John Robbins Quick Quote

Periodically heated discussions breakout concerning the question of assurance, arguably one of the least understood doctrines especially by those who ought to know better.  The confusion rests on the error of attempting to rest one’s assurance on the knowledge that one is saved and the claim that our blessed state can be deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture.  This is false.  The Westminster Confession never makes this claim even stating that assurance does not belong to the “essence of faith,” but rather is a gift that “a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it.”  It follows that if knowledge of one’s election could be deduced from Scripture, then the true believer would not have to wait long or struggle for assurance at all for; all they would need to do is simply deduce their eternal blessedness from the Scripture.

But, that my friends, is impossible.

Quite a few years ago on a Scripturalist discussion group run by Dr. Robbins, this question regarding assurance and knowledge basically brought the group to a grinding halt and no progress could be made on either side.  While Dr. Robbins did not participate in the back and forth at that time, he did offer the following insight.  I post it hear not so much to revisit this question of assurance, or even to rebuke those who find themselves on the other side of this debate, but because there is so much practical wisdom and insight into the Scripturalism of Gordon Clark in John’s response that it deserves its own post:

Folks,

It seems that when a discussion gets underway on this list some members prefer to return to the question of whether one can now know one is saved. Then follows all sorts of confusion that would take days to sort out, probably to no one’s satisfaction. So no progress is made.

First, the issue is not skepticism. Even if a sinner cannot know (in the proper sense of the word) that he is saved — and so far no one has shown that he can — Scripturalism furnishes us with many truths when all other methods fail, and so skepticism is avoided.

Second, knowledge requires explicit statements in Scripture or deductions from Scripture. It is not the same as assurance or certitude or certainty.

Third, opinions may be true or false. (It is absurd to say that some propositions are neither true nor false.) So Jack’s (a hypothetical person) opinion that he is saved may indeed be true, but no one has yet shown how he can deduce it from Scripture. Those who think he can so deduce it must show how it can be so deduced — but don’t try it here for at least a year.

Fourth, Jack’s failure is not due to any doubt about Scripture (and it is impossible to doubt a proposition one believes — one either assents or one does not) but solely to the problem of self-knowledge. He knows the major premise, All believers are saved. He opines the minor premise, I am a believer. Therefore the conclusion, I am saved, can rise no higher than opinion.

Finally, the question is not how does one know one knows? but how does one know? Scripturalism says, one knows only by explicit statements in or valid inferences from Scripture.

Now, gentlemen, move on to another topic.

JR

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232 Comments on “John Robbins Quick Quote”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    Even if a sinner cannot know (in the proper sense of the word) that he is saved — and so far no one has shown that he can…

    How did J.R. use “know” as compared to St Paul and St John?

    Paul, in 2nd Timothy 1:12 ~ I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

    And John in his first epistle:

    …we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. 3:24

    And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 4:13

    …we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 5:20f

  2. LJ Says:

    Interesting that this is almost EXACTLY what we have been discussing.

    Is it a fallacy to include any one believer in the “we” of the passages Hugh cited?

    The Apostle Paul KNEW and was persuaded and John stated that “we” have KNOWN and believed. These are clear scriptural statements of KNOWLEDGE.

    Why must we negate the proposition “I know I’m saved” even though we realize we are not Apostles or the specific believers they were addressing in the scripture? Why cannot “I” be included in the “we?” How do Paul and John inform the major and minor premises, especially P2, of our syllogism?

    Were the believers the Apostles were writing to in the same boat as we are today? If so, why did the Apostles tell them positively they could or should KNOW?

    Popping the turkey in the oven NOW!😍

    LJ


  3. There is no doubt that the WCF says what you say it does. However, Clark disagreed with the WCF at another point where the WCF says that the believer CAN obtain an infallible assurance at the end of the long struggle you mention. Furthermore, Clark admitted that Calvin and the other Reformers DID teach that an infallible assurance could be attained after a long struggle. Clark disagreed because he said times had changed and the Reformers were no longer being martyred. But the real question is whether or not the information in the Scriptures changed? I would say it doesn’t. And if you read Clark’s book, What Is the Christian Life? He affirms the doctrine of eternal security from the perspective of perseverance. So it would seem that Clark is somewhat ambivalent on this point.

    And worse, your attack on assurance, although technically correct if you read the WCF in a one-sided fashion, is incorrect because you reject what else the WCF says about the matter. In short, you, sir, are dangerously close to the same neo-orthodox irrationalism you claim to reject. Even worse, you are implying that assurance is absolutely impossible, which Clark never said. He did say that good works contribute to assurance. 1 John surely teaches that. But Clark also taught eternal security and the perseverance of the saints. If one could not have any knowledge that leads to assurance, why doe the WCF teach it and why did Clark say that assurance can be supplemented by loving God, obeying God.

    Justification by faith alone is the basis for all assurance–even Clark admitted that. But without sanctification and the struggle against sin there is a tendency for lawlessness. Clark objected to antinomianism and so he appealed to sanctification as necessary for assurance after a long struggle with sin. But then, if justification has no part in our assurance, maybe you could curse and immediately get hit by a truck and go straight to hell? I guess the thief on the cross could have no assurance whatsoever and there could be no assurance for the person on their deathbed who had lived a grievously sinful life?

    You go on and on about Clark but you keep neglecting the one emphasis Clark made over and over again. The Bible is a system of propositional revelation and all the parts are in systematic relation to all the other parts.

    You really should brush up on your systematic theology, Gerety. You’re making yourself look stupid, which is not good for the Clarkian camp.

    And last time I checked, only the pope gets to pontificate. If you cannot demonstrate your view is in accord with the whole system, then you’re not following Clark’s apologetics.

    Yes, there are other people who have a mind and can read Clark for what Clark said himself. Firsthand sources are always better than reading secondhand interpretations on blogs.

    I could look up the sources and demonstrate what I have said here but I think anyone who has read most of Clark’s books would agree that Clark said assurance is possible.

    What part of “infallible assurance” do you not understand, Gerety?

