The Bible Can't Speak To All of Life

That’s why you need the Roman Catholic Church.

That, anyway, is the logic of a golden-oldie from U.S. Roman Catholic teaching about the dangers of fundamentalism:

Biblical fundamentalists are those who present the Bible, God’s inspired word, as the only necessary source for teaching about Christ and Christian living. This insistence on the teaching Bible is usually accompanied by a spirit that is warm, friendly, and pious. Such a spirit attracts many (especially idealistic young) converts. With ecumenical respect for these communities, we acknowledge their proper emphasis on religion as influencing family life and workplace. The immediate attractions are the ardor of the Christian community and the promises of certitude and of a personal conversion experience to the person of Jesus Christ without the need of church. As Catholic pastors, however, we note its presentation of the Bible as a single rule for living. According to fundamentalism, the Bible alone is sufficient. There is no place for the universal teaching church—including its wisdom, its teachings, creeds, and other doctrinal formulations, its liturgical and devotional traditions. There is simply no claim to a visible, audible, living, teaching authority binding the individual or congregations.

A further characteristic of biblical fundamentalism is that it tends to interpret the Bible as being always without error or as literally true in a way quite different from the Catholic Church’s teaching on the inerrancy of the Bible. For some biblical fundamentalists, inerrancy extends even to scientific and historical matters. The Bible is presented without regard for its historical context and development. . . .

We observed in biblical fundamentalism an effort to try to find in the Bible all the direct answers for living—though the Bible itself nowhere claims such authority. The appeal of such an approach is understandable. Our world is one of war, violence, dishonesty, personal and sexual irresponsibility. It is a world in which people are frightened by the power of the nuclear bomb and the insanity of the arms race, where the only news seems to be bad news. People of all ages yearn for answers. They look for sure, definite rules for living. And they are given answers—simplistic answers to complex issues—in a confident and enthusiastic way in fundamentalist Bible groups.

The appeal is evident for the Catholic young adult or teenager—one whose family background may be troubled; who is struggling with life, morality, and religion; whose Catholic education may have been seriously inadequate in the fundamentals of doctrine, the Bible, prayer life, and sacramental living; whose catechetical formation may have been inadequate in presenting the full Catholic traditions and teaching authority. For such a person, the appeal of finding the “ANSWER” in a devout, studious, prayerful, warm, Bible-quoting class is easy to understand. But the ultimate problem with such fundamentalism is that it can give only a limited number of answers and cannot present those answers, on balance, because it does not have Christ’s teaching church nor even an understanding of how the Bible originally came to be written, and collected in the sacred canon, or official list of inspired books.

Our Catholic belief is that we know God’s revelation in the total Gospel. The Gospel comes to us through the Spirit-guided tradition of the Church and the inspired books: “This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testament are like a mirror in which the pilgrim church on earth looks at God” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 7).

A key question for any Christian is, Does the community of faith which is the Lord’s church have a living tradition which presents God’s word across the centuries until the Lord comes again? The Catholic answer to this question is an unqualified yes. That answer was expressed most recently in the Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council. We look to both the church’s official teaching and Scripture for guidance in addressing life’s problems. It is the official teaching or magisterium that in a special way guides us in matters of belief and morality that have developed after the last word of Scripture was written. The church of Christ teaches in the name of Christ and teaches us concerning the Bible itself.

The basic characteristic of biblical fundamentalism is that it eliminates from Christianity the church as the Lord Jesus founded it.

Notice that a desire for certainty in all of life’s dilemmas is not wrong. Neo-Calvinists take heart. The problem is asking the Bible to supply all the answers. The Bible only goes so far. After that, the church and tradition need to kick in.

A similar dynamic may very well be at work with neo-Calvinism. You need the Bible but you also need philosophy which provides the rudiments of w-w, which in turn yields the answers to life’s questions.

Both Rome and neo-Calvinism give a living tradition that augments Scripture. Both also like philosophy — a lot.

2kers should also take heart. The idea that the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life is like what we’re sayin’. We’re also saying, live with the uncertainty. To which the Romanists and Amsterdamists reply, “that’s not inspiring.”

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1,133 thoughts on “The Bible Can't Speak To All of Life

  1. But the ultimate problem with such fundamentalism is that it can give only a limited number of answers and cannot present those answers, on balance, because it does not have Christ’s teaching church nor even an understanding of how the Bible originally came to be written, and collected in the sacred canon, or official list of inspired books.

    Speaking of our collected canon, I read a great quote yesterday:

    The Word of God is the seed from which the church grows; the seed is older than its progeny. From the earliest days of the Reformation, this was a key principle for the Protestant understanding of the relationship between God’s revelation and the church. As Luther writes, “Scripture is the womb from which arises divine truth and the church

    – JV Fesko, The Theology of the Westminster Standards

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  2. “All of life” doesn’t mean encyclopedic. Darryl, you should know better. There is true creaturely knowledge that’s not in the Bible. Every neo-Calvinist believes that. Little if any natural science in the Bible, but lots of meta-science.

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  3. Dr. Gray,

    There was a great Nova on astrobiology, exploring the possibility of eight legged creatures on the planets with the existence of greater gravity could require the additional support that such a design would afford these hypothetical aliens (start watching at minute 47). Sand whales, and how did the sharks come to dominate the sea with such small brains (we humans seem to have the land thing conquered, and our bigger brains seemed to help, I think..)

    A lot of speculative science, but still fun nonetheless. Good to hear from you.

    Grace and peace.

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  4. Terry M. Gray
    Posted April 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
    “All of life” doesn’t mean encyclopedic. Darryl, you should know better. There is true creaturely knowledge that’s not in the Bible. Every neo-Calvinist believes that. Little if any natural science in the Bible, but lots of meta-science.

    Of course he knows better.

    It came out of its cell again, in the day of storm and ruin, and cried out with a new and mighty voice for an elemental and emotional religion, and for the destruction of all philosophies. It had a peculiar horror and loathing of the great Greek philosophies, and of the scholasticism that had been founded on those philosophies. It had one theory that was the destruction of all theories; in fact it had its own theology which was itself the death of theology. Man could say nothing to God, nothing from God, nothing about God, except an almost inarticulate cry for mercy and for the supernatural help of Christ, in a world where all natural things were useless. Reason was useless. Will was useless. Man could not move himself an inch any more than a stone. Man could not trust what was in his head any more than a turnip. Nothing remained in earth or heaven, but the name of Christ lifted in that lonely imprecation; awful as the cry of a beast in pain.

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  5. Sometimes the older people get, the more black and white they become about all things being gray

    Ernest Sandeen—-The Princetonians and the Fundamentalists agreed with one another in general mood and in the elaboration of their central theme of Biblical authority. Both groups thought
    in pre-Kantian, pre-Schleiermachian rationalistic terms. Over and against the new theologies of
    immanence and social gospel, both stressed God’s transcendence, and supra-historical power and
    expressed themselves in very pessimistic terms when discussing social problems. The two movements were by no means completely compatible, but the common Modernist foe kept them at peace with one another throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    “Toward a Historical Interpretation of the Origins of Fundamentalism,” Church History 36 (March 1967): p 67

    http://www.dbts.edu/pdf/macp/2012/Snoeberger,%20Where%27s%20the%20Love.pdf

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  6. Mark, it’s a curious thing to see 2K theology so closely aligned with dispensationalism. Maybe the alleged alignment will knock some sense into those who really are covenant theologians, ie the OPC and URC folks at Old Life.

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  7. Daryl,

    Your attempt to deal with uncertainty is to say “meh, just live it”? I think a crucial test for any worldview is whether or not it can compete in the market place of ideas. “Just live with agnosticism” isn’t going to get the job done. Weak.

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  8. We’re also saying, live with the uncertainty.
    ——–

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8

    My….are not….I can live with that

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  9. loser ken, right. for you it’s all about winning. don’t you ever worry about a theology of glory? Of course, always in a poor church for the poor kind of way (just ignore all the basilicas in Rome and all the church’s assets).

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  10. Why tradition finally becomes a rival to Scripture:

    Tradition trumps the Bible. It was tradition that put together the Holy Bible, based on what books were being used most popularly, and based on the decisions of a particular tradition and particular people who were given a tradition authority. Since tradition put the Bible together, tradition was most important.

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  11. Kenneth,

    And hey, while I have you..

    Any chance we can get angry Catholic Nick to listen to Drunk ex-Pastors? I still read creedcodecult, I think that guy just needs to chill. It’s been fun chumming it up with you with the drunks. It’s interested to see who that podcast attracts (let’s get Comrade to come over here to post with Darryl and the sneerers (thanks TVD).

    Good of you to show up. Have a nice Easter, man. Peace.

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  12. Daryl,

    I feel like the gospel is pretty….. glorious? Why do we have to chose between grace or glory? Can’t we humble ourselves and say we are utterly dependant on God’s grace…. while still marveling at His glorious Church?

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  13. If the Church sold all of its assets and melted down all of saint Peters we might be able to feed the world for like a day. At the same time though, the world would have suffered a great and terrible loss. The smells and bells can really be moving.

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  14. Kenneth, and if Francis renounced the very office of papacy it would go a longer way to show humility than all the “here, get a shot of me praying and hugging poor people” photo ops, as in Matthew 6.

    But does Paul sound like a guy worried about being a player on the marketplace of ideas:

    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.

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  15. Z,

    I guess… were the apostles “not humble” because they spoke with authority? Is it so audacious to carry the torch that Christ Himself handed on? I don’t think so.

    Paul is speaking to the error of the Jews and greeks. One group rejected the gospel because they were caught up in works, the other because they were “too wise” to believe. I don’t see how that verse woukd serve as a kind of proof text towards gutting the philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview.

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  16. “To which the Romanists and Amsterdamists reply, ‘that’s not inspiring.'”

    Bingo. On the other thread, I noted how a Swiss Calvinist psychiatrist I met on a plane took pride in the fact that the Swiss make better architects than artists.

    At the behest of a German friend, I’ve decided to devote the next months to developing my palate for good lager beer. The complexities of a good lager are much more subtle than what one finds in ales. Also, it’s much easier to screw up a lager than it is to screw up an ale. Making a good lager requires skill and craftsmanship; otherwise, the resulting product is wretched. In contrast, while it may take skill to make a great ale, anyone can make a decent ale without even trying.

    Anyway, I was wondering about the fact that lager brewing has generally developed in Protestant-dominated areas, especially areas dominated by Lutherans and non-Puritan Calvinists.

    The difference between the Kuyperian-Puritan brand of Calvinism and more traditional forms is the difference between idealism and realism. The old-life Calvinist is a realist, and is generally content to catch small glimpses of God’s fingerprint in the simple pleasures of life, such as in the subtle balance of flavors found in a well-crafted lager. For the transformationalists, the focus is instead on the ways in which those same objects yet fail to conform to the heavenly ideal. So, instead of appreciating the glimpses they can catch of God’s fingerprint in the world around them, they set on an idealistic quest to transform everything to be in conformity to their idealized vision of the divine.

    The old-life Calvinist is content with God’s limited revelation, and is happy to order his life in light of godly wisdom and pragmatic considerations. He doesn’t need a master plan. In contrast, the transformationalist needs a Christian worldview to fill in the gaps. But because he has no idea of what heaven is like, he ends up unwittingly claiming divine aegis for middle-class preferences and tastes (because even the Kuyperians can’t think beyond what they know and experience). So, in the end, the Christian worldview just starts to look a lot like Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the 1950s.

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  17. K, but how does it serve for establishing The Christian Institute for Philosophical Worldview (and other stuff Christians do gooder than Jews and Greeks)? Paul and Co. established churches, not institutes or schools or clubs or societies.

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  18. “The old-life Calvinist is a realist, and is generally content to catch small glimpses of God’s fingerprint in the simple pleasures of life, such as in the subtle balance of flavors found in a well-crafted lager.”

    Maybe it’s me coming off of a Trappist ale but thoughtful Catholics with religious inklings are also like that. They’re also more likely the people in the lives of the old-life Calvinists that help sustain their faith since there’s more than like ten of them in the entire United States.

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  19. Kenneth,

    How familiar are you with Martin Luther’s ideas about Theology of the Cross over against theolog of glory?

    The theology of the Cross (Latin: Theologia Crucis)[1] or staurology[2] (from Greek stauros: cross, and -logy: “the study of”)[3] is a term coined by the theologian Martin Luther[1] to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. It is contrasted with the theology of glory[1] (theologia gloriae),[1] which places greater emphasis on human abilities and human reason.

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  20. Zrim,

    Yes they did, but the people in the churches were told always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you. In order to better “be ready” we need institutes, schools, etc.

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  21. Kenneth, and when asked to give that account the answer is the Creed, which one doesn’t even need to be literate to give. Why do you think faith needs so much help?

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  22. I don’t find such beers to be very subtle. The alcohol is too high, and the Belgian yeast flavor just overwhelms the palate. That’s my opinion, though.

    Also, as a runner who tries to keep my BMI in the neighborhood of 20, they’re too calorically dense. On the other hand, a good lager works well after a 12-mile training run.

    I’ve concluded that the Metropolitan Brewery’s Flywheel Lager is the closest thing to a perfect beer available on the market.

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  23. Z,

    So when people ask why we have hope we are to recite the creed with gentleness and respect? Lol seems like an odd fit.

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  24. How would someone recite the creed in a manner that gives them a troubled conscience? Clearly Peter doesn’t have the creed in mind.

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  25. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 4, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink
    Why tradition finally becomes a rival to Scripture:

    Tradition trumps the Bible. It was tradition that put together the Holy Bible

    True.

    So it felt like a shot right out of left field when Pastor Dan said, “Which is more important, the Bible or tradition?”

    I hadn’t really, ever, considered that. My gut said immediately that it had to be the Bible but I barely even had a frame of reference to understand the question. To me, tradition was something of the Jews in the Old Testament or the Pharisees of the gospels. Or all the superstitions and dressings of the Catholic church—that stuff built up over a couple thousand years. Which was more important?! How are they even connected?

    “The Bible.”

    “Of course the Bible was more important,” I said.

    “But how was the Bible put together?” Pastor Dan asked.

    I was stumped.

    For all I knew as a Christian, for all I’d been taught and studied and read I’d never actually considered this fundamental question. I’d taken a few courses in my undergrad about the gospels so I knew how they were written but, put together? The Bible is the most important book to Protestant Christianity and I hadn’t even superficially considered how it was put together. That thought alone shocked me.

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  26. To those who want to emphasize grace at the expense of justice:

    Quote of the day for this Sunday morning from McMark about the meaning of the atonement:
    “What does Andrew Fuller accomplish by shifting from what Christ DID back then over there to who Christ Is and what He can do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the offer?
    Andrew Fuller changes the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, he makes the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner having faith. The sneaky part is that, with the Calvinists, Andrew Fuller also makes the having faith part be dependent on what God (now?) procures by means of Christ’s death.
    With the Socinians, Andrew Fuller ends up putting the emphasis on grace as opposed to justice. God is sovereign now to procure faith for sinners with Christ’s death. The idea that God has already been justly propitiated for a sinner (or not) is no longer in the picture.
    Andrew Fuller is opposing the gospel of God being justified in justifying the ungodly. He is opposing justice in the name of grace.’

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  27. I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

    Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried;he descended into hell.

    The third day He arose again from the dead;

    He ascended into heaven,
    and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Ghost;
    the holy catholic church;
    the communion of saints;
    the forgiveness of sins;
    the resurrection of the body;
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    Kenneth, Peter had none of that in mind when speaking of giving a reason for the hope that lies within? Wow. That’s all the essence of the Christian faith. What could he possibly have had in mind if not that? Is this where worldviewry and paradigmatic thinking get you?

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  28. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 1:09 am | Permalink
    TVD,

    Good to hear from you.

    The church is what it is because of what the Bible says and not the reverse. The church, as the covenant people of God, receive and recognize the canon; the church does not create the canon.

    My friend swam the Tiber last night. Old Life helped. You and your kind kinda pushed her in. Mysterious ways indeed.

    As for changing the definition of “church” or “Church,” it’s whatever and whoever you say it is, depending on what day or year it is. So too the Bible. By what authority did Luther [and Calvin] cut out 7 books from the Bible? Who are “the covenant people?” Who is “the church?”

    Why, whoever you say they are, because YOU are the “covenant people!”

    But your reasoning is circular.

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  29. Zrim,

    Explain to me how you could recite the creed in a way the violates your conscience?

    Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience

    Was the early church having a problem with people angrily reciting creeds? Lol! Give me a break dude.

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  30. Daryl,

    You should start a book club for people who are proud of only reading old, dry, boring novels. Sounds amazing…….

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  31. Ken, as per Wm. Cunningham, any creed that both Protestants and Romanists could recite together, in that it ignored or didn’t mention justification by faith alone, was not really much of a creed.
    Which is to say, not only is arianism, a departure from the apostolic catholic faith, so is romanism.
    IOW as a provincial romanist, you keep forgetting you are talking to reformed catholics on this site.

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  32. TVD,

    You are so convincing you can’t convince yourself to go to your own Church. No thanks. But thanks anyway, dude.

    You argue that we should view the can-
    on as “self-authenticating.” You write,
    “What is needed, then, is a canonical
    model that does not ground the New Tes-
    tament canon in an external authority,
    but seeks to ground the canon in the only
    place it could be grounded, its own au-
    thority.” Why is it perfectly legitimate to
    look to, even appeal to, the very authority
    of God and the content of the canon it-
    self?

    People are typically confused by the self-authen-
    ticating model because it strikes them as circular
    reasoning. But, this is really a misunderstanding
    of what is happening. Whenever one justifies an
    ultimate authority, it is impossible to do so with-
    out using that authority. Otherwise, that authority
    wouldn’t actually be ultimate! Analogously, imag-
    ine if someone wanted to validate whether their
    sense experience was reliable. How could they go
    about investigating such a thing without actually
    using their sense experience? In such a situation,
    a person would have to use their sense experience
    even while seeking to validate it. source

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Andrew Buckingham
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
    Oh, and TVD, who said:

    Darryl and the Sneerers are part of Christ’s church too. Not the best part, mind you, but I don’t expect to see them in hell.

    Pretty good stuff. There was an old fable about a cowboy and an Indian eyeballing each other as nightfall came, the cowboy drawing a circle around himself to warn the Indian off. When he awoke, the Indian had drawn a circle around the both of them.

    Something like that.

    As for Luther’s and Calvin’s Bible, you still haven’t spun your way through the self-legitimization conundrum. The Bible didn’t collect, print and bind itself. Your Bible didn’t translate itself. There were people involved.

    Whenever one justifies an
    ultimate authority, it is impossible to do so with-
    out using that authority. Otherwise, that authority
    wouldn’t actually be ultimate!

    At best, you’re stuck with claiming the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther to cut out the Deuterocanonicals. Either way, your truth claims of divine authority are no different than Catholicism’s. You just start the clock on the definitive Bible in the 1500s and reject the authority of the 1500+ years before.

    But by what authority? By whose authority? How do you know?

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  34. You’re not Jesus. And you’re also taking the passage out of context.

    “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

    Since the bastards won’t grant Jesus’s premise–that John’s baptism was from God–he cannot have an honest discussion with them, for they are indeed dishonest. Had they answered truthfully that John’s baptism was from God, Jesus, being baptized by John, would have claimed that same authority for his teachings.

    Their sophistry is plain, as is yours here. You refuse to answer because you’re stumped, and I don’t blame you: There is no satisfactory answer except to claim the power of the Holy Spirit for Luther and Calvin, a Protestant magisterium.

    By contrast, Catholicism is quite unslippery about claiming John’s baptism, Jesus’s authority, and the power of the Holy Spirit all in an unbroken line for the magisterium.

    Happy Easter, brother.

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  35. TVD
    You need to (re?)read Christianity and Liberalism. Mmodernism isn’t Christianity whether practiced in a simple steepled church or a gothic cathedral.

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  36. TVD,

    If I was concerned about apostolic succession, I’d become Eastern Orthodox. I’m not so I won’t.

    The Roman Church has the Council of Trent (you know, That Boring Justification Thing™.

    Try to get a caller like Kenneth or Jason to answer why they chose Rome over Constantinople, and they become as squishy as I did here.

    As for me, I’m a cradle protestant, and fiercely proud of it. Nothing attracts me away from Geneva. If you read Darryl’s books, you’d understand why someone like me would never leave what I’ve been given by my birth.

    Happy Resurrection Sunday, amigo. Peace.

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  37. Kenneth, explain to me how worlddigmery doesn’t end up saying nobody knows anything unless he knows it through Christ and the right use of fill-o-sofee, which is to say inherently arrogant? Gong, “begging the question.” Gong, “circular reasoning.” Gong, “ad hominem.” Gong, “false dilemma.” Gong, “tu quoque.”

    All the creed does is say what is affirmed (and denied by implication).

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  38. vd, t, if you want the authority of pre-1500 popes, what do you do about Alexander VI, the Inquisition, and the Crusades? How many mulligans do you need? If Rome had simply kept to the Bible, they could have avoided a whole lot of denial by your kind.

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  39. “a clear conscience” ,the Bible speaks, Baronelle Stutzman

    Stutzman:”You are asking me to walk in in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do. Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is about. It’s about freedom, not money.I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.”
    2 Cor 1:12;1 Tim 1:19; Heb 13:18; 1 Cor 4:3-5

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  40. D. G. Hart
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
    Loser Ken, ever heard of the Bible? Probably not.

    Stories don’t change.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, if you want the authority of pre-1500 popes, what do you do about Alexander VI, the Inquisition, and the Crusades? How many mulligans do you need? If Rome had simply kept to the Bible, they could have avoided a whole lot of denial by your kind.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
    vd, t, yes, an unwritten tradition that the magisterium can trot out whenever people dissent is as firm as jello.

    Irrelevant to the substantive discussion of the Biblical canon and Luther & Calvin’s [questionable] authority to reject 7 books of the Bible, and the Septuagint.

    Truth hurts. Professional Protestant Darryl is obliged/embarrassed into a response despite his best efforts to ignore his comments section, which has been getting along fine without him. With a response that makes no sense even to his acolytes. Alexander VI? They’re going like, WTF dude?

    Fall back to the Crusades! The Inquisition, the Inquisition! Edgardo Mortara! Vatican II! Ring that anti-Catholic bell! Ding ding. Pavlov Protestant gold.

    Dude. Your anti-Catholicism is making John Hagee’s look sane. Your Presbyterian religion is the one that’s on the ropes. By its own rules “the people” decide what your religion is. Semper reformanda!

    The Jointly Ordained Lesbian Couple Making History For Presbyterians
    The Huffington Post | By Carol Kuruvilla

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/27/presbyterian-church-lesbian-couple_n_6952330.html

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  41. “At best, you’re stuck with claiming the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther to cut out the Deuterocanonicals.”

    No, since no one claims infallibility for Luther, just reliability. Colossal difference.

    “Either way, your truth claims of divine authority are no different than Catholicism’s.”

    If you mean we both derive our truth claims from Scripture, very good. But I do not claim infallibility for Rome. That is your sword in the stone. And as sdb above points out, Modern Rome essentially teaches Modernism on a good number of points these days (see James Larsen if you want to tie yourself in knots: http://www.waragainstbeing.com) so don’t pull your arm out of your socket trying to deliver the sword.

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  42. Joe M
    Posted April 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
    “At best, you’re stuck with claiming the Holy Spirit led Martin Luther to cut out the Deuterocanonicals.”

    No, since no one claims infallibility for Luther, just reliability. Colossal difference.

    No difference atall. This is the Bible, bro. Sola scriptura is your religion. First you have to establish what the Bible IS. “Reliability” is a subjective term. Do you trust Martin Luther more than Augustine or Irenaeus? Because they differed from Luther & Calvin about what is authentic Scripture, you know [or mebbe you don’t].

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  43. What infallible authority defined the OT canon Jesus referenced and hearers recognized as authorities? note that different groups recognized different canons. Why should it be different now?

    R.C. doesn’t solve anything epistemologically. Prots take the Bible as data (foundational) and assess claims to quality of data based on lots of means but ultimately work of HolySpirit. I know, I know denominations, but again less range than in RC tent (that includes commie loving pinkos and goddess worshipping nuns). Given that we prots share the table, one might say we are catholic…many parts of one church (think benedictinse vs augustinians = Presbyterians vs methodists). In a lot of regions RCs known to parish shop as shamelessly as evangelicals church shop.

    Then there is the pope no one can agree on about what he just said in the press much less what it meant, but living apostle better than “dead text”? Really??? Maybe the text is not “dead” and the magisterium of undefined infallible dogma obscures more than it clarifies.

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  44. sdb, but Rome does solve something sexually. That’s the hope of many converts or birthers like vd, t. “See, Presbyterians ordain lesbians.”

    So the church can shrug its collective shoulders about mortal sin, hell, salvation outside the church. But as long as the church is sound about sex — ahem — then it’s the font of all truth, goodness, and beauty.

    Yankees’ fans alert.

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  45. The baseball analogy always works because look how charitable (I.e. we presbys and romish and charismatic and on and on are still “playing baseball” (I.e. doing “christianity”)) and at the same time how well it reflects our loyalty to our own team. Not to downplay the differences between Rome and Geneva in any way, of course. I dislike the Yankees almost as much as the Dodgers.

    I wonder who will climb the holy mountain and post disparaging comments here today. Always glad to see Kenneth around, he does enjoy these interwebs, I suspect many of his words will end up with the drunks today. In other words:

    Who’s next, yo?

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  46. Well as Ms. Januzzi and a few folks at Marquette have recently learned, the RCs aren’t so helpful on the sexual teaching front when the teaching runs counter to the passions of the Zeitgeist. A few signature on an e-petition and a tweet by a celeb and the Bishops go wobbly.

    Like

  47. TVD (and hi a.),

    PS,

    Some proteatant thoughts on apostolic succession. There’s plenty more where this comes from if you haven’t noticed.

    Question and Answer
    Apostolic Succession and Protestantism

    Question:

    I was wondering how we as Protestants reject the doctrine of Apostolic Succession? Obviously, through church history, this doctrine seems to be strongly affirmed, but when the Reformation took place, this doctrine was not continued along with other doctrines. Why not? I guess I am wondering what are the biblical mandates supporting Apostolic Succession and what are the biblical mandates and logic that reject Apostolic Succession? Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

    Answer:

    When you say “through church history, this doctrine [apostolic succession] seems to be strongly affirmed” you are correct because it certainly has been accepted and defended for a long time by the Roman Catholic Church. You are also correct in saying that “when the Reformation took place, this doctrine was not continued along with other doctrines.” And your question is basically “Why is this so?”

    The answer is that the Reformation recovered the pure teaching of the original apostles themselves. And they never taught any such doctrine. If you read your New Testament carefully, you will see that the apostles were marked by several distinctive features. Let me list a few of them.

    (1) They were chosen by Christ himself in an immediate way, not through the instrumentality of others.

    (2) They were able to truthfully say that they had seen Jesus after he rose from the dead. Paul said: “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8). The fact that Paul was the last one who could say such a thing in the history of the world shows clearly that there can be no genuine apostolic succession.

    (3) They were endowed with supernatural powers that other men did not (and do not) have. They even raised physically dead people to life. Paul said: “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works” (2 Cor. 12:12).

    (4) They were qualified to speak with absolute and infallible authority. Paul could say in truth: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” No other individuals, other than the inspired prophets and apostles, could make statements like that. That is why the things they said were by the plan and will of God preserved for us in the New Testament.

    The theory behind apostolic succession is that God’s authority, to be meaningful and effective, must be embodied in men today who have the same kind of authority. But if you will read carefully the following passage, you will see that this is not true at all.

    In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul—who was not physically present in Corinth—wrote to them to tell them what to do with respect to a discipline case. He said (in 5:4-5): “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” So you see, Paul did not pass on his authority to another man so that he could be there in Corinth. No, Paul said, in effect, if you will do what I as an apostle now instruct you to do then I will be with you in spirit, and you will also have the power of our Lord Jesus with you, to deliver that man to Satan, etc.

    So, to put it simply, the Reformers realized that there was no need for apostolic successors. No, the need was simply to have the apostles themselves with us through their inspired and inerrant teaching. And that is what we have in the New Testament.

    The apostles never wrote anything that ever has needed or ever will need correction because they were inspired by God. Surely a person of average intelligence should be able to see that this has never been true of other men in history, no matter how strongly they may have believed themselves to be apostolic successors!

    I hope this gets you to study this further. The more church history you get to know the more obvious the conclusion of the Reformers will appear.

    source

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  48. Sdb,

    What infallible authority defined the OT canon Jesus referenced and hearers recognized as authorities? note that different groups recognized different canons. Why should it be different….

    Well, one sort of obvious difference is that we don’t have any more prophets being sent to set us straight. Divine revelation is complete.

    R.C. doesn’t solve anything epistemologically

    Lol http://tanyajpeterson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/delsuion.jpg

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  49. Well, one sort of obvious difference is that we don’t have any more prophets being sent to set us straight. Divine revelation is complete.

    I completely agree… new divine revelation ended with the apostles. But the fact that there were prophets around during some phases of the pre-NT period doesn’t help your case. Malachi didn’t establish an OT canon.

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  50. Well, one sort of obvious difference is that we don’t have any more prophets being sent to set us straight. Divine revelation is complete.

    This from the guy who champions papal infallibility, i.e. the continuing of extra-biblical revelation? But the claim might go further if a pope could give us 2 Revelation or 3 Peter.

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  51. a asks: “what are you asking, Greg the T?”
    Muddy Gravel asked whether “prudent plumbing” is from above or below? That is a rhetorical way of stating that most of life falls outside the purview of scripture at least, and maybe has no sacred import at all. I’m asking him to state that and tell me why. Using his own non-worldview. (which said NON worldview is an illusion)

    In the minds of the people around here, one is either a hyper 2Ker who believes that the sacred and secular never ever touch each other, OR a TKNY cultural transformationalist who’s version of the denial of anything secular is the only other choice. I say “my” way is the biblical way and is neither of those.

