I appreciate Kent’s patience with my slow response. My studies have kept me quite busy.

I’ll start with a few brief comments:

  1. I’m glad that Kent has written on this topic in some detail. I believe this issue may be the most important issue our generation addresses.
  2. I’m glad that Kent has written on this topic because I believe he’s a good representative of his point of view and has the ability to bring the issue to the attention of more people.
  3. I hope this post is not perceived as “blog wars.” It is not intended to be. My goal is for sharpening on both sides.
  4. Several commenters on the original post stated that I need to be born again because of my position on this and other issues. I’m disappointed that Kent didn’t call foul.

This is a response to Kent’s part two and part three. I’ll deal with Kent’s points under his own general topic segments.

Part two

epistemology-5

“The promise of God”

Kent deals with the topic of faith as foundational. On this we can agree. But I’ll point out that Thomas, Abraham, Noah, Joshua, and Naaman all had the responsibility to presuppose the existence and revelation of God.

Christianity knows nothing of “blind faith.” Our faith must always be in “the promise of God” (Romans 4:20). In other words, there is nothing irrational about such a faith. It is super-rational. It admits the limitations of human rationality and submits to a divine rationale.

Divinely revealed presuppositions

I completely agree with Kent’s point here, but I believe his conclusions are inaccurate. I want to point out two:

1. Kent says “We can only know what God says we can know.” I would amend it as follows: “We can only know absolutely what God says we can know.” More on this under point two.

2. Kent says “The Mariana Trench was the deepest seafloor depression before anyone had measured it. Only God knows what is.” My question is, how does Kent know the Mariana Trench is the deepest seafloor depression? God has not revealed it. We measured it!

He goes on to say “Because of that, only God is trustworthy as a source of knowledge” (emphasis mine). His own statement disproves this point. Measuring the Trench is a source of knowledge. It’s not absolute knowledge. But it is knowledge and it is trustworthy to the degree that Kent felt comfortable citing it.

How we know what God preserved

As noted several times, I will not be addressing this particular issue here. I feel that by making immediate application to a controversial issue, Kent has muddied the waters by bringing in a whole different set of arguments that would require independent handling. I’m disappointed that Kent has chosen not to deal with epistemology independently as I believe it has hampered the objectivity of those who are wrestling with these ideas for the first time.

Two kinds of truth

epistemology-6Kent’s point here is predicated on the idea that there are two kinds of truth. This point is inherently illogical. It is possible to highlight specific or even absolute truth, but there is only one kind of truth.

This reality is captured in the maxim “All truth is God’s truth.”

You cannot argue that because something was revealed in Scripture to be true that it is more true than something which is true but not revealed in Scripture (eg. the depth of the Mariana Trench). It’s truthfulness is independent of our source of it. Granted, our level of clarity and confidence is influenced by the source of truth (i.e. God’s Word vs. measuring), but there is only one truth: God’s truth.

Part three

Enlightenment

enlightenmentKent deals here with broader worldviews. The broader worldview of the pre-Enlightenment world was not biblical. It was superstitious blind faith. The problem with the Enlightenment is not that it challenged people to look at evidence rationally, but that it did not always presuppose the absolute truth and authority of God’s Word in that process.

The problem with the Enlightenment is that men did not presuppose God and his absolute revelation in all their thoughts. There is nothing wrong with an “age of reason” if that reason is always subject to God’s absolute revealed truth. In fact, it is wicked to throw away the rational capability that God has entrusted to us in favour of simplistic, blind “faith.”

Dialecticism

Dialectic is merely finite beings trying to find absolute truth when they’ve already rejected God’s revealed absolute truth. To represent me as throwing out Scriptural authority in favour of the authority of reason is to present a straw man argument.

I am a Presuppositionalist. The presupposition of the ultimate authority of God’s Word is fundamental to who I am. It is the logical branch on which I sit. It is the transcendent reality in which I function. It is who I am.

And Presuppositionalism doesn’t preclude Evidentialism because I’m not claiming that Evidentialism is a source of absolute truth. Scripture always trumps reason. This is fundamental to the Christian faith.

Before The Enlightenment

As noted above, I won’t deal with those comments (the bulk of this post) which narrow in on a particular issue because there is a completely different set of issues involved in that argument, not the least of which are matters of fact.

But I will make one point here which has to do with your understanding of Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Scripture is our only authority in all matters of faith and practice. It means that Scripture is our ultimate/final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

This distinction is crucial and I believe it largely dismantles your arguement.

Warfield

While I won’t get into this discussion here, I would suggest that there is much material published by fundamentalists on both sides of this issue. The believer who is genuinely seeking the truth will consider writings from both sides.

Conclusion

This is not an attack on Kent’s epistemology. Nor is it a defense for my epistemology. It is merely a critique of Kent’s three part series. If you’re interested in understanding my epistemology, you can get a brief overview by following the links below:

Epistemology and Other Irrelevant Stuff
An Introduction to Evidentialism
A Look at Presuppositionalism
Three Propositions on Rationality
Some Conclusions

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About Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.

6 Comments

  1. Jolita 24 April, 2009 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    “Kent says “We can only know what God says we can know.” I would amend it as follows: “We can only know absolutely what God says we can know.””
    Perhaps it would be better to say, we can only know what God ‘allows’ us to know. Thence there are things that Scripture reveals to us and there are things like the Mariana Trench that we can discover for ourselves. Both are truth and although Scripture is the more absolute because it is directly from God. We are also able to learn truth for ourselves, but because man is finite and mistake-prone this version of truth can often be mistaken too. Both are in a sense, God’s truth because God allows us to discover them.
    I agree that presuppositionalism on the ultimate authority of God is a fundamental to our faith. If there is no ultimate authority, then there can be no absolutes.

  2. Kent Brandenburg 24 April, 2009 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    At some point I was preparing to write on “All Truth Is God’s Truth.” Stay tuned.

    Regarding defending whether you are saved or not, it isn’t for me to proclaim that. I don’t tell anyone that he’s saved, not even one my own children. You were welcome to refute what others said on my blog. I don’t know everyone that comments on the blog, even ones that do agree with me.

  3. Jolita 25 April, 2009 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    – “Quite simply Jason and other open and avowed textual critics need to repent and be born again.” –
    “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned;…” – Luke 6:37
    Presuming to say someone is not saved is to judge and condemn them. In fact, to make such an affirmation is to play God. I’d say that’s pretty serious in and of itself. So who’s in need of repentance?

  4. Kent Brandenburg 25 April, 2009 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Preach it to me Jolita (1 Cor 14:29-35; 1 Tim 2:9-15). Except that I didn’t make the statement about Jason. Someone else made it in the comment section of my blog. He wanted me to defend him there. I’m not far off in what I believe about Rev 22:18-19 from then. I would reserve it for the unbelievers that are involved in making the critical text. However, the commenters in question are just giving their interp of Rev 22:18-19, and that’s how they see it. Look at those two verses.

    I think if someone knows he’s saved, he’s not going to be knocked off stride by someone saying he’s not. Jason will be OK. I see it as about rhetorical points, because there have been plenty of arguments at both the blogs I write at, and I don’t step in and take a side every time. I don’t endorse everything that anyone says in the comment section of the blog.

  5. Jolita 25 April, 2009 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Eeeks, wasn’t preaching to you, bro. Not exactly biblical to preach anyway – as I’m a girl! Lol, sorry if you took that the wrong way. I certainly didn’t intend to preach at you – more just a general defense of Jason’s salvation. It wasn’t in any way aimed at you! Sorry.

  6. Jolita 25 April, 2009 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    However this is not a church and who said that girls weren’t allowed to comment! Sorry if I missed the ‘guys only’ memo!

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