Vantilian Shadow Boxing – Round Three

shadowboxingIt’s appears that after 2 rounds of shadow boxing, Paul Manata threw in the towel as he was unable to form any cogent arguments and was reduced to mindless assertions along the lines of, “The senses are a source of knowledge.”  Well, of course they are Paul.  They must be.  After all you said they are.  Meanwhile, Manata’s tag-team partner, Steve Hays, keeps punching away practicing his combinations and upper cuts and actually attempted to advance an occasional argument.  However, and along the way, Hays slipped on his own sweat and made some colossal blunders exposing how little Clark he has actually read, much less understood.

Here is a sample:

While we’re on the subject of “outright and open heresies,” what about Clark’s pantheistic idealism, when he reduces human beings to nothing more than divine ideas? What about Clark’s modalism, when he collapses the immanent Trinity into the economic Trinity (cf. The Incarnation, p55)?

Pantheistic idealism? Modalism?  First, modalism or Sabellianism is the idea that God is a single Person and the designations of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit signify distinct activities of the one divine Person as opposed to three distinct Persons.  How modalism can be ascribe to anything Clark has ever written, much less anything found on page 55 of The Incarnation, is a mystery.  Since Hays would not extend the courtesy of actually demonstrating his charge, but instead only cites a page number from Clark’s monograph I suppose in the hope that Triabloguer’s would just nod their heads in agreement, I’ll have to just assume he is referring to the following:

Though they [the Persons of the Godhead]  are equally omniscient, they do not all know the same truths. Neither the complex of truths we call the Farther nor those we call the Spirit, has the proposition, “I was incarnated.”  This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex.  Other examples are implied.  The Father cannot say, “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho.”  Nor can the Spirit say, “I begot the Son.” Hence they Godhead consists of three Persons, each omniscient without having precisely the same content.  If this is so, no difficulty can arise as to the distinctiveness of human persons.  Each one is an individual complex.  Each one is his mind or soul.  Whether the propositions be true or false, a person is the propositions he thinks.  I hope that some think *substance* to be a subterfuge.

Such then is the first conclusion of this study: *substance* and some other terms are meaningless, and very few can be salvaged by definition.  The slogan is, Discard or Define! – [54-55]

The above is admittedly only part of a handful of concluding thoughts Clark draws from pages of preceding arguments and observations, however, I find it hard to imagine any view that could be further from modalism.  Could this be another example of the dangers of punching oneself silly in a vain attempt to impress the Vantilian readers of Triablogue who are already predisposed against Clark and who seemingly get their information of what Clark taught from the jaundice pen of Van Til, his sycophantic and devoted followers, or even from someone calling himself “Aquascum”?

In spite of Hays’ gross mischaracterization of Clark, you’ll note that Clark clearly differentiates the three divine Persons simply because each Person does not think precisely the same set of thoughts.  If Clark were a modalist, as Hays falsely charges, then all three Persons would think exactly the same thoughts simply because God would be numerically one Person. Each of the three “Persons” would be different expressions of one Person.

Another way to express this idea of modalism might be to say that the three Persons are co-extensive of each other to the point that the oneness and threeness of the Godhead would be a distinction without meaning.   Or, to put it another way, God could be said to be one and three in precisely the same sense. Perhaps Hays has confused Clark with Van Til who wrote: “We do assert that God, that is, the whole Godhead, is one person”…[W]e must therefore hold that God’s being presents an absolute numerical identity. And even within the ontological Trinity we must maintain that God is numerically one. He is one person.”  There is your modalism.

While Van Til can perhaps avoid the charge of modalism simply because he also asserts that the Godhead consists of three Persons, or rather three “personal subsistences,”  he can’t avoid the charge of theological irrationalism, which is arguable a  more damning charge than modalism.  As Clark observed long ago:

Strange to say, a recent theologian has renewed the logical difficulty or perhaps has invented a new one. Cornelius Van Til asserts unity and plurality of the Trinity in exactly the same sense. He rejects the Athanasian doctrine of one substance and three Persons, or one reality and three hypostases. His words are, “We do assert that God, that is, the whole Godhead, is one person” (An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 229. The mimeographed syllabus on its title page says that it is for classroom purposes only and is not to be regarded as a published book. What this means is unclear. The author teaches it in class and so makes it public. There is no reason for not regarding it as his own view).

In the context, Van Til denies that the “paradox” of the three and the one can be resolved by the formula, “one in essence and three in person.”

This departure from the faith of the universal Christian church is indeed a paradox, but it is one of Van Til’s own making. That there are paradoxes in Scripture is undoubtedly true. One reader is puzzled at one point and another exegete is puzzled at another. But when a line of argument results in a recognizable contradiction, such as an object is both three and one in exactly the same sense, it should be a warning that the argument is unsound. The piety that accepts contradictions is not piety, but something else.

Furthermore, when a theologian asserts that a given paradox cannot be solved in this life by any human being, he is making an assertion that requires omniscience. That a scholar has failed to find in Scripture the solution of a difficulty does not prove that none is there. Before such a conclusion could be reasonably drawn, it would be necessary to trace out all the inferences derivable from Scripture. When all are set down, only then could one reasonably assert that the solution is not there.

So much for Hays’ charge that Clark was a modalist.

As far as Hays’ even wilder charge that Clark is guilty of “pantheistic idealism” for defining a person as  a congeries of thoughts, I suppose Solomon was also guilty of “pantheistic idealism” when he wrote; “For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.”  Of course, since no two people think precisely the same thoughts, no two people are the same person. This would also apply to the Person’s of Trinity.  Consequently, and contra the unthinking calumny of Hays, Clark easily solves the problem of individuation, defined precisely what he means by “person” and did so according to the Scriptures, completely avoids meaningless words like “substance,” and clearly maintains God’s oneness and threeness without confusion or contradiction.  Obviously this last accomplishment is something intolerable to confused Vantilians like Hays where God is said to be one Person and three Persons at the same time and in the same contradictory sense as they prattle on about the “one and the many.”

Moving on to a few more examples of Hays’ dazed confusion:

[Sean] can’t learn what the Bible teaches through the use of his senses, for Scripturalism rejects the senses as a source of knowledge. The Bible is the only source of knowledge.

