will quicken him to right reason and a right response. Until then he will go on with business as usual until the day he dies.

This is such a good post, I figure it's worth commenting on just to get it repeated. Very good Robin.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 10:24 PM
I was asking myself, "Why is this in the controversial section?" If reason is the antithesis of irrationality, I would think all Christians would be in favor of it.

AK, I would use this opportunity to tighten up your definitions in case there are any closet Van Till readers who might read your paper. It would appear as if the term "reason" has a connotation you didn't intend. As some have already said, reason might be an essential, necessary part of belief, but it isn't adequate by itself. As any Van Tillian will tell you, a person can not come to belief unless the Holy Spirit opens his eyes.

I don't agree with Van Till's Presuppositional Apologetics, but I think, in general, folks are right to point out, as you also have done, that the Holy Spirit must play a role in our coming to truth.

:lol:

I'm laughing because I'm currently re-reading Van Til's The Defense of the Faith. Just ironic.

It's controversial because most of the evangelical church has - understandably - fallen into the fideistic trap of faith. You have to figure, what average layperson knows (or even cares to know) the nuanced difference between Nihilism and Existentialism? Who cares to know about the various debates among Trinitarians on the nature of the Trinity?

In fact, the above simply aren't important to the layperson. The scientific details of intelligent design, as an example, aren't important to me simply because I'm not a scientist. I understand the broad gist of the argument, but ask me to begin to explain the deep scientific details and I can't.

Part of the reason we are so fideistic and anti-intellectual is because, as a church of laypeople, we have buried our heads in the sand against all these intellectual attacks. Now, building our intellect is the job of all believers - this is clear in Scripture - but specializing in certain fields is not.

It's as though we've forgotten the model of the first church. All partook in all things Christian, but some specialized. We know there were orphans and uneducated widows that made up their ranks - but there were also some amazing philosophers and apologists (such as Polycarp). We've forgotten that Christianity is multi-tiered, that it is simple and complex. We've forgotten that some people are called to specialize in certain things - so we become uncomfortable with what we're not used to and what we don't understand. Instead, we should be thankful that the Lord has given us people who specialize in different areas.

As for what you actually said... ;)

I agree. The definitions are admittedly vague, but in a short paper that isn't academic it's hard to spend time defining terms (which can often take up half a page).

As for Van Tillian epistemology, I'm a huge fan. I agree that unless God allows us to see certain things, we certainly won't. At the same time, Van Til taught that there is a natural reason. For instance, though God designed us to know mathematics, He doesn't 'open our eyes' to the fact that 2+2=4 (at least not in the way He opens our eyes to salvation - which is more than an intellectual exercise).


Perhaps if you switched to using the term "rational", this might help. The term "rational" will encompass reason, but will also include the intuition, the subjective experience, and the influence of the Holy Spirit: each of these being rational aspects of being human.

This would, admittedly, work better for this baord.



Disbelief has an irrational component due to the fact that the denial of the truth amounts to a suppression of it, living AS IF the contrary were true. The idea of "self-deception" boggles the mind if one thinks about the nature of deception. What is deception, if not the withholding of information from another person? And how can we withhold information from ourselves? Well, in our rationality, we can't. But in our capacity to be irrational, we can pretend to ourselves that we don't know something and act as if we lack that knowledge.

I believe Paul had this irrational process of the suppression of truth we already know to be true in mind when he penned the latter half of Romans the first chapter.

And so, disbelief isn't a lack of reason, but a moral problem with those who purposely think irrationally, unrighteously suppressing the truth.

Completely agree with this point of view.

[qutoe]But our subjective experiences and thinking aren't any less rational than our empirical ones.[/quote]

Right, but what I was attempting to show is that if we rely on our experience and don't anchor it in something concrete, it means nothing. As I have said, it is no more potent than one's preference for beef over chicken.


Robin,


Given the evidence that is. Which AK, is the word I found lacking in your article. Paul didn't have to "reason" about his experience on the road to Damascus since the evidence of the reality of it left him blind! Any more than the blind man did who was healed by Jesus - the evidence was he had his sight. Therefore unbelief in light of such evidence is the real marvel. If man is supposed to be able to know God exists because of the evidence which creation gives him, then explaining how he comes up with evolution is what is needed.

Correct, but we see multiple times in history of men who have encounters with God, yet still deny Him. Pharoah is a good example as is Abraham (his denial was in his action with the maidservant). Both men had encounters with God, yet irrationally acted out against Him.


Faith comes because of revelation and the faith it produces is the evidence God gives; whereas unbelief is our natural bent regardless of what truth one may know. So I tend to agree with Pascal here that sin is the main obstacle, not man merely misapplying his God given gift of reason.

Both Calvin and Pascal argued that man misapplying his reason was a result of his sin. Romans 1 teaches this as well. ;)



That fact that the natural man is able to create a "moral" society from being able to apply reason - is only because God sees to it that consequences come because of sin. If it weren't for those consequences no man would choose anything that was not wholly self-serving. Death and its fear serves a real purpose to help hold sin at bay - else mankind would have wiped themselves out long ago. The fall has totally permeated the nature of man - but God still sends His rain (meaning all earthly blessing/ curses) upon him, lest mankind would become totally depraved.

Wow, that's a teaching of depravity that even I'm uncomfortable with!

