Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Can We Know Of The Truth?

This is the biggest question of our day. Here is what John Armstrong with my thoughts (in italics) has to say about the subject:

"Propostional" Truth, "Objective" Truth and the Debate About What We Know and How We Know It

God chose to reveal himself ultimately through Jesus Christ. (I agree.) This does not mean, however, that he did not also use words. Jesus is the ultimate "truth" but this does not mean there is no other truth source. We encounter Christ via revelation but this comes through the Holy Scriptures. (I have to add this revelation through the scriptures happens via the Holy Spirit as Jesus is God's self-revelation to man and we encounter this Spirit in the scriptures through an act of the Divine Mediating Agent of Grace.) This involves both our mind and our heart. (And spirit.) I have said the same over and over again but some still think I am saying something that I am not saying thus they regularly challenge my approach to theology and truth. Several comments that have appeared recently on the posts made on this site have chosen to hear me only with an epistemology that is modern and, in my judgment, very flawed. It would take a course in epistemology to sort all this out and this is not the place to teach such a course. I would suggest the following readings with which I have a great degree of sympathy:

1. Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? James K. A. Smith (Baker)

2. How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith, Crystal L. Downing (IVP)

3. The Myth of Certainty, Daniel Taylor (IVP)

4. Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People, Esther Lightcap Meek (Brazos)

5. The Drama of Doctrine, Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Westminster/John Knox)

These books will give you a very good insight into how I am using terms and why philosophy cannot be divorced (entirely) from these commonly used words that we all assume have a meaning we completely agree upon as Christians.

There are two elephants in the room: truth and proposition. Truth, fundamentally, comes only from the One who is Truth. It is rooted in revelation. Human ideas never perfectly conform to that Truth, never. Truth is grace, truth comes by grace, never by reason. This is basic to my epistemology.

This indeed is the emerging paradigm that the church finds itself in. Read on:

Some who post have asked me a number of questions. I have provided a framework for my thought process, but not explicit answers. Am I dodging the questions. The tone of these posts suggests that I am. We are back to the notion that I am hiding something and thus I am dangerous.

Do I believe in inspiration? Of course I do. Do I believe the Bible is trustworthy? Most certainly. And where does anyone ever get the idea that I am suggesting we cannot rely upon written Scripture? I never asserted anything of the kind, not even close. The reason I do not answer all of these suspicious questions is that they reveal the questioner doesn't understand what I am actually saying and wants to prove me wrong by using a check list of various "objective" truths. We have a different theological method but I doubt we disagree about the core truths of Christianity at all. So why bother? For one reason, we need a more humble approach to knowing if we are to be effective in the world we now find ourselves in. (I am not calling my opponents arrogant people! Read the statement clearly.)

We can know God in Jesus Christ with deep assurance. We can know this with our minds and our hearts both. What I deny is the kind of certitude that is associated with modernistic philosophy, which is in the background of a great deal of "evangelical" epistemology, thus my repeated statements about "we" and so forth.

Again, I am happy to say more, time permitting, but interested and fair-minded readers can see that I am not denying the truth of confessional Christianity in the least but rather denying some of the ways we argue for it and about it. I reject the method of many conservatives, and their epistemology, but not the faith in any meaningful sense.

Read The Full Post: Here or Here.

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