Epistemological Self-Consciousness, Intellectual Theonomy

What kind of a worldview does a wren exhibit when it sees the neighbor’s cat crouching in preparation to pounce and flies to the nearest telephone line? Is the bird’s knowledge of the feline species somehow diminished because he can’t theorize about his knowledge of cats and their objects of backyard prey?

What about a baseball player who can spot the difference between a curve and a four-seam fastball, all within a nanosecond, and swing his bat while uncoiling his body to launch the baseball into the right field stands? If the batter can’t explain his theory of hitting, if the Phillies won’t hire him when he retires to be a hitting coach, does that make his knowledge of crushing mistake pitches illegitimate? Does every batter have to be a Ted Williams for his hits to be certain and his runs-batted-in certified? Did Richie Allen not win the American League MVP for 1972 because he could not theorize about what he did in the batter’s box?

I have contemplated these two sets of questions recently while continuing my reflections on neo-Calvinism, worldview thinking, and a certain sector of the Reformed world’s infatuation with philosophy. Countless times I have encountered the argument that someone’s knowledge is not really knowledge because they have no epistemological foundation for it. The public high school teacher may be able to teach algebra but because she doesn’t know where the truths of math come from, she doesn’t really understand math. Or the elected official may understand that human life should be protected and vote for harsher penalties for manslaughter but unless he understands that human beings are created in the image of God, his vote is inauthentic.

Perhaps the best bumper sticker expression of this outlook comes from the Greg Bahnsen quotation that adorns Rabbi Bret’s blog:

In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God’s revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything.

But as the two examples above indicate, creatures have knowledge and understanding of the created order all the time without being able to give a theoretical account of such ideas or activities. Why isn’t knowledge of math and batting the human equivalent of the instincts and cunning that birds show when fleeing cats? Granted, human beings are more than natural; we have souls, minds, language capacities. But even these higher ranges of human existence are part and parcel of the way human beings operate on planet earth. Those higher ranges are natural to human beings. I see no compelling reason why we need to spiritualize of philosophize human activities that are simply analogous to what other creatures do.

Some neo-Calvinists and theonomists will object that such an understanding of human activity denies God and the relationship that all people have with him by virtue of creation. In other words, human beings should do everything that they do to the glory of God. To fail to connect the dots between algebra and doxology is to operate in a world of autonomy from God.

One possible response is to say that God may be as delighted by the batter’s ability to hit the ball as he is by the wren’s capacity to elude the cat. Which is to say that human beings in their creatureliness, in the games they play, the poems they memorize, the bridges they build, and the voyages they take, delight God because he created human beings precisely with the capacity to do these things. And if all of creation can praise to God, from the movement of the stars to the way cats clean themselves, then why can’t human life in its naturalness also give God glory as creator whether or not a human being is engaging in eating or playing or learning self-consciously to the glory of God. Why can’t it be the case that even despite the sinful natures that afflict all people, their existence and range of activities as created beings delight God simply as the fulfillment of his creation and providence in the same way that creatures without souls also give glory to God in accomplishing the ends for which they were created?

Of course, the paleo-Calvinist answers to these questions seem plausible to this paleo-Calvinist, but I would also venture an example from the spiritual world that could throw a wrench into the seemingly perpetual philosophical motion machine of neo-Calvinists. Aside from the batter or the wren, what about the regenerate believer who can’t tell the difference between Plato and Kant? What about the Christian who is not given to self-consciousness? Is his plumbing any less valuable or virtuous because he can’t conceive of a philosophically coherent system that will explain how his knowledge of the leak and his experience with fixing such leaks depends upon the ontological Trinity? If he simply begins his day asking for God’s blessing, thanks God for strength and sustenance, goes about his job, provides for his family, and leads family worship – that is, if he simply goes about his routine and seeks to honor his maker, but cannot fathom the theories that would turn his activities into the self-actualized doings of an epistemologically self-conscious believer, does that make his knowledge of plumbing, his love of family, and his enjoyment of pizza invalid?

I hope not.

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662 thoughts on “Epistemological Self-Consciousness, Intellectual Theonomy

  1. Would you care to quote any neocalvinists? You’ve accused neocalvinism, but totally failed to back it up (as usual).

    Your inaccurate generalizations and straw men about neocalvinism are so lame.

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  2. Baus, are you really meaning to say that neo-Calvinism does not emphasize epistemological self-consciousness? Or have I somehow misread how important it is to neo-Calvinists? Either way, going all the way back to Van Prinsterer, the anti-Revolutionary crowd has castigated autonomous human reason and insisted that thought must begin with God and correct belief.

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  3. What, the Red Sox don’t have enough problems after their epic collapse? Now the greatest hitter of all time is a worldviewist?

    You Calvinists are mean.

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  4. I should probably rephrase that a bit: maybe contemplating and figuring out time gets relegated to something less than our top priority along with all forms of epistemological self-consciousness. The bug can bite anyone with a philosophical bent and lead one right into Alices wonderland.

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  5. “perpetual philosophical motion machine.” very nice.

    Lily, since I haven’t reached full emotional resolution of my Red Sox issues, I’ll watch that tonight, kick the neighbor’s cat, then be ready to be sucked into the promise of Spring when pitchers start throwing.

    BTW, that youtube clip will put me in such a state of frenzy that I won’t be fully philosophizing about the wrongness of kicking the neighbor’s cat, so I don’t think it will actually be sin.

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  6. Ooops, MM – sorry about being as clear as mud. The theme song was directed towards the epistemological self-consciousness, intellectual theonomy, neo-cal types (my brain is still stressed from Driscoll mania) Not my suffering baseball friends – may God deliver you from your misery and renew your hope for next spring. 😉

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  7. Van Til distinguished between epistemological and psychological features of knowledge. For him, epistemology involved providing an account of what you know. That’s where the epistemological self-consciousness comes in. Unbelievers can and do know many things—often many more than believers. Yet, there is no possibility for accounting for that knowledge since they do not rest it upon the Triune God of the Bible.

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  8. Maybe we can start with a clear definition of epistemological self-consciousness for those less familiar with Van Til. I have tried to read Van Til and I found my ability to cope with him last about 5 pages. As an example, try reading his introduction to Warfield’s, THE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE.

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  9. Notice how Dr. Hart intentionally tries to discredit Van Til by linking him to someone he considers evil, Dr. Bahnsen. Dr. Hart could have chosen any number of Van Til’s systematizers to quote who would have said the same thing as Dr. Bahnsen, but that would have not received the kind of reaction and muddied water that Dr. Hart was seeking. He also does so by quoting someone who Dr. Hart considers to be a Judaizer and a Gospel denier, Rev. Bret McAtee thereby doubly attempting to poison the water.

    One wonders if Dr. Hart could have made the same point without using these tactics?

    One also wonders if a “paleo-Calvinist” that disagrees with John Calvin on so much can really call himself a “paleo-Calvinist”? Especially on the issue at hand.

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  10. Dr. Hart:

    Mr. Bucey beat me to it: your criticisms of epistemological self-consciousness seem to hit Van Til pretty hard.

    What do you see as Van Til’s relationship (if any) to the neo-Cal’s and theonomists?

    I have my own ideas, but I’m curious to hear what you think.

    Ken

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  11. Benjamin, I’m not saying you are wrong, but where, pray tell, is Dr. Hart opposed to Calvin on this subject? Just curious.

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  12. Jeremy,

    From Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:18:

    “The apostle does not ask us to make a total surrender of the wisdom which is either innate or acquired by long experience. He only asks that we subjugate it to God, so that all our wisdom might be derived from His Word.”

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  13. Camden, thanks. But the problem I have with this is that the Bible doesn’t teach epistemology the way that philosophy does. I know, I know, the Bible has implications for epistemology. But the Greeks started the engines of philosophy and the Christians were interlopers. I also suspect that idealism got lots of its traction among secular philosophers before the Dutch Reformed appropriated it. So while epistemology might do a lot for philosophers, for historians origins of methods and patterns of thought matter. I’m not saying history is more important than philosophy but I’m not sure the neo-Cal’s recognize that philosophy is different from exegesis.

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  14. Ben, what’s with all the political intrigue? I bring up that the Baylys link to your blog and you shrug your shoulders. So why not actually address the issue. I’m not thinking of Van Til in this post, btw. I’m thinking of Kuyper and before him, Van Prinsterer. Van Til was hardly the first Dutch theologian to rail against autonomous reason.

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  15. Ken, as I just wrote to Ben, epistemological self-consciousness extends back to the 1820s and 1830s among the Dutch Reformed. Van Til is just one figure in that larger constellation of thinkers. I’m still trying to get a read on Dutch Protestantism and neo-Calvinism. But it’s not nearly as simple as going from Van Til to Dort.

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  16. Ben, pretty meager stuff. If you’re going to come here and question motives, you could come with better goods than this bumper sticker from Calvin. BTW, from the same section of Calvin’s comments on this verse, he writes:

    . . . in these words the Apostle does not require, that we should altogether renounce the wisdom that is implanted in us by nature, or acquired by long practice; but simply, that we subject it to the service of God, so as to have no wisdom but through his word. For this is what is meant by becoming a fool in this world, or in our own estimation — when we are prepared to give way to God, and embrace with fear and reverence everything that he teaches us, rather than follow what may appear to us plausible.

    Looks like there’s still room for Aristotle and Hegel.

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  17. Doc Hart,

    I don’t understand why it’s not obvious to all that the theonomist/epistemological self-conscious thinking is wrongheaded. Regarding “the seemingly perpetual philosophical motion machine of neo-Calvinists” – are they the same or similar to the TGC types? And, is it fair to lump all 3 groups type of thinking into the “it’s all about me” category of theological distortions? Anywho, it sure seems like it’s just more of the same self-centered me, Me, ME type of theology in all 3 cases. Would you please offer corrections to this layman’s view of the room? I can’t seem to decipher much difference between them.

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  18. neo-Calvinist, proto-Calvinist, paleo-Calvinist…just who is this John Calvin? I have read him, and I don’t recognize him here. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think Calvin’s work is inspired…why, he might even be wrong somewhere! And it seems to ME that everything I have read here is according to some ME. Tough to avoid isn’t it? Actually, it’s impossible to avoid. Autonomous theonomy…that’s the ticket. That should spark some debate…but not for ME.

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  19. After reading that article one has to conclude that the agenda of Theonomists and Reconstructionists is to take over the culture, which ushers in the Kingdom of God. There is a certain attraction to this type of thinking (antithesis and epistemological self-consciousness).

    Why have the Reconstructionists been unable to make much headway in the culture? If they really believed this, I would think we would be seeing more Reconstructionists in politics, law, medicine, business, etc, and being movers and shakers in the most important institutions in the countries throughout the world. Where are these guys? They talk a big game but I don’t see them anywhere.

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  20. John Y – do we have to define it? Can we let their own words hang them instead?

    “It is therefore of the utmost importance for Christians to develop epistemological self-consciousness. This means Christian education. It means a Christian philosophy for every sphere of human endeavor. It means recognizing that every issue is basically a religious one” – R.J. Rushdoony

    “…Christians should not be passive sponges merely absorbing the material, but instead be active filters sorting out the issues through a biblical grid.” – Dr. Greg Bahnsen

    “We seek… to make men epistemologically self-conscious all along the line. As Reformed Christians we do all we can, by building our own educational institutions and otherwise, to make men see that so-called neutral weighing and measuring is a terrible sin in the sight of God. To ignore God anywhere is to insult the God who has told us that whether we eat or drink or do anything else, we are to do all to His glory.” – Cornelius VanTil

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  21. I wonder if the following would satisfy most parties involved?

    1. Unbelieving batters really really know how to bat. Well, some of them. They may even be able to explain the physics of batting quite well.
    2. Unbelieving batters cannot (because they will not) give an adequate account for the uniformity of those physical laws upon which batting rests.
    3. Unbelieving batters need only #1 above as batters engaged in the task of batting.
    5. Unbelieving batters should be challenged with #3 above as humans in the task of evangelism.

    I skipped #4 because 5 points are better than 4. And because I like Monty Python.

    I have achieved self-referential certainty that God does indeed delight in baseball in general. However, he most certainly does not delight in baseball players who get home runs for their own glory instead of his – that is, “apart from faith”. And he also does not delight in the “other team”, no matter how clean-cut their hair and how stripey their jumpsuits. (I am self-referentially certain of that last point, too.)

    Respectfully submitted,

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  22. Lily,

    Can you imagine having these guys running local, state and federal governments? How would you like to work for one of them? What makes them any different from what we see going on in Islamic countries? They are very epistemologically aware of how they differ from the views of those who advocate 2K cultural thinking. It seems to me that both Luther and Calvin made blunders in requiring magistrates to enforce the first table of the Law in their respective cultures in Germany and Geneva. Blunders which cost many people their lives in both countries and throughout the wars of the reformation.

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  23. Lily, re those quotes: all the epistemological self-consciousness business sounds good and pious until you realize that that’s not really how “all of life” is actually lived. And even the epistemologists don’t live that way. I bet each one of them, when they go pick up some milk at the store, don’t really think they are handing their finances over to Molech when they don’t demand that the Christian cashier who gives them correct change sort out the issues of correct change giving through a biblical grid. Does that mean they are committing a terrible sin against God, or does it mean that ordinary life is outside the sphere of human endeavor? Or does it mean they living the life God ordained and are easily bored by it?

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  24. Aron, that just seems like getting batters to admit God is the author of physics. Isn’t that just athletic deism? But I though evangelism was about law and gospel.

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  25. Calvin saw the value of philosophy as well:

    “Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we condemn and reproach the Spirit Himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how eminent they are.

    But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture calls ‘natural men’ were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good.” (Institutes, 2.2.15)

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  26. Zrim – I think you may have missed that I wanted their own words to hang them? I thought the quotes exposed them for what they are – anywho, I wholeheartedly agree that they cannot, will not, and do not live that way.

    John – I can’t and don’t want to imagine! What always strikes me about these totalitarian leaders types, who want to lord over others, is the carnage and trail of tears left in their wake. The SGM survivors sure seems like a good example of the consequences of an authoritarian style. Another thing that seems easily observable is how many marriage/family relationships are broken by imitating these authoritarian models, too. Their theology always strikes me as Christless.

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  27. @Zrim: Alas, I was intending to add a touch of levity, but evidence suggests I have been graced neither commonly nor specially for that task.

    I probably should’ve written that unbelievers ought to be challenged with #2 in apologetics, rather than evangelism, though I think there’s quite a large overlap between them (since unbelievers are born resistant to the clearly revealed law). And either way, that God is the author of physics (read: Creator) means that he ought to be loved and worshiped as such (read: law). Obviously I’m thinking here of Romans 1. “You ought to bat for God’s glory, not your own”, etc. And that law comes as a reminder, whereas the gospel is introduced as news – really good news.

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  28. Also, I’m wondering if Dr. Hart is asking us to thrive on intuition. That’s a pretty disturbing proposition considering the noetic effects of sin.

    Regarding evangelism and apologetics, they are actually in a “perichoretic” relationship with one another. You can’t engage in one without engaging the other. The unbeliever’s problem is not so much intellectual but ethical/covenantal. You don’t have to prove the existence of God (contra classical apologetics) because he already knows this to be true. You have to break through the covenantal barrier through the Gospel.

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  29. Underdog, I don’t think the point is to undermine the value of philosophy. It may be not to over-realize it though. And so it does seem to me that the epistemologists still have to contend with Paul, who seems to suggest that the wisdom of the age has its rather significant limitations:

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

    Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t sound like a man who thinks philosophy is needed to the extent that the epistemologists do. And don’t you think that the intellect is just as subject to the effects of sin as the intuition?

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  30. But Aron, what about believing batters who cannot give an account for the uniformity of physical laws? Is there faith inferior because they can’t philosophize?

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  31. Underdog, who said thrive? But if you are really going to do justice to the noetic effects of sin, would you ever leave the house (unless you lived in Grand Rapids)? Would you ever drive down a road where unbelievers were also behind the wheel?

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  32. ” I’m not sure the neo-Cal’s recognize that philosophy is different from exegesis.”

    Well, I am tired of reading philosophy of education. It gives me headaches and I’d much rather read good exegesis. Can you recommend some well-done exegesis on the subject of education (or knowledge)?

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  33. Dr Hart,

    No, not an inferior faith, though perhaps an immature one. Not inferior, because only “three things are necessary to know in order to live and die happily”; guilt, grace, and gratitude, etc. But immature, perhaps, because that believing batter ought eventually to affirm the Apostle’s creed “I believe in God, maker of heaven and earth…” as understood by, say, the Heidelberg #26-28. (Also, Calvin: “…unless we pass on [from the doctrine of creation] to [embrace the doctrine of] His providence…we do not yet properly grasp what it means to say: ‘God is Creator’ ” – Institutes I.xvi.1.)

    Regardless, I think I’m agreeing with you here – at least I mean to – that neither philosophy nor ethics has anything to do with the actual distance someone can hit a baseball. And he really can hit skillfully, even if as he thinks about it his God-rejecting thoughts condemn him. All knowledge has an ethical aspect, but that ethical aspect (in this example) doesn’t affect how far the baseball flies – it only affects the batter’s covenantal status before God.

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  34. What I have trouble getting in these cultural debates is the idea that Law should govern the kingdom of man (read: politics and all creational cultural endevours) and the Gospel the Kingdom of God (read: the church). If that is true then the Theonomists and Reconstructionists would make really good cultural guides and leaders. There are subtleties involved in what type of Law you are talking about and how far one goes in enforcing “thought crimes” and the twenty or so capital punishments enforced in Old Testament Law in Israel. Horton and those at Westminster West have made a good case that Old Testament law is not binding in societies after Christ’s death and resurrection as shown in their interpretation of the book of Hebrews. I know the Theonomists and some neo-Cals have trouble with that interpretation.

    I also don’t think you cannot have reservations about the agendas that Mormons, Reconstructionists, Muslims, Marxists, etc. might bring to the table regarding their political theory and how it may effect their policy and law making ideas. But then again the political structure we have here mitigates against any type of authoritarian and totalitarian agenda- that is why you have the balance of power in government. And as it says somewhere in Isaiah, the nations are like a drop in the bucket to God; like we can really manipulate God and his purposes for man by our political agendas. The power that man has is really an illusion and the thirst for it becomes an idol whose power is really only skin deep.

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  35. Emptying out the drawer of my mind:
    1) Sometimes obvious things should be said: no, there are no holiness bonus points for being intellectually aware that your actions logically cohere with certain premises.
    2) Philosophy per se is not a problem, but Worldviewism doesn’t know its place. It wants to be mandatory for everyone. It shows up in sermons and Sunday School lessons. Fundamentalists bind the conscience with their select behavioral rules, and maybe worldviewists bind the conscience with intellectual rules.
    3) Lets get real: no one goes around all day being self-consciously all about the glory of God. Let’s see, I’ll get out of bed – for the glory of God? kiss my wife – for the glory of God? correct my child – for the glory of God? Except in situations that are out of the ordinary or present special challenges, we don’t begin every sentence of our thought life with “For the glory of God, I will…” Now replace “glory of God” with “to be consistent with a biblical worldview.” That works, too.
    4) Ted Williams had an OBP of over .500 three times. Four other times he was between .490 and .500. All that while losing three peak seasons to WWII.
    5) I must have had a Richie Allen baseball card, because I never got used to his name change.
    6) Lily, that was super obnoxious. If I was saying that out loud, you would hear a comic tone in my voice.
    7) I have nothing to say about Sunny.

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  36. Zrim,

    Thanks for that. Over-realization is best countered by keeping in mind that philosophy is subservient to theology, and that in the areas wherein there is conflict between the two, theology must emerge the victor. However, that is not downplaying the value of philosophy, since many magisterial Reformers did recognize its value.

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  37. There’s a lot to respond to here (some positively). Just one remark can be safely driven by, however.

    Why isn’t knowledge of math and batting the human equivalent of the instincts and cunning that birds show when fleeing cats?

    Given that I just spent a couple hours trying (and eventually succeeding — whew!) to prove a result that is intuitively obvious from the graph, and that such effort is Standard Operating Procedure in mathematics, it’s very strange to hear you say that knowledge of math is the human equivalent of instinct.

    The larger point is that in most disciplines in the common sphere, there has been a gradual abandonment of “intuitively obvious” results in favor of more rigorously argued results. It’s odd, then, that you would argue that intuition should suffice in the common realm. Your common-realm colleagues are the very ones who would disagree with you! Who builds bridges by instinct? Indeed — who manages baseball teams by instinct? Does the term “sabermetrics” ring a bell?

    But actually, you even disagree with yourself where it comes to Reformed Theology. What is the “Confessional v. Biblicism” argument all about, if not the triumph of rigorously derived results over “my gut tells me the Bible says X”?

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  38. Jeff, I don’t think his point is that Math doesn’t require a high level of thought and intelligence, far beyond that which a wren possesses, or operate entirely on instinct. If I’m properly understanding him at this point, he is simply suggesting that what if mathematics and baseball are simply natural actions of humans qua humans, just as natural and proper to man as fleeing cats is for birds. It doesn’t require delving deeply into the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of the actions for them to have significance. Paul Erdos wasn’t a poorer mathematician for being a non-Christian anymore than Leibniz was a better one for being a Christian.

    Of course, I could be missing the point, in which case I’m open to correction!

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  39. In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God’s revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything.

    All this seems to rest on a Kantian construct that deals in a reality foreign to the worldview of Scripture (I know, I know, just fighting fire with fire). In the Kantian world, it seems that there is a whole heck of a lot of stock rested upon the individual’s perception of the world, and this is the only way Bahnesen’s thinking works.

    The problem there is a real world, ground beneath our feet. Believers and unbelievers alike agree that oncoming trains are to be avoided. Scripture deals with the reality of causes and effects such as sin-judgment, grace-forgiveness and in a moral world where certain truths are accessable to all regardless of their relationship to God Baalam and Nebuchadnezzar know certain truths about God while remaining godless and act with full knowledge of his truth both positively and negatively in the real world. There is a real knowledge of reality that all men share, regardless of their disposition towards God. Truth is something that is truly accessable and knowable to varying degrees by all men. This all part and parcel to man being a image-bearing actor in the theater of God (to borrow Calvin’s concept).

    Darkened minds, and fallen intellects do not negate the ability of man to know the truth. The fact is, in the dark exchange of Romans 1 man knows the truth of God, yet does not act in accordance to this knowledge. According to some of the more radical readings of Van Til (probably not the man himself), this portion of Scripture would have to be explained away. Men are called to account for rejecting the truth they do know, so how pray tell can they know something that in reality, they have no epistemological basis to know in the first place? On what basis does God give man over? For not having the right epistemological basis? Or for rejecting a reality they tacitly understood?

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  40. The finer points of this discussion I am unfamiliar with, I’d like to make a general point. Since the philosophies, education, science, arts etc of men did not lead men to find God and know him we must see them for what they are – useful for this life only, but not things we should place on a pedestal. It is the message of the cross that is of true and eternal worth. Indeed that message exposes the pretensions of human sophistication up for what they are – opposed to God. It was the world of philosophy, science and religion that crucified Christ.

    I am not for one minute saying these are wrong in themselves, but that in a fallen world, all conspire against God and none lead to God. Thus philosophy, for Paul, is ’empty deceit’ and not according to Christ. (Col 2).

    In a fallen world, Christians learn and participate in all these spheres, but do so seeing them for what they are morally, and so never loses his heart to them. At their very best, they are for this life only. They do not reveal Christ who for Paul is the fulness of God and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Paul is jealous for the glory of Christ and insistent that it is only that which is found in Christ (in the gospel) that is of real and eternal worth.

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  41. “we must see them for what they are – useful for this life only, but not things we should place on a pedestal.”
    And we also must be able to talk about how useful they are for this life. Jed rightly points out that worldviewism – tracing back through Schaeffer, Dooyeweerd, and Kuyper – is essentially an application of Kant. On wonders how prevalent worldview would be if there was a law mandating that Kant be credited whenever worldview is mentioned. It would tend to validate that unbelievers can make important contributions to believers, and it would also help with intellectual humility, i.e., philosophic paradigms rise and fall and it is a mistake to lock into one of them as the definitive and final perspective. Denominations need to realize that as well, when it comes to a quasi-mandate to adhere to one view of apologetics.

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  42. Over-realization is best countered by keeping in mind that philosophy is subservient to theology, and that in the areas wherein there is conflict between the two, theology must emerge the victor. However, that is not downplaying the value of philosophy, since many magisterial Reformers did recognize its value.

    Underdog, often I hear epistemologists claim that our theology owes a great debt to philosophy. I don’t doubt that philosophy plays some part, but I also think it’s quite minimal. Better, I think, to say that our theology owes a great debt to the Bible. After all, when I read our confessions, creeds and catechisms I only ever see the Bible footnoted.

    And I’m also never quite satisfied with the assertion that “philosophy is subservient to theology.” I like the arrangement, but it always seems to have an undertone that suggests a cozier relationship than Paul in 1 Cor. 1:18-25 wants to give it. He seems to place philosophy in the theology of glory category, over against a theology of the cross. Granted, I’m using more intuition here, but isn’t the Reformed tradition all about plain reading?

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  43. Lily, I suspect that many folks at TGC buy the worldview worldview without ever reading deeply in the Dutch Reformed literature. The reason for the overlap, I believe, is pietism. The individual experience transforms everything, from eating and walking to thinking. So worldview catches on with evangelicals because it’s another layer of conversionism. Completely off the cuff.

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  44. The larger point is that in most disciplines in the common sphere, there has been a gradual abandonment of “intuitively obvious” results in favor of more rigorously argued results.

    I dunno, Jeff. In the common sphere of standardized testing the kids who give you the right answer in constructed responses and showing little to no math are still considered higher level students. It’s always a conundrum for teachers, though, to have to ding those higher level students on the pragmatic grounds that we need to eliminate the possibility that they cheated. I get the value of showing one’s work, but it does seem to me that we all intutively know that a kid who has never heretofore been shown how two and two are four can figure out the equation is actually showing greater abilities than the kid who spits it back after two weeks of instruction.

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  45. Sigh… Doc –

    Reformed sensibilities must not have much of a taste for laughing at the inanely ridiculous things in life? I suppose ya’ll will have to pray extra-hard for the sanctification of my humor taste buds? I thought the words were hilarious in regards to it’s parallels to TGC celebrity culture. Not to mention Driscoll’s seemingly never ending fascination with all things sexual and his seeking to fill the role of Dr. Joyce Brothers for all things sexual in Evangelical land. Heh?

    Re: “Pietism. The individual experience transforms everything, from eating and walking to thinking.

    I think you are right. Pietism seems to saturate everything plus the new-agey influences also seem to run deep. I would argue that pietism is a form of me-ism because it seems to always boil down to “everything is about me” – there doesn’t seem to be much awareness that there is objective truth outside of me and neighbors with needs outside of me. I suppose this is merely the old Lutheran argument about the means of grace coming from outside (objective) not inside (subjective)?

    I would also add that the epistemological self-consciousness sure looks like more me-ism with parallels to the self-actualization nonsense about becoming fully human and/or reaching one’s full potential. I suppose there is an endless list of ways for us to get swept up in self-centered me-isms. This one is simply a little more sophisticated and clothed with religiosity? In trying to make all of our activities about a conscious awareness of the glory of God down to the minutiae, it has become, once again, all about me. Stupido. Hence the German proverb: “All mischief begins in the name of God.”

    Re: “So worldview catches on with evangelicals because it’s another layer of conversionism.”

    Would you please explain conversionism? Is this the Arminian/Wesley style of constantly being saved over and over and over again? Or is it the constant re-dedication and climbing a ladder to God? FWIW – the whole biblical worldview concept seems to fall into the trap of arguing about strange things. I do not understand why we cannot stick with our traditional language and traditional definitions, and argue for doctrinal truth – natch – not easy in a relativistic therapeutic world. But, imnsho, we do have a language with technical terms and universal doctrines (Trinity, Christ’s incarnation, etc.) which all agree is orthodox and which should fit the bill. Worldviews seems to only muddy the water?

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  46. On the plus side, if Kant is behind worldviewism, can’t we blame this whole mess on the Lutherans? (I’m glad there are good-humored Lutherans here)

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  47. “I would also add that the epistemological self-consciousness sure looks like more me-ism with parallels to the self-actualization nonsense about becoming fully human and/or reaching one’s full potential.”

    IMO epistemological self-consciousness is, oddly enough, an elongated biblicism with a veneer of intellectual depth.

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  48. I would also add that the epistemological self-consciousness sure looks like more me-ism with parallels to the self-actualization nonsense about becoming fully human and/or reaching one’s full potential. I suppose there is an endless list of ways for us to get swept up in self-centered me-isms.

    Lily (and MM), I’ve had the thought that the epistemologists and the pietists seem to have something in common in contrast to the liturgicals: both seem to elevate either the intellect or the experience respectively above the churchly.

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  49. Darryl, yes. Your accusations against neocalvinism are wrong. And the sad thing is, you won’t even bother trying to hunt down evidence to try to confirm your mistaken views.