For one, Scripture does and doesn't teach this. It does teach that we are immoral people and that God holds back the evil in this world. This holding back, however, is because of the imago Dei. Thus, natural man is moral not necessarily because of the consequences, but because the image of God - though tainted - is still within him. He is moral because he feels he should be. This explains why some lost men still choose to be moral people even when there are no negative consequences for not being moral. I can think of a few people who are atheists yet morally volunteer their time helping the poor. If they didn't help there would be no problem with their lack of action. Yet, they choose to be immoral.

This is simply because they are made in the iamge of God. Their beliefs are irrational and their moral actions are actually more irrational than their beliefs. The reason is they have no basis for their actions - how can a naturalist justify helping the poor? How can he rationalize it or reason it consider his disposition toward naturalism? The fact is, he simply cannot - yet he continues to act rational. This is because the image of God in him is crying out. That is why society acts morally - though consequences can certainly be another cause (but this begs the question, why does moral man set up consequences [laws and a judicial system] unless something inside him calls out to do so?).

Therefore I will hold to what I said earlier that it is all about the power of God sustaining His creation and interjecting His will upon man, which power lies not in man's reason or his will apart from Him. We are not autonomous creatures in that sense since we wouldn't even be alive had He not breathed into us. But revelation is what brings response-ability upon man when he knows the One with whom he has to do. That alone will quicken him to right reason and a right response. Until then he will go on with business as usual until the day he dies.

Two things:

None of this contradicts what I said in the article.

Secondly, let's stop saying "man's reason." That denies God's creative aspect of reason. God gave humans reason to use. To call it "man's reason" is to deny Him this creation.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 11:02 PM
Wow, that's a teaching of depravity that even I'm uncomfortable with!

For one, Scripture does and doesn't teach this. It does teach that we are immoral people and that God holds back the evil in this world. This holding back, however, is because of the imago Dei. Thus, natural man is moral not necessarily because of the consequences, but because the image of God - though tainted - is still within him. He is moral because he feels he should be. This explains why some lost men still choose to be moral people even when there are no negative consequences for not being moral. I can think of a few people who are atheists yet morally volunteer their time helping the poor. If they didn't help there would be no problem with their lack of action. Yet, they choose to be immoral.

What does the scripture say about the human heart?

Jer 17:9

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
KJV

Why did God institute government and the death penalty? It was because of how evil man became in Noah's day to the point that every thought was evil and violent. He destroyed it then gave man the death penalty to keep man in check. If we remove all consequences, i.e. government, society, peer pressure, etc. man will be extremely evil and self centered.


None of this contradicts what I said in the article.

Secondly, let's stop saying "man's reason." That denies God's creative aspect of reason. God gave humans reason to use. To call it "man's reason" is to deny Him this creation.He didn't call man's wisdom or reason useless. It has it's place. Knowing God is far more an issue of the heart than it is of the mind. He even tells us repeatedly to seek wisdom in proverbs. But there is a way that seems right to man, that is what we refer to as man's reason.

AK, that's the biggest issue I have with the premise. It seems to bypass the heart and go straight for the mind. The mind follows the heart not the other way around. When one's heart is right, and the light of God shines in it, then he can renew his mind. But without a heart that desires renewal, the mind won't even care.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 11:16 PM
What does the scripture say about the human heart?

Jer 17:9

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
KJV

Why did God institute government and the death penalty? It was because of how evil man became in Noah's day to the point that every thought was evil and violent. He destroyed it then gave man the death penalty to keep man in check. If we remove all consequences, i.e. government, society, peer pressure, etc. man will be extremely evil and self centered.

So we just ignore the rest of Scripture that explains we're made in the image of God? Or we just ignore the fact that God has implanted morality within humans? Just because you have one passage that vaguely responds to what I'm saying we should ignore the rest of Scripture?


He didn't call man's wisdom or reason useless. It has it's place. Knowing God is far more an issue of the heart than it is of the mind. He even tells us repeatedly to seek wisdom in proverbs. But there is a way that seems right to man, that is what we refer to as man's reason.

AK, that's the biggest issue I have with the premise. It seems to bypass the heart and go straight for the mind. The mind follows the heart not the other way around. When one's heart is right, and the light of God shines in it, then he can renew his mind. But without a heart that desires renewal, the mind won't even care.

All of this is called existentialism. None of it is Biblical. There isn't an ounce of Scripture that teaches our heart follows our mind or that our mind is subject to our heart. Instead, the two are co-equals influencing each other and keeping each other in check. That is actually the Biblical teaching.

Mograce2U
Aug 9th 2008, 11:18 PM
Not said to me, but...


Right, but what I was attempting to show is that if we rely on our experience and don't anchor it in something concrete, it means nothing. As I have said, it is no more potent than one's preference for beef over chickenBut faith is the "concrete" evidence.

(Heb 11:1-2 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. {2} For by it the elders obtained a good report.

(Heb 11:3 KJV) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

etc.

The problems with these kind of discussions is that it ends up making us say things we don't mean to make a point. I am not a proponent of Calvin's total depravity at all. I do believe that we are made in the image of God so that He might have a way to relate to us. And I am not saying that all subjective experiences are equally valid. Like pink bunnies or dreams, etc. may have another source than God. Discernment is needed - especially once one has come to faith. And our worldview needs to undergo a radical change, hence the renewing of our minds we must do as we reason over the meaning of scripture.

But none of this do we do alone. And yet there are times when we see that God left a man alone to see what he would do - and it usually wasn't a good thing that came of it - though sometimes it was. And afterwards He was quick to bring him correction. This has happened to me when sin was my first response and not faith. God will bring whatever opportunity is needed into the experience of man to train him up in the way he should go. He did this with David to let him number the people so that He could bring judgment upon them thru David's sin.