    CHAPTER XVIII—Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation

    1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation (Job 8:13–14, Micah 3:11, Deut. 29:19, John 8:41) (which hope of theirs shall perish): (Matt. 7:22–23) 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, (1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:14,18–19,21,24, 1 John 5:13) and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. (Rom. 5:2,5)
    2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; (Heb. 6:11, 19) but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, (Heb. 6:17–18) the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, (2 Pet. 1:4–5, 10–11, 1 John 2:3. 1 John 3:14, 2 Cor. 1:12) the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, (Rom. 8:15–16) which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. (Eph. 1:13–14, Eph. 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:21–22)
    3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it: (1 John 5:13, Isa. 50:10, Mark 9:24, Ps. 88, Ps. 77:1–12) yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 John 4:13, Heb. 6:11–12, Eph. 3:17)….

    The Westminster confession of faith. (1996). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

    Save yourself the embarrassment and delete this post. That’s fine. I plan to challenge you at every point where to pull things out of context from here on. Remember that I have my own blog. When I change my mind, I admit that was wrong. You have yet to concede that you make any mistakes at all in your logic.

    Sincerely yours,

    Charlie

  4. Hugh McCann Says:

    Amen and amen.

  5. Hugh McCann Says:

    Assurance does actually “belong to the essence of faith,” but is assailed by doubts and fears of the flesh.

    Again, here we side with the continental Reformed, a la the Heidelberg Catechism.

    But the Westminsterites got the antidote right – “the right use of ordinary means”! 🙂

  6. Hugh McCann Says:

    Heidelberg Catechism

    Q & A 21

    Q. What is true faith?

    A. True faith is not only a sure KNOWLEDGE by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;1 it is also a wholehearted trust,2 which the Holy Spirit creates in me3 by the gospel,4 that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also,5 forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation.6

    These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.7

    1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19
    2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16
    3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14
    4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
    5 Gal. 2:20
    6 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10
    7 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10

    Not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope [AT ALL!] – but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation. Indeed!

  7. James Says:

    [Friends, the following is meant for myself moreso than any of you. But I think it is applicable to this discussion. Enjoy.]

    Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes

    What knowledge do you have that this is not the case with you?
    The thief had Christ’s own words directly to him about him.

    I am a believer

    How do you know that?

    Clark on 1 John 5:13:
    Assurance of eternal life can be deduced from the knowledge that one is a believer. Of course, as the Negro Spiritual says, “Everybody talking about heaven ain’t goin there.” With constant frequency people are assured of things that are untrue. Indeed certainty increases in direct proportion to ignorance. The less educated a man is, the more things of which he is certain. If this obvious truth disturbs anyone, he should also realize that assurance is not essential to salvation. Different people have different mentalities. John Bunyan was so morbid he could hardly have had much assurance. With others more careless, doubts never arise. But if one knows, if one has a clear intellectual understanding that he believes, he should have legitimate assurance.

    do you know – do you have a clear intellectual understanding – that you believe? “Clear intellectual understanding” would be akin to what the thief had when Christ told him. So what info do you have that transforms your opinion into ‘clear intellectual understanding’?

    So far I have seen nothing like that in your replies – nothing that would add up to knowing that the “vainly deceive oneself with false hopes” is not the case with you.

    FSA,
    let it be true that you are a believer and you believe that. What transforms your true belief into knowledge?

    Perhaps you will claim – the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God;, etc..

    ok nice – but as has been pointed out many have claimed exactly that for their own cases and sadly are now gone from the fold. So unlike those self deceivers – how do you know that is actually the case with you? What info do you have that separates you from the self deceived who at one time claimed the same things you have claimed? I know that the thief had such…but you?

    whatcha got?


  8. Without minimizing the other items in this list, it is well to emphasize knowledge. If one wishes assurance, he will try to increase his knowledge. Knowledge is mentioned twice in the section. Therefore, if one wishes assurance that he is regenerated, let him ask himself, Do I study the Scripture? How much of it do I know? Some people know so very little; some people believe so very little; some evangelists must have so very little assurance.

    A final note on this point returns us to the Romanists. The Council of Trent said that it would require supernatural revelation to know whether one was predestinated to eternal life. These directions in the Bible on how to attain assurance show that without extraordinary revelation, simply by the right use of the ordinary means, we may attain to the assurance of faith.

    A third point concerning assurance is one that is logically implied by what has already been said. Yet it deserves an explicit mention. The Westminster Confession puts the matter very strongly. “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 evidences 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” (17:2).

    Though the wording is very clear, it may be necessary in this age to point out two places where a misunderstanding may arise. First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible. This would be a reversal to the Romish position that a supernatural revelation is necessary. All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation. Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.

    Gordon H. Clark (2013-03-04T05:00:00+00:00). What Is The Christian Life? (Kindle Locations 3384-3403). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

    Thus, Robbins’ assertion that the Bible gives no knowledge that leads to assurance is not the view espoused by Dr. Clark or the Westminster Confession. I’ll go with Dr. Clark’s view. Maybe some of you guys should try reading Clark’s comments in the context of his total body of works? It is patently false that “our blessed state” cannot “be deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture.” If that is so, then why does Clark say that it can? Clark specifically says, “The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible.” And lets not forget that the WCF says that it is the Holy Spirit who makes the Bible real to us:

    ….Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: (John 6:45, 1 Cor 2:9–12)…

    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures. Section 6.

    The Westminster confession of faith. (1996). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


  9. >>>What info do you have that separates you from the self deceived who at one time claimed the same things you have claimed? I know that the thief had such…but you? <<< It's very simple:

    They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 John 2:19 NKJ)
    Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25 NKJ)

    Ain't it amazing how the Bible has all the answers? If you persevere in the faith, the proof is your perseverance. And why should any believer doubt God's promises to save? It is those who no longer believe who prove they are not elect. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt your election unless you are planning to commit apostasy? God promises to preserve you from apostasy–unless you just insist on walking away:) In that case you simply prove you were never saved to begin with.

    Charlie


  10. Of course new believers may struggle a long time before attaining assurance. And those who fall into grievous sins lose that assurance for a time. But reading these exceptions into all Christians is illogical and irrational.


  11. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJ)


  12. So much for logic:

    It follows that if knowledge of one’s election could be deduced from Scripture, then the true believer would not have to wait long or struggle for assurance at all for; all they would need to do is simply deduce their eternal blessedness from the Scripture.

    The WCF does not make this statement as a general statement that is true of all true believers as you imply. Therefore, your conclusion is a non sequitur. What the WCF says is that “This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it…” That little word “MAY” implies contingency. In other words, it is not saying that ALL true believers struggle long and hard before attaining assurance. There are those who are plagued with doubts. There are those who have a false assurance because they continue to practice grievous sins, etc. But neither of these exceptions mean that no true believer can attain assurance from moment of their conversion. This is because assurance is rooted and grounded in justification by faith alone. On this foundation sanctifcation flows out naturally.