    Though I’m finding, using Zrim as an example, that Dr. Hart is not nearly as dualistic in his lectures on youtube as some of his crew are on this site, I also sense that he quickly tired of talking to me. At least for now. He felt he couldn’t graciously turn me down, but his heart was most assuredly not in it. Actually THIS would define all the rest if I could prevail upon him to give me a thoughtful response. I suspect that will not be quickly forthcoming or I would have seen it by now. .

    So, seeing MG’s question as an opportunity, I’d be gratified if he would tell me which facts are the uncreated ones that accordingly are from below? Is “prudent plumbing”, his example, such a fact?

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  52. Nothing exotic here, Greg. Just that there’s a lot of wisdom that can be accessed by the natural man looking at the world around him. So there’s a kind of wisdom that is supernaturally revealed but there’s all kinds of wisdom about vocation, child rearing, governance, finances, etc. that are not monopolized by Christians. I would say it’s God’s nature and God’s creatures accessing it, but it’s less than clear that a’s expression allows for this.

    This is a lot of seriousity for the Mudster, but I’ll check back and see what you have to say about this.

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  53. Greg, you can talk to any of the folks here that appreciate Darryl’s work (like me for example). He’s a busy guy, papers to grade, cats to feed. I’m sure if you make a good point and he wants to expand on it, he’ll blog on you like he did today with Boniface, or he did again with Erik a few days ago.

    Peace man.

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  54. I find it curious that the latest post doesn’t have a comments section. I also am intrigued by these lectures on YouTube that greg speaks of…. can’t wait to watch them!

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  55. Muddy Gravel
    Posted April 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    MG says: “there’s a lot of wisdom that can be accessed by the natural man looking at the world around him.”
    Of course there is. Man has throughout his history, by virtue of the remaining though sinfully broken image of God, been so absolutely right about so very much of what he’s observed and published. While, due to this brokenness in sin, being so absolutely wrong about how and why he’s right about it. 1+1=2 for sinners and saints alike and for the same reason. Except sinners spend every second of their lives suppressing that truth in their unrighteousness.

    MG says: “So there’s a kind of wisdom that is supernaturally revealed but there’s all kinds of wisdom about vocation, child rearing, governance, finances, etc. that are not monopolized by Christians.
    See above please, but there are explicit biblical principles governing each of these, the violation of which is sin. There are occupations a Christian may not ever lawfully hold and the ones that are lawful must be carried out to God’s glory as representatives of Him in the earth. Darryl said pretty much that exact same thing in one of the lectures on youtube. I heard him and agreed.

    Children must be raised with godly wisdom in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is God who gives the ability to make wealth and the bible is festooned with principles regarding the righteous acquisition and handling of money. While no explicit form of government is prescribed in the New Testament, there certainly are governments and forms of government that are inherently sinful. A Christian cannot be a Nazi for instance.

    MG says: “I would say it’s God’s nature and God’s creatures accessing it,”
    Meaning that nothing ultimately originates from below because everything except God Himself is created by Him and hence bears His fingerprint and signature like Romans 1 says. Therefore NOthing is actually secular. EVERYthing is sacred and also, accordingly unintelligible if not defined by it’s ultimate source.

    Even 1+1 equaling 2. The form is the same, but maths and logic mean something entirely different for me than they do for Richard Dawkins. To me they are the glorious order of the mind of an omniscient omnipotent God. To him, they are ANYthing except that. Or so he sinfully and dishonestly professes. See now this (quite legitimately) touches on biblical philosophy.

    Dr. Hart does not want to talk to me Andrew. He’s a brilliant man, but his expertise is history. He has never really thought through these kinds of topics. That doesn’t make him a bonehead, but this is not his thing. By which I promise, I mean nothing derogatory.

    As for the youtube lectures? Bare minimum, the first 2 in THIS series. I have a feeling Zrim would be very disconcerted. Our beloved host sounds an awful lot like me a good bit of the time. A perfectly splendid state of affairs because that makes him righter than usual 😀

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  56. AB
    Posted April 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
    Greg, you can talk to any of the folks here that appreciate Darryl’s work (like me for example). He’s a busy guy, papers to grade, cats to feed…

    …Catholics to attack. No rest for professional Protestants. So many polemics. so little time.

    D. G. Hart
    Posted April 6, 2015 at 6:53 am | Permalink
    sdb, but Rome does solve something sexually. That’s the hope of many converts or birthers like vd, t. “See, Presbyterians ordain lesbians.”

    Elder Hart, actually the painful point is that by your own Presbyterian ecclesiology, you have no way of principled opposition to this debasement of the “Reformed” [putatively Christian] faith.

    Or the guts, or something. You throw ineffectual firecrackers at Jason Stellman and Bryan Cross that fizzle on your side of the Tiber with an aim so blind and an arm that’s weak.

    You do forget how I so admire the JG Machen. Dude had guts. And he admired the papists for the same reason.

    Far more serious still is the division between the Church of Rome and evangelical Protestantism in all its forms. Yet how great is the common heritage which unites the Roman Catholic Church, with its maintenance of the authority of Holy Scripture and with its acceptance of the great early creeds, to devout Protestants today!

    We would not indeed obscure the difference which divides us from Rome. The gulf is indeed profound. But profound as it is, it seems almost trifling compared to the abyss which stands between us and many ministers of our own Church. The Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/pcusa-church-ordains-first-married-lesbian-couple-as-ministers-days-after-denominations-marriage-amendment-136111/

    “Protestantism” is a chimera; it means little more than not-Catholicism. And the “Reformed faith”-as-Presbyterianism has been reduced to a “naturalistic liberalism [that] is not Christianity at all.”

    So here you stand, but only because the walls you push against are the very ones that hold you up. “Protestantism” and “Presbyterianism” have collapsed.

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  57. @Greg

    I’m doubt that anyone here is saying that the sacred and the secular don’t touch. They do touch…in God, as he is the source of both general revelation and special revelation.

    The premise of 2K theology is that God has revealed Himself sufficiently in His general revelation to allow us to infer His will regarding how we ought to govern our civil affairs. This general revelation is even sufficient to convince us of our need for a redeemer. But it is insufficient in one key way: It is insufficient to teach us of our redemption in Christ.

    Therefore, God has spoken through his prophets and apostles to declare to us His salvation in Christ, and he has charged the church with administering this truth. The church may also rely on God’s general revelation in determining various administrative matters, etc. After all, God’s special revelation is insufficient in many ways, as the purpose of that revelation is to teach us of God’s salvation in Christ, not to teach us how to make watches or write catchy jingles.

    The question is not whether these two books of God’s revelation touch each other. They do, indeed! Rather, the relevant question relates to: (1) whether God has also intended that His special revelation be relied upon to govern the civil affairs of men; and (2) whether God has commissioned the church to participate, either directly or indirectly, in encouraging the civil magistrate to apply God’s special revelation in such governance.

    I’ll respond to these in reverse order.

    On the second, the answer is an unambiguous NO. Nowhere has God commissioned the church to play any role in encouraging the civil magistrate to rely upon God’s special revelation in governing the affairs of men. This includes indirect encouragement, where the church encourages its members to vote in accordance with Scripture. The church is an outpost of God’s heavenly kingdom, and it is simply not to entangle itself in the affairs of men.

    On the first, the answer is a qualified no. The purpose of God’s special revelation is to testify of our salvation in Christ. Putting it to other lesser uses cheapens it and takes away from the holy purpose for which God has given it. Even so, Scripture isn’t simply a bare theological statement of our salvation in Christ. It tells the tale of our salvation through God’s inspiration of human writers in time and space. And while these narratives are given for the purpose of testifying to our salvation in Christ, they are also a source of human wisdom and therefore may aid us in interpreting God’s general revelation. In this latter sense, it functions much the same way as other literature. So, even though Scripture doesn’t give us direct precepts to apply in governing the affairs of men, it does aid us in gaining wisdom and makes us better interpreters of God’s general revelation.

    I suspect that this won’t be a satisfying answer to you. After all, you seem to be someone who’s looking for Scripture to arm you with ready-baked unambiguous rules that you can apply to civil governance, bypassing the hard task of gaining wisdom and the intellectual challenging task of applying that wisdom to complicated human affairs in light of the full testimony of God’s general revelation. Those who possess such desires often liken them to godliness; in contrast, I tend to seem such desires as lying more closely to the sins of impatience and laziness. Biblicism is not godliness; rather, it is the sin of a lazy, impatient people who are angry that God has called them to the arduous task of seeking and gaining wisdom in a fallen world where they can never be more than probably right. It is the sin of trying to make the Bible into something it isn’t, so that the biblicist can improperly arrogate himself to a high position than his fallen position would ever permit.

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  58. Bobby. You’re a haughty arrogant snob. I have a comment in moderation because I forgot to remove the top locator link. Hopefully it’ll be up tomorrow. I have three posts a day here. I don’t think I’ll be wasting them on you. You do not impress me sir. Find somewhere else to point your prattling presumptuous condescension.

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  59. Greg,

    Nice to meet you too. I’d respond, but I’m not sure what to say in response to a comment that contains nothing but conclusory, unsubstantiated ad hominem. You seem to be the one who’s in over your head here. Perhaps you should try out BaylyBlog. Your style would seem to fit better with that of the self-appointed Bishop of Bloomington and his sycophants.

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  60. TVD, Bryan and Jason write polemically without acknowledging the problems with their own view.

    If you read Hart’s stuff (published by Yale press, for example), you’d understand

    D.G. Hart is a cantankerous conservative, a stalwart Presbyterian and a talented polemicist with a delightfully perverse sense of humor. (For years he coedited a newsletter called the Nicotine Theological Journal.) He is best known for his books critiquing American religious cultures of the 20th century, particularly “The Lost Soul of American Protestantism” (2002) and “From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin” (2011). He isn’t known as an expert on early modern Europe, however, and I wondered whether he was the ideal candidate to write a history of Calvinism. I underestimated the man. “Calvinism” covers its imposingly diverse subject with scholarly precision and the kind of charity and balance one hopes for in any historian.

    I think your error lies in taking these blogs too seriously. Darryl appreciates the thoughtful blogger (i.e. Boniface from yesterday’s post). And points out the over the top Jack Chick nature of others (Bryan and to a lesser extent Jason).

    It’s par for the course for us religionists with something to defend because we believe it and live it out.

    Peace.

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  61. Greg, as Curt noted, the rule of three is a guideline. I’d say if you have something to say and it takes 4 comments in a day, say it. It was a request by DGH for commenters to show restraint which is a principle violated sometimes by the interlocutor who posts only one comment. In other words, be considerate of our gracious host and all will be well.

    Not posting anymore,
    Andrew

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  62. vd, t, so if ordaining lesbians matters, why not the Crusades? Murder is mortal sin. But if you can whitewash that, why not a priest taking a wee peek?

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  63. Greg, Bobby took the time to give you an articulate response. Maybe your response should be “thanks, but I disagree on xyz.”

    I’ll pull out one concrete scenario: parenting. There are skills involved, like communicating to various ages, understanding what motivates your child, teaching practical skills, providing for needs, etc. In these the Christian has no inherent advantage. Hopefully the Christian parent will take his child to church, encourage him to believe, etc., but he could be quite poor in the basics of parenting.

    So imagine a Christian couple who is so concerned about their children that they home school them and diligently instruct them in the Christian faith. That’s good. But meanwhile, the kids were somehow not equipped to stand on their own and are immature at age 30, still living at home. It’s good that the parents exposed their children to Christ but there are many unbelievers with better parenting skills.

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  64. Dr. Hart does not want to talk to me Andrew. He’s a brilliant man, but his expertise is history. He has never really thought through these kinds of topics. That doesn’t make him a bonehead, but this is not his thing. By which I promise, I mean nothing derogatory.

    Just offer to watch his cats some weekend so him and his missus can enjoy a weekend away. Spending Saturday at the A’s / Giants game sans kids did wonders for (all about) ours (word to the wise).

    That’s three. Oh, and thanks for playing nice with Erik on his blog. Have a nice day Greg the cookie monster.

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  65. Greg, don’t go all Mark Jones and storm out because Bobby said something you don’t like. His post read like a reasoned response and challenges your view – interact with it. Hope you are well.

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  66. (the following comment has been sitting completed in this combox since 12:57pm, waiting for the jump to the next page. It doesn’t matter anymore though. This will be 2 today)
    How GENEROUS of Erik to provide a little space like this.

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  67. @Muddy:
    I say the homeschooling parents did not expose their children to Christ, if they are living irresponsible and immature adult lives because of the parents. Saying J.E.S.U.S. to them and even taking them to and involving them in a good church is not the same as raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    Portraying Christ to one’s children is primarily a life of showing servanthood, forgiveness and godly problem solving in their marriage. Because joining a coupla sinners together in covenant under the same roof IS either war or forgiveness and godly problem solving. It’s ok for kids to see their parents as broken children of father Adam, which they have no choice about, as long as they also see them handle it righteously when they mess up. Even badly. Especially badly.

    The Christian mission in stewarding human beings given them as the fruit of their union is, again, the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Which will secondarily include many of the same things that decent pagans, by the common grace of God, will also instill in their children.

    So. What of this is ultimately from above and what is ultimately from below? Which parenting tasks and principles are sacred and which are secular? Is teaching them the catechism sacred and teaching them to do chores secular? For instance? Is their responsibility before and to the Lord more or less in one than the other?

    Or even better. Forget that. Name for me please at least one concept or object of knowledge of which you are utterly and unassailably certain.

    OR,… forget even that. Let’s go with this. “The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”

    Are you utterly and unassailably certain that WCF I:IV is utterly and unassailably true? Why or why not please? (Yes, everything in this comment is actually related to everything else)

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  68. Come on Greg. Let’s get up to speed.
    The Bible gives us moral principles that we take into our secular callings or vocations, but it doesn’t tell us how to change a tire or give us geometric axioms. While it speaks to all of life authoritatively – even declaring some things to be indifferent or determined by common sense/light of nature – it does not speak exhaustively.
    IOW if you can’t distinguish the difference, DG ain’t gonna take the time to answer any questions, because he’s a busy man.

    For that matter Bobby gave you a good answer, even if he is the same guy I thought was a CogElite/gaybro poseur a couple of weeks ago. Really. Read it again.

    If all this/these categories are new to you, you need to catch up with Van Drunen’s books on the natural law, which goes hand in glove with the 2 kingdoms POV, flowing out of the covenant with Noah or start with the WCF and look up the references to nature, light of etc.

    peace out.

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  69. Greg: What of this is ultimately from above and what is ultimately from below? Which parenting tasks and principles are sacred and which are secular?

    Greg,what I meant by above/below that is what God says- that there is wisdom from/of Him and there is fallen, false, perverted wisdom which He calls human wisdom, wisdom of the world, fleshly wisdom. Pretty must from day one of our lives here, we are involved in : 2 Cor 10:5

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  70. Greg, this is really pretty easy. If you look at the most accomplished scientists, athletes, language experts, construction firms, lawyers and welders, are they disproportionately Christians? Uh, no. There’s a whole realm of skills and knowledge that is unrelated to personal redemption. Calvin readily acknowledged this in the Institutes but all you have to do is look around.

    You talk about parenting like a man who has no children.

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  71. confirmed by His word…
    “and behold, I Myself have appointed in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill …He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer”. Exodus verses
    that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

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  72. a., is “Exodus verses” really the best you can do?

    So, would you say that any skill, whoever possesses it, comes from God? And those skills aren’t necessarily related to redemption? At one point Calvin speaks of the Holy Spirit directing leaders.

    And, while you’re at it, how would you apply all this to the skill of punctuation?

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  73. Sorry for the mix up a. I was addressing Muddy’s question and didn’t first see yours as I missed the small “a” indicating you were involved there at all. My mistake. You need a bigger name 🙂 Seriously. I didn’t see it.
    ——————————————————————

    Muddy says: “Greg, this is really pretty easy. If you look at the most accomplished scientists, athletes, language experts, construction firms, lawyers and welders, are they disproportionately Christians? Uh, no. There’s a whole realm of skills and knowledge that is unrelated to personal redemption. Calvin readily acknowledged this in the Institutes but all you have to do is look around.”

    Ya now what frustrates me about this site? Maybe it is actually a bit of pride. Lord help me if it is. People pay no attention to me when I speak. I am so lowly regarded and written so far off in entirely a-priori fashion that actual engagement with what I actually say is nearly impossible.

    You said on the previous page:
    MG says: “there’s a lot of wisdom that can be accessed by the natural man looking at the world around him.”
    To which I then answered:
    “Of course there is. Man has throughout his history, by virtue of the remaining though sinfully broken image of God, been so absolutely right about so very much of what he’s observed and published. While, due to this brokenness in sin, being so absolutely wrong about how and why he’s right about it. 1+1=2 for sinners and saints alike and for the same reason. Except sinners spend every second of their lives suppressing that truth in their unrighteousness.”

    That means that I am agreeing that the overwhelmingly vast preponderance of created reality is not EXPLICITLY addressed in the pages of scripture. I celebrate the brilliance of God in the brilliance of even unredeemed men. Do you hear me?

    Now. Here is the question I asked.
    “The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”
    Are you utterly and unassailably certain that WCF I:IV is utterly and unassailably true? Why or why not please?

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  74. Well, then, what was all that business that seemed to be about the superior parenting skills of Christians?

    If everyone misunderstands you maybe the problem isn’t with everyone.

    OK, Greg, I don’t know where you’re going with this but I’ll pull the trigger: yes, I believe WCF 1 is true.

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  75. Faithful Christians raise their children in the nurture and admonition of, as well as to, the glory of God. Is this not superior to pagans who do not? Even so, I still said on the previous page:
    ===================================
    “The Christian mission in stewarding human beings given them as the fruit of their union is, again, the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Which will secondarily include many of the same things that decent pagans, by the common grace of God, will also instill in their children.
    ==================================
    You didn’t see that? From a strictly natural standpoint, yes, pagans can be good, even great parents. However the greater they are, the further their children will be from knowing their need for Christ. So… what doth it profit a parent, if their children gaineth the whole world, but loseth their own souls?

    The overarching problem with the version of the 2K mindset on this blog is the entrenched and incessant conflation of what is actually indifferent with what is most certainly not. That hit me right between the eyes from day one when I arrived here early last year to see an OPC elder with 5 earned degrees equate “sweetbreads” with bloody blasphemous pornographic media entertainment. The paradigm that produces a lack of biblical discernment that spectacular is what positively governs everything that goes on here.

    Muddy, you see child rearing (or so it certainly seems) as a neutral activity like tiddly winks, where as long as its done well for it’s own sake, it matters little how or why. No there can’t be good or evil sweetbreads, because food is a truly indifferent, amoral area of life. But yes there is good and evil visual media because by definition people can and do sin in it’s production .

    “If everyone misunderstands you maybe the problem isn’t with everyone.”
    Everyone doesn’t misunderstand me. Everyone HERE misunderstands me. Because they insist upon reading me as somebody they think I am, rather than actually reading ME. Because if I’m that person they think I am, then I’m already wrong and engaging me is a formality and an eye rolling irritation which is exactly what’s goin on here. I can take it, frustration n all, but that, along with a 3 posts per day limit, makes having a conversation extraordinarily tedious and cumbersome.

    Muddy: “OK, Greg, I don’t know where you’re going with this but I’ll pull the trigger: yes, I believe WCF 1 is true.”
    That is not what I asked you though. I asked you if you were:

    “…utterly and unassailably certain that WCF I:IV is utterly and unassailably true?”

    And then asked:

    “Why or why not please?”

    There is a vast difference between simply affirming a thing as true and being utterly and unassailably certain that it is a fact. You also didn’t tell me why. I now have one comment left today.

    And Darryl? I will do my best to discern the boundaries of speech as per your warning about Bobby. I didn’t think something like that would be a violation.

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  76. Greg, at the risk of repeating myself, Christian parents can give certain things others do not such as an upbringing under the preaching of the gospel and urging their children to look to Christ, etc. But a lot of parenting is skill, like knowing how to encourage, how to comfort, how to instill confidence & a work ethic, etc. So I’ve seen church-going, home-schooling parents produce adults with low social skills, marginal vocational skills, and personal problems related to parental smothering & enabling. Then I’ve seen an unbeliever raise kids who are skilled, confident, pleasant, thankful, etc. Part of the explanation for that is the unbeliever is simply more skilled.

    “I asked you if you were: “…utterly and unassailably certain that WCF I:IV is utterly and unassailably true?”

    I don’t answer adverb questions. I said I believe it is true. Your turn.

    PS: things would go much better for you if you used only articles, nouns, verbs and prepositions. You have a hard time resisting descriptive zingers.

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  77. Because they insist upon reading me as somebody they think I am, rather than actually reading ME. Because if I’m that person they think I am, then I’m already wrong and engaging me is a formality and an eye rolling irritation which is exactly what’s goin on here.

    Greg,

    Hang in there. Last year you came in like a bull in a china shop taking no prisoners – speaking Jeremiads against most of us who see movies. You were invited back and your tone and attitude improved. You are to be commended. Everyone deserves a second chance, which is what I was trying to suggest to Erik about you, but that did not go very well. Given that, you still come across a bit too accusatory instead of simply stating your view or asking questions. But we all make mistakes in discussion, and you are worth hearing, so don’t give up. I think the differences have to do with your understanding of common grace, as well as some latent fundamentalism that may have been left over from your previous church experiences, but that can be explored. I am impressed though with how you learned from last year and are trying to better yourself, an example for all of us.

    Todd Bordow
    OPC of Rio Rancho

    Like

  78. Sean,

    I tried to follow your example but couldn’t afford the marriage counseling and rehab. Plus as a Maverick fan still can’t tolerate the Spurs no matter how hard I try. Remnant of sin and all that…

    Hope you’re doing well in SA

    Todd

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  79. From a strictly natural standpoint, yes, pagans can be good, even great parents. However the greater they are, the further their children will be from knowing their need for Christ.

    Huh? How does excelling in a natural vocation lead to causing in someone else a disobedience to Christ?

    But, Greg, your reasoning still ends up implying that believing parents are superior in their parenting vocation to unbelieving parents. How does that not lead a believing son to violate the fifth commandment about his unbelieving father?

    Like

  80. Regarding WCF I(IV), it is simply saying that Scripture’s authority depends on God and not on man or the church. It does not define what the scope of that authority is. WCF I(VI) suggests that that authority is limited to testimony concerning the nature of God, our salvation in Christ, and our spiritual duties as God’s people. After all, it is fairly well established that the Divines did not intend the phrase “faith and life” to mean “all of life.”

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  81. Todd, I understand. Road less traveled, soaring with eagles, lonely at the top, winners win, et al. I barely take notice anymore. As far as the ponies, a gutsy, stat padded Dirk effort in garbage time, too bad so sad for Monta, first round exit, again? All men are not created equal and all that……..

    Same to you among the Dreamcatchers, Hatch Peppers and rooftop pizzas

    Sean
    Patron of SA

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  82. TVD: Elder Hart, actually the painful point is that by your own Presbyterian ecclesiology, you have no way of principled opposition to this debasement of the “Reformed” [putatively Christian] faith.

    I call furballs.

    There is a simple way of principled opposition. It is to point out that the PCUSA has explicitly abandoned the Reformed faith and the Biblical as well. Ya, know, to make an actual argument instead of appealing to the authority structure.

    The folk within the PCUSA who have trouble making principled opposition are those who elevate the authority structure over the Scripture, as in, “The Bible isn’t really clear, but the Book of Church Order says…”

    Like

  83. Sean,

    You may have rings, wins, fundamentals, the best coach, a dynasty, but we have a shark owner. When has your owner invested $200,000 for 30% equity for ThePaintedPretzel. Top that Spurs fan

    Like

  84. And Darryl? I will do my best to discern the boundaries of speech as per your warning about Bobby. I didn’t think something like that would be a violation.

    Come on Greg..

    But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

    (Matthew 5:22 ESV)

    Oh, and WCF 1.4 or any other? Muddy and I (and Darryl) subscribe to the confession as officers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Did you ever listen to those lectures on animus imponentis covering confession subscription? That’s where you want to go with this, friend.

    [1]

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  85. PPS and there is a good run down at Zrim, Todd (a golfer of all things, per that blog, who knew?), and Sean et al at the outhouse. I’m done for today, see you tomorrow, Mr. Terrible.

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  86. Todd, that’s tough. We have large women, and a River Runs Through It? Then there’s Pop, ‘happy?! Who’s happy! You’ll have to think of something else, I don’t know how to judge happy. We’re in the middle of a contest, nobody’s happy!’

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  87. @Jeff

    I admit that there are some PCUSA churches where orthodoxy doesn’t fare well. Those churches typically have few members, and are filled with nothing but angry left-wing activists.

    I attend a PCUSA church where the Gospel is preached weekly and where no one would have any quibbles with basic Nicene orthodoxy. I think we would also tend to agree with much of Reformed orthodoxy, although we would not tend to exclude Barth and Moltmann.

    In my experience, those in the PCA who criticize the PCUSA have actually spent very little time in PCUSA churches. Your description is no less accurate than if I were to assume that Greg is representative of your denomination.

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  88. Bobby says at Erik’s place: “… At our best, we can do no better than “probably right.” If someone can’t admit that, then I have certain doubts as to that individual’s understanding of the Gospel.”
    Who agrees with Bobby? Muddy? Darryl? Anybody?

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  89. Greg,

    It’s actually taken from a quote by C.S. Lewis.

    “[T]he nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political program can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party program–whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence–the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.”

    I see Lewis’s assessment as entirely consistent with our fallen estate. Regeneration, after all, does not make us infallible interpreters of God’s revelation.

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  90. Who agrees with Bobby?

    I disagree with his characterization of the OPC/PCA vs the PCUSA (at least in my region) and his adulation of lagers. I wholeheartedly agree with him about the “probably right” bit. I’m a scientist – I work in the world of quantitative empiricism and even on mundane, boring, scientific questions our accuracy is limited by our emotions, pre-commitments, pride, etc… I can’t think of anything I would say that I am absolutely, utterly, unassailably certain of scientifically. Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes people act unethically, sometimes we’re just blinded by our preconceptions.

    If that is true in the sterile world of numbers, computer models, and measurements how much more true must it be in realms where issues touch us personally. I trust the testimony of the prophets and apostles handed down to us through the scriptures – that they were speaking God’s word. I believe in the distillation of that word expressed in the early creeds and reformed confessions. My hope rests in Christ’s finished work and I look forward to that everlasting rest (even if it is Fanny Crosby tunes on repeat). While I am a pilgrim in this strange land, I try to work as unto the Lord, mind my own business, and be ready to give an account of my hope to those around me — though of course I fail at all of these things.

    I recognize that I could be wrong…

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  91. Greg, I’d like to know what your alternative is. Are you doing works flawless in their motives, execution, goals, and effects? But we need the blood of Christ for the best things we do.

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  92. Greg, per usual, I’m with JGM regarding this certainty business.

    By all means, keep grinding that axe.

    The creedal character of the churches is differently expressed in the different evangelical bodies, but the example of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America may perhaps serve to illustrate what is meant. It is required of all officers in the Presbyterian Church, including the ministers, that at their ordination they make answer “plainly” to a series of questions which begins with the two following:

    “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?”

    “Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?”

    If these “constitutional questions” do not fix clearly the creedal basis of the Presbyterian Church, it is difficult to see how any human language could possibly do so. Yet immediately after making such a solemn declaration, immediately after declaring that the Westminster Confession contains the system of doctrine taught in infallible Scriptures, many ministers of the Presbyterian Church will proceed to decry that same Confession and that doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture to which they have just solemnly subscribed!

    We are not now speaking of the membership of the Church, but of the ministry, and we are not speaking of the man who is troubled by grave doubts and wonders whether with his doubts he can honestly continue his membership in the Church. For great hosts of such troubled souls the Church offers bountifully its fellowship and its aid; it would be a crime to cast them out. There are many men of little faith in our troublous times. It is not of them that we speak. God grant that they may obtain comfort and help through the ministrations of the Church!

    But we are speaking of men very different from these men of little faith–from these men who are troubled by doubts and are seeking earnestly for the truth. The men whom we mean are seeking not membership in the Church, but a place in the ministry, and they desire not to learn but to teach. They are not men who say, “I believe, help mine unbelief,” but men who are proud in the possession of the knowledge of this world, and seek a place in the ministry that they may teach what is directly contrary to the Confession of Faith to which they subscribe. For that course of action various excuses are made–the growth of custom by which the constitutional questions are supposed to have become a dead letter, various mental reservations, various “interpretations” of the declaration ( which of course mean a complete reversal of the meaning). But no such excuses can change the essential fact. Whether it be desirable or not, the ordination declaration is part of the constitution of the Church. If a man can stand on that platform he may be an officer in the Presbyterian Church; if he cannot stand on it he has no right to be an officer in the Presbyterian Church. And the case is no doubt essentially similar in other evangelical Churches. Whether we like it or not, these Churches are founded upon a creed; they are organized for the propagation of a message. If a man desires to combat that message instead of propagating it, he has no right, no matter how false the message may be, to gain a vantage ground for combating it by making a declaration of his faith which–be it plainly spoken–is not true.

    -J Gresham Machen

    http://www.reformed.org/books/chr_and_lib/index.html?mainframe=/books/chr_and_lib/chr_and_lib_7.html

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  93. Dr. Hart, I gave you my word that I would abide by your 3 comment per thread per day rule. Unless compelled by circumstances beyond my control, I never break my word. It makes no difference to me that everybody else abandoned it because it was obviously a temporary “experiment”. What matters to me is my word.