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  50. MM – nope – ya’ll can’t blame it on the Lutherans since ya’ll continually fail to listen to our anathemas. Don’cha know? All of the world’s problems would be solved if ya’ll would only repent and become orthodox Lutherans! LOL. 😉

    P.S. Since Kant was a rabid Pietist, I would guess that it would be safe to say that anything originating with Kant would be anti-orthodox Lutheran and strongly influenced by pietism’s subjective relativism in all things spiritual. More me, Me, ME!

    P.S.S. Re: “IMO epistemological self-consciousness is, oddly enough, an elongated biblicism with a veneer of intellectual depth.”

    I hope your emphasis is upon the word – veneer? 🙂

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  51. “Lily (and MM), I’ve had the thought that the epistemologists and the pietists seem to have something in common in contrast to the liturgicals: both seem to elevate either the intellect or the experience respectively above the churchly.”

    I’m open to correction here, but I don’t think epistemology & worldviewism even deal with the church. That should be a flag alerting as to the inherent limitations of such studies. So, yes, Zrim.

    BTW, I am, at least in my thoughts, making a distinction between epistemologists doing diligent, intelligent work in their field and the popular expression of epistemology and worldview. I’m thinking of big evangelical churches doing a Sunday School series on worldview, then patting their members on their butts as they make their way to voting booths. That and other popularizations.

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  52. Lily, frankly I was first disconcerted but then rather pleased with the expression “veneer of depth.”

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  53. Zrim,

    Re: “I’ve had the thought that the epistemologists and the pietists seem to have something in common in contrast to the liturgicals: both seem to elevate either the intellect or the experience respectively above the churchly.”

    Agreed, but I would still argue that the end result of following those schools of thought is that it becomes all about me. My intellect/understanding and my experience/feelings seems to end up creating new sects. I would propose that the link between intellect and an orthodox understanding of God is weak and often easily broken. The same could be said for the enthusiasts’ experiences. Orthodox doctrine/confessions/liturgy comes from outside us and adherence/submission to them best rescues us from the trap of creating personal religions – eh?

    MM,

    Re: “rather pleased with the expression “veneer of depth.”

    Ditto – nicely done. I was hoping that was the emphasis of your comment?

    As for, “epistemologists doing diligent, intelligent work in their field and the popular expression of epistemology and worldview” – the older I become, the less impressed I am. Much harm has come from those circles. They seem to end up being hung by their own cleverness.

    As for the “big evangelical churches and worldviews” – here again, I see the same mess, just not as cleverly disguised with a sophisticated religious veneer and marked by pell mell rushes into blind alleys. My only remedy for both messes is orthodox doctrine/confessions/liturgy. I see no safety outside of those boundaries.

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  54. Lilly, agreed. It’s all an experiment in me-osity. I’ll also join you in being less impressed. I don’t know how we get popular worldviewery without its sophisticated antecedent.

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  55. Baus, so neo-Calvinists don’t believe in epistemological self-consciousness? Huh? Why do so many people believe that neo-Calvinists do? What is a worldview, after all? Don’t turn into Eliza.

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  56. John, actually you are not. 2kers appreciate the world and its goodness more than you do, but not in the high-octaine way of the neo-Cals or the creation regained folks. We also appreciate the church and its forms more than you do. Both ways, we’re too churchly for the transformers and the pietists.

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  57. Lily, I saw the humor but am more sentimental when it comes to pets and so preferred Dog.

    Conversionism is an estimate of the born-again experience that regards it as a total transformation of the convert, which is why you hear so much about change on Xian radio. Conversion means you have a complete reorientation of life. Of course, that gets sticky for evangelicals if you are an adult convert and married. Can my complete overhaul give me reasons to leave my wife? Well, of course not. Then how complete is this complete transformation.

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  58. Zrim, I’ll just say there is a chasm between Alvin Plantinga (not a Worldview guy, but the first big dog in Reformed Epistemology)and the worldview study at Happy Valley Evangelical. I have never gotten a vibe from AP that he’s working on a church movement or a dogmatic program – he just does philosophy, and does it very well.

    Now, Kuyper and Dooyeweerd really were trying to develop a comprehensive system, but I don’t know if it’s fair to impute to them the state of the American evangelical church.

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  59. Daryl

    I knew it was too good to be true that we could share some perspectives in common. I doubt if you appreciate the goodness of the world more than I do. We are just less likely to agree on what is good.

    Recently Kevin de Young had a post on the theology of church buildings. I wondered where 2kers stand on a topic like this. Do buildings belong to ‘creation’ or ‘redemption’? Is there such a thing as a theology of buildings?

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  60. MM, despite the tube socks and sandals, AP is fairly a hero in my former Dutch Reformed transformer-worldviewer church, so while I appreciate the point you’re trying to make it’s not really convincing to me. Sorry. I don’t think it’s because he does philosophy really well, since if that were true then why isn’t Stephen Hawking, who does physics really well, invited to lecture (and his worldviewer brother to preach)? Could it be that Hawking’s work doesn’t prop up day schooling while AP’s does?

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  61. John T., even if you appreciate the goodness of creation more (doubtful) then you’re still left with your low view (but high opinion) of the institutional church and her forms, which is classic (soft) pietism.

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  62. What? Tube socks, sandals, Stephen Hawking, preaching, day-schooling? You lost me somewhere, but I’ve done my duty to defend the philosopher, so I’ll just stay with what I’ve said.

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  63. MM, last time he lectured, AP wore tube socks and sandals to our (not tube sock and sandals) church. His brother is the former neo-Calvinist President of Calvin Sem and occasionally preached in our pulpit. The point is that being really good at a discipline isn’t the only piece here. Being really good at philosophy and making a close connection to it and faith is a good way to rally the worldviewer troops who need philosophy to prop up Christian education, which is the laboratory for general worldviewery and Reformed culturalism. Hawking can’t do any of that because all he does is science sans faith.

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  64. Zrim

    You may well have me pegged rightly re my views on the church, I don’t know. I haven’t as far as I remember discussed them here – certainly not in any depth. Is it vital to have a high view of the institutionised church to be in the 2ker club? Why?

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  65. John T., it’s what I recall from our pietism v. confessionalism discussions. Though I know good 2kers who unfortunately hesitate on the suggestions of high church Calvinism, I do think a high view of the church makes for a better 2k. Pardon the length, but I think Van Drunen explains the reason well:

    Neo-Calvinism is a diverse movement. Its adherents land both to the left and the right of the socio-political spectrum and have different degrees of devotion to the orthodox system of Reformed theology. What unites them, however, is significant. When I refer to “neo-Calvinism” I have in mind a form of Christianity that promotes worldview thinking, a creation-fall-redemption paradigm for reading Scripture, and the transformation of this world’s cultures…Another common characteristic of neo-Calvinism, amidst its diversity, is its dedication to putting the church in its place. That may seem unnecessarily pejorative, but I believe it is not unfair. What I mean is that neo-Calvinism, if it is united by anything, is united by a desire to promote Christian cultural engagement, the goodness of all lawful vocations, and a “kingdom vision” that includes but by no means is limited to the church. Conceptions of Christianity that are overly church-focused—and hence restricted in their kingdom vision—come in for special critique. Neo-Calvinism aims to convince believers that Christianity is about all of life and that their common occupations are just as holy and redeemable as their pastor’s work and their own worship on Sunday. Of course none of its proponents are anti-church and many of them are dedicated servants of the church. It seeks to elevate other institutions and activities rather than lower the church’s status, but the effect is still to ensure that the church does not have too prominent a place in the Christian life, for the sake of a holistic kingdom vision.

    …The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to raise up followers who would transform the cultures of this world. Christ came as the Last Adam to achieve the original goal of the First Adam under the covenant of works: the new heaven and new earth. By his perfect obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension Christ has succeeded. By virtue of his achievement Christians, by faith, share in his verdict of justification, his heavenly citizenship, and his everlasting inheritance. Redemption does not put Christians back on track to accomplish the original goal of the First Adam through their own cultural work—Christ has already done that on their behalf perfectly and finally. Misunderstanding this point is perhaps the fatal flaw of neo-Calvinism. Until the day when Christ returns he has ordained that his people be pilgrims in this world and be gathered together in the church.

    It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of the fact that the church was the only institution that the Lord Jesus established in this world during his earthly ministry. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God; that is, the new creation, the original goal of the human race under the covenant of works. Yet if we scour the Gospels we find but one institution that Jesus associates with the kingdom and but one to which Jesus points to find the power and the ethic of the kingdom at work here and now. Jesus did not establish the family or civil government, but simply affirmed their legitimacy. He did not lay out plans for kingdom businesses. Families, governments, and businesses already existed under God’s providential rule and were common in the cultures of this world long before the kingdom was announced. Jesus established his church. Unlike the cultural institutions of this world, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church alone. He entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven to the church alone. He commissioned disciplinary procedures reflecting the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount for the church alone. He promised, to the church alone, that where two or three are gathered in his name he himself will be there among them.

    Christ came, in other words, not to transform the cultures of this world but to win the kingdom of God, the new creation, which will be cataclysmically revealed out of heaven on the last day, and to establish the church, for the time being, as a counter-cultural institution that operates not according to the cultures of this world but in anticipation of the life of the age-to-come. The church has its own doctrine, its own worship, its own government, its own discipline, its own ministry of mercy, and its own strange ethic of non-violence and forgiveness that defies the wisdom of this world. Jesus and his apostles did exert great effort to shape a culture: the church’s culture. The New Testament makes clear, of course, that Christians must live and work among the cultures of this world, and should be just, honest, loving, and industrious as they do so. But the only culture-shaping task in which the New Testament shows any serious interest is the formation of the church. In light of such considerations I suggest that the only Christian culture—in the profoundest sense of the term—is found in the ministry and fellowship of true churches of Christ operating according to the teaching of Scripture alone.

    Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey (pgs. 145-146, 148-149)

    In other words, despite criticisms to the contrary, whatever else it’s about 2k really is about maintaining the unfettered gospel (not hiding it under a bushel). And to the extent that the church is how the unfettered gospel is administered, a high view of her seems altogether necessary.

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  66. Doc…

    Re: …am more sentimental when it comes to pets and so preferred Dog.

    True, I wish there was better evidence for kitties making the cut.

    yeah… I’m a sucker for these kinds of video productions and still in need of prayer.

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  67. Nay laddie, ’tain’t philosophers who need defending – ’tis atheists like Christopher Hitchens who have a clear eye in spite of all!

    Check out this sampling:

    1 – In discussing Mitt Romney’s faith, Hitchens said that what he liked about about Mormonism is that it presents the rare opportunity to witness the creation of a new religion. The faith’s founder, Joseph Smith, Hitchens said, wanted to be remembered not as the Jesus of the new religion, but as its Mohamed, who, Smith believed, presented his followers with a choice: “either the Al-Koran or the sword.”

    2 – Hitchens, a noted atheist and anti-theist, praised GOP presidential aspirant Rick Perry during his remarks for having the courage of his convictions and saying that those who do not believe in Jesus will be “condemned to hellfire.” “Shame on the soft-shelled, soft-centered Christians that don’t have the guts to say that is what their belief really is,” Hitchens said.

    3 – My all time favorite is this Q & A:

    Q – The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

    A – I [Hitchens] would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

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  68. DGH: Jeff, beavers build dams. Are they self-conscious about it? Why can’t math and bridge-building be a more complex example of instinct?

    Precisely because the practitioners of both disciplines have discovered the need to go on beyond instinct. As late as the 19th century, it was believed that any continuous function also had a derivative; then came Weierstrass.

    What you seem to be arguing is a kind an anti-intellectualism — “Theory? We don’t need no stinkin’ theory!” Or perhaps neo-Rousseauianism: “Let’s live like the animals!”

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  69. Jeff, while I would not be an advocate of intuitionism (note the “ism”), I do think there has to be some room for that kind of thing. Darryl starts to develop it in the “Palin” book as he defends conservatism against its evangelical pretender.

    Let me re-work a Mencken quote. Consider a man who, in analyzing a social problem, begins to follow a strict line of logical reasoning to find a solution. After two hours in his study, he shouts “Eureka!” and calls his wife with the solution. Meanwhile his wife, who had the intuitive ability to encompass sufficient relevant data (facial expressions, tone of voice, a past social incident) skip over various strictly logical steps and get right to the conclusion, has already addressed and resolved the problem. (The gender selection is stereotypish, but it has more than a shred of realism to it.)

    Call it intuition, instinct, a gut instinct, a knack, or whatever, there’s something there that needs to be accounted for. Did Robert Johnson analytically decide how to play “Come into My Kitchen” or did he have a musical intuition? There is a something that seems to be a shortcut to the true, the beautiful, and the good that should not be lobotomized by the scalpel of analytic reason. It’s tough to define its boundaries, but it should not be dismissed on that account.

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  70. But, Lily, that doesn’t hold a candle to:

    “so if we think the probability of R with respect to them is relatively low on N&E, we should think the same thing about the probability of R with respect to us. Something like this reasoning, perhaps, is what underlay Darwin’s doubt. So we should think that P(R/N&E) for us is low. And if we accept N&E, this gives us a defeater for our belief in R: a reason to doubt it, to be agnostic with respect to it. If R is unlikely or improbable given the way our faculties have come to be, then we have a reason to reject or withhold R.” (A Plantinga)

    “P(R/N&E) for us is low” would be a nice addition to the anti-Darwin bumper sticker war, don’t you think?

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  71. John T., glad for the high opinion and promise to cogitate. But signing a form of subscription will go a fair distance to avoid suspicion of pietism.

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  72. Jeff, is it anti-intellectual to be satisfied with a simple yet credible profession of faith? What is expected of a catechumen: to confess the creed or provide epistemological self-consciousness? What if the creed is the only thing that can be provided?

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  73. Doesn’t hold a candle…? Hmm…. MM – are you a card playing man?

    If so, I’ll trump your philosopher card (A. Plantinga) with my poet card (C.S. Lewis) for poetry always trumps philosophy when it comes to insight and wisdom. And… if theology is the queen of the sciences with philosophy her handmaiden, then poetry is her sublime voice (think Psalms and much of the bible) to slay bad philosophy masquerading as science (think evolution).

    As for a bumper sticker – how about this line from Lewis – “Evolution – all the thrills of religion and none of the cost”

    Here’s my trump card – read it and weep. 😉

    Evolutionary Hymn

    by C.S. Lewis

    Lead us, Evolution, lead us
    Up the future’s endless stair;
    Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
    For stagnation is despair:
    Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
    Lead us nobody knows where.

    Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
    In the present what are they
    while there’s always jam-tomorrow,
    While we tread the onward way?
    Never knowing where we’re going,
    We can never go astray.

    To whatever variation
    Our posterity may turn
    Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
    Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
    Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
    Towards that unknown god we yearn.

    Ask not if it’s god or devil,
    Brethren, lest your words imply
    Static norms of good and evil
    (As in Plato) throned on high;
    Such scholastic, inelastic,
    Abstract yardsticks we deny.

    Far too long have sages vainly
    Glossed great Nature’s simple text;
    He who runs can read it plainly,
    ‘Goodness = what comes next.’
    By evolving, Life is solving
    All the questions we perplexed.

    Oh then! Value means survival-
    Value. If our progeny
    Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
    That will prove its deity
    (Far from pleasant, by our present,
    Standards, though it may well be).

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  74. John, my understanding would be we have no theology of buildings, and none of plumbing. Some structures would be more fitting as a meeting place than others. But when you’re in a communion that has as many “store front” church plants as the OPC does, you’re not going to worry a lot about architecture.

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  75. Jeff, what I’m arguing is for diversity. Not everyone is a philosopher. Not everyone is a plumber. Why does everything have to have a theory? Why does everything have to be a ministry?

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  76. Dr. Hart,

    Where can I find some bibliography on this Dutch Reformed…obsession?…with philosophical awareness? One of the major disappointments I’ve had with studies of Van Til is their…refusal?…to place him in some sort of philosophical tradition or historical context other than that of championing Reformed orthodoxy in the 1920s and 30s (admittedly, I haven’t gotten to Muether’s book yet).

    If you could point me to books or articles that contain some bibliography illustrating Van Til’s Dutch Reformed theological pedigree, I would be much obliged.

    Ken

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  77. Darryl, as I said: YOU ARE WRONG about neocalvinism. And you can’t quote any neocalvinists to make your point, so why don’t you just admit your ignorance?

    Neocalvinists do not claim (contrary to what you allege) that “knowledge is not really knowledge because [one has] no epistemological foundation for it.” In fact, if you understood neocalvinism, you’d realize that we specifically say otherwise.

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  78. Stanley Hauerwas, War and the American Difference, p76–“C. S. Lewis rules out any pacifist presumption that their disavowal of killing can be based on an intuition that taking life is is always wrong. A person may think they should not kill by appealing to an authority, but not to an intuition. The former are open to argument but the latter are not.”

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  79. Baus, of course, you’re right, I can’t find a neo-Calvinist who says exactly that. But what does epistemological self-consciousness mean if not that an awareness of the basis for knowledge leads to a correct understanding? Why else would these interviews with Bill Dennison and Vern Poythress indicate the inadequacies of secular academics if unbelieving scholars lacked a proper knowledge of the subjects (and the author behind them) they study? At some point you have to concede the implications of neo-Calvinism and avoid such a literal defense.

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  80. Daryl

    A post at some point on theology of buildings (or rather its absence – my point to Kevin being that the only theology of buildings is that there is none) may be helpful.

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  81. MM: Jeff, while I would not be an advocate of intuitionism (note the “ism”), I do think there has to be some room for that kind of thing.

    Absolutely so. I happen to think Pascal was right: There is intuitive knowledge, and there is knowledge consciously held.

    What I’m trying to do is to push DGH to acknowledge that while living the Christian life does not require *a theory*, it does require *intentionality.* The Christian man-on-the-street may not be a philosopher, and does not become more spiritual by becoming a philosopher. But he may not simply live by his gut either. He has to think about, dwell on, the Word of God and “let it dwell richly” in him.

    The same is true in analogous fashion for ball players. They may not be — probably aren’t! — theoretical physicists. But they darn well better pay attention to, and think about, the practical physics of their craft. Raw instinct alone without years and years of training just won’t cut it.

    So there’s really three things, and not two, in play. DGH has identified “theory” and “instinct”; but he doesn’t seem to reckon with “intent.”

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  82. DGH: Jeff, what I’m arguing is for diversity.

    Fair ’nuff. We aren’t all philosophers, and we should not all strive to become philosophers. Agreed.

    But along the way, you also mix together two concepts that need separating. You say,

    And if all of creation can praise to God, from the movement of the stars to the way cats clean themselves, then why can’t human life in its naturalness also give God glory as creator whether or not a human being is engaging in eating or playing or learning self-consciously to the glory of God.

    How is God glorified? In one sense, He is glorified by all that comes to pass: the movement of stars, the way that cats clean themselves, the crack of a well-hit ball against bat …

    … and the whiff of an ill-timed swing under a pitch that was clearly too high, and the 42% on the physics test …

    … and even the sins of men, *ultimately* resound to God’s glory.

    Those are providential matters, and everything that happens glorifies God.

    But this is not what Paul means when he says, “Whatever you do, do to the glory of God.”

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  83. Jeff, sometimes I’m not terribly teleological in my comments; if something interests me and perhaps it will interest someone else, I may talk about it with no end-game in view.

    I don’t think generalizations are adequate for ball players. Pedro Martinez was pretty analytical about his craft, and today’s game is increasingly about sabermetrics, optimal nutrition, and technique. Still, I’m not sure Babe Ruth was too analytical about his diet or his technique.

    Systematic theologies are pretty analytical, obviously, and I hope my pastor doesn’t intuit his sermon when he steps to the pulpit. Intuition doesn’t do much for safe bridges.

    I think the idea of calling may be significant. Not everyone is called to be philosophic or highly analytical, but some are, and both can be of great benefit to the church. As I understand it, a lot of the negativity about philosophy is a push back against the pushiness of worldviewists who think such is essential.

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  84. Baus, oh great keeper of the neo-Calvinist flame, when will you turn your guns on all the faux neo-Calvinists? When oh when with those false theorizers bend the knee to the great Dooyeweerd and recognize his acolytes’ greatness?

    Kidding.

    Dude, you really have to understand at some point that the neo-Calvinist genie is out of the bottle and that your dutiful efforts are not going to contain it.

    BTW, I’m still waiting to hear that neo-Calvinists disbelieve in epistemological self-consciousness.

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  85. Jeff, you’re really telling me, Mr. Justification Priority, that I need to distinguish between creation/providence and redemption? What I’m trying to affirm is the kind of glory that attends to the creational and providential aspects of human existence, even among non-believers. That affirmation is often missed in the way that some define the antithesis.

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  86. MM: I think the idea of calling may be significant. Not everyone is called to be philosophic or highly analytical, but some are, and both can be of great benefit to the church. As I understand it, a lot of the negativity about philosophy is a push back against the pushiness of worldviewists who think such is essential.

    I can live with that. In fact, I’ll go one further: *sometimes*, “worldviewism” can be a substitute for actual knowledge of Christian doctrine, in the same way that “high level thinking” can be code for “I don’t actually have specific knowledge of what I’m talking about.”

    DGH: Jeff, you’re really telling me, Mr. Justification Priority, that I need to distinguish between creation/providence and redemption?

    Yes. 🙂 I figured an appeal to your long suit might be persuasive.

    If you’re trying to make the world safe for non-philosophers, then I’m cool. But you *sound like* you’re trying to make the world safe for people who want to basically carry out their common tasks without reflecting on what the Bible might actually have to say about them. You *sound like* you disagree with Calvin in his commentary on 1 Cor 10:

    Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink Lest they should think, that in so small a matter they should not be so careful to avoid blame, he teaches that there is no part of our life, and no action so minute, (trans: “That there is nothing in our whole life, be it ever so small.”) that it ought not to be directed to the glory of God, and that we must take care that, even in eating and drinking, we may aim at the advancement of it.

    — Calv Comm 1 Cor 10.31

    So I’d just like to see you distinguish between “being overly theory-laden” from “taking care to think.” We agree that the first is not necessary; I haven’t yet see you agree that the second *is* necessary.

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  87. MM,

    Re: “As I understand it, a lot of the negativity about philosophy is a push back against the pushiness of worldviewists who think such is essential.”

    As much as I enjoy joshing with you (eg: poets trump philosophers), I would like to be serious here. I do not think a distaste or wariness of philosophy is due to the influence/popularity of the worldview crowd (perhaps this is the current manifestation and the push back is historical?).

    I would argue that there is God-given intuitive understanding that is not only part of creation (often seen in the gifts given for specific vocations), but also given in salvation. We many times cannot explain how we know what we know. For example – in knowing God, he is yet unknowable since we still see through a glass darkly, yet we know him. There is much that is mystery which we are given glimpses and inklings of – we believe and know – yet we cannot explain it.

    Too often, I think philosophers end up atomizing things and then discrediting what may be attributed to mystery simply because they cannot explain it. IMNSHO, it is sheer hubris to think we can explain everything or need to explain everything or even need to have an opinion on everything. And since I’m an opinionated critter, I fall into that trap more often than I care to admit. 😉

    Yet, I cannot help pointing out that there is a time and place for unqualified awe before this mystery – dumbfounded, humbled, and overwhelmed by worship of God. No philosopher will ever be able to parse that. But a poet? Ahh… psalms. 😉

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  88. Lily, I do think MM has a good point about pushback, but your point about the intuitive dimension in redemption makes me wonder what the epistemologists want to do with the larger balance of folks who hear the gospel and simply believe it. I know Jeff suspects this is all a way to circumvent thinking and reflection, but the epistemological project does strike me as another way to deconstruct mystery. And I have to say, I’m puzzled as to how that squares scripturally. The more I read and reflect on the good book the more I am struck by the intuitive and mysterious way the writers think and write about both creation and redemption.

    The pietists want an experience and the epistemologists want an understanding. But isn’t faith a category that transcends both? Isn’t faith something that grasps apart from either experience or understanding?

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  89. Zrim,

    I am always thankful for the ways you can capture my concerns and translate them. Yes, MM, has good points – I was hoping to put the push back to worldviews into a historical perspective (eg: worldviews is a modern manifestation). There is nothing new under the sun, just new manifestations of old heresies, arguments, and so forth?

    I think you are absolutely right about, “the epistemological project does strike me as another way to deconstruct mystery” and think it harms more than helps. I do not believe there is a shred of scriptural evidence to support it unless scripture is contorted.

    Re: “The pietists want an experience and the epistemologists want an understanding. But isn’t faith a category that transcends both? Isn’t faith something that grasps apart from either experience or understanding?”

    Agreed – a God given gift. And I know you know the bible’s answer (1 Corinthians 1):

    “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
    Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

    But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

    I am humbled, thankful, and awed by this mystery. My rest is in Christ alone.

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  90. P.S. Zrim

    This is my kinda self-conscious epistemology (lol) – a priceless Glen Campbell quotation:

    “I have Alzheimer’s?” he asks Kim, 53, his wife of 29 years… “Well, doggone … what’s that?” Kim gently reminds him that it’s the reason he’s been having trouble remembering things, but Campbell prefers a different explanation…. “God just cleared a lot of things out… It was crowded up there. I’ve been trying to get rid of that crap for years.”

    A man who sees the goodness and mercy of God – a theology of the cross. 😉

    http://tinyurl.com/3r2esfu

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  91. Lily, it is interesting how the epistemologists will admit that philosophy serves theology. But do they ever consider how Paul in that passage seems to suggest that philosophy serves a theology of glory (as opposed to the cross)?

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  92. Z & Lily:

    I’ll have to analyze your intuition comments. (get it?)

    But, quickly, you talk about philsophy in a very univocal way. Philsophy is Plato, Aristotle, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Acquinas, Anselm, Kant, Hume, J Edwards, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Camus, Wittgenstein, Dooyweerd, Plantinga…which are you talking about? I hate to pull out the “you don’t know what you’re talking about” card, but I’ve got my fingertips on it.

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  93. Z, what do you think about the following statement:

    “one can reasonably believe in God—immediately and basically—without the support of an argument. One’s properly functioning cognitive faculties can produce belief in God in the appropriate circumstances with or without argument or evidence.”

    Googling=cheating.

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  94. Lily: I would argue that there is God-given intuitive understanding that is not only part of creation (often seen in the gifts given for specific vocations), but also given in salvation.

    We agree. (praise the Lord!)

    Zrim: …[Lily’s] point about the intuitive dimension in redemption makes me wonder what the epistemologists want to do with the larger balance of folks who hear the gospel and simply believe it.

    They’re saved.

    Zrim: I know Jeff suspects this is all a way to circumvent thinking and reflection, but the epistemological project does strike me as another way to deconstruct mystery.

    And here’s where we part company. “Epistemological concerns” are philosophers doing what philosophers do.

    If you want to say that not everyone has to have those concerns, then fine. Not everyone needs to know civil engineering, either.

    But if you want to blow raspberries at philosophers and tell them that they’re really just serving a theology of glory, well …

    … it looks to me like you’re taking your own personal preference for intuition over analysis, and wrapping it in a theological flag.

    The problem is not your appeal to faith as different from philosophy. We agree about that. It’s that you make contemptuous statements about philosophers and their craft. You consign them to the bin of Corinthianizers.

    Like it or not, God made some people who analyze by nature. Let them.

    —-

    Now, there are people out there who want to make Christianity a species of philosophy. I’ve seen it in action, and it’s bad news.

    So if all you want to do is push back against them, then great. But at the moment, you’re painting with such a broad brush that any philosopher who happens to be a Christian just got tarred.

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  95. MM, fine until that last word “evidence,” which seems strangely and unnecessarily inserted. After all, you what the fool says in his heart. We’re all deists by nature, not atheists which it takes more work than faith to become. Children often believe in God without much instruction or argument at all, and aren’t we commanded to have faith like them?

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  96. Z, it’s a summary of the central argument of the guy in tube socks and sandals.

    Also, “what Jeff said.”

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  97. Jeff, if someone is saved then isn’t that the religious version of as getting the right answer in your math class? Is getting the right answer not enough? My guess is that you’ll say it is but we need to show our work. I get that. But sometimes it seems like showing the work is at least, if not more important than getting the right answer.

    And instead of getting a little indignant about it, how about dealing with Paul straight on. He’s not casting philosophy in the most becoming light. He’s doing that with the cross. Philosophy is getting taken down a few pegs. Do you think Paul needs the same chiding for his implications? And, no, I’m not trying to tar Christians who do philosophy but question a worldview that makes Jesus one’s favorite philosopher.

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  98. Darryl, “epistemological self-consciousness”… you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    So, give me a clear definition (maybe you’ve already done so in the comments?), and I’ll let you know whether we believe and/or do it according to your meaning.

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  99. MM – yes I got it – you are a hoot!

    I will tell you a true tale of a woman (moi) who, about 15 years ago, took a philosophy 101 class with hopes of learning the basics at the local university. Instead of a nice lovely bowtied professor filling her mind with basic facts, she was given a vile bully of a professor who was both short in stature and mind. He had the conundrum of being a progressive liberal teaching in a small university and serving on the medical ethics board the local hospital – both located in the midst of a rural farming and ranching community saturated with Christians. He had tried and tried and tried in vain to find a way to argue for the hospital to allow abortions to be performed, but to no avail after 5 long wearying years.