    Your error therefore is in assuming that the “may” means “all” without exception. So some “may” struggle with assurance, but do all??? I think not.


  13. Good thing I stopped reading your blog to learn what Clark says. Good scholarship reads the primary sources, not someone else’s opinion of what the original writer intended.

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie, limit your posts to one, maybe two, posts at a time to allow people who care to respond. If you’re going to resort to the shotgun approach I’ll have to moderate your posts and I don’t want to do that.

  15. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thus, Robbins’ assertion that the Bible gives no knowledge that leads to assurance is not the view espoused by Dr. Clark or the Westminster Confession. I’ll go with Dr. Clark’s view.

    Not to give the impression that I care, but I wonder if you have jumped in not knowing what this discussion has been about or even what John Robbins was referring to much less Clark? Although, it is a little unnerving that you cannot see that Clark and Robbins are in total agreement. Read Clark again and pay attention to these words:

    The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible.

    Please refer to the previous thread where P2 was discussed in light of the imagined inspiration of “The Book of Hugh.”

    The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation. Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.

    Again, a complete rejection of the idea that P2 is an object of knowledge. In addition, notice the complete harmony with JR’s points 3 and 4.

  16. LJ Says:

    Oh, yeah, “The Book of Hugh,” I saw that. He kicked butt, walked all the way to Alcatraz, and had the King James Bible memorized; blind yet full of assurance and P too😎!!!!!


  17. So we do not need an extraordinary “revelation” in addition to Scripture. We can by good and necessary consequence, by the illumination of the Bible by the Holy Spirit attain the information from the Scripture to have saving faith and a knowledge that we are indeed in right standing with God. Justification has a purpose. That purpose is to lead to sanctification and glorification and heaven. But the foundation of it all is justification by faith alone. If you think your good works can justify you, then you have a false assurance. But surely knowing Scripture is sufficient for both saving faith AND assurance and since Clark defined saving faith as knowledge plus assent, it logically follows that your agnosticism is both unbiblical and out of line with the Westminster Confession of Faith as well as out of line with Dr. Clark’s views. I could care less what Robbins said. I’m sticking strictly to Clark’s views since I am not convinced that Robbins was anywhere near the level of theological and logical acumen that Clark demonstrated. I gave you the quotes. If you disagree with Clark, just say so instead of the vague posturing, Gerety.


  18. I have jumped in knowing that your post gives the impression that Christians must be agnostic about their salvation and assurance. If that is your position, say so plainly and admit that you’re not a Christian. If it is not your position, then you ought to be more clear in your assertions. Stop equivocating and making a doctrine out of a minor point in the WCF that is more fully explained by the whole system of theology summarized in the Confession. You cannot divorce one part from the whole and claim to be a Clarkian. Enough said. As for the moderation, don’t piss me off. You cannot block your blog from public view and I will surely expose your idiocy if you say anything that is unbiblical, unsystematic, unconfessional and/or out of line with what Clark actually said in the context of his total system of thought.


  19. It is a contradiction to assert that saving faith = knowledge + assent if you then assert that Scripture gives no information that can be known that would lead to assent and/or assurance. Therefore, not only is Robbins in direct disagreement with Scripture and the WCF, he is in direct conflict with Dr. Gordon H. Clark, who said the exact opposite. Simply because “some” people are hypocrites and have a false assurance does NOT mean that no one can have assurance. Furthermore, it does not mean that every true believer must struggle long and hard to “earn” or “merit” assurance. Justification is by faith alone and even our faith is a gift… So some true believers struggle with assurance and “may” after a long struggle attain assurance. But where, pray tell, does the Bible, the WCF, or even Dr. Clark say that no true believer can have assurance without a long struggle to earn it, merit it or attain it? Such stupidity is a direct contradiction to the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the doctrine of regeneration. Regeneration, according to Dr. Clark, causes a change in habitus. If the habits of one’s thinking and life have changed and one has saving faith as defined by Scripture and Dr. Clark, then it logically follows that the justifying faith and the sanctification purposed and produced by that justifying faith can and does result in assurance from the beginning. Nowhere does the WCF say that ALL true believers MUST struggle long and hard to attain assurance. Your logic is therefore flawed based on the plain teaching of the propositions of Scripture and on the basis of the WCF and Dr. Clark’s interpretation of it.

    You really should stop with the ducking and dodging, Sean and just answer a straight question with a plain answer. Your equivocations and evasions just make you look like an irrationalist.

    So yah, go ahead a block me and continue to evade my points and continue to refuse to answer them plainly. Any fool can see what you’re doing. Pontificating as if you’re the pope is not how Dr. Clark handled disputes. Listen to his question and answer sessions in the class lectures and in his formal lectures. Clark never dodged a question once. He always answered straightly and plainly.


  20. Hint: contradicting the Bible and the WCF is not a good idea. If Scripture is insufficient information to lead to saving faith and assurance, then why would God reveal the information in the propositional revelation of Scripture in the first place? We only need Scripture, not some internal revelation from God. Scripture tells me that if I believe, I can be saved and assured. If not, why bother with evangelism? Any plow boy can read the Bible and be saved. 2 Timothy 3:15. Your view, in short, is the Papist view.


  21. If extraordinary revelation or personal revelation is refuted, it follows that the Bible is SUFFICIENT for both saving faith AND assurance. Hello? Don’t tell me you’re too stupid to see the plain meaning of Scripture, Sean? What does the doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture teach? Stop with the stupid pontifications to us stupid plow boys who just take the Word of God as it is plainly stated:)


  22. Oh, and I should remind you that Hodge says that sanctification is infused and subjective. Is that a personal revelation since it’s subjective???? Hello?


  23. Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 16

    Question 44. Why is there added, “he descended into hell”?
    Answer. That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord
    Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged
    during all his sufferings, but especially on the cross, hath [h] delivered me from the anguish and torments of
    hell.

    [h]: Isa. 53:10;
    Mat. 27:46

    Isaiah 53:10King James Version (KJV)
    10 Yet it pleased the Lord
    to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul
    an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
    and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

    Matthew 27:46King James Version (KJV)
    46 And
    about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,
    lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
    me?

  24. Sean Gerety Says:

    I asked you nicely Charlie. One to two post at a time. I’m not a fan of your shotgun approach so I am going to moderate your post so other people will be able to get a word in edgewise should the so desire.