    I am asking you again sir to please release me from that commitment. It is simply not possible to have a conversation like this on 3 comments a day. I do not intend to write a dozen of my rather long essays, (which I don’t have time for anyway) but for instance a series of fairly short questions and answers are required here to get anyplace.

    I understand that you have no reason whatsoever to do this and grant me more freedom in your house. I also understand how favorable the present situation is for you. You don’t have to ban me or even sowerize me. I have limited myself. Which allows me to be here with your hands off, but not really have a meaningful dialog.

    Not to slight anyone else, especially Muddy Gravel, who has been gracious the past few days, but sdb has leap frogged several of the steps on the path I was very tediously trying to get Muddy to walk with me. (I’m not blaming him). Maybe nobody’s interested in that. If not fine. Who am I? But if they are, it cannot be done on three comments.

    Could you find it in yourself, in spite of all this, to give me the room to engage freely? You have my further word that I will do my utmost not to make you sorry because of my conduct.

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  94. Oh, and Todd Bordow appears to be an officer in the OPC as well. Didn’t mean to leave you out, TB!

    That’s my three, par is always a good score.

    Who’s next?

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  95. I am asking you again sir to please release me from that commitment.

    Greg, I think what Darryl is trying to say is that he releases you from your commitment.

    I really think you should go lift some more weights though instead of posting more than 3 comments a day per thread, just me and my small opinions though.

    See you tomorrow, I’m over by one. Peace.

    Like

  96. Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 8, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
    TVD: Elder Hart, actually the painful point is that by your own Presbyterian ecclesiology, you have no way of principled opposition to this debasement of the “Reformed” [putatively Christian] faith.

    I call furballs.

    There is a simple way of principled opposition. It is to point out that the PCUSA has explicitly abandoned the Reformed faith and the Biblical as well. Ya, know, to make an actual argument instead of appealing to the authority structure.

    I call furball too, Jeff, thus:

    When Darryl and his Old Life cabal d-bag what’s left of “the Reformed faith” in America as much as y’all d-bag Catholicism, this observer will take you more seriously.

    The irony is that you cleave to the Catholic Church more than you do the Presbyterian, which you so easily dump like a bad curry. You expect nothing from it, whereas from Catholicism you expect everything.

    And that’s the furball that’s making you choke.

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Bobby says at Erik’s place: “… At our best, we can do no better than “probably right.”

    A religion of men, then. A synagogue. But not a church. The Holy Spirit is nowhere in sight, except perhaps as a nonparticipant.

    Unless you’re claiming that The Westminster Confession [and its various revisions] carry the same authority of the Nicene Creed. If so, can Presbyterianism take a vote and revise the Nicene Creed? In theory, is it all up for grabs?

    Whose Calvinism is it, anyway? Yours? His? Are all our beliefs provisional, subject to a vote?

    WCF 24.1

    Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.

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  97. Dr. Hart says:
    GtT, do you see anyone else observing the 3 comment limit?

    I have really given considerable attention as to how most properly to answer this. My most trusted online partner saw it before I did and had some helpful insight. I wish you could believe that I am not trying to be difficult for the sake of it. Nor, I promise you, am I hoping to win a war of nerves. None of that is the point at all.

    I have said myself that I see the purpose of the rule and the fact of nobody else’s observance. Simply pointing that out again is not the same as releasing me from my word. Please bear with me. I will not allow even the appearance of a breech of promise to exist. That would not only be dishonoring to the Lord, but disastrous for the investments I have in people on the web. (not only the web actually)

    I need you to please tell me plainly sir. Yes or no? Am I released from that promise?

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  98. GtT,

    Look at the blog post again by the host of this website:

    An Experiment
    By D. G. HART | Published: MARCH 9, 2015
    Although the exchange between Greg and Erik has had its moments, I do wonder if Old Life is taking up too much bandwidth with all the comments that sometimes ensue different posts.

    So I am going to add a wrinkle to commenting at OL: anyone who wants to comment should limit him or herself to three comments a day per post. I suggest one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and perhaps a nightcap to round out the day’s activity. Yes, this could result in much longer comments within each thread. But it may also force commenters to distinguish between the substantial and the trivial.

    Comments are still open but those making them are encouraged to show restraint. Call it a good work and Mark Jones will be happy.

    I don’t know what restriction you are talking about that Darryl has placed on you. You seem to have imposed something on yourself, however, and only you can release that burden.

    [2]

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  99. D. G. Hart
    GtT, yes, but the larger point is still in effect. Show restraint.

    Thank you sir. You surprised me. Pleasantly. I didn’t think you would do this. For what it’s worth you ascended a few more notches on my respectometer.

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  100. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    Which Christians here believe that “probably true” is the best we can hope for regarding this statement? Please note that I did NOT ask about the sterile world of numbers, computer models, and measurements.

    Does sdb recognize that the above could be wrong? That’s a question, not an accusation.

    Muddy, nuthin personal, but I am not going to be able to accommodate you on the adverbs. Superlative adverbs are high currency in a self consciously biblical epistemology.

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  101. FWIW

    It is not the mark of a Christian mind to take no delight in assertions. On the contrary, a man must delight in assertions or he will be no Christian.

    And by assertion— in order that we may not be misled by words– I mean a constant adhering, affirming, confessing, maintaining, and an invincible persevering. Nor, I think, does the word mean anything else either as used by the Latins or by us in our time.

    I am speaking, moreover, about the assertion of those things which have been divinely transmitted to us in the sacred writings… Nothing is better known or more common among Christians than assertion. Take away assertions and you take away Christianity.”

    –Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, in Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, Eds. E. Gordon Rupp and Philip Watson (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969), 105-106.

    Greg, there are suggestions and there are rules.
    DG floated a guideline, we had a meltdown and all around insubordination ensued.

    After all, if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?
    Just because people stuff the combox, doesn’t mean people bother unpacking it.
    IOW if somebody doesn’t have anything to say, whether 3 or 30 are allowed, the least of their worries.
    cheers

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  102. Yes. I recognize that I could be deluded and my atheist colleagues could be right. I don’t think I am or they are… Do you recognize the possibility that you could be wrong?

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  103. sdb says: “Yes. I recognize that I could be deluded and my atheist colleagues could be right.”
    Just so we’re clear. You’re not certain that the God who “is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things;” actually is? His word is not necessarily truth as Jesus Christ told us in His high priestly prayer of John 17 after all? He might have been wrong? Or maybe He never actually existed either? I want to make sure I’m understanding you.

    sdb asks: “Do you recognize the possibility that you could be wrong?”
    I can’t even believe I’m having this conversation with people who call themselves Calvinists. I do not recognize the possibility sir that GOD could be wrong. I might be wrong on my weakly held historic pre-mil eschatology. I very much doubt it, but my dichotomous and traducian anthropology may turn out to be wrong in the end too.

    I would sooner doubt your existence, or my own, before doubting the proclamation of Genesis 1:1

    A God whose existence can be legitimately doubted, or even questioned, is a figment of sinful, post modern man’s self exalting, idolatrous imagination. Neither the ancient Christian scriptures nor the reformed standards know ANYTHING of such a God. I agree with Luther Bob. (and Machen Andrew)

    This will require a very short answer Darryl. I’m asking you too. Is it possible that the god of the OLTS is a delusion in the mind of the one suffering from it? Even a simple yes or no will do, but a concise exposition would be even better. Is the foundation of your life an uncertain god?

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  104. @gtt I mean what I said. I am convinced God is the creator of heaven and earth, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, I hold to the early creeds and reformed confessions. My hope is in Christ alone and I look forward to the everlasting rest. I recognize that I could be wrong. I don’t think I am, I don’t build my life around such a possibility. But neither do I think boasting about how super duper, 110% certain I am is becoming of a child of God.

    I have had those dark nights of the soul. I’ve prayed, “I believe, help my unbelief (this isn’t a post-modern state to be in at all)”. There have been times where I’ve wondered where God is or even if he is. I have no desire to go back to those days. Chest thumping about what I would “sooner do” won’t keep me from there. My faith may not be as strong as your’s evidently is, but I don’t trust in the strength of my faith – I trust in the strength of the object of my faith.

    That being said, I don’t really understand your comment:

    A God whose existence can be legitimately doubted, or even questioned, is a figment of sinful, post modern man’s self exalting, idolatrous imagination. Neither the ancient Christian scriptures nor the reformed standards know ANYTHING of such a God.

    But lots of people doubt (think Thomas) the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How does that make God the figment of postmodern man’s idolatrous imagination? What does post-modernism have to do with anything anyway? How does the rejection of Spinoza and Deists bear on this discussion. Or is “postmodern” just filler that means “people I don’t like”? It seems to me that the God of scriptures was routinely doubted (Abraham forgetting the promise, Job questioning, Elijah questioning, Moses questioning, David’s cries, Israel over and over, Peter’s faulty faith, Thomas’s faulty faith, etc…).

    God opposes the proud, and based on my limited reading of you on these comment pages, it seems to me that you are treading into very dangerous territory (though of course my impression could very well be mistaken). But if you will indulge me, if you are confusing belligerence with confidence, you are in a very dangerous place spiritually.

    I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish with your exasperation. If I’m wrong to hold out the possibility that I could be wrong, I can assure you that some random guy on the internet going on about what they can’t even believe is going to set me straight.

    Why don’t you think it is possible for a Christian to doubt…even God’s existence? I don’t doubt, but evidently even recognizing the possibility of error is a step too far. Why?

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  105. Thank you for your response sdb:
    sdb says: “Why don’t you think it is possible for a Christian to doubt…even God’s existence? I don’t doubt, but evidently even recognizing the possibility of error is a step too far. Why?”
    I didn’t say it’s not possible for a Christian to doubt. You quoted it yourself. I said legitimately doubt. Maybe I should have used the term “lawfully” doubt. What I’m speaking of is the keeping as one’s theological/epistemological position, the notion that doubt is the best God has left us with and should therefore be embraced. Or at least seen as normal and therefore normaTIVE.

    I am no super saint sir. I struggle with doubt and unbelief all the time, but I don’t embrace that as legitimate or as an indication that God or His promises are actually doubtful. I AM the problem. NOT Him. I don’t join the atheists in impugning God’s revelation of Himself by declaring that it might not be true. Let God be true and every man a liar.

    The apostle proclaims in the first of Romans that “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” Please note brother. GOD Himself has rendered His invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature, clearly seen”. CLEARLY seen. Has he done so imperfectly so that your “atheist colleagues could be right.” and actually have a plausible excuse after all?

    Which of the biblical instances of doubt you’ve given are therein advanced as righteous and therefore to be emulated? Those were great men of God whose unbelief was THEIR sin. NOT God’s deficiency.

    There is a vast category difference between warring with the doubtful old man still dead in Adam and telling God and the world that those who believe Him might be deluded and the pagans might be right.

    You’re a very smart man. You must see this. I’ll stop there for now.

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  106. Just so we are not speaking past each other… I do not agree that recognizing that one could be wrong (even about something you are quite certain of) is the same thing as doubt. Neither is doubt the same thing as skepticism. I take recognition that I could be mistaken about anything as epistemic generosity if you will.

    I agree that God is not the problem. Like I said,

    Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes people act unethically, sometimes we’re just blinded by our preconceptions.

    Because of our sin we cannot see perfectly, so we are left with probably right about most everything. One can be more certain of somethings than others, and one should be quite confident about God’s existence. Indeed if I am right about what I believe, then my atheist colleagues are without excuse! But it is possible I’m wrong. I doubt it though!

    God opposes the proud, so I would tread very lightly here. Perhaps you’ve decided that you should believe that it is impossible that you could be wrong about your belief in God, so you thump the table to communicate your certainty and have read into what I have written most uncharitably. Go back to the beginning of this thread when you asked if “anybody” believed probably right is the best we can do and rejecting that is to misunderstand the gospel. Perhaps a more irenic stance is warranted on your part?

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  107. If I am reading into your words, I promise you it is not intentional and I very much want to understand.

    sdb says: “God opposes the proud…”
    I say the proud God opposes are those who erect systems of thought independent of Him which allow for the possibility of His non-existence and the credibility of His sin deluded lying enemies.

    The FOOL has said in his heart: “there is no God”. It is neither humble nor generous NOR loving to believe and preach even the remotest of alternate possibilities. .

    sdb says: “I take recognition that I could be mistaken about anything as epistemic generosity if you will. “
    Do you have a favorable specimen of this “epistemic generosity”, precept or example, either from the scriptures or the reformed standards? That’s a serious question.

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  108. Greg,

    If I may ask – where are you going with this?

    SDB is being most gracious in answering your questions. I don’t mean to step in between you two. But might I suggest your prying into the private religious life over the internet of a man you do not know overstepps your bounds and is not in keeping with Christian civility? I think you should show more restraint, is my personal opinion. I mean no offense.

    Peace.

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  109. At AB, feel free to step in at any time. I’m no netiquette expert or anything, but I’ve always assumed that convos on message boards are open to all to jump into at anytime.

    GTT, I’m not sure we’re getting anywhere here, so just a few comments and I’ll give you the last word.

    I say the proud God opposes are those who erect systems of thought independent of Him which allow for the possibility of His non-existence and the credibility of His sin deluded lying enemies.

    I completely disagree. Pride is sin. Whether it manifests itself as atheism or not. Peter’s sin was thinking he could resist all and stand by the savior to the bitter end. As Christ pointed out, the only reason Satan hadn’t had him for lunch was because of the protection He offered. Peter was allowed to fall away and was humbled (feed my sheep x3). Spiritual pride is perhaps the most dangerous manifestation of pride. I think this is where I read Bobby to be going with his comment about understanding the gospel. Bold claims about what you utterly, unassailably know to be true are unwise in my estimation. I could be wrong, there is a lot I don’t understand, but I am persuaded that he is faithful and will cast my lot with Him.

    The FOOL has said in his heart: “there is no God”. It is neither humble nor generous NOR loving to believe and preach even the remotest of alternate possibilities.

    Well consider Paul, “If the resurrection didn’t happen, then we are all a bunch of pathetic losers” (my translation). How could he even suggest such a remote alternate possibility?

    I believe that it is possible that I could be mistaken about everything I believe and hold dear. Atheists shouldn’t be locked up in mental institutions for holding to materialism…it is a quite rational system that could in principle be true. I find it exceedingly unlikely that is the case, but colleagues much more clever than me disagree. I think they are tragically mistaken. But they are not in the same class of folks who think their CIA is communicating to them through their houseplants about plans for an alien invasion. You seem to think that because I don’t think atheism is tautologically false (along the lines of a square circle) that somehow I am compromising my faith? If so, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. A bunch of randomly bolded, ALL CAPS adjectives expressing your exasperated disbelief just isn’t going to get us anywhere…

    Do you have a favorable specimen of this “epistemic generosity”, precept or example, either from the scriptures or the reformed standards? That’s a serious question.

    I’ll have to think about that one. While I think his philosophical work is lacking, I’ve found the irenic tone of van Til quite attractive. My epistemology is strongly influenced by anti-realist/empiricist thinkers such as van Fraassen (an RC).

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  110. GtG: Do you have a favorable specimen of this “epistemic generosity”, precept or example, either from the scriptures or the reformed standards?

    Prov 12.15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

    In order to listen to advice, one must first admit, “I am not infallible. I could be wrong.”

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  111. sdb: “Pride is sin.”

    most is, but apparently not all, relating to who the heart sincerely gives the glory; oh to have the faith of ‘sinless’ pride like Paul’s ability to boast only in God’s work

    for our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world and especially toward you. 2 Cor 1:12

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  112. The Bible Can’t Speak To All of Life
    By D. G. HART | Published: APRIL 3, 2015
    That’s why you need the Roman Catholic Church.

    Should have stopped there. The rest is commentary.

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  113. I don’t know where to start, but wherever it is, it isn’t going to be tonight.
    At the risk of further offending you, I must say that I am an expert on Dr. Van Til’s thought. He is one of the my all time heroes of the faith for 25 years.
    “It is quite true, of course, that created man is unable to penetrate to the very bottom of this inherently clear revelation. But this does not mean that on this account the revelation of God is not clear, even for him. Created man may see clearly what is revealed clearly even if he cannot see exhaustively. Man does not need to know exhaustively in order to know truly and certainly. When on the created level of existence man thinks God’s thoughts after him, that is, when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge” NATURE AND SCRIPTURE page 8 to toss up a quick quote.

    Trust me friend. Van Til taught EXACTLY what I’m telling you and he did it with uncompromising dogmatism. He blasted Aquinas and his Aristotelian “romanist” epistemology. If you like I’ll dig up in his classroom lectures, the audio of some of which still survive, (78 0f them to be exact, though not all are in the classroom) where he tells his students to go say that they are pretty certain their wives DO exist, but not absolutely, and see what happens. “Do we give less to God?”

    I do not mean to come off hostile to you. Lemme ask though if sdb is reformed? (with RCC epistemology?)

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  114. TVD, you are so silly. I appreciate your little games.

    SDB, GtT reminds me of the young earth creationists who made my private beliefs their public concern. If you are fine with his questioning, I have no problem. It just comes off as inquisitory, and no Christian deserves a trial like that from some stranger. I’ll be reading. I’ve always appreciated your contributions (and even some of Greg’s, to be honest).

    Take care.

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  115. “I am an expert on Dr. Van Til’s thought.”

    I’m a fool to do this dirty work, but it has to be done. Greg, if other people call you an expert, you *might* be an expert. If you’re the only one who calls yourself an expert, you’re not. Your self-appraisal dial is up to 11 – bring it down a bit and your conversations will be more fruitful, i.e., walk away from your Elijah Complex.

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  116. Greg, that “I am an expert” bit is the sort of thing I mentioned that makes you sound like Don Quixote.

    Are you an expert? How so? Who says that about you?

    GtT – “…when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge..”

    The voluntary revelation – do you mean special, general, both? Simply trying to make sure I understand what you are saying.

    What do you do in the computer field by the way?

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  117. Inspector Clouseau was an expert in a great many things. He was particularly adept at the martial arts and disguises. I am an expert, in Type II diabetes eradication. Some people try to diminish it as fat shaming. That’s unfair. I’m saving lives AND improving the view.

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  118. I do hereby recant my claim of expertise regarding Dr. Cornelius Van Til. I revise this statement to simply being a person who has taken the time to understand and recognize the thoroughly biblical method of thinking about anything that he intentionally focused on. Though it had been in the scriptures and even in the church historically all along.

    Can we get on to the substance of the discussion please? An uncertain God is an idolatrous lie. Find me that god in the scriptures or historic reformed orthodoxy. I’ll be waiting. For the rest of my natural life. A god who probably, but doesn’t necessarily exist is a post modern contrivance and the quintessential offspring of the spirit of the age.

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  119. a. quotes sdb as saying

    “Pride is sin.”

    And then responds with:
    most is, but apparently not all, relating to who the heart sincerely gives the glory; oh to have the faith of ‘sinless’ pride like Paul’s ability to boast only in God’s work

    for our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world and especially toward you. 2 Cor 1:12
    Very VERY good sir. Ya beat me to it and there’s plenty. more. The idea that cherishing and proclaiming the foundational and unassailable certainty of the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob is sinful pride, is preposterous on a truly disturbing level.

    Ya know, Dr. Hart really is a historian extraordinaire. In case nobody noticed, I have at least a few hundred comments here now and he has not once ever disputed a single historical fact I’ve advanced. Never once. The reason is simple. They happen to be correct where it really matters. Right now he’s reading what I’m saying again and he knows there is no uncertain God to be found in historic reformed orthodoxy. however, the thought of siding with me against his own crew is unthinkable so he’ll say nothing like always. Watch. Of course that’s still better than attempting to defend a demonstrably false proposition.

    When it comes to a topic like this I give no quarter and concede not an inch. I don’t care who or how many opponents present themselves. My confidence is in the triumphant conquering king and creator of the universe. This was once known as “conviction”. In today’s limp wristed whimpering feminized church it’s called “arrogance”. I do not care.

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  120. Greg, it’s been said any number of ways but is faith more than the sum of it’s logical parts? Does God promise himself to us in cleverly designed and vetted syllogisms or in the means of grace wherein we believe in that which we can not see? Is it not just as piously required that we say no more than what has been revealed? I’m not necessarily defending sdb’s position, I’m sure I don’t know it entirely, but I’m trying to get a sense(less than certain there) of the ground. We are supernaturalists when it’s all said and done, and to the degree that sdb is one as well(incarnation, resurrection) I’m not sure drawing such epistemic hard lines is helpful or defensible.

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  121. “Though it had been in the scriptures and even in the church historically all along.”

    Not really, Greg. There would be no Van Til if there were no Kant, and Kant did his work in the 1700’s.

    “A god who probably, but doesn’t necessarily exist is a post modern contrivance and the quintessential offspring of the spirit of the age.”

    It was already contrived in the first century.
    ____
    22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.
    _____

    But, ultimately, you’re doing battle with a straw man. Christians have various degrees of faith, and faith may be more or less strong in this earthly pilgrimage. Peter’s faith was not constant and the New Testament authors addressed churches in which some might have wavering faith due to persecution, etc. You seem to be certain as a matter of personality type.

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  122. Jeff Cagle on April 13, 2015 at 9:24 pm
    quotes me asking:
    GtG: Do you have a favorable specimen of this “epistemic generosity”, precept or example, either from the scriptures or the reformed standards?
    And then responds with
    Prov 12.15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

    In order to listen to advice, one must first admit, “I am not infallible. I could be wrong.”
    Forgive me sir but this is an embarrassing misuse of that proverb. The fool who is right in his own eyes in this case is the one who claims that the God who inspired Solomon to write that might not be real. No I CANNOT be wrong about the certainty of the God to whom I owe my very existence.

    This IS a reformed site right? There’s Calvinists around here somewhere? Darryl you can’t possibly believe that whatever good you want to accomplish, and I reiterate, I believe there is a great deal, will ever happen while some uncertain figment of these people’s vain imaginations is allowed to reign here.

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  123. Terrible Greg, The, you come across as one who thinks that the opposite of faith is doubt. But doubt necessarily coincides with faith, and sight is the opposite of doubt. You also speak as one who lives by sight and not by faith.

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  124. This IS a reformed site right?

    This website hasn’t made vows to any reformed confession I’m aware of. In fact, instead of EC, now JJS is driving traffic here. You’re posting too much again Greg, I suggest taking the day off, focus on your job, and come back tomorrow. You’re losing your cool again, this isn’t going well. Peace.

    Keyword Percent of Search Traffic
    1. oldlife 77.84%
    2. jason stellman 9.92%
    3. mark driscoll 1.89%
    4. novus ordo seclorum 1.32%
    5. old life 0.83%

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  125. Greg, look what our constituion says:

    4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair. http://opc.org/wcf.html#Chapter_18

    To reiterate what Jeff and others have said, it’s the stregth of his or her faith, but rather the object of our faith, from whence we derive our assurance.

    You’re acting Terrible in line with your handle. That’s my three, again, take the day off. For your own good.

    See you tomorrow,
    Andrew

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  126. *it’s NOT the strength of his/her faith, but rather the object.

    See, now I’m doing muligans. SDB is who I was thinking of:

    sdb
    Posted April 11, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    My faith may not be as strong as your’s evidently is, but I don’t trust in the strength of my faith – I trust in the strength of the object of my faith.

    Next.

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  127. I wish we could all meet somewhere for a day so everybody, especially Andrew, could see that I am not “losing my cool” LOL!

    Muddy, I;m gonna give you a chance to revise your eye popping misconstrual of Acts 17:22-23 before I do. All sarcasm aside, this is a serious statement. In travelings around the web, even with fellow presbys, I am told that the level of biblical comprehension on oldlife.org is generally sophomoric at best. Smart guys, but (generally) not much real depth of bible knowledge they say. I have steadfastly resisted believing that such could be the case until the last couple days.

    Please Muddy Gravel. Do a bit of quick study of that passage. Be back in a little while I hope. Sean and Zrim. I see you guys too.

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  128. Turrible, you can’t see me, I am the sky. I’m not the rolling wheels, I am the highway. But you’re right about Muddy, you have to catch him between binges. Muddy is more sophmoric, I’m somewhere around thirteen. Course I was learning Aristotle at that age and frowning about the priest’s higher critical methods, but yes, fart jokes, cute girls and working on my courage all formed the bedrock of my now formidable character. Not all thirteen year olds are equal.

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  129. Greg, I’m going to write you off as a scream from the cinder block building – incomprehensible but harmless because confined – if you can’t do better than use an entire comment so say nothing at all beyond what you said at 11:56. I’ve gone through the book of Acts with a few commentaries but, get this: I’m not an expert. But cite someone beyond yourself if you’re doing exegesis.

    But, anyway, you’re simply diverting from your off-the-cuff comment that there is something new under the sun in the realm of disbelief.

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  130. @gtt
    Ok, now I’m pulling an AB and commenting after I said no mas… though to be fair, you did ask a question. Is it ruder to ignore the question or renege on the promise to give you last word? Well after this you can have the last word.

    Like I said twice before in this thread,

    I am convinced God is the creator of heaven and earth, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, I hold to the early creeds and reformed confessions. My hope is in Christ alone and I look forward to the everlasting rest.

    I added the bold for you. This is what I sincerely believe (though I am a mere layman).

    Re. van Til: I don’t think much of his philosophical work, but I very much admire is his irenic tone.

    Re. van Fraassen: He is RC, but his epistemology is anti-realist. I don’t think you can can construe it as “RC philosophy” per se (unlike Sproul, I am not a huge fan of Thomism). I suppose I’m post-modern in my rejection of enlightenment philosophy, though I’m not so sure either label is very meaningful (kind of like fundamentalist and puritan, they are now just epithets for things we don’t like).

    My recognition that I could be wrong is not doubt or skepticism – I’m a limited fallen human who has seen a lot of very cocksure people be very wrong. Like Peter who was so certain of his faithfulness only to be told that satan would chew him up if Christ didn’t restrain him, I realize I remain steadfast only because Christ holds on to me. The proud God opposes is not just the fool… The boasting Paul refers to is the boasting in what Christ has done – not in Paul’s personal certainty he has achieved. If there is no resurrection, we are all a bunch of pathetic losers (ditto if we are wrong about God). I don’t think Paul thought it was likely he was wrong about the resurrection and I don’t think it is likely I’m wrong about God. I’m sorry you find it so scandalous that I recognize the possibility that I could be wrong (no matter how remote). We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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  131. I would love to meet all you guys as long as there were law enforcement officers real close by. No offense but many of you went off the reservation a long time ago.

    Greg, there are probably a lot of people who agree with you in the main on this and on the media stuff but don’t want to be categorized in the same boat because of how you come across.

    GtT – “…when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge..”

    The voluntary revelation – do you mean special, general, both? Simply trying to make sure I understand what you are saying.

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  132. Sean, I’m on a bet with Ms. Gravel. Her desserts, my cigars – both gone. So I get cranky and I want to poke things. Hillary’s first events are closed, so that’s a no-go. Greg is next in line. It’s like therapy for me, and because I quote scripture it’s nouthetic therapy.

    Now I’m going to look through the ashtrays by the dryer vent while Ms. Gravel is gone.

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  133. Muddy, that’s gruesome. You do know there’s only one known chemical imbalance, everything else is immersion therapy. If you’re really nouthetic, there’s no such thing as gradual exposure. Man up.

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  134. CT, if I ever meet any of these OLTS characters (of which I am one, I know) it will be too soon. Strong police presence required, indeed.

    There seems to be a desire on some to re-play some of the great debates (I hear this one is worth listening to, note who is involved, maybe I’ll try that on my commute for the next couple drives, for kicks and giggles) here on the internet. Here’s what I don’t get – Greg comes loaded for bear day in and day out, even after the host has asked him to show restraint. Why can’t he? He’s got an axe to grind, I get it. But something’s driving him, and even Erik in one of his comments on his blog says he can’t figure out what Greg’s doing here at OLTS. He’s just the latest in a long line who tries to move the needle, and it won’t succeed. I don’t want to post Mark Jones’ why we don’t allow comments at ref21 but I will if pushed to do it. Online debate in comment sections simply does not work, and I restate – these are mind games and not formal dialog settings. After all, they are meant to be writer / reader response (Between Darryl and his readers). Who invented this cross dialog idea in a blog comment anyway? Sounds very Bryan Crossian, quite frankly. So long as Greg keeps typing, he reveals more about himself than he means to, so by all means I hope he keeps it up. I think he will come to realize what is going on (like Jim Carrey on the Trueman Show, realizing the world is watching (when in fact, of course, no one is silly enough to read this comment box theologizing drivel)).

    To (all about) me, the blog comment section, again, is writer/reader response, and then maybe some sharing of things (on the topic of the blog post, I might add) that P&R people find interesting. But these back and forth dialgoues are tiresome, and I’d rather free DGH up to do the work he’s so good at – writing formal works and doing his job as Elder. With that, this comment is too long, and I’m sorry.

    Peace.

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  135. sdb says: “I’m a limited fallen human “
    Is your confidence in yourself or the God of WCF II?

    Chris says: “Greg, there are probably a lot of people who agree with you in the main on this and on the media stuff but don’t want to be categorized in the same boat because of how you come across. “
    He might be (somewhat) right Erik. As wrong as that is. I care what people say far more than how they say it.

    Chris says: “The voluntary revelation – do you mean special, general, both? Simply trying to make sure I understand what you are saying.”
    What you quote me as saying, is actually myself quoting Van Til in his awesome short piece, Nature and Scripture. The theme of the article is natural revelation. However, in that specific statement he is speaking generally. Man is pickled in a reality of pragmatic certainty. We can’t function without it.