    In his desperation, he decided to exploit his students naivety and use their fear of his explosive tantrums towards those who disagreed with him to his advantage. He taught a blitzkreig history of philosophy in 2 weeks (4 classes), the rest of the semester was to be devoted to our term paper. To philosophically support abortion or daring his wrath (a flunking grade) to philosophically oppose abortion. Two of the rules set for those who would oppose abortion were 1) we could not use biology 2) we had to prove when senscience (personhood) began. I took the challenge. Later, two young men of the evangelical bent followed suit.

    If you think I’m obnoxious here, you might have roared in laughter at the apoplectic moments this professor experienced with my comments in his classroom. To make this long story short. I am proud to report that none of the papers to support abortion were of any use to him and I managed to get the highest grade for opposing him – a “B” – I deserved an “A” and he knew it, and I almost got him almost admit it – publicly (to the delight of the other students).

    Sooo… the moral of this story? Curmudgeonly Lutheran cards always trump wily philosopher cards. 😉

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  100. Jeff, as he was the Apostle to the Gentiles and mixed it up at the Aeropagus then whatever else he’s talking about he’s certainly talking about philosophical wisdom. And if philosophical wisdom is the height of human wisdom then it would seem to follow that lesser forms are also in view. And the height is called folly. Is Paul being anti-intellectual?

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  101. Zrim – better than great point! I’m so glad you hang out here. I hadn’t thought of in that way – thanks. How much I am always in need of reminding of all the different ladders we try to climb to reach God by our own efforts – whether of morality, philosophy, mysticism or whatever.

    Just for fun – I googled to see what would turn up to refute your madness and found (!) this title:

    Kierkegaard and the Three Kingdoms of Glory: Glory of the Aesthetic, Glory of the Ethical, Glory of the Religious (granted it is a Mormon philosophy and theology website – but it was still pretty funny to see it so glaringly proclaimed).

    I also found some quotes that you may enjoy:

    “Now our preaching of the cross will evoke faith only if people notice that it is not the proclaiming of earnest theoretical principles which we have arrived at admidst clashing world views. The theology of the cross is never a Christian philosophy, as is always the case with the theology of glory. I cannot stand over against the One on the cross as an objective observer and give my judgment on Him. Rather, it is He who judges me-condemns me, acquits me” (Hermann Sasse)

    “Religions of glory have as their first and foremost goal the encouragement of good human performance. The theology of the cross aims at bestowing a new identity upon sinners, setting aside the old identity, by killing it, so that good human performance can flow out of this new identity that is comprehended in trust toward God. Therefore ‘the theology of the cross is an offensive theology….because it attacks what we usually consider the best in our religion,’ (Forde) human performance of pious deeds. A theology of glory lets human deeds determine God’s deeds, for his demonstration of mercy is determined by the actions of human beings” (Robert Kolb).

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  102. Z, when you exegete Paul at Athens you suddenly sound like a fundie. Should we also ban bobbed hair on the women-folk? Btw according to VanTil Paul’s speech is profoundly philosophical. Google it: “Paul at Athens” and “Van Til.”

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  103. Zrim: Is Paul being anti-intellectual?

    No, I don’t think so. But then, I don’t think he’s talking about all wisdom, either — so we have a difference that stems from our exegesis. You may be familiar with the Justin – Tertullian – Augustinian discussion on this very point?

    Anyways, given where you’re coming from, why deny that you’re trying to circumvent thinking and reflection? You seem to hold both up as examples of “glory theology.” So just bite the bullet and say it: Philosophers are, by definition, pursuing a theology of glory.

    But before you commit, let me ask you to consider Calvin:

    Now the doctrine of the gospel which calls us to this, should savor of the nature of the Cross, so as to be despised and contemptible, rather than glorious, in the eyes of the world. The meaning, therefore, is, that if Paul had made use of philosophical acuteness and studied address in the presence of the Corinthians, the efficacy of the cross of Christ, in which the salvation of men consists, would have been buried, because it cannot come to us in that way.

    Here two questions are proposed: first, whether Paul here condemns in every respect the wisdom of words, as [being] opposed to Christ … To the first of these I answer — that it were quite unreasonable to suppose, that Paul would utterly condemn those arts which, it is manifest, are excellent gifts of God, and which serve as instruments, as it were, to assist men in the accomplishment of important purposes. As for those arts, then, that have nothing of superstition, but contain solid learning, and are founded on just principles, as they are useful and suited to the common transactions of human life, so there can be no doubt that they have come forth from the Holy Spirit; and the advantage which is derived and experienced from them, ought to be ascribed exclusively to God. What Paul says here, therefore, ought not to be taken as throwing any disparagement upon the arts, as if they were unfavorable to piety. — Calv Comm 1 Cor 1.17, emph add

    He has more to say, but I won’t clog the blog with it.

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  104. Lily, thanks, more reason to love Lutherans (even if Walther hates us).

    MM, really? If Paul’s speech was so profoundly philosophical then why not set up the Institute for Christian Philosophy in Athens and meeting the philosophers on their own terms instead of planting churches and preaching Christ and him crucified?

    Jeff, if I’m trying to circumvent thinking and reflection then why do I engage you so much? But as far as Calvin, I’ll say it again: my point isn’t to disparage the arts. It’s to highlight the first part of what Calvin says, namely that the efficacy of the cross cannot be conveyed by the arts, good as they may very well be. Could it be that minds which over-realize the arts have ears that hear besmirching when a voice is merely suggesting restraint and perspective?

    It’s funny though. The epistemologists accuse of anti-intellectualism and the pietists accuse of being way too cerebral. A confessionalist can’t seem to win for losing.

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  105. MM – I don’t see why it would be “fundie” to notice that the theology of glory is laced throughout much of philosophy? I also don’t know why you are offering VanTil’s paper “Paul at Athens” as though it is an unqualified (without reservation or limitation) authority? It is built upon numerous assertions with no support from the text (eg: He was prepared now to be the victim, if need be, rather than the persecutor. Men must at all costs be shown the folly of worshiping the creature; the issue between the two types of worshipers must never be blurred.). He is weaving his own subjective ideas into the text and offering a very subjective interpretation. I would offer that there are much better sources for this text. VanTil adds so much junk that the meaning of the passage is unrecognizable.

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  106. P.S. I’m not saying there is no value in learning philosophy. It has it’s place if one is aware of it’s limits and boundaries, and when to chuck the useless stuff into the trash bin (eg: utilitarian view of man).

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  107. Zrim: Could it be that minds which over-realize the arts have ears that hear besmirching when a voice is merely suggesting restraint and perspective?

    If only you were suggesting restraint and perspective, I wouldn’t complain. But restraint and perspective need nuance, and so far you’re not willing to nuance your statements at all.

    “philosophy serves a theology of glory”

    Where is the restraint and perspective in that statement?

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  108. Lily, that’s an amazing story.

    One of my students had a course in logic (philosophical, not mathematical) at UMBC. The prof had written his own textbook, and the text used the Bible for examples of logical fallacies.

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  109. Darryl,

    I’m hoping you read this even though it is one among dozens of comments, but I’m an OPC member and a grad student in philosophy (going on five years and two programs now), and I think you are largely correct on this matter. In fact (this is a constant frustration for me), though Reformed apologists from Bahnsen and Frame to blogger A to Z never tire of reminding believers of the need for epistemological self-consciousness in all facets of life, and often dismiss the work of unbelievers on any possible subject because they do not begin epistemoligcally with the acknowledgment that the Reformed worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the possibility of human knowledge, you can search as wide as you can in academic journals, you won’t find these figures spelling out their views in an academic, technical and precise manner. If philosophy really mattered, why are such comments made in popular level works, seminary classrooms, or blogs, and not in an academic forum? You’d think such confident claims would be backed up by something more than a Sunday school class.

    I spend a lot of time in metaethics, for instance, and though there are many Christians publishing in such areas, very few are Reformed. Yet there are many Reformed that would claim to have a fully worked out metaethical theory (or replace that with any other area of philosophy). Or even when I teach intro to ethics and cover topics like abortion, there is simply a dearth of non-embarrassing and theologically sensible Christian work on virtually every topic in applied ethics. What Christian and specifically Reformed material can I assign on the topic of abortion? AFAIK, there isn’t much, if any. If the navel-gazing self-aggrandizement of the Reformed world wasn’t so pervasive, maybe there would be some actual literature I could use in my courses that went above bumper-stickers, Sunday school books and blog posts.
    Sorry for the wall of text.

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  110. Pat,

    I am sure that Dr. Hart will read your comment and reply. If you would not mind my forwardness, may I ask if perhaps it would be good to consider if writing this kind of material may be a calling for you? And may I ask if you have read Peter Kreeft’s work (professor of philosophy at Boston College) and if any of his work is acceptable for the Reformed? I have appreciated the clarity and simplicity of his work for laity like myself for a number of years on these thorny problems.

    Here is Kreeft on abortion and personhood:
    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0004.html

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  111. Darryl,

    I absolutely agree with your conclusion because of a Christian philosophy that affirms your premise that God delights in human beings in their creaturliness “because he created human beings precisely with the capacity to do these things.” I see this premise as consistent with the following quote from Julie Canlis’ Calvin’s Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension:

    Calvin fights for God’s transcendence not due to some abstract Nominalist principle but for the purpose of communion. God’s transcendence is not God’s imprisonment over (and thus out of) the world, but rather his freedom to be present to the world.

    So, a Christian philosophy that affirms God’s immanence in this manner is the reason that a believer does not need to understand this philosophy to validate it,

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  112. But, Jeff, back to the text:

    For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
    Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

    Looks to me like the cross is opposed to wisdom (and signs). Does Paul have his fingers crossed, the way Jesus does when he says his kingdom is not of this world? I don’t see much nuance and restraint in those kinds of statements. But like the epistle of straw says, there is a time for everything, so there is a time for wisdom but according to Paul it would seem not when it comes to the gospel.

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  113. Lily:

    Teachers can make such a difference. My first philosophy class was taught by a “secular humanist” agnostic whose didactic skills were exceptional. I was in a Schaefferian kind of mindset at that time and was not shy in class, but the prof was able to give credit for a well-reasoned and well-written product even if he profoundly disagreed with its conclusions. I took several classes from him, always challenged to develop without being forced to conform. On the other hand I had a pantheist prof who really wanted students to suck up to his ideas. I’ve never been real good at that.

    Philosophy is so diverse that it’s really hard to say much that applies to all of it. For example, consider the following:

    I shall be willing as the next man to fall down in worship before the System, if only I can manage to set my eyes on it. …Once or twice I have been on the verge of bending the knee. But at the last minute, when I already had my handkerchief spread on the ground, to avoid soiling my trousers, and I made a trusting appeal to one of the initiated who stood by: “Tell me now sincerely is it finished ; for if so I will kneel down before it even at the risk of ruining a pair of trousers (for on account of the heavy traffic to and from the System, the road had become quite muddy),” – I always received the same answer; “No, it is not yet quite finished.” And so there was another postponement – of the System, and of my homage. (Kierkegaard, mocking Hegelianism)

    Do you see a lot of glory there?

    Then there are different ways of reading philosophy. One can read Kierkegaard very much like poetry, simply enjoying his writing style while picking up a few nuggets of wisdom or challenges along the way. One may study philosophy for the purpose of developing analytic skill. One may take it up as a way of studying how others think. I think some have in mind a very particular kind of philosophy and others are narrowly thinking that philosophy must be for only certain kinds of purposes.

    Anyway, I think Dr. Hart has an Aristotle volume in a plain brown paper bookcover somewhere. Zrim? I don’t know, I wonder if he had some kind of traumatic philosophy experience that he needs to share with all of us. Maybe we should head over to the Paxil thread to talk about it.

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  114. MM, no traumatic philosophy experiences. Just run-of-the-mill. I had an artistic trauma, however, when in first grade Ms. Winslow publicly castigated my personified drawing of the three little pigs. But, look, Aristotle is great. It’s when folks start calling him and others “forerunners to Christ and the gospels” that I get sweaty. Don’t you?

    Also, great as philosophy is, I happen to think literature is far superior to get at the human condition. But even so, J.D Salinger, John Updike and Raymond Carver are no forerunners to Christ. That’s John the Baptizer. Why is this so hard?

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  115. “Also, great as philosophy is, I happen to think literature is far superior to get at the human condition.

    That’s called a preference, Zrim, and we can all have those.

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  116. MM –

    So true about teachers. Most of the university teachers I had were quite good and I enjoyed the classes. The only prima donnas I ran into were in the soft sciences of philosophy and sociology. These prima donnas had rabid man-centered ideologies that they had swallowed (feathers and all) and wanted to convert the students to unconditionally whereas my math, business, history, and communications professors were interested in teaching the material and/or application skills with traditional ethics. Quite a different spirit.

    I have a limited appreciation for the soft sciences because of the way they are utilized to serve various ideologies that are antithetical to Christianity. Here I see the theology of glory at work. It’s not rocket science to understand/see how man glorifies or deifies himself. The pro-choice arguments for abortion or euthanasia are simple examples where man has set himself up to decide who lives and who dies based on utility. The traditional understanding of genocide has been usurped and people are led astray.

    I greatly appreciate men like Peter Kreeft who have truly made philosophy the handmaid of theology by using philosophy to counteract these ideologies. I don’t agree with his Catholicism, but he has been of great help in exposing the problematic thinking. I am unimpressed by most other philosophers and, in general, think: 1) their ignorance to the limits of their own cleverness ends up hanging them 2) they do not have a clear understanding of theology in which to submit their thinking.

    In general, the theologian of glory devises a system of ethics derived from human standards of glory and power. The theologian of glory also tries to delve into the secret things that belong to God not us – this limitation/boundary doesn’t seem to even be on most radar screens. Like Eve, we are always tempted to become wise in ways prohibited (eg: when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate).

    I think the title of Dorothy Sayers book pretty much sums things up: “Creed or Chaos: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe).” And in my opinion, the theology of the cross is the best medicine for what ails us and the best protection from the temptations to stray beyond our God given limits in acquiring knowledge.

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  117. P.S. And, as I know you are well aware, but is always a good reminder worth repeating: Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom.

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  118. Zrim: But like the epistle of straw says, there is a time for everything, so there is a time for wisdom but according to Paul it would seem not when it comes to the gospel.

    Well, yes. So back to your question: Does an Christian have to have a full-blown justification for the gospel in order to believer it? No, not at all.

    I certainly don’t have a full-blown justification for my own belief. On the intellectual side of the ledger, I think the resurrection accounts in the gospels are more likely to be true than not, and on that account, I believe. But even there, I realize that my belief is ultimately a matter of the heart.

    What Paul is saying is that there is a quest for wisdom that demands wisdom prior to faith. The “Greeks” of our day are people like Dawkins and Harris and Lily’s prof.

    And that’s all. Paul is not speaking of all philosophy everywhere, but of philosophy that specifically opposes the Gospel by a demand for wisdom. Just because he says the word “philosophy” doesn’t mean that he’s speaking of “all philosophy.”

    Van Til certainly doesn’t fall into the camp of opposing the Gospel by a demand for wisdom; so it’s hard for me to accept that 1 Cor 1 is a ground for criticising van Til.

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  119. MM –

    Here’s a good psalm to chew on:

    Psalm 131

    Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

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  120. Well said, Lily, “but.”

    Here I think your theology of the cross is giving a high-five to fundamentalist anti-intellectualism. The fundamentalist spirit also wants to take the business and math courses while shunning sociology, psychology, and philosophy. T/C suddenly looks a lot like biblicism and despises the intellectual contributions of the unbeliever. The vast array of subject matter and breadth of philosophy – generically spurned as man deifying himself? Men laboring in everything from ethics, freedom, our perceptions, the relationship of the various disciplines, etc., are all (or at least generally) dismissed in this way?

    1) “their ignorance to the limits of their own cleverness ends up hanging them”
    Some philosophers spend a great deal of energy and focus on our limits. I hate being repetitive, but put down that six inch brush you’re using.

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  121. Jeff, if it’s true that Paul is opposing a philosophy that specifically opposes the Gospel by a demand for wisdom then contrariwise it would seem to follow that he’d affirm a philosophy that specifically affirmed the gospel by way of wisdom. But if Calvin is right that “if Paul had made use of philosophical acuteness and studied address in the presence of the Corinthians, the efficacy of the cross of Christ…would have been buried, because it cannot come to us in that way” then what? So I don’t think it’s a matter of finding a philosophy that affirms the gospel. It’s a matter of bringing a philosopher to affirm the gospel, which is a big difference. It’s the same point I have made to you in the past about the difference between temporal endeavors and people: I don’t understand Christian philosophy, but I do understand Christians who do philosophy.

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  122. Jeff, several issues here. Do we only glorify God if we think? Do we only do so if we think we are? Why so much emphasis on mind-thought-idea? Why not also heart and soul? Also, plenty of creation glorifies God without thought. And the point of the post is to raise the question of whether human beings, as human beings and doing the sorts of things that humans can do by virtue of their humanity, glorify God even when they don’t know or think about it.

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  123. Here’s a good psalm to chew on:
    Psalm 131

    Naturally you apply this to philosophers because that’s what David had in mind…but why don’t you take it one step further and say theology – with all that systematizing, synthesizing and theory – is too lofty? Or that men are arrogant to think they can reduce the Word of God to confessions? The reasons you denounce philosophy could almost as easily be used to denounce theology and confessions. There’s a lot of bad theology out there that does more harm than most kinds of philosophy – many of which are very narrow in scope. Yet theology is good and philosophy is bad.

    You need to explain why the line gets drawn where you put it.

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  124. Baus, I can’t say what epistemological self-consciousness is, but I know what happens when it is invoked. What happens is that secular ideas and scholarship are considered inferior because they don’t refer back to God. The interviews to which I linked are good examples of this. Now I know that you own the only book that lists the true neo-Calvinists and their institutions, but if Dennison and Poythress aren’t working out of an epist. self-consc. tradition, then neo-Calvinism has lost all meaning. Or it has become as mysterious as the Masons.

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  125. MM: Good points.

    DGH: Good questions.

    Jeff, several issues here. Do we only glorify God if we think? Do we only do so if we think we are?

    No and no.

    Why so much emphasis on mind-thought-idea?

    Counter-ballast.

    Why not also heart and soul?

    I guess I could, but then I’d get dinged for being a pietist. I’m not up for two fronts at once. 🙂

    Also, plenty of creation glorifies God without thought. And the point of the post is to raise the question of whether human beings, as human beings and doing the sorts of things that humans can do by virtue of their humanity, glorify God even when they don’t know or think about it.

    Yes, they can. But it’s a creational kind of glory, not a specifically Christian kind of glory. It is glory in matters that will pass away, like baseball; not a glory of things that result in eternal reward, like giving a cup of cold water to the least of the brethren.

    The latter kind does not require a philosophical theory, but does require obedience to God’s commands. We might do that instinctually — sanctification is the work of the Spirit after all — but it often requires death to self and repentance, which usually requires intent.

    I might love my wife by instinct, but I usually have to put thought into it. Doing what comes naturally usually means being a slob.

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  126. Pat, I appreciate your comment and its confirmation of the post. The odd thing is is that many of the proponents of the Reformed w—-v—- would be capable of doing high level philosophy. Heck, Wolterstorff and Plantinga do such work, but it seems to me they have also engaged the secular academy on its own terms in a number of philosophical categories and not felt compelled to question the legitimacy of an unbeliever’s understanding.

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  127. P.S. I don’t consider secular ideas inferior because they don’t refer back to God. I consider them incomplete and potentially contrary to Scripture … but I consider all ideas to be incomplete and potentially contrary to Scripture in some way or other. WCoF 31.3.

    AND, I am also suspicious of any philosophical ideas that reify themselves into *the* way of thinking about things. Tri-perspectivalism is a nifty tool, but it isn’t the final word in theological method; nor is Aristotle’s substance/accident distinction. The idea is that philosophy gives us *tools*, and we hold them pen-penultimately.

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  128. While we’re all reminiscing about our first philosophy profs, my distinct memory is of a long-haired fellow with poor complexion who smoked cigarettes through the entire course in logic (this was at Temple). Oh, those were the days.

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  129. MM, not that I’m the host guy on Around the Horn who doles out points for good points, but I appreciate your defense of systematic thought here. Anti-w—-v—- should not lapse into anti-intellectualism except when it comes to the academic literature on church growth.

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  130. Zrim: Jeff, if it’s true that Paul is opposing a philosophy that specifically opposes the Gospel by a demand for wisdom then contrariwise it would seem to follow that he’d affirm a philosophy that specifically affirmed the gospel by way of wisdom.

    Apples and oranges. If your reasoning were correct, then the apostles would never have performed signs, either.

    Zrim: It’s the same point I have made to you in the past about the difference between temporal endeavors and people: I don’t understand Christian philosophy, but I do understand Christians who do philosophy.

    But if you’re right, then you can’t understand Christians who do philosophy, because philosophy is inherently opposed to the Gospel.

    That’s the point of one of the large arcs of our long conversation: When you say that “such-and-such is friendly to the theology of glory”, you are making a serious, radical, and profound charge.

    The theology of glory is in no way compatible with the true gospel. For this reason, Paul charges the Corinthians, who have fallen under the spell of glory theologians, to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith (2 Cor 13; I take 2 Cor to be a second diatribe on issues left uncorrected by 1 Cor).

    When you say that “philosophy serves a theology of glory”, your words mean that philosophy is incompatible with the Gospel. And therefore, Christians doing philosophy makes as much sense as Christians teaching circumcision for salvation.

    If that’s not what you mean, then you need different words.

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  131. Jeff, this is a family blog so please no more about your manly instincts for your wife.

    I can live with creational glory and acknowledge your point about redemption (how could I not). But the kicker is that the way many Reformed draw the anti-thesis, they don’t concede the glories of creation. And then if they do start to see the goodness of creation, they abandon the anti-thesis. Which is why the 2k distinction is necessary — two realms, one good, one saving.

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  132. MM, your sustained suggestion of latent fundamentalism is odd. Isn’t it the fundies who want redemptive versions of creational tasks (education, philosophy, art, politics, economics) precisely because they don’t understand creation is very good as is in the first place? But maybe my fundies aren’t yours.

    Jeff, ok, how about these words: philosophy, like any other creational task, is very good. But, like any other very good creational task, it simply cannot be enlisted to convey or instill redemptive truths. Preaching has been ordained for that. My concern is that what animates an over-realizing of philosophy is also what lies behind the immodest views of education and politics. There is nothing inherently wrong with these tasks, but once we start thinking they do something at least as much as Word and sacrament I think we’ve gone off the reservation. I know it’s not politically correct to bring up in P&R circles, but the way CVT talked about education makes me wonder what keeps epistemologists from wandering.

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  133. MM –

    My wise-acre responses are:

    1) Sooo… if Eve hadn’t accepted the apple and eaten it, she would have been anti-intellectual? 😉

    2) 6″ brushes work well when not dealing with specific philosophers and since all philosophers look pretty much alike to me and we ain’t dissecting specific men’s work – wha’cha complainin’ about? 😉

    Perhaps part of our misunderstanding is the matter of distinguishing between apologetics and the gospel? If I understand things correctly, the theology of the cross is the gospel (see – 1 Cor 1) whereas apologetics would address philosophical arguments. My argument would be with philosophy drawing/setting it’s own limits apart from God-given limits and failing to submit to God’s limits on us – hence an aversion to mysticism and other such ilk (eg: excessive systemizing aka atomizing).

    Re: your response to 131

    Elementary, dear Watson! It does apply to theology too – how many times are theologians guilty of going beyond the text and trying to reveal the hidden things of God because they cannot accept that some things will remain a mystery until Christ’s return? As for your question… what is the difference between theology and apologetics (philosophy)? I believe you know the answer to that and understand it would not be good to conflate or confuse the two.

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  134. Doc –

    Re: w–v–

    What/who is this name that shall not be named?

    Re: defense of systematic thought

    I wouldn’t be a good Lutheran if I didn’t remind you of the dangers of over-systematizing (eg: atomizing and/or straining gnats while swallowing camels). 😉

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  135. Zrim –
    “MM, your sustained suggestion of latent fundamentalism is odd.”

    Not sustained, actually, but in two distinct applications. In your case, your interpretation of Paul at Athens is fundamentalist exegesis. Paul speaks against worldy wisdom and you equate that with all that falls within the rubric of philosophy. That’s how fundies use the scripture for everything on their “anti-” list.

    With Lily, as I have said, theologians of the cross are having communion with Billy Sunday in their opposition to the intellectual labors of the unbeliever.

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  136. I missed a lot the last couple of days- that was not only entertaining (in the smart aleck remarks to each other) but I learned a lot as well. It never ceases to amaze me how convincing the responses can be by Jeff and MM only to be shot down by Darryl, Zrim and Lily; although Darryl has been making some concessions to humble philosophers lately and good points by MM (in the spirit of Around the Horn- off the cuff quick intuitive judgments) in defense of systematic thinking (could that be taken as read: anti-Lutheran, bordering on anti-intellectual and biblicist; maybe I’m reading more into a response than is truly there). Am I the only one who wakes up in the morning with these dialogs going on in my head and then compulsively obsessing about this stuff throughout the day? Maybe I do need to go back to the Paxil blog- is blogging just an activity of replacing one addiction with another? Where else can one get such a great diversity of thought (with even thoughtful neo-Cals, theonomist and evangelical/pietist chipping in every once in a while) on one web-site.

    Lily, that was a great story about your philosophy prof; I bet you drove him crazy by the end of the coarse.

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  137. No, MM, respecting boundaries doesn’t necessarily put one in opposition to intellectual pursuits or the labors of unbelievers (as Zrim has repeatedly pointed out) and it is nice to be compared to a baseball player (couldn’t resist that one). I have yet to see the theology of the cross oppose education, medicine, engineering or any other field of study that serves the kingdom of man. It will necessarily put us in opposition to spiritualizing them and their applications at times (eg: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research, and such) and the need for apologetics or philosophical arguments will need to be employed. I hope you will realize I’m not supporting anti-intellectualism nor do I think unbelievers are dolts as apparently VanTil does in Paul at Athens. I suspect it is VanTil that is at the crux of this disagreement. Where his writings are gold in your eyes, I see dross – his treatment of the text reminded me of the made for TV movies that are based on a true story with all of the accompanying artistic license.

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  138. MM said: “With Lily, as I have said, theologians of the cross are having communion with Billy Sunday in their opposition to the intellectual labors of the unbeliever.”

    This is an example of the type of remark that goes on between Lutherans and Calvinists all the time. Each accuses the other of having latent in their theologies, ideas which will lead one back to pietism and fundamentalism. Maybe it is true and just shows how even the best of theologians have a tendency to revert back to it’s all about me (a theology of glory) on occasion.

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  139. Lily, the VanTil thing was pretty much a throw-in. I respect him for his intelligence and labors, but I don’t think he actually delivered what he was trying to deliver. I am not stridently in any particular camp of apologetics and think it is a mistake for any denomination to be. So, no, there is no red-meat-only presuppositionalist behind this conversation, at least as far as I’m concerned.

    “education, medicine, engineering or any other field of study that serves the kingdom of man” This is just a very narrow list of what serves the kingdom of man insofar as you seem to only include “applied” disciplines. But philosophers deal with education and medical ethics, making a profound impact on those fields.

    Tell me why poetry gets your thumbs up but Kierkegaard does not. Aren’t poets always grasping for glorious insight?

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  140. DGH: Jeff, this is a family blog so please no more about your manly instincts for your wife.

    Yes, sir.

    DGH: …is that the way many Reformed draw the anti-thesis, they don’t concede the glories of creation.

    I hear that. van Til’s emphasis on antithesis starts with his engagement with RC apologetics (see: “Defense of the Faith.”). And in that context, he makes an important point: we cannot fully decouple the creation from its creator. On apologetics and presuppositionalism v. evidentialism, van Til is more right than wrong

    But when he gets to the Clark controversy (“We cannot know that 2+2 = 4 because of our creaturely limitations”), I think he goes too far. Ditto with education.

    But I also note that Machen also had some reservations about public education…

    But separately, I think much of modern “antithesis” thinking is Bahnsenian, which is not the same as vanTillian.

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  141. Lily: Sooo… if Eve hadn’t accepted the apple and eaten it, she would have been anti-intellectual?

    What if, hypothetically, Eve had thought more carefully about the actual command and noticed that she had added to it?

    God: “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

    Eve: “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

    A bit of careful thought (again, hypothetically speaking) might have actually helped.

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  142. Zrim: Jeff, ok, how about these words: philosophy, like any other creational task, is very good. But, like any other very good creational task, it simply cannot be enlisted to convey or instill redemptive truths. Preaching has been ordained for that. My concern is that what animates an over-realizing of philosophy is also what lies behind the immodest views of education and politics. There is nothing inherently wrong with these tasks, but once we start thinking they do something at least as much as Word and sacrament I think we’ve gone off the reservation.