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    So we do not need an extraordinary “revelation” in addition to Scripture. We can by good and necessary consequence, by the illumination of the Bible by the Holy Spirit attain the information from the Scripture to have saving faith and a knowledge that we are indeed in right standing with God. Justification has a purpose.

    Here, I’ve modified LJ’s argument for you. Since you think this is just “vague posturing” please deduce P2 from Scripture. And, remember, for P2 to be the conclusion of a valid argument whatever we find in in your conclusion must be also found in one of your premises.

    P1: And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. I John 5:20

    P2: Charlie Ray is included in the universe of believers.

    :. Charlie Ray knows that the Son of God is come.

    I’m sticking strictly to Clark’s views since I am not convinced that Robbins was anywhere near the level of theological and logical acumen that Clark demonstrated.

    You’ve already proven that you have not understood “Clark’s views” since you clearly don’t understand what Clark wrote even in what you posted above so you surely won’t understand Clark when he said:

    “It may be suggested for sober consideration whether or not those who are most easily assured of salvation are least likely to be saved.”

  26. Roger Says:

    If extraordinary revelation or personal revelation is refuted, it follows that the Bible is SUFFICIENT for both saving faith AND assurance. [Charlie J. Ray]

    That seems to be the WCF’s position to me, Sean. God’s promises of salvation contained in Scripture are wholly sufficient for both justifying faith and assurance of one’s salvation. Do you reject that this is the position of the WCF? Or do you simply believe that the WCF is wrong on this point?

    And couldn’t LJ’s argument be reworded this way?

    P1: And we [i.e., all who believe the promises of the gospel] know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. I John 5:20

    P2: Since I believe [i.e., assent to] the promises of the gospel, I am included in the universe of believers.

    :. Therefore, I know that the Son of God is come, and I am in Him who is true, even Jesus Christ the Son of God, and I have eternal life.

  27. Hugh McCann Says:

    Yes, Roger. But Sean’s retort is that P2 cannot be proven from Holy Writ.

    See our argument at https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/filling-the-breach-justification-by-belief-alone-pt-2/

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, it’s not that the argument isn’t valid. It is. The question is where did you get P2? I’m not doubting it is true and I may even be assured of its truth simply by the many interactions we’ve had over the years, but I also admit that I could be wrong. Which is why P2 is an opinion because unlike knowledge which is always true, opinions can be either true or false. Consequently, your conclusion does not rise to the level of knowledge.

  29. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, Given your concerns, how do we understand the apostles’ knowledge in the quotes I gave in the first comment, above?

  30. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, consider again the two places where misunderstandings arise according to Clark in that passage Charlie Ray cited but didn’t understand:

    “Though the wording is very clear, it may be necessary in this age to point out two places where a misunderstanding may arise. First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible. This would be a reversal to the Romish position that a supernatural revelation is necessary. All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation. Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.”

    Consequently, we may, even with some plausible justification, believe P2 and your conclusion to be true, but only P1 is infallible. Your own testimony about yourself, or my own about myself, is not an implication from revelation. The Scriptures teach us that the “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” IMO, we should have no assurance in ourselves. Our assurance, our confidence, should come from the promises of the Gospel alone. Those are the things we can know and are properly the objects of knowledge.

  31. LJ Says:

    Allow me to ask again …

    P1: And we [i.e., all who believe the promises of the gospel] know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. I John 5:20

    P2: Since I [being included in the class of all who believe and are, therefore, regenerate] assent to the promises of the gospel, I (fill in the blank …) am included in the universe of believers.

    :. Therefore, I know that the Son of God is come, and I am in Him who is true, even Jesus Christ the Son of God, and I have eternal life.

    I still cannot see why this restatement of P2 isn’t deduced from Scripture.

    LJ

  32. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hugh, two things. First, you can know who you say you believe because the truth of Christ has been revealed in Scripture. Put in terms of this argument you can know P1. Consequently, like Paul. you too should be “convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

    Second, you can also know that Paul, who as an inspired Apostle, was chosen by Jesus Christ Himself and is elect because that too is revealed in the propositions of Scripture. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending how you look at it), I cannot know at this time whether or not the same applies to Hugh McCann or Sean Gerety simply because that is something, among many other things in life that I believe to be true, has not been revealed to me. I claim no Charismatic gifts, least of all prophesy or words of knowledge (apart from those things explicitly set down in Scripture or validly deduced from them).

    Hope that (finally) helps.

  33. Sean Gerety Says:

    I still cannot see why this restatement of P2 isn’t deduced from Scripture.

    You can restate P2 over and over again in any way you want, but it is the “I” that has not been deduced from Scripture. You were right when you said before on the other thread that you are asserting the consequent and continue to do so. So obviously you do “see” it. My guess is that you’re just not happy with what you see. 😉

  34. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, Can you not know at this time whether or not the same applies to St John or St Paul simply because that is something, among many other things in life that [you] believe to be true, has not been revealed to you?

  35. LJ Says:

    Ha, that is likely the case. I probably should not take the view that my OPINION that I’m in Christ is necessarily a bad thing. It is indeed my opinion, my strong opinion, by God’s grace and I’ll rest there👍and have a glass of leftover Thanksgiving wine🍷, since I’m no teetotaler🙊.

    Cheers,
    LJ

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, LJ, let me just add since we’re talking about asserting the consequent, the argument from Charlie and others seems to be that unless I can *know* in the strict sense that I am a believer and therefore am able to deduce my elect state, then I cannot have assurance. Of course, this too doesn’t follow and begs the question.

  37. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, We get that the *I* cannot be deduced by Scripture alone, thus making my election of God unknown to you. Unknowable, actually, because unprovable.

    But I can (& do) know that I am elect, regenerate, justified, saved. 🙂

  38. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, You may have missed this one from earlier: Given your concerns, how do we understand the Apostles’ knowledge in the quotes I gave in the first comment, above?

  39. Sean Gerety Says:

    But I can (& do) know that I am elect, regenerate, justified, saved.

    I give up. I can’t compete with your private revelations.

  40. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, You’re not being asked to “give up.” I didn’t know this was a competition.

    I agree that you cannot know my elect status, and I cannot tell it to you via biblical propositions alone. Yes, there has to be a “private revelation” if you must call it that – a witness of the Spirit that we are God’s children – by virtue of the fact that we believe the saving gospel.

