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Archive for the ‘Special Revelation’ Category

Foundations for theology

This is a four part audio series on the foundations for theology that was given before exploring further the various doctrines of God.  The audios are in MP3 format and I’ve included the PDF of the outlines to follow along as well.

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How has God revealed Himself? Part 1

question theology foundation

Here in this fourth and final outline of this series we are in part two of how has God made Himself known.

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question mark

Over on Facebook a question was asked:

How would you respond to an atheist who said that he presupposes the laws of logic as descriptions of reality? Consequently, it’s not that they have any justification, they are just part of the way things are. Is there a contradiction in such a view?

Here’s my take:

There might not be an obvious contradiction at the surface level of the atheist statement but I do think his claim faces tension with other beliefs he might hold.

1.) I think I would begin by saying that in agreement with him I too presuppose that the laws of logic are “descriptions of reality” but I would press him on how is it that he as a finite being cannot know that without a revelational epistemology (one which situate properly basic beliefs and intuition in the context of General and Special revelation).  Can he say the laws of logic are “descriptions of reality” and claim that “they are just part of the way things are” if he hasn’t experienced all of reality?

Finite Infinite problem

 

2.) We must be acutely aware of the naturalistic fallacy of confusing “is” with “ought.”  In order for the laws of logic to be functional it is not enough to presuppose that the laws of logic are descriptive.  I think I would also press him to see if he thinks the laws of logic are “merely” descriptive.  There is also a prescriptive aspect to the laws of logic governing our thoughts; for example, when someone gives a logically sound argument with true premises that individual is saying to himself and others that they are obligated to accept the conclusion.  We must not make the fallacious jump from “is” to “ought.”

3.) I am not going to rehearse the whole discussion here but in light of my second point I would also also say that the standard Presuppositional arguments apply here concerning the problem of norms being unintelligible and meaningless in a non-Christian worldview given that the nature of the laws of logic is also prescriptive.

4.) I’m sometimes amazed at how much an atheist can sound like a Van Tillian when he asserts that the laws of logic are descriptions of reality.  When pressed often the answer I hear is that they say we need the laws of logic because it just is the case and that without the laws of logic nothing else makes sense.  The argument here is Transcendental in nature, just like the Transcendental Argument the Presuppositionalist use.  My observation here is that an atheist in this scenario doesn’t reject the form of the Transcendental argument a Christian use since they employ it themselves.  If they reject TAG the very arguments can be used as a self-defeater to those who claim he can just presupposes the laws of logic as descriptions of reality.  But we are not left with two equally plausible alternative between God and atheism after the two Transcendental arguments have been given; we must remember the problems described in point one through three that is stacked against an atheism that presupposes the laws of logic as descriptions of reality.

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John_Frame

What is the role of Scripture and extrabiblical data in light of the sufficiency of Scripture?

I appreciate John Frame’s definition of the sufficiency of Scripture not as “sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words” with the note that “Scripture contains divine words sufficient for all of life.” (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 157).  I think this definition is helpful because it allows us to delineates the use of Biblical and extra-biblical data in knowing and doing things as Frame explained in this extended quote:

If you remember that the sufficiency of Scripture is a sufficiency of divine words, that will help us to understand the role of extrabiblical data, both in ethics and theology.  People sometimes misunderstand the doctrine of sufficiency by thinking that it excludes the use of any extrabiblical information in reaching ethical conclusions.  But if we exclude the use of extrabiblical information, then ethical reflection is next to impossible.

Scripture itself recognizes this point.  As I said earlier, the inscriptional curses does not forbid seeking extrabiblical information.  Rather, they forbid us to equate extrabiblical information with divine words.  Scripture itself requires us to correlate what it says with general revelation.  When God told Adam to abstain from the forbidden fruit, he assumed that Adam already had general knowledge, sufficient to apply that command to the trees that he could see and touch.  God didn’t need to tell Adam what a tree was, how to distinguish fruits from leaves, or what it meant to eat.  These these were natural knowledge.  So God expected Adam to correlate the specific divine prohibition concerning one tree to his natural knowledge of the trees in the garden.  This is theology as application: applying God’s word to our circumstances.

The same is true for all divine commands in Scripture.  When God tells Israel to honor their fathers and mothers, he does not bother to define ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and to set forth an exhaustive list of things that may honor or dishonor them.  Rather, God assumed that Israel have some general knowledge of family life, and he expects them to apply his commands to that knowledge.”

(John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 163).

Some of the highlights I put in bold font.

I think Frame is building upon the observation that I first read from the apologist Cornelius Van Til of the need of general and special revelation being inter-dependent.  God’s Special Revelation always interpret His General Revelation and extrabiblical information; but note here that Special Revelation assumes that there are extrabiblical information out there; moreover, it will never contradict God’s special revelation.

For more quotes from John Frame, I invite you to “like” our blog’s face book page which will be featuring daily morning quotes from Frame’s book, The Doctrine of the Christian Life.

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The Reformed Forum is a great website filled with great resources on all things Reformed (systematic theology, biblical theology, historical theology, philosophy and apologetics!).  No doubt many of you have probably enjoyed their show and discussions.

I’ve listened to an episode of their podcasts in which they interviewed Westminster’s professor of apologetics, Scott Oliphint on Cornelius Van Til’s 1946 essay titled “Nature and Scripture.”  I thought Oliphint’s exposition of Van Til was excellent and a must-listen.  Well now that I just discovered that Reformed Forum also had this show in video format, it’s also a must-see.  Enjoy!

One last note.  Towards the end of the show, Scott Oliphint mentioned that he has been working for years with P&R on a new edition of Van Til’s last work, “Common Grace and the Gospel” with Oliphint’s commentary.  This sounds like it will be similiar to Oliphint’s comments in the fourth edition of Van Til’s “The Defense of the Faith.”  I can’t wait for it to come out–not only because my old copy is falling apart but also because I want to benefit from Oliphint’s insight and explanation.

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Systematic Theology Outlines

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Latest Trinity Review feature portions from a new reprint of Gordon Clark’s “In Defense of Theology” that is now published by John Robbins of Trinity Foundation

See the Trinity Review in PDF file here:

http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/270-InDefenseofTheology.pdf

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