    I like those words very much, indeed. It places the fault at the over-realizing step, instead of singling out philosophy as a particularly pernicious occupation.

    Thank you.

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  143. “not that I’m the host guy on Around the Horn who doles out points for good points.”

    Hey, not a bad idea, dgh. Kind of like your Imus-themed post a few months ago.

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  144. “This is an example of the type of remark that goes on between Lutherans and Calvinists all the time.”

    Don’t fall asleep, Yeazel, I’m saving up some remarks for you as well.

    Honestly, I’m finding it very interesting to flesh out the epistemology of the theology of the cross. Yeah, let that roll around in your head a little bit.

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  145. MM, I’d think a little more charity all around would be in order. But when Paul speaks against worldly wisdom it’s almost as if you want philosophy to be an exception. Again, I understand its value just as much as the value of politics. But in both cases, I have found that when one also wants to emphasize the provisional nature and the limitations of certain disciplines and crafts he seems to run the risk of being dinged either anti-intellectual (philosophy) or Anabaptist (politics). Is it really that troubling to, as Lily says, respect boundaries and limitations? There is a difference between wanting modesty and being a prude, you know.

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  146. But I also note that Machen also had some reservations about public education…

    Jeff, have you ever noticed how P&Rs talk about non-Christian education the way Baptists talk about beer? Bada-bop-ting.

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  147. Hi John,

    Strangely enough, the philosophy professor seemed to have a grudging respect by the semester’s end.

    Re: systematics

    Yes, it’s my understanding that this is another difference between the Reformed and the Lutherans. We’re supposed to stop where the text stops and recognize when we’ve started speculating/philosophizing. It’s not being a biblicist or fundie – but recognizing/distinguishing one from the other and not confusing them so they aren’t presented or taken as authoritative when they are not (eg: Mary’s perpetual virginity). Which is probably why I find VanTil’s essay immoderate at best.

    Re: Maybe it is true and just shows how even the best of theologians have a tendency to revert back to it’s all about me (a theology of glory) on occasion.

    We’re certainly all vulnerable and certainly have our blind spots – and there are things the Reformed and Lutheran will never see eye to eye. Thank goodness it will all come to an end one day.

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  148. MM, I’d think a little more charity all around would be in order.

    Zrim, me and Yeazel talk like that. He’ll knock me upside the head, too. It’s all good.

    But there is a Theology of the Cross epistemology. Food for thought.

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  149. MM-

    Perhaps if I explained that I see ethics/logic/etc. as an included part of a specific field of study (medicine, engineering, etc.) – would that help? When I was in school those aspects were integrated in the applications of the field of study. And not specifically listing philosophy would make it fall into the “any other field of study” category which is not narrow but inclusive of all other fields of study. Just for fun – there are ethics involved in prostitution. 😉

    I am unimpressed with the majority of secular philosophers since too many of them use their field of study to promote things antithetical to common sense and traditional mores in other fields. It is the philosophers who justified abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and other such ilk with their highly specialized skills or should I say their warped, low-life, libertine, impoverished IQs? Yes, it makes me angry to see such contortionists let loose on our society. In a similar way, I am unimpressed with most of the “Christian” philosophers – too often they seem to do more harm than good (eg: epistemological self-consciousness). I mainly have a dim view of them because of their penchant for going down rabbit paths not because I’m anti-intellectual.

    As for – poets vs. Kierkegaard – well… one needs wisdom in choosing which authors to read in any discipline. Another example would be selectivity with an author (eg: Bonhoeffer, some of his work is worth reading, the rest is not).

    Lastly – as for epistemology of the theology of the cross…. now you’ve completely done and gone lost your lovely, ever-lovin’ Reformed marbles and slid down a rabbit trail! I shall pray you don’t get hopelessly lost. I hope you left a trail of bread crumbs so you can find your way home? ;P

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  150. “Lastly – as for epistemology of the theology of the cross…. now you’ve completely done and gone lost your lovely, ever-lovin’ Reformed marbles and slid down a rabbit trail! I shall pray you don’t get hopelessly lost. I hope you left a trail of bread crumbs so you can find your way home? ;P”

    See? I almost enjoy getting put down by you and Yeazel just to see how you will do it this time. I feel warmth while being told I am cerifiably insane. Nicely done.

    No, I am starting to see a Theology of the Cross epistemeology, but I’m thinkng it would be overkill to develop it here. Maybe another occasion.

    Our differences have been exaggerated in this thread for the sake of fleshing out issues. I actually don’t think we are all that far apart. It has been interesting.

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  151. Zrim: Jeff, have you ever noticed how P&Rs talk about non-Christian education the way Baptists talk about beer?

    Not really, no. In my neck of the woods, it’s fundies who are gaga over Logos.

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  152. MM – It has been fun. 😉

    Re: I am starting to see a Theology of the Cross epistemeology, but I’m thinkng it would be overkill to develop it here.

    In the meantime (for the sake of more fun), here is a question for you: Is the cross forced to explain itself in epistemological terms (what men say about the cross) or is epistemology forced to explain itself in cross terms (what the cross says about men)?

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  153. Lily said: “Strangely enough, the philosophy professor seemed to have a grudging respect by the semester’s end.”

    Having gone through that with some professors too, I find that to be a very rich and satisfying experience, ie., putting up with the persons caricatures of christianity (which usually means a evangelical/pietist/arminian or less so hyper-Calvinist, neo-Cal or theonomist; which translates into a narrow minded and bigoted fundamentalist who has to get out more, to most of those outside the camp of christianity) and all the condescension that is involved in his dealings with you. To get over those barriers to entry to a meaningful discussion, over a period of time, is worth the effort. That may be part of the fellowship of suffering (although some of it might be self-induced) we have to go through that gives us street cred in the kingdom of God. When you sense the persons “grudging respect” you sense that you have somehow done a good work to your neighbor whether he ends up accepting your position (or christianity) or not.

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  154. “Lastly – as for epistemology of the theology of the cross…. now you’ve completely done and gone lost your lovely, ever-lovin’ Reformed marbles and slid down a rabbit trail! I shall pray you don’t get hopelessly lost. I hope you left a trail of bread crumbs so you can find your way home? ;P”

    Way to go Lily-that was really funny. Eminem needs to be knocked upside the head on occasion. I’m curious as to what he means by an epistemology of the cross, sounds like a derivative of epistemological self-consciousness. Like I said at the beginning of this post, philosophy does have a tendency to lead you to where Alice went. But that is not the type of philosophy that Jeff, MM and Paul M. lead you towards. They might have a point but I still need more convincing.

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  155. Zrim,

    I used to listen to John Lofton, R.J. Rushdoony and Otto Scott discuss current events and issues, etc in the church monthly on their “Easy Chair” tapes back in the 80’s. Sending your kids to public schools as child abuse was discussed regularly and vehemently at the Easy Chair.

    Kim Riddlebarger will not even acknowledged John Lofton’s existence at his website when he occasionally makes comments there. Has theonomy ever been put on trial in Presbyterian or Reformed synods like they did with the guy (I forget his name right now) who held Federal Vision ideas about justification?

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  156. John, to my knowledge theonomy has only really been informally shunned but never formally disciplined. And CVT makes up for his philosophy of education by resisting the crown the theonomists tried to force on his brow.

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  157. John, I never meant it as a knock – just good clean silly fun with a friend. In hindsight, I’m thankful MM took it in the spirit it was meant (so thanks again, MM). Only now do I see that it could have been misinterpreted by others – ugh.

    I can’t speak for MM, but I took it as MM teasing you when he said, “theology of the cross epistemology.” I didn’t take it as having anything to do with the dastardly ESC – just the normal usage. I couldn’t resist the opening to tease him about it since I was already replying to him.

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  158. Lily, I did not mean it as a knock either; anytime I see a opening to make a jab at MM I do it out of sheer fun, ie., I know he won’t take it seriously or personally. I still am curious about epistemology of the cross and seeing where he goes with it.

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  159. Lily,

    I forgot to add that my responses to Eminem are probably the result of a family pathology that developed as a result of my father and two brothers struggling to survive in a family business. We got used to jabbing at each other all the time and started looking upon it as normal behaviour. My dad was never the disciplinarian type either. So, he never put a stop to our penchant for knocking each other. He used to laugh about all the time. Sorry, I’ve gotten into a poor me mode again.

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  160. “But when Paul speaks against worldly wisdom it’s almost as if you want philosophy to be an exception. Again, I understand its value just as much as the value of politics. But in both cases, I have found that when one also wants to emphasize the provisional nature and the limitations of certain disciplines and crafts he seems to run the risk of being dinged either anti-intellectual (philosophy) or Anabaptist (politics). Is it really that troubling to, as Lily says, respect boundaries and limitations?”

    Zrim, I am interacting with your usually unqualified warfare against philosophy. Philosophy is done well and poorly, extravagantly and modestly, for relative good and for relative evil. Here you seem to be arguing with someone I don’t recognize.

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  161. Yeazel, in my youth we always saved our best zingers for family and friends, not for strangers or enemies, who get formality or blunt instruments. I suppose I should periodically say something to make sure third parties don’t think there’s any hostility between us.

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  162. “In the meantime (for the sake of more fun), here is a question for you: Is the cross forced to explain itself in epistemological terms (what men say about the cross) or is epistemology forced to explain itself in cross terms (what the cross says about men)?”

    Some see natural phenomena and explore them. What are they? What function do they have? How are they mediately caused? Is there something about them that can be harnessed or otherwise utilized to improve our lot or our understanding of other phenomena? A philosopher may do something very similar, except applying these kinds of questions to our thought life. I don’t think the cross necessarily negates that kind of inquiry anymore than it negates geology.

    Lest I give the wrong impression, I have profitted from pondering the theology of the cross in recent months. At the same time, I’m exploring its various applications and limitations.

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  163. MM, I’ve satisfied Jeff with a set of qualified words. If you’re not happy with those then I guess I’ll have to live with imperfection (ahem). But what you call unqualified warfare has simply been a way of trying to follow Paul’s suggestion that philosophy, even when done well, is severely limited in what it can accomplish.

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  164. So, let me get this right MM- you are actually sitting down and scrutinizing (with lists perhaps- oh, I forget, you are adverse to lists) the “various applications and limitations” of a theology of the cross. I think Jason Stellman tried to do that in his book about 2K theology. Why is it you Reformed types are so cautious with Luther? Perhaps that is the more pressing question.

    I heard that phenomena point in a R.C. Sproul lecture in his Ideas have Consequences Series of tapes. I think it was Plato who was the originator of saving the phenomena idea. I have a German and Dutch heritage so I too have a penchant for philosophizing but I don’t think I have advanced as far as you have in my exploration of the field- Luther (who was not averse to some philosophy) and confessionalism has curbed my enthusiasm to probe further and I have other pressing problems I have to deal with so my penchant has taken a back seat these days. One of my favorite novels is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I also became close friends with a guy I went through a rehab with who was a philosophy major at Berkley. He made his living by following Grateful Dead tours as they traveled throughout the US and Europe selling acid to those at the concerts (he was hooked on heroin and crack cocaine). He had the Fed’s after him but he never got caught. His father was a hotel owner in Vegas so you know what that means. He had an IQ off the charts but was very confused about Christianity. He thought Martin Scorcese’s portrait of Christ in the movie he made about him was spot on. He said he had a conversion experience when he rolled a semi-truck and thought he was going to die. He gave me one of the most endearing compliments I have ever received by anyone in a AA book we all were given at the rehab and had others sign and leave remarks in when we finished the program. Amazingly, he was a rather humble and soft spoken person whom one would never guess he had the backround he did. I digress, I am not sure why I went that route.

    To answer your opening question I would chose the latter. Got to go!!

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  165. Actually, Z, unless I’ve missed something I was well-satisfied with the detente between you and Jeff.

    Kind of weird having a conversation of this nature that comes this close to resolution.

    Paul didn’t say that, but with a couple tweaks I could.

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  166. “So, let me get this right MM- you are actually sitting down and scrutinizing (with lists perhaps- oh, I forget, you are adverse to lists) the “various applications and limitations” of a theology of the cross.”

    Indeed, Yeazel. As a result my “theology of glory” sensor is getting more finely calibrated so I recognize that kind of thing more quickly. For example, I just learned that some kindasorta friends just named their dog “Faith.” I quickly realized that they are surely into the theology of glory.

    How odd. I guess they will open the front door and yell “Faith!” And surely Faith will have to go through potty training with its mishaps. Eventually, Faith will die. And people wonder why some of us scratch our heads about evangelicals.

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  167. Darryl, my recommendation is that you find out what something means (eg. epistemological self-consciousness) before you try to critique it. Do your homework, man.

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  168. Baus, considering the fact that the philosophers cannot agree on a precise definition for self-consciousness, much less for epistemological self-consciousness, it seems foolish to chastise Dr. Hart for agreeing with them. Or do you know more than the professional philosophers and by gnosis some kind of special knowledge? Just wondering…

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  169. Baus, Thanks for the link you provided earlier on Dooyeweerd. I am not presently familiar with his writing but based on what I saw from this link, I plan to learn more. I was intrigued by his view of the “Integral” that opposes the theoretical attitude, which tries to split life and world apart into separate spheres. My thinking strongly leans towards his view that everyday life and attitude experiences life and the world as a whole, a diverse whole that is nevertheless integral.

    The theory that you can divide life into “saved” and “good” as though they are separate spheres does seem to lead, as Dooyeweerd says, to an attitude that we ‘stand over against’ life.

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  170. Assuming ‘Christian worldview’ is necessary to have the correct epistemic foundation for knowledge, why does it appear to have no practical significance at all? After all, worldview thinkers are – rightly – against gnosticism, and yet it appears that their own ideas only have ‘spiritual’ significance (unless epistemically christian plumbers are objectively better than secular counterparts).

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  171. Baus, your pattern seems to be:
    1) Kick Darryl in the shins.
    2) Disappear.
    3) If necessary, repeat #1 and #2.

    It seems to me that Chris E has given you an opportunity to explain rather than exclaim. How about it?

    And here’s something really basic: the modal spheres are vital to Dooyweerd’s thought, but he just pulls them out of the air. It’s quite a thing to posit “these are the spheres, because I say so.”

    For anyone interested, here are his spheres: http://bylogos.blogspot.com/2010/09/dooyeweerds-legacy.html

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  172. Baus, I know, I know, I never measure up to your ex cathedra neo-Calvinism. My problem is that whenever I cite a neo-Calvinist you tell me the source is not neo-Calvinist. What’s a neo-Calvinist critic to do?

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  173. Paul didn’t say that […philosophy, even when done well, is severely limited in what it can accomplish], but with a couple tweaks I could.

    Mike, I missed this last response. Not to beat a dead horse, but are you saying that Paul isn’t suggesting a significant dichotomy between worldly wisdom and the cross? If so, I don’t follow. That seems to be precisely the point. What else could it really be? Still, what sort of tweaks would be in order?

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  174. Zrim, at various times you have gone to bat (remember Ted Williams) for the validity of natural reason, i.e., plumbers, statesmen, psychotherapists, and novelists all have profitable insights notwithstanding that their perspective is not “Christian.” But then its only philosophers who are outside the camp helping satan worshippers prepare their goat sacrifices.

    In your view of Paul at Athens, all philosophers from Aristotle to Zeno (A to Z) are uniquely and extensively condemned as engaging in futility. That’s like citing Jesus’ clashes with the Pharisees as a condemnation of theology. There’s micro-philosophy and macro philosophy. There’s philosophy based on biology and philosophy that borders on psychology. It’s a broad field of analysis. Yes, there is worldly wisdom in philosophy that is the properly the target of Paul’s denunciation, but there is also worldly wisdom in psychology, sociology, poetry, etc.

    In other words, I’m not on board with the formula [worldly wisdom = philosophy]. If you are going to extend the application of the theology of the cross to philosophy, you are gong to have to apply it to numerous other disciplines as well. But if you do that, isn’t biblicism your only way to truth? Or – wink, wink – you could join the worldview perspective and say they are all valid insofar as they are based on a Christian worldview.

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  175. Chris E, I think you rightly point out that worldviewism does not deliver as much as it promises. I run into e-political (=evangelical political, but there’s not much left of “evangelical,” so it just gets one letter) types that say worldview dictates politics. But they can’t tell me how worldview differentiates among Republicans, what it tells us about military engagement in the Middle East, etc. And, yes, there is still the plumber or baseball player trying to apply worldview and epistemology to their craft.

    But here’s a dilemma: if worldview does start delivering detail, it will almost certainly violate Liberty of Conscience, as supposed extensions of “Christian” thought are seen as biblical and therefore binding. This happens in an informal shunning phenomena in some churches if individual attenders are not on board the Worldview Express.

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  176. MM, it may seem like I’ve had it specially and unfairly out for philosophy, but that might have something to do with philosophy being a big part of the point in the post. If philosophy is the height of worldly wisdom then Paul’s chastisement of it surely applies to lesser forms. So I agree that worldly wisdom resides in numerous other disciplines, and as such I would say that the cross indeed stands opposed to all of it in whatever its manifestations. But I don’t at all see how that backs me up into some kind of Biblicism, because the point I would want to make about all worldly wisdom, disciplines and tasks–from psychology to philosophy to politics in relation to the theology of the cross–is that it should all on the one hand be allowed to retain its provisional dignity but on the other be put into eternal perspective. All of it helps us plod out this terrestrial life, but not a lick of it helps get us to celestial habitation.

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  177. Certainly, Zrim, we’d both want to throw milk stools if the word preached in either of our congregations was a worldview lecture with a few scriptures appended. Not everyone has to be a philosopher or even be particularly interested in philosophy. We wouldn’t want psychologistic preaching, biologistic preaching, political preaching, etc., either. We can learn from each of these fields, but none should dominate and not one them is a ladder to heaven.

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  178. MM –

    The weakness and destitution of the whole human race is revealed in an event that has cosmic significance – the day we come face to face with death. No amount of philosophy, an exceptional moral life, self-sacrifice, knowledge or wisdom can save us. In death, we see these things for what they are – their value doesn’t even register on the weighing scales. The only thing of value is Christ and the mercy of God for us in him.

    It is the theology of the cross that puts everything into perspective and relegates everything to it’s given place – all of creation is to be in submission to Christ. Daily we struggle with our weakness, and are ready to succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Daily we struggle with our vanity to be people of significance – to think more of ourselves than we should, puffed up by our knowledge, wise in our own eyes, and trusting in our ourselves or others. We too often forget that we are all but dust and the day of our death is set. Whether we know it or not, we are daily on a journey towards our death.

    It is the theology of the cross that levels every human vanity and sets us upright. To humble us and to bring to remembrance Christ and to trust in Christ, not in ourselves or princes. Christ Jesus, who has already overcome every human weakness, paid for every sin, and given us life – to remember that to Him you matter, and He will be with you through every sorrow and dark hour. He is our wisdom – a Wisdom that crushes all human philosophies.

    I offer this quote from my favorite theologian of the cross:

    “The theologian of glory observes the world, the works of creation. With his intellect he perceives behind these the visible things of God, His power, wisdom, and generosity. But God remains invisible to him. The theologian of the cross looks to the Crucified One. Here there is nothing great or beautiful or exalted as in the splendid works of creation. Here there is humiliation, shame, weakness, suffering, and agonizing death… [That] “God can be found only in suffering and the cross”… is a bedrock statement of Luther’s theology and that of the Lutheran Church. Theology is theology of the cross, nothing else. A theology that would be something else is a false theology… Measured by everything the world calls wisdom, as Paul already saw, the word of the cross is the greatest foolishness, the most ridiculous doctrine that can confront a philosopher. That the death of one man should be the salvation of all, that this death on Golgotha should be this atoning sacrifice for all the sins of the world, that the suffering of an innocent one should turn away the wrath of God—these are assertions that fly in the face of every ethical and religious notion of man as he is by nature… God Himself has sent us into the hard school of the cross. There, on the battlefields, in the prison camps, under the hail of bombs, and among the shattered sick and wounded, there the theology of the cross may be learned “by dying”… To those whose illusions about the world and about man, and the happiness built on these, have been shattered, the message of the cross may come as profoundly good news.”

    —Hermann Sasse, “The Theology of the Cross: Theologia Crucis,” from his book, “We Confess Jesus Christ”

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  179. Eloquent, Lily. Seriously.

    But eloquence can obscure. Should we abolish all university departments of philosophy, sociology, and psychology? Or, for that matter, theology, since it is a layer of theory on top of the cross? If something is not salvific it is worthless? Tell me how your view of a university curiculum differs from that of an old-time fundamentalist.

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  180. MM says: “Tell me how your view of a university curiculum differs from that of an old-time fundamentalist.”

    A fundamentalist would make it an imperative to stay clear of philosophy or anything that may lead one away from the scriptures or one’s traditional confessions of faith. A non-fundamentalist would say you have the freedom to pursue the wisdom found in a university curiculum but be careful you don’t get seduced because you are still under the influence of the noetic effects of sin. It is easy to get led astray. Make sure that you have good guides leading you and those you can dialog with to check your learning with. Especially don’t go off into the woods or high mountain cabins and isolate yourself from others.

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  181. Especially, don’t go off into the woods (like Edwards, Finney and the guy who started Alcoholics Anonymous-Bill W) or high mountain cabins (Neitzsche) and isolate yourself from others.

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  182. MM–

    Re: But, eloquence can obscure. Should we abolish all university departments of philosophy, sociology, and psychology? If something is not salvific it is worthless? Tell me how your view of a university curiculum differs from that of an old-time fundamentalist.

    IMO, a main problem with philosophy and the other soft sciences you mentioned is that they need to recognized as such and distinguished from the hard sciences. It is the rhetoric and sophistry in those sciences that too often obscures the truth and darkens the mind against the truth, and thus leads one astray. If theology is the Queen of the sciences, it is her work to rule them and their work to submit to her. Education is not salvific, but it can be valuable to our vocations through which we love and serve our neighbors. It’s not a matter of pitting education against the bible, it’s a matter of education keeping it’s place within all of the God-given limits and boundaries in creation. Man is not omniscient nor can he evolve or climb a ladder to reach that kind of knowledge. Man should be humbled before the fact that the more knowledge he acquires, the more he can see that it is but a drop in a bucket, and the more he can see that he cannot necessarily use that knowledge for good that he would (eg: latent consequences).

    Re: Or, for that matter, theology, since it is a layer of theory on top of the cross?

    If your theology is a theory layered on the top of the cross, I would say you have a theology of glory, which is no theology at all. The cross is the catholic heritage of the church. We are saved by a crucified God. If your theology does not serve that end, it’s rubbish. I’m fond of God’s answer to Job in these matters:

    Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

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  183. John,

    Re: Edwards (and others’ ecstatic experiences).

    Hermann Sasse has a lovely answer to that kind of malarky:

    Just as the Bibical concepts of resurrection and eternity are hardly any longer understood in modern Christianity, so also the understanding of the Holy Spirit has more and more disappeared. One does not yet know who the Holy Spirit is if one knows the workings of the Spirit or of spirits as reported in the epistles of Paul. He tells of speaking in tongues, of prophecy, of visions, of things heard, of gifts of healing, of the power to do miracles, and all sorts of gifts. Most of these phenomena do not belong only to Christianity but are found in many a religion. They are native to ecstatic religion, which is found all over the world. Here a person thinks of his powers and capacities as intensified into the supernatural because divinity is at work in him. Such primitive expressions of ecstatic religion were much prized in Corinth as evidence of possessing the Holy Spirit. Paul himself had experience of them, and yet he ranks them less than the silent working of the Spirit of Christ. In making this distinction, he does the same as the prophets of the Old Testament. They had such experiences too, and yet they decisiively marked themselves off from the ecstatic seers and professional prophets. What is the significance of this distinction? It is connected with the distinction between true and false prophets and so also the scrupulous distinction between God and man – between what is truly God’s doing and what is not.

    From Jesus Christ is Lord, The Church’s Original Confession, in his book, We Confess Jesus Christ

    P.S. If you haven’t read Sasse – shame on you! Gotta go for the rest of the day – so won’t be able to comment more.

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  184. MM, I’m flummoxed as to why holding the cross up to all forms of worldly wisdom mean abolishing learning. You keep suggesting some latent form of biblicist fundamentalism on the part of theologians of the cross, but I’ve never heard of one thinking that somehow this implies some sort of world flight piety. In fact, theologians of the cross tend to be quite the opposite, to the angst of fundamentalists who deem confessional Protestants “worldly and carnal” because of their world affirming theology, piety and practice.

    John, in my experience fundamentalists would actually encourage one to be led away from his traditional confessions of faith.

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  185. I think our Lutherans are not on the same page. I don’t see Lily attributing truth-value to anything but the cross and theology. Lily seems to see only a pragmatic value to scholarship. JY, you are saying more than that, and I agree with you.

    Lily, you fail to see that theology is theory. Hopefully it does justice to the data of the Bible and illuminates rather than obscures its message. The Theology of the Cross is a theory.

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  186. Let me add that to supplement and oversee our university curriculum studies we should always be increasing our knowledge and understanding of the scriptures with reading good historical, biblical and systematic (or dogmatic-for Lutherans) theology plus studying our traditions confessions with other church members And, of course, going to church each Sunday to hear the Law and the Gospel and partake of the sacrament.

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  187. Zrim,

    I did not word that properly, I was referring to the fundamentalists “fundamentals of the faith” as their confession of faith. Your are right, they do not hold to a high view of reformational confessions of faith.

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  188. When you read Bill W.’s account of his “conversion” experience it is almost exactly like that of Charles Finney’s “waves of liquid love” passing into and out of his body. I believe that happened to Bill W. while in a hospital bed, while it was in the woods with Charles Finney. Another good reason to not put much stock in conversion experiences. Also, the 12 steps of AA are more in line with revivalistic theology than reformation theology.

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  189. Zrim, going back to our detente, I think one needs to identify what qualifies as “worldly wisdom” for Paul, just as one needs to determine the illegitimate “signs” for Paul. After all, he does in another place tell us to “teach with all wisdom” (Col 3) just after telling us to avoid “empty and deceptive philosophy” (Col 2).

    So there *is* a kind of godly wisdom, and a kind of ungodly wisdom. If the former is the gospel — which I think is what Paul is referring to — then the latter is likely to be the anti-gospel, the kind of “wisdom” that demands proof prior to faith, or demands human traditions, or demands rules like “do not taste, touch, or handle.”

    Thoughts?

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  190. Jeff, I think you’re right (but probably only because I agree with you–just a little epistemological humor there). Certainly there are godly and ungodly kinds of wisdom and signs. When I think godly wisdom I think the cross, as opposed to philosophy. When I think godly signs I think the sacraments, as opposed to wonders.

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  191. MM —

    Let’s see…

    1. Your translation skills could use a little help.

    2. I believe John and I are on the same page – we’re not clones – ya know? As for value, there is no comparison between earthly knowledge and the surpassing excellency of the knowledge of Christ. How do I know? For the bible tells me so! I worship Christ while I merely value earthly wisdom. I’m beginning to suspect you’re a closet sadist looking for gratification in all the wrong places – you already know the answers to this stuff. 😉

    3. Ok, I’ll be more serious here. The truth and value of the sciences is subordinate to Christ never equal or above him. The truth and value in the sciences is part of creation and gift to the kingdom of man. The perversion of the sciences is from man’s fall and the devil’s handiwork. Somehow, it looks like it may be somewhere in these areas where you keep missing the connections to understand what I’m trying to say? Perhaps, thinking in terms of hierarchy, limits, and boundaries would help? Christ is the Creator and Lord over all? We are created beings who are subject to the limitations and boundaries that have been given to us? Ergo – the value and truth apprehended is flawed, has limited comprehension, ethical boundaries, and so forth. Indeed, we are fools when we do not heed these things – hence, the devil’s playground in easily observed in the field of philosophy (couldn’t resist). Then again, I tend to prefer homely philosophers (Peanuts, Dave Barry, and Wendell Berry types… )

    4. Is the cross fact or theory? I would say the passion, cross, and resurrection are all verified historical facts/events. If theology is merely a theory of these events, well – I would say: bunk. I would agree that the theology of the cross is perception of reality or a conclusion drawn from it, but would not agree that it is a theory. Natch, I think it’s the most perceptive understanding.

    5. Since I don’t see vocations as merely pragmatic, I wouldn’t see scholarship as merely pragmatic. Vocations offer all kinds of enjoyment and satisfaction – I’m just not fond of rotten philosophy and strong tendency towards elitist attitudes that seems to be pervasive in that field. The pressure on PhDs and practicing scholars to find novel ideas to present in their theses or journals so they can acquire a degree or keep their job bothers me – it breeds license. I am becoming convinced that the majority of our current institutions tend towards creating more brainless idiots than true scholars. Then again, I’m not fond of used car salesmen, either. 😉

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  192. I do not think we are on different pages either Lily. And I don’t think what our views about university curiculums is covered in our confessions of faith so even if we do differ here does it really matter? University curiculums are more a matter of general revelation not special revelation. I am not sure if Lutherans and Calvinists have differing ideas about general revelation (or the light of nature). It certainly does not fall under the category of critical gospel truths interpreted from special revelation.