Indeed, no man can learn what the Bible teaches through the use of his senses.   Contrary to Hays, this is not a view exclusive to Scripturalism.  Paul said, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14).  The things of God are “spiritually” and not, as Hays would have us believe, physically or sensually discerned.  Hays seems to think men learn with they eyes in their heads and even come to Christ via his untenable and unbiblical theory of “sense knowledge.”  Yet, his epistemological Arminianism is refuted everywhere in Scripture. Consider the following account given in Matthew 16:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Notice, those who saw Jesus with their eyes, heard Him teach, witnessed His miracles, and who were perhaps even healed by the touch of His hand, all drew the wrong conclusion about who Jesus was with the exception of Peter.  Did Peter simply have better eyesight whereas the rest needed glasses?  Were his auditory nerves more sensitive while the rest were in need of hearing aids?  Of course not.  Jesus said that God the Father had revealed the truth about Jesus immediately to Peter’s mind and to the saving of his soul.  Jesus said that Peter did not come to this knowledge by the means of “flesh and blood,” which is just another way of saying Peter did not come to the truth of Christ through Hays’ empirically discerned and oxymoronic “sense knowledge.”  Besides, and according to Jonathan Edwards, “light and knowledge is always spoken of [in Scripture] as immediately given of God,” and if immediately given, then it follows that “light and knowledge” cannot be mediated through the senses.  Edwards would have little in common with Hays.

Hays continues:

He can’t learn what the Bible teaches through innate knowledge, in part because he has no innate knowledge of the Bible. We’re not born knowing what the Bible teaches.

Indeed, that would undermine the very notion of a public, historic revelation. God revealed himself through the medium of speakers and writers. The spoken word and the written word. And the written word is also the record of the spoken word.

The above is one of many pinaetas Hays has formed in his own mind and for his own destructive amusement.  Too bad it has nothing to do with the Scripturalism of Gordon Clark.  Nowhere have I said that we learn what the Bible teaches through “innate knowledge.”  Nowhere has Clark said that we learn what the Bible teaches through “innate knowledge.” Clark did argue that all men possess the apriori or innate equipment that makes knowledge possible.  For example, in his book, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, Clark makes an extended argument that the image of God in man is logic and the forms of logic make up the architecture of man’s mind and which presupposes  communication between God and man, man and man, and even righteousness and sin.  We also learn in Romans that men have God’s law written on their minds and that even apart from the revelation of the law given to Moses, their conscience bear witness to the Law as “their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Romans 2:15).” Consequently, what we know of the apriori in man, while somewhat limited in Scripture, is sufficient to account for revelation.  Quite apart from the revelation of Scripture it would be impossible to know anything about the apriori in man.  I hardly think even Hays would want to replace the Biblical apriori for, say, Kant’s categories?  But, who knows?  Perhaps Kant’s categories are “properly basic” and constitute “knowledge” for Hays as well.

I will say that somehow and somewhere Clark’s critics seemed to have picked up the idea that Clark argued that all true propositions are innate in man and that coming to the truth in Scripture is merely a stimulus for recollection of propositions already present or residing within man.  I don’t know if that is the cause of Hays’ error here, but I suspect it is.  Regardless, and contrary to Hays’ straw man, what Clark denied is that knowledge is mediated through the senses and that  so-called “sense knowledge” is nothing more than an unsupported and giant petitio. Admittedly, it would help if Hays would actually read Clark and made sure he understood Clark’s theory of knowledge before pretending to refute it.

Another example of where Hays misses the mark is when he asserts:

If Scripturalism is true, then he can’t even know that Adam, Abraham, David, Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John ever existed.

Well, that doesn’t follow. We know the above saints existed and still exist because the Scriptures say so. The saints listed above are accounted for in accordance with the axiom of the Christian faith; the Scriptures.  Does Hays really believe the Scriptures are some kind of paper pope that he can  parade around when he’s pretending to do “apologetics?”  Rather than ink marks on the pages of a black book, the Scriptures are the eternal thoughts of God who alone is Truth.  Hays seem to be under some delusion that if knowledge is not acquired through the senses then no knowledge is possible at all.  If Hays’ arguments (or, better, assertions) were true, then God could also know nothing for the simple reason that God has no sense organs.

Admittedly, Hays makes a vain attempt to save his beloved “sense knowledge” from the trash heap by attempting overcome the problem of induction or what Bertrand Russell called the “unsolved problem of logic.” Unfortunately, Hays breezes over this central problem in the philosophy of science as if there wasn’t even a bump in the road:

One of the stock objections to sense knowledge which Scripturalists like to raise is the problem of induction. Can we infer the future from the past? Can we predict the future in light of the past? Does the future resemble the past?

The objection goes back to Hume: can enumerative induction justify a universal inference? On the face of it, the answer is no, since the breadth of the inference is underdetermined by the breadth of the evidence.

Hays does seem to grasp where the problem lies and that it is a logical one.  The problem is he just ignores it.  Induction can never justify any universal inference.  The problem with induction is that it is always fallacious (unless it is a complete induction something science, along with the rest of us mere mortals, is unable to obtain).   To get around this problem Hays simply sacrifices logic in order to save his claim to “sense knowledge.”  Hays continues:

To take a stock example, if I observe 999 black ravens in a row, that doesn’t mean the 1000th raven I observe will be black.

What are we to make of this objection? I’ll make three brief points:

1.While enumerative induction illustrates the limitations of sense knowledge, it doesn’t begin to demonstrate the impossibility of sense knowledge.

If I observe 999 black ravens, then I’ve learned something: observation has taught me that at least 999 ravens are black.

That doesn’t tell me that all ravens are black, or even that most ravens are black. But it does tell me that some ravels[sic] are black. I know something, as a result of observation, that I wouldn’t know absent such observation.

For a second there I thought sub-Vantilian Hays was interested in knowledge and how, in combination with sensation, he might arrive at “sense knowledge.”  Silly me.  Hays simply ignores the problem of induction entirely and skates right by it.  First, Hays claims to know through observing 999 ravens that 999 ravens are black. The problem is, Hays’ observations do not permit him to conclude anything true about ravens or anything else for that matter.  The most he can say is that some ravens are black, but he can never know if the proposition “ravens are black” pertains to all ravens that are now, were, or forever more will be.  This is but one reason Karl Popper said:

…in science there is no ‘knowledge’ in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. What we usually call ’scientific knowledge’ is, as a rule, not knowledge in this sense, but rather information regarding the various competing hypotheses and the way in which they have stood up to various tests; it is, using the language of Plato and Aristotle, information concerning the latest, and the best tested, scientific ‘opinion’. This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science….In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by ‘proof’ an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory. (What may occur, however, are refutations of scientific theories.)

There is no “knowledge” in the sense Plato, Aristotle, Clark, Van Til, Bahnsen, or the Bible would have understood the word in Hays’ theory either.  Hays’ “sense knowledge” is reduced to nothing more than guesses or opinions that are always open to refutation. Observing that 999 ravens are black isn’t to arrive at any “knowledge” at all and provides us with no final truth (pardon the redundancy), no knowledge about ravens, or anything else.  Not surprisingly, the problem of induction remains unsolved.  Any conclusions that Hays might make about ravens from his multiple observations must remain tentative at best.  His argument, provided we simply grant that it’s true and that he even observed 999 ravens, is that some ravens are black. Some ravens might be brown, white or blue too.  Hays’ “sense knowledge” is left merely echoing Popper who said “…we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it.”