So while you want to elevate reason as a means, I see experience as the tool needed to grow us in faith. Faith is the thing which God is growing in us, by making Himself known to us in a real and tangible way. Reason apart from faith causes more trouble than not, but faith is the key by which more revelation is given, and nothing seems more reasonable to me!

hehehe

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 11:27 PM
So we just ignore the rest of Scripture that explains we're made in the image of God? Or we just ignore the fact that God has implanted morality within humans? Just because you have one passage that vaguely responds to what I'm saying we should ignore the rest of Scripture?

Let's see what God said before those consequences were given.

Gen 6:5-8

5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 And the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
NASB

This within just a few generations. After it got so bad, God gave man consequences with which he could bring down on man in order to control him. The image of God in man was greatly hindered when Adam sinned. Man is not mostly good. He is bad to the core. We have an image of him but not in goodness. For the scripture teaches that none are good. After deciding not to intervene with man in the form of a flood, he said this...

Gen 9:4-6
4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.

6 "Whoever sheds man's blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God He made man.
NASB

The death penalty was instituted to keep man in check. I could trace it from Cain to Laban to here and the results of no death penalty, but that's another thread. This was the first time in scripture God allowed man to police himself. Otherwise, we would end up with another situation like we had with Noah.



All of this is called existentialism. None of it is Biblical. There isn't an ounce of Scripture that teaches our heart follows our mind or that our mind is subject to our heart. Instead, the two are co-equals influencing each other and keeping each other in check. That is actually the Biblical teaching.


Yes there is. Mark 4 and Matthew 13 and Luke 8. A man with a bad heart is prevented from having understanding. The birds of the air come and pluck away the seed that was sown because why?

Matt 13:18-19

18 "Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.
NASB

Why does he not understand? Because his heart is hard! The hardness of his heart kept him from understanding the word.

Brother Mark
Aug 9th 2008, 11:29 PM
So while you want to elevate reason as a means, I see experience as the tool needed to grow us in faith. Faith is the thing which God is growing in us, by making Himself known to us in a real and tangible way. Reason apart from faith causes more trouble than not, but faith is the key by which more revelation is given, and nothing seems more reasonable to me!

hehehe

That is the point of the firey trial. It is not our reason that purifies faith, but rather the trial that comes our way.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 9th 2008, 11:48 PM
Not said to me, but...

But faith is the "concrete" evidence.

(Heb 11:1-2 KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. {2} For by it the elders obtained a good report.

(Heb 11:3 KJV) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

etc.

The problems with these kind of discussions is that it ends up making us say things we don't mean to make a point. I am not a proponent of Calvin's total depravity at all. I do believe that we are made in the image of God so that He might have a way to relate to us. And I am not saying that all subjective experiences are equally valid. Like pink bunnies or dreams, etc. may have another source than God. Discernment is needed - especially once one has come to faith. And our worldview needs to undergo a radical change, hence the renewing of our minds we must do as we reason over the meaning of scripture.

But none of this do we do alone. And yet there are times when we see that God left a man alone to see what he would do - and it usually wasn't a good thing that came of it - though sometimes it was. And afterwards He was quick to bring him correction. This has happened to me when sin was my first response and not faith. God will bring whatever opportunity is needed into the experience of man to train him up in the way he should go. He did this with David to let him number the people so that He could bring judgment upon them thru David's sin.

So while you want to elevate reason as a means, I see experience as the tool needed to grow us in faith. Faith is the thing which God is growing in us, by making Himself known to us in a real and tangible way. Reason apart from faith causes more trouble than not, but faith is the key by which more revelation is given, and nothing seems more reasonable to me!

hehehe

Once again, reason is a part of faith (as is rationality), so your point is moot on the Hebrews passage.

This is the problem with modern Christianity - we've accepted that faith and reason are opposed to each other when, in fact, they're a part of each other.

Let me just ask a quick question (I really don't have time to continue this):

How much study have you (that goes for everyone) put into this issue?

KATA_LOUKAN
Aug 10th 2008, 01:35 AM
Since all men are created in the image of God, and since all men have an innate desire to know God, it can therefore be concluded that God placed a way to know Him (truth) within all men. Reasoning, under Reformed epistemology, no longer becomes a tool used and invented by man, but instead becomes a tool that God uses to help man communicate with Him that man sometimes fails to use properly. Views that deny the one true God are not rational, but are ultimately irrational. The more rational a person is, in Reformed Epistemology, the closer to God he is[2]. Since man has the innate desire to know God, man has the innate ability to reason.

Our ability to reason is shaped by our tradition. For example, Eastern and Western philosophy both have very different ideas of what it means to reason.

The Hebrews and the Greeks had different ideas about what it was to reason.

I have the following propositions:

1. Not everybody wants to know "God" or any higher power.

2. Reason leads people down very different paths. I have met people, for example, who have been lead to Islam by reason. Would you say this is bad reasoning, or simply people choosing their beliefs and then defending them? I don't know everything about Christianity, yet I choose to believe it. My decision, then, is uninformed.

3. Most people do not reason themselves into Christianity.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 02:26 AM
Our ability to reason is shaped by our tradition. For example, Eastern and Western philosophy both have very different ideas of what it means to reason.

The Hebrews and the Greeks had different ideas about what it was to reason.

Yes and no. I know many people from the East who, though unaffected (mostly) by the Enlightenment, still hold the same view of Christ and God. We use the same arguments when dealing with the same situations. The only major difference I've noticed is those from the far East tend to be more mystical than those of the West - this is not good or bad, but this does show how the Enlightenment has (negatively in my opinion) affected Western Christianity.