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  193. I stand corrected, Lily.

    [It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind and a man’s duty not to point it out.]

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  194. Zrim: When I think godly wisdom I think the cross, as opposed to philosophy.

    If you’ll let me push a little further: If it is true, as you say, that godly wisdom is the cross, but ungodly wisdom is philosophy, then it follows that things like the philosophy of language are opposed to the cross, and linguists should never come within 20 miles of Bible translations.

    And logic, that spawn of Aristotle ( 😉 ), is opposed to the cross, and one should never concern oneself with what does and does not qualify as a good and necessary inference.

    That’s not quite right, right?

    But if, instead, the empty and deceptive philosophy of Col 3 is not “philosophy in general”, but a particular kind of philosophy, the kind that is empty and deceptive (because of its demands that oppose genuine faith), then we have a much more understandable situation.

    Zrim: When I think godly signs I think the sacraments, as opposed to wonders.

    Same response. Paul and Peter actually performed wonders as well as instituting the sacraments. That doesn’t mean we do also, cessationally speaking. But in terms of understanding the text, Paul the performer of wonders cannot possibly be speaking of all wonders as contrary to the gospel.

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  195. MM & John,

    I guess I’m clueless. I don’t see how I’ve changed my mind or ever said philosophy shouldn’t be part of a school curriculum – I’d love to see basic logic introduced in high school. I can only think that the fault must be mine for not being clearer and trying to keep my answers asap. My beef is with the way philosophy is pervasively misused in mental gymnastics to come up with foolish speculations – I suppose one could argue that evolution is an example of this kind of stupidity, or utilitarianism it’s inhumanity, and so forth. I also don’t have much use for most of their schools of thought, It’s like eating carp – mostly bones that need to be spit out and very little meat. I’d rather have lobster – easy shell to remove and yum!

    The good examples of philosophy at work that I’ve appreciated are in apologetics and the creeds which addressed heresy. I’m also not sure why philosophy would be considered anything but left hand kingdom skills (reasoning) subject to the fall. Buyer beware.

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  196. Jeff, that logic strikes me as much too wooden and devoid of nuance, especially in light of what has been said up to this point, specifically that the theology of the cross isn’t saying what fundamentalism does when it casts the temporal against the eternal, which really is the larger point here. At the same time, I don’t see how it helps the larger point to say that some philosophy can share space with the cross. I know this kind of sharp distinction doesn’t still well, but that seems like saying some law can share space with the gospel. Maybe the distinction between people and spheres can help assuage that discomfort a little: while law and gospel cannot mix as categories, they can co-exist in believers, such that as created beings we still need law and philosophy to do earth. But as simultaneously redeemed people, we don’t need them to do eternity, but rather we need cross and gospel.

    I know I said it before, but I guess it bears repeating in light of your question: if there really is a kind of philosophy that comports with the cross then wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect Paul to have set up institutes of Christian philosophy along with planting churches? It seems to me that in order to do that one would have to think it reasonable to meet philosophy on its own terms and beat the epistemologists at their own game. But again, if Calvin right and philosophy is inherently unable to do that then all you end up with is churches preaching Christ and him crucified, which is precisely what Paul resolved to do. I mean, does this really sound like a man who thinks that there is a kind of philosophy that does and maybe we need institutes of philosophy at least as much as churches:

    And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
    Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—

    these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

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  197. Zrim, I had a dumb thought I wanted to pass by you. It struck me that one problem with “Christian” philosophy would be that it is often guilty of mishandling the third use of the law. Any validity?

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  198. Zrim: if there really is a kind of philosophy that comports with the cross then wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect Paul to have set up institutes of Christian philosophy along with planting churches?

    I don’t see that as a reasonable expectation. Linguistics also comports with the gospel (as in, “[the Scripture] are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come”); yet Paul did not set up Wycliffe Bible Translators. A lack of a Bible Translation Dept. of the early church doesn’t tell us much.

    But more basically:

    The law does indeed comport with the gospel, in this sense: The Law is not contrary to the promises of God (Gal 3.21), but is to be understood in right relationship to those promises. Namely, that righteousness does not come through law-keeping, rather through the law we become conscious of sin.

    ***When Paul knocks law-keeping, he is careful to continue to affirm the goodness of the Law.***

    But the “worldly wisdom” of 1 Cor 1 and Col 2 in no way comports with the gospel. It is inimical to it. To adopt the worldly wisdom of Col 2 is to fall into theological error and to fall into sin. To teach worldly wisdom is to attempt to take others captive and lead them away from Christ. There is nothing good it.

    Thus, if you were correct that Paul’s knock on “worldly wisdom” is a knock on all philosophy, then we would have to conclude that all philosophy is sinful.

    So back to Calvin: he distinguishes between philosophy in general, and philosophy which is particularly aimed at supplanting or adding to the Word of God:

    Through philosophy. As many have mistakingly imagined that philosophy is here condemned by Paul, we must point out what he means by this term … Let us, however, bear in mind, that under the term philosophy Paul has merely condemned all spurious doctrines which come forth from man’s head, whatever appearance of reason they may have.

    — Calv Comm Col 2

    Paul’s knock on philosophy is tied to sola scriptura.

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  199. Lily, Reformed worldviewists tend to be fond of the misguided idea that Lutherans (and the “cryptic-Lutherans” known as Reformed 2kers) have little to no category for the third use. But as much as I’d like to push back as hard as we both get shoved I suppose I need some dots connected. I will say that from my own experience living amongst the epistemologically Reformed the idea that the Christian life is all about grateful obedience seems at best an antiquated notion and at worst lost on them.

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  200. Jeff, again, if you think the point is that philosophy is sinful then something seems to be getting missed. It isn’t sinful. The Christian may do as much philosophy as he wants. But once he starts pressing philosophy into the service of the gospel he’s gone as off the rails as he who presses law into its service.

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  201. I just read a section in Darryl’s book, FROM BILLY GRAHAM TO SARAH PALIN, that brought me back to the original point of this post- is it really necessary for Chrisitans to be so absorbed in epistemological self-consciousness that we become “perpetual philosophical motion machines?” Or, are we not created with complex instincts which manifest themselves as we go about our daily Christian duties- almost unconsciously. Is it really necessary to self-consciously seek epistemological self-consciousness?

    This is how one writer defined epistemological self-consciousness: developing “a greater understanding over time of what one’s presuppositions are, and a greater willingness to put these presuppostions into action; it affects both wheat and tares-there is a historical process of differentiation”…. where our presuppositions inevitably manifest themselves.

    This quest for epistemological self-consciousness seems to me to be the way the neo-Cal and theonomist conceives of how the sanctification process works. We self-consciously cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He inspires us from within on this endevour. It also seems to me that this is just another form of pietism which causes us to look within rather than outside ourselves to Christ and our neighbor. This theonomist and neo-Cal way of sanctification seems to lead to a perpetual conflict with unbelievers (tares) and it is the Christians goal or purpose to gain more “power” over them. On the other hand, the goal or purpose of those who look outside themselves are not in perpetual conflict with unbelievers but are just going about their business and seek only to serve them with the gifts God has given them. This seems to be more in line with the complex instict paradigm that Darryl was articulating.

    This is the quote that got me thinking more about this. It is after his discussion about Ron Sider and his self-conscious (epistemological self-consciousness-it is ironic that he develops a completely different political theory from scripture than theonomists do) attempt to develop political theory from the scriptures: ,,,,,.”the desire for biblically derived political engagement is the wedge that divides evangelical Protestants from the rest of the American Right. That the Bible itself does not unite American conservatives is one obvious predicament. Roman Catholics and Protestants include different books in the Bible and hold divergent theories for how to interpret Scripture; in addition, Chrisitans, Jews, and Mormons, just for starters, hardly agree about holy writ. But even beyond surface differences over the contents and interpretations of the Bible, evangelical biblicism- the attempt to derive all truth from Scripture- invariably causes the wheels of the Religious Right to veer from the path of conservatism. If evangelicals do not find in the Bible discussion of the priorities or policies that have animated conservatives- after all, balanced budgets and strong national defense were not at the forefront of Christ’s teaching- their attachment to the Right weakens noticeably. The search for all political answers in holy writ may be admirable behavior for believers, but it is marginalizing for citizens or members of a political party. Even worse, deriving one’s political philosophy from the Bible is remarkably deceptive, and maybe even hypocritical, if it merely baptizes the Left or the Right as Jesus’ politics.

    So, the question one has to ask oneself is, does the quest for epistemological self-consciousness cause more harm than good? Is it just another form of pietism? And what kind of implications does this have for how we go about seeking for truth, insight, knowledge and understanding in our vocational lives?

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  202. John Y., no easier answer to this one, but I sure do wish neo-Cal’s and theonomists would actually recognize the possible pitfalls of self-consciousness (and its implications for sanctification as you observe) and at least reform their system.

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  203. Darryl, could you explain what you meant by your conclusion from chapter 6 and why it does not conflict with what you were saying about “complex instincts” in this post. You say this about William Jennings Bryan’s speech at the 1896 Democratic National Convention: “But Bryan’s political theorizing bore the telltale marks of evangelical political reflection, according to Mark Noll. It drew ‘upon intuitive conceptions of justice, because evangelicals in general have trusted their sanctified common sense more than formal theology, the systematic study of history, or the pronouncements of formal moral philosophy.’ Not to put too fine a point on it, Noll writes, ‘Evangelical political reflection is nurtured by a commonsensical biblicism for the same reasons that a ‘Bible only’ mentality has flourished among evangelicals.’ For this reason, the appeal of the Bible or simply following the teachings of Jesus for evangelicals should not surprise anyone who understands the history and character of born-again Protestants in America. What may be surprising is that American citizens with such evangelical convictions ever identified with political conservatism.”

    What I find confusing is that you seem to appeal to “complex instincts” in our giftings from God and how we live these out but seem to appeal to the opposite when working out a political philosophy or a philosophy to relate to non-Christians with. Am I missing or not seeing something here? Or, does this have more to do with evangelicals, theonomists and neo-Cals systems of thought in how they engage in cultural thinking and action? It seems to me that because all three groups either reject of or suspicion of 2K they inevitably come to different conclusions about Christians role in the culture.

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  204. John Y., I see your confusion but the kind of intuition for which I am arguing has more to do with a contrast with epistemology than it does an intuition of justice. In other words, Bryan’s common-sensical approach did not do justice to the highly complex nature of the economy (or the interests of farmers and bankers). In this case, intuition may be simplistic. And part of my own notion of intuition includes a sense of complexity that calls for harder thinking (but not more reflection on how we think about how we think). Make sense?

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  205. Yes, that was helpful, but good luck with the neo-Cals and theonomists on that one, ie., an intuition that “includes a sense of complexity that calls for harder thinking (but not more reflection on how we think about how we think). They would have to discard the way they have been thinking for their whole Christian lives. Much ink has been spilled on their reflection of how we think about how we think.

    So, what I am also hearing is a conscious effort to discard the concepts of anti-thesis and autonomous human reasoning from our cognitive processes,ie., the scriptures as the new software package we are trying to consciously input into our psyches (minds and hearts, as in the new covenant described in Jeremiah) which is what distinguishes us from non-Christians. At least that was how I was conceiving of it when I was reading lots of neo-Cal and theonomist literature. But I may be going off into a tangent with that remark.

    And, another thought that comes to mind, do we think differently when we are inductively searching the scriptures in order to come to doctrinal conclusions which have been controversial in the church (arminianism vrs. calvinism; baptism; soteriological and ecclesiological issues, etc.) and when we are thinking culturally through matters such as what seems to be the most just political theory? I am just throwing that out there- it might not be that significant and I am not really articulating well what I think I am trying to say. Maybe someone can help me out a bit here. Does someone hear what I am trying to say and perhaps can articulate it better? Thinking confessionally and with a 2K cultural perspective is a lot different than how most of Christiandome is thinking these days.

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  206. John Y., I don’t believe in luck, only in providence. In God’s timing the neo-Cals will see.

    Also, I’m not trying to get rid of the anti-thesis. For a Western Heritage prof who spends as much time as I do showing that the Jews and Greeks differed, I’m loathe to abandon the divide between believers and unbelievers. But I am questioning the noetic effects of regeneration (and I guess of the fall as well). I don’t think we gain new mental abilities with regeneration.

    As for reading the Bible for politics or doctrine, I think it’s a similar process, especially if we try to find proof texts for our convictions. I do think that looking for political data is harder (but also a lot more interesting — the pagan rulers at the end of Acts are fodder for worthwhile reflection on the nature of good government.)

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  207. Zrim: But once he starts pressing philosophy into the service of the gospel he’s gone as off the rails as he who presses law into its service.

    Well, perhaps I’m not understanding you then. Because certainly the law is pressed into service of the Gospel: That’s what the first use is all about. And certainly philosophy is pressed into service of theology: that’s what “good and necessary inference” is all about.

    So I’m afraid I can’t follow.

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  208. What you may be getting at is that law should not be mistaken for gospel (as in: “faith equals faithful obedience”, and other such nonsense).

    And likewise, philosophy should not be mistaken for Scripture, which seems to happen a lot with some worldviewers.

    Is that what you have in mind?

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  209. Darryl, thank you for the response; your comments are interesting and worth thinking about more. I still have questions about the noetic effects of sin and why it is that people come to such differing doctrinal conclusions when they are reading the same scriptures. I guess we are not thinking hard enough or clearly enough, or, do not make it a priority to develop these skills more. I hear you saying that the noetic effects of sin are negligible and regeneration does not change our thinking much. Believers have no advantage over unbelievers in regards to the clarity of their thinking. Is that an accurate interpretation of what you said?

    I am sure the neo-Cals and theonomists are believing that in God’s timing you will one day see too. Just like us Lutherans think that Calvinists will come to their senses one day and believe what we believe. What is it that makes us think that we (meaning all of us in particular) are more right than the other guy? BTW, not expecting you to answer that.

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  210. Darryl: Don, if you can’t distinguish between saved and good, does that mean I should admit Arvo Part as a member to my congregation?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be arguing that because we must distinguish between one who produces great works of art from one who is saved by faith, that God’s will and design for His creation (i.e., the common but good world) must be distinguished from God’s will and design for His Church (the saved and holy realm).

    Since you appreciate Wendell Berry, I will quote from his collection of essays, “What are Humans For?” to counter this argument.

    Perhaps the great disaster of human history is one that happened to or within religion: that is, the conceptual division between the holy and the world, the excerpting of the Creator from the creation. “The churches . . . excerpt sanctity from the human economy and its work just as Cartesian science has excerpted it from the material creation. And it is easy to see the interdependence of these two desecrations: the desecration of nature would have been impossible without the desecration of work, and vice versa.

    In other words, the conceptual division, according to Berry, results in the excerpting of the Creator from his creation, and thus prevents creation (the common, but good world) from being understood as a destined dwelling place for holiness. In an article titled “On the Integrity of Space, Time, Matter and Motion”, David L. Schindler writes:

    What I wish to propose, in light of this statement by Berry, is that there is an intrinsic connection between a religion originally reduced by its dualistic reading of the relation between God and the secular and a secularity that is thereby itself originally reduced by virtue of the same dualism. This original “secularizing”-through-dualistic-reduction of the secular remains hidden and appears harmless so long as a relation to God continues to be – arbitrarily – added to the secular, an addition which has been readily forthcoming throughout most of America’s history. Today, however, this “secularizing” reduction of the secular has taken a more overt and aggressive form, turning more explicitly against religion. My point is that this should really come as no surprise: a secularity that has been given its original meaning in abstraction from God already and in principle conceives any relation to God as an arbitrary addition to itself. It is a small logical step to construe this arbitrary addition, over time, as an imposition from without: as something to be kept at a distance or indeed removed altogether from the secular, precisely to safeguard secularity’s original integrity as secular.

    In a footnote to the above, Schindler says:

    Again, it should be stressed that religionists intended this separation to-be itself an “expression of religious devotion,” one that protected the gratuitousness of God’s creation and guaranteed God’s transcendence. Thc problem is that they construed this rightful gratuitousness and transcendence of God-of the God of Revelation-in terms of a “superadded” relation that presupposed an original extrincism.

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  211. Darryl, or whomever is interested, I am just trying to understand this better: The noetic effects of sin causes us to suppress the knowledge of God in particular, but Van Tillians believe it also causes us to think wrongly about the world we live in and how we think about ourselves. When you imply that the noetic effects of sin were negligible at the fall and regeneration does not effect our reasoning abilities you’re agreeing with Van Til that sin causes us to suppress the knowledge of God (and regeneration causes us to no longer suppress this knowledge) but that it does not cause us to think wrongly about the world or ourselves. Our reasoning capabilities in this respect remain intact and regeneration does nothing to improve these reasoning capabilities. Is that a more accurate assessment of how you think? So, it is not really necessary to try to line up our thinking about the world and ourselves with the scriptures because the scriptures do not really address these issues. The fall did not effect our ability to reason clearly about the world and ourselves, although some reason about these things better than others.

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  212. I am not sure if there is any way to prove the assertions I was making in my previous post but how one thinks about the noetic effects of sin does seem to have far reaching implications to how we think theologically (redemptively) and how we think culturally (those things related to God’s good creation).

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  213. John,

    Obviously, I don’t speak for Darryl, but I think that Augustine provides the correct answer to your question. According to Augustine, our human nature was created good, but the angels and Adam were endowed with a will to either glorify or rebel against God. As a result of that rebellion, our will turned towards glorifying ourselves rather than God. Given that biblical scenario, our reasoning ability is not destroyed, but it now serves a will that is bent on ourselves rather than the glory of God.

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  214. Don,

    Then you would tend to think that sin would effect the way we think about everything- God, the world and ourselves, with no varying degrees in either realms. Our wills bent on ourselves, rather than God, is what causes our minds to distort reality no matter what we are thinking about.

    From what I gather, from the posts you have made, you would consider yourself more in line with the neo-Cals than 2Kers. What I am seeking to understand better is some of the main differences which cause 1Kers (neo-Cals and theonomists) and 2Kers to come to the conclusions they do about redemption and creation. What makes this confusing is that some neo-Cals and theonomists also consider themselves 2Kers. I am just trying to sort this all out in my mind and go back to the main sources which are causing the different perspectives.

    The attitudes that each has regarding theology, philosophy, logic and intuition seems to be a focal point but I am having a hard time grasping why these differing attitudes towards each of these ways of thinking causes the 1Kers and 2Kers to come into conflict with each other. What are the differences of reasoning with logic and reasoning with intuition and does sin effect the way we reason. Is there more to it than just our wills being bent on glorifying ourselves rather than God. Or, is this more than just a matter of methodology. I don’t see either side giving real clear answers here. Or, maybe they are and I am just not seeing it clearly yet.

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  215. Also, whether we are 1K or 2K causes us to focus on different things and judge somethings as more important than others. It has implications for what skills we focus on to improve or develop and what fields of study we chose to increase our knowledge of.

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  216. John, speaking of Augustine, ever since “The City of God” everyone has believed there are two kingdoms, so it’s a little less confusing that neos and theos consider themselves 2k. Simply put, the difference seems to be how each conceive of the nature of the two kingdoms and their relationship to each other. 2kers say both are ruled by Christ but that he administers one by grace and the other by law, and such their relationship is about as cozy as law is to gospel (your Lutheranism knows how cold that coziness is). Neos and theos don’t, which is why 2k considers neo-Calvinism and theonomy variants of law-gospel confusion. Even thought neos and theos are orthodox on justification, their neoism and theoism gets in the way of their otherwise good confession.

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  217. Don, well, as much as I respect and profit from Berry, I think he could stand some correction about Christianity (and I believe I have a chapter in a forthcoming book making this point — to be published by ISI Books, I think). So is your point that we should not distinguish between someone who makes great art and someone who only trusts Christ? Can you imagine the problems for the church that would follow without making this distinction? Wouldn’t that patently be a form of endorsing works-righteousness?

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  218. That does make sense Zrim, but try to convince the neos and theos of that. They would say that is too simplistic an explanation. They always seem to want to complicate things and sometimes I am not sure whether they may be right or not. You seem to be much more convinced about their error-sometimes I continue to waver about it. I guess I am looking for more explanation than just the law/gospel distinction but it may just be as simple as that.

    When I suggested that Echo was perhaps inadvertantly mixing law and gospel over at your web-site he blew a mini-gasket and stated he was very dissapointed in me. And then went into some rant about my arrogance. I chose not to argue with him but I can’t say I did not want to. I let it slide until a more opportune time or after I have come to more clarity myself.

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  219. John Y., that is closer but I’m inclined to qualify that having some belief in God is crucial to correct thinking about the world God created. Mind you, this is not saving faith or the result of regeneration. But some of the wisest people I read — for instance, Wendell Berry and Leon Kass — are not orthodox Protestants but do believe in God and their thought shows it.

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  220. John Y., not to speak for Don but I think he falls more toward the Newbigin side of Christ and culture matters than the Kuyperian. What I find interesting is how many neo-Cals are dropping the anti-thesis for redemption as recreation. But I don’t think the recreation model is so epistemologically driven.

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  221. The only thing I know about Newbigin is that he seems to be the darling of Stanley Grenz, Brian McLaren and the emergents. Some of Don’s posts are difficult to make sense of- if he is influenced by Newbigin and thinks like Grenz and McLaren perhaps that is why. Their postmodernism is more mystical than rational. I noticed that Don did not include the word sin in his explanation about Augustine. Grenz and McLaren are not to privy about orthodox explanations about the fall. I suppose Newbigin is not either.

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  222. Who are the neo-Cals that are dropping the anti-thesis for redemption as recreation? Does this redemption as recreation refer to individuals or to creation (or perhaps both)?

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  223. Yeazel, I don’t know whether you want to hear this, but if you were a younger lad looking for a major, I would say your interests tend toward philosophy.

    That’s not an insult.

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  224. John Y., Al Wolters, Creation Regained may pave the way for Jamie Smith who teaches at Calvin and is eclectic but is likely comfortable with the recreation motif.

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  225. MM,

    I told you my heritage is German and Dutch- I do have a philosophical bent, however, I think I am more intuitive than logical and systematic. Most of the philosophy I learned was from R.C. Sproul tapes and books so my knowledge of the field is limited. I have taken no formal philosophy classes at a university.

    I did listen to a J.K. Smith lecture on Culture as Liturgy and could not pin down his cultural beliefs from that lecture- it sounded pretty 2K to me but as Zrim pointed out most theologians/philosophers do have some elements of 2K in their thinking- they just choose to deny the law/gospel distinction which makes the VanDrunen case for 2K more clear. I will have to go review the Al Wolters section in Van Drunens book again to get more clear on the recreation motif. I believe they look at cultural activities as a means of sanctification (supplements the means of grace) and as helping ushering in the kingdom of God.

    I am disappointed MM that you ignored my accusation of you being a super cool, surfer dude, bling wearing guy with a pony tail who fantasizes about the Miami Vice theme song playing when you post a post but I do realize you have progressed past adolescent daydreams and a revolt against maturity. At least I can chide with you still.

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  226. John, it was just a thumbnail sketch, not meant to be exhaustive. Like my Baptist ST prof (a Petosky native no less) used to say, there is a difference between being simple and being simplistic. And isn’t simplicity, as opposed to complication, a Reformed virtue?

    P.S. I feel your Echo pain.

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  227. “I am disappointed MM that you ignored my accusation of you being a super cool, surfer dude, bling wearing guy with a pony tail who fantasizes about the Miami Vice theme song playing…”

    I do apologize for failing to be duly offended. Rest assured the cause of my omission is forgetfulness rather than sanctification.

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  228. I am glad you can feel my Echo pain Zrim- he fails to understand yet that Lutherans feel no obligation to patch up seeming contradictions in their dogmatics with appeals to reason and I forget the exact words that the Westminster Confession of Faith uses (something to the effect of implications from the right use of reason). To call the Lutheran system (if you can call it a system) arminian or synergistic does raise my ire though.

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  229. Daryl,

    You seem to be missing the whole point of Van Til’s epistomology. Using your example, he never said that a batter had to be “able to give a theoretical account of such ideas or activities” (hitting a baseball) in order to do them well. What he said was that those things only make sense within the Christian worldview. And only the Christian worldview can make sense of the laws of physics, the uniformity of nature, mental activity, etc. Materialism, for instance, can make no sense of these phenomena.

    No one has ever said that a plumber’s work is less virtuous due to the fact that he is not epistomologically self-conscious. But from an apologetics viewpoint, by understanding the Christian worldview, the plumber can explain to his friend why his job is only possible if the God of the Scriptures exists.

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  230. Jon, the “whole” point? I didn’t even hit the target, even though I didn’t even refer to Van Til? If you claim that Van Til never talked about batters the way I do, then why can’t I say I never mentioned Van Til?

    Plus, the only options are not materialism and Christianity. Can Judaism give an account of plumbing? Can a Clarkian? Is it really either Van Til or atheism?

    That kind of categorical divide may explain why I missed the WHOLE point.

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  231. Darryl: So is your point that we should not distinguish between someone who makes great art and someone who only trusts Christ? Can you imagine the problems for the church that would follow without making this distinction? Wouldn’t that patently be a form of endorsing works-righteousness?

    No. My point is that this distinction, or the need to make it, does not prove that God’s ultimate will and design for His creation differs from His ultimate will and design for His Church. Earthly history is progressing towards a holy place where God and man will dwell together. God has always used both believers and unbelievers to accomplish that end, as was obvious in the crucifixion of Christ.

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  232. Darryl,

    I mentioned Van Til simply because of his heavy emphasis on epistemological self-consciousness, and also your quote from Greg Bahnsen, one of Van Til’s most prominent disciples. But the main point is that it seems to me that you are advocating anti-intellectualism. Using your same reasoning, couldn’t I ask, “Doesn’t a brand new Christian who has never read the Bible bring as much glory to God as the seasoned seminary grad?” The whole point is that the more we learn about God, via our differing capacities, the closer we draw to him and the more glory we bring to him. By recognizing him in all aspects of life, even philosophy, we bring him more glory.

    And yes, if I run a marathon, the whole time focusing on how it is God who gives me strength, I glorify him more than another runner who only thinks of the prize he will win at the end. This is the exact same concept as the philosopher who sees the need for the trinity to understand his field.

    If God has given someone the ability to discern the differences between Plato and Kant, then he had BETTER seek to understand them in a Godly way, or he is wasting his talents. You almost make it sound like it’s holier to remain ignorant.

    And no, Judaism could not understand plumbing as well as an epistemologically self-conscious Christian since Judaism denies the trinity.

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  233. Jon, not to interrupt, but at some point would you connect the dots between trinitarian thought-content and plumbing?

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  234. Jon, what keeps your outlook from creating first and second class Christians? But doesn’t the faith of a mustard seed, as opposed to the intellect of a giant, move mountains?

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  235. Don, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Israelites had expectations about where the Messiah would take them. Many were sadly disappointed. Have you counted the cost of possible disappointment?

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  236. No more than the servant with 2 talents was second class to the servant given 5 talents. Neither are lay members in a church second class to the elders because they have less Bible knowledge. You are opposing faith to intellect, an opposition which I don’t think is warranted by Scripture. True knowledge is “faith seeking understanding” as Augustine said. The “faith of a mustard seed” refers to genuine faith, but in no way implies that the owner of such faith be ignorant of God’s revelation. We should never put a dialectical tension between aspects of our nature that God has made mutually dependent.

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  237. Jon, what does the Trinity have to do with plumbing? And I’d bet that the plumber who thinks about the Trinity while plumbing will invariably miss fixing the leak (just as the marathon runner may need to think about matters other than glorifying God to finish the race). You don’t seem to recognize that glorifying God can take place when people aren’t thinking about it. Since when did life become so cognitive?

    As for anti-intellectualism, I deny the charge. What I am arguing for is an Aristotelian sense of propriety. Some people — myself included — are not philosophers. I believe such people can still be saved and give glory to God. I fear that your charge of anti-intellectualism turns thinking into works-righteousness.

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  238. The trinity has everything to do with plumbing. Only the trinity can solve the problem of the one-and-the-many. Only the triune God can bring order out of disorder. Only the trinity can provide the possibility that the plumber can order the universe (in his craft) and not just give up in chaos. That is the best explanation I can give, not being a trained philosopher.

    When you say that I don’t recognize that “God gloryifying can take place when people aren’t thinking about it” do you mean thinking about God at all or thinking in more the philosophical sense you describe above? If the former, then are you positing that pagans glorify God just as much as believers? I don’t deny there is some sense in which everyone glorifies God by living out his decrees, but surely there is a special sense in which Christians glorify God by consciously meditating on his power working through them? These seems like a given to me.

    BTW nothing I said could possibly be twisted to imply that non-philosophers cannot be saved or glorify God. That’s not even close to what I said! I simply made the point that we should glorify God with ALL our minds and in all areas, including philosophy.

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  239. If you mean one’s ability to do algebra, then no, of course not. There are many pagans who can do math, science, etc. much better than regerate Christians.

    But we aren’t talking about ABILITIES, we are talking about JUSTIFICATION. Can the pagan algebra teacher justify his craft on his own worldview? Of course not.

    Ability and justification are two different things. Thank God that the Christian worldview so easily destroys all speculations and everything that exalts itself against his name!

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  240. “The trinity has everything to do with plumbing. Only the trinity can solve the problem of the one-and-the-many. Only the triune God can bring order out of disorder. Only the trinity can provide the possibility that the plumber can order the universe (in his craft) and not just give up in chaos. That is the best explanation I can give, not being a trained philosopher.”

    Jon, you are reading from a script. Stop. Think: you are training plumbers. You are telling them about the one and the many. What look is on their faces? Yeah, you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, even a little silly. But you finish your trintarian lecture. What is the chance than any of them will plumb better? As dgh has pointed out, isn’t there a greater chance that pondering the trinity will result in poorly sealed elbows? Doesn’t reading the Athanasian Creed make your jaw drop open and your head spin a little? It’s full of mystery, and mystery doesn’t help plumbing.

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  241. Jon, you are arguing from ontology, i.e., because the trinity exists, the plumber can plumb. But the issue is one of thought process: what is the logical connection between trinity-thoughts and plumbing?

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  242. Jon, I’m no more pitting faith against the intellect than Paul is pitting faith against the eyeball when he says we live by faith and not by sight. The point is that faith is the category of Scripture.

    But here is what you said: “Using your same reasoning, couldn’t I ask, ‘Doesn’t a brand new Christian who has never read the Bible bring as much glory to God as the seasoned seminary grad?'” That seems to be implying that the answer is no, a new believer can’t glorify God as much as the seasoned sem grad because his intellectual acumen isn’t as impressive. But faith is what glorifies God, regardless of the intellect’s bulge. Consider Paul in Philippians 3 where he constrasts everything–zeal, tradition, law–against faith. I don’t know, Jon, I just can’t see the Apostle saying the learned outpace the ordinary in glorifying God.

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  243. Jon,

    one can have a justification for x while not being able to offer it. So, to use Darryl Hart’s example, one can have a justification for discerning curves from fastballs while being incapable of articulating that justification. In such cases what one lacks is the ability to articulate a justification – he does not lack having a justification. Notwithstanding, we ought not to think that because one can know something apart from being able to articulate a justification that, therefore, giving a justification is superfluous, or that those beliefs that are more difficult to justify must be as credible as those that are not self-consciously justified. Let’s not pretend that the ability to justify a belief is morally irrelevant, or that a robust justification lends no force to a rational defense of a belief.

    Can ONE — anyONE — translate?

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  244. Jon, if someone can be saved and give glory to God without epistemological self-consciousness, then why all the fuss about epistemlogical self-consciousness? I agree that Christians glorify God in ways different and special from non-Xians. What I am not convinced about is that such glorification has to be cognitive all the time, even when running and fixing leaks. It is impossible to recall Scripture memorized while engaged in fixing a leak.

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  245. True story.

    Back when I was fairly intense about philosophy, a boss described me this way: “[Expletive], I’ve spied on him and sometimes he’s doing the [expletive-ing] work of three guys. But other times he’ll do [expletive] like, I don’t know, like maybe he’s thinking about Nietszche or something.”

    In other words, I have first-hand experience in this kind of thing.

    Yeazel, you can’t make fun of me if I’ve already made fun of myself.

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  246. MM, I am not making fun of you. or Zrim, or Darryl; you guys make sense. It is the “radical” Van Tillians (some theonomists and some neo-Cals) I am making fun of. I guess I should not include Jeff into that radical Van Tillian category either.

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  247. And MM, the only reason I do make fun of you is because I know you can make fun of yourself. It is those who cannot make fun of themselves that you don’t want to make fun of.

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  248. John,

    I hope Jon and you guys do not carry on for another 3 years like everyone has with Jeff- what can I say, I’m Lutheran.

    Jeff’s a worthy and charitable sparring partner, besides if we can’t keep this up for another 3 years, we would be ruining so much good natured fun. Besides, why in the world would we deprive our wives (for the married folk here) of such exasperation and eye rolling over having the same conversation over and over again?

    Sometimes that inner Walter in you can’t help but get out. We all love rolling down this lane, and it seems like you are using a Shomer Shabboz argument to ruin all our fun here.

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  249. Jed, speaking of exasperation and going in circles, my sink hose still doesn’t work despite your sanctified advice. Maybe you should’ve put a little more thought into the Trinity when I asked about it, mister man. Or Nietszche, whatever.

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  250. I think it was John Knox who used the Shomer Shabboz argument- with the cocked gun and all (I wish I could find that photo-it’s priceless). I consider all you guys good natured sparring partners whom I have learned tons from. And I don’t really have to worry about anyone of you taking himself too seriously either, that’s the fun of oldlife.

    Jeff, I know that ouch does not really hurt. You probably have more intelligence then all of us combined. I might hear protests on that one though.

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  251. Zrim,

    If we are speaking in Nietzscheaen terms, it’s all about the will to power, breaking off the shackles of plumbing dogma, obliterating dainty ceramic plates of Norman Rockwell’s plumbers playing with perfume at the vanity, and fixing that sink. Or running out of the kitchen, broken hose and all, proclaiming to all that the nozzle is dead, and the kitchen is but an empty sepulcher to the notion that we should even be doing the dishes at all.

    I’ll leave the trinitarian contemplation of sink-hose nozzle repair to plumbers far more sanctified than myself. I dunno, maybe a Van Tillian plumber, but that would presuppose that there are plumbers in your region read anything but stats in the back of the sports page – or read at all (I can kid this way, since it’s all in the family).

    Of course, you could just call a plumber. Or make the switch to paper plates, which worked nicely when I was a bachelor.

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  252. Jed, finding a plumber is easy for you to say. My 2k peso has a pretty bad exchange rate amongst the worldviewers around here. Plus, I get overcharged when I can’t theorize to their satisfaction. Plus, I’m goyim.

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  253. Have you considered a name change, something like Van Zrimeker, and just play the part of the silent-spiritual type, with thoughtful head nods and chin scratching when they connect the dots from plumbing to global renovation? Just a little smoke blowing can go a long way, especially if you get a plumber who loves nothing more than the sound of his own voice.

    You can weep in the shower after it’s all done, as you wash your ears again and again and again, knowing you did what it took to get that sink fixed.

    Or you could find a perfectly good pagan plumber, I am sure there are plenty of those, who will get the job done and just as soon grunt as have a conversation with anything beyond monosyllables.

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  254. Jed, yes, we have considered a name change. It’s uncanny how Slavian surnames slide off the Dutch tongue only when a “Van” is prefixed. But if there really is such a thing as a perfectly good pagan anything then 2k wins. Even so, I refuse to give up my neo mechanic who is as close to perfect as one could get.

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  255. MM: “Jon, you are reading from a script.” – That is pretty insulting. I don’t claim to be an original thinker, but I do only accept those thoughts that I think are true. So let’s stick to the arguments. Did I ever imply that in order to train a plumber to do his job, you must explain the trinity to him? Not at all. But if he is epistemologically self-conscious in his job, I do think he brings more glory to God. And yes, that includes knowledge of the trinity in some people.

    In response to Zrim, no, I never said that a smarter person (in this case a sem grad) would bring more glory to God than a layperson. What I DID say, is that that sem grad had better seek to fill his cup of God-given ability as full as possible. Yes, if he is intellectually lazy and just gives up and relies on “instincts” as you all put it, he will bring less glory to God. Every person has a different degree of ability, and is obligated to conform his mind to Christ until the day he dies. Intellectual laziness is a sin.

    When you say that “faith is the category of Scripture” are you forgetting the exhortation to love God with all our mind?

    To Darryl: “Jon, if someone can be saved and give glory to God without epistemological self-consciousness, then why all the fuss about epistemlogical self-consciousness?” This is the EXACT equivalent of asking, “If someone can be saved and give glory to God without reading the Bible more than once per year, then why all the fuss about having regular Bible reading?” It is anti-intellectualism, plain and simple. I don’t see it any other way.

    Do you all think that we can glorify God as much when we obey him less, then if we seek to obey him more? I bet not. But what about obeying him with our intellects?

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  256. Was Aquinas a neo-Cal? Odd anachronisms you have going there Darryl. Aquinas would argue that without knowledge of the four causes, no one can give a full account of a thing. So if a math teacher didn’t know where math came from, to use your term, then Aquinas would say she didn’t really understand math, even if she understood *some* of it, and could *do* it. Horton and Trueman and Muller have taught us that the Reformed (orthodox and scholastic) took much from Aquinas. They’ve claimed that the Reformed held the worldview that made use of the four causes. So I guess the question is, whose the neo and who’s the paleo-Calv here? It certainly isn’t you. Other than that, one wonders if labeling yourself a paleo-Calvinist demands that you misrepresent your opponents and basically offer horrible arguments. You ask why we might want to be interested in philosophy? To avoid producing “arguments” like yours seems to me to be reason enough.

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  257. Darryl,

    Yes, you have made that point before, i.e., Israel’s disappointed expectations. But lets look at that. Israel thought the Messiah was going to come and wham, bam, Israel would at last be exalted above the nations. Perhaps it is you who are making the same mistake thinking that Jesus will come again, and wham, bam, the Church will be exalted into some new, strange, and exalted state.

    I think it is safe to say that Christ demonstrated through His first coming that the Kingdom of God will be realized through man by the reconciliation and life of Christ. God will work through His creation, denying Satan of any satisfaction in thwarting His design for the world.

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  258. Ugh oh, Paul M. is on the prowl again. Hey Paul, I used to bench 315lbs; plus my two sons played Div. I NCAA sports, I am much more physically strong than mentally strong. I am just repeating what I read you telling some guy at some other blog site.

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  259. Man, I’m laughing at this thread.

    John, no actual offense taken.

    DGH, you goof, the reason I’m not supposed to say anything about my wife is that *you told me not to.*

    So Zrim, do you pronounce it in Slavic fashion? “Zrimets” or “Zrimetch”? Or Anglicized to “Zreeemek”?

    Jed: Funniest mental image in a fortnight.

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  260. But, Jon, if the intellectually beefy “gets lazy and just gives up and just uses his instincts” like the rest of us mooks and is now glorifying God less then how is that not a way of saying the rest of us are glorifying God less by acting just like him? You keep using the word “imply” and denying that you are implying anything derogatory, but I’m not sure you know what that word means because that’s exactly what you’re doing. And now laziness is a sin? That’s the sort of leapfrogging over wisdom right to morality worldviewers always do.

    But are you forgetting that the command to love God with all our hearts, minds and strength is law, as in Jesus was raising the bar on those who thought they could keep the law externally, as in the point is to keep law internally, as in we can’t live up to it, as in that command should actually make you quake with fear instead of shiver with delight?

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  261. Jeff, the best way I’ve come up with is that it’s like “ceramic,” only then make it “ceremic.” The story is that the original was “Zrmc” (meaning “farmer”) but the folks at Ellis thought it needed more vowels to make life easier in the USA for Anton and Anna Zrmc and their offspring, so they plopped in the “i” and “e.” It didn’t work.

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  262. Zrim, wait a minute, are you actually denying that laziness is a sin? Did I read that correctly?

    How do you make the leap from the law being internal to being unable to keep it as a regenerate saint? Are you saying we are not under the command to love God with all our minds? I must be reading you wrong because thought sounds like rank antinomianism.

    Please explain, because you are losing me here.

    PS. I never denied being derogatory. I simply clarified that I was not talking about 2 people compared to one another, but to the same person’s growth in sanctification based on their ability. Yes, laziness is a sin (do I actually have to say that in a theological blog?) and if you forfit your intellect in the name of some sort of anti-intellecual elitist paradox, then yes, that is indeed a sin.

    PPS. Are you using your intellect to read this, or just running off pure instinct?

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  263. Jon, has it ever occurred to you that prior to 1850 most Christians could not read? That includes the glory days of the Reformation. So on your theory, how could obedience happen with so much illiteracy?

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  264. Paul, again history trumps philosophy. In Aquinas’ day no women knew or taught math. Odd how you who live at a time of incredible specialization and differentiation think that everyone needs to know scholastic philosophy. Horrible? Maybe not. Anachronistic? For sure.

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  265. Don, I don’t know what will happen. But you seem to be in Israel’s seat, thinking that Christ is going to RESTORE creation to its genius. Maybe. But what kind of restoration project is this that has no room for sex or procreation (and the cultural mandate)?

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  266. Jon, I affirm we are under the command to love God with all our minds, as well as all three uses of the law. But I am making a pedagogical point to counter balance your normative-use-on-worldview-steroids. And the point about laziness is to wonder if you have an intermediate category between righteousness and sin, like wisdom. I have the ability to do all sorts of things right now but I haven’t the energy or interest. Am I sinning or being human? And that’s the 2k point against worldviewry: being human is three-dimensional, not two-dimensional.

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  267. Jeff, nicely done. However, if you really want to impress a Zrimec, slide from the “Z” to the “r.” Re the Czech vibe, could be. But a Yugoslav student in sem once was able to pinpoint the exact region of my ancestors in the mother land with only the original spelling.

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  268. Darryl,

    Great point! We should all go back to the days of ingorance when only priests could read Scripture to us! After all, literacy has done very little for our sanctification.

    The point is simple: If you have talent or ability, as well as the means (ie, printed material), then by using them, you draw closer to God (John 17:3) and can pass from one degree of glory to another. It’s not a matter of smart person vs. laymen, or pre-1850 vs. post 1850. It is taking the same person in the same time frame and saying that he should avail himself of every means possible to know more about God with every aspect of his being, including his mind. I can’t believe I even have to argue that point.

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  269. Zrim,

    I suspect your anti-normative law comments stem more from your pseudo-dispensational two covenant view, but I could be wrong, so I won’t speculate any further.. . . .

    You seem to be reaching for some sort of neutral middle ground between God-honoring activies and non-God-honoring activities; perhaps that’s to be expected with your view of natural law.

    You also confuse finitude with sinfulness. “Being human” means that we are finite and thus aren’t omnipresent nor have limitless energy. But being human is never an excuse to sin. And laziness is always a sin, even if we commit it every day.

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  270. By the way, can someone please explain to me why worldviews and philosophy are “wrong?” Which one of you operates without a worldview or philosophy?

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  271. Jon – here’s a quick summation of what’s wrong:

    We are only able to glorify them [the divine persons of the Trinity] by recounting their wonders to the best of our ability. — St. Basil the Great

    It’s about God not you.

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  272. Jon – it doesn’t seem to dawn on you that in your fallen finitude, that you cannot keep the law. You need a Savior not a philosophy or a worldview. See Phillipians 3 and please highlight verse 8-9. Major in the majors and minor in the minors.

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  273. Jon, and I can’t believe that you can’t see the difference between knowing God and knowing how you know about God. The point of the post was about epistemological self-consciousness, no?

    BTW, the problem with w—–v—- is Immanuel – Kant, that is.

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  274. Can anyone here dare say they have no philosophy or worldview? No network of presuppositions through which they filter the data of the world around them?

    Darryl, since you must admit that you too have a philosophy, what you are saying is that it’s okay to have one, as long as you don’t know what it is and can’t support it. If someone asks you how you know there’s really a tree in the yard, the second you begin to justify your belief, you are engaging in epistemology – and seeking to be epistemologically self-conscious.

    You guys are obsessed with pagan philosophers – Kant, Nietzsche, etc. The only philosophers I quote are Christians – Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, etc. These men courageously attempted to apply their Reformed theology to the field of philosophy, rather than just bury their heads in the sand in some form of anti-intellectual ascetism. Were they perfect? Of course not. But at least they tried. And they made great advances in the field of apologetics.

    What is your all’s apologetic? Separatism?

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  275. Jon, I don’t see how John 17:3 does anything for your claim that the culturally conditioned Protestant work ethic “draws one closer to God and from one degree of glory to another.” But the historic Reformed tradition claims that God draws us to him by Word and sacrament, and that not to graduate us from glory into glory but to create and affirm faith within us.

    Confusing finitude with sinfulness is actually the medieval error (as in donum superadditum). Historic Protestantism doesn’t see anything sinful about being finite. But the kind of modern worldviewism you seem quite sympathetic to is very influenced by the medieval error insofar as it seeks to deny or overcome humanity. There is a sort of false dualism where that which is immaterial is good and that which is material is either thought to be evil or worthy of suspicion. For you, the false dualism shows up in the fact that there is only being sinful and righteous. Historic Protestantism understands those two categories, certainly, but it’s also triadalist—corporately there is the society of the redeemed and the damned, but there is also the realm of the common where they both converge in this present life and where their respective statuses are irrelevant. The same is true personally—he who is simil justus et peccator is also very often neither but just hungry, tired, excited, confused, energized, depressed, happy, etc.

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  276. Jon,

    I think part of the problem may be in not recognizing that the concept “worldview” is a fairly recent popularized way of dealing with the world. Like so many popularized “Christian” concepts, it’s pretty much Christless and doesn’t support letting Christ crucified rule your understanding. It wants to supplant good catechesis and the traditional teachings on dogma, church history, heresies, and so forth with philosophical mental contortions and knuckleheaded loop-de-loops that only a misguided PhD, or wanna-be PhD would fall for. It wants to redefine historical language and historical truth claims, and take center stage over and above the life traditionally ruled by Word and Sacrament, and submission to life-long catechesis. It’s σκύβαλον.

    I’m not sure why you cannot see that epistemological self-consciousness is nothing more than yet another form of therapeutic, self-actualization nonsense. It’s another theology of glory. To slap highfalutin sounding “Christian” philosophy on top of gruel doesn’t change the fact that gruel is being substituted for the real deal. You don’t seem to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in this race to become glorified (to go from glory to glory in thinking great thoughts). Can you “know” that you are not merely in fellowship with yourself in all this “glorified” philosophical thinking instead of going through the only Door we have been provided? And our surety in the means of grace? It would be good to lay down your theological idols (Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, etc.) and become as a child again.

    What are my apologetics? Well… you would most likely find my resources too homely for your refined tastes:

    http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009/05/john-warwick-montgomery-mp3-audio.html

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  277. “but there is also the realm of the common where they both converge in this present life ” Can you please substantiate this alleged realm of moral neutrality? Historic Protestantism supports no such “realm”, including Augustine, who grouped humankind into only 2 groups.

    “he who is simil justus et peccator is also very often neither ” – Niether sinful nor righteous? What? Please support this radical claim historically.

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  278. Jon, prior to Descartes few of my neighbors would have asked me how I know there is a tree in the yard. In fact, after Descartes none of my neighbors do. That’s not to say that epistemology is unimportant to philosophers and so aspects of theology (especially apologetics). How we know has its place. But the w—-v— bandwagon tries to make everyone into a philosopher, when very few people are asking how they know the tree is there. Most are more concerned with how they’re going to dispose of the tree’s leaves.

    If this strikes you as anti-intellectual, your views strike me as nurturing pride, such that you know how you know and are confident in assailing all sorts of enemies. Popularized that w—v— bandwagon has coarsened our common life with unbelievers in politics and other spheres.

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  279. Darryl,

    So how do I know when it’s okay to use “philosophical” arguments and when it’s not? When is it okay to ask an unbeliever for his epistemological grounds for reasoning as he does? Are certain philosophical terms okay to use and not others? What intellectual level does an unbeliever have to attain before I can use philosophical arguements against him? What constitues philosophical argumentation and what does not? Do you decide all these things? Why are only you (and your followers) allowed to make these decisions? Are you the high priest of worldview/philosophy? Talk about pride. . . .

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  280. Jon, it isn’t a claim of moral neutrality (if I had a dime for every time) but of commonality. But if you want a good resource on the historical tracing of how Augustine was a good start but came to be developed in historic Protestantism, pick up Van Drunen’s “NL2K.” For kicks, you might also pick up Horton’s “God of Promise” where he says things like:

    …we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.

    Religious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of us—believers and unbelievers alike—are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.

    Religious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.

    …[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.

    As far as the point about being human, something tells me no amount of “historical substantiation” will satisfy your fundamentalism.

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  281. Jon,

    Re: followers

    There is a difference between followers and compatriots. Please note the distinction and recognize that most of us are of the latter.

    You appear to have an extremely low view of the common man and his intuitive intelligence to recognize gobbledygook when he hears it. The fact that you even think that you need to have a philosophical discussion on someone’s epistemology shows how far you have become bogged down in the presuppositional swamp and out of touch you are with most men. Again, I will ask the question, “How do you “KNOW” you are not in fellowship with your own vain imaginations in your so-called philosophical glorifying of God in all you think with all your mind?

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  282. John,

    So how do I know when it’s okay to use “philosophical” arguments and when it’s not? When is it okay to ask an unbeliever for his epistemological grounds for reasoning as he does? Are certain philosophical terms okay to use and not others? What intellectual level does an unbeliever have to attain before I can use philosophical arguements against him? What constitues philosophical argumentation and what does not? Do you decide all these things? Why are only you (and your followers) allowed to make these decisions? Are you the high priest of worldview/philosophy? Talk about pride. . . .

    Allow me to indulge in a little more unmitigated pride, and give some answer to the constraints of worldviewism and the probing of epistemology using two examples:

    1) Your church does a mercy mission to a sister church in Tijuana, where you assist poor families in the church and its neighborhood with better shelters, blankets, food, etc. You happen upon a young widow who has 4 children under the age of 6 whose husband was brutally murdered months ago by the Mexican drug cartels as he was riding to work. She is not a Christian, and in your conversation with her you discover she is not only embittered to a God who could allow such a thing to happen, she cannot fathom a God who still loves her and has an interest in her well being and the well being of her family.

    2) Your church sponsors a RUF ministry at the local college, and you volunteer your services. You have befriended a young student who attends your church and in conversing with him, he has been taking some philosophy classes that have given him reason to question whether or not God can be all-powerful and loving at the same time. This question is causing him to question the validity of Christianity and whether or not he can continue on in the faith.

    Here you have two individuals who are actually struggling with a very similar issue in very different ways. The woman is in a personal existential struggle with the brutal reality of the problem of evil. The young student is in the throes of an intellectual struggle from which his faith could either be strengthened, or snuffed out. In the woman’s case a probing of worldview and epistemological foundations would more than likely be a waste of time. However, a clear, thoughtful, and gentle presentation of the gospel, and a crucified Christ who makes sense of the incomprehensible pain that we carry in this world would be in order. In the student’s case, it would be good to deal in worldview type questions, getting to the core of his presuppositions in order to encourage him that the faith is not just a fairy-tale meant to comfort the weak-minded, but that it is reasonable to persist on believing.

    All this to say, your dilemma is a false one. The answer is all things have their proper time and place. There is a place of probing epistemology, and there is a place for more affective empathy, understanding that even the most logical answers can still be given at the wrong time to the wrong person and in the wrong manner. We are talking about basic social grace here, not rocket surgery Jon. Arrogance would be assuming that all folks trade in the kind of questions that make the worldview-y types do could undermine any effort at meaningful Christian witness. Time and place dictate the answer to your question here, and it frankly shouldn’t be as difficult as you make this out to be.

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  283. All,

    You guys are caricature-creating machines. Most of your posts bear little resemblance to the careful, studied theological engagement that I would expect from such a crowd. The Bible instructs us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but I don’t see much of that attitude here. Your failure to understand my statements repeatedly leads me to believe you’re either, A) unintelligent or B) reckless and immature. I am going with option B. Also, your scathing, sarcstic tone doesn’t seem to comport well with I Peter 3:15. As I read back over my own posts, I think I have been above contempt in trying to carefully deal with a hot button issue. (It also makes me think your arguments are actually quite weak).

    Lizzy, you assume SO MUCH. You constantly make assumptions about things I have never even said! Why do you assume I don’t believe in the catechisms? How do you know so much about me? (I could say YOU have made idols of the writers of the catechisms).

    Jed, ditto! The false dilemma is YOURS! Please tell me where I said that every single apologetic or evangelistic engagement has to probe the depths of espitemology? My posts are public, so please substantiate your claims.

    Guys, I realize it is easier to destroy a straw man, than real, carefully thought-out arguments. But it will never do any good. Is your goal even to get me to come to your side? Or just to flex your intellectual muscles and show how witty and sarcastic you can be?

    Darryl, you should be first among them to set an example of Christ-like humility, gentleness, and respect.

    This isn’t even enjoyable. I think I will have to go to a site where the contributors display Biblical traits.

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  284. Zrim,

    I will interpret this: “As far as the point about being human, something tells me no amount of “historical substantiation” will satisfy your fundamentalism.” As an admission of having any evidence.

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  285. Jon, it’s called prudence and no matter how much you take offense to the replies here, much of the w—-v—- literature that is popular in Reformed and evangelical circles has not shown prudence. It seems to me eminently courteous and moderate to say that concerns about epistemology are not of the devil but have their place. It also seems reasonable to suggest that some of the popular expressions of w—- v— ism need correction. But for you epistemological self-consciousness (ESC) seems to be a line in the sand. And that is the point. Since when is ESC the hill we need to die on.

    As for when it’s wrong to use philosophical terms, my gut tells me that furrowed brows and heads nodding under the weight of sleep are a good indication of when not to employ them.

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  286. Jon, why would you react this way? The last three responses to you have been anything but shrill. They do disagree with you. But is disagreement with you really a sign of pride?

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  287. Jon,

    Since when is responding to your question a self made dilema? I gave you a substantive reply, you respond with bluster. Your question was when is dealing with epistemological issues appropriate, I throw you a bone and show that there is a time and a place for such argumentation, but that worldview engagement isnt the catch all that you are arguing for.

    Ad hominems dont make for great responses among the epistemologically self conscious. If you dont want to take the time to make a thoughtful response, my feelings wont be hurt trust me. But if you are going to make an argument that epistemological self consciousness is something that all Xians should have, and that it should color all or most of our interactions with others then you need to do better than you have. Cutting the silly accusations would be helpful too.

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  288. Jon,

    If blindness to your adherence to bad philosophy and blindness to your own lack of perfection in these exchanges wasn’t so sad, it would be side-splittingly funny.

    Considering the fact that you would not answer a simple question about “how do you know…” and other people’s serious engagements with your philosophical views – your complaints don’t seem to be anything more than whining and/or a fear of polemics. Isn’t that the mantra of our times? You weren’t nice/tolerant (eg: you abused me of my fallacies). It’s your choice whether you want to engage or not, but don’t mistake being challenged for your beliefs as being bad manners. You said some pretty obnoxious things.

    Mean Lizzy

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  289. Jed, so are you admitting failure to substantiate your claims? You are the one confined to ad hominens. That’s my whole point. I did say that all Christians should strive for ESC, but I never said it should color all or most interactions. Your sloppy listening gets you again.

    Lizzy, you haven’t made a serious argument yet, so I’m not engaging with you anymore. Straw men and caricatures get old.

    My bigger complaint is how poorly you all listen and how quickly you caricature your opponents. I’m not sure any of toy are capable of real debate. I came here truly intrigued by your novel theology and had serious questions. But you all got so defensive and closed-minded that real engagement wasn’t possible. Sad.

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  290. Jed, Zrim, and Darryl,

    I would fuss that even some who do have philosophical background/understanding don’t necessarily need their epistemological temperature taken. Often, the more learned the man, the more he wants the simple comfort of, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so.” ;P

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  291. Jon, if you’re still here: do you really need historical evidence to prove the point that to be human is to be complex (as opposed to simplistic, as well as opposed to simple, like God who is only and ever righteous–which means this is also a Creator-creature point)? But I thought it was all about the epistemology, so why the all-or-nothing demand for history all of a sudden? But I do appreciate the exhortation to courtesy. The problem is that, just like snark can be a cover for pride and weakness, sometimes those exhortations are as well.

    Still, I remain interested in what you think about the point concerning commonality. Worldviewry doesn’t seem able to account for the fact that most of redeemed life is lived amongst the damned. Unless you’re a covenant child in Xian day schools.

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  292. Lily, as I’ve previously indicated and as Darryl has repeated, concerns about epistemology are not of the devil but have their place. Or as the midwestern philosopher says, a place for everything and everything in its place. Still, your point about simplicity resonates with my Reformed sensibilities.

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  293. Zrim,

    You are much more patient than I am and I appreciate that you would want to offer courtesy where little was given – unfortunately, I hit my limit last night and need to repent. I’m not sure where “of the devil” came in on this topic, that’s not my point, but it’s limited usefulness and the inablility to know in ESC if you are merely having fellowship with yourself or vain imaginations. But, I’m wondering if this is another area of difference between our confessions? We see philosophy’s role as more limited and as being an area prone to being the devil’s playground. Ah… that’s where that came into being discussed (and the German proverb: All mischief begins in the name of God)? Sigh… here I stand. 😉

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  294. Lily, re our differing confessions, one Reformed logician known to OldLife has been heard claiming that our theology owes a great debt to philosophy. But the problem for him is that our confessions are only ever footnoted with Scripture, which would actually mean that our theology owes a great debt to the Bible. So if the question is whether Reformed confessions see a limited role for philosophy, I would have to say that given the fact that they don’t ever base a head of doctrine on any philosophy then the answer is you betcha’. Add to that, though, that whenever philosophy comes up it is damned (e.g. BC, Article 13 on Providence: “For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.”). But here is where Jeff would say that there are philosophies which prop up the gospel and those that don’t, and we are condemning those that don’t. Fine, but he still has the problem of not having the confessions affirming any philosophy.