    Please do not hit me with with modified addition, non base 10 systems and other such supercilious sophistries. Down here where we live, 1+1 ALWAYS equals 2. Tell the IRS it doesn’t and see what happens. Every second we live our lives we depend on the underlying order of maths and logic. (I know what’s coming, but I’ll let somebody say it first)

    Yes, I am fully aware of Cantor and Boltzmann and _______________. They changed NAH-THING for bible believing Christians. From whence arises this certainty?

    This brings me to Muddy. The God Paul preached was “unknown” to THEM Muddy. The Athenians. NOT Christians. I am talking to CHRISTIANS here. Acts 17, along with some others, is one of the most oft mangled passages today in all of scripture. Also, according to the same apostle in Romans 1, the true and living God is not actually “unknown”, as in the awareness of His existence, to ANYbody. He is unknown to the lost in a relational sense. Not mere cognition.

    I know Barack Obama exists. But I don’t know him. He is in that sense unknown to me.

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  136. JRC: In order to listen to advice, one must first admit, “I am not infallible. I could be wrong.”

    Greg: Forgive me sir but this is an embarrassing misuse of that proverb.

    I forgive you.

    Greg: The fool who is right in his own eyes in this case is the one who claims that the God who inspired Solomon to write that might not be real. No I CANNOT be wrong about the certainty of the God to whom I owe my very existence.

    Why does Paul say, “If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain?”

    He clearly believes that Christ is raised. And yet he is not allergic to considering the alternative.

    You are. Are you more certain than Paul?

    But in regard to to the proverb, epistemic generosity is a habit of thought.

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  137. Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink
    I wish we could all meet somewhere for a day so everybody, especially Andrew,

    Oh..I believe when our first live meet, we will find ourselves stuck together on the golf course for a lot longer than just a day. Sorry (emoticon)

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  138. Greg, duh. But you’re not paying attention. I made it real easy for you by quoting the words I was rebutting. They were “A god who probably, but doesn’t necessarily exist is a post modern contrivance and the quintessential offspring of the spirit of the age.” So the issue was whether such a notion was a post modern contrivance, and I argued it was previously contrived. So all your blather was about something I never said.

    In the future, just skip the high drama of giving me the chance to change my mind. Good grief, isn’t there enough drama in Detroit?

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  139. See, Greg, you saw the text, thought, “A ha! Paul at Athens! I’ve read Van Til’s pamphlet – now I get to school everyone!” But buzzzzzzzzzzzz, oh, so sorry, you’ll have to wait.

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  140. Greg, really? Many of us may see serious limitations in the practice much less the need of tightly crafted syllogisms to justify our faith or argue for the existence of God but stop mistaking that for inability or ignorance or worse. None of us enjoy being led down the path of gotcha argumentation, so we choose to derail it, being the tremendously intuitive thinkers we are(myself more than everyone else). Most of us have forgotten more than you know. It’s ok that you know it and really really believe it, but, oh, never mind. Do what you want to do. Keller just sold out NL for clean slated, culture imprinted robot human beings. Jerk (how’s that for some winsome).

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  141. Somebody get hold of the hotel porn usage statistics in Orlando for this week. With all that meaning it, you just know there’s some struggling and accountability group confessions on tap.

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  142. Jeff Cagle asks: “Why does Paul say, “If Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain?” He clearly believes that Christ is raised. And yet he is not allergic to considering the alternative. You are. Are you more certain than Paul?”
    Jeff. He is NOT considering the alternative. He is rebuking THEM for considering the alternative. Please read, preferably the whole chapter, but at least starting from v. 12.

    Jeff says: “But in regard to to the proverb, epistemic generosity is a habit of thought.”
    “Epistemic generosity” is pagan practice and bringing it inside he church is idolatry. The proverb teaches NOTHING like what you attempt to recruit it for.

    Muddy Gravel says: Greg, duh. But you’re not paying attention. I made it real easy for you by quoting the words I was rebutting. They were “A god who probably, but doesn’t necessarily exist is a post modern contrivance and the quintessential offspring of the spirit of the age.” So the issue was whether such a notion was a post modern contrivance, and I argued it was previously contrived. So all your blather was about something I never said.
    Lord Jesus please help me with this man. It’s a post modern contrivance

    INSIDE THE CHURCH

    Muddy. Not in the world at large where of course uncertainty has always abounded. That’s my point. People have NOW brought it inside the church. Like a whole list of other unbelieving worldly contrivances.

    Sean says: “Greg, really? Many of us may see serious limitations in the practice much less the need of tightly crafted syllogisms to justify our faith or argue for the existence of God..”
    Is it possible that you smart people really ARE this simple after all? I have made NO such argument sir. Syllogisms are a feature of deduction, which while useful in their place, cannot possibly prove the existence of the God of the bible. NOTHING can “prove the existence of the God of the bible. He is the axiomatic precondition without which not even a single particle of intelligible rational thought is possible. He IS certainty itself.

    Sean says: “None of us enjoy being led down the path of gotcha argumentation…
    See that’s the difference between you and I. You can lead me anywhere. I have nothing to fear. The reason is because I trust the God of WCF II who “is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. “

    He has given me His mind (1st Corinthian 2:16) and made me a partaker of His very nature (2nd Peter 1:4). For me to live is Christ and to die IS gain. (Phil. 1:21) I fear NOTHING and NOBODY. You won’t find me whining because somebody tries a little Socratic trickery on me.

    Sean says: “Most of us have forgotten more than you know.”
    Then teach me. Your turn. Ask ANY questions, lead me ANYwhere. I will answer as best I can. If I learn something or you change my mind, you will have my sincere gratitude and I will happily say so right here. I’m in neutral. Push or pull me as you see fit.

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  143. Greg, I don’t know how to teach someone your age how to be a human being. At this point in life, you generally just make judgements on how someone did becoming one. You seem to want to argue that without a philosophical certainty our Christian faith is lacking(welcome to CtC land). We’ve argued back that faith is just that, faith. It’s the result of supernatural interaction not philosophical preconditions. I can neither help it, nor do I care that that is inadequate rationale in your mind. I’m good with my state as I read Paul. That I entertain doubts or am afflicted by uncertainty at times and to some degree all the time, is no impediment to the reality of saving, sincere, faith. As someone else has said, the rest is likely about your temperament.

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  144. Sean: “It’s the result of supernatural interaction, not philosophical preconditions.”
    Right here is your problem Sean. A fatal false dichotomy. That supernatural interaction is supposed to bring a foundational change to your philosophical preconditions. (this is what Romans 12:1 and 2 is all about) Philosophical preconditions that everyone has. Everyone. There’s two kinds. God’s, and all the rest. All the rest being so many derivative versions of the serpent’s lie.

    You’re perfectly competent to think for yourself. You don’t need God telling you how and what to think.

    You’re still living in all the rest. You are attempting to live your life in the last Adam, while clinging to the mind of the first. Oh yes you are. The mind of Christ starts with God. The mind of Adam starts with Adam. This is the sum of Dr. Van Til’s career and ministry.

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  145. Greg,

    He’s right it’s your temperament.

    I personally listen to my pastor. Not strange internet figures.

    That’s two, Mr. Terrible.

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  146. “That supernatural interaction is supposed to bring a foundational change to your philosophical preconditions.”

    Greg, when did the idea of “philosophic preconditions” become in vogue? No, definitely not in in the first century – sorry. Certainly there were early Christians like Justin Martyr who thought Plato was the bomb, but alas, nothing about a priori knowledge for quite some time. And now you’re making it foundational.

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  147. “That supernatural interaction is supposed to bring a foundational change to your philosophical preconditions. (this is what Romans 12:1 and 2 is all about)”

    Greg, you left out verse 3. Does verse 3 say verse two is about the necessity of presuppositionalism? Does it support that transcendental philosophy is required by the Bible?

    12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.*** 3*** For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

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  148. Greg, here’s Calvin on verse 3:
    _________
    3. For I say, through the grace, etc. If you think not the causal particle superfluous, this verse will not be unsuitably connected with the former; for since he wished that our whole study should be employed in investigating the will of God, the next thing to this was, to draw us away from vain curiosity. As however the causal particle is often used redundantly by Paul, you may take the verse as containing a simple affirmation; for thus the sense would also be very appropriate.
    _________

    So, it is taken to explain verse two and takes the point not as having philosophical foundations, but as investigating the will of God. Does your philosophy come flow from the Bible or does your Bible flow from your philosophy?

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  149. Muddy, the name of Greg’s blog is Trib’s Tantrums. He also calls himself “the terrible.”

    He doesn’t take himself seriously, I don’t see why anyone on this blog should either. He may be a nice guy in real life, but online, there’s something about his method that seems downright sinful and in a NAPARC church, I think someone would have reached out to his pastor to help reign him in by now.

    In other words, he’s a one man army against this blog and several others. Let him throw tantrums, you won’t see me talking to him any more on these boards.

    That’s three.

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  150. Greg: Jeff. He is NOT considering the alternative. He is rebuking THEM for considering the alternative. Please read, preferably the whole chapter, but at least starting from v. 12.

    He is rebuking them for accepting the alternative. By writing the sentence

    “If Christ is not raised…”

    he is considering, as a hypothetical possibility, that Christ might not be raised. And if not, then what? To even write that sentence, he has to consider that Christ might not be raised as a hypothetical possibility.

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  151. Andrew, do you realize that you go from telling me how great I am, to telling THEM how horrible I am about twice a day? Sometimes on the same page, inches apart? This doesn’t make me like you any less, but it does make you look dopey. Make up your mind bro. 🙂 If you’re ever in Detroit, ya gotta look me up. I can’t golf, but we have a couple fabulous Chinese buffets around here. It world be great to have a handshake and some lunch and maybe pray for each other.

    I can’t get to the rest of you guys right now. Sorry.

    Like

  152. Greg, I like you, but you come on too strong, that’s why Darryl deleted comments addressed to you in the first place (go read sweetbreads again). If you actually read my comments here, I’m consistent in believing you are coming after people in an unhealthy way. But I said I wouldn’t address you, and here I am breaking that. I do not think you should continue going about religion on the internet the way you are doing (I know what I said on Erik’s blog, my point there was “one day at a time.”). So you are free to continue. My suggestion is you read the “experiment” post again about only making 3 comments in a day, one in the morning, one the afternoon, one in the evening. But here I am breaking that. Just I don’t think Darryl has your worst interest at heart, rather, the opposite, though I know you have your own opinions and they are not the same as mine here or on other topics. If you are in the bay area, feel free to visit, there’s usually plenty of refreshments.

    Point people to church, but more importantly, to Christ. The other stuff (like leading a moral life and following the 10 commandments) comes along with that for the true believer, and you can know them by their fruit.

    Grace and peace.

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  153. Greg, I’ll try not to repeat what Muddy said, but you want to put forth that Rom 12:1-2 is an argument for philosophical ideallism? This is the same Paul who grounds the veracity of the faith in the HISTORICAL event of the resurrection, otherwise your faith is VAIN?! The same Paul who doesn’t come to you in powerful rhetoric or cleverly designed schemes but preaching Christ crucified. Presuppositionalism is not the heartbeat or even the ground of the faith, Christ and His resurrection is. Historical event not philosophical planks.

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  154. Greg,

    The point is not to undermine faith in God or confidence in the Scripture, but to engender humility in the face of the limitations of human reasoning.

    And I speak here as one whose job is to practice and teach logical deduction. I teach math.

    What van Til was on about was not to create a theological Hilbert Program, in which all theology is logically derived from axioms in Scripture. He had the opportunity to embrace that system in his encounters with Clark, and he most emphatically rejected it as glorifying human reason.

    Greg to Sean: See that’s the difference between you and I. You can lead me anywhere.

    Then be led in this way: Having genuine epistemic humility does not mean lacking confidence in God’s word. It means acknowledging that your own reason is not the final word.

    Like

  155. Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
    Andrew, do you realize that you go from telling me how great I am, to telling THEM how horrible I am about twice a day? Sometimes on the same page, inches apart? This doesn’t make me like you any less, but it does make you look dopey. Make up your mind bro. 🙂

    ______________

    Jeff Cagle
    Posted April 15, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
    Greg,

    The point is not to undermine faith in God or confidence in the Scripture, but to engender humility in the face of the limitations of human reasoning.

    And I speak here as one whose job is to practice and teach logical deduction. I teach math.

    What van Til was on about was not to create a theological Hilbert Program, in which all theology is logically derived from axioms in Scripture. He had the opportunity to embrace that system in his encounters with Clark, and he most emphatically rejected it as glorifying human reason.

    Greg to Sean: See that’s the difference between you and I. You can lead me anywhere.

    Then be led in this way: Having genuine epistemic humility does not mean lacking confidence in God’s word. It means acknowledging that your own reason is not the final word.

    ___________________________

    TVD: Just watching the wheels go round and round here at Darryl’s Fun House. Although we haven’t been properly introduced, I’m confident me & Mr. Turrible would get along just fine.

    We’ve both taken a 7-iron to the buffet here, but still the help defends the tasteless fare because they know nothing else.

    Well, actually, they can’t defend it because they have no idea what Darryl’s so cleverly saying/not saying, but like all good worker bees, they mindlessly attack any threat to the hive.

    Cheers, Mr. Turrible, no lukewarm water, you.

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  156. I wanted to, but I’m not going to be able to get my responses written tonight.

    One thing is clear. Nobody I’ve spoken to here yet has any idea what Van Til taught. There’s no inoffensive way to say this either so I can’t help but just say it. It’s clear that at least the people in this conversation spend very little meaningful time in their bibles. (I commend Darryl for making an effort to change that) How many here spend half as much time in the Word of God as you do being conformed to the world by your television? Raise your hands.

    That explains everything. One WILL drive out the other.

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  157. Greg,

    more van tillian than thou is a good thread to read.

    Are you up on your Lee Irons reading?;Carr to share your thoughts on republication while we all wait with anticipation on the OPC GA report on the matter (though I am with “Todd” here I’m thinking both the grace boys and the nicotine smokers will likely get a pass, since there is no “smoking gun” (i know where Todd said exactly that))? Did I lose you, or are you still with me? One day at a time, my friend, Andrew PS isn’t TVD adorable?

    Like

  158. Todd
    Posted November 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
    I have appreciated the discussion between Jeff and David R. also; some initial thoughts FWIW.

    1. I still wonder if the inability for either men to agree on Turretin’s view is largely due to questions we are asking that he was not thinking about. Biblical Theology is a rather recent discipline and the older writers were not always dealing in the same categories that we are.

    2. I end up agreeing with David R. on Calvin. I do not see Kline’s (or my) view of republication reflected in Calvin

    3. The length of the Turretin discussion was a bit disconcerting, only that there is an unfortunate tendency in reformed circles to substitute exegesis for historical theology. The Lord has actually addressed the question of the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and New Covenant in Galatians 3 and 4, so it seems the majority of time should be spent there. Hopefully the discussion would have moved there eventually.

    4. There is no smoking gun. I have seen nothing that demonstrates that good reformed theologians cannot hold to either side in the debate.

    Next [2].

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  159. Greg, I’d spend more time in my bible but that means less time to smoke crack and watch porn. Plus, have you read Van til?! Snooze fest. But don’t worry, I have my Connemara worry stone and dream catcher in the foyer to catch the evil spirits wandering through. Finally, I wear my scapular against my skin, and the warm glow of the TV keeps me company while I dream, I’m good.

    Like

  160. “like all good worker bees, they mindlessly attack any threat to the hive.”

    ….….apparently disagreeing with Prov 24:23

    Jesus (thru Paul):”1 Timothy 5:21”

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  161. Sir Greg, no rush. Really. I really really am a visual learner, unlike your very esteemed self. Plus, I only rep out at 375# on a 5×5 but verily I say to you, I can combine that with about twenty minutes of relentless pressure. I’ll be eating your heart within five. So, hurry along little starling. Fly fly fly. fly fly fly.

    Like

  162. A quick copy and paste for now from HERE
    ===================================
    Van Til is not difficult so much as he is FOREIGN. The thoroughly biblical system of thought that he so faithfully proclaimed for all those years is an utterly foreign ethical and intellectual (in that order) language to the one the corrupted sons of fallen father Adam are born with.

    Imagine this conversation with a six year old girl after church. My church is mostly black (though I am white). Some sane joyful dancing goes on there on occasion.
    ————————————————————–
    Me, in kiddy voice to a 6 year old girl dancing around the foyer at my church: “How many is 2+2 _______(name)?”
    6 year old still dancing in tone calculated to indicate the silliness of the question: “4 brother Greg”(duh)
    Me, to tirelessly dancing 6 year old: “are you sure?”
    6 year old in respectful tone: “yes sir.”
    Me: “why are you sure?”
    6 year old states matter of factly without missing a step: “because that’s how God made it”.
    ————————————————————-
    That’s the right answer. The sovereign preeminent, non contingent ground of all thought and being who is alone capable of actually autonomous objective knowledge. The ancient of days whose eternally ontological triunity majestically resolves the problem of the one and the many. The triumphant conquering king of the universe without whose all governing decree not one atom in all the vast cosmos dare twitch. The reason why 2+2=4. In six words from the mouth of a babe nurtured in His name and yet uncluttered by the onslaught of the world.

    Ya know, I had to read “The Defense of the Faith” twice in a literal row 25 years ago. I finished it, and became of aware of a strained wince on my face as I pondered what I’d just read for a good while. I picked it up and started over. It was like I could smell a sumptuous feast on the other side of a wall with a door I couldn’t find.

    I don’t remember the exact quote of what I was reading at the time, but the second time through the shade went up and the light came flooding in. I felt like an idiot for it having to have been pointed out to me. I actually chuckled out loud: “of course. How could it possibly be otherwise?” I understood the Godhood of God like never before. I’m not being over dramatic. Since then I’ve read most of what Dr. Van Til has written and repeatedly listened to all 78 known extant recordings of his voice. Today it’s second nature. Well actually first nature. “Don’t ya see?” 🙂

    Jesus Christ defeated my sin and death. God used John Calvin in his institutes to show me what that meant and Cornelius Van Til taught me how to think like it was true.

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  163. sean
    Sir Greg, no rush. Really. I really really am a visual learner, unlike your very esteemed self. Plus, I only rep out at 375# on a 5×5 but verily I say to you, I can combine that with about twenty minutes of relentless pressure. I’ll be eating your heart within five. So, hurry along little starling. Fly fly fly. fly fly fly.

    Don’t be gittin all twitchy on me there Bub. This preening about is unbecoming to say the least. How bout we talk about grown up stuff that matters? I think you can do it.

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  164. Verily Greg, I’m trying to see. But I get distracted by the generals gathered in their masses, they’re just like witches at black masses, you know? There’s all these evil minds plotting destruction, while you look out at the fields(harvest) and the bodies are burning. But the war machine just keeps on turning like nothing is happening, poisoning their brain washed minds(Van Til’s point.). In the meantime, politicians hide themselves away, why should they fight! They just leave it all to the poor. Treating people like pawns in chess. Wait till the judgement day comes! Amen? They’ll be on their knees begging mercies for their sins, while Satan laughs and spreads his wings.

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  165. Honorable Greg, sorry about the twitch. You’d think I’d know by now not to chase my EC stack with a pipe hit. But I still forget sometimes. I tell you what though, I can’t feel anything. It beats edging all day.

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  166. AB, I will eat you alive. Plus, I really just want a girl in a short skirt and a loooooooooooooooooong jacket.

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  167. I want a girl with a smooth liquidation
    (SMOOTH LIQUIDATION)
    I want a girl with good dividends
    (GOOD DIVIDENDS)
    At Citibank we will meet accidentally
    We’ll start to talk when she borrows my pen

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  168. Turrible, everyone knows white cross’ were for showgirls. Though, as I’ve been told, you try dancing in high heels for 8 hours! I haven’t tried it………………………………..yet. Are you gonna Hulk mask me too? That’s my favorite. I’ll put you on my wall if you do.

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  169. “Ya know, I had to read “The Defense of the Faith” twice in a literal row 25 years ago. I finished it, and became of aware of a strained wince on my face as I pondered what I’d just read for a good while. I picked it up and started over. It was like I could smell a sumptuous feast on the other side of a wall with a door I couldn’t find.”

    Interesting, Greg. When I picked it up after decade I thought “obscure writing under the shadow of Kant.” So now there’s a chalk outline where his shadow used to fall and you’re standing there insisting that everyone else join you.

    But, please, don’t let me interrupt. Talk to Dr. Sean.

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  170. oh yes sir CW. I have observed that Sean is an impressively capable man. Even quite independently of his not so subtle reminders of this fact. I just keep holding out hope that I’ll see it soon.

    Tiribulus PRINCIPLES of online debate #5
    5. NEVER glibly underestimate your opponent. ALWAYS assume your opponent is 10 times smarter, 10 times more qualified and 10 times more informed than you are. He DOES NOT have to be stupid to be wrong. In fact, the more intelligent he is, the more potential he has for truly spectacular

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  171. Sean says: “I say skip the humble braggart routine and go straight James Brown. Jump back turn around and kiss myself.”

    OR……hang on now…… you could try having a substantive discussion.

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  172. Every time I go serious, I end up disappointed. People go fideistic, move the goal posts, apparently live in their mother’s basement where they have canned responses qued up and even lead you down the trail with hypotheticals and overused ambush ploys. Then my no fun-I’m bored ringer goes off, and it’s all blah blah blah blah. It’s gotta be smart and breezy and concise. My ADD keeps me moving on. Life is complex. Paul tells me to keep it quiet, sober and busy. If you’re selling something else, I just don’t have the patience for it.

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  173. However, Mr. Turrible, the entire TGC crew apparently has time to pontificate until the cows come home(some inhabit the panel) and there isn’t a working BS meter to be found.

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  174. Cow/s inhabit the panel. Which panel you may ask, well, there’s probably more than one. Cow and panel and cows inhabiting said panel/s

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  175. Can’t stop reading the train wreck comments – it is like a cross between Forest Gump and Rain Man played by Hulk Hogan entered into a Van Til fight club scene reading Mr. GtT’s interactions. The only rule about Van Til fight club is… record screech … wait a minute, here are my PRINCIPLES of Van Til fight club done Don Quixote style. The only thing better would be to have everyone read their comments out loud in their best pirate voice.

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  176. Greg, if you want serious discussion this is the precondition:

    “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding remains silent.” — Prov 11.12

    “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” — Prov 12.18

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  177. Jeff, don’t forget these though:

    “Like a dog that returns to his vomit
    is a fool who repeats his folly.”
    Proverbs 26:11

    “Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
    Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

    Proverbs 26:4-5

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  178. Proverbs 29:20

    Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

    This could go on for a while..

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  179. I have not had the time I’d hoped for today.

    Sean dodges: “People go fideistic”
    Please explain. Not what fideism is. I know what it is. It’s also the favorite charge of thomists(papists), armininians, classicalists, evidentialists, tragically inconsistent Calvinists (like sdb and RC Sproul) AND atheists, who ALL hold the same unbelieving epistemology of probability against the truly biblical view as espoused by Dr. Van Til.

    Please Sean, take a break from your jester routine and explain to me what YOU intend by the accusation of fideiism against me and why. Would you do that? (right here MIGHT be where Oliphint and I don’t necessarily see 100% eye to eye though I love the guy)

    Muddy, I haven’t forgotten Romans 12.

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  180. Gargantuan Greg the Grevious, I never called you a fideist. But I can, if you’d like. One of my issues with Van Til is he pushes the antithesis too far. He ends up eclipsing common grace and the Imago Dei. There’s more but that right thar is a lot.

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  181. And how could you possibly know what I understand of van Til? My point was narrow… great guy as evidenced by his irenic tone. I respect that even though I don’t buy his philosophy. I have neither the time nor interest in getting in to a debate about his work (sorry Erik).. much less with a fanboy who thinks adding allcaps is an argument.

    I am curious…if utter unassailable knowledge of God is possible (on par with knowing my wife exists), why do we say “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth? ” Who talks that way about trees, what they had for dinner last night, or who the president is? Maybe because God’s existence isn’t an empirical fact or a tautology?

    Greg you seem to be saying that you refuse to question God’s existence as if it is a sign of commitment. This is a category mistake.Recognizing you could be wrong is simply to acknowledge that you don’t know everything. If someone found Jesus’s corpse and a letter from Peter to Paul outlining their hoax, I would have to admit that I was wrong. I really, really, really doubt that would happen.

    So why do I care so much about something that could really come down to semantics? I have seen the terrible effect of pride bring down way too many. Maybe it is just confirmation bias, but over and over I see the loudest most vociferous advocates of the utter unassailable truth of this or that have their faith crumble. If embracing epistemic humility is a postmodern contrivance in your view, then you clearly don’t understand postmodernism. Recognizing that your opponent’s claim could have merit the implications of which are worth walking through is not a betrayal of your conviction but respect for your opponent. Not all arguments deserve this respect (not even wrong as Pauli would say).

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  182. Sean alleges: “Van Til is the pushes the antithesis too far. He ends up eclipsing common grace and the Imago Dei”
    How so. I’m gonna push you because I suspect (but could be wrong) that you’re throwing around commonly known catch words to appear to know what you’re talking about. Please tell me how Van Til’s view of antithesis (which I am thoroughly familiar with) ends up eclipsing COMMON GRACE and the remaining though sinfully broken image of God in man.

    I will be happy to be wrong Sean. Please explain.

    Jeff, no offense brother, honest, but we are not even in the same room with one another. I will actually attempt to explain that more. Please understand guys, that for what I do I go from place to place with computers alot. A day like today, I get a little while at a time in each place. Other days, I can spend hours just on web stuff. I have to go again. (yes, weird hours)

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  183. Garrulous Greg The Goon, lead ins, contexts and set ups like this;” I suspect (but could be wrong) that you’re throwing around commonly known catch words to appear to know what you’re talking about.”

    Earn you jack from me. I let you know when and if you’ve merited a substantive response from moi. So far you’ve earned the back of my hand. But, being the incredibly magnanimous, charitable and generous guy I am, I’ll give you this morsel; The unregenerate are capable of ordering this temporal life and capable of instructing in both the hard sciences and liberal arts. The categories are not Xian and non-Xian or theist and atheist as regards this temporal life, but rather competency(varying degrees) and incompetency(varying degrees). Arguments and discussions of ‘borrowed capital’ don’t move the meter.

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  184. Sean says: “The unregenerate are capable of ordering this temporal life and capable of instructing in both the hard sciences and liberal arts. The categories are not Xian and non-Xian or theist and atheist as regards this temporal life”
    And you believe that this is what Van Til taught? That there are Christian and non Christian versions of morally neutral and therefore morally indifferent arenas of temporal life? I’m asking. I want to make I understand.

    PRINCIPLE number 7. “Be very careful and deliberate in hearing my opponent’s representations of his position/propositions and answer only after I’m sure I understand. OR, ask him to explain in more detail so as not to carelessly misrepresent him and/or convey a dismissive or disrespectful attitude. (that needs work sometimes.)”

    Sean says: “Arguments and discussions of ‘borrowed capital’ don’t move the meter.”
    Explain Van Til’s illustration of “borrowed capital” and why it’s wrong please. Make sure you get the answer to the first question right though. Because if not, you’ll REALLY miss this one too.

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  185. sdb asks: “if utter unassailable knowledge of God is possible (on par with knowing my wife exists),
    Your wife’s existence, and therefore your knowledge of it, depends upon the creator God whose invisible attributes, … eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen.. because HE HIMSELF has MADE them known to you. (Romans 1) It’s ok not to know something. It’s not ok to pretend you do. I’m still waiting for the first person who has so much as a rudimentary intentional knowledge of Van Til’s biblical theistic epistemology. Which, was nothing more than a reformed doctrine of God expressed philosophically.

    This was a pet student of Geerhardu Vos and one of Machen’s boys. A founding faculty member of Westminster east and prof there for 43 years. He’s one of the most famous and prominent warriors in the defense of reformed orthodoxy against Schleiermacher and then Barth. HERE he is 83 years old on a trip to NYC preaching Christ and Him crucified to a gathered crowd outside the building where they had business.

    YES, I’m a fanboy. He’s one of my all time heroes. Is the Lord more pleased with people whose heroes are godless, blaspheming producers and performers of debased and debauched television and film? Who are far more familiar with and admiring of His hated enemies than they are His faithful servants?

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  186. Turrible, you have got to stop with all the schoolmarming and patronizing behavior. And don’t come back and sell how you really really really don’t mean to be a turd in a punch bowl, I just want to understand, Rocky, I really really do. I’m not interested in taking your Reformed Cosmo quiz. Van Til was gloriously inconsistent. He desperately fought for his epistemological antithesis while struggling to be consistent about what the unbeliever could know(truly) and not know. At one time he would happily acknowledge the unbeliever’s ability to apprehend and ‘know’ GR and at other moments he would deny that the unbeliever could ‘know’ anything at all. He finally falls back on being epistemologically self-conscious(God conscious). Guess what? The believer can’t pull it off either. Additionally, he falls victim to the extending of the KOG to again encompass the cultural mandate this side of Glory. This is the why of a guy like Bahnsen. This pushing of the antithesis into the common realm at the behest of the expansion of the KOG(cult) is where Van Til struggles with eclipsing common grace and eroding NL. IOW, Van Til takes the legitimate religious antithesis between the cult and antichrist and extends that antithesis into cultural pursuits such as physical sciences. In short, Van Til was brilliant and inconsistent. No biggie. He isn’t God.

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  187. Was there an actual answer to my questions in there somewhere? I can’t address this confused stab (YOU are the one who is confused, not Van Til) without giving away Van Til’s analogy of “borrowed capital” which I asked you to explain, but which you did not.
    Here’s a clue. You accidentally brushed up against it when you said this:

    “At one time he would happily acknowledge the unbeliever’s ability to apprehend and ‘know’ GR and at other moments he would deny that the unbeliever could ‘know’ anything at all.”