1. Not everybody wants to know "God" or any higher power.

Right, I would argue that no one wants to know God (so would Paul ;) ).

This is why, in the Van Tillian tradition, when it comes to salvation reason alone (sola ratio) just doesn't cut it. Neither, however, does experience or emotions. It takes the illumination of God and the drawing of the Holy Spirit to lead us to salvation.


2. Reason leads people down very different paths. I have met people, for example, who have been lead to Islam by reason. Would you say this is bad reasoning, or simply people choosing their beliefs and then defending them? I don't know everything about Christianity, yet I choose to believe it. My decision, then, is uninformed.

I'd argue that it's faulty reasoning. I tend to take Schaeffer's approach on this that you can point out, in at least one area in all philosohpies and religions, some part that is inconsistent with the world or self-refuting. Thus, faulty reason, psuedo-reason, or an outright rejection of rationality (that they believe is reasonable) will lead people in the wrong direction.

This isn't to say there aren't some reasonable elements in every religion. In particular, I actually throughougly enjoy early Islamic philosophers (particularly Ibn Sina). However, even with them I find inconsistencies. This is because, in our fallen state, we have no choice but to be inconsistent.

I'm differentiating, however, between faulty reason (which isn't reason at all) and Godly reasoning, or reasoning that has been illuminated by God and/or been birthed out of a Christ centered mindset. This reason never fails us because it comes from the Word of God.


3. Most people do not reason themselves into Christianity.

Well, in all honesty, no body reasons themselves into Christianity. Christ calls us into Christianity, so it's not a work on our own. However, He will use our entire being (which includes reason) in doing this act.

Brother Mark
Aug 10th 2008, 02:31 AM
I'm differentiating, however, between faulty reason (which isn't reason at all) and Godly reasoning, or reasoning that has been illuminated by God and/or been birthed out of a Christ centered mindset. This reason never fails us because it comes from the Word of God.



Well, in all honesty, no body reasons themselves into Christianity. Christ calls us into Christianity, so it's not a work on our own. However, He will use our entire being (which includes reason) in doing this act.


I whole heartedly agree with the above statements. Though even reading the word of God one can be deceived. That is why I say God must take an active role in teaching us the word. Our reason must be guided, not only by our ability to read the word and think, but by the Holy Spirit himself who opens our eyes to understand the word.

KATA_LOUKAN
Aug 10th 2008, 03:47 AM
I'd argue that it's faulty reasoning. I tend to take Schaeffer's approach on this that you can point out, in at least one area in all philosohpies and religions, some part that is inconsistent with the world or self-refuting. Thus, faulty reason, psuedo-reason, or an outright rejection of rationality (that they believe is reasonable) will lead people in the wrong direction.

This isn't to say there aren't some reasonable elements in every religion. In particular, I actually throughougly enjoy early Islamic philosophers (particularly Ibn Sina). However, even with them I find inconsistencies. This is because, in our fallen state, we have no choice but to be inconsistent.

What do you find faulty in the Christian religion? I agree that there are some things that contradict themselves in the Bible, but what would be the main flaw in Islam that would make us want to be Christian rather than Muslim?


I'm differentiating, however, between faulty reason (which isn't reason at all) and Godly reasoning, or reasoning that has been illuminated by God and/or been birthed out of a Christ centered mindset. This reason never fails us because it comes from the Word of God.

What can this reason accomplish?

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 04:04 AM
I whole heartedly agree with the above statements. Though even reading the word of God one can be deceived. That is why I say God must take an active role in teaching us the word. Our reason must be guided, not only by our ability to read the word and think, but by the Holy Spirit himself who opens our eyes to understand the word.

But that's what I've been arguing the entire time.......

Are you and I so far apart on our definition of words that we didn't see we probably agree? Oy.


See, I argue that our mind, soul, heart, and strength all must equally be guided and come under submission to God. In doing so, all become equally important with all balancing and checking the other.


What do you find faulty in the Christian religion? I agree that there are some things that contradict themselves in the Bible, but what would be the main flaw in Islam that would make us want to be Christian rather than Muslim?

I think there's some miscommunication here. I don't think there is anything faulty in true Christianity. Sure, there are differences in denominations, but the overall Christian worldview that all orthodox Christians adhere to explains all of life's problems - this is because it is God's answers to these problems.

As for the flaw in Islam, it's in their acceptance of the Aristotelean view of God. Though it is not purely Aristotelean (I believe it was Al-Farabi that brought in Neo-Platonic themes to Islam), it does put an emphasis on a transcendent god (which is why it is an angel that has Mohammed recite and not the god of Islam manifested in flesh that talks to Mohammed).

The problem is we know from creation that God is involved in creation. We know that God is personal because we are personal. How can this be if God is solely transcendent?

Christianity solves this problem in the Incarnation.


What can this reason accomplish?

Loving God with our mind. Understanding His workings in this world. Understanding why Christianity is true. Being able to explain to people why Christianity is true (doesn't mean the people will accept it, but it does plant a seed).

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 04:18 AM
Side note -

Are you flying that flag to represent Syria or the United Arab Republic?

Athanasius
Aug 10th 2008, 04:24 AM
Huh, that's odd. Me and C.S. Lewis were both called by God and used a little bit of reason in the process ;) I mean, come on... How many people reasoned out before they were saved that the answers Christian had to offer were more fulfilling than the answers of every other world system? A lot. But hey... Not saying we choose solely on reason, either.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 04:40 AM
Huh, that's odd. Me and C.S. Lewis were both called by God and used a little bit of reason in the process ;) I mean, come on... How many people reasoned out before they were saved that the answers Christian had to offer were more fulfilling than the answers of every other world system? A lot. But hey... Not saying we choose solely on reason, either.

This reminds me of the conversion experience of Francis Schaeffer. When hired by an immigrant to help teach the immigrant English, he accidentally ordered some books in Greek philosophy. After reading the Greek philosophy he realized there were questions about the world that he had no answer to. Someone gave him a Bible and he read it from Genesis to Revelation and discovered that Christianity answered the problems left over from Greek philosophy. From that, he accepted Christ.

I'd encourage everyone in this thread - those who agree and disagree - to read True Spirituality which explains what I've been trying to say. It is by Schaeffer.

Athanasius
Aug 10th 2008, 04:45 AM
This reminds me of the conversion experience of Francis Schaeffer. When hired by an immigrant to help teach the immigrant English, he accidentally ordered some books in Greek philosophy. After reading the Greek philosophy he realized there were questions about the world that he had no answer to. Someone gave him a Bible and he read it from Genesis to Revelation and discovered that Christianity answered the problems left over from Greek philosophy. From that, he accepted Christ.

I'd encourage everyone in this thread - those who agree and disagree - to read True Spirituality which explains what I've been trying to say. It is by Schaeffer.

Going through it right now, actually. Very good book... Very eye opening, actually. Everything he's been saying has been a 'lightbulb' thought. Never would have thought of those things at this point in my life.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 04:49 AM
Going through it right now, actually. Very good book... Very eye opening, actually. Everything he's been saying has been a 'lightbulb' thought. Never would have thought of those things at this point in my life.

It's one of the hidden treasures of Christianity. I've always said (and in speaking with his daughters and son-in-law, they have confirmed I'm right on this) that in order to understand any of his writings, one has to realize that True Spirituality is the foundation for it all.


That book was life changing for me.

Reading through it, then, you probably understand what I'm saying in this topic. You probably understand why I'm saying both reason and experience are on par with each other.

Man I love that book.

Brother Mark
Aug 10th 2008, 04:52 AM
But that's what I've been arguing the entire time.......

Are you and I so far apart on our definition of words that we didn't see we probably agree? Oy.

Probably. I have heard many a very smart preacher preach with little power. I have set under reformed preachers who value mind over spirit and was board out of my mind. I have set under those with no education that preached with power and authority and watched the sick get healed. Is it any wonder our definitions were different?

We do not completely agree but our definitions of words are definitely a problem.

Athanasius
Aug 10th 2008, 04:53 AM
It's one of the hidden treasures of Christianity. I've always said (and in speaking with his daughters and son-in-law, they have confirmed I'm right on this) that in order to understand any of his writings, one has to realize that True Spirituality is the foundation for it all.

That book was life changing for me.

Reading through it, then, you probably understand what I'm saying in this topic. You probably understand why I'm saying both reason and experience are on par with each other.

Man I love that book.

Not to distract the thread... But I'm going to the UK this fall, limited space. True Spirituality and The Francis Schaeffer Collection are for sure coming along. Don't even know if I'll have room for any other books... But those four books? There's a lot to them, don't think I'll be running out of material for a long time.

And yes, I know what you mean.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 04:58 AM
Probably. I have heard many a very smart preacher preach with little power. I have set under reformed preachers who value mind over spirit and was board out of my mind. I have set under those with no education that preached with power and authority and watched the sick get healed. Is it any wonder our definitions were different?

We do not completely agree but our definitions of words are definitely a problem.

Well let me ask you a few questions:

1) Do you think you're letting your experiences affect your interpretation of Scripture?

2) What about those of us that have sat under uneducated pastors and had problems?

3) What does Scripture say about the qualifications of a pastor, regardless of what you experienced?

4) If I've had an experience where the sermon was dry but absolutely truthful and saw people come to Christ, does this negate your experiences?


Not to distract the thread... But I'm going to the UK this fall, limited space. True Spirituality and The Francis Schaeffer Collection are for sure coming along. Don't even know if I'll have room for any other books... But those four books? There's a lot to them, don't think I'll be running out of material for a long time.

Like I said, his writings are a hidden treasure trove. The problem is, he is one of the most misunderstood people out there (even by his own son....though his son does admit to making up some of the stories about his father) and therefore ignored. I think you'll find his writings will help you immensely in your studies in the UK (side note - I might be your neighbor in a few years as I'm looking at graduate schools in Ireland).

Brother Mark
Aug 10th 2008, 05:11 AM
Well let me ask you a few questions:

1) Do you think you're letting your experiences affect your interpretation of Scripture?

When Peter had a vision from God concerning clean and unclean, did he let that impact his interpretation of scripture? God often uses experiences to show us things we did not understand before. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus that radically changed his view of scripture. If one has an experience, best to check it with scripture. But like Peter and Paul, we should not be surprised if our experiences from God change our understanding of scriptures.


2) What about those of us that have sat under uneducated pastors and had problems?Better to sit under a Peter or a Paul than a Caiaphas or an uneducated hireling. But if we look at example, did God select highly educated men or more fishermen? He selected both, but far more plain ole fishermen than educated. That's one thing I see over and over and over again in scripture. He selects the simple things in life. Is education wrong? No. Is it useful? Yes. But if we are to know God, better to spend 40 years in the wilderness like Moses did. Or 40 days like Jesus. Or like David, Joseph or countless other men. We learn from God by spending time with God and going through firey trials. Books can help. But nothing will ever replace the desert experience.


3) What does Scripture say about the qualifications of a pastor, regardless of what you experienced?Pastor is mentioned once in scripture. Would you prefer bishop or elder? Show me where God values formal education in scripture as a means to become qualified. Can it be useful? Sure. Required? No. What he does value, is spending time with Him and learning to have the cross worked in us.


4) If I've had an experience where the sermon was dry but absolutely truthful and saw people come to Christ, does this negate your experiences? Not sure what your getting at here. If the sermon was dry, then it did not have the Living Water of the Holy Spirit involved. But if you mean the delivery was poor, and stale and perhaps staid, then you miss my point. Jonathan Edwards read his sermon, perhaps in a monotone voice, but it had POWER! Was this power because of his education or his holiness? Give me power and authority from God delivered by a holy man that has been to God's university of the desert.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 10th 2008, 05:40 AM
When Peter had a vision from God concerning clean and unclean, did he let that impact his interpretation of scripture? God often uses experiences to show us things we did not understand before. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus that radically changed his view of scripture. If one has an experience, best to check it with scripture. But like Peter and Paul, we should not be surprised if our experiences from God change our understanding of scriptures.


But is it always right to let our experiences dictate our interpretation of the Scriptures? What about Paul saying in Galatians 1:8 that even if we're visited by an angel that gives us a different Gospel, we are to ignore that angel? Obviously, the angel can say, "I am from God to give you a message." This experience would obviously challenge your beliefs (look at what it did for Joseph!). Yet, in this instance we see that Paul is insinuating that we should evaluate our experiences against Scripture and not necessarily let them change how we view Scripture (though sometimes we should - discernment is the key).


Better to sit under a Peter or a Paul than a Caiaphas or an uneducated hireling. But if we look at example, did God select highly educated men or more fishermen? He selected both, but far more plain ole fishermen than educated. That's one thing I see over and over and over again in scripture. He selects the simple things in life. Is education wrong? No. Is it useful? Yes. But if we are to know God, better to spend 40 years in the wilderness like Moses did. Or 40 days like Jesus. Or like David, Joseph or countless other men. We learn from God by spending time with God and going through firey trials. Books can help. But nothing will ever replace the desert experience.

...and yet they didn't remain uneducated.

I have spent time reading Christian intellectualism (which I am also against) that comes in the form of German Higher Criticism. Now, why do I bring this up? The reason is they say that Peter didn't actually write the epistles of Peter because they are so nuanced and educated that a fisherman simply couldn't have written them.

What is interesting is that their analysis is correct. The epistles of Peter are actually structured as though written by someone with a formal education. Their conclusion is severely off however. What we can guess is that the epistles were written later in Peter's life and that he had gained some form of an education. It obviously wouldn't have been formalized, but it would have been been of the same quality of education.


Pastor is mentioned once in scripture. Would you prefer bishop or elder? Show me where God values formal education in scripture as a means to become qualified. Can it be useful? Sure. Required? No. What he does value, is spending time with Him and learning to have the cross worked in us.

I don't think one has to go to college or seminary to be a pastor. I do think, however, one has to have the same quality of education (even if self-taught, or learned along the way) in order to be a bishop or pastor. Look at 1 Timothy - the job of teaching is listed under the qualifications. In the Greek, the teaching refers to both practical skills and theoretical knowledge (that is, knowledge of the mind).

Though he doesn't need to go to seminary, his educational level (even if not formalized) better be pretty high.


Not sure what your getting at here. If the sermon was dry, then it did not have the Living Water of the Holy Spirit involved. But if you mean the delivery was poor, and stale and perhaps staid, then you miss my point. Jonathan Edwards read his sermon, perhaps in a monotone voice, but it had POWER! Was this power because of his education or his holiness? Give me power and authority from God delivered by a holy man that has been to God's university of the desert.
__________________

Why do you keep putting education and reason as opposed or as different than God's power and authority? Where does Scripture differentiate between the two?

Brother Mark
Aug 10th 2008, 06:16 AM
But is it always right to let our experiences dictate our interpretation of the Scriptures? What about Paul saying in Galatians 1:8 that even if we're visited by an angel that gives us a different Gospel, we are to ignore that angel? Obviously, the angel can say, "I am from God to give you a message." This experience would obviously challenge your beliefs (look at what it did for Joseph!). Yet, in this instance we see that Paul is insinuating that we should evaluate our experiences against Scripture and not necessarily let them change how we view Scripture (though sometimes we should - discernment is the key).

Well said brother, well said.


...and yet they didn't remain uneducated. Not in God they didn't. But never a formal education did they receive. But when they preached in power, those around them knew it and were amazed because they were uneducated.


I have spent time reading Christian intellectualism (which I am also against) that comes in the form of German Higher Criticism. Now, why do I bring this up? The reason is they say that Peter didn't actually write the epistles of Peter because they are so nuanced and educated that a fisherman simply couldn't have written them. Perhaps it is intellectualism I am against. I greatly value good thinking. Surely you can see that in my responses. Yet, for many years my thinking led me astray. It took a long time for me to learn how to control my thoughts and to lead my thoughts instead of having my thoughts control me and lead me. Anyway, I see God railing against knowledge without Him often in scripture. And today, I see far more preachers than think they are qualified based on education instead of based on time in the desert and life experiences. When God speaks of qualifications he also mentions experience of family, etc.

John the Baptist spent his life in the desert, 30 years or so, for a 6 months ministry. And we take kids after 4 years of college and ask them to preach. Moses spent 40 years being educated in Egypt and killed a man. Only after 40 years in the desert with God did God think he was finally qualified and equipped to lead his people to freedom.



What is interesting is that their analysis is correct. The epistles of Peter are actually structured as though written by someone with a formal education. Their conclusion is severely off however. What we can guess is that the epistles were written later in Peter's life and that he had gained some form of an education. It obviously wouldn't have been formalized, but it would have been been of the same quality of education.One education he did receive was the sifting of the enemy. His lack of education did not prevent him from saying "that which I have I give thee, take up your bed and walk". He probably learned much from Paul as he said in his letters that Paul was difficult to understand. My guess is their time together was where he learned how to write.


I don't think one has to go to college or seminary to be a pastor. I do think, however, one has to have the same quality of education (even if self-taught, or learned along the way) in order to be a bishop or pastor. Look at 1 Timothy - the job of teaching is listed under the qualifications. In the Greek, the teaching refers to both practical skills and theoretical knowledge (that is, knowledge of the mind).Nothing wrong with learning. Let us learn of God and the Holy Spirit and teach others what we have learned.


Though he doesn't need to go to seminary, his educational level (even if not formalized) better be pretty high. Better that his understanding of the Lord and the ways of God be high. If that is what you mean by education, then I agree. If you simply mean that he needs to be able to think clearly about philosophy, then I disagree. Moses was full of education from Egypt, yet it did not prepare him for leading Israel to freedom. What prepared him was the time he spent in the desert learning from God. His experiences in the desert taught him much that Egypt could not. The same with Paul's education from Ciaiphas. Later Paul spent, what? 13 years in Arabia having the cross of Christ worked in him and learning from God. This is the education to value! Not punctuation, or spelling, etc. Those things are good. But they do not prepare a man for great ability to minister. They do not teach him how to say "Take up your bed and walk" or how to have faith and trust in God when there is nothing other than the word of God to stand on. Until a man has been through the desert of life and learned to say no to the boastful pride of life, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, then he is not so useful in the ministry.

What I am saying can be summed up in this sentence... better to eat from the Tree of Life than from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating from the Tree of Life is educational but does not puff up and is useful when speaking to a widow with 1 child about where her next meal is going to come from when you have no money to help her either. As we hear God, perhaps we can say "make me a meal first and then you and the child will eat" and she will be fed through a great famine.


Why do you keep putting education and reason as opposed or as different than God's power and authority? Where does Scripture differentiate between the two?Scripture often speaks about the difference between wisdom and power.

1 Cor 2:3-5
4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
NASB

When "Sinners in the hand of an angry God" was preached, it was preached by a highly educated man! But it was Jonathon Edwards walk with God and the Spirit behind that message that made it powerful. Peter, an unlearned man preached with power.

What I am getting at is education is not necessary to power. But the right education is very useful. Apollos was pulled aside and educated in the way by Priscillia and Aquilla.

Education does not equate to power and authority. That is the point I want to make very clear. One can be educated or uneducated and still have great power! God used Paul's education. He used Peter's uneducated persona to win a multitude. They were amazed at his power even though he was uneducated.

My bottom line, give me a man that knows God and experiences him daily whether he has a formal education or not. If he doesn't know God and has not had major experiences with the Lord and gone through the desert with him, then why would I wish to hear him speak whether he is educated or not?

What man of God in scripture that was truly a man of God did not have amazing experiences with God and did not have a desert time with him as well?

KATA_LOUKAN
Aug 10th 2008, 11:39 PM
Side note -

Are you flying that flag to represent Syria or the United Arab Republic?

Syria only. I don't believe that a greater Syria needs to form right now.


As for the flaw in Islam, it's in their acceptance of the Aristotelean view of God. Though it is not purely Aristotelean (I believe it was Al-Farabi that brought in Neo-Platonic themes to Islam), it does put an emphasis on a transcendent god (which is why it is an angel that has Mohammed recite and not the god of Islam manifested in flesh that talks to Mohammed).

The problem is we know from creation that God is involved in creation. We know that God is personal because we are personal. How can this be if God is solely transcendent?

I take it that you believe in Young Earth or Old Earth creationism?

Anyway, Islam describes God as actively creating the world and mankind. Also, Islam very clearly describes God as thwarting the will of humans who try to go against his purpose (Sura 105).

I'm not as well read on Islamic philosophy as you are, but in the purely religious Islam (i.e. not scholarly, just like Christian philosophy is not entirely Christian) God is an active force in the world.

I would be curious to know why you believe that more philosophical people are not Christians.

apothanein kerdos
Aug 11th 2008, 12:06 AM
I take it that you believe in Young Earth or Old Earth creationism?

Anyway, Islam describes God as actively creating the world and mankind. Also, Islam very clearly describes God as thwarting the will of humans who try to go against his purpose (Sura 105).


Are you a Muslim?

My point that I was attempting to make is that every religion and thought system - outside of Christianity - will fail to explain the world as it is. Islam falls under this category.


I would be curious to know why you believe that more philosophical people are not Christians.

Actually, there is a revival in Christian philosophy in America. One atheist scholar believes that conservative evangelicals might make up approximately 30% of the PhD in philosophy seeking students in the United States (he also believes about 20% of all philosophy professors are conservative evangelicals). I believe the number might be inflated, but it's not overly so. For instance, the latest strides in philosophy, at least in the last 30 years, have been predominately from conservative evangelical Christians. Plantinga's "free will defense," and warrant theory have yet to be properly responded to and have, in fact, almost been accepted wholesale. Craig's revival of the Islamic Kalaam Ontological argument is also making a come back. In fact, the only philosophical attacks in Christianity that have withstood scrutiny have come in the form of pop culture philosophy. At the academic level Christianity is actually considered a plausible theory. This plausibility, of course, is leading many to look into it and some are subsequently converting.

BroRog
Aug 11th 2008, 12:26 AM
Are you a Muslim?

My point that I was attempting to make is that every religion and thought system - outside of Christianity - will fail to explain the world as it is. Islam falls under this category.



Actually, there is a revival in Christian philosophy in America. One atheist scholar believes that conservative evangelicals might make up approximately 30% of the PhD in philosophy seeking students in the United States (he also believes about 20% of all philosophy professors are conservative evangelicals). I believe the number might be inflated, but it's not overly so. For instance, the latest strides in philosophy, at least in the last 30 years, have been predominately from conservative evangelical Christians. Plantinga's "free will defense," and warrant theory have yet to be properly responded to and have, in fact, almost been accepted wholesale. Craig's revival of the Islamic Kalaam Ontological argument is also making a come back. In fact, the only philosophical attacks in Christianity that have withstood scrutiny have come in the form of pop culture philosophy. At the academic level Christianity is actually considered a plausible theory. This plausibility, of course, is leading many to look into it and some are subsequently converting.

My teacher John A. Crabtree did his doctoral thesis on Plantiga, I believe. If you ask him, he might give you a copy of his thesis for your studies. Or, barring that, he might answer some questions via e-mail.

You can contact him at Gutenberg College, the address you can find on google.

KATA_LOUKAN
Aug 11th 2008, 05:40 PM
Are you a Muslim?

My point that I was attempting to make is that every religion and thought system - outside of Christianity - will fail to explain the world as it is. Islam falls under this category.No, I am not a Muslim. I am a Christian, although I often clarify important parts of Islam that I feel are not communicated in discussions.

What is the failure in orthodox Islam? Aside from the work of Philosophers, it seems as though many people actually believe that Christianity cannot explain the world, and subsequently resort to Islam. Many of the objections raised against Christianity by contemporary Islamic philosophers involve the field of textual criticism of the Bible.

Just out of curiosity, do you hold that:

1. The earth was formed by the process of Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, or theistic evolution?

2. The Old Testament stories are to be interpreted literally or figuratively?

It seems it would be a better goal to find what is perfect and right about Christianity. I could, theoretically, create a religion that could explain the world better than Christianity, but would that make it objectively true? Just look at religions like Scientology.


Actually, there is a revival in Christian philosophy in America. One atheist scholar believes that conservative evangelicals might make up approximately 30% of the PhD in philosophy seeking students in the United States (he also believes about 20% of all philosophy professors are conservative evangelicals). I believe the number might be inflated, but it's not overly so. For instance, the latest strides in philosophy, at least in the last 30 years, have been predominately from conservative evangelical Christians. Plantinga's "free will defense," and warrant theory have yet to be properly responded to and have, in fact, almost been accepted wholesale. Craig's revival of the Islamic Kalaam Ontological argument is also making a come back. In fact, the only philosophical attacks in Christianity that have withstood scrutiny have come in the form of pop culture philosophy. At the academic level Christianity is actually considered a plausible theory. This plausibility, of course, is leading many to look into it and some are subsequently converting.That is an interesting theory, although my experience with Philosophers at the post-graduate level has been almost entirely a journey into atheism.

Side Note: This thread has been one of the best I have seen in a long time.

Thanks for sharing this!

apothanein kerdos
Aug 12th 2008, 05:16 AM
My teacher John A. Crabtree did his doctoral thesis on Plantiga, I believe. If you ask him, he might give you a copy of his thesis for your studies. Or, barring that, he might answer some questions via e-mail.

You can contact him at Gutenberg College, the address you can find on google.

I would certainly appreciate it. I've actually been discoursing with Plantinga for a thesis I'm writing, so that has been beneficial. However, it is always helpful to get people's opinions about a person's work because they are less likely to become defensive when questioned. :)

Kata,


What is the failure in orthodox Islam? Aside from the work of Philosophers, it seems as though many people actually believe that Christianity cannot explain the world, and subsequently resort to Islam. Many of the objections raised against Christianity by contemporary Islamic philosophers involve the field of textual criticism of the Bible.


Islam forces a person to go against the imago Dei. It forces us to treat our neighbors and our women in a way that simply doesn't seem right. Our gut reaction is that the subjection of women in Islam is simply wrong (such as honor killings).

As for what people believe about Christianity - you are free to point out where you think it's weak and doesn't accurate explain the world.


It seems it would be a better goal to find what is perfect and right about Christianity. I could, theoretically, create a religion that could explain the world better than Christianity, but would that make it objectively true? Just look at religions like Scientology.

Name one that explains the world better than Christianity. If you can't, then create one that explains the world better than Christianity, but is also logically consistent with reality.


That is an interesting theory, although my experience with Philosophers at the post-graduate level has been almost entirely a journey into atheism.

Most assuredly, but it doesn't discount the fact that there is a huge rise of evangelical Christians entering the PhD realm of philosophy. At the current rates it is expected (and this comes from a philosophical journal) that evangelicals may make up almost half of the student population in graduate programs in the next 20 years.

Theophilus
Aug 12th 2008, 07:01 PM
Unlocked, per mod review