    The irony to me is how worldviewism wants the Bible to be the handbook to everything, but when it comes to theology it wants philosophy to be privileged. Oy vey.

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  295. Arm thyself Jon, this is where I stop playing nice:

    Jon:So how do I know when it’s okay to use “philosophical” arguments and when it’s not? When is it okay to ask an unbeliever for his epistemological grounds for reasoning as he does?

    Jed:All this to say, your dilemma is a false one. The answer is all things have their proper time and place. There is a place of probing epistemology, and there is a place for more affective empathy, understanding that even the most logical answers can still be given at the wrong time to the wrong person and in the wrong manner. We are talking about basic social grace here, not rocket surgery Jon.

    Jon:Jed, ditto! The false dilemma is YOURS! Please tell me where I said that every single apologetic or evangelistic engagement has to probe the depths of espitemology? My posts are public, so please substantiate your claims.

    Jed:if you are going to make an argument that epistemological self consciousness is something that all Xians should have, and that it should color all or most of our interactions with others then you need to do better than you have.

    Jon:so are you admitting failure to substantiate your claims? You are the one confined to ad hominens. That’s my whole point. I did say that all Christians should strive for ESC, but I never said it should color all or most interactions. Your sloppy listening gets you again.

    I have heard you absolutely clear, you think that all Xians must strive for ESC, but you are making horribly anachronistic arguments to make your case. There are many simple, obedient Christians that strive for a life of obedience, and couldn’t define epistemology if their lives depended upon it. You are living in an intellectual fantasy land, which is all too easy for those who are philosophically inclined to do, where all believers regardless of their gifts, or stations in life must think in some sort of philosophical manner consistent with Christian apologists. Not only must Christians seek to obey the revealed will of God, they must engage in active worldview formation whether or not it has any bearing whatsoever on their call. Being prepared to answer for the hope we have in us can come in very complex logical argumentation, that’s fine, but it can also be a simple profession of faith based on a simple understanding of God as revealed in his words.

    Implicit in your argumentation is that Christian spirituality is so bound up in the intellect that one must, in some sense become an intellectual to have valid piety. Our confessions are very clear what piety is, striving to obey the commands of God through the power of the spirit, attending to the proclamation of the Word and the administration of sacraments, and cultivating a prayerful and worshipful life to God in and out of the Church. This ground level piety is accessable to all who would take up the cross and call to discipleship, from the most simple to the most brilliant among us. Worldview formation, philosophical acumen, logical prowess can all be useful tools in the hands of those whom God has called to such pursuits, and our Christian history is full of such figures. They often get the press and accolades that accompany such gifts.

    However, the lions share of Christians throughout history lived simple lives, often in poverty, often illiterate, and rarely counted among the wise in this world. Their lives were bound up is honoring God in their vocational call, and living a life nurtured by the mother church, longing for the world to come. We live in an entirely different age, and part of the world marked by affluence, literacy, and endless speculation about the nature of the world and truth itself. This poses unique challenges, and ones that do require thoughtful men and women, but this cannot ever replace the simpliciy that most of us are called to, and none of us are afforded the freedom to impede upon the liberties of others by insisting that their spirituality consist of anything that hasn’t been clearly revealed in God’s word. Cultivating a healthy life of the mind doesn’t necessarily equate to worldview cultivation.

    You are taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing. I really have no issue with apologetics, or worldview formation, and I have benefited from many Christian thinkers in this area, but like all things this branch of Christian thinking has its time and place, and it’s limitations. Something I have not seen you admit in any of your arguments on this thread. I may have missed something, but what I see is you insisting that ESC ought to be the aim of all Christians. If you are going to argue an ought, then you must do a better job than you have. So far, when you meet even the slightest bit of resistance, you whine and cry foul instead of laying out a case by case argument, which is what apologists are supposed to do, or at least I thought. The only thing you are a victim of is your own inability to argue your point in such a way that demarcates the degree of agreement and disagreement you have with your opponents.

    I have wracked horns with plenty of philosophy buffs, and I have learned a great deal from those with whom I disagree, and have come to respect them. But if you want respect here, you earn it by the strength of your arguments, and not crying foul when things aren’t going your way in the sandbox. I gave you a very simple argument that demonstrated the insufficiency of ESC to be the catch all you want it to be. There are times when people are persuaded by arguments that supersede logic, we get this all the time when the Word is preached, when the power of the message comes not in the garb of human wisdom but in the ability of the Spirit to take the feeble words of man and speak to the heart of a man to create faith and sustain it.

    So go ahead and play the victim card all you want, it’s a great way to obfuscate the argument, but it’s a bad way to convince anyone of anything of merit that you might have to say.

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  296. DGH: Jon, prior to Descartes few of my neighbors would have asked me how I know there is a tree in the yard. In fact, after Descartes none of my neighbors do.

    Well, yeah … you clearly never lived next to Plato.

    Or a lawyer. Try suing him if his dead branch falls on your car and see how fast he starts to ask epistemological questions.

    Zrim: Fine, but [Jeff] still has the problem of not having the confessions affirming any philosophy.

    Actually, that’s not a problem.

    There is the process of philosophy: Thinking carefully and deeply about a matter.

    Then there are “philosophies”: Schools of thought.

    The Confession actually does affirm that we must think carefully and deeply about theological matters: We are to receive doctrines only if they are good and necessary consequences from Scripture. This is an open-ended criterion. We are obliged to think as carefully as we can to see whether “these things are so.”

    But the Confession does not affirm, and neither do I, that any thoughts of man deserve the same status as Biblical teaching.

    Thus: No one philosophy is privileged; but the philosophical process itself is necessary. QED. 🙂

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  297. Zrim,

    Re: “The irony to me is how worldviewism wants the Bible to be the handbook to everything, but when it comes to theology it wants philosophy to be privileged. Oy vey.”

    Oy vey indeed! Good way to put it – I had failed to see the irony, but that may be my old curmudgeonly genes seeing them as wanna-be supplanters who don’t know their place and wanting to reason with their behinds. Many thanks for explaining how philosophy does not interact with the Reformed confessions. I do wish more of the Reformed theologians would leave it alone in their writings – one almost feels like they need a warning label (eg: opinion page in a newspaper). Did Van Til spawn this movement towards so much philosophy/worldviewishness in Reformed circles or is it more limited to Neo-Cal circles?

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  298. Our confessions are very clear what piety is, striving to obey the commands of God through the power of the spirit, attending to the proclamation of the Word and the administration of sacraments, and cultivating a prayerful and worshipful life to God in and out of the Church. This ground level piety is accessable to all who would take up the cross and call to discipleship, from the most simple to the most brilliant among us. Worldview formation, philosophical acumen, logical prowess can all be useful tools in the hands of those whom God has called to such pursuits, and our Christian history is full of such figures. They often get the press and accolades that accompany such gifts.

    However, the lions share of Christians throughout history lived simple lives, often in poverty, often illiterate, and rarely counted among the wise in this world. Their lives were bound up is honoring God in their vocational call, and living a life nurtured by the mother church, longing for the world to come. We live in an entirely different age, and part of the world marked by affluence, literacy, and endless speculation about the nature of the world and truth itself. This poses unique challenges, and ones that do require thoughtful men and women, but this cannot ever replace the simpliciy that most of us are called to, and none of us are afforded the freedom to impede upon the liberties of others by insisting that their spirituality consist of anything that hasn’t been clearly revealed in God’s word. Cultivating a healthy life of the mind doesn’t necessarily equate to worldview cultivation.

    You are taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing. I really have no issue with apologetics, or worldview formation, and I have benefited from many Christian thinkers in this area, but like all things this branch of Christian thinking has its time and place, and it’s limitations.

    Just thought I’d repeat that. Very, very well-put.

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  299. Jed,

    I’m so scared!! Oh no, you’re going to repeat the same self-contradictory nonsense!

    So, tough guy, let me ask you this: do you have a worldview?

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  300. Jed,

    I love how you make such one-dimensional arguments, then when I annihilate them, you backtrack like a scared little mouse. The argument is not whether being ESC is necessary to do anything at all, but rather whether it is EVER necessary. You guys have the burden of proof to show that it is NEVER necessary. All I have to do is show that it is at least SOMETIMES necessary. This I have done single handedly.

    I hereby declare myself the winner. Congratulations: me.

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  301. Jon,

    Look, I dont know who you are, or how long you have followed DGH’s blog, but for all of Hart’s critiques of epistemology, he has never argued that it cant be useful, neither have I. You can smith this however. you would like, and crown yourself champion of the internet if you like, I dont care. That isnt why I spend my time on these blogs in the first place. This is a place where I learn, and am sharpened, and interact with different ideas. Disagreement is part of the game, but If you think this is about winning and loosing, you are coming at this from the wrong angle.

    I have given you a few thoughtful responses, and your replies indicate to me that you dont want to interact with the substance of my arguments, and would rather resort to sophmoric antics to try and win a debate. Even if winning and loosing were the point, you arent doing yourself any favors here. Now do you want to engage with the substance of my points or would you like to terminate the conversation, its your call.

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  302. Jed,

    Sorry, I got a little silly on that last post. All this debating without anyone listening is making me batty. My apologies.

    But seriously, if you want to portray that you want to seriously engage in intellectual exchange, then you have to try to listen to what the other person is actually saying.

    “Implicit in your argumentation is that Christian spirituality is so bound up in the intellect that one must, in some sense become an intellectual to have valid piety.” – I never said nor implied this.

    “Cultivating a healthy life of the mind doesn’t necessarily equate to worldview cultivation.” – That doesn’t even make sense. Maybe we need to get back to definitions. A “worldview” is simply a network of presuppositions which govern the way in which one interprets the data of life. We ALL have them! Even the “lowly” plumbers you all keep bashing. (My dad’s a carpenter and very smart, so I take a bit of offense.)

    I have asked the question multiple times and no one has sufficiently answered it: which one of you does not have a worldview OR a philosophical system? You can’t answer that because you know the answer but don’t want to admit it. Yet you’re stuck with the ackward conclusion, “Yes, people have worldviews, but we don’t want them to know what they are or be in any way aware of them.” Then, you go on committing all sort of fallacious false dilemmas to try to wiggle your way out of it (read: Liz continually saying that because I believe in being ESC, I can’t possibly ascribe to the catechisms).

    Let’s face it, you all are reacting to something (I’m not even sure what – I’m quite new to this debate, honestly) and you are building this big huge case against “worldviews” and “philosophy.” Meanwhile, you are all using worldviews and philosophy in order to attack them. It’s just like when Richard Dawkins uses all sorts of bad philosophical arguments in order to say he’s “strictly a scientist and not to be bothered with all that philosophy nonsense.” (paraphrase :)). I don’t know where it’s coming from, I really don’t. But it’s almost like you’ve spent too much time arguing for it and now you’re too embarrassed to back down.

    I am confident that I stand firmly within the historic Reformed faith, along with it’s proper understanding of the REAL two kingdoms (God vs. Satan, NOT Church vs. state) and the ONE covenant of grace. I urge you all to reconsider.

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  303. Jon,

    Re: (read: Liz continually saying that because I believe in being ESC, I can’t possibly ascribe to the catechisms).

    If you want to complain that people are not taking the time to read what wrote then you then you need to reciprocate and hold yourself to the same standards. My name is not Liz and I never said you did not or could not possibly ascribe to the catechisms. Learn to read what we actually write. What you keep accusing us of is what you are guilty of. If you want to understand my so-called worldview, I am Lutheran and we are not fans of philosophy. That does not mean that we do not see it’s value within limits nor does it mean we do not utilize the field.

    Jon, you seem quite young to me and as you said, you are new to this group. I would suggest that you read some of the other posts and comment threads to begin to understand some of our short-hand terms/phrases and theological arguments. Right now, you are falsely accusing us of not paying attention to what you have written – believe me – we have – that’s why you are being challenged. Please slow down and read what has been written. As Jed has well said, this is not a contest. There is no one here who isn’t willing to recant or apologize if they are wrong. Lastly, I would suggest that you reread what Jed has written – he is on the mark and you could learn much from him.

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  304. Jon,

    I have offered all of about six replies on this thread, you seem to have a great deal of insight into my thinking based off of my statements but I assure you, you don’t have your facts straight. Let me help you out.

    1) I am not anti-philosophy/worldview/epistemology/intellectual. If you have read any of my interactions here or elsewhere, you would know this. I land somewhere between the worldview maximilists and the minimilists (to use Paul Manata’s term). I see limitations to this sort of thinking, and I think it gets more play in the Reformed camp than sound ecclesiology and a more sober understanding of the Christian’s call within the culture. If you can find anything that I have written to the contrary, be my guest, I’ll retract it if it isn’t reasonably in line with this statement.

    2) I have a worldview, we all do, and it is shaped by cultural, developmental, spiritual, economic, and political realities. So you mischaracterize me here, most likely from a lack of exposure to what I have said about these issues in the past. No big deal, just would be wise to ask questions before you shoot.

    3)Response to your statement: “Implicit in your argumentation is that Christian spirituality is so bound up in the intellect that one must, in some sense become an intellectual to have valid piety.” – I never said nor implied this. The problem is, if you are arguing that all Christians must strive for epistemological self consciousness, you are in a sense asking them to delve into the realm of philosophy, since epistemology is a branch of philosophy, dealing with meta-level beliefs and the ability to defend them with the rigors of logic. So, implicit in arguing for ESC, you are demanding this. You’re the Van Tillian, but you don’t see the logical conclusions of your arguments that we must engage in developing philosophical abilities to defend our beliefs and/or vocations. This, after all is what it means to be epistemologically self conscious.

    4)But it’s almost like you’ve spent too much time arguing for it and now you’re too embarrassed to back down.

    You are kidding, right? For a presuppositionalist, who claims that Christians must develop a self-conscious epistemology, your case for this is atrocious, I mean really abysmal. Give me bullet points, logic (yes I believe in such things), some sort of structured argument, to prove that I am too embarrassed to give this up. Not only are you a Van Tillian, you can also read minds! Verrrry impressive. Why delve into my psychology? It’s pure evasion.

    5) I have never argued that there is no place for philosophy, or Christian apologetics. Don’t paint me into a corner that isn’t mine. At some point it just becomes slander. Re-read what I have written, and interact with what I have said. Refute it with some kind of argument that makes sense Jon, don’t try to divine the motives of a man you do not know.

    You can do better, or at least I hope you can.

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  305. Lilly,

    If you are in on this Lutheran joke, then you will know just how to respond:

    May the force be with you…

    Hopefully that joke won’t fall flat. I always appreciate the interactions you and John have here, representing our Lutheran cousins. When I first became interested in Reformed theology, I actually attended an LCMS church in Chicago, and would have become a member had I not moved from the area. Anyway, thanks for trying to help our buddy Jon learn the ropes around here.

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  306. Jon, I agree with you: we all have a worldview. In fact, I don’t think the worldview is limited merely to presuppositions, but comprises all of our thoughts, both consciously and intuitively held.

    So DGH’s complaints (correct me if I’m wrong) seem to be that

    (1) “Worldviews” are over-rated. They don’t actually give us enough detail to describe all of life, even though they claim to be overarching descriptions of our thoughts about all of life.

    (2) The pursuit of worldview doesn’t bring clarity, but rather theory.

    (3) The pursuit of Christian worldviews places philosophers in charge of the church.

    Lily’s additional complaint is

    (4) The pursuit of worldview is overly introspective and is therefore a manifestation of the “theology of glory.”

    All of which is to say that of [DGH | Zrim | Lily] denies that they *have* a worldview; they just don’t think that worldviews are healthy to focus on.

    Sort of like, We all have besetting sins; but trying to root them out by “really really really turning them over to Jesus this time” is a pointless exercise. We have them, but it’s healthy to focus on them.

    Now, I don’t fully agree with DGH and Lily about worldviews, though I appreciate some of the points that they make.

    The reason I don’t agree is that I would say that a proper Christian worldview is precisely “sound doctrine”, and the valuing of developing sound doctrine is immense.

    But here’s where I would agree with DGH and Lily. In the wild, some of the “worldview-speak” I have seen has been decoupled from sound doctrine. The term “Christian worldview” has been attached to a couple of disjoint doctrines (in my experience, imago dei and Creation-Fall-Redemption) and then these doctrines are used as a substitute for rigorous Scriptural study or catechism.

    So for example, one of Zrim’s big points is that “redemption” is a term that refers to Jesus’ death for his people, and it applies to individuals rather than to institutions. This is a doctrinal point, and a sound one, and it should inform one’s “worldview.” But in the larger world, one hears such phrases as walking people redemptively through divorce or other uses of the term “redemptive” besides the specific theological meaning of Jesus’ purchasing of His people.

    This could and should be a place where sound doctrine causes people to reflect on their use of words … but it doesn’t, because it is felt that “having a Christian worldview” is a sufficient guard against going off the rails.

    So: if we can agree that “a Christian worldview” ought to mean “sound Christian doctrine”, then I think we (all) could possibly have some detente here. But if “a Christian worldview” is going to mean a set of thoughts other than “sound Christian doctrine”, then one wonders how worldview and doctrine interplay with one another, and which one gets top billing.

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  307. Jed,

    And with you (flourish of a light saber salute)!

    I’m sorry the LCMS lost you to the Reformed – they are blessed!

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  308. Jeff,

    What am I going to do with you?

    Re: (4) The pursuit of worldview is overly introspective and is therefore a manifestation of the “theology of glory.”

    Please don’t forget the thorny question of whether using ESC to glorify God with all your mind is an exercise of fellowship with yourself or your own vain imaginations, not to mention a few other items.

    Re: The reason I don’t agree [DGH & Lily] is that I would say that a proper Christian worldview is precisely “sound doctrine”, and the valuing of developing sound doctrine is immense.

    Ahem. I said: “If you want to understand my so-called worldview, I am Lutheran.” and also “lifelong catechesis” – uhm… I think it best to stop dissecting and rewording my statements – the meat is there unless you don’t think Lutheranism is sound doctrine and etc.

    Re: The term “Christian worldview” has been attached to a couple of disjoint doctrines (in my experience, imago dei and Creation-Fall-Redemption) and then these doctrines are used as a substitute for rigorous Scriptural study or catechism.

    Did you note that Christ crucified is assumed? Thus it is Christless and gospeless. It’s σκύβαλον.

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  309. Hi Lily,

    JRC: Re: The reason I don’t agree [DGH & Lily] is that I would say that a proper Christian worldview is precisely “sound doctrine”, and the valuing of developing sound doctrine is immense.

    Lily: Ahem. I said: “If you want to understand my so-called worldview, I am Lutheran.” and also “lifelong catechesis” – uhm… I think it best to stop dissecting and rewording my statements – the meat is there unless you don’t think Lutheranism is sound doctrine and etc.

    Certainly, Lutheranism is reasonably sound!

    So connecting the dots, wouldn’t you *want* to pursue that kind of worldview? That’s the point I was making.

    JRC: Re: (4) The pursuit of worldview is overly introspective and is therefore a manifestation of the “theology of glory.”

    Lily: Please don’t forget the thorny question of whether using ESC to glorify God with all your mind is an exercise of fellowship with yourself or your own vain imaginations, not to mention a few other items.

    It’s a good point. I don’t know if that net should be so broad as to sweep up everyone. Perhaps ESC is simply a mental habit that some people have, just as some people are always aware of sounds and others are always aware of sight. But certainly, I agree that trying to find the bottom of the rabbit hole is perilous.

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  310. Jeff, my point wasn’t that the confessions don’t affirm careful thought about theological matters. It was that they want us to think carefully about what the Bible says as opposed to worldly wisdom.

    I have asked the question multiple times and no one has sufficiently answered it: which one of you does not have a worldview OR a philosophical system? You can’t answer that because you know the answer but don’t want to admit it.

    Jon, another point to be made about worldview from a 2k outlook is that no worldview should be baptized as thee Christian worldview. That is to assume that worldview does indeed exist, and everyone has one, but the larger point is that even amongst believers there are different ways to think the world should go and nobody has heaven on his side. And that’s because the Bible, you know that thing worldviewers want to guide and direct, is silent on how the world should go. It is, however, loud and clear on how the church should go (think the three marks). The upshot of 2k, then, is that it allows for great liberty and toleration in terms of worldview while at the same time being equally narrow and intolerant in terms of ecclesiastical conception. Worldviewry tends to reverse that: for example, sacramental latitudinarianism abides as long as political republicanism unites.

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  311. Jeff C.,

    Wow, that’s the best post I have read yet! Even though we don’t totally agree, I appreciate your candor and I actually feel like I learned something! Good stuff.

    That being said, I think maybe you all are assuming I am coming from the neo-Calvinist school. I am NOT. I am a Van Tillian And Greg Bahnsenite 🙂 (wannabe) and yes, I lean towards theonomy! (And not ashamed of it). To give you guys more info about myself, I am first and foremost a THEOLOGIAN and Bible believer. Philosophy is merely a TOOL, and it is always dictated by Scritpure. In other words, the Bible expresses a specific metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. When I do use philosophical terms, I always (try) to make them purely Biblical. But I read Scripture first, commentaries second, theology books third, and lastly phiosophy, etc.

    That being said, I strongly disagree with Zrim and his radical 2K beliefs. “The Bible is silent on how the world should go”???!!! What?! That is crazy. All of creation is Christ’s and he interprets and gives meaning to ALL of it, even as he sovereignly controls it.

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  312. Jed,

    You are getting me to think deeper about this and I need to continue to refine my beliefs by the test of Scripture. Let me trace where we agree and disagree:

    1) All Christians should first and foremost know the Bible and the reformed confessions (ie, WCF).

    2) A Christian worldview or philosophy is not a BAD thing for anyone to have.

    3) Here’s where we diverge: All Christians (me) or some Christians (you) should strive to have a worldview that is as consistent with Scripture as their abilities allow.

    I guess what I believe is that ALL Christians have a worldview, even the mentally disabled. Even if they can’t ARTICULATE it, they have a way of interpreting reality that is either more in line with God’s interpretation or less so. My position is simply that ALL should strive to line their thoughts up with God’s as much as possible. This is just another way of saying we should have sound doctrine.

    Based on the above, which parts do you affirm or deny?

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  313. Lily,

    Aren’t Nancy Pearcey and Gene Veith Lutherans? Do you not agree with them?

    Disclaimer: Just because I referred to the above people does NOT mean I endorse everything they say!

    (PS. I don’t see what the hangup is with Creation-Fall-Redemption. Don’t we all believe this? Please don’t go off on this; just a question.)

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  314. Jon, no problem with Creation-Fall-Redemption as a description of the arc of Scripture. The point is that CFR is not a substitute for thorough study. What’s happening in some quarters is that students say, “CFR — Ok, I’ve got the Bible now.” In this case, a shoddy explanation of worldview creates the illusion of knowledge.

    3) Here’s where [Jon and Jed] diverge: All Christians (me) or some Christians (you) should strive to have a worldview that is as consistent with Scripture as their abilities allow.

    Let’s examine 3) more carefully. What argument would you make for requiring all Christians to have a worldview consistent with Scripture, according to their abilities?

    For example:

    * Is this the highest time, treasure, and energy priority? Could some Christians reasonably decide spend more energy on works of service, than on developing their worldview?

    * Is developing a worldview different from, or the same as, developing one’s doctrine?

    * What is the role of Christian liberty in worldview?

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  315. Good questions:

    1) “* Is this the highest time, treasure, and energy priority? Could some Christians reasonably decide spend more energy on works of service, than on developing their worldview?” – – I think this is similar to the same old question: “Isn’t studying theology less important with works of ministry? Doesn’t God care more about what we DO?” But I think this puts a false dualism between theology and methodology. My answer is that I think we should do BOTH.

    2) “* Is developing a worldview different from, or the same as, developing one’s doctrine?” I think they are pretty much the same. The only distinction I might make is that we need to make sure we know what people mean when they say they believe a particular doctrine. For example, someone might believe in salvation by faith alone, but see it as very individualistic because of their American individualistic worldview. So we have to help them see the corporate, federal aspects of salvation. But simply speaking, someone who has good doctrine WILL have a good worldview.

    3) “* What is the role of Christian liberty in worldview?” I’m not sure I understand the question, but I’ll say this: We are all commanded to bring every thought captive to Christ.

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  316. OK, round 2 on those questions:

    1) Given that we should do both, but also given the reality that we have but 168 hrs per week, some of which must be taken up in sleeping, eating, greeting our … family … in the morning, etc: How much effort do we need to put into this particular project?

    You don’t need to give me exact numbers of course, but I would like to focus attention on the fact that “we should…” always entails a cost of time and treasure.

    In the eschaton, we *will* have a perfect worldview (1 Cor 13), but for now, we don’t. How much movement should there be towards perfection here?

    2) I’m happy with this.

    3) Is there room to say “being a Republican is consistent with a Christian worldview” AND “being a Democrat is consistent with a Christian worldview”, or will a Christian worldview generate a unique answer to each question about the world?

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  317. Jeff,

    1) It’s kind of like asking how much time we should spend reading our Bibles, praying, etc. As much as possible. (Those are all “worldview” shaping pursuits btw).

    3) I definitely think one’s worldview has very specific implications for politics. I don’t like the Republican/Democrat split, because these are not well defined terms. But I will say without reservation that the Bible does not advocate a liberal economic system, for example. The government is given the sword and should promote justice and maintain peace, NOT dispense grace. That is the church’s job. So, yes, welfare is unBiblical. Thus, many of the neo-Cal’s leaning towards big gov’t is misguided at best.

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  318. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the replies. Round 3, if I may?

    1) Yes, but. How much time do *you* (or *I*) actually spend reading our Bibles, praying, etc.? Don’t answer out loud.

    When I taught ethics, I would sometimes ask my students, “It’s 10AM in the morning. You’ve been up since 6:30AM. What percentage of that time have you spent loving God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself?”

    And the reason I asked that question was to get across the enormous hugeness of God’s Law, and our amazing inability to keep it.

    That is to say: The first use of the Law precedes the third use.

    So also here. In the eschaton, we will have infinite time for reflection on the truth. Here, not so much.

    SO … could it be possible that it is sufficient for a given Christian to use his Sabbath for worldview building, and the rest of the week for worldview execution?

    3) But I will say without reservation that the Bible does not advocate a liberal economic system, for example.

    OK, let’s take that for the sake of argument. But notice as we do that “the Bible is contrary to X” simply means that the Bible rules out one possible position among many.

    And that answers a different question from mine, which is, “Does the Bible give a unique answer to each question about the world?”

    3b) Thus, many of the neo-Cal’s leaning towards big gov’t is misguided at best.

    And yet they major in Christian worldview. Strange.

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  319. Jeff, my objection to w—- v—- is that it is a philosophical tradition that originates with the Enlightenment — odd that so many anti-Enlightenment types identify with one of legacies of the German Enlightenment. And whenever I talk to conservative friends about w—- v—- they say to me, “that sounds like an ideology,” which is an attempt to give coherence to matters that are naturally diverse and complicated. Ideology makes the ideologue master of all things, the sovereign who gives meaning to all.

    In other words, w—- v— cultivates pride about the powers of human reason. Yes, Yes, I know that w—- v—-ers claim to be simply following the Bible. But w—- v—-ers invariably differ over what the Bible means. So w— v—- is overrated.

    But it should also be abandoned. It’s a project of modernity.

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  320. Jon, here’s more on where I’m coming from. There’s a lot of advice out there on developing a Christian worldview.

    Focus on the Family (Google for it … if I link too much to the articles, DGH’s spam filter sends me to purgatory until I receive the necessary indulgence).

    However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives — whether it’s watching a movie, communicating with our spouses, raising our children or working at the office — we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s nonbiblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same- sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.

    Conrad Nixon

    If the day to day curriculum is taught and studied as though God does not exist or is
    not important, then there is the danger that what is said in chapel will be seen as having no relevance to the “real world” studied in the classroom. It is therefore important that in all their curricula, as well as other areas of their life, schools affirm that this is God’s world and it can only be really understood when studied in the context of that relationship and in the light of His revelation.

    CIM’s summary of a Christian worldview sketches creation, fall, and redemption. The author, Bill Crouse, identifies worldview with systematic theology (Yay!) but then leaves out most of the theological distinctives that usually characterize a systematic theology (Boo!).

    What all of these approaches share in common is absence of what we agreed to: that developing a worldview happens as we study doctrine. Instead, we have moralism (FotF), Christian Ed (Nixon), and creation-fall-redemption (CIM).

    Does that make sense?

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  321. DGH, if I’m hearing you, it sounds like you would join me in rejecting the 19th century notion of One Big Idea that Determines Everything. Is that a fair assessment?

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  322. Darryl,

    Did Calvin or Augustine have worldviews? In other words, didn’t Calvin have an overarching scheme for interpreting Scripture? Isn’t that basically what syst theo is? Grouping all of Scripture into main themes?