    Try again please. I can save you some frantic Google time if you just say you don’t really know and ask me to explain it to you.

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  188. Gregoranus, I gave you the answer most relevant to the discussion. You aren’t adequate to set the table. So, I made it do what it does. No googling was necessary, but I reserve the right to enlist my dogs to carry in on in my stead. They’re up to this level.

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  189. Greg, this post is not about van til, read my comments, i gave you a post about van til.

    You have an axe to grind.

    get over yourself.

    LISTEN TO DR. SEAN, HELLO!!

    who’s next?

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  190. Greg, no. I’ve adequately addressed the misapplication of antithesis and how it eclipses CG and Imago Dei when pressed into temporal endeavors under the guise of the KOG and regenerated believers vs. unbelievers engaged in similar enterprises.

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  191. Remember Greg, DGH says you should do 3 comments per day per post.

    Break that rule, go ahead. But you are living outside of what Darryl kindly asked of you.

    Don’t be “that guy.” YOu are becoming it before our eyes here

    Who’s next, yo?

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  192. Is the Lord more pleased with people whose heroes are godless, blaspheming producers and performers of debased and debauched television and film? Who are far more familiar with and admiring of His hated enemies than they are His faithful servants?

    Huh? Can you translate this into English? Maybe a comma or two would help. Eats shoots and leaves is very different from eats, shoots, and leaves.

    Where did this business about television and film come from or this bit about “familiar and admiring of his hated enemies”? I’ve told you what I believe (even if it took repeating it three times to get it through your thick skull) and you’ve moved the goal posts. The only substantive question we seem to disagree on is whether it is possible for me to be mistaken about anything. I say yes, you say no. And this launches you into a rant about admiring God’s enemies?

    I’m sorry to have wasted the time I did interacting with you. You aren’t reasonable and really haven’t had anything of value to contribute. You may be a swell guy in person, but you really have no business no the internet.

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  193. I’ve gotten to know greg a little bit, off line. He has a right to the internet as everyone else. I don’t understand why when Darryl asks people to limit 3 to a post per day, and Greg/Erik dynamic duo was the cause, why he can’t learn from that. In other words, he has a problem with restraint. It’s a Calvinist Virtue Greg is still learning [3]

    The virtues and vices characteristic of Calvinism are the virtues and vices natural to the middle class. Industry, thrift, prudence, economy, restraint of manner, domestic virtue, are necessary to success in an industrial societt; they are the virtues chiefly emphasized by Calvinism

    https://books.google.com/books?id=CfnCAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA376&lpg=PA376&dq=restraint+is+a+calvinist+virtue&source=bl&ots=Fg4s9QN_5A&sig=OX-FihiOadDwUVSd6XZqD1lNUr8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wykxVenFEpTcoASw3YDgCw&ved=0CCQQ6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=restraint%20is%20a%20calvinist%20virtue&f=false

    Greg knows this (his joke about smoke in the restaurant, baptist yells “fire”, pentacostal, “water” reformed “everyone, please sit down, order”.

    Now I ask you all calmly and gently and in as soft spoken manner as I can.

    Who is next?

    yo

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  194. SDB, Terribilus had a long comment-skirmish with a commenter who no longer visits here. He now has friendly chit chats with that departed visitor and somehow has it all screwed up inside his head that he and that departed visitor are the good guys and people here are the enemies. So, in T’s head, people here hold the view the departed commenter had when he was here – the doctrine of blog imputation.

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  195. I’m feeling remorse for CVT comments. He was, as far as I can tell, a kind man and a churchman who served the OPC faithfully. He did some clever work in the academic environment of his time in the field of apologetics. It’s just that he wasn’t a philosopher and there is no divine mandate to see our faith through idealist lenses.

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  196. Sean says: “Greg, no. I’ve adequately addressed the misapplication of antithesis and how it eclipses CG and Imago Dei when pressed into temporal endeavors under the guise of the KOG and regenerated believers vs. unbelievers engaged in similar enterprises.”
    So
    Sean says: “The unregenerate are capable of ordering this temporal life and capable of instructing in both the hard sciences and liberal arts. The categories are not Xian and non-Xian or theist and atheist as regards this temporal life”
    And you believe that this is what Van Til taught? That there are Christian and non Christian versions of morally neutral and therefore morally indifferent arenas of temporal life? I’m asking. I want to make sure I understand. Could you provide an example of this being Van Til’s position please?

    Two pages ago I said the following to Muddy Gravel:

    “Man has throughout his history, by virtue of the remaining though sinfully broken image of God, been so absolutely right about so very much of what he’s observed and published. While, due to this brokenness in sin, being so absolutely wrong about how and why he’s right about it. 1+1=2 for sinners and saints alike and for the same reason. Except sinners spend every second of their lives suppressing that truth in their unrighteousness.”

    Van Til himself said that most of the advances, especially modern ones, in science and medicine and technology have been accomplished by pagans, though he also celebrated the “galaxy of greatest thinkers” (direct quote) among the Greeks of Paul’s day. Not to mention his routinely praising unbelieving philosophers among his contemporaries as being “brilliant”.

    He knew nothing of a separation of categories the way you are alleging Sean. He taught a foundational difference between epistemological knowledge and formal knowledge. At the formal level 1+1=2 for absolutely everybody. The form and formal function are identical because of the image of God present in all men, through which God’s common grace operates. At the epistemological level, the level of first principle and heart commitment, is where there exists an eternally radical antithesis. To those raised from rebellion and death in the first Adam to the life and mind of Christ in the last, 1+1=2 because of the ordered mind of the creator God whose image they bear and thoughts they think after him on a finite derivative scale.

    To the mind still dead in sin, 1+1=2 for literally any reason at all other than the truth found for us now only in Christ. They will believe absolutely ANYthing,… not because that’s what they actually believe epistemologically, but to escape from what I believe epistemologically. Epistemologically, they KNOW where that knowledge comes from according to the first of Romans.

    So you see Sean, the unbeliever’s campaign of rebellion against his God, is financed with capital that has been borrowed, indeed stolen, from God’s own bank. What you call “confusion” on Van Til’s part is actually the very brilliance of his approach to fallen man, missed by a shallow and dismissive reading on your part. The saints have at once, fully everything and nothing in common with sinners.

    For Dr. Van Til there was not formally Christian and non-Christian mathematics to continue that example. Could be plumbing, to use Muddy’s, or any other morally neutral “sphere” of life. What made them sacred or secular on the formal level was which w-w was brought to them on the epistemological level. Because man is commanded to do all that he does to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17) and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23). The unjustified and unregenerate are by definition incapable of either. While the new man in Christ is saved unto both.

    The bible DOES speak to all of life epistemologically, even if most of the temporal, especially modern details are not formally mentioned. Those areas of temporal life that are not morally neutral and therefore not indifferent, are without exception unambiguously addressed because “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced” therefrom.

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  197. sdb, but Erik Charter disagrees, saying Greg’s antagonists are more often than not the ones off. So, you know, there.

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  198. Greg, this is the last comment to you for the month of April.

    stop playing unreal tournament tiribulus posting comments and start reading and leave these people alone. what is your problem, man?

    grace and peace.

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  199. Muddy accuses CVT of being an “idealist”
    I’m one guy here folks and working a funeral to boot. Trying to keep up with everybody.

    Muddy, could you define which sense you mean by this please? Because if you mean philosophical idealism, as a school, you have no business talking about the man at all. If you mean it in the sense of lofty well meaning, but unattainable standards then that is preposterous as well except for different reasons.

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  200. Muddy says: “SDB, Terribilus had a long comment-skirmish with a commenter who no longer visits here. He now has friendly chit chats with that departed visitor and somehow has it all screwed up inside his head that he and that departed visitor are the good guys and people here are the enemies. So, in T’s head, people here hold the view the departed commenter had when he was here – the doctrine of blog imputation.”
    Except the friendly chit chat thing, for which I’m grateful, this is wholly inaccurate at every single point. I can’t see it being worth pursuing any further than that.

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  201. In shorthand, idealism is dominated by epistemological concerns. So was CVT. Under Kantian idealism, stuff is perceived by categories built into our perceptual faculties. To CVT, stuff is perceived through presuppositions. In Hegelian idealism there is thought as a system. CVT is committed to thought as a system.

    So CVT, doing his work at a specific juncture in thought-history, spoke in terms of the mega-commitments of idealism. And he developed an apologetic within that context. To enshrine his apologetic method as THE method is a commitment to forever let idealism set the terms of the debate.

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  202. Muddy, let me ‘splain; you’re an idiot. Furthermore, regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of your assesment, I, Gregorian, will hold forth at one and multiple points to exhibit MY defense and understanding of Van Til, regardless of it’s relevance to the discussion. For I am a self-titled man.

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  203. Greg, I will answer you here and not in Erik’s blog. It’s weird of there, his technology really sucks.

    Yes, you called me yesterday, and our call was good. However, you don’t know how to limit your interaction out here. My suggestion is no more comments today, come back tomorrow. Go get some sleep.

    I’m done. Peace.

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  204. Erik picked up on Bobby’s spying on a strange opc, bobby said half of the men had aspergers.

    Erik is out for blood against the OPC.

    I am so lost and dont know why. He reminds me of Jason Stellman.

    The insanity must stop here. Now. Please.

    Peace.

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  205. Greg, I hope I’m among those with whom you are disappointed. If not, let me know what I can do. Meanwhile, enjoy hanging out at the blog about a blog. And when AB tells you that you have interaction limitation problems you should probably listen. That’s like Bill Clinton telling someone “Dude, lay off the chicks.”

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  206. This morning I listened to this old outdoor speech given by Dr. Van Til at Westminster east at the end of his career (late 60’s, early 70’s) entitled “The CERTAINTY of Our Faith”. Haven’t listened to these or actually read much of his work in a while. Take 34 minutes and listen to this poor quality audio recording.

    THAT is the “old life”. Whatever this is ya’ll got around here? It ain’t that. See, what you have is the “I’ll pick the old parts I like and throw away the rest” life. That’s what this dualistic, neo-Gnostic, hyper 2K non-worldview w-w is all about. It allows in your minds the total abandonment of the morality of the LC where it infringes upon your love of the world.

    I’m here because I want what Dr. Hart says he wants, but I want ALL of it. It works as a system. A worldview consisting of theology, philosophy and ethics. Not an uncertain pick and choose Mr. Potatoe Head where you stick the features you want in whatever holes suit your fancy.

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  207. Greg, Van Til was not God.

    Nor are you. Nor me.

    Enjoy these blogs. But maybe dont use your real name.

    Have a nice day, Mr. Terrible. Is that hanna barbera cartoon tiribulus worth watching?

    I’ll be reading your words. Bye.

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  208. “Not an uncertain pick and choose Mr. Potatoe Head where you stick the features you want in whatever holes suit your fancy.”

    [Should I respond? Heh heh. No, that’s not right, not right at all. But what if I said…no, never mind.]

    No comment.

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  209. He doesn’t get to define “Elijah Complex.” It’s more like “am I the only one left,” and habitually thundering like a prophet.

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  210. @AB I don’t think Greg is a bully, but neither do I think it is worthwhile to keep engaging with someone who is argumentative for what seems to me to be the sake of being argumentative. After stating my belief (three times) in the scriptures as the Word of God, God as the creator of Heaven and Earth, the early creeds and reformed standard, my hope in Christ alone and looking forward to the saint’s everlasting rest, but allowing that I recognize the possibility that I’ve got it all wrong, he asks “Is your confidence in yourself or the God of WCF II?”. After noting that while I don’t buy van Til’s philosophical work, I appreciate his irenic tone – Greg starts a spitting contest over who understands van Til better (a total red herring – maybe I don’t understand van Til at all, but his humble tone is far more productive than Greg’s jeremiads). Finally, he brings up this bizarre bit about admiring blasphemous producers and performers and something about admiring God’s enemies more than his servants…Huh? I still don’t understand what that has to do with anything, but what has become clear to me is that he is itching for an argument. This isn’t someone I’m likely to learn anything from nor is he someone likely to learn. Like I said, I’m sure he is a great guy offline, but engaging with the sort commenter who makes these kind of of accusations and innuendo (e.g., you’re just a limp wristed postmodern who loves dirty movies) is not something I’m interested in. If he doesn’t believe that I describe my views in good faith, then there isn’t much point in continuing. As long as Darryl is OK with it, Greg can of course write whatever he wants here. I’m not offended, just not very interested.

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  211. Who knows Van Til better is not the actual point at ll. The certainty that Van Til preached, which IS the worldview (YES, it’s the basis of a worldview. THE worldview) of historic reformed orthodoxy is the point. He is a founding father of the OPC and for whatever reason, Machen’s pick to teach apologetics at their fledgling seminary.

    His certainty, MY certainty, which he unwaveringly taught his whole career, IS the oldlife. Your conceding ” the possibility that I’ve got it all wrong” IS new Calvinism that is more insidious than anything TKNY could ever come up with.

    My point in saying the following…:

    “. Is the Lord more pleased with people whose heroes are godless, blaspheming producers and performers of debased and debauched television and film? Who are far more familiar with and admiring of His hated enemies than they are His faithful servants?”

    After asking this:

    There’s no inoffensive way to say this either so I can’t help but just say it. It’s clear that at least the people in this conversation spend very little meaningful time in their bibles. (I commend Darryl for making an effort to change that) How many here spend half as much time in the Word of God as you do being conformed to the world by your television? Raise your hands.
    That explains everything. One WILL drive out the other.

    …is that thus far I have been treated to a frankly embarrassing scarcity of even the most basic skills of bible interpretation and an eyebrow raising ignorance of your own tradition’s essential history.(Not just you) While on the the hand displaying an impressive and enthusiastic familiarity (not in this thread) with the blasphemous, bloody, debauched media served up by God’s enemies in the entertainment industry.

    Darryl, would it kill ya to chime in on this? At least the epistemological certainty part? Is it not true that a god whose existence and scriptures were merely probably true is wholly unknown in the Calvinists of the reformed standards? The major ones anyway? You know this “BUT… I might be all wrong” thing is unheard of before the last few decades. I will not gloat, nor will I throw it gracelessly in their faces. You have my public word.

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  212. Muddy quotes me as saying:
    “Not an uncertain pick and choose Mr. Potatoe Head where you stick the features you want in whatever holes suit your fancy.”
    And then responds with
    [Should I respond? Heh heh. No, that’s not right, not right at all. But what if I said…no, never mind.]
    No comment.

    At 10:09 am this morning I sent Erik the following Email
    “This one’s for you. Do NOT say anything out loud yet. If these guys are as shallow and predictable as I think, at least one of em will fall for this. Probably Sean if I had to guess.”
    With this link to a screenshot from the wikipedia article on Dan Quayle.

    Well it was you Muddy instead of Sean, but ya did pretty good. Your restraint was admirable 😀

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  213. @AB I miss Erik around here… I enjoyed his sense of humor. He was a bit over the top at times, so if he feels the need to stay away, I get it. There is a lot more to life than a commbox! Have a great Sunday.

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  214. I thought I’d cut that off before it likely turned into a rat pack about what a scorn worthy moron I am for duplicating the most famous spelling error of all time. That was my original hope. It WOULD have made the point of how willing some folks are to harp on irrelevant juvenile drivel in the stead of adult substantive discussion of matters of eternal import when it imperils their idols.

    However, it was a dirty trick and a bit juvenile on my own part I admit. If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t, but I could not now let it sit there broadcasting the impression that I can’t spell “potato”.

    Instead of ya’ll bristling over my being an uneducated, unordained arrogant punk from a church that isn’t even “duly constituted” (an ad hominem non-argument), why don’t you address the substance of what I’ve brought here?

    Either own that your embrace of the epistemological uncertainty of the God and Gospel of the bible is a brand new imposition upon the Christian religion as YOUR OWN tradition tradition has historically expressed it, or demonstrate otherwise by citing historical authorities who agree with you.

    OR… you can tell me to play in the freeway and go on as you have been, believing what you like regardless of what the truth actually is. Because ya see, this right here is THE key to everything. 1+1 equaling 2 or not along with the whole of the reality we live in depends on the CERTAIN non-contingent existence of the TRIUNE creator God of the Christian scriptures. How there can be Calvinists who don’t understand this will always be beyond me.

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  215. Gtt,
    You assume a lot. I don’t address the substance of your argument because you make baseless charges about my media consumption (which is nil), my bristling over your purported lack of education (which never occurred to me), and your argumentativeness. I stopped discussing my views about certainty because I don’t think you are interacting in good faith. Your a clanging cymbal, and that’s unfortunate because I suspect you could have something worthwhile to say. But I could be wrong….

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  216. sdb says: “I don’t think you are interacting in good faith.”
    Please explain. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t want to hear. Because sir, I have spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours debating this exact, and I do mean EXACT issue with vicious God hating ATHEISTS! Uncertainty is their stock in trade. The intellectual currency of their realm. The introduction of uncertainty was the trick of the serpent in the garden. It is the very essence of unbelief.

    I expect this kinda crap from the drippy, runny Biola crowd, but it tears my heart out seeing it defended in the tragic guise of “epistemic humility” and ‘generosity”by the purported children of the reformation. I haven’t been able to make up my mind whether the worldliness and hypocritical moral compromise among Presbyterians is the consequence of this or the other way around.

    Please explain sir. What would it look like if I were interacting in good faith?

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  217. You’ve made several baseless accusations throughout this thread that I described above. Instead of lying about my familiarity with obscene entertainment (for example) you could ask me what i think about it if you think it relevant.

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  218. Greg: … why don’t you address the substance of what I’ve brought here?

    OK, I will.

    The substance of what you’ve brought here is this:

    I, Greg, am a brilliant “expert”, and the rest of you are “inane”, “silly”, “shallow”, “not in the same room”, “undermining the Reformed faith”, “juvenile”…

    and many more unseemly personal disparagements.

    That’s your substance, the point that you have striven to get across and reiterated in many and varied forms. The stuff about van Til is merely accidental to your main argument, which is that you are a superior person, capable of passing judgment on the rest of us as inferior.

    I have no desire to engage with that substance or pass comment on it. It is a foolish and wicked topic of conversation per 1 Cor 1.26-31 among many other passages.

    Now, if you want for your substance to be something else, such as about van Til’s understanding of epistemology (which I find very interesting and would love to discuss), then we can do that. To do so, you will need to completely abandon your boasting and disparagement of others. It is enough to express your point of view dispassionately and let those who wish to hear, hear. Focus your flashlight on van Til’s material, and you’ll do fine.

    That is my final word until and unless there is radical change in your discourse.

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  219. sdb, most of all I have “accomplished” obedience. It’s not all online and most of my life isn’t online either, but the internet, like all technology if used to God’s glory, is an awesome opportunity. It would take me an hour to catalog different types of “results”, depending on the person and or group, but results are not my goal. Results are God’s problem. Faithful obedience is my goal.

    I also never once used the word “obscene”. Sexual immorality is only one, albeit very large dimension of the reprehensible content of today’s “entertainment”. I have never seen an ally of Dr, Hart’s on this site yet who is not a proponent of an utterly false and unbiblical construction of “liberty” whereby the death of the world is made right in their eyes. If you are that exception, I apologize and shouldn’t have allowed statistical probability to dictate my conclusions in stereotypical fashion. Though on this site that stereotype could be forgiven. Please bear with my, for now, continuing skepticism in your regard though. I’m not calling you a liar, I’ve just been through this too many times.

    Can we start over and talk about the axiomatic, epistemological certainty of YHWH? The God of WCF II?

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  220. I claimed expertise in one area Jeff. Where I have spent a lot of time and then recanted to avoid distraction. My “not in the same room” remark was intended to convey a terrible missing of the point, to which the context will testify. Not that I am in a room of brilliance all by myself as you attempt to say.

    The interaction here has been, in the main, shallow and juvenile. I stand by that. I also stand, in the main, upon the rest of what I said unless specific refutation is forthcoming.

    For the record Jeff, when I first came here 2 February’s ago, it was with a bit of trepidation. I figured I was wading in way over my head with all these letters and years floating around here. I did it anyway and my attempt to goad Dr. Hart into a debate doubled at first as a bluff. My observations have been honest and, in the main, I do believe accurate.

    The W-w on this site has taken the divine arsenal of Westminster Calvinism and loaded it with blanks.

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  221. Let’s discuss Van Til’s epistemology Jeff. You say you’d love to do that. So would I. I promise I am not cracking my knuckles and picking a fight. Let’s start over. You can go first.

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  222. OK, sure.

    My own perspective on van Til is far from expert, so I’m happy to hear from someone who has read more widely. I’ve read (and own) The Defense of the Faith about 10 yr ago, A Christian Theory of Knowledge about 20 yr ago, and more recently have read some in the Clark-van Til controversy.

    My filter for van Til is more Framian than Bahnsenian.

    I understand van Til’s important contribution to be the proposition that truth is true because God has so declared, rather than because it is true independent of God’s knowledge. That is, truth coincides with God’s thought by definition rather than by correspondence.

    That said, I would be interested as to how you are defining the term certainty, how that definition would play out in terms of exegesis, and how it might apply to van Til’s notion of paradox.

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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  223. This is a great comment Jeff, and great questions too 🙂

    I have some stuff to do for a little while, but wanted to acknowledge what is instantly one of the very best responses I’ve ever gotten on this site.

    For now, could you give me a concise (or not so concise as you see fit) statement of your understanding of Van Til’s paradox, so I don’t go off assuming in error? Thanks.
    ============================================================
    sdb, from the other thread, quotes me as asking:
    “Did not sdb tell me that his atheist workmates might be right and his religion may be all wrong? Do I need to dig that up and copy and paste?”
    And then responds with:
    Yep. I concede it is exceedingly unlikely I could be wrong.

    Am I to receive this as a statement of “probability” sdb? That’s simply a question.

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  224. I understand a van Tillian paradox to be a proposition that is contradictory wrt human knowledge. That is, it is a statement that appears to be contradictory because we lack the ability to understand its resolution.

    This stands in contrast to a Clarkian “so-called paradox”, in which there is an apparent contradiction because of a lack of sufficient propositions.

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  225. Greg,

    Darryl has a whole category at this blog devoted to Cornelius Van Til. Since you are bringing along your interlocutors from other threads to the one of your choosing, and they comply, why not read a CVT thread or two, like the latest ones, or even an old one. Or not, it’s up to you.

    The blog comment boxes can produce fruit, my opinion is that is rare. It seems you, Greg, or more working out your issues than SDB or Jeff are. For me, following along as long as I have, it begins to all look absurd, as Trueman says, the more serious the blogs try to be, the more absurd and pompous (hello-called to communion dot com) they become.

    All to say, check out in more broad terms the thought if DGH and his views in Van Tillianism rather than going after individual interlocutors here. Take or leave my advice, I for one dont engage in rabbit trails. Probably the best thing is wait for DGH to blog on CVT and resume the convo then. But instead comment on today’s post and see if you can support Darryl (TVD posted in record time in today’s post for example, we need your help Greg on the many fronts facing Reformed Protatnatism).

    I hope that helps. I dont want you to shoot your golf ball in the weeds, so its an irenic tone I carry, and one where I hope all benefit.

    Now, who is next?

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  226. Jeff says: I understand a van Tillian paradox to be a proposition that is contradictory wrt human knowledge. That is, it is a statement that appears to be contradictory because we lack the ability to understand its resolution.
    Pretty much. It is at bottom merely the recognition of the creature creator distinction in the arena of logic. God called light, matter, time and space into existence from nothing by fiat command. Even without sin, we are on every level entirely unequipped to grasp such mind numbing knowledge.

    God does not bother to explain this, nor does He promise additional propositions that will fill in some blanks for us. Blanks are not the issue. Capacity is the issue. He authoritatively declares it and commands belief by faith. (Hebrews 11) All of God’s incommunicable attributes present us with these types of problems.

    We can’t think for 5 seconds about the aseity or impassibility of God for instance without immediately bloodying our noses against what is TO US, utter unintelligibility. Predestination is proclaimed as a “high mystery.. to be handled with special prudence and care” in WCF III:VIII as another quick example.

    Even logic itself, signified by the simple equation of 1+1 equaling 2 defies explanation unless the mind of the triune God of the bible is first held as basic to any knowledge at all. We know THAT 1+1=2, but have no idea how or why.

    Where do you agree or disagree or need clarification so far?

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  227. My goal is to try to restrict conversations where I’m being addressed on an ongoing basis to a single thread where that topic has already been started, rather than hijacking new ones. I do understand this isn’t my site and Dr. Hart has lately been most exceedingly gracious in allowing me to be here With complete freedom.

    Darryl, if you haven’t already, please recognize I AM trying to be good here.

    For anybody who might care about the latest on the Erik and Greg show, he has, despite his direct clearance to say “whatever you want”, banned and blocked me. I knew at the time that his dropping of that leash, as well as his repeated attempts to sic me on you guys over here, did not extend to himself.

    The last several HERE will explain. He has taken his site offline and you can bet the farm, our conversations will not be there when he goes live again. My only regret is that I didn’t save more from his side of the dialog. I hasten to clarify that none of this angers me in the least. (it really doesn’t 🙂 ) I’m actually surprised it took as long as it did. God bless that boy. He’ll be alright. (Philippians 1:6)

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  228. Yes, I think agree on the general shape.

    Where from here? I think the next question is what “certainty” is all about, both for van Til and for yourself, if there is any difference there.

    * What is certainty?
    * Why is it important to you?
    * How do we achieve certainty?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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  229. Greg,

    Enough with your drama. I moderate comments and I take my site live and dark as I see fit. The internet is not all about you.

    Darryl should try moderating comments and get about 47 jokers out of his life.

    Anything Andrew or Greg says about me, take with a 26 oz. canister of Morton Salt.

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  230. Jeff says: “Yes, I think agree on the general shape.”
    Cool.

    Jeff says: “Where from here? I think the next question is what “certainty” is all about, both for van Til and for yourself, if there is any difference there.”
    Not where it really matters.

    Jeff asks:
    * What is certainty?”

    That is one great question Jeff. A directly epistemological one, the answer to which will unavoidably involve circular reasoning for us finite critters. True independent, internal, objective knowledge is possible for none but God alone. Our knowledge is spawned from, stands upon and is governed by His. Saints and sinners alike.

    For our purposes, we’ll go with the standard reformed definition of the “impossibility of the contrary”. That is certain, the falsity of which is impossible. Anything less, is “probability”. I insist, as did Van Til, that the Christian God, the God of WCF II IS, like truth itself, certainty itself.

    *Why is it important to you?”
    -Because the bible proclaims it of the LORD our God.
    -Because it’s surrender has resulted in all manner of other compromise in the once reformed world.
    -Because if the best I can offer the pagans is a different version of the same uncertainty they already think they live in, I am as hopeless as they are and they have no reason to listen to me.
    -Because we live in a reality of pragmatic certainty in practice, despite the elitist eggheads unwaveringly certain proclamations that unwaveringly certain proclamations are impossible. The God I worship is the explanation for this.

    * How do we achieve certainty?
    Certainty was designed into both us and the universe when God created them.(no, science has NOT shown this to be false) It’s not a goal to achieve. It is THE inescapable, already ever present reality, to be joyously embraced and celebrated by faith in God through Christ.

    Thanks,
    GtT

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  231. Nobody is saying anything ABOUT you Erik. As in a denigrating, derogatory fashion. And I speak only for myself. Not Andrew. I stand by everything I said. You gave me carte blanch as long as I was pointed at somebody else and banned me when I took YOU to task. AFTER all your waling about Darryl’s 3 comment rule and how oppressive it was. He never even actually banned me 😀

    This will the be the one and only time I address you about this on this site. I JUST mentioned how gracious Darryl has been to me. I am not gong to jeopardize that over this.

    We’ll see what’s missing when you go live again. People can make up their own minds what’s happening in all this. If you take me as being in any way hostile toward you, you are woefully and grievously wrong. if you wanna talk further, drop me an email and name a place. Not here. I am always happy to talk to you.

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  232. Dr. Marvin,

    PS

    Is link some reference to Bob Suden, who is a commenter here? I’m confused, I don’t watch youtube videos posted at Oldlife, because people can sometime put things in here that violate the 7th commandment. And I subscribe to the westminster confession, dontcha know?

    Grace and peace.

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  233. Greg, this is my fourth on this thread, as I see you have posted 4 (or 5?) here as well today. Just a freindly reminder.

    Hi Erik!

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  234. Greg,

    No one is “banned”. Say something that interests me and the comment goes through. Say something that doesn’t interest me and it doesn’t. I’m done giving people who can’t run a successful blog themselves an open forum. That’s not why I do it.

    You’ve proven yourself uninteresting on anything but one topic and I don’t need the same comment from you a hundred times on that one topic. If I want to blog on TV and movies and you don’t like it you can sit and spin.

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  235. Is this a Ryan Seacrest Production? I had half a thought last night about worldviewism, I forget the abbrev., and my half a thought was something along the lines of, what if God was exhibiting the supernatural through the ordinary means of the church to shame the wisdom of the world? IOW, rather than offering a universal he instead offered preaching and wine and crackers. That half a thought was rather pleasing to me and was leading me to other half-thoughts but then Spurs. Anyway, there’s something there, something akin to shaming the wisdom of the world and provoking claims of ‘foolishness’ and ‘babbling’. There’s something unGodly to reducing the gospel or the faith to philosophical systems. Oh wait, there was this, from the post, no less,

    A similar dynamic may very well be at work with neo-Calvinism. You need the Bible but you also need philosophy which provides the rudiments of w-w, which in turn yields the answers to life’s questions.

    Both Rome and neo-Calvinism give a living tradition that augments Scripture. Both also like philosophy — a lot.

    2kers should also take heart. The idea that the Bible doesn’t speak to all of life is like what we’re sayin’. We’re also saying, live with the uncertainty. To which the Romanists and Amsterdamists reply, “that’s not inspiring.”

    Though, there’s an outside chance my half a thought came the post, I’m gonna go ahead and take credit for it. I’m working on overcoming my co-dependency.

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  236. I’ll continue waiting for some informed substantive contribution from you Sean. What you equate with Romanism and call “neo-Calvinism” was Machen’s hand pick to teach in his school for over 40 years.

    The bible and the God who reveals Himself therein IS that W-w smart guy. You have not engaged a single syllable of what I’ve said on this to date. Why don’t you put your straw and spitballs away and say something meaningful for a change. Which part of your life is Jesus NOT Lord over? (Watch folks. We’ll get no answer to that at all)

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  237. I ain’t got nothing but luv for ya, Cue. Don’t hulk me or rep out on that trap bar, again. I get all nervous. I can’t think right. Love me. XOXO. Are you sure you don’t watch much TV? Maybe Saturday morning? Cartoons?

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  238. GT: For our purposes, we’ll go with the standard reformed definition of the “impossibility of the contrary”. That is certain, the falsity of which is impossible. Anything less, is “probability”.

    I’m slightly confused. This seems like a definition of “true” rather than of “certain.”

    “True”, of course, is a state of affairs. It is true, for example, that God exists. “Certain” is a state of our knowledge.

    Generally, we say that X is True if it is impossible for X to be false.

    I’m not trying to pettifog here, but just to make sure that we are agreed that truth and our knowledge of the truth are not one and the same concept.

    Assuming you are agreed, how would you distinguish “certain” from “true”?

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  239. No, that’s a great point Jeff. I almost went off on a long piece about objective and subjective certainty and how they relate to truth, but we’ll go with that. In fact it’s better.
    Truth = objective certainty, and certitude = subjective certainty, is the formulation I’ve used, but yours is simpler and says the same thing.

    It is key to a biblical epistemology that we recognize that ” truth and our knowledge of the truth are not one and the same concept.”. Quite so. Only for God is truth and the knowledge of it identical. As unfortunate as the word choice was due it’s existing connotations in secular philosophy, this is what Dr. Van Til meant by all human knowledge being “analogical”.

    Our knowledge is never original and uninterpreted. Every particle of knowledge and being owes its’ origin and continued existence to the sovereign God who alone owes His to none. Our knowledge is derived from and defined by His. This situation is now fractured by the presence of sin which adds rebellion to an already limiting finitude.

    We are in the truth insofar and as faithfully as we “think God’s thoughts after Him” as revealed in His written word.

    What do you think?

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  240. I’m better, thanks.

    OK, so which kinds of beliefs would you say that you have certainty about?

    Are you certain that 1+1 = 2? That God is three persons in one being? That James is canonical but 1 Esdras is not? That the ending of Mark is (or is not) canonical?

    Give me an idea of the scope of certainty.

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  241. Let’s go back to and start with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

    That is at once, a proclamation AND a command. A command to embrace a specific, narrow and exclusive accounting of the origin of all things.

    It is true (objectively certain) because it is the word of almighty God as WCF 1:IV and V quite rightly declare. The denial of it’s truth is an insolent indictment of God Himself and therefore sin.

    How subjectively certain it is to us is measured in direct proportion to our surrendered faithfulness to the Holy Spirit speaking therein and testifying with our spirits that we are the children of God. (Romans 8:16)

    To struggle with doubt over Gen. 1:1 and require constant attendance to the means of grace, public and private, seeking God for progressive victory over the old nature, and to eschew all that does not promote that end in us, simply IS the Romans 7 Christian life of war. (nothing to do with justifying us whatsoever btw) ALL of the actually elect live and fight this life of war while still in this flesh in this world. That’s one thing.

    To state outright, as a feature of one’s personal W-w that Gen. 1:1 MIGHT not be true and that God’s enemies MIGHT be correct in their unbelief is a full frontal assault on the character and veracity of the living God “who is truth itself”, the Author thereof, and hence the very essence of sin. It is by definition to reduce the objectively certain truth of the eternal God to a probability that is subject to our finite created AND sinful minds.

    As concerning so far Gen. 1:1 alone, are we still together here?

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  242. What is your assessment of this conversation as relates to this article Chris? I am saying here pretty much what Dr. Clark is saying there. In one of the comments he specifically rejects Clark’s tenet of the univocal nature of our knowledge with God’s. THAT is key and speaks volumes. I couldn’t agree more.

    I have laboriously and painstakingly sought to make inescapably clear that the certainty I preach IS God’s and my thinking His thoughts after Him in a derivative, finite, created and analogous fashion. Indeed Clark himself says the following:
    “The first aspect of the QIRC is that it is not satisfied with being a mere image-bearer, an ANALOGUE of God. It wants more.”(emphasis mine)
    That is some right smart Van Tillian language right there.

    I have argued from HISTORIC reformed orthodoxy to a fault, claiming literally NO novel or esoteric knowledge whatsoever, but incessantly pointing back to them and challenging our historian host par excellence to deny my claims.

    I may be totally misreading you and will be happy for it to be so. I ask then. What is your assessment of this conversation as relates to this article?

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  243. Greg,

    My assessment is that I agree with you and Jeff (it appears) the link to the article is helpful because I think the author is gifted to explain it in a way that you are not (and I am most certainly not).

    This one goes into a bit more detail and is even more helpful. If you haven’t read Dr. Clark’s Recovering The Reformed Confession, that is another book worth reading – I thought it was very helpful.

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  244. Ok, fair enough. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to conflict and took it as a correction. There is an eternity of difference (quite literally) between confessing doubt toward God and His word as sin, and embracing it as truth. Perverse irony of all ironies.

    Between Saying that I myself as a sinful man sinfully doubt God and saying that God Himself is doubtful and the pagans may be right.

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  245. And not for nothing, but the gramare gorrrila had a moment; “……..There are lots of folk who know longer accept these distinctions……” Maybbe parabales are a better way to communeicate?

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  246. A worldview is a system of thought consisting of theology, philosophy and ethics through which all of life is viewed. That’s my working definition.
    Muddy asks:”Greg, is w_w a necessary part of our sanctification?”
    Now there’s a good question MG.
    Like certainty, properly defined (see above), W-w IS the subjective state of our sentient intellectual and moral being. It is not something we take or leave and then define as we see fit if taken. To exist at all in the image of God as a conscious living moral agent IS to be, by created AND covenant definition, the holder of one of two worldviews depending on which covenant one is living in.

    The dead first Adam bequeaths to us his worldview of self exalted autonomous man. The last Adam births in us the worldview of grateful self surrender to the autonomous God. As a result OF, not the means TO our justification.

    My contention is that the vast majority of today’s Christians, even those who really should know better, think they can live the life of the last Adam while stubbornly clinging to the worldview of the first. Indeed the very denial that there IS a worldview IS itself clinging to the worldview of the first.

    Please guys, once and for all accept the fact that I bear no affinity whatsoever with Keller and the culture worshipers. We will really just communicate much better if you can do that. There is nothing esoteric or novel or unique to me in what I’m saying. My driving point since the first time I stuck my nose in here is that my views are the historic ones. YOURS are the new and novel.

    I say again. With all due respect and appreciation for our host. I have like 500 posts here now and he has never EVER once disputed one of my historical claims. Ever. Because he knows that in the main, where anything actually counts, I haven’t brought anything weird here. This is YOUR history. I’d like to see it back.

    I think I’m going to put together a presentation and name it “Are Oldlifers Liberal”.

    Come on Darryl 😀 Be a sport. I couldn’t help myself.

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  247. Greg, was the “I couldn’t help myself”, even with or even particularly with, the smiley emoticon, you stubbornly clinging to the w-w of the first Adam or more involuntary reflex of remaining corruption? I have other thoughts as well.

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  248. Sean, Greg to me is as cuddly as a teddy bear with issues pertaining to restraint. Just let him keep posting, and grab some popcorn (Hi Greg).

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Greg The Terrible
    Posted April 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Next.

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  249. Greg, what happens when real life clashes with worldview? Like, what do you do when people get away with their sin and good people get kicked in the teeth and neither situation is ever remedied? Happens all the time. Whither worldview then?

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  250. Zrim asks: “Greg, what happens when real life clashes with worldview?”
    Worldview IS real life Zrim. For every child of Adam that will ever exist. You are not understanding what I mean by “worldview”. I appreciate this comment and questions. I’m not insulting you. One’s W-w is comprehensive. It is not possible to form one single thought apart from it. If you stick with this conversation that will make sense as we go.

    Zrim asks: “Like, what do you do when people get away with their sin and good people get kicked in the teeth and neither situation is ever remedied? Happens all the time. Whither worldview then?”
    Honest Zrim. I’m not even blaming you, but like I said above. The definition of “worldview” you are bringing to this discussion is not what I mean at all. The situation you describe is simply temporal injustice awaiting the flawless justice of the Lord. There is nothing hidden that will not be brought in to His light.

    David (Psalm 37) AND Solomon (Proverbs 24:19) tell us not to fret over evildoers. Both tell us constantly (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes) that nobody’s gittin away with nuthin. The Lord most high sees and will bring all to account for every even hidden thought, deed and careless word.

    God and His self attesting scriptures are my worldview. All philosophy is is the quest for answers. God has those answers. (who else?) Including morality and ethics. Informed and governed by the bible there is nothing to fear from “philosophy”. The bible is full of it. Our God solves all the philosophical conundrums since the ancient Greeks. That’s a thing to rejoice in. Not flee from.

    Please tell me what have understood the word “worldview to mean. That’s an honest question.

    Chris I haven’t gotten to that 2nd article yet, sorry.

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  251. Absolutely magnificent 2nd ARTICLE Chris. Spot on! The archetypal/ectypal language is used by Oliphint too. While not the same kind of knowledge that God has, in that God has it originally and internally (archetypal), the revealed (ectypal ) knowledge He gives us is as true as He is because it’s from Him. It is therefore not possible for it to be UNtrue. Any uncertainty about that is OUR sin, not His shortcoming.

    To concede to the pagans that the god you worship might be “all wrong” is to propose a different deity altogether.

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  252. Sorry Sean. I just now figured out that you were actually asking a semi serious question with this:
    “Greg, was the “I couldn’t help myself”, even with or even particularly with, the smiley emoticon, you stubbornly clinging to the w-w of the first Adam or more involuntary reflex of remaining corruption? I have other thoughts as well.”
    On a previous page I said to you the following:
    ================================================================
    [There is]a foundational difference between epistemological knowledge and formal knowledge. At the formal level 1+1=2 for absolutely everybody. The form and formal function are identical because of the image of God present in all men, through which God’s common grace operates. At the epistemological level, the level of first principle and heart commitment, is where there exists an eternally radical antithesis. To those raised from rebellion and death in the first Adam to the life and mind of Christ in the last, 1+1=2 because of the ordered mind of the creator God whose image they bear and thoughts they think after him on a finite derivative scale.

    To the mind still dead in sin, 1+1=2 for literally any reason at all other than the truth found for us now only in Christ. They will believe absolutely ANYthing else, not because that’s what they actually believe epistemologically, but to escape from believing what I believe epistemologically. Epistemologically, they KNOW where that knowledge comes from according to the first of Romans.

    So you see Sean, the unbeliever’s campaign of rebellion against his God, is financed with capital that has been borrowed, indeed stolen, from God’s own bank. What you call “confusion” on Van Til’s part is actually the very brilliance of his approach to fallen man, missed by a shallow and dismissive reading on your part. The saints have at once, fully everything and nothing in common with sinners.
    ==================================================================
    Emoticons are in themselves morally indifferent and therefore in form, common to both covenants. Their sinfulness or no, depends upon their use. if used to mock a person’s appearance or intelligence for instance, then the sinful intent of the user has put them to sinful use. In this particular case, the laughing smiley was intended as a sort of yes, constructive lighthearted jab as I was turning the thesis Dr. Hart (with a great degree of legitimacy) wields against “evangelicals back at himself”. I am confident that he understood that. If he took it how I’d hoped, he may have even gotten a begrudging chuckle out of it.

    I said all that to answer your question by saying that this emoticon was used in a dialog wherein the glory of our Lord through the proclamation of His truth is my intention. I selfconciously brought this morally indifferent instrument of expression into both formal and epistemological service of the last Adam and hence the new covenant. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

    A W-w is something like a person’s spiritual, intellectual and moral operating system. To use a computer analogy. Everybody has one. To deny it is akin to claiming that the computer you will (hopefully) type your response on has no such overarching, all governing system of operation. BUT. There it is. Like it or not.

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  253. “Emoticons are in themselves morally indifferent and therefore in form, common to both covenants. Their sinfulness or no, depends upon their use…I said all that to answer your question by saying that this emoticon was used in a dialog wherein the glory of our Lord through the proclamation of His truth is my intention. I selfconciously brought this morally indifferent instrument of expression into both formal and epistemological service of the last Adam and hence the new covenant. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)”

    You’re killing me, Greg. Death by hundred comments – slow, cruel, and inexorable. I never thought it would end this way.

    Emoticons are a tool of the devil.

    “A W-w is something like a person’s spiritual, intellectual and moral operating system. To use a computer analogy. Everybody has one.”

    Wrongwrongwrong. Some people consciously reject “system” as a way of thinking. Lots of people have no clue what systematic thought or philosophy even is, and have all kinds of quasi-thoughts sometimes getting moldy and other times exploding in their brains. But you won’t ever see this because you presuppose presuppositionalism.

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  254. God and His self attesting scriptures are my worldview. All philosophy is is the quest for answers. God has those answers. (who else?) Including morality and ethics. Informed and governed by the bible there is nothing to fear from “philosophy”. The bible is full of it. Our God solves all the philosophical conundrums since the ancient Greeks. That’s a thing to rejoice in. Not flee from.

    Actually, Greg, he confounds philosophy with the cross. You want to enlist the Bible to play by the world’s philosophical games. You are the one wanting to make Christianity respectable and a worldview player. The cross doesn’t make philosophical sense. It is transcendent. Why do you settle for making friends with worldliness? Worldview is a function of being too tied to the things of this world, up to and including philosophy. Does Paul sound like a guy who affirms and rejoices in philosophy? How do you harmonize Paul with your crush on philosophy?

    Christ the Wisdom and Power of God 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.

    For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

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  255. Greg, grown men do not emoticate.

    Get with the times, and try posting on one of the more recent threads if you have something to share.

    I may have hit some in the weeds this morning, but you are only hurting your cause the more you post on this thread. There’s also a category at this blog devoted to “worldview” as there is one about CVT, and many other topics.

    Get reading, son. And catch up with the rest of us. Warrior children is today’s topic, now to comment on that thread.

    Grace and peace.

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  256. Paul had a specific culturally Greek usage of the word “philosophy” in mind in his denunciations Zrim. That’s pretty commonly known.

    I’m not givin up on you Muddy. The rejection of systematic thought IS the intellectual spirit of this age.

    I’m waiting for Jeff’s response.

    It would be great to get Dr. Clark’s contribution here. Maybe I’ll try.

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  257. Greg, oh, so that part of Scripture doesn’t apply to anyone outside that specific time and place (especially highfalutin epistemological expertologists like yourself). Maybe like Jefferson, we just cut that part out since it’s so irrelevant.

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  258. I have to say, since graduating college, I prefer my half-thoughts, even the moldy ones. The desire to resolve all tension seems more and more an immature, natural, understandable, but predeterminative predilection. So, when the scriptures elevate preaching and wine and crackers, and then purposely tells the window peepers, here’s your wisdom. That resonates. Now, some go too far and go magic on you but supernatural is not magic and accepting the limitations of creatureliness is neither uber-piety or lack of piety. It fits rather well with the Already-not yet tension, I see in part, know in part BUT then…………………… So, whose w-w or lack of one, agree most closely with the atmospheric and pointed assertions of scripture? Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

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  259. Hi Greg,

    The others are just jealous of your emoticons, and since there is no jealousy emoticon, they have to put their feelings into words.

    Just kidding.

    Seriously, I think you might be overselling worldview. Upon a time, I used to defend the concept of worldview as “the sum of our thoughts …”

    Then I realized after two specific instances of getting burned that evangelicals were using “worldview” as a way of bypassing “doctrine” and skipping straight to “moralism.”

    So now, I defend doctrine as the thing that we get from Scripture. I hope that makes sense.

    Greg: Let’s go back to and start with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”… It is true (objectively certain) because it is the word of almighty God as WCF 1:IV and V quite rightly declare. The denial of its truth is an insolent indictment of God Himself and therefore sin.

    I agree with all of this.

    Greg: That is at once, a proclamation AND a command. A command to embrace a specific, narrow and exclusive accounting of the origin of all things.

    This is more problematic. A quibble with the first sentence: there is, grammatically speaking, no command here. There are commands elsewhere (e.g., 2 Chron 20.20, in the context of trusting God’s word). But no command is stated here.

    So that’s just a quibble. We both agree that this should be believed.

    But now … how do quibbles relate to certainty? On the face of things, you literally said that you were certain that Gen 1.1 is “a proclamation AND a command” — and yet, it is possible that you are not *completely* correct.

    So what does that do to your certainty, if anything?

    To my mind, the quibble alerts us to a distinction drawn between God’s Word (which we agree is certainly true) and our understanding of God’s Word (which I would hope we agree is not).

    That distinction becomes even more important here: A command to embrace a specific, narrow and exclusive accounting of the origin of all things.

    What exactly is that specific, narrow, and exclusive accounting? I can see that this verse entails believing that God created all things in the beginning. What else can we be certain about from this verse?

    Zoom out a bit. What can we be certain about from Gen 1-2? Since the accounting is specific, it should be easy to specify, right?

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  260. @Jeff
    You wrote earlier, “Generally, we say that X is True if it is impossible for X to be false.”
    Is that right? I don’t know many philosophers who would say that. For example, I could say X is “I am wearing an orange shirt”. That statement could be true even if it is possible that I am in fact wearing a black shirt.

    One might say my statement is a contingent truth (it depends on which shirt I put on this morning), and your statement only applies to necessary truths. But then it seems that we have dramatically narrowed the scope of what we mean by True.

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  261. what we mean by True.

    kind of like what is real?

    Jeff, come on, no emoticons. By the way, I think you are the strongest interlocutor here at Oldlife, or in Darryl’s parlance, you have the most crowns.

    I’m curious, do you golf?

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  262. @ sdb: Not “necessarily true,” just “true.”

    So if I am in fact wearing an orange shirt, it is impossible that I am not wearing an orange shirt. I could have worn others, of course, so “I am wearing an orange shirt” is not necessarily true. It didn’t have to be, but it is so.

    @ AB: never, except for putt-putt. That was awkward with the in-laws for a while, but then the missus learned Bridge, so we’re good.

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  263. Greg, no crowns here, but at least I have that going for me.

    And just for you:

    😆

    you are welcome to peruse my pics from the golf course today. keep doing what you do, how you do it, i have posted my three for the day here, and greg still has some saved up. so if he keeps this up, hole in one for him, he wins. i bow out,

    ab

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  264. Jeff says: “using “worldview” as a way of bypassing “doctrine” and skipping straight to “moralism.”
    I promise you. You will not have this problem with me.

    Jeff says: “So now, I defend doctrine as the thing that we get from Scripture. I hope that makes sense.”
    I am about 95% convinced that we are, at the moment ,very close to each other in a semantic brush pile hacking our way toward one another. “Doctrine just means teaching”. Biblical philosophy is also doctrine. Maybe we need to more precisely define “doctrine”? And philosophy? How can there not be an explicitly and exclusively, not just theistic, but also Christian doctrine of knowledge?

    Jeff says: “This is more problematic. A quibble with the first sentence: there is [in Gen. 1:1], grammatically speaking, no command here.”
    Jeff, you just now agreed with me when I said this:
    ———————————————————————
    Let’s go back to and start with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”… It is true (objectively certain) because it is the word of almighty God as WCF 1:IV and V quite rightly declare. The denial of its truth is an insolent indictment of God Himself and therefore sin.”
    ———————————————————————-
    You agreed. How then I ask can there be sin where is no command? Grammatically speaking you are correct. There is no command. However, an indicative from the mind of God is by definition an imperative BECAUSE it is in fact the mind of God. Do you disagree?

    Jeff says: “To my mind, the quibble alerts us to a distinction drawn between God’s Word (which we agree is certainly true) and our understanding of God’s Word (which I would hope we agree is not).”
    Yes, I agree, but why would God reveal certain truth to us only to leave us unable to be certain of it ourselves? Staying for the moment with Genesis 1:1.
    Right now, my intent is to establish the to us utter certainty of at least one single proposition and or object of knowledge. If I get a concession that ANYthing at all can be certainly known, I will have established the foundation of my building and we can to move on. Unless of course you have more here, which I have all the time in the world for.

    Jeff asks: “What exactly is that specific, narrow, and exclusive accounting? I can see that this verse entails believing that God created all things in the beginning. What else can we be certain about from this verse?”
    We couldn’t be certain about anything else from this verse alone. If it were all we had. Considering from the rest of scripture which God is being declared, we are being commanded to believe that YHWH is responsible for the origin of the universe. What matters is not this verse in isolation. Feel free to interpret it in the light of the rest of scripture.

    It also doesn’t matter right now, how old the earth is, or the definition of the word “yom”, or whether the framework, day/age or six day view etc. is correct. It doesn’t EVEN matter at this point whether we believe that Adam and Eve were literal historical people brought into existence by direct divine creation from the dust of the earth (which I DO most assuredly believe). What matters is the incontrovertibly true nature of the assertion that the God of the bible has created the heavens and the earth. Is it possible for that not to be true? NOT is it possible for us to doubt it. That’s the question.

    Jeff says: “Zoom out a bit. What can we be certain about from Gen 1-2? Since the accounting is specific, it should be easy to specify, right?”
    See above. One thing at a time please.

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  265. Sean says: “…The desire to resolve all tension…”
    I stopped reading right there. You really don’t pay attention when people SPEAK do you Sean? You’re a capable guy. I’d be gratified by your actual participation.

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  266. Greg, I tend to be enamored with my own thoughts. I mean, I’m glad you have your own and all, but I don’t really care about them. Plus, you hurt my heart when you said I’ve contributed nothing substantively and now you say I don’t really pay attention. Wounded.

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  267. Greg, I’ll give you a half-straight(I mean, I’m all hetero) answer. I don’t enjoy conversations where the other side has an agenda and is leading the conversation to predictable ends. It’s a lot of work for a return I already aniticipated/have. I’m either really lazy or terribly efficient in my ways. And I have just enough self-esteem and pugnaciousness to not care what most others think of me. Until I do, and then I’m easily wounded.

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  268. Sean says: ” I don’t enjoy conversations where the other side has an agenda and is leading the conversation to predictable ends”
    All razzing aside. Seriously.
    If your contributions to this point are indicative? You have no idea where we’ve been. To say nothing of where we’re going. I hope you can believe that I don’t mean that sarcastically at all.

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  269. Greg: “Doctrine just means teaching”. Biblical philosophy is also doctrine. Maybe we need to more precisely define “doctrine”? And philosophy? How can there not be an explicitly and exclusively, not just theistic, but also Christian doctrine of knowledge?

    Let’s file that one away for later, but I agree that more precise definition is needed.

    JRC: Jeff says: “This is more problematic. A quibble with the first sentence: there is [in Gen. 1:1], grammatically speaking, no command here.”

    Greg: … How then I ask can there be sin where is no command? Grammatically speaking you are correct. There is no command. However, an indicative from the mind of God is by definition an imperative BECAUSE it is in fact the mind of God. Do you disagree?

    There is a command, just not right there in that verse. The command, ultimately, is to love God with our mind, finding expression in the 1st commandment to believe him and in the 9th commandment to appear and stand for the truth.

    Why does this matter? Well, aside from the need to distinguish indicative from imperative (the one preceding the other), and aside from the need to do careful and precise exegesis, there’s also the matter of understanding that not all of Scripture is imperative. When we read that Gideon laid a fleece before the Lord, we are not to understand that as an imperative for us.

    I’m sure you agree, and I don’t think you are trying to go there. I’m just pointing out that keeping indicative and imperative straight and distinct is a matter of good doctrine. Gen 1.1 is indicative, while Ex 20 provides the imperative to believe it.

    Does that make sense?

    But I recognize that this is somewhat of a side point, in that your larger aim is to establish that Gen 1.1 can be known with certainty. So…

    Greg: Considering from the rest of scripture which God is being declared, we are being commanded to believe that YHWH is responsible for the origin of the universe.

    Yes.

    Greg: What matters is the incontrovertibly true nature of the assertion that the God of the bible has created the heavens and the earth. Is it possible for that not to be true?

    Given that I believe the Bible to be the word of God and infallible — no. That is an axiom of the system.

    Is there a possibility, however remote, that any one of the following could have happened?

    * Gen 1.1 in the original manuscript said something different.
    * Gen 1.1 has been tragically mistranslated all of these years.
    * Genesis was mistakenly included in the canon.
    * That my belief that the Bible is the Word of God is mistaken.

    Note: I don’t believe that any of those things has a serious chance of being true. I’m laughing at them as I type them.

    I’m just asking: Is the chance of any of those things happening mathematically 0 or just really, really small? Is it *impossible* for any of them to be true, like making an imaginary real number?

    Put this another way: When Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, was he taking no risk at all?

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  270. Jeff, I blogged on my thoughts regarding emoticons, just in case 😉

    As for this:

    Is there a possibility, however remote, that any one of the following could have happened?

    * Gen 1.1 in the original manuscript said something different.
    * Gen 1.1 has been tragically mistranslated all of these years.
    * Genesis was mistakenly included in the canon.
    * That my belief that the Bible is the Word of God is mistaken.

    Note: I don’t believe that any of those things has a serious chance of being true. I’m laughing at them as I type them.

    I’m just asking: Is the chance of any of those things happening mathematically 0 or just really, really small? Is it *impossible* for any of them to be true, like making an imaginary real number?

    Put this another way: When Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, was he taking no risk at all?

    That’s a good run down. Here’s another monkey wrench. Just like lawyers, WORDS are the stuff of theologians. They are a human construct. Yes, God condescends and uses human language to communicate with us his children. But the use of language and words in the end breaks down, for after all, God is not bound by human constructs. What is going on in the heavenly realms and how we relate to is really does end up having these discussions end where they usually do, in the sunday school classes that just have rabbit trail after rabbit trail:

    “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
    (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

    That and Romans 1, the list could go on and on.

    Thanks for interacting with Greg here, I still think you are the one guy who talks people from down off the ledge here at Oldlife, from David R, to Kenneth, and now to Greg. You’re awesome, I would enjoy golfing with you, if not your thing, maybe we can go canoeing on a lake, or bowl 10 frames. You rock.

    Grace and peace.

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  271. @ AB: I’d be willing to embarrass myself over 9 holes with you. You get to pick up the windshield tab.

    @ CT: Love the QIRC article. That’s one of Clark’s best Big Ideas.

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  272. Jeff, anyone who says they are good at golf is either lying or professional.

    When someone says they’ll golf with me, they’ve risen to the top of my list of favorite people, fwiw.

    Have a wonderful Lord’s Day with your family. We’ll get greg and Erik to round out our foresome, and all these internet issues will look so silly.

    Kind of like in heaven, we’ll rememeber so little of the tears down here, I need to stop..

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  273. PS Jeff, I know you are a math teacher.

    Everything I learned I learned from my math teacher.

    First in 1996 Freshman geometry Then in 1999-2000 with Philosophy and Calculus. Then 2009 until the present (the man still e-mails me). I always know he is thinking about me and some Paul Tillich quote, and then the e-mail pops up.

    You math teachers a special breed. Props.

    Who’s next 🙂

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  274. To be clear, I am not taking an adversarial posture with Jeff. If it seems that way then I will adjust my speech because that’s not how I’ve hoped to be taken since I suggested we reboot our conversation. I am very much enjoying this conversation with you Jeff.

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  275. Jeff asks 7 comments above: “I’m just asking: Is the chance of any of those things happening mathematically 0 or just really, really small?”
    Any answer except absolute zero IS agnosticism. We are right then in the unbelieving realm of uncertain probability. A God whose existence is only probably true, no matter how high that probability may be, is an imaginary idolatrous figment of self exalting autonomous man’s imagination.

    Jeff, I can’t but be honest. Dr. Van Til would have flunked you. Please hear a soft matter of fact tone in my voice when I say that. You’re a nice man and I like you, but you have now shown yourself to be no different than sdb or Sean as far your position on the topic of this discussion is concerned. I’d really like to believe you haven’t thought this through well enough. What you’re saying would have been unknown in Machen’s seminary. I just bet Darryl knows that too.

    I’m gonna go see if I can get Dr. Clark in on this in the next couple days. Out of curiosity. This is deadly serious having nothing to do with me. All the rest of the stuff you guys talk about around here is meaningless if you’re worshiping an uncertain God of skepticism and probability. Again. The tragically inconsistent papists make a stronger claim to truth.

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  276. Greg, but this isn’t seminary, and Jeff is having a conversation.

    Look at those four asterisks again. You are not treating Jeff with the kind of grace he is treating you here.

    I’m with Jeff, and not just because we are both NAPARC officers. You can count me as one of CVTs flunk outs as well. The asnwer most certainly is in RSC’s article, he need not come here again and explain what he already did 6 years ago so clearly and correctly. We should all read it again before we post another comment.

    Here it is at my blog.

    We should keep the convo here, but my comment boxes are open as well to anyone who wants to.

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  277. I have sent the following to Dr. Clark
    ==============================

    Hello Dr. Clark.