Knowledge, properly understood, is concerned with the truth, not whether something might be true, or  may be true in “some” cases, but that which is always true and in every case. Induction can never arrive at one universally true statement like “all men are sinners.” There is no “all” in inductive arguments, there is only “some” and “maybe.”  This is the real limitation of Hays’ so-called “sense knowledge.”  It can never arrive at the knowledge of anything at all.

Further, Hays simply begs the question when he claims to have observed 999 black ravens.  He has never demonstrated his claim, he merely asserts it.   He doesn’t show how one can start with sensation and arrive at the true proposition that even1 raven is black.  Hays hasn’t even defined what he means by sensation, nor has he shown that men have them, but I suspect it has something to do with his “observations.”   Not only does Hays simply drive right past the problem of induction, he positively ignores the problem of empiricism.  Hays is engaged in sophistry, not epistemology, something he seemingly learned from studying so-called “Reformed Epistemology.”

Consider the following maneuvering by Hays:

I’m typing this sentence on a computer keyboard. I believe that if I depress a particular key, it will probably produce a particular letter. Likewise, I believe that if I depress certain keys in a certain order, it will probably produce a particular sequence of letters.

Why is that? Well, it’s partly a result of experience. In my experience, when I depress a particular key, it produces a particular letter.

But there’s more to it than bare experience. My computer keyboard was designed to function in a particular way. It was designed so that, if I depress a particular key, it will produce a particular letter. It was designed so that, if I depress certain keys in a certain order, it will produce a particular sequence of letters.

My experience of using the keyboard is essentially confirmatory. Before I use the keyboard for the first time, I don’t know if the keyboard suffers from a design flaw. Using it is a way of testing it. Does it do what it was designed to do?

It is, of course, possible for the keyboard to malfunction. It’s possible that in a random number of cases, a keystroke won’t yield the corresponding letter.

However, even in the case of malfunction, that presupposes an underlying design. Proper function.

Unless my keyboard suffers from a design flaw, it’s basically reliable. Indeed, highly reliable.

It’s not totally reliable. It can wear out. Or need to be repaired.

But it’s sufficiently reliable that I can make plans for the future based on my keyboard. I can plan to write something tomorrow, using my keyboard. And most of the time, my confidence is well-placed.

Notice what Hays does here in this long convoluted example. He has substituted his own pragmatic assumptions concerning the reliability of his keyboard for knowledge.  He doesn’t know that when he hits the symbol “A” on his computer keyboard that an “A” will appear on his desktop, he just assumes it will simply because he assumes his keyboard is “functioning properly.” How this “proper functionality” is supposed to equate to knowledge Hays doesn’t say.  Not only does he admit that it is possible that a “random number of cases a keystroke won’t yield the corresponding letter,” it only has to occur once to disprove his truth claim.

Could anything be more bankrupt or more paltry than Hays’ “knowledge” claims?  He confuses his own “well-placed confidence” in the reliability of his keyboard with knowledge. Notice too, it’s his psychological state of mind — his own “well placed confidence” — that magically transforms the thoughts in his mind concerning his keyboard into knowledge so-called.  He hasn’t established the truth of any proposition, much less the proposition, “when I depress a particular key, it produces a particular letter.” Hays isn’t interested in epistemology.

Hays is left like all other empirically minded and sensate men with simply begging the question.   He just assumes, based on a subjective notion he calls “proper function,” that his conclusions concerning his keyboard, ravens, and evidently everything else that pops in his head, are true. Can a more glaring example of simply begging the question be found?  I suppose so, because if the above illustrations weren’t bad enough, Hays insists on plowing ahead:

This is analogous to sensory perception or memory. The senses sometimes deceive us. Memories sometimes fail us. But our memories and perceptions are sufficiently reliable that we can use them to plan for the future.

Sometimes our plans fall through. But that’s quite different from a dream world which is so mutable and unpredictable that you can’t make any successful plans.

To a great extent, it’s possible to successfully plan for the future on the basis of induction. For induction, like using my computer keyboard for the first time, need not be the ultimate source of our belief in natural patterns. Rather, it’s confirmatory. Observation is a way to recognize natural patterns. To recognize design.

Hays talks about memories being “sufficiently reliable,” but sufficiently reliable according to whom?  Also, it would seem sense perception is synonymous to memory.   If so, Hays is really building his theory on sinking sand.  Memory is notoriously UN-reliable along with eyewitness testimony (which, I would think, is another case of “sense perception”).  Perhaps Hays should spend some time on jury duty.  But, even if he never enters a courtroom, he should at least spend some time considering the epistemic implications of the musical, Gigi.  For those with perhaps better memories, you might recall a clever  duet sung by Maurice Chevalier (who played Honore) and Hermione Gingold (who was his Mamita) called, “I Remember It Well.”  The song went in part:

H: We met at nine
M: We met at eight
H: I was on time
M: No, you were late
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
We dined with friends
M: We dined alone
H: A tenor sang
M: A baritone
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well
That dazzling April moon!
M: There was none that night
And the month was June
H: That’s right. That’s right.
M: It warms my heart to know that you
remember still the way you do
H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

Despite that powerful testimony from the learned epistemologists who wrote Gigi, even Hays admits that senses “deceive us” and that “memories sometimes fail,”  yet  he claims that through the deceptions and failures he can deduce “natural patterns” and “recognize design.” Hays says that we are to plan for the future based on these deceptive sensations and failed memories.  So much for truth.  Besides the epistemological Arminianism implied in his view, Hays is either a pragmatist or is simply a relativist. I’m inclined to believe the latter, but to be charitable I’ll assume the former.

In contrast to Hays irrational trust in his failed memories and faulty “sense perceptions” as he “plans for the future,” James tells us that all such planning is sinful:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.”  But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

I suspect Hays forgot about James.  Must be his faulty memory and deceptive sensations again.  Or ,would that be his faulty sensations and deceptive memory?

Hays further tries to justify his illogic by claiming Christians are justified in planning for the future and drawing inferences from “enumerative inductions” on the basis of “divine design”:

For a Christian, enumerative induction is grounded in the principle of divine design. God’s plan for the world. Inferences about the future aren’t limited to past samples. They also derive from our belief in a God who made the world to function in a fairly predictable way. Hence, the past is a generally reliable guide to the future.

This doesn’t even require a particular theory of causation. It doesn’t matter whether or not a particular action actually causes a particular effect. It’s sufficient that God has designed the natural world in such a way that these correlations generally obtain.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Miracles.

Even leaving James aside, Hays’ appeal to “divine design” is similar to those who contend that while the methods of science may be fallacious, they are sound when employed by Christians.  Again, it would appear that this is just another example of Vantilians sacrificing logic at the alter of blind faith.  Notice too the many weasel words Hays uses in order to get his “divine design” theory past the uncritical reader.  The past we are told is a “generally” reliable guide.  The world functions in a “fairly” predictable way.  Correlations of cause and effect “generally” obtain.  Of course, the past can be a notoriously unreliable guide, the world often functions in unpredictable ways, and cause and effect are ideas not derived from observation, and, the exceptions to the rule, miracles, completely vitiate Hays’ belief in so-called “sense knowledge.”  Frankly, Hays’ belief in the past, cause and effect, not to mention observation would lead one to conclude that when ax heads are dropped they always fall to the ground, that men who attempt to walk on water always sink, and that those who are dead remain that way forever.

Undeterred, Hays continues:

But that doesn’t prevent us from successfully planning for the future most of the time. It’s not like a dream world where there’s no connection between what went before and what happens afterwards.

And even miracles are purposeful events. These are not random anomalies.

Christians don’t draw a universal inference from enumerative induction. We only draw a general inference from enumerative induction. And the generality of the inference isn’t based on induction alone.

Can there be anything more paltry and pathetic than Hays’ “divine design” epistemology?  Christians cannot draw “a universal inference from enumerative induction,” they only draw tentative or “general” inferences. Of course, the reason that the Christian, just like the atheist, cannot draw any universal inferences from their “enumerative inductions” is because the form of the conclusion is not the same as the form of the premises.  Or, to put it another way, the reason Christians do not draw universal inferences from “enumerative inductions” is because all  such conclusion are fallacious; they are false.  Induction is just as fallacious for the Christian as it is for the atheist.  Nothing in Hays’ “divine design” theory makes any conclusions he might draw from his observations any less fallacious.

Hays is not interested in knowledge.  Epistemology for him is simply a game of chance and what he calls knowledge has nothing to do with truth.  Rather than the acquisition of knowledge, Hays is interested in something that works “most of the time.”  Indeed, observations, memories, and even science work “most of the time.”  The problem is that theses are not sources of knowledge and Hays’ attempt to portray them as such is a complete failure.  And, to be sure, miracles are not “random anomalies”  and  are, without question, “purposeful events.”  One would have thought that at least one of the purposes of such events would be that Christians would no longer rely on sensation, observation or even the vaulted claims of science as alternate sources of truth.  One would have thought that miracles would incline the Christian to “walk by faith, not by sight” and to trust in God’s propositional revelation in Scripture alone.  Not if Hays can help it.

To rephrase atheist Karl Popper in light of Hays’ shadow boxing; “while the Christian does his best to find the truth, he is conscious of the fact that he can never be sure whether he has got it.”  Instead of Christians being the ones who know the truth and who can give a reason for the hope that is within them,  Hays would have us adopt the epistemology of Pagans, who, Paul tells us, are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

As we have seen, Hays is, at best, a pragmatist.  He’s not interested in a method for discovering what is true, instead he is interested in finding something that works “most of the time” and that allows him to plan for the future completely apart from and in addition to the propositions of Scripture.

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24 Comments on “Vantilian Shadow Boxing – Round Three”

  1. Sean Gerety Says:

    For anyone interest, Hays’ has posted his reply to the above, Shadowboxing With Lepresean.

    It’s always a good sign when your opponents are reduced to emotive, abusive ad hominem, and hate-filled screeds. It means that all they can do is shoot blanks.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, Vantilianism is on the way out. It has been repeatedly shown to be untenable and dangerously unbiblical, and given the incredible vitriolic froth the boys at Triblogue have worked themselves into, I consider it just more evidence that their irrational ship is sinking.

    Praise be to God.

  2. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean,

    While I agree that all knowledge is immediately granted and conveyed to the human mind by God, and that no knowledge at all comes from sensation (our sense perception is at best merely the occasion upon which God conveys knowledge directly to our mind), you’ve raised two points that I’m not quite sure about:

    1) Knowledge is limited to those things either set down in Scripture or deduced therefrom.

    2) Knowledge requires justification or account.

    The problem is that Scripture says that ungodly men “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18) in unrighteousness, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (v. 19); although they “knew God” (v. 21), they “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (v. 28); “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God” (v. 32), not only practice unrighteousness but approve of those who do likewise. Yet, God conveys this revelatory “knowledge” to the ungodly apart from the propositions set down in Scripture (i.e., it is innate knowledge), and the ungodly pagans who possess this “knowledge” can hardly provide an account for it (i.e., they are ignorant as to how they acquired it). But if Scripture is the only source of knowledge, then how can any of this be true? What am I missing here?

    Roger

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    1) Knowledge is limited to those things either set down in Scripture or deduced therefrom.

    Most people would agree with the Triablogue boys and don’t believe knowledge is limited to Scripture even remotely if at all. While some would consider the axiom of Scripture too broad and that, as Clark said, “Everything is swallowed at one gulp,” others would say that Scripture is too narrow and covers very little. This latter group would include Hays & Co. who contend that knowledge is acquired virtually anywhere and by any means. They’ve lowered the epistemic bar so much that rather than the world being a dark place as the Scriptures claim (2 Peter 1:9), light is all around. Whatever they think is true is, provided that they’re cognitive faculties can be said to “function properly” or some other nonsense.

    However, if you accept the idea that knowledge requires an account; i.e., that true beliefs or opinions need to be justified or accounted for, then your options quickly diminish. I would refer you to Clark’s concluding thoughts from Thales to Dewey I posted earlier. The entire history of secular philosophy has been a spectacular and impressive failure as men, apart from revelation, have been unable to account for knowledge. Edifice after edifice has been constructed by the most brilliant minds in history only to be torn down one after another and thrown in the trash heap. The one thing you can say about postmodernism is at least men now realize that their quest for knowledge on their own terms has been a colossal failure and is why truth is now thought to be relative to whatever opinion anyone might hold (which is not far from where Triablogue boys are… even if they dress up their tired opinions with “proper function” and prattle on about “warrant”).

    Or, reread Clark’s Intro to Christian Philosophy. After surveying the wreckage of philosophic history, he concludes:

    As has been shown, secular epistemology cannot provide for any knowledge at all, therefore whatever revelation gives us, however restricted is to be received with thanksgiving.[63]

    Also, look at the citations I provided from Popper and the failure of science to obtain knowledge in the traditional sense. So, if knowledge can be accounted for apart from Scripture, I’m all ears.

    As for Steve Hays, his arguments are just crass rehashes of every failed empirical theory for the last 300 years dressed up in an RE jargon.

    2) Knowledge requires justification or account.

    The problem is that Scripture says that ungodly men “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18) in unrighteousness, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (v. 19); although they “knew God” (v. 21), they “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (v. 28); “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God” (v. 32), not only practice unrighteousness but approve of those who do likewise. Yet, God conveys this revelatory “knowledge” to the ungodly apart from the propositions set down in Scripture (i.e., it is innate knowledge), and the ungodly pagans who possess this “knowledge” can hardly provide an account for it (i.e., they are ignorant as to how they acquired it). But if Scripture is the only source of knowledge, then how can any of this be true? What am I missing here?

    Of course, RE influenced sub-Vantilians like Manata and Hays will say knowledge doesn’t require any account at all and I suppose if pressed they’ll give plenty of sophistic reasons why. A number of years ago when Dr. Robbins was going round and round with Michael Sudduth and his little band of followers on the old Clark list, he said at one point:

    “This war against giving an account is, at bottom, a war against rationality.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Regardless, and returning to your objection, I think the real problem is the Scriptures also talk about men not knowing God. In 1 Thessalonians Paul says that we should not indulge our lustful passions like “the Gentiles who do not know God….” He talks about the judgment where “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire dealing out retribution to those who do not know God….” In Titus he refers to those who “ profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” And, of course, in 1 Cor 1:21 Paul argues: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

    Since men cannot both know and not know God at the same time and in the same sense, it would seem to me that Paul in Romans is talking about “knowing” God in a different sense. Of course, Vantilian paradox mongers like James Anderson, Paul Manata and Steve Hays can simply avoid the problem entirely and simply embrace this as another paradox that can remain forever unreconciled before the bar of human reason and chalk it up to another “unarticulated equivocation on the part of the revealer.”

    However, I would say Paul in Romans 1 is referring to men “knowing” God in the sense that they recognize and understand the truth that has been revealed within them. I think this idea is supported in verse 20 when Paul writes:

    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.

    Men know in the sense that they understand and are convicted by the truth of God within them. They don’t believe it, which is why they try so hard to suppress it. One example might be that to deny the truth is to affirm it. Or, that no man can avoid the law of contradiction even if they can’t account for it apart from Scripture. Calvin referred to this innate awareness as having a sense of God which I would think is substantially different from knowing God in the strict sense. After all, Jesus said “If you abide in My word” not abide in your sensations, ideas, or emotions, “then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    Slightly off your point, someone asked earlier where Clark defined knowledge as true belief with an account of the truth. Perhaps not in those exact words, but in Into to Christian Phil he said,

    “A systematic philosophy must take care of epistemology. Knowledge must be accounted for [62].”

    A little later on he wrote:

    What account shall be given of everyday “knowledge” that common sense thinks is silly to doubt? [Which explain I am held up for ridicule and scorn by Triabloguers Manata and Hays]. Don’t I know when I am hungry? Can’t I use road maps to drive from Boston or Los Angles? Indeed, how can I know what the Bible says without reading its pages with my own eyes? It was one secular philosopher criticizing another, who said that knowledge is a fact and that any theory that did not account for it should be abandoned. But all such criticism miss the point. The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K. But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps [or computer keyboards or 999 ravens], that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle [90,91].

    If anyone is interested in what Clark said about Aristotle, I suggest they buy the book.

  4. speigel Says:

    Clark also talks about what knowledge is in his section on Plato in his Ancient Philosophy, though he doesn’t explicitly talk about justified true belief.

    Cheung has some points on innate knowledge. Account is established by revelation. Everyone is innately aware of certain propositions about God which is established, or accounted for, by divine impartion. I’m sure this can be spelled out in more, if not clearer, detail.

    I have also noticed some Kantian view of epistemology being espoused by Hays.

  5. Roger Mann Says:

    However, I would say Paul in Romans 1 is referring to men “knowing” God in the sense that they recognize and understand the truth that has been revealed within them… Men know in the sense that they understand and are convicted by the truth of God within them.

    I agree wholeheartedly. But doesn’t that merely confirm that unregenerate men possess “knowledge” of God, His law, and His righteous judgment apart from the propositions set down in Scripture (i.e., it is innate knowledge)? Of course it’s “knowledge” of God that is different in both degree and kind than the “knowledge” possessed by regenerate believers. But it is true “knowledge” about God that is not derived from the propositions of Scripture nonetheless. We can’t have it both ways. Either knowledge is “limited to those things either set down in Scripture or deduced therefrom” or it is not. These passages of Scripture seem to teach that “knowledge” is not so limited. There’s no middle ground that I can see.

    As to the second point (that knowledge “requires an account”), I’m not sure that follows from Scripture either. In the verses cited above, Paul argues that unregenerate men possess true “knowledge” about God, regardless of the fact that they can’t “account” for how they have acquired it. The propositions of Scripture certainly “account” for how they possess this knowledge about God (“for God has shown it to them” v. 19), but they possess this “knowledge” whether they have read Scripture and can account for it or not. No?


  6. […] Sean Gerety’s latest post, ‘Vantilian Shadow Boxing – Round Three’ (https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/vantilian-shadow-boxing-round-three/, but in charity I am picking on the most erudite, well-educated, and philosophically trained […]

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    Cheung has some points on innate knowledge. Account is established by revelation. Everyone is innately aware of certain propositions about God which is established, or accounted for, by divine impartion. I’m sure this can be spelled out in more, if not clearer, detail.

    Can you cite or provide a link to Cheung’s discussion of this point? Not having the rest, this sounds very similar to what I have been driving at and that *knowing* God per Romans 1 is more in the sense of an awareness.

  8. Roger Mann Says:

    Here’s two links to Cheung’s discussion of this point:

    Man’s Innate Knowledge

    Ultimate Questions (pg. 38-44, Epistemology)

    By the way, Cheung fleshes out the points I was raising above in greater detail. I agree with Cheung here — I in no way agree with Hays’ and Manata’s position on empiricism.

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. But doesn’t that merely confirm that unregenerate men possess “knowledge” of God, His law, and His righteous judgment apart from the propositions set down in Scripture (i.e., it is innate knowledge)? Of course it’s “knowledge” of God that is different in both degree and kind than the “knowledge” possessed by regenerate believers. But it is true “knowledge” about God that is not derived from the propositions of Scripture nonetheless.

    We can’t have it both ways. Either knowledge is “limited to those things either set down in Scripture or deduced therefrom” or it is not. These passages of Scripture seem to teach that “knowledge” is not so limited. There’s no middle ground that I can see.

    I agree there is no middle ground, but the problem is your conclusion doesn’t take into account the many verses where unbelievers are said not to know God. Either men know God or they don’t, right? No middle ground. Thankfully, it would seem your conclusion that knowledge is not limited to Scripture rests on an equivocation of the word “to know.” After all, you say that the knowledge spoken of, and what you call innate knowledge, is “different in both degree and kind.” I agree. But then aren’t we talking about knowledge in a completely different sense? If not, why not? And, if yes, why confuse and conflate these different meanings? After all, Adam knew Eve, the ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib. Are these all examples of knowledge? Was Adam engage in epistemology when he had intercourse with his wife? FWIW I once read a piece by James Jordon which basically argued sex is an epistemic act. No wonder that man’s mind is mush.

    Plus, if what is innate in man is enough to provide knowledge of God, then would you agree that Natural Theology is a viable path to truth? If not, why not? OK, the so-called classical “proofs” have turned out to be colossal failures that shattered on a series of logical and philosophic blunders. Thankfully so, for if the “proofs” were successful they would have disproved the God of Scripture. But, perhaps the failure of NT was temporary just waiting for sub-Vantilians like Sudduth, Anderson, Hays and bad boy Manata to come along. Give me a break. But, hey, they’re just following Mr. Faux Presuppositionalist, C. Van Til who said:

    “Accordingly I do not reject ‘the theistic proofs’ but merely insist on formulating them in such a way as not to compromise the doctrines of Scripture. That is to say, if the theistic proof is constructed as it ought to be constructed, it is objectively valid, whatever the attitude of those to whom it comes may be.”

    Admittedly, VT was never able to produce this “objectively valid” proof, in spite of Clark and others repeatedly requesting that he do so. Perhaps VT was just anticipating the intellectual brilliance of the sophists over at Triablogue. LOL. 🙂

    As to the second point (that knowledge “requires an account”), I’m not sure that follows from Scripture either. In the verses cited above, Paul argues that unregenerate men possess true “knowledge” about God, regardless of the fact that they can’t “account” for how they have acquired it. The propositions of Scripture certainly “account” for how they possess this knowledge about God (“for God has shown it to them” v. 19), but they possess this “knowledge” whether they have read Scripture and can account for it or not. No?

    Again, you said, “Of course it’s “knowledge” of God that is different in both degree and kind than the ‘knowledge’ possessed by regenerate believers,” and, if different then why treat it as if it were the same? What makes the knowledge possessed by believers different? I think Little children often have a better grasp of Christian epistemology then do most adults when they sing, Jesus Love Me This I Know. 😉

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    Here’s two links to Cheung’s discussion of this point … I agree with Cheung here — I in no way agree with Hays’ and Manata’s position on empiricism.

    Thanks Roger. And, don’t worry, I’m not confusing or even comparing you with Hays and Manata. I don’t have time right now to read Ultimate Questions (maybe I’ll just buy the book at some point), but in the shorter piece, Cheung makes the point:

    “Some people have failed to note this distinction in my writings (or mistakenly think that I have failed to make this distinction in my writings), so that they falsely accused me of being incoherent on this point (that is, as if I deny intuition and then appeal to it anyway).”

    Now, I haven’t read enough of Cheung to know how he defines knowledge, but above it should be clear that he is talking about the natural man knowing God *intuitively.* To know God “intuitively” is hardly to define knowledge as justified true belief. I have a hard time imagining that Cheung thinks intuition is indistinguishable from knowledge properly considered in the epistemic sense.

    It would seem that Cheung makes such a distinction here, for he concludes:

    In regeneration, the elect sinner is awakened, as if from a deep slumber away from wisdom and knowledge, and into the light of Christ and Truth:

    “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13–14″

    If in their slumber the elect are in a state “away from wisdom and knowledge,” they couldn’t also be said to posses wisdom and knowledge, could they? If so, then I would think Cheung is inconsistent on this point. So, again, unless I’m missing something, he is discussing “knowledge” in two different senses.

  11. speigel Says:

    You can refer to his “Arguing by Intuition.”

    I am unsure if knowledge is being used in two different senses when we are talking about innate knowledge and knowledge. Knowledge of ecclesiology is different than knowledge of Christology not because knowledge is being used in two different senses; they are both knowledge. But the difference arises because the content of knowledge is different between the two different subjects of study. Likewise, innate knowledge only deals with knowledge of certain propositions and not others. So innate knowledge is knowledge but only with regards to certain propositions related to God’s identity, moral law, etc. (I am not discounting the effect of sin and suppression. That can be fleshed out more later.)

    So before the elect are awaken, they have this knowledge (innate knowledge) but they do not have knowledge of other propositions. If this is true, then Cheung is consistent to say that before the elect are awaken they do not have wisdom or knowledge since they have only a minimal knowledge of God. But after the elect are awaken, they are given more knowledge of God, Christ, and the rest of Christian faith. Cheung is talking about the difference in the (or the amount of) content of knowledge.

  12. Roger Mann Says:

    To know God “intuitively” is hardly to define knowledge as justified true belief. I have a hard time imagining that Cheung thinks intuition is indistinguishable from knowledge properly considered in the epistemic sense.

    Of course Cheung doesn’t think that “innate” knowledge is indistinguishable from “justified true belief.” But his point is that it is still genuine propositional “knowledge” conveyed directly to the mind of man by God. The fact that it is not “justified” or “accounted for” doesn’t disqualify it from being genuine propositional “knowledge” possessed by man. For example, Cheung writes:

    “I affirm that man has an innate knowledge of God, with enough clarity and content so that he is without excuse in denying or disobeying God… When it comes to our innate knowledge of God, Scripture teaches that sinners know God in their minds, but they have, in a morally culpable way, suppressed or repressed this knowledge… But you would like to know why this is still called knowledge, if it is suppressed to the point of being denied. The explanation is that just because you know something does not mean that you consciously think about it all the time. However, if you know something, it does imply that it can potentially be recalled.” (Man’s Innate Knowledge)

    I’m not sure how Cheung could be any clearer here. And he is in agreement with Scripture too. For in Romans 1:18-32 and 2:14-15 Paul argues that unregenerate men innately possess genuine propositional “knowledge” about God (e.g., concerning His attributes, His law, and His righteous judgment), regardless of the fact that they can’t “account” for how they have acquired it. The propositions of Scripture certainly “account” for how they possess this knowledge about God (“for God has shown it to them” v. 19), but they possess this “knowledge” whether they have read Scripture and can account for it or not.

    By the way, from what I can tell, Speigel and I are on the same sheet of music in our understanding of Cheung and Scripture here.

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Paul argues that unregenerate men innately possess genuine propositional “knowledge” about God (e.g., concerning His attributes, His law, and His righteous judgment), regardless of the fact that they can’t “account” for how they have acquired it.

    OK, I guess Cheung then is inconsistent after all and doesn’t make a distinction between a justified true belief and an intuition. So the metaphor of the elect’s unregenerate “slumber away from wisdom and knowledge” doesn’t mean that they didn’t actually didn’t actually possess knowledge prior to being born again and coming to Christ. I was at least trying to draw a distinction between having a “sense” of the divine with actually coming to know God. I thought Cheung was too. I guess I was wrong. My mistake. Cheung then also breaks from Robbins and Clark on this point as well. Thanks for the clarification.

    How then do either of you explain the verses sited above where men apart from Christ are said not to know God. How about just 1 Cor 1:21a; “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God….” If the knowledge of God spoken of in 1 Cor is identical to that spoken of in Romans 1 it would seem that men know and do not know God is the same sense and at the same time.

  14. speigel Says:

    Again, I think knowledge can be differentiated by the content of knowledge. So 1 Cor.1:21a can refer to different content than Romans 1.

    I still do not understand what you mean when you say Cheung is inconsistent when he talks about knowledge (JTB) and intuition. Can this be fleshed out more?

    Cheung does not endorse any positive view of empiricism even when he talks about innate knowledge. Cheung states that innate knowledge comes, not by way of sensation, but by divine impartion since man is a creature made in the divine image. So man has innate knowledge of God apart from experience.

    What does it mean to have a “sense of the divine” without it constituting some knowledge of the divine? I think Clark once said that to say God is unknowable means that at least one aspect of God is knowable – knowledge that God is unknowable. Cheung elaborates this a little more as to what content is in this “sense of the divine.”

    I also think there should be some elaboration of what it means to “give an account.”

  15. Roger Mann Says:

    OK, I guess Cheung then is inconsistent after all and doesn’t make a distinction between a justified true belief and an intuition.

    No, Cheung is very consistent and makes complete sense here. He’s simply defining “innate knowledge” as genuine propositional knowledge that cannot be accounted for apart from Scripture, whereas “justified true belief” is genuine propositional knowledge that can be accounted for by Scripture. In other words, he’s defining propositional knowledge in accordance with Romans 1 and 2, rather than imposing the definition of “justified true belief” as being the only legitimate definition of propositional knowledge.

    So the metaphor of the elect’s unregenerate “slumber away from wisdom and knowledge” doesn’t mean that they didn’t actually didn’t actually possess knowledge prior to being born again and coming to Christ. I was at least trying to draw a distinction between having a “sense” of the divine with actually coming to know God. I thought Cheung was too. I guess I was wrong. My mistake. Cheung then also breaks from Robbins and Clark on this point as well. Thanks for the clarification.

    Speigel already answered this point when he said:

    “So before the elect are awaken, they have this knowledge (innate knowledge) but they do not have knowledge of other propositions. If this is true, then Cheung is consistent to say that before the elect are awaken they do not have wisdom or knowledge since they have only a minimal knowledge of God. But after the elect are awaken, they are given more knowledge of God, Christ, and the rest of Christian faith. Cheung is talking about the difference in the (or the amount of) content of knowledge.”

    That is absolutely correct. When the elect are “awakened” or regenerated they are given much more knowledge than they innately possessed. The contrast Cheung is emphasizing with this metaphor is quantitative not qualitative.

    How then do either of you explain the verses sited above where men apart from Christ are said not to know God.

    Some of the verses are emphasizing the relational difference between the ungodly who “do not know God” (i.e., they are in rebellion and “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”) and the godly who “know” God in the intimate sense of loving God and having peace with Him. But 1 Corinthians 1:21 is referring to the false and foolish “wisdom of the world” (e.g., empiricism), not the genuine innate “knowledge” about God that all men possess.

  16. Sean Gerety Says:

    I still do not understand what you mean when you say Cheung is inconsistent when he talks about knowledge (JTB) and intuition. Can this be fleshed out more?

    I don’t know how to flesh it out more. If knowledge is defined as JTB and also as an intuition then your speaking about knowing in two different senses. If that’s not what you mean and intuition somehow rises to the level of knowledge understood as a justified true belief, and knowledge in both instances are to be understood in precisely the same sense as you insist, then per the Scriptures men can be said to know and not know God in the same sense and at the same time.

    I am no expert on Cheung, but I find it hard to imagine this is what he meant. But, then, I don’t believe Cheung considers himself a Scripturalist, even though he has clearly drawn heavily from Clark’s work.

    What does it mean to have a “sense of the divine” without it constituting some knowledge of the divine?

    Because it lacks an account. Clark said, “Knowledge must be account for.” I don’t see how anyone can account for the apriori in man, what you are calling “innate knowledge,” apart from Scripture, hence I don’t see why anyone should call the apriori in man knowledge. It just confuses things.

    I also think there should be some elaboration of what it means to “give an account.”

    To give an account is to provide a theory of how you know. As Clark said above:

    The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted [and, I might add, the status of the apriori in man is not fixed until a theory has been accepted]. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K. But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps, that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle.

    I think Clark gives ample examples of what this means in any number of his works, but I would start with Intro to Christian Philosophy. You might want to look at his discussion apriorism and why he chose the axiom of Scripture as the starting point for the Christian system.

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    No, Cheung is very consistent and makes complete sense here. He’s simply defining “innate knowledge” as genuine propositional knowledge that cannot be accounted for apart from Scripture, whereas “justified true belief” is genuine propositional knowledge that can be accounted for by Scripture.

    If (A) can be account for, and, (B) cannot be account for, and knowledge is defined as a true opinion with an account of its truth or simply JTB, then why call (B) knowledge?

    How is this not a case of equivocation?

    It seems to me that you are confusing true belief with knowledge and Clark said, “Knowledge must be accounted for.”

  18. Roger Mann Says:

    I’m neither equivocating nor confusing true belief with knowledge. I’m simply defining “knowledge” in accordance with Romans 1 and 2. Paul says that God directly imparts genuine innate “knowledge” to all men apart from Scripture. This “knowledge” consists of true propositions concerning God’s attributes, moral law, and righteous judgment. And this “knowledge” exists within us as genuine knowledge regardless of whether it is ever “accounted for” or “justified” by reading and understanding the propositions of Scripture. Indeed, our innate “knowledge” of God would remain genuine knowledge even if (hypothetically) God had never revealed Himself in Scripture and we could never account for it. My position is not only consistent but biblical. To say that “knowledge” only consists of biblical propositions that can be accounted for is, quite simply, unbiblical.

  19. speigel Says:

    I haven’t had time to read through all the details in the reply. But I wanted to clarify a point. I didn’t mean to suggest that knowledge isn’t justified true belief. Nor did I mean to suggest that Cheung defines knowledge as other than JTB. This is why I asked what it means for a true belief to be accounted for.

    On the side, I don’t want to possibly misrepresent Cheung (as some have done in other sites) so I shall keep to only my opinions to the topics.

  20. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m neither equivocating nor confusing true belief with knowledge.

    Of course you are. You call that which you cannot account for knowledge. You call that which you can account for knowledge. You are equivocating on the sense of the word. Intuition is knowledge. JTB is knowledge. Sexual intercourse is knowledge. Even an ox responding to his masters voice is knowledge in Scripture.

    You’re starting to sound like those who cry ALL means ALL while asserting God’s universal desire for the salvation of all in 1Tim 2:4 and the word “world” in John 3:16 is proof of universal atonement.

    If epistemology is properly concerned with JTB, then Romans 1:19 does not apply since it is concerned with that which men know *intuitively.* That which they understand but cannot account for so they seek to suppress it. Besides if intuitions constitute knowledge, then I’m hard pressed to see how you can possibly differentiate between any number of propositions commonly believed to be true from knowledge.

    And, since I’m repeating myself, I may as well repeat Clark who said it better: “One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished.”

    Clark was concerned with developing a biblical epistemology. You’re evidently interested in something else.

    My position is not only consistent but biblical. To say that “knowledge” only consists of biblical propositions that can be accounted for is, quite simply, unbiblical.

    Dr. Robbins was right when he said; “This war against giving an account is, at bottom, a war against rationality.” What is unbiblical is to think every time a word is used it is being used in the same sense.

    And, since I’m just repeating myself, you may have the last word.

  21. Roger Mann Says:

    You are equivocating on the sense of the word. Intuition is knowledge. JTB is knowledge. Sexual intercourse is knowledge. Even an ox responding to his masters voice is knowledge in Scripture… What is unbiblical is to think every time a word is used it is being used in the same sense.

    Get serious, Sean. You know very well that I never suggested that every time a word is used in Scripture it is being used in the same sense. Indeed, I made that quite clear when I wrote:

    “Some of the verses [you referred to] are emphasizing the relational difference between the ungodly who “do not know God” (i.e., they are in rebellion and “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”) and the godly who “know” God in the intimate sense of loving God and having peace with Him. But 1 Corinthians 1:21 is referring to the false and foolish “wisdom of the world” (e.g., empiricism), not the genuine innate “knowledge” about God that all men possess.”

    All that’s beside the point anyway. In Romans 1 and 2 Paul is speaking about the intellectual “knowledge” of propositional truths concerning God’s attributes, moral law, and righteous judgment. He’s not using the word in a non-literal or metaphorical sense; he’s using it in the proper sense of intellectual perception or understanding of propositional truth. To argue that this doesn’t constitute genuine knowledge because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of “justified true belief” is ridiculous! Where do you derive such a definition from anyway? Scripture? Where does Scripture teach such a thing? Certainly not in Romans 1 and 2! So, where? Where does Scripture teach (either explicitly or implicitly) that knowledge only consists of “justified” true belief?

    The fact is that the innate “knowledge” spoken of in Romans 1 and 2 is genuine knowledge. It is “unjustified” knowledge in the sense that it cannot be “accounted” for apart from Scripture. But it is genuine knowledge nonetheless. Once we have read and understood Romans 1 and 2 it becomes “justified” knowledge (because we can now “account” for it) — but it was genuine knowledge revealed to us by God all along. That is what Scripture clearly reveals. Therefore, that is what I will stand by.

  22. Joel Says:

    Excuse me for bumping an old discussion, but it seems to me that all of this can be harmonized if we simply understand that in Romans 1:18-32 Paul was referring ONLY to the Old Testament Jews.

    See this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-3tGv4K1DQ and this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXDKCA9MJ2o

    This interpretation disproves the notion that God gives the unregenerate, biblically-ignorant man “innate knowledge” of Himself. The Jews “knew” God because it was to them that he revealed Himself through the Law and the Prophets. These are the “men” Paul had in mind in Romans 1.

    I agree with Roger Mann: If the conventional interpretation of Romans 1 is followed, Scripturalism runs into difficulty.

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Joel, yeap you’re resurrecting the dead 😉

    While I don’t have the time to listen to 20 min worth of youtube vids, I would agree OT Jews had “the oracles of God” and even unbelieving Jews had some knowledge of God on that basis and to their judgment, as do unbelieving self-professed Christians who have tasted the “good things of God.” OTOH I disagree that Romans 1:18-32 is in reference to OT Jews alone given that the immediate context very much includes Gentiles, such as:

    14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
    15 Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    However, if Romans 1:18-23 was exclusively addressed to apostate Jews (an exegetical position I do not grant other than for the sake of argument)then how do apostate Jews account for that which is innate within them apart from the revelation of Scripture? I don’t know how this is possible and if there is no account, why call it knowledge?

    Again, my disagreement with Roger is his assertion that “this “knowledge” exists within us as genuine knowledge regardless of whether it is ever “accounted for” or “justified” by reading and understanding the propositions of Scripture.” The problem is if knowledge is defined as justified true belief and Roger calls this “knowledge” even though it is UN-accounted for and UN-justified, then I argue we’re not talking about the same animal.

    I would say that men intuitively “know” God and the word knowledge in this context is to be understood in the colloquial sense. Men claim to know any number of things which may be true that they cannot account for. That doesn’t mean that what they think is un-true, just that without any account how would we know? Normally we call these things opinions or even intuitions, but we don’t call it knowledge in the epistemic sense. You might, but then how do you differentiate opinions from knowledge or just simple ignorance? Or are they all one and the same?

    I also agree that men by nature retain true propositions concerning God within them (why wouldn’t I, the Bible says that the do) and consequently all have a sense of God and the judgment they are under, but I don’t confuse this with knowledge in the strict sense.

    Finally, I agree that if the conventional interpretation of Romans 1 is followed (and even yours doesn’t appear to be very conventional), then not only does Scripturalism run into difficulty, but then evidentialism and the empiricism which underlie it have biblical warrant (that is the conventional interpretation after all). I mean, why not? If knowledge does not require an account or justification, then I suppose just about anything qualifies as “knowledge” and epistemology rather than being the cornerstone of philosophy — even Christian philosophy — is just a pointless waste of time.

  24. drake Says:

    Sean,
    I wanted a bit more on the idealism thing. Gus G and I have spoken about the idealism thing before and from our discussions I would take myself as a proposition in the contents of God’s mind that do not partake of the attributes. Gus descriobes it like a can of soup. In passing I discuss this in my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdN3sZXlImU. The video deals with divine simplicity. I would not take Aquinas’ actus purus construction but Augustine’s earlier simple construction. If you have time let me know what you think.


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