    Jeff, I don’t like to sharply demarcate between building and doing worldview. There is lots of overlap and they interrelate closely.

    3b). Just because someone claims to be “doing worldview” doesn’t mean they’re right any more than doing syst

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  323. Ps. The model of worldview studies I most closely strive to adhere to is that of Greg Bahnsen. I find him the most consistent.

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  324. Darryl said this: “In other words, w—- v— cultivates pride about the powers of human reason. Yes, Yes, I know that w—- v—-ers claim to be simply following the Bible. But w—- v—-ers invariably differ over what the Bible means. So w— v—- is overrated.”

    How does one come to clarity about what the Bible means? Is it just a comparing and contrasting method of what other major teachers of the scriptures have said in the pas,t which have gotten written down in major confessional statements and hashed out in major church councils? Is it a matter of trusting authoritative documents but still doing hard research and thinking about these authoritative documents and modifying them as greater undertanding develops over time?

    BTW, this has been a good discussion once the real issues started to become clear. This often does take time and patience to develop on the internet. But if you can see it through it seems that it can pay dividends in greater insight and understanding of each other positions.

    Darryl’s comment that ESC and worldviewism should be abondoned is quite contrary to what many have been saying. The main thrust of what I am trying to say is what methodology do you replace it with?

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  325. And Jed, I appreciate what you said about Lily and myself. As I have told you in the past, I really get a lot out of reading your posts- almost as much as Eminem’s who has been strangely silent lately. But you both have great sense of humors- although your’s is a bit more biting and sarcastic. I’m not saying that is a bad thing either.

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  326. Jon: 3b). Just because someone claims to be “doing worldview” doesn’t mean they’re right any more than doing syst Theo makes them right.

    Yes, agreed.

    Now I want to make a sociological observation that builds on that point.

    We’ve agreed that Christian worldview is doctrine. And I think we would agree that doctrine is in the jurisdiction of the Visible Church.

    But it’s striking how many authors *speaking as individuals*, not as officers of the church, make pronouncements about Christian Worldview.

    And that observation leads to a question: What is the normative status of our thoughts about Christian Worldview? Since they are, or should be, doctrinal thoughts, then their status ought to be very high. But since most of those thoughts are promulgated by individuals and not the Church, their status ought to be much lower.

    Can you see where I’m going with this? The point is that one danger of too much worldview is that Christians in, say, Christian colleges, or parachurch movements (e.g. Focus) can begin to make back-door, non-Church-sanctioned doctrinal pronouncements. Such as:

    * A Christian Worldview requires concern for {the poor | the environment | property rights | defense spending …}
    * A Christian Worldview requires us to refrain from {watching R movies | listening to rap | …}

    If they were straight-up and said, “We are teaching doctrine as if from the pulpit”, students would pay attention and be Bereans about it. But since they dodge the D-word, students don’t have their guard up quite so much.

    NOW, some worldviewists actually do it well. When Donovan Graham spoke at my school about “Teaching Redemptively”, he made clear that his reflections on the implications of Christianity for teaching were opinions, and were not intended to be binding on us. That was very good, because it allowed us the space for liberty of conscience.

    But another group, who shall remain nameless, told my students that a Christian worldview required them to view certain musical artists as “garbage” to not be listened to. And while I actually agreed with the basic evaluation, I also thought that binding my student’s consciences in that way was contrary to WCoF 20.2.

    In other words: if we can agree that Christian worldview IS doctrine, then we ought also to be able to agree that the Church, and not the University, ought to be the purveyors of worldview. Fair?

    In re: Bahnsen — another time, brother. For now, consider that Bahnsen is upfront about his dissent from WCoF 19.4 and 23.2 (in the 1646 original), and from Calv Inst 4.20. This suggests that his frequently persuasive argument that the only just laws are the ones derived from God’s Word might maybe have a weak point.

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  327. Jon, if it’s so crazy and radical to suggest that the Bible is silent on how the world should go then does that mean it’s perfectly sane to suggest that there is a biblical case for democratic arrangements over against monarchy the same way there is a biblical case for Presbyterian ecclesiastical polity over against popery?

    To Jeff’s line of questioning about liberty you say “…without reservation that the Bible does not advocate a liberal economic system,” and I agree. But by the same 2k token, neither does it condemn one nor advocate for its rival. And that’s because the Bible is silent on politics and economics. What your brand of worldviewery seems to want to do is speak on behalf of God where he has not spoken. But the only way to have liberty and avoid baptizing mere human opinion is to refrain from doing this.

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  328. Jeff, or it may be the case that there is soft and hard worldviewery. But I don’t see how consciences can’t be bound by soft worldviewery any less than by soft legalism, unless binding in a kinder and gentler way is ok. Sorry, but a lecture on how teach redemptively, even with caveats about mere opinions, just sounds like a lecture on how to consume redemptively with the same caveats.

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  329. Zrim, the caveat about opinion is the crucial one, IMO. It is the distinction between “thus saith the Lord” and “here’s what seems best to me.”

    In this particular case, I *do* disagree with Graham on his particular scheme, which involves teaching towards multiple learning styles and multiple intelligences. I don’t think the science is robust.

    And because he is clear in his mind and speech to distinguish word of God from word of man, we could disagree without it being a “spiritual issue.”

    This is precisely what seeking after wisdom should look like, I think.

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  330. Zrim, regarding the democracy question, I’m not sure how to answer b/c I never made that case.

    But regarding your second question, I think you are falling into the trap many people do. For example, because the Bible never mentions drunk driving, does that make it okay? I am quite adamant that Biblical PRINCIPLES are completely opposed to wealth redistribution and govt run social programs. Just because I don’t have chapter and verse doesn’t mean the principle isn’t there.

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  331. Btw is anyone going to respond to Ron’s response to the anti-esc arguments here? I think he does a great job, but Darryl just avoided him completely.

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  332. Jeff, if it really is a mere human opinion about how to teach I don’t see why it has to be called redemptive. Doesn’t the very term itself, when attached to a common (i.e. non-redemptive) activity, suggest more “thus saith” than “in my opinion”? But since education is to the P&Rs what personal holiness is to the Baptists, lectures on redemptive teaching probably sound as sensible to them as lectures on redemptive consumption does to Baptists. But I hear a soft legalism-and-worldviewery backbeat playing in the background of both lectures.

    Jon, if the Bible teaches how the world should go then shouldn’t it have something to say about what form of governance is preferable? But actually the principles of capitalism are opposed to wealth redistribution. Does that mean the Bible teaches capitalism? So if you want to oppose wealth redistribution all you really need are the principles of capitalism, not the Bible. The Bible isn’t about ordering the temporal sphere. It’s about how to be right with God.

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  333. Zrim, like I said, I disagreed with him about the term “redemptive.” But if one looked past the term as a kind of dramatic embellishment or conceptual error, then the resulting content was not noxious.

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  334. Jon, no, Calvin and Augustine did not have w— v—s. It is anachronistic to call their outlooks or convictions w—- v—-. W—- v—- has a history and it begins well after Calvin died.

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  335. John Y., I think you figure out the meaning of scripture through study which includes studying scripture and what others have said. It also means studying the Bible in the context of the church, with the oversight of a pastor and elders. Otherwise, there’s no simple formula.

    The alternative to w— v— formation is catechesis and vocational training.

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  336. Jon, how could Paul’s response possibly be good since he appealed to Aquinas and every Van Tillian knows that Aquinas was wrong. The four causes come from Aristotle, btw, who hardly had a biblical w— v—.

    Again, history trumps philosophy.

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  337. Darryl, if we agree that a worldview is just a network of presuppositions that filter all the data of life, then everyone has one, right?

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  338. Jon,

    Re: a worldview is just a network of presuppositions that filter all the data of life

    Isn’t this a novel concept that came into popularity in the latter part of the twentieth century? Do you know what the traditional understanding of the church has been about the world and church history? Have you read: Eusebius? Josephus? Athanasius? Ignatius? Augustine? Or did your understanding of the world and the church begin with Bashnen and his cohorts?

    Is it possible that your defense of “worldviews” is merely parroting a school of thought that wants to masquerade as Christian thought? The church has a much richer and deeper history and thought life than what it appears you are aware of – if you were aware of these things, I doubt you would want to bang Bahnsen’s drum.

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  339. Jon, if you change network to coalition your idea may have legs over at the Gospel Coalition. Network sounds awfully technological for something so spiritual.

    I believe I have convictions, not a w—- v—-. None of are self-conscious about our convictions all the time, nor should we be because it is impossible and not required. People who think they are self-conscious all the time are deceiving themselves and their standard for others is harmful.

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  340. Jeff, all I mean is vocation. Every believer has at least one vocation and education (formal, informal, apprenticeships) should be designed so that believers can live out their vocations.

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  341. Jon,

    The following is sage advice on the importance of reading old books from C.S. Lewis:

    There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modernbooks on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

    This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul – or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself.

    Now this seems to me topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light.Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. Remarks which seem to you very ordinary will produce laughter or irritation and you will not see why-the reason, of course, being that the earlier stages of the conversation have given them a special point. In the same way sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed “at” some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (“mere Christianity” as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at leastread one old one to every three new ones.

    Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook-even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united-united with each other and against earlier and later ages-by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century-the blindness about which posterity will ask, ” But how could they have thought that?”-lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth. None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we readonly modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by readingold books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.

    —C.S. Lewis
    Introduction to The Incarnation of The Word of God by Athanasius

    Read old books and keep the clean fresh breeze of the centuries blowing through your mind.

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  342. Darryl, you just continue to label and dodge, and the more you do so, the weaker your position appears. Ron’s article was solid and you can’t just brush it off.

    I could also say all you radical 2kers are the same and brush you off as well. (talk about a novel view).

    You are just playing word games with “conviction” vs “worldview” vs “presupposition”. Theyre all pretty much equivalent terms, but these semantics games are getting old.

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  343. Jon, how could Paul’s response possibly be good since he appealed to Aquinas and every Van Tillian knows that Aquinas was wrong. The four causes come from Aristotle, btw, who hardly had a biblical w— v—.

    Again, history trumps philosophy.

    Why no one takes Darryl G. Hart seriously. If the 4-causes come from Aristotle, then how the heck is it a “new School” thing to claim that if someone rejects or is ignorant of one of the causes, then they don’t really or fully know or understand the thing in question? And again, as Muller, Trueman, Horton, etc., tell us, the orthodox and scholastic Reformers rather held to Thomistic philosophy in terms of metaphysics, epistemology, &co. Indeed, isn’t it a 2K point that old schoolers held to Natural Law, which goes back to Aquinas and even Aristotle????? So then, the point I made, which you refused to deal with, is that OLD SCHOOLERS would have held the view you claimed was “new school.” On this, you’re new school and I’m old school. How’s that tall glass of milk taste?

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  344. I mean, look at the treasured Reformed (and PHILOSOPHICAL) notion of “primary and secondary” causes. That a distinction ARISTOTLE made. Notice too how most subjects were discussed following Thomas’ four causes. Notice all the philosophical language, concepts, presuppositions employed in, for example, early discussions on free will and foreknowledge and God’s decree. You guys act as if the concepts absolute necessity (necessitas consequentis) and the consequent necessity (necessitas consequentiae) were concepts exegeted from Holy writ, and you look silly for doing so. The discussions on free will and providence DEPENDED upon such notions such that they would have been unintelligible and even non-existent without them.

    The problem here is that you have people so completely ignorant of philosophy popping off about it, that they can’t even see how ridiculous they look when they try to keep their theology wiped free of all the philosophical fingerprints ubiquitously placed in virtually over corner. They simply don’t understand the subject, the issues, the questions asked, and they don’t even know enough to know how much they don’t know. And then they look around with their half-blind eyes and congratulate themselves on seeing a pure theology untainted by philosophical presuppositions, concepts, distinctions, etc., but the reason they can’t see it is because they’re blind. To those who can see, they look like ridiculous blind men who congratulate each other on how clean they are while what we see are men in mud covered clothes. If you’re completely ignorant of the subject (and you are), how the heck can you be so sure that you don’t have a philosophy (a poorly worked out one), a worldview, and hold to a theology that assumes all manner of philosophical and extra biblical propositions. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    The problem in the Reformed church isn’t lack of catechesis, it’s the power struggle between the anti-intelectuals and those who stand in the old tradition of faith seeking understanding. Those who know the Reformers appreciated much of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, the A-team. ALL of them were PHILOSOPHICAL-theologians. This is why the scholastic Reformed are ignored by many old-schoolers. You just can’t abide the fact that there was a heavily philosophically informed stance in the development of Reformed thought.

    This time, history and philosophy wins.

    Winning.

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  345. Lily,

    Thanks for the tip. What I’ve read by Veith on vocation has been quite profitable.

    I will say, though, that he takes a different view on Scripture and vocation than some here. He thinks that (gasp!) the Bible has some things to say about our common endeavors.

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  346. Paul, what you seem to miss is the due place given philosophy by 2kers in these discussions. And your huffing and puffing might carry more water if you ever had a critical word about philosophy or ever showed the slightest inclination to put it in its proper place and perspective. Up to this point, it’s unclear as to what would ever keep you from saying that Aristotle is the forerunner to Christ.

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  347. Zrim, you can try to paint me as “huffing and puffing” and I can paint you as a lying liar who tells lies. And?

    For example, I am on record all over the place for “putting philosophy in its proper place.” The place is handmaiden. I am a defender, me not you, of theological paradox and mystery. You pay mere lip service to the idea. I defend it, explicate it, and actually move things forward, You, on the other hand, invoke it when you can’t reason any further as if whatever is a mystery for Zrim is a mystery for everyone. So you lie about my putting philosophy in its proper place. Lastly, you lie about the place 2kers give philosophy. Hart’s words are enough to debunk you, but you yourself have admitted that you know hardly ANYTHING about philosophy other than reading a few pages of Aristotle back in college. Moreover, whenever the topic turns philosophical, you tuck tail and run and call names. You have NEVER EVER ONE EVER IN YOUR LIFE made even one self-conscious philosophical point or shown that you have respect for it. I, on the other hand, have covered theology and philosophy, as a cursory read of my blog proves. So, you can lie all you want, but you have ZERO respect for philosophy and you can’t even see all the philosophical positions your treasured doctrines presuppose. You can’t see how intertwined philosophy and theology are. As I said, since you know nothing of the subject, why think you’re qualified to pop off about it?

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  348. Anyway, Zrim, you would gain some credibility if you could admit the point that a rejection of God and the Christian view of reality and knowledge has a LONG history within the faith of implying that the person can’t fully know or understand the subject they pontificate about. This isn’t a “new school” point. My whole beef with you and Hart is your cocky attitudes about subjects you CLEARLY have no knowledge in or about. I don’t mind the cocky, but you got to back it up. Otherwise, you look like a chump.

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  349. Paul – pitching a hissy fit doesn’t make you look intelligent or learned – merely juvenile and incompetent. Doubling down and continuing to pitch fits only makes you look like a bigger idiot. Not to mention that tooting you own horn makes you look like a blowhard and the fact that your so-called knowledge and skills in philosophy is bogus…. If you are really serious about philosophy, go to Stanford and work for a PhD. The men with doctorates that I’ve known from there are great guys.

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  350. Jon, actually, you too are guilty of anti-intellectualism unless you think philosophers are the only ones with intellects. David Naugle’s book, Worldview, the History of a Concept, which is btw quite positive about w—-v—-, says that the concept started in the nineteenth century among evangelicals with figures like Kuyper and James Orr. And w—v— is not simply interchangeable with conviction. Any good philosopher would know that.

    Also, I’m not the only one raising questions about w—-v—-. Even the Federal Visionary, Peter Leithart, who is very philosophical, has his issues:

    Evangelicals these days are positively giddy about worldview. For many, developing a Christian worldview is the answer to all or most of the ills that plague the contemporary church. When I see a bandwagon, however, I tend to wonder why they are heading in that direction, and this contrarian bias set me to wondering about the genealogy and implications of the concept of “worldview.”

    For starters, there are all the practical questions. Is this concept of “worldview” adequate to deal with something as richly chaotic as, say, medieval thought and culture. Whose worldview, after all, are we talking about? Thomas Aquinas used Aristotelian categories to attempt to penetrate the nature of things, but did a Parisian merchant selling English woolens down the street from Thomas’s rooms at the University share his worldview? Would he have understood the first thing Thomas was saying?

    Where, moreover, is the medieval worldview to be sought? Does the “medieval worldview” refer to a set of categories or a map of the universe in the heads of medieval people (and, again, which people?)? Or, is it found in texts, and if so what kinds of texts — philosophical, poetic, epistolary? Or, is it located in the assumptions made by writers of texts, in things everyone takes so much for granted he never needs to say them out loud? Or, is it embodied in practices, institutions, and artifacts, in the traceries of Gothic rose windows, in the pageantry of a feudal ceremony of vassalage, or in the theatrical celebrations that accompanied the Corpus Christi festival? In the latter case, is there any significant difference between the “worldview” and “culture.” On what basis, further, do we conclude that there is a single “worldview” shared by people in a particular historical epoch? Is this an assumption or a metaphysical or moral necessity? Or is there empirical evidence that this is the case?
    Philosophers also have raised objections to the category of “worldview.” According to Gregory Clark, the notion of “worldview” came into prominence within post-Kantian philosophy, and was stimulated largely by the fact of religious and cultural pluralism: “Worldview thinking provides a metaperspective or a formal position that can mediate between competing ‘ways of seeing.'” It is hardly news that people do not all think about life or respond to its challenges in the same way. Pluralism in that sense is simply a fact, and always has been. Worldview thinking, however, attempts to establish a “metaperspective,” a perspective that transcends, frames, tests, and regulates every particular worldview. The problem is with a “theory of worldviews.”

    Actually, there are at least four problems. First, such a theory suggests that the worldview thinker is capable of finding some place to stand outside all particular worldviews from which to view them. How else can he know that his worldview is a species of the same genus as his neighbor’s worldview? “Worldview” in this sense functions much as the term “religion” does in modern usage: “Religion” describes a generic category of human activity and experience that stands above and apart from all particular religions. But if “everyone has a worldview,” then the worldview thinker also has a specific worldview and is merely assessing other systems of thought from within his own particular system of thought. His claim to be able to survey all worldviews, encompass them in a theory, and compare them to each other is a ruse. He is doing nothing more than trying to enclose all other worldviews in his own. Clark’s warning that “worldview” has an inbuilt bias toward relativism seems on target. To put this point the other way round: Worldview thinkers recognize that all particular worldviews have their own histories, but often fail to recognize that the concept of “worldview” itself has a history and is itself an historically contingent way of organizing the complexity of culture (just as the modern concept of “religion” is historically specific, and would not be recognizable to Augustine or Aquinas). From this angle, worldview thinking is not nearly relativist or historicist enough.

    Second, “worldview” tends to be highly intellectualist. Ideas, it is often assumed, have consequences, and cultural practices, institutions, and artifacts are secondary embodiments of prior ideas. In reality, ideas are formed within the context of and in response to practices, institutions, and artifacts that are always already there. No one forms ideas in an empty landscape. There is an aporia here, a chicken-and-egg relationship: Did the ideas of scholastic theology help to produce Gothic architecture, or did the scholastic theologians attempt to reproduce the soaring heights of a Gothic cathedral in their treatises? Did theology “cause” the Gothic, or the Gothic inspire theology? “Worldview” either obscures or attempts to circumvent this undecidable aporia. This point aside, Christians have good reason to distrust any approach to life and history that assumes the primacy of ideas. For Christians, as Clark insists, “truth” is not found in a system of ideas, but in a Person, Jesus Christ. Our calling is not to develop a complete perspective on the world, but to follow Jesus. To be sure, being a disciple involves loving Jesus with our whole minds, and seeking to conform our minds to the Word of God. But it also involves conforming our hands, feet, hearts, back, arms, legs, and ears to the Word of God, not to mention our relationships with the world and with others.

    Underlying these criticisms is my third complaint, namely, that “worldview” is inherently Cartesian. Implicit in the very word “worldview” is the picture of an individual positioned so as to survey the entirety of creation (and perhaps the Creator as well) in a single gaze. That is precisely the position of the detached Cartesian ego, separated from the world and other humans, floating, as philosophers say, in “midair.” Christians, however, should not yearn for this panoptic vision, or to kick against the pricks of human limitations. To yearn for that is not merely an intellectual mistake. It is pride, a form of the original sin. Walking by faith and not by sight means trusting God precisely when we do not have a road map or a God’s-eye view of the landscape. In this sense, the Christian position seems closer to Heidegger than to Descartes, for our existence is always a limited and located “being-there” and a “being-in-the-world,” rather than a “being-nowhere” or a “being-above-the-world.”

    Finally, Clark argues that “worldview” belongs to the “domain of philosophy,” and thus “when evangelicals articulate their faith in terms of worldviews, they make philosophy foundational to their theology.” Philosophy, specifically the philosophy of “worldview,” frames and controls the content and form of Christianity. Worldview thinking thus has an inherent bias toward what Heidegger called “onto-theology.” Many have taken Heidegger as an opponent of any theology that makes metaphysical claims about what really is the case with the world. For Heidegger, however, “onto-theology” refers to a style of theology subordinated to and constrained by philosophical commitments from outside theology. For onto-theology, god comes to the world “only insofar as philosophy, of its own accord and by its own nature, requires and determines how the deity enters into it.” Heidegger had nothing but scorn for a god who can be controlled by philosophy: We “can neither pray nor sacrifice to this god. Before the causa sui, man can neither fall to his knees in awe nor can he play music and dance before this god.” The Christian God, the Creator and Redeemer, the God of exodus and resurrection, is precisely the God who enters the scene wherever and whenever He pleases, the God who interrupts, the God who surprises, the God who is constrained by nothing, certainly nothing so feeble as human ideas. To the extent that “worldview” muzzles Scripture and tames the God revealed there, it is an enemy of genuine evangelical faith.

    I’m just trying to keep you and the world visionaries from falling off the ledge.

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  351. As I’ve said on my blog before, the blog Zrim is subscribed to, my view is:

    Oliphint expresses it nicely: “There is no reason to read more, philosophically, into [this text, passage, doctrine, etc] than is warranted by Scripture. But there is no reason to read less into it either.” (Reasons for Faith, 174).

    No one here can show that I violate the former (if you think you can, cite me), but I can show repeated times Zrim and Hart violate the latter.

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  352. Paul, I am truly reeling from the incoherence in your position. It is 2kers, after all, who have no trouble using Aristotle and NL. It is neo-Calvinists who object greatly to NL. And now you clam that Aristotle gave you the distinctions necessary for philosophy. Duh! But he didn’t have a Christian w—-v—-. So you are being unfaithful. And Jon can hardly appreciate your point — though he needs all the help he can find — since he follows the Bible for all of his convictions. So what’s up with Aristotle and Aquinas? I missed those sections of the canon.

    One more elementary point — philosophy is not w—v—-. They may be related. But just because they doesn’t mean they are the same. It is a form of anti-intellectualism to disregard definitions but it is a good example of ideology.

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  353. Lilly, you’re a chick, no wonder you’re cheerleading for your boys. Anyway, perhaps you could drop the ad hominems and *show* where I’m wrong. Even if I look like an ass and look unlearned doesn’t imply my points are wrong. Notice that when I go ad hominem I always include argument. Take a cue. Oh yeah, my friend is in the PhD program at Stanford? Who do you know and what’s your full name or some other way I can relate who you are to your friends there. Though it’s a good school they have taken a conscious anti-realist turn in philosophy of science, math, and logic, and I am not keen on that turn. Moreover, Stanford isn’t rated number one in terms of graduate phil programs. That aise, love the pom poms.

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  354. Paul, who is denying that Christianity has philosophical implications. Someone denies w— v— and you go knock-kneed. Of course it has philosophical implications. Stay on point. A w—v— is not necessary to have knowledge of something, or to be a Christian.

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  355. Jeff,

    I think you will enjoy Veith’s book if/when you get to it on your reading list. As for the gasps – it’s always good to remember vocation is multi-faceted and we simply can’t show off all our sides at the same time! 😉

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  356. Darryl, yawn, it’s so hard to talk to you because you either don’t read or you can’t grasp the points. I don’t know which one it is, but whatever it is, it’s annoying.

    First things, I am not “neo-cal” or “theonomist” or “Bahnsenian” or whatever else you constantly say I am.

    Second, if you have no problem using Aristotle or Aquinas, then what of my point which totally undercut your ignorant claim about unbelievers’ lack of knowledge in sundry fields. I made an *old school* point which undercut your lame argument. Is it only cool when old schoolers claim unbelievers who reject Christian metaphysics and epistemology can’t have a full or robust or proper knowledge and understanding of their field?

    Third, I never said “Aristotle gave me the distinctions necessary for philosophy.” I was responding to Zrim who tried to keep his theology cut free from extra biblical concepts and distinctions. If you want to admit that many of your treatsured Reformed doctrines are dripping with extra biblical philosophical presuppositions and implications, be my guest.

    Fourth, I never said a philosophy is a worldview. However, you have a wordview and philosophical viewpoints. That’s not the problem Darryl. It’s that you have a shoddy and not-well-worked out one. Other than that, you’re the guy who claimed “there is no such thing as a Biblical epistemology.” I then cited you a paper written by a PhD and asked for your *arguments* against it. You responded that he probably just wrote it for job security, and avoided the whole thing with your nervous appeal to humor. That’s anti-intellectualism.

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  357. DGH, I appreciate you wanting to protect Zrim. But why get all protective? After all, didn’t you say he was light in the loafers? Why is calling him a liar after he calls me names worse than saying he isn’t funny in a “haha” sense?

    Anyway, my point here was to undercut your claim that it is “new school” to point out the unbelievers don’t fully or robustly or accurately or truly understand their fields if they reject certain metaphysical or epistemological implications of Christianity?

    Besides that, if Christianity has philosophical implications,” care to let up on your claims that it has nothing important and relevant to say to epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, etc? If it does, those can properly be defined as *Christian* views on those things. Once you admit that, then my entire argument with you guys here ends and I win. If you don’t want to take it back, then perhaps you can write a blog on exactly which philosophical implications and presuppositions Christianity makes.

    You didn’t even see the wall you walked into. I’m sorry I’m so rough, but you can see the purpose now. I got you to finally insert foot in mouth and admit the one and only argument I’ve been making here.

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  358. Very funny, Paul. My suggestion to go to Stanford was in hopes you might be able to get your poop-in-a-group under the influence of good men. It doesn’t have to be Stanford – anything is preferable to the way you’ve let your thinking go to seed and let your emotions overrule common sense. FYI – my father received his PhD from Stanford and I never said it was in philosophy. My experience with Stanford and PhDs has been good men who didn’t let their egos get the best of them. Would you like to tell us where you got your PhD in philosophy and the vocation that you employ these skills in and gained experience among peers? Have you been published yet?

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  359. Lily, I see, so you again refuse to deal with the points I’ve made and go back for the ad hominem remark. I bet you’d deny math if your algebra teacher was a jerk. Jerkiness doesn’t disprove points. And I am a jerk here because Hart pops off about things he doesn’t understand and when one tries to offer a serious rebuttal to his point, he simply blows them off with a joke or some other sarcastic comment.

    Anyway,would Schopenhauer comment at Old Life? I don’t think so, and I will follow his lead. Here’s the evidence from Schopenhauer which leads me to believe he wouldn’t comment here:

    “As a sharpening of wits, controversy is often, indeed, of mutual advantage, in order to correct one’s thoughts and awaken new views. But in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably equal: If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the other, as he is not on the same level with his antagonist. If he lacks mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks, and end by being rude.

    The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him. From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool – desipere est jus gentium. Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la verite. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace.”

    Adios.

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  360. Wow, Paul. If you can’t tell the difference between people calling you names and people challenging your inappropriate words, behavior, and attitude. Well… you might want to seek professional help… some people do find in-patient treatment and medications helpful for delusions and combative behavior. Though… I’ve been told there is no successful treatment available for sociopaths other than confinement and heavy supervision.

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  361. Re: “Worldview” either obscures or attempts to circumvent this undecidable aporia. This point aside, Christians have good reason to distrust any approach to life and history that assumes the primacy of ideas. For Christians, as Clark insists, “truth” is not found in a system of ideas, but in a Person, Jesus Christ.” and… “worldview” belongs to the “domain of philosophy,” and thus “when evangelicals articulate their faith in terms of worldviews, they make philosophy foundational to their theology.” Philosophy, specifically the philosophy of “worldview,” frames and controls the content and form of Christianity. Worldview thinking thus has an inherent bias toward what Heidegger called “onto-theology.” and… The Christian God, the Creator and Redeemer, the God of exodus and resurrection, is precisely the God who enters the scene wherever and whenever He pleases, the God who interrupts, the God who surprises, the God who is constrained by nothing, certainly nothing so feeble as human ideas. To the extent that “worldview” muzzles Scripture and tames the God revealed there, it is an enemy of genuine evangelical faith.” (Not to mention the rest of the delicious article).

    By George, the man gets it – truly poetry in motion and a refreshing cool drink of sanity! Sigh… I can die happy now.

    Many, many thanks for posting this perfect article, Doc.

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