    You don’t know me, but I’d like if spossible to get your view on a discussion happening right now on Darryl Hart’s blog. I think you will find it interesting. If you are so inclined, please follow the dialog between Jeff Cagle and I starting with this comment.

    https://oldlife.org/2015/04/the-bible-cant-speak-to-all-of-life/comment-page-6/#comment-316401

    The dispute will become clear as you read. You are of course not the 4th person of the Godhead, you do however seem to understand Dr. Van Til’s thought and hence I believe you fall on his side. From what I’ve read here.

    Hart’s crew and Darryl himself greatly respect you as well. Your attention and contribution would be highly valued I think. Not being pushy at all sir. I’m simply asking.
    Thanks,
    In Christ,
    Greg – Detroit

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  278. @ Greg: I don’t take it personally.

    I am surprised that you believe that there is mathematically zero chance that the original manuscript of Genesis is different from the Biblia Hebraica, and that there is mathematically zero chance that it has been mistranslated, and that you take such to be a matter of faith, such that another position is agnosticism.

    Can you explain more? The Confession, for example, takes the Hebrew text to be authoritative, but does not give the same authority to translations in other languages (WCF 1.8). And inerrancy is generally understood to refer to the original manuscripts, not to reconstructed texts such as we have.

    As far as that being unknown in van Til’s seminary — well, here is Machen, who taught at both of van Til’s seminaries:

    In the first place, then, let it be said that we believers in the plenary inspiration of the Bible do not hold that the Authorized Version or any other form of the English Bible is inspired. I beg your pardon for saying anything so obvious as that, but, do you know, my friends, it is necessary to say it. There are scarcely any limits to the ignorance which is attributed to us today by people who have never given themselves the trouble to discover what our view really is. Let it be said then very plainly that we do not hold that the Authorized Version or any other form of the English Bible is inspired. We are really quite well aware of the fact that the Bible was written in Hebrew and in Greek. The Authorized Version is a translation from the Hebrew and the Greek. It is a marvelously good translation, but it is not a perfect translation. There are errors in it. The translators were not supernaturally preserved from making mistakes. It is not inspired.

    In the second place, we do not hold that any one of the hundreds, even thousands, of the Greek and the Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible is free from error. Before the invention of printing the Bible was handed down from generation to generation by means of copies made by hand. These copies were written out laboriously by scribes. Before one copy was worn out or lost another copy would be made to take its place, and so the Bible was handed down. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps — no one knows how many — of such copies or “manuscripts” were made. Several thousand of them, some of these containing of course only parts of the Bible or only parts of either Testament, are now in existence. These are just remnants from among the vast number that are lost. Now we believers in the inspiration of the Bible do not believe that the scribe who made any one of these manuscripts that we have was inspired. Every one of the manuscripts contains errors; no one of them is perfect. What we do believe is that the writers of the Biblical books, as distinguished from scribes who later copied the books, were inspired. Only the autographs of the Biblical books, in other words — the books as they came from the pen of the sacred writers, and not any one of the copies of those autographs which we now possess — were produced with the supernatural impulsion and guidance of the Holy Spirit which we call inspiration.

    — JG Machen, “Is the Bible the Word of God?”

    So it would appear that Machen would allow a non-zero chance that our current text of Genesis 1.1 could be not in the original, or that the English translations of it might not be accurate.

    AND YET

    He did not waver in unbelief.

    So what say you? Do you disagree with Machen, or does Machen’s position cause you to reconsider? Was Machen an agnostic?

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  279. Greg, the transmission and criticism questions are raised precisely due to the nature of the four asterisks that Jeff carefully articulated. I think these issues need to be parsed a lot more closely and carefully, but I perceive what Jeff is doing and from what I can tell, he’s very cleverly charting a path and I don’t see any of what he is doing as being problematic. I do agree it’s best you get some sleep, your work in your church is more important than these silly blogs. Do take care, there’s always another day when it comes to theology discussions. You ought to attend your local OPC and especially their adult sunday school, these conversations and those in sunday school for adults mirror each other, i can picture the kind of person you are because i have sat through hundreds of sunday schools in the OPC, I digrees…goodnight, man.

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  280. Greg, though I be not very perceptive or attentive, in your estimation, I’ve understood that you don’t regard yourself likewise. Pacquiao also thought he’d won the fight last night, and he wasn’t being sarcastic either.

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  281. Jeff, where does Machen say:
    * Gen 1.1 in the original manuscript might have said something different.
    * Gen 1.1 might been tragically mistranslated all of these years. (preposterous)
    * Genesis was maybe mistakenly included in the canon. (this is WAY out there for different reasons)
    * That the bible might not be the word of God

    I am no scholar of textual criticism, but I have taken the time over the years to do a bit of study in that area. More New Testament than old, but some old as well. As far as I’ve ever been aware, there are no significant variants in the easily translated first verse of the bible. NONE of what is in the first three entries in that Machen quote has anything to do with epistemology. Textual variants and canonicty have no bearing whatsoever on the truth or no of Gen. 1:1 for anyone that should be taken seriously by anybody who takes Machen seriously .

    The only item on your list that really matters to this dialog Jeff, is the last one. We are talking past each other brother. You are trying to frame the living room while I am still working on the foundation. Seriously. I promise you I am not being difficult for the sake of it. Until we know HOW we know anything at all, any discussion of WHAT we know, is meaningless.

    Epistemology seeks to answer that question. “HOW do we know?” Not how do we know this or that, but by what standard of truth is ANYthing known to us at all.

    WCF I and II give the Christian theistic answer. The Christian scriptures and the God who reveals Himself therein, are not subject to our insolent investigation. They are themselves the standard by which ANY and ALL true knowledge is measured and therefore made available to us. (think Calvin’s famous scripture/spectacles statement before we go off down that trail) Any particle of alleged knowledge found to be in opposition to them is ipso facto a lie.

    Let me ask it this way then. Is it possible that the scriptures are not the word of God? If you answer yes, then please produce a Machen quote saying that the Christian religion could possibly be untrue and not just the liberals, whom he so steadfastly opposed, but indeed the rank ATHEISTS may be right after all as well. If you answer no then we have the same foundation.

    Ya know, Dr. Hart you could help us over this hump if you just chimed in for 10 seconds and said, “well… Greg’s actually right here. Machen knew nothing of a possibly untrue bible or Christian God.”. You WOULD survive it. I promise.

    Van Til dealt with this routinely, but despite being Machen’s guy, nobody here seems to really care what he taught.

    Do you guys really not understand the mortal difference between a certainly true God and a possibly false one? It’s almost impossible for me to even type that.

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  282. Greg,

    Is it possible that the scriptures are not the word of God?

    You brought up WCF chapter I, come on, the answer is there. Jeff and I and Darryl subscribe to the confession (I think sean does too, I believe he’s a deacon, Zrim is a deacon in the CRC, or was, not sure how that works, their subscription I mean).

    Karl Barth did not believe the Bible is the word of God, he said Christ is the word of God, and that the Bible contains the word of God. I was taught in high school philosophy class (the same guy who taught me geometry in 1996 and calculus during my freshman year) that the bible is not the word of God (he was and is a mainline episcopal, we still keep in contact, he’s a very active episcopalian here on the west coast). His guy is Paul Tillich.

    These discussions always take me back to high school class. Of course the Bible is the Word of God. Not everyone agrees. Here, have some Machen:

    The creedal character of the churches is differently expressed in the different evangelical bodies, but the example of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America may perhaps serve to illustrate what is meant. It is required of all officers in the Presbyterian Church, including the ministers, that at their ordination they make answer “plainly” to a series of questions which begins with the two following:

    “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?”

    “Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?”

    If these “constitutional questions” do not fix clearly the creedal basis of the Presbyterian Church, it is difficult to see how any human language could possibly do so. Yet immediately after making such a solemn declaration, immediately after declaring that the Westminster Confession contains the system of doctrine taught in infallible Scriptures, many ministers of the Presbyterian Church will proceed to decry that same Confession and that doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture to which they have just solemnly subscribed!

    We are not now speaking of the membership of the Church, but of the ministry, and we are not speaking of the man who is troubled by grave doubts and wonders whether with his doubts he can honestly continue his membership in the Church. For great hosts of such troubled souls the Church offers bountifully its fellowship and its aid; it would be a crime to cast them out. There are many men of little faith in our troublous times. It is not of them that we speak. God grant that they may obtain comfort and help through the ministrations of the Church!

    But we are speaking of men very different from these men of little faith–from these men who are troubled by doubts and are seeking earnestly for the truth. The men whom we mean are seeking not membership in the Church, but a place in the ministry, and they desire not to learn but to teach. They are not men who say, “I believe, help mine unbelief,” but men who are proud in the possession of the knowledge of this world, and seek a place in the ministry that they may teach what is directly contrary to the Confession of Faith to which they subscribe. For that course of action various excuses are made–the growth of custom by which the constitutional questions are supposed to have become a dead letter, various mental reservations, various “interpretations” of the declaration ( which of course mean a complete reversal of the meaning). But no such excuses can change the essential fact. Whether it be desirable or not, the ordination declaration is part of the constitution of the Church. If a man can stand on that platform he may be an officer in the Presbyterian Church; if he cannot stand on it he has no right to be an officer in the Presbyterian Church. And the case is no doubt essentially similar in other evangelical Churches. Whether we like it or not, these Churches are founded upon a creed; they are organized for the propagation of a message. If a man desires to combat that message instead of propagating it, he has no right, no matter how false the message may be, to gain a vantage ground for combating it by making a declaration of his faith which–be it plainly spoken–is not true.
    http://adbuckingham.com/j-gresham-machen-on-the-credal-character-of-the-presbyterian-church/

    the question of the Bible being the Word of God is also answered in the membership vow for orthodox presbyterians. I won’t copy it here, but all 30k members or so of us confess the Bible is the Word of God. What more do you need than what I have given you here?

    Grace and peace.

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  283. Greg: I hope you had a good Lord’s Day.

    I agree that we’re trying to clear some weeds here. I had this really long response, then I realized that it could be greatly simplified.

    Would you say that

    Gen 1.1 is certainly a part of the Bible because

    (1) The opposite belief would violate a law of logic, or
    (2) The opposite belief would contradict all known evidence

    ?

    I hold (2).

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  284. Jeff, I do very much continue to appreciate your thoughtful company. (I’m not being rude or dismissive to Andrew btw. He knows why I’m not answering him here.( Also I think Akismet is tagging my domain name. Hence no links for now. Long story for non techies)

    Jeff asks: Would you say that

    Gen 1.1 is certainly a part of the Bible because

    (1) The opposite belief would violate a law of logic, or
    (2) The opposite belief would contradict all known evidence

    ?

    (3) The opposite would render logic unintelligible and with it the very notion of “evidence”.

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  285. @ Greg: Posts with more than one link get sent to spam purgatory until freed by an admin. At least, that’s the conclusion of my experiments here.

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  286. Jeff asks: “Are you claiming (3) for Gen 1.1 in particular, or for every verse of the Bible?”
    Chapter and verse divisions didn’t begin until 1200 years after John died. What matters for my present purposes is that the God of the bible in fact exist. No book or passage of scripture establishing the existence or essential ontological nature of this God is even slightly in question for anyone who should be taken seriously by anybody who takes Machen seriously. Gen. 1:1 is THE seminal declaration from which is spawned the absolute whole of the reality we live in. That’s why I go there first.

    @ Greg: Posts with more than one link get sent to spam purgatory until freed by an admin. At least, that’s the conclusion of my experiments here.
    Thanks. I did actually know that though. No links at all accept in the web address field. The bottom one where you identify yourself above a comment. What it is that every so often Akismet remembers that my domain name resolves to a residential IP address because the server my so called blog (and all the rest of my stuff) is hosted on is across the room from me right now. It automatically zaps residential addresses no matter where the domain name is found in the comment. Unless told not to. A very helpful Akismet support guy got me going again last time this happened. I appreciate it though. A minor drawback of hosting all your own content.

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  287. @ Greg:

    As often happens in internet discussions, the shape of the argument seems to be in flux. The argument I thought we were pursuing was

    Let’s go back to and start with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

    That is at once, a proclamation AND a command. A command to embrace a specific, narrow and exclusive accounting of the origin of all things.

    It is true (objectively certain) because it is the word of almighty God as WCF 1:IV and V quite rightly declare. — Greg, Apr 30.

    This was the argument I laid out above.

    But now the shape of the argument seems to be (and here, I’m less clear),

    No book or passage of scripture establishing the existence or essential ontological nature of this God is even slightly in question … The opposite would render logic unintelligible and with it the very notion of “evidence”.

    In the first argument, we believe that God created all things because His word says so. The word of God is the ground of belief.

    In the second, we believe that Genesis 1.1 is God’s word because its opposite would render logic and evidence unintelligible. That is: Intelligibility is the ground of belief, which is the usual TAG.

    So which of these, or something else, is the argument you are trying to establish? Do we believe that God is the Creator because He has told us so? Or do we believe that God is the Creator because it is logically necessary for it to be so?

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  288. Jeff says: “In the first argument, we believe that God created all things because His word says so. The word of God is the ground of belief.”
    Yes. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God WCF 1:IV
    What could be more self explanatory? The scriptures are SELF (divinely) attested and to be received BECAUSE they are the word of God. Therefore receiving them as such, IS to receive God Himself.

    Jeff says: “In the second, we believe that Genesis 1.1 is God’s word because its opposite would render logic and evidence unintelligible. That is: Intelligibility is the ground of belief, which is the usual TAG.”
    Yes. The God who reveals Himself in the aforementioned self (divinely) attested scriptures, being the source and definition of all things, is Himself the ground of logic and knowledge. Therefore, logic and knowledge are not possible without assuming Him first. The attempted operation of logic and commensurate acquisition of knowledge independently of Him (an impossibility) IS the very essence of sin. Is this not what the serpent offered our first parents? You can sum up his entire temptation in the 3 words: “think for yourself”.

    Jeff says: “So which of these, or something else, is the argument you are trying to establish? Do we believe that God is the Creator because He has told us so? Or do we believe that God is the Creator because it is logically necessary for it to be so?”
    They are the same argument viewed from different angles. The scriptures ARE the explicitly revealed mind of the eternal omniscient God. The eternal omniscient God who therein tells us that He is the creator and sustainer of all things, has, in designing us as finite replicas of Himself, seen to it that we are unable to form a single particle of intelligible thought without immediately testifying to His glory. Without Him we truly can do nothing. Including think.

    Sinners spend every moment and calorie of their lives suppressing that truth in their unrighteousness. They do not cease today from appealing to the imaginary uncertainty of all things as an escape from the certainty of their Creator. The saints worship and proclaim this God as the true and certain ground of all thought and being that He is. The living word in their heart testifying to the written word in their hands. (WCF I:V)

    Well, they’re supposed to anyway, but have lately joined the pagans in declaring the uncertainty of all things and thereby conceding victory to the enemies of their King. A possibly nonexistent god is a certainly false one. An idol of unbelieving skepticism created in the image of autonomous man.

    Dr. Van Til spent his entire ministry fighting this uncertainty.

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  289. Well, you did warn me that there would be circularity. 🙂

    Side note: My emoticons feel no shame or jealousy.

    I feel the pull of your appeal to God’s rationality as the basis for our own. And yet, I wonder why Scripture *does* spend a lot of time on Thus Saith the Lord, yet *does not* spend time on And Here’s Why God is the Foundation for All Possible Reason. Likewise the Confession.

    It seems to me that the structure of Biblical and Confessional thought is to ground truth in Scripture, not in logically necessary epistemology.

    That’s a concern, not a well-formed critique.

    Further, I’m a little baffled by your argument re: Gen 1.1.

    You seem to be arguing,

    (1) God is the ground of rationality
    (2) Gen 1.1 affirms that God is the creator of all
    (3) Therefore, Gen 1.1 must be in the Bible and correctly translated.

    The move from (2) to (3) is not valid reasoning. The Apostle’s Creed affirms that God is the creator of all, and yet is not in Scripture.

    Can you clarify your argument?

    (I’m stalling for time or playing for clarity in a sense, because I don’t understand the structure of your thought. I didn’t observe van Til reasoning in such tight little circles when I read him)

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  290. Jeff says: “Well, you did warn me that there would be circularity. 🙂 “
    Unless you are a self existent, eternally omniscient, non-contingent being, and there’s only one of those, that’s how it is.

    Clark’s guys (Gordon), have an apocalyptic seizure when you talk this way. Trust me. I have the scars to prove it.

    I have 2 close folks in the hospital and other stuff going on. Gym right now. I’ll do my best to have more later. Wear those emoticons with pride brother! 😀

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  291. Greg, emoticons are for PCA blogs.

    I have 2 close folks in the hospital and other stuff going on.

    Much more important than these blog comments etc. Take care, comments always open at Oldlife, never forget.

    Grace and peace.

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  292. Offline life continues to be very demanding. We’re jist gittin good here Jeff. I’ll have a proper response as soon as I can.

    Oh yeah, the Akismet guy says it’s not that. I can’t include any reference to my domain name on this site. The comment vaporizes. Darryl, I would be ever so grateful if you could check your settings to see if your individual blog has zapped my domain name and or public ip address ( 97.69.174.54 ). I’m sure you didn’t do it intentionally as you’d have no cause. I have linked nothing bad from my server. I don’t expect priority treatment on this as at all. Just if you get a chance. Thanks

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  293. FWIW – I reached a point that I couldn’t post under a certain e-mail address. It still worked under a different one. It looks like some kind of spam filter or other filter is at work, maybe without Darryl even realizing it.

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  294. I appreciate the thoughtfulness Erik, but I can post with any email address as long as I leave the bottom field blank and write no links to my domain name in the body of the comment.

    I have been in hospitals and rehab centers all day. Too tired to think anymore tonight Jeff. I do believe real righteousness is done online if the medium is utilized properly. It’s ain’t church, but it IS fellowship. And fellowship is an instrument of God.

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  295. Jeff says: “Well, you did warn me that there would be circularity.” 🙂
    Unless you are a self existent, eternally omniscient, non-contingent being, and there’s only one of those, that’s how it is. All merely human reason is eventually (epistemologically) circular. Left to ourselves, even the most rudimentary maths and logic, such as 1+1=2, is left in ultimate inexplicability if our own finite reason is all we have. Unless you dispute that, I won’t elaborate further right now.

    Praise God, our own finite reason is NOT all that Christians have though. We are new creatures in Christ and have been given HIS mind by faith. We are now empowered to take every though captive to that mind instead of being enslaved to the uncertain finitude of our own. For us, truth and certainty are grounded in the alone true and living God who IS truth and hence certainty itself.

    Jeff says: “Side note: My emoticons feel no shame or jealousy.”
    For me, emoticons are a helpful tool. They can color a phrase to more accurately portray the attitude driving it. That’s all. We cannot see each other’s faces nor hear each other’s voices. Usually I use them to indicate the non angry nature of something I’m saying. For instance, take a simple question:

    “Are you serious?”

    This may mean: “You really are a brain dead moron ain’t ya”.

    Add a winking smiley and that same phrase becomes “of course I agree, but these people watching here are not gonna get it”.

    That’s one example. The use of caps is meant to simulate spoken emphasis in the same manner. It’s meant for the reader to “hear” the phrase with the capitalized words as being accented and emphasized as if we were speaking. This is also why I love speaking to folks on the phone or Skyping is even better. Andrew and I have done both. You’ll notice some difference in the way he interacts with me lately. We have seen one other’s faces and heard one anther’s voices in conversation. Now when he reads me on this screen, he has a much better idea of where I’m coming from. It works the other way for me too.

    Jeff says: “I feel the pull of your appeal to God’s rationality as the basis for our own. And yet, I wonder why Scripture *does* spend a lot of time on Thus Saith the Lord, yet *does not* spend time on And Here’s Why God is the Foundation for All Possible Reason. Likewise the Confession.
    Before I answer, let me ask this. I feel entitled because you have answered several of my questions with questions, that I have then happily answered. I’ll even use your style 🙂 Which of the following do you hold to be the truth?

    (1) The God of the bible (WCF I, II, III, IV and V) is the foundation for everything, including all possible reason. (Calvinism)
    (2) There is some other foundation for all possible reason that both God and man are subject to. (agnosticism)
    (3) God is the foundation of His own reason, but there is some other foundation for man. (Arminianism)
    (4) God is the foundation for His own reason, but there is no foundation for man. (what Sean and sdb are saying if forced into consistency though they will vehemently deny that.)
    (5) There is no foundation for reason. (atheism)

    If your answer is anything but (1), I’ll answer your question and the inevitable clarification of it that will come after you read this comment.

    Jeff says: “It seems to me that the structure of Biblical and Confessional thought is to ground truth in Scripture, not in logically necessary epistemology.”
    They’re the same thing Jeff. The written mind of almighty God, along with almighty God Himself, whose mind that written word is, ARE together the divinely logical necessary epistemology. The label “epistemology” is nothing more than a convenient already extant term used to describe the arena of first principles. Our God IS that first principle. Would you propose a different first principle? (hence my list above)

    Jeff says: “That’s a concern, not a well-formed critique.”
    Fair enough, and that’s a very judicious way to state it. I respect that.

    Jeff says:
    “Further, I’m a little baffled by your argument re: Gen 1.1.
    You seem to be arguing,
    (1) God is the ground of rationality
    (2) Gen 1.1 affirms that God is the creator of all
    (3) Therefore, Gen 1.1 must be in the Bible and correctly translated.
    The move from (2) to (3) is not valid reasoning. The Apostle’s Creed affirms that God is the creator of all, and yet is not in Scripture.
    Can you clarify your argument?

    Non circular logic cannot exist in the arena of epistemology, save only for God Himself. The only “self existent, eternally omniscient, non-contingent being”

    (1) The scriptures ARE the written Word of the God they reveal (who IS truth itself) as per WCF I:IV.
    (2) Those scriptures declare in their very first simple sentence that this God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth.
    (3) Therefore, like God Himself, this statement is truth itself, the denial of which is sinful rebellion.

    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
    Not seen means blind. Ohhhhh we don’t like that do we? That whole 11th chapter, the famed “Hall of Faith” is about people who with nothing but the promise of God believed on His word alone with no other proof or evidence. Yes, when viewed through the eyes of the first Adam this IS blind faith.

    NOT to be mistaken for Kant’s divide or Hegel’s (or Barth’s) dialecticism. (That is another whole path altogether.) Blessed be the name of the Lord our God, we are not still dead and blind in the first Adam, but, once again, have been raised to new life and been given the mind of the last. Therefore what is blind faith to the first Adam is sweet glorious truth and certainty to the last.

    Jeff says:
    “(I’m stalling for time or playing for clarity in a sense, because I don’t understand the structure of your thought. I didn’t observe van Til reasoning in such tight little circles when I read him)

    Van Til constantly said that to “prove” the God of the bible would immediately be to “DISprove” Him. Whatever fits between the ears of men ain’t the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Do you realize that this entire dialog is happening because I can’t get Calvinists to say that God certainly created the heavens and the earth? To look Christ hating pagans in the eye and tell them that they are certainly wrong and that they do sin against their creator by their arrogant insolent unbelief? Do you realize that? Do you further realize that this could not possibly have happened until quite recently?

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  296. @ Greg: Do you realize that this entire dialog is happening because I can’t get Calvinists to say that God certainly created the heavens and the earth?

    Not quite. Rather, you can’t get this Calvinist to say that your particular version of “certainly” is what most Calvinists have meant by “certainly.”

    More later.

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  297. And there still remains the possibility of some semantic haze that is keeping us from seeing that we might be saying essentially the same thing. I will await your response. Whenever you have time.

    Words have power. God’s word has HIS power. The internet is the most awesome platform for proclaiming God’s word that has ever been known. It cannot replace the assembly of the saints, where the word, sacraments and discipleship take place. It also dos not replace face to face evangelism, but anybody who thinks God’s work is not done online is deluding themselves. I pray that every stroke of this keyboard be in subjection to the Word and the Spirit, be pleasing in His sight and accomplish all that it is sent forth to do. Which is completely up to God. Not me.

    This is not pointed at you btw Jeff. I’m just speaking generally.

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  298. Greg: Praise God, our own finite reason is NOT all that Christians have though. We are new creatures in Christ and have been given HIS mind by faith. We are now empowered to take every though captive to that mind instead of being enslaved to the uncertain finitude of our own.

    Are you saying that “the mind of Christ” refers to enhanced mental capacity such that we have a new capacity for absolute certainty?

    Greg: Which of the following do you hold to be the truth?

    (1) The God of the bible (WCF I, II, III, IV and V) is the foundation for everything, including all possible reason….

    (1) is closest to my view. I would say that God’s nature is reflected in creation, such that rational thought is not merely a game, but reflects reality. It is an analogue of God’s reasoning.

    I do not believe that humans are capable of perfectly checking their own reasoning, such that they can have absolute certainty in the results of their own (or anyone else’s) reasoning. At any point, it is possible to make an error in logic. Or put another way, I do not hold that logic is infallible, not because it is of itself errant, but because humans (nor machines) are capable of using logic infallibly.

    A humorous example. Does 1+1 always equal 2? (Leaving aside picayune issues like base 2 notation or the field F2 or elliptic curves). You might think that arithmetic would be the most obvious and easily checkable place for human reasoning to be capable of infallible certainty.

    And yet this. Even computing machines, theoretically manufactured so as to have provably correct arithmetic, are capable of computation errors.

    The bottom line is that we don’t know what we don’t know. The reasoning error that causes us to lose the chess game is the error we don’t see.

    Even accepting that the God who created all is the source of rational thought (and I do), I cannot point to any piece of my own reasoning and say, “This is infallible, incapable of being errant.”

    Would you agree?

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  299. Watching the dialogue with interest. For Turretin on the question of certainty, see Institutes 2.4.22. On the question of manuscript corruption, see 2.5.5 and 2.5.10.

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  300. Jeff asks: “Are you saying that “the mind of Christ” refers to enhanced mental capacity such that we have a new capacity for absolute certainty?”
    No sir, if defined as increased intellectual acuity or acumen, we do not gain mental capacity. What we gain is a new nature and with it a new W-w as a result of the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit, gifted to us now justified adopted members of the family of God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    Intelligence and logic do not change. Our beliefs about their source and the use to which we put them is what changes. Having the mind of Christ does not mean that we now have personal omniscience. It means that we are freed from sin and death to now trust in HIS omniscience.

    We are now certain, not in ourselves, but by faith in HIS truth and certainty deposited in us in the new birth. The things of God which were once foolishness to us are now life and truth. It’s ALL Jesus and it’s ALL gifts of grace. I suspect this may have been a huge sticking point for you. I hope this helps.

    Jeff says: “(1) is closest to my view. I would say that God’s nature is reflected in creation, such that rational thought is not merely a game, but reflects reality. It is an analogue of God’s reasoning.”
    Indeed. I agree. If you thought I wouldn’t, I’d be curious to know why. As far as this goes, I find no fault with it. This is what Romans 1:18ff teaches.

    Jeff says: “I do not believe that humans are capable of … using logic infallibly.”
    Neither do I. We are back to the original question though. In the passage in the first of Romans that you alluded to, God says that ALL men know Him because HE has made Himself known to them. Are we to allege that He has not done so infallibly and in such a way that our knowledge in this instance is also infallible so that we are with out excuse? I mean, IF the atheists just MIGHT be right and the scriptures and Christianity all wrong, then that sounds like an excuse. No?

    Jeff asks: “Does 1+1 always equal 2?”
    In real day to day life? Yes.

    Jeff says: “(Leaving aside picayune issues like base 2 notation or the field F2 or elliptic curves).”
    I’ve dealt with this kinda stuff numerous times in the past. (Violet’s crew for instance hit me with this hard. It’s on my blog under VioletWisp”) Exactly this.

    Non base 10 systems and digital binary numbers are used to show that maths and logic aren’t really certain. That’s abstract theoretical gobbledygook and is of no use in REAL day to day life. Fact is we couldn’t even recognize the theories unless examined against the standard of conventional everyday decimal math and what amounts to old Newtonian logic.

    Jeff asks: “You might think that arithmetic would be the most obvious and easily checkable place for human reasoning to be capable of infallible certainty.”
    Oh no sir. If you’ll remember, I’ve said repeatedly that we can’t even account for something as rudimentary as 1+1 equaling 2 if left to ourselves. We ARE certain THAT it does. At least we sure DO live that way, but can’t explain how or why.

    Jeff says: “Even computing machines, theoretically manufactured so as to have provably correct arithmetic, are capable of computation errors.”
    Yes, but this is proving my point. The FPU calculation errors are explicable by omitted instruction table data. Hence logic and base 10 math DO explain the binary flaw. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re driving at. As I also said before. Even apparent quantum uncertainty is only recognizable to us because standard logic tells us about it. If 1+1 did not equal 2 in regular day to day life then coherent intelligibility would be altogether impossible. Why? Because God….

    Jeff says: “The bottom line is that we don’t know what we don’t know. The reasoning error that causes us to lose the chess game is the error we don’t see.”
    Ok, but Jeff, this is another formal, non epistemological statement. It does not deal with first principles. It is governed by first principles. Once committed, we DO see that there was an error. Or else how could we know there was one? There is no mystery here. Only faulty chess skills. 🙂

    Jeff says: “Even accepting that the God who created all is the source of rational thought (and I do), I cannot point to any piece of my own reasoning and say, “This is infallible, incapable of being errant.”
    Why would it follow that infallibility, that is, being INcapable of error, would be a necessary condition for merely recognizing certainly true information when presented with it? Especially when we are not the source of this certainly true information, but merely the receivers of it. It is a simple non sequitur to assert that less than stellar Chess skills must translate into uncertainty regarding the direct self revelation of the supreme deity who declares the inexcusable state of those personally pickled by Him in this self revelation. You have a confusion of categories here sir. Again. Unless I’ve misunderstood you.

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  301. Again, I’ve enjoyed reading the interactions Jeff & Greg.

    Jeff – are you an officer in the church? OPC?

    Greg, I get your point about base 10 being the colloquial number system but to state the things you do about binary and other number systems gave me a good chuckle considering your posts, the website, and your computer that your bot-posting-self posts from, all make use of binary and other number systems (compression).

    As you were.

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  302. Of course I understand that Chris. I’ve been a computer guy for 16 years. ALL forms of math make use of the SAME logic. Maths and logic are not identical. I should clarify that. Regardless of the specific arrangement of numbers, they are still numbers and the same subjective framework of conscious logical navigation of our world abides with both. The digital system is just as certain and for the exact same reason as the base 10 system. I only use the equation 1+1=2 because it is a convenient and universally recognized specimen. .

    Binary math speaks exactly nothing to the uncertainty of our God. It is a distraction I’ve seen numerous time from people trying to wiggle out from under the certainty of their master. I don’t think you’re dong that. (or Jeff) That’s not what I mean. It’s just uncanny how we always wind up steering through that neighborhood.

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  303. you guys should listen to Dr. Poytress redeeming mathematics from Christ the Center. It’s fascinating, Poytress got his PHD from Harvard in math, if I remember correct. You won’t regret listening to it.

    [2]

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  304. @ David R: Good catch.

    @ Greg: Intelligence and logic do not change. Our beliefs about their source and the use to which we put them is what changes. Having the mind of Christ does not mean that we now have personal omniscience. It means that we are freed from sin and death to now trust in HIS omniscience.

    We are now certain, not in ourselves, but by faith in HIS truth and certainty deposited in us in the new birth. The things of God which were once foolishness to us are now life and truth. It’s ALL Jesus and it’s ALL gifts of grace.

    Yes, I’m good with that.

    Greg: Binary math speaks exactly nothing to the uncertainty of our God. It is a distraction I’ve seen numerous time from people trying to wiggle out from under the certainty of their master. I don’t think you’re dong that.

    Right. The reason I asked us to leave those aside is that each is compatible with reason once terms are properly clarified. So we are in agreement: There’s nothing about binary arithmetic that casts doubt on mathematical certainty.

    But I do take issue with the “abstract gobbledygook” comment. 🙂

    JRC: “Even computing machines, theoretically manufactured so as to have provably correct arithmetic, are capable of computation errors.”

    GtG: Yes, but this is proving my point. The FPU calculation errors are explicable by omitted instruction table data. Hence logic and base 10 math DO explain the binary flaw. Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re driving at.

    I think you are indeed misunderstanding, but the point is a difficult one to express clearly. You are speaking from the point of view of having already discovered, located, and fixed the error. Now that we know the end of the story, we can look back and say, “Aha, it all makes sense now! There was a reason.”

    Until that fix had happened, the researcher was in the uncomfortable position of having an apparently provably correct program giving an apparently wrong answer. The only possible solution was that the logic practitioner (that is, the Pentium FPU) was fallible, as any practitioner can be.

    In other words, I am drawing a distinction between logic and the logician, and I’m pointing out something obvious but necessary: Even if logic is mathematically certain, the logician is not certain (in the same sense) — because he cannot guarantee the infallibility of his own reasoning. This is why journals check proofs.

    I think you agree, but are not comfortable with some of the implications I’m drawing?

    Keep in mind that this is NOT an argument for epistemological despair. I write proofs and check proofs like any other math guy. The only argument that I’m making is that the kind of certainty that we do legitimately have is not mathematically absolute, and it is not at any point free from “but I could have reasoned incorrectly.” I don’t live under a cloud of doubt, any more than I fear being gored by unicorns.

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  305. Jeff says: “The only argument that I’m making is that the kind of certainty that we do legitimately have is not mathematically absolute,”
    This sounds like you’re falling back on the idea that mathematics lend themselves to a higher level of probability than God. Neither of which are truly certain.

    Jeff says: “…and it is not at any point free from “but I could have reasoned incorrectly.”
    Does this apply to essential gospel truth such as Gen. 1:1? Is it possible that the Christian faith be false and the atheists be right? For all of our seeming to get closer and closer, I am still seeing you as propounding an ultimate probably as being the best God can give us. Say it ain’t so.

    I have a men’s meeting tonight. Will be back later. I had more, but your answer to this is most important.

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  306. The tension in this discussion is resolved via the archetypal / ectypal theology distinction underlying Clark’s QIRC terminology. We can’t transcend ourselves and get God-level certainty as if we see the world axiomatically. We’re dependent on our senses, experiences, intact mental faculties, and general grasp of language to extract meaning from anything, all of which introduce uncertainty before anything like textual-critical questions.

    “mathematical certainty” is also counterintuitive or at least conversationally uncommon. If you say to a mathematician that you’re 99.99999% sure that your spouse is faithful, they might toast you or ask for marital advice; if you’re the spouse in question, you probably won’t feel that way regardless of your mathematical maturity. Similarly few believers are going to leap at advertising a 0.000000000000001% chance of Genesis 1:1 being uninspired, even if it is in fact describing a huge apologetic advance in helping their unbelief.

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  307. Unless I have drastically misunderstood him, I disagree utterly with pretty much everything thomist Mike K says above. I do not want to get sidetracked away from Jeff though. We have a lot of time invested here.

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  308. Jeff says: “You are speaking from the point of view of having already discovered, located, and fixed the error.”
    Yes, I’m speaking from the point of view of already having been raised from death and self exalting sin, and having my errors fixed by being born into new life and a new mind in the risen Christ.

    It’s not that I’ve transcended mySELF. The transcendent Christ has given me His mind by faith. In myself I’m not even sure 1+1=2. In HIM? I’m sure of everything (epistemologically).

    When I humbly (yes humbly and graciously) lock horns with atheists, I concede nothing and give no quarter. I stand on the rock of the revealed word of the living God and call them in His name to forsake their autonomous rebellion, trust in the blood of Christ as payment for it to their Master and walk in newness of life and mind in Him.

    so much as a .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance (chance? In a reformed universe?) that this gospel is untrue, then it is 100% false.

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  309. On my view screen, the line truncates the final digits, so I get all zeros. I think there’s a hidden message about rounding there. 🙂

    Seriously, though:

    JRC: The only argument that I’m making is that the kind of certainty that we do legitimately have is not mathematically absolute

    Greg: This sounds like you’re falling back on the idea that mathematics lend themselves to a higher level of probability than God. Neither of which are truly certain.

    Read this more literally. There is a kind of certainty that we have agreed to call mathematical certainty that corresponds to theoretically 0 % chance of error. We don’t have to call it “mathematical”; we can call it “Gregorian” if you like.

    I’m simply saying that believers have a kind of certainty, but it is not Gregorian because of our creatureliness.

    JRC: “You are speaking from the point of view of having already discovered, located, and fixed the error.”

    Greg: Yes, I’m speaking from the point of view of already having been raised from death and self exalting sin, and having my errors fixed by being born into new life and a new mind in the risen Christ.

    That was a dramatic recasting of my point. 🙂

    Greg: Is it possible that the Christian faith be false and the atheists be right? For all of our seeming to get closer and closer, I am still seeing you as propounding an ultimate probably as being the best God can give us. Say it ain’t so.

    It ain’t so. God can give and has given us His infallible word.

    We have fallibly
    * Identified that word (canon selection)
    * Collated that word
    * Translated that word

    In other words, God has not directly dumped His infallible word directly into our brains. Instead, there is a supply chain that consists of several fallible steps. Do I have any remote doubt about those steps? Do I question the authenticity of Gen 1.1? I do not. But I do acknowledge that the supply chain is real and fallible.

    Now, you seem to want to circumvent the chain by directly arguing that God is a logically necessary being: No God => no logic; logic, therefore God.

    And that’s an interesting argument, for which I have some sympathy (but then, I also like Anselm and Plantinga, so there’s that). However, its key weakness for a believer is that it grounds God’s existence in something other than His word.

    In other words, your certainty appears not to be resting in the Word of God, which is infallible yet fallibly transmitted to you. Because that kind of certainty is insufficient for you, you instead rest your certainty in the soundness of the argument that God is a logically necessary being.

    I’m uncomfortable with that. Especially when you go further:

    Greg: so much as a .000000000…01% chance (chance? In a reformed universe?) that this gospel is untrue, then it is 100% false.

    In other words, your argument from logical necessity is your whole hope; if it fails, then God necessarily does not exist (in your view). That’s actually alarming, in that most believers throughout the ages have not known of or cared about logical necessity.

    Rather, they heard the word of the Lord and believed.

    It is important to me that our ground be and remain the Scriptures.

    Side question: you seem to indicate that you are uncomfortable with the notion of probability in general. Is that one of the sticking points?

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  310. I’m re-encouraged Jeff. I think we’re maybe in different paragraphs of the same page now. I’ll need to figure out better way to express a couple ideas. Closer, but still talking past each other. Can’t be tonight though.

    Probability is impossible at the epistemological level. All sorts of things may be probable to varying degrees on the formal level. Probability is the proportional state of being more or less certain. A thing is probable in direct proportion to it’s nearness to certainty.

    How can there be more or less of something that doesn’t exist? If first principles are merely probable there is no certainty for there to be more or less of. There IS however certainly at the epistemological level. Guess where from. 🙂

    I cannot properly formulate the rest of what I what to address tonight. .

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  311. “On my view screen, the line truncates the final digits, so I get all zeros. I think there’s a hidden message about rounding there. :-)”

    Assuming it ends after the half-zero, the sample space’s cardinality is at least three orders of magnitude higher than the most liberal estimates of the number of elementary particles in the universe. To me, this is a brilliant illustration of the need for both the archetypal / ectypal distinction and STEM education, but alternatively one can nod and claim to have received the omniscience of the divine person of Christ wrt epistemology at regeneration.

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  312. Jeff says: “Read this more literally. There is a kind of certainty that we have agreed to call mathematical certainty that corresponds to theoretically 0 % chance of error. We don’t have to call it “mathematical”; we can call it “Gregorian” if you like.”
    I call it God. Or epistemological certainty. Or mathematical certainty. While not strictly synonymous, logically, philosophically speaking, these are interchangeable in usage to me. The first IS the last 2. Though the last 2 are not the first. God IS also love (1 Cor. 13), but love is NOT God.

    We can go with GREGORIAN if that makes things simpler.

    Jeff says: “I’m simply saying that believers have a kind of certainty, but it is not Gregorian because of our creatureliness.”
    All men (chicks too), sinners and saints alike, have Gregorian certainty because God Himself has seen to it. It’s not their own and they KNOW it. HE is that certainty and they KNOW that too. There is no escape. We are supposed to be reminding them of that. Not conceding defeat by allowing that they might be right.

    Jeff says:
    “We have fallibly:
    * Identified that word (canon selection)
    * Collated that word
    * Translated that word”

    And yet as the all wise designer of universe would have it, NONE of these fallibilities has succeeded in obscuring Gregorian certainty in His image bearing creatures. The standard is Hm. Not our fallibility. Bless His holy name. He in effect, swears by Himself as there is none greater.

    Jeff says:” In other words, God has not directly dumped His infallible word directly into our brains. Instead, there is a supply chain that consists of several fallible steps. Do I have any remote doubt about those steps? Do I question the authenticity of Gen 1.1? I do not. But I do acknowledge that the supply chain is real and fallible.”

    ” However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9)

    “…But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,” (Romans 8:11)

    “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Romans 8:16)

    “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)

    “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

    “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

    “…God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26)

    “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

    “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:14)

    “…by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (1 Peter 1:4)

    I wouldn’t say that the brain is the precise location, but yes He has put His word IN US. He has put HIMSELF in us. CHRIST in us. Word, Spirit, nature, mind etc.. That being the case, now I know why I was so certain that 1+1=2 when I was pagan. And now I know why other pagans go so far out of their way to avoid that certainty. I’d like Sean and sdb to tell us why they go so far out of their way to avoid it. Dr. Hart too actually.

    Jeff says: “In other words, your certainty appears not to be resting in the Word of God, which is infallible yet fallibly transmitted to you. Because that kind of certainty is insufficient for you, you instead rest your certainty in the soundness of the argument that God is a logically necessary being.”
    Here’s where I think there has been a great gulf fixed between us. Properly understood (and it many and maybe even most times is not), all truth is indeed God’s. I feel safe in assuming you’ll agree. The definition of W-w I bring to these discussions is again, a comprehensive framework of theology, philosophy and ethics through which all of life is interpreted. Scripture is the foundation and anchor of the authentically Christian theistic W-w.

    It should be clear by now that I affirm in full WCF I:I. I unashamedly and boldly declare plenary verbal inspiration of the 66 book canon in the autographs. Do NOT mistake my view as having any Barthian influence whatsoever. That said, an infallibly transmitted collection of scripture is not required for the Word of God to be infallibly transmitted thereby. None of the doctrinal pillars of the faith are imperiled by the human elements providentially involved in the collection and transmission of the text, anymore than they were by it’s being written through men in the first place.

    Every bit of logic you see from me here rests squarely upon the consideration of God’s natural revelation in and around us, viewed through the lens of His special revelation in scripture. The Christian theistic epistemology I preach would be impossible without the infallibly transmitted Word of God, brought to us in fallibly transmitted scripture. The certainly of that Word, along with the certainty that word gives me in my examination of myself, my fellow creatures and the universe, together infallibly testify to the unassailable truth and certainty of the God who is the source of all. THAT reigns over my fallible response. Not the other way around. In other words, HE does the transcending for me.

    Jeff says: “In other words, your argument from logical necessity is your whole hope; if it fails, then God necessarily does not exist (in your view).”
    Please see above. This here is an ultimately meaningless hypothetical “IF” Jeff. What I am propounding is the very mind of the alone true and living God. By definition, it CANNOT fail.

    Jeff says: “That’s actually alarming, in that most believers throughout the ages have not known of or cared about logical necessity.”
    I just know you’re gonna hear me one of these times brother. 🙂 Every believer… AND unbeliever, lives every second of their lives in incurable bondage to logical necessity (God’s truth and certainty). Like water to a fish, in Him (AND HIS inescapable logical truth and certainty), they live and move and have their being. HE is the most basic fact of all. The one and only uncreated one from which all other facts proceed.

    It is the most natural thing in the world for the children of the first Adam to suppress that truth in their unrighteousness. To constantly push it from view. This is the essence of rebellious unbelief and the nut of the Romans 7 war fought by every saint, including this one, all the days of this life. The spirit says: “God is right”. The flesh (old nature) says: “He might be, but I don’t care. I’m gonna think and do it my way”.

    Jeff says: “Rather, they heard the word of the Lord and believed.”
    AMEN!! And the intellectual (philosophical) component of that belief is everything I have been discussing. Their being able to specifically articulate that is irrelevant. Most Christians can barely articulate what truths are in the Nicene creed. Or a veritable library of books you consider to also be biblically true. I do not do this with new converts. Nor do I usually evangelize half coherent street people with a lecture on biblical epistemology. The truth and certainty of our God DOES however under gird every thought I think and every syllable that falls from my lips. It is THAT confidence that drives my now 30 plus year old, new life in Christ.

    Jeff says: “It is important to me that our ground be and remain the Scriptures.”
    Couldn’t possibly agree more.

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  313. I wouldn’t say that the brain is the precise location, but yes He has put His word IN US. He has put HIMSELF in us. CHRIST in us. Word, Spirit, nature, mind etc.. That being the case, now I know why I was so certain that 1+1=2 when I was pagan. And now I know why other pagans go so far out of their way to avoid that certainty. I’d like Sean and sdb to tell us why they go so far out of their way to avoid it. Dr. Hart too actually.

    I am being told by my partner, that the above paragraph may possibly be misunderstood. This should not be taken as meaning that I believe the union with God in Christ passages indicate any of those blessings or benefits to unbelievers.

    What I mean is, now that I have myself received those blessings and benefits, it is by and through them that I now know where truth and certainty, even among the lost, ultimately comes from.

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  314. Greg, I’m sorry, but I’m lost.

    (1) Do unbelievers have the kind of certainty you are describing? If so, then where does the “mind of Christ” line of reasoning fit in? If not, then where does the “certainty about 1+1=2 when I was a pagan” fit in?

    (2) Computers, of course, use logic and are programmed to do so (FPGAs!) without, of course, having any notion of epistemological certainty. They just do what they do.

    Wouldn’t an atheist simply reply that we also just use logic without having any guarantee of its certainty? If I were an atheist that would be my move. Logic, he might say, is not guaranteed to be certain, but is empirically verified to give satisfactory results. Here comes Quine …

    (3) There are two places that the Confession speaks of assurance. The first is in the discussion of the Word.

    We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

    The second is in the discussion of our assurance of salvation

    I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

    This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.

    In both cases, I understand the persuasion of the Spirit to be something other than or different from either our logical or our empirical faculties.

    Agree or disagree?

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  315. I’ll skip the unbelievers defense for now. (that’s another whole room in this house. I have desk in there already, but that will get us off track at the moment)
    Jeff asks: “(1) Do unbelievers have the kind of certainty you are describing? If so, then where does the “mind of Christ” line of reasoning fit in? If not, then where does the “certainty about 1+1=2 when I was a pagan” fit in?”
    From a previous page, to Sean:
    =====================================================================
    [There is]a foundational difference between epistemological knowledge and formal knowledge. At the formal level 1+1=2 for absolutely everybody. The form and formal function are identical because of the image of God present in all men, through which God’s common grace operates. At the epistemological level, the level of first principle and heart commitment, is where there exists an eternally radical antithesis. To those raised from rebellion and death in the first Adam to the life and mind of Christ in the last, 1+1=2 because of the ordered mind of the creator God whose image they bear and thoughts they think after him on a finite derivative scale.

    To the mind still dead in sin, 1+1=2 for literally any reason at all other than the truth found for us now only in Christ. They will believe absolutely ANYthing else, not because that’s what they actually believe epistemologically, but to escape from believing what I believe epistemologically. Epistemologically, they KNOW where that knowledge comes from according to the first of Romans.

    So you see Sean, the unbeliever’s campaign of rebellion against his God, is financed with capital that has been borrowed, indeed stolen, from God’s own bank. What you call “confusion” on Van Til’s part is actually the very brilliance of his approach to fallen man, missed by a shallow and dismissive reading on your part. The saints have at once, fully everything and nothing in common with sinners.
    =====================================================================
    Same facts. 1+1=2. Commonality with sinners. (formal knowledge)

    Different heart. How and why 1+1=2. Antithesis with sinners. (Epistemological knowledge)

    Both forms of knowledge are archetypal in God and ectypal in us. Well, God’s can only be archetypal. (that’s not what I’m rejecting from Mike)
    We can never have God’s knowledge in and or of ourselves. We are plugged in to HIM and HIS knowledge in the new birth, having been justified and thereby qualified for this fellowship and made new creatures in Christ, old things passed, new things here. Once I was blind and now I see. The intellectual (philosophical) component of that is what we have been discussing.

    Jeff says: “In both [sections of the confession], I understand the persuasion of the Spirit to be something other than or different from either our logical or our empirical faculties.”
    Logical and empirical are not the same. Certainly the empirical is excluded. (at least the way I’m conceiving of it’s use here) It’s not that I flatly disagree with your postulation either. I do have trouble though with God’s infallible assurance NOT addressing, engaging or it sounds like you’re saying even including the intellect at all. Is this not the very definition of mysticism? And dare I say “pietism”?

    For myself, I hasten to clarify that my arguments to this point have addressed already regenerate believers. Not how they get that way. Once in possession of this “infallible assurance”, are we now to proclaim it fallibly to the world?

    Allow me please to just ask you plainly Jeff. Would you tell an atheist acquaintance that your assurance of salvation is as infallible as God Himself like the confession says, or that it might be all wrong and the atheist might be right, like sdb and Sean say? He can of course correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect you can throw Mike k. in there with them too.

    That’s a very simple question sir. It requires only 2, or at most 3 keystrokes. Yes or no. And if it’s NOT that simple for you? I really hope you ask yourself why. Your argument is with the divines. Not me. I am assuming nothing here. I don’t know what you’re going to say. Which already bums me out, but I’ll live.

    I am honored by your conversation in any case. Sincerely.

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  316. Greg, you have the good fortune of having Jeff for your conversation but if you have time for an aside I wonder if you’ve ever used Van Til’s apologetic as an apologetic, i.e., as a way of talking to unbelievers.

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  317. JRC: In both [sections of the confession], I understand the persuasion of the Spirit to be something other than or different from either our logical or our empirical faculties.

    GtG: Logical and empirical are not the same. Certainly the empirical is excluded. (at least the way I’m conceiving of it’s use here) It’s not that I flatly disagree with your postulation either. I do have trouble though with God’s infallible assurance NOT addressing, engaging or it sounds like you’re saying even including the intellect at all. Is this not the very definition of mysticism? And dare I say “pietism”?

    Sorry, I think I was unclear. I was trying to say that, while we have distinct logical (i.e. deductive) and empirical (i.e. inductive) faculties, our assurance that the Bible is God’s Word and also our assurance that we are saved appear to be grounded in yet a different faculty.

    Certainly, both faculties are involved. I hear the Word, or read it, and construct its meaning — which is both an empirical and also deductive process. I understand it (notitia) and assent to it. But trust fiducia is not empirical nor is it deductive.

    So if having fiducia is pietistic, well …

    But I don’t think you were trying to say that.

    I’ll put this another, more van Tillian way. The reason that a believer receives the Word in faith and an unbeliever does not has nothing to do with either deductive or inductive abilities. It has to do with presuppositions, those beliefs of the heart that of which we are not fully cognizant. What the Spirit does in creating faith is changing the heart, not improving the intellect.

    GtG: Would you tell an atheist acquaintance that your assurance of salvation is as infallible as God Himself like the confession says, or that it might be all wrong and the atheist might be right, like sdb and Sean say?

    I would say that my assurance is that Jesus died for sinners, and that all who trust in Him will receive eternal life, and that those truths are worth going to the stake for.

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  318. I’m with Muddy. You indicated above that you speak with unbelievers. Does van Til help the evangelism process for you?

    In my conversations with non-believers, I find that few have affinity for the “ontological proof” family — Anselm, Plantinga, TAG.

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  319. Jeff says: “Unintentional, good sir.”
    Ok. I was wondering. This can be a time consuming topic I know. No problem. Now that I know, take your time.

    Erik says:”You guys missed your window. Old Life has moved on to prayer meetings.”
    Nonsense skipper. There’s always time for epistemology. I AM interested in that Pew research poll.

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  320. Oops. Didn’t refresh the page first.

    Muddy asks: “Greg, you have the good fortune of having Jeff for your conversation but if you have time for an aside I wonder if you’ve ever used Van Til’s apologetic as an apologetic, i.e., as a way of talking to unbelievers”.
    Yes, but only certain ones. Actually if anybody has quite a bit of time on their hands, you can witness Greg the Terrible try his hand at the argument from morality with Brian Hanson starting on THIS page. Erik says he likes to watch me pound somebody in a debate (in Jesus name 😉 ) Brian was battered and bleeding there and I was very civil to him. I rarely wield the classics, but was in the mood that day.

    As he kinda retreated out of that, there’s a Frenchman named “Kamui” (who I almost wrote a book with. Actually still might) English is his third language and he has three earned philosophy degrees from major French universities, including doctorates in philosophy and the history of philosophy. THAT boy puts my hat in my hand. Maybe the single most terrifyingly intelligent man I’ve ever personally encountered. That was like 2 1/2 years ago and we never got back to it, though we’ve emailed since then.

    Total pagan, but holds a system of sorta pan-deistic epistemology that asks ALL the right questions and follows natural revelation right into the throne room of God Himself and then refuses to bow (long story). I thought he was a believer and maybe even a Van Tilian when we first met because he was defending me. For like 2 days. But nope. One of my all time favorite pagans. We got to be friends. I still pray for him and we’ll lock horns again. That dialog was one of several we had.

    Erik (and Jeff actually) ask: “Have you found Van Til to be effective in reaching crack addicts sans teeth?”
    I tell them self willed sin is what’s killin them and only faith in Jesus Christ can fix it. Van Til in a word.

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  321. Greg The Terrible
    Posted May 16, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Erik (and Jeff actually) ask: “Have you found Van Til to be effective in reaching crack addicts sans teeth?”

    I tell them self willed sin is what’s killin them and only faith in Jesus Christ can fix it. Van Til in a word.

    I dunno. Most of the pagans I know are teetotaling vegan environmentalists. [Come to think of it, so was Hitler, but that’s unfair. But only a little.]

    Like

  322. Greg The Terrible
    Posted May 17, 2015 at 12:16 am | Permalink
    Sin is what’s killing them too tom

    I think of Redd Foxx: “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”

    I don’t know if “sin” is the proper tool for this equation. There are ascetics [pagans, Buddhists, whathaveyou] who do little that could be classified as sin. I suppose you and Van Til [Calvin?] have some more expansive meaning of “sin,” and you appear to be going to the “noetic effects of sin” thing.

    Still, I wonder if that’s the only way to get to wherever it is you’re going.

    “Even Van Til has a theology of Natural Law. Saying that there are noetic effects of sin which impugn our reason does not imply that the Law is not written on our hearts or that God has not revealed himself to all men such that they are without excuse.”

    If you see where that’s going. Loosely we could call anything “sin” that frustrates man’s teleology–to know and love God, “our hearts were made for thee,” in this life to live in accord with the natural law. That teleology is even the Christian understanding of “human flourishing”–whereas mere good health and following the Golden Rule are insufficient, for they do not embrace all of what man is, for they ignore what is more-than-material [metaphysical, teleological] about him.

    Although apparently well-fed, he is starving. I think this is in the neighborhood of what you’re saying, yes?

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  323. Merci, Mr Turrible. I can wait. I know what it’s like to try to keep up with one’s fan mail. 😉 Indeed Mr Cagle seems to have lost track of you while sending me some!

    After the unproductive nonsense of this very evening, I found your comment refreshingly thoughtful and after spending half an hour doing my homework on what you were talking about and thinking on it, typed the above considered reply.

    [I would have typed faster but some folks around here think very slowly, when at all.]

    A reply is unnecessary, unless you have more to add. Thx for being you.

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  324. So what is “certainty”, Greg?

    I understand deductive certainty. You begin with axioms that are self-evidently true, reason with logic, et voila! Certain results.

    But Gregorian certainty is not deductive certainty.

    I also understand inductive certainty in terms of confidence intervals. You sample a phenomenon to death, construct confidence intervals, and if you get to a point that only a fool would bet against you (“Do you really think that if I drop this book, it won’t fall?”), then you have inductive certainty — obviously of a lesser quality than deductive certainty.

    But Gregorian certainty is not that, either.

    What’s left? Well, there is faith. I understand the Confession to be speaking of faith in the quoted passages above.

    But Gregorian certainty is not that, either.

    So what is it?

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  325. You’re under no obligation to continue Jeff. I’m not going to proclaim you a coward if you decide to quit after 3 more, but I can’t think like that. You have good stuff here. I’m working on a response and now you have your certainty question, which is also excellent.

    God is certainty. Not my cognition of Him.

    HIM.

    How dare I tell a pagan that our finite AND sinful minds rule over His? What arrogance to allow for even the slightest possibly that my creator might not exist. Every kind of certainty you named is formal. God is Himself the epistemological certainty that defines all those. Indeed who defines EVERYthing.

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  326. “How dare I tell a pagan that our finite AND sinful minds rule over His?”

    A core error for amateur presupps: muddling epistemology and ontology.

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  327. Jeff says “Sorry, I think I was unclear. I was trying to say that, while we have distinct logical (i.e. deductive) and empirical (i.e. inductive) faculties, our assurance that the Bible is God’s Word and also our assurance that we are saved appear to be grounded in yet a different faculty.”
    What are your thoughts on what that faculty is? I agree btw. (I’m pretty sure)

    Jeff says “Certainly, both faculties are involved. I hear the Word, or read it, and construct its meaning — which is both an empirical and also deductive process. I understand it (notitia) and assent to it. But trust fiducia is not empirical nor is it deductive.”
    I think I agree again, but I don’t see trust as being exactly the same as assurance. (nevermind. That’s a nitpick for now)

    Jeff says “SSo if having fiducia is pietistic, well …

    But I don’t think you were trying to say that.”
    No I wasn’t.

    Jeff says “I’ll put this another, more van Tillian way. The reason that a believer receives the Word in faith and an unbeliever does not has nothing to do with either deductive or inductive abilities. It has to do with presuppositions, those beliefs of the heart that of which we are not fully cognizant. What the Spirit does in creating faith is changing the heart, [thus resurrecting] the intellect.”
    Fixed that for ya 🙂

    ——————————————————

    GtG: Would you tell an atheist acquaintance that your assurance of salvation is as infallible as God Himself like the confession says, or that it might be all wrong and the atheist might be right, like sdb and Sean say?

    Jeff answers: “I would say that my assurance is that Jesus died for sinners, and that all who trust in Him will receive eternal life, and that those truths are worth going to the stake for.”
    Why won’t you close this door? People fly airplanes into buildings and blow themselves up for a lie.

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  328. @ Greg: That was the ttl I meant. As in, the ping had expired.

    I guess I’m still holding on the question of what the nature of this certainty is.

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  329. Well, as I said above Jeff. God Himself is certainty. Being truth itself (WCF I:IV) He is also certainty itself as there can be no such thing as an “uncertain truth”.
    God:

    …hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them. (lotsa biblical philosophy in there btw)

    Once again. He being the origin and definition of all that is or ever could be, it is both biblicaly nonsensical and idolatrous to attempt to find epistemological certainty anywher