Archive for April 2009

Vantillian Shadow Boxing – Round One

April 29, 2009

shadowboxingPaul Manata is in attack mode and frothing at the mouth after he saw the little video I posted from Pastor Kielar exposing the danger of affirming irreconcilable paradoxes in Scripture, which, for the human existent are indistinguishable from every day run-of-the-mill contradictions. You can read Manata’s tirade here and here.  It’s important to keep in mind the definition of paradox used by Van Til and his supporters. Dr. Robert Reymond carefully defines what it is these men mean by paradox: “two truths which are both unmistakably taught in the Word of God but which also cannot possibly be reconciled before the bar of human reason….” Keep that definition in mind as we proceed.

In his defense of Biblical paradox, Manata assures us that “the paradox is a paradox only for us.”  He explains,  “It’s analytic, Sean. It results from an unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.”  Note carefully, the paradox which cannot possibly be reconciled before the bar of human reason is due to “an unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.” God just failed to reveal His mind to us in Scripture so as to avoid seeming contradictions stemming from His “unarticulated equivocations.”  That’s reassuring.

Manata goes on with the usual Vantilian bilge about paradoxical for us, but reconcilable for God:

Obviously, the paradox is reconcilable, at least by God. But why think we must be able to reconcile them? The dictionary says nothing about paradoxes needing to be resolved by us.

Indeed, the dictionary doesn’t say anything about paradoxes needing to be resolved by us. I mean, what else can you expect when God is guilty of “unarticulated equivocations” in His propositional revelation to His children.  But how does Manata or any Vantilian know there is no paradox for God? By an appeal to Scripture? Impossible, since according to Van Til “all teaching of Scripture is apparently contradictory.” Thankfully, Manata doesn’t want to go quite as far as Van Til here, but he still asserts that for God there is no contradiction; no paradox.  Evidently, and in opposition to the paradoxical and equivocal testimony God has given us in Scripture, we are just to believe there is no paradox for God.

Magic “faith,” divorced from logic and Scripture, becomes the means by which he asserts “there is no paradox for God.” But how can he possibly know this?  Perhaps God either cannot or will not resolve the paradoxes that Manata assures us are the result of “an unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.” Wouldn’t it be better to assume that any so-called “paradox of Scripture” is nothing more than the result of articulated error on part of the interpreter? At what point do Manata’s paradoxes become just regular old contradictions in Scripture? Is there a time limit? Perhaps the antinomies of Scripture are eternal and can never be resolved?

Beyond that, Manata has no way of knowing that the Bible contains even one “unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.” He just assumes it.  Why? Because it’s unarticulated of course. It’s unsaid. It’s just an assertion he and Anderson use to defend their belief that the Bible teaches what appears to be contradictions to us, but for God, not so much. It’s an assertion that’s made completely apart from any Biblical evidence or inference, but it helps them sound all “RE” as they claim to be “rational” to all their colleagues in the faculty lounge for believing in an incoherent Scripture, and equivocating God,  and a contradictory faith (not that Manata hangs out in faculty lounges like Anderson, he just wants to look cool to all his Vantilian blog buddies).

Wouldn’t it make more sense, even as a matter of simple intellectual honesty, to conclude that if Van Til, Anderson and Manata are right and these so-called paradoxes of Scripture are logically irreconcilable, then perhaps God himself is contradictory? There is and can be no warrant in Scripture – since Scripture itself is contradictory – for asserting that God is non-contradictory.

In response to this last objection Manata said, “It would seem that it simply follows from the nature of an all-knowing God.” Would it now? Doesn’t seem that way to me. If Scripture contradicts itself elsewhere, say, concerning the Trinity, the Incarnation, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, particular election and God’s so-called universal desire for the salvation of all, or any other place, perhaps the above assertion that God is “all-knowing” is the result of another “unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.” God wasn’t really teaching us that He is “all-knowing,” perhaps He just equivocated on the word “all” or “knowing” or both?  Who knows? Since that is evidently the answer to any number of supposed Biblical paradoxes, why not one more? (more…)

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