    What of the Apostles and their knowing their salvation, however?

  41. Roger Says:

    Roger, it’s not that the argument isn’t valid. It is. The question is where did you get P2?

    I get P2 from knowing the propositions that I assent to within my own mind. I know that I voluntarily assent to the propositions of the gospel, just as I know that I do not assent to the proposition that Muhammad is God’s prophet. If I cannot know the propositions that I do or do not assent to within my own mind, then perhaps I’m in fact a Muslim and should be preparing for Jihad as we speak! 😉 Seriously, though, if the most we can attain to is a fallible “opinion” that we believe the gospel, then any assurance of salvation is impossible, just as the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

    Roger, consider again the two places where misunderstandings arise according to Clark in that passage Charlie Ray cited but didn’t understand.

    I disagree with Clark’s interpretation of WCF 17:2 here. It doesn’t say that “infallibility belongs to the promises of God,” even though God’s promises are indeed infallible. It says that our “certainty” (not “opinion”) of salvation “is grounded upon…an infallible assurance of faith.”

    “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 evidences 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” ( WCF 17:2).

    IMO, we should have no assurance in ourselves. Our assurance, our confidence, should come from the promises of the Gospel alone. Those are the things we can know and are properly the objects of knowledge.

    I agree that “we should have no assurance in ourselves,” and that our confidence in being saved “should come from the promises of the Gospel alone.” But if we cannot “know” whether we believe the promises of the gospel or not, then the fact that they “are properly the objects of knowledge” is meaningless! In that case I have no “knowledge” of whether I believe the promises of the gospel or not. Great! That does me a whole lot of good! I’m now left with zero confidence or assurance that I am in fact saved!

    If our definition of “knowledge” flatly contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture, then we need to start over and come up with a new definition!

    “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

    According to Scripture, those who “believe” the gospel can in fact “know” that they have eternal life!


  42. >>>“It may be suggested for sober consideration whether or not those who are most easily assured of salvation are least likely to be saved.”<<<

    So the context of Clark's remark is false assurance, which the WCF adequately deals with. In short, Gerety does not agree with the WCF or Dr. Clark. Like the Van Tilians, Gerety is asserting agnosticism and contradictions. The only way he can win an argument–like most heretics–is to silence the opposition.

    So in short, Gerety is using a non sequitur to assert his agnosticism. If no one can know they are saved, then the logical conclusion is that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is a moot and meaningless doctrine. I would contend that Gerety is not only out of line with the Scriptures, the WCF, and Dr. Clark… But he is also out of line with what I have read from John Robbins.

    Formulating a formal syllogism to obfuscate the plain meaning of the WCF on the issue of assurance is just plain dishonest. I keep noticing that a so-called Scripturalist completely ignores the Bible and just resorts to bare rationalism. Scripture, not rationalism, is the source of ALL knowledge. That knowledge is revealed logically and without violation of the law of contradiction. Gerety has contradicted all of it.


  43. You’ll be converting to Rome, soon, Gerety. Mark my words:)

  44. LJ Says:

    @Roger: I also thought GHC’s WCF 18:2 (not 17:2 as you stated above) interpretation was odd. Substitute the word “belief” for the word “faith” and it seems even more clear.

    “2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope;[353] but an infallible assurance of BELIEF founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation,[354] the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made,[355] the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God,[356] which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.[357]”

    Once again, Roger, as on numerous other occasions I find your ability to write and communicate refreshing and your argument compelling. I now look forward to Sean’s response!

    This is a great discussion and my prayer 🙏 is that the truth of the doctrine, whatever it is, will be finally evident for all to know. That would make the late great GHC very pleased were he here to observe the dialogue.

    LJ

  45. LJ Says:

    Roger, the one passage that keeps coming back is Jer. 17:9.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?”

    Is this passage apropos to the discussion? The BELIEVER is given a new heart (mind) of flesh, a living mind, replacing the old heart (mind) of stone that was dead.

    What, exactly, does it mean for any man to KNOW anything? The saving propositions are objective and true, given by a God. But the knowing act, the believing, must of necessity be subjective … and who but God can know (that)? Can we indeed know with certainty? The scriptures seem to say so (1 JN 5:13). If not, what’s the purpose of the exhortations to KNOW?

    But in the last analysis it is, to the individual, purely subjective; the good fruit adds only probability not certainty. So we accept the good confession and count one within the true Faith who outwardly manifests the Christian life.

    Now to prepare for church out here on the Left Coast!

    Blessings,
    LJ

  46. LJ Says:

    Correction: “… given by God.” Not “a God” as I accidentally wrote above🙊.

  47. Roger Says:

    Roger, the one passage that keeps coming back is Jer. 17:9. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” Is this passage apropos to the discussion? The BELIEVER is given a new heart (mind) of flesh, a living mind, replacing the old heart (mind) of stone that was dead. — LJ

    LJ, I believe that John Calvin rightly interprets Jeremiah 17:9, which can be read in its entirety here:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom18.ix.ix.html

    Nevertheless, however one interprets Jeremiah’s words, we can’t make them mean that a regenerate sinner is incapable of “knowing” the thoughts within his own mind, for that would flatly contradict the clear teaching of Scripture elsewhere:

    “For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)

    Scripture plainly teaches that we not only “know” the thoughts of our own mind, but we may also know “the things that have been freely given to us by God,” which includes the gift of eternal life.

    “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

  48. Sean Gerety Says:

    I get P2 from knowing the propositions that I assent to within my own mind. I know that I voluntarily assent to the propositions of the gospel, just as I know that I do not assent to the proposition that Muhammad is God’s prophet.

    At least you make no pretense of deriving, much less deducing, P2 from the propositions of Scripture. But, then, you also don’t make any pretense about being a Scripturalist unlike faux-Scripturalists like Charlie Ray. 🙂

    For you, and I guess for other here as well, your assurance rests, at least in part, in your confidence in yourself and in your own mind. The problem is that I’m quite sure in your life you have given assent to any number of propositions that you no longer believe to be true, so on what basis is your “voluntarily assent to the propositions of the gospel” any different? What is it about the nature of this particular set of beliefs that is different from other beliefs you one time held but now reject?

