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Archive for June 5th, 2014

how-can-i-know-for-sure

 

Two weeks ago I posted videos related to a booklet series of Christian Answers to Hard Questions Series by Westminster Theological Seminary.  I’ve enjoyed reading these booklets and hope to eventually review them all.  I find them to be helpful tools as introductory discipleship on a Christian worldview from a Reformed and Van Tillian perspective.

It can be purchased for a discounted cost if you click HERE.

Here’s my review of David Garner’s How Can I know for Sure?

The book begin by noting the problem with how philosophy and religion often fail to answer the most fundamental questions in life.  Concerning philosophy, the author observed the difficulty of rationalism with trusting in our intellectual powers that suffer insurmountable limitations while with empiricism it leaves us trusting in our experience but then we can’t experience everything.  Religion, like philosophy has often failed to give answers that transcend mere human speculation.

The book then addresses our need for God’s revelation in order to answer life’s important questions.  I was happy that the author approached the issue of epistemology theologically and managed to talk about the concept of man’s suppression of the truth, and the self-attesting revelation of God.  Here we find in the book a very good definition of self-attesting:  “we mean that is authority cannot be measured by comparison to something outside itself, because as God’s voice it possesses final authority.”  I also appreciated the book bringing the doctrine of illumination to bear in answering the question of how we can know for sure what Scripture has to say.  Of course handling the subject of certainty and theory of knowledge from a Reformed and Van Tillian perspective will inevitably lead to the discussion of circular reasoning.  The author notes here that the certainty we get from Scripture isn’t a “woodenly” circular reasoning (I just thought of the adjective “woodenly” right now); but theologically the position is more nuance, in that it’s the Spirit’s testimony to the Scripture.  I also appreciate the author’s discussion of circularity in terms of a moral dimension in which he noted that the sinful circularity of unbelief that reasons in darkness and autonomously.

In terms of constructive criticism I wished the author could have spent more time showing how empiricism and rationalism failed.  The booklet has great footnotes.  When he made passing reference to the fact of the Bible’s fulfilled prophecies, fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah and the basic reliability of the Bible, I don’t think it’s fair to demand he fleshed that out for a small booklet (not to mention it would become another book than on certainty of knowledge for a Christian); but I think it would help footnoting further references.  I heard the author’s interview of this booklet over at Reformed Forum and felt the interview covered other grounds people might be asking that the limitation of a booklet presents.  It might be helpful to read the book and listen to the interview.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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