    Charlie Ray said I should “mark his words” and that I will soon be converting to Romanism. Now, the likelihood of me converting to Romanism or you to Muhammadanism is arguable pretty slim (despite Charlie’s optimism in my case), but how do you know that one day you might not? I never would have guessed that the one time winner of the Clark Prize in Apologetics, Michael Sudduth, would today be a professing Hindu of the Vaishnava Bhakti or Hare Krishna variety. How bizarre is that? Now, admittedly, that is a very extreme example, but then Paul was explicit when he said; “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Consequently, your assurance which rests, even in part, in your admitted confidence in yourself seems to be a very precarious basis for assurance.

    If I cannot know the propositions that I do or do not assent to within my own mind, then perhaps I’m in fact a Muslim and should be preparing for Jihad as we speak! 😉 Seriously, though, if the most we can attain to is a fallible “opinion” that we believe the gospel, then any assurance of salvation is impossible, just as the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

    That doesn’t follow. Your assurance should rest on the infallible propositions of Scripture alone and the knowledge of Christ, quite apart from the tenuous and often times fickle nature of your own beliefs. Minds often change and I suspect even your own, whereas God’s word never changes. Paul said we are to have no “confidence in the flesh.” Our boast, our confidence, should be in Jesus Christ and His finished work and that doesn’t require any confidence at all in my own self knowledge.

    Roger, consider again the two places where misunderstandings arise according to Clark in that passage Charlie Ray cited but didn’t understand.

    I disagree with Clark’s interpretation of WCF 17:2 here. It doesn’t say that “infallibility belongs to the promises of God,” even though God’s promises are indeed infallible. It says that our “certainty” (not “opinion”) of salvation “is grounded upon…an infallible assurance of faith.”

    At least unlike Charlie you understood Clark’s meaning if only to disagree with it. However, assurance is not part of the “essence of faith,” so I would say Clark is correct and that while our assurance rests on our knowledge of Christ, which IS the essence of faith, assurance is not the same as knowledge. It is a psychological state of mind. Besides, there are plenty of people certain of their own salvation and who will even cry “Lord, Lord” but are lost.

    I agree that “we should have no assurance in ourselves,” and that our confidence in being saved “should come from the promises of the Gospel alone.” But if we cannot “know” whether we believe the promises of the gospel or not, then the fact that they “are properly the objects of knowledge” is meaningless!

    That’s not true Roger. You said you “get P2 from knowing the propositions that [you] assent to within [your] mind,” so it follows that you do find at least part of your assurance in yourself.

    “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

    According to Scripture, those who “believe” the gospel can in fact “know” that they have eternal life!

    Which is just another restatement of the major premise, not the minor one. The major premise has never been in contention.

  49. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey, LJ & Roger,

    Thanks for stuff on Jer. 17:9. Of course v.10a says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, which is precious little comfort to the unbeliever, but should remind us that he knows all, and NOW – in Christ – finds in us no fault at all.

    But back to the matter at hand: We have the mind of Christ; we’re not merely flesh anymore, with nothing but a wicked, depraved, and deceitful heart.

    Now we have a circumcised heart, a new heart!

    We are in Christ Jesus and Christ liveth in us. He is made our wisdom not merely judicially or legally, but his Spirit/ mind is given to us to know things freely given us of God! Such as our justification, salvation, etc.

  50. Hugh McCann Says:

    Like John’s recipients, we know we have eternal life.

    Like Paul, we know Whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep us and has delivered us!

  51. LJ Says:

    Page 20, “What do Presbyterians Believe,” P&R Publishing, Clark writes:

    P1 “Him that commeth to me I will in no wise cast out.”
    P2 I come to Jesus.
    :. Jesus will not cast me out.

    Is this a syllogism validly asserting assurance?

    LJ

  52. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ve already said, more than once already, the argument is valid. The validity of the argument is not in question. What is in question are those who say P2 is an object of knowledge and not just a matter, as you correctly pointed out, of asserting the consequent.

    I really don’t think this is at all difficult, but then I didn’t think justification by belief alone was at all provocative, much less controversial. I didn’t even think James’ post on the other thread which got this ball a rollin’ was either provocative or controversial either. But. hey, what do I know? I used to think Christianity was the rational faith, but so many from every direction have been working overtime to prove me wrong. The P&R world is a strange place, and the wider ersatz-Evangelical world is even stranger. I’m surprised I have any assurance at all.

  53. Steve M Says:

    P1 Scripture says “all men are sinners”
    P2 I am a man
    Therefore, I am a sinner

    I am now questioning whether it is possible for me to know from Scripture that I am a sinner. Scripture nowhere mentions that Steve M is a man. I am not sure if I can deduce by good and necessary consequence from Scripture that I am a man. If I am not a man, I may not be a sinner. If I am not a sinner, I have no need of either salvation or assurance of salvation.

    Just food for thought…

  54. Roger Says:

    At least you make no pretense of deriving, much less deducing, P2 from the propositions of Scripture. — Sean

    Correct. The Scripturalist dogma that we can only “know” what can be deduced from Scripture contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture itself. God has directly imparted “knowledge” of Himself to all men apart from the special revelation of Scripture:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened… And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:18-32)

    Moreover, as I’ve already pointed out, Scripture also explicitly teaches that men “know” their own thoughts apart from deducing them from Scripture:

    “For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)

    Scripture plainly teaches that we in fact “know” the thoughts of our own mind. Therefore, I “know” that I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, just as I “know” that I don’t believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet. If I didn’t “know” that I in fact believe in Jesus, then I’d have no basis for any assurance of salvation, and all the comfort afforded by the gospel vanishes in to thin air!

    For you, and I guess for other here as well, your assurance rests, at least in part, in your confidence in yourself and in your own mind.

    No, my assurance of salvation rests solely upon the merit and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins, since I believe that the propositions of the gospel are true. But, if you are correct, and I don’t “know” whether I believe the gospel or not, then I can’t have any assurance of salvation at all! Thankfully, Scripture explicitly teaches that I can in fact “know” that I believe the gospel, because I “know” my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). And on that basis — that I in fact “believe” the gospel — I “know” that I have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

    The problem is that I’m quite sure in your life you have given assent to any number of propositions that you no longer believe to be true, so on what basis is your “voluntarily assent to the propositions of the gospel” any different? What is it about the nature of this particular set of beliefs that is different from other beliefs you one time held but now reject?

    Sean, if your position is correct, then I can’t even “know” whether or not I’ve “given assent to any number of propositions” that I no longer believe to be true. If I don’t “know” my own thoughts, then how could I?

    But since I do in fact “know” my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), it is indeed true that I used to believe a number of propositions that I no longer believe to be true. And the only reason why I “know” this won’t happen regarding the propositions of the gospel is because, like the Apostle Paul, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Since I “know” that I’m a believer (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), I “know” that I have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and will never fully or finally fall away from the faith (John 10:28).

    Now, admittedly, [the case of Michael Sudduth] is a very extreme example, but then Paul was explicit when he said; “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Consequently, your assurance which rests, even in part, in your admitted confidence in yourself seems to be a very precarious basis for assurance.

    Again, my confidence rests solely upon Christ’s merit and sacrifice for my sins, since I believe that the propositions of the gospel are true. But I couldn’t have confidence in Christ’s merit and sacrifice for my sins if I didn’t “know” that I believe the gospel. There’s simply no basis for assurance if your view is correct!

    As far as 1 Corinthians 10:12 is concerned, I believe that Calvin rightly expounds this passage:

    12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth. The Apostle concludes from what goes before, that we must not glory in our beginnings or progress, so as to resign ourselves to carelessness and inactivity. For the Corinthians gloried in their condition in such a way, that, forgetting their weakness, they fell into many crimes. This was a false confidence of such a kind as the Prophets frequently reprove in the Israelitish people. As, however, Papists wrest this passage for the purpose of maintaining their impious doctrine respecting faith, as having constantly doubt connected with it, let us observe that there are two kinds of assurance.

    The one is that which rests on the promises of God, because a pious conscience feels assured that God will never be wanting to it; and, relying on this unconquerable persuasion, triumphs boldly and intrepidly over Satan and sin, and yet, nevertheless, keeping in mind its own infirmity, casts itself upon God, and with carefulness and anxiety commits itself to him. This kind of assurance is sacred, and is inseparable from faith, as appears from many passages of Scripture, and especially Romans 8:33.

    The other arises from negligence, when men, puffed up with the gifts that they have, give themselves no concern, as if they were beyond the reach of danger, but rest satisfied with their condition. Hence it is that they are exposed to all the assaults of Satan. This is the kind of assurance which Paul would have the Corinthians to abandon, because he saw that they were satisfied with themselves under the influence of a silly conceit. He does not, however, exhort them to be always anxiously in doubt as to the will of God, or to tremble from uncertainty as to their salvation, as Papists dream. In short, let us bear in mind, that Paul is here addressing persons who were puffed up with a base confidence in the flesh, and represses that assurance which is grounded upon men — not upon God. For after commending the Colossians for the solidity or steadfastness of their faith, (Colossians 2:5,) he exhorts them to be rooted in Christ, to remain firm, and to be built up and confirmed in the faith. (Colossians 2:7.)

    What it boils down to, Sean, is that the position you are espousing exhorts believers “to be always anxiously in doubt as to the will of God, or to tremble from uncertainty as to their salvation, as Papists dream.” For my part, I will rest on the promises of God, and derive my confidence from them alone, for I “know” that I believe them to be true and immutable and without error.

    Our boast, our confidence, should be in Jesus Christ and His finished work and that doesn’t require any confidence at all in my own self knowledge.

    How can our confidence be in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross if we don’t “know” whether we believe the promises of the gospel or not? We can only have confidence in Christ if we believe the gospel! But if we don’t “know” that we in fact believe the gospel, then we can’t have any confidence in Him, and we can’t have any assurance of salvation. Period. Full stop. End of story.

    You have no way around this dilemma, Sean! My goodness, what a bankrupt philosophy to doggedly cling to!

    That’s not true Roger. You said you “get P2 from knowing the propositions that [you] assent to within [your] mind,” so it follows that you do find at least part of your assurance in yourself.

    No, having assurance “in myself” would require believing that my “belief” in the gospel is self-initiated and contributes something toward my justification. But I don’t believe that. My belief in the gospel is merely the God-given instrument for receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ, which is what my justification solely rests upon!

    But, again, Sean, if you don’t even “know” whether you believe “in Jesus Christ and His finished work” on your behalf, then on what basis do you have any genuine assurance whatsoever? You have none, plain and simple! Not only do you not “know” whether you will be finally saved at God’s eschatological judgment, but you don’t even “know” whether you are saved at this present time. Again, what a bankrupt philosophy to doggedly cling to!

    Which is just another restatement of the major premise, not the minor one. The major premise has never been in contention.

    I’ve already explained how I get the minor premise – from “knowing” my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). Nevertheless, 1 John 5:13 explicitly teaches that believers may “know” that they have eternal life. And they can’t “know” that they have eternal life unless they also “know” that they are in fact believers! There’s no alternative here, Sean. Therefore God’s word itself plainly refutes your position.

  55. Roger Says:

    P1 Scripture says “all men are sinners”

    P2 I am a man

    Therefore, I am a sinner

    I am now questioning whether it is possible for me to know from Scripture that I am a sinner. Scripture nowhere mentions that Steve M is a man. I am not sure if I can deduce by good and necessary consequence from Scripture that I am a man. If I am not a man, I may not be a sinner. If I am not a sinner, I have no need of either salvation or assurance of salvation.

    Just food for thought… — Steve M

    Steve, if Sean’s position is correct, then it’s even worse than that! I “believe” that Scripture teaches that “all men are sinners.” But since I can’t really “know” that I in fact believe that particular doctrine (since I don’t even “know” my own thoughts), then Scripture may not teach that “all men are sinners,” and we have no need of a Savior after all! Who “knows?” Nobody!

  56. Hugh McCann Says:

    Taken to its logical extreme, we’d not be able to say with certainty or knowledge that we’re saved, or sinners, or even men, since our names do not appear in Scripture.

    Thus, how can you know that you exist, Sean?

    What Steve M & Roger have said.

    Please answer my repeated question about John & Paul’s knowledge compared to ours. Thanks.

  57. Ron Says:

    There seems to be foundational premise (clearly put forth by James above) that if some have lied to themselves about salvation, then none can know they are saved. To be consistent and non-arbitrary wouldn’t we then have to conclude the more encompassing thesis that since some have been wrong about some things, all cannot know anything? In other words, it seems arbitrary to me to limit this principle that would deny knowledge of personal salvation. It would seem that to avoid arbitrariness we’d have to say that the possibility of being wrong about some things precludes knowledge of any and all things.

    I believe the question “what knowledge do you have…” misses the point. The pertinent question would seem to be whether the Spirit ever testifies salvation to the believer, which He does not with respect to the unbeliever. The distinction is that deception does not come with the same robust affirmation that accompanies the Spirit’s testimony when knowledge obtains. Not even close. That some even confuse the two (self confidence with the Spirit’s testimony) does not imply that all must in all cases. If God can communicate our salvation to our minds then it really doesn’t matter whether some have thought they were saved when God hadn’t communicated such knowledge.

    The thief had Christ’s own words directly to him about him.

    This scenario does not remain true to Scripturalist strictures as I understand them. According to Scripturalist strictures, how did the thief know it was the Son of God on the cross? How did the thief know the Son was actually addressing him? How did the thief know that he even existed or wasn’t dreaming? For the thief to know these things requires knowing things not contained in Scripture. Now, of course, some might say that Scripture was in the making and contained these propositions (a tall order indeed to show) but even so, what we call “Scripture” does not contain most of the revealed preconditions that must be known in order for Scripture itself to be intelligible. God’s forms of revelation work together, including revelation of one’s self. For *me* to know from Scripture that Jesus lives presupposes I must know that I exist. The intelligibility of special revelation presupposes knowledge acquired through general revelation. Let someone show that I can know that Jesus exists without knowing I exist.

    Were the “eyewitnesses” of the risen Christ not capable of knowing it was Christ without Scripture informing them? Surely they were culpable for what they witnessed. Should Thomas have continued to believe that he didn’t know that he touched Jesus after he had touched Him? Or maybe he knew only way after the fact, when it became a proposition of Scripture that he had touched Jesus. In the like manner, do the heavens declare the glory of God only after learning they do from special revelation? If so, then it would not be the heavens that declare God’s glory.

    Finally, it’s interesting that Clark when engaging George Mavrodes on revelation and epistemology referenced Romans 8:16 as a proof-text to defend the Reformed and biblical position that we know the word of God by the persuasive power of the Holy Spirit. The thing I find strange is that Romans 8:16 discloses the means by which we can know we are sons of God in Christ, one of the very things Scripturalists deny we can know.

    As Clark intimated (and Ronald Nash concurred), Scripture is not ink on a page, let alone sounds in the air, but God’s living revelation to man. As such, Bible translations may theoretically contain propositions that are false, even heretical, which would both imply and corroborate that the propositions contained therein must be considered on their own merit and received not because they are bound in a book that bears a particular title but only if they have the fingerprint of God upon them. We receive God’s word on His authority, not Nelson’s or Zondervan’s. In this sense, strictly speaking, we cannot know that verses such as 1 John 5:13 are true simply because they are recorded in a “Bible” translation: “These, things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” That verse, like all verses, is a non-tangible proposition that awaits divine confirmation of its truth (yet it does not gain its intrinsic authority upon that confirmation). Just as special revelation works alongside general revelation, so it is that the Spirit testifies to the Word. Regarding the proposition “Ron knows he has savingly believed in Jesus,” that too, albeit not Scripture, is no less a proposition that exists in the mind of God, just like 1 John 5:13 does. (I couldn’t otherwise know that the proposition existed if it did not first exist in God’s mind.) Now of course God knows whether the personal proposition is true, just like he knows whether 1 John 5:13 is true. The only question is whether God ever bears witness to one’s personal salvation based upon promises contained in Scripture. I guess one’s answer to that question would at least in part depend upon what he thought of Romans 8:16: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

    Seriously, though, if the most we can attain to is a fallible “opinion” that we believe the gospel, then any assurance of salvation is impossible, just as the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

    Roger,

    Although I agree with what you’ve been arguing, I don’t think this follows. I see you repeated the sentiment this morning so I’d thought I’d mention it all the more. It’s the word “any” I would take issue with. Aren’t I justified in having some degree of assurance that a plane will safely transport me to an intended destination without knowing it will? If so, then how does an opinion that does not rise to the level of knowledge preclude any assurance (or confidence) that the opinion is true?

  58. LJ Says:

    This discussion is very, very edifying as it should be. Sean, while I think you have planted your flag on the wrong hill on this one, you should be very glad and thankful God has given you this venue and the Saints to engage in the discussion. I, for one, thank you for this blog since, even by taking in error the antagonistic position, you have drawn out a very important and edifying debate.

    I admit that I have been whipped about and vacillated first one way then another not knowing and finally doubting what was true. Also, admittedly, I had NEVER evidently given this sufficient thought and, as such, really didn’t understand the blessed assurance I really possessed. But now I do!

    I think it’s time to give it up and enjoy the God-given assurance you must have in spite of the skepticism of your argument.

    The truth, as our Lord says, shall set you free.

    LJ

  59. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am now questioning whether it is possible for me to know from Scripture that I am a sinner. Scripture nowhere mentions that Steve M is a man. I am not sure if I can deduce by good and necessary consequence from Scripture that I am a man. If I am not a man, I may not be a sinner. If I am not a sinner, I have no need of either salvation or assurance of salvation.

    Good question and you are correct and you cannot know you are a man. John was challenged on this question years ago on the old Yahoo by Michael “Hare Rama” Sudduth and here is his reply. Also, hopefully you can see the relevancy of John’s remarks to the questions raised here and in the previous thread (emphasis mine):

    Mike,

    All men are sinners.
    Michael Sudduth is a man.
    Therefore, Michael Sudduth is a sinner.

    The syllogism is valid. Do you deny that Michael Sudduth is a man? If so, you have a problem.

    It matters not that Scripture nowhere says that Michael Sudduth is a man. If you think you are a man, you are required by the syllogism to think that you are a sinner. The syllogism remains valid however you arrived at the conclusion that Michael Sudduth is a man.

    If you happen to think you are an angel, Christ came to save sinners, not the righteous. You have excluded yourself from salvation.

    It matters not whether you have knowledge or true belief of the minor premise. The conclusion follows. The syllogism is valid.

    As I understand it, your views would eliminate knowledge in the precise sense, altogether. Are we expected to think that is an improvement?

    Finally, T. E. Wilder thinks that you (Sudduth) are just what the doctor ordered. Does he realize that you are rehashing so-called “Reformed Epistemology,” which is neither Reformed nor, strictly speaking, epistemology?

    Robbins

    Here’s another post from John in reply to Hare Rama Sudduth:

    Knowledge is always true. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5. Opinions may be true or false. Ignorance is neither true nor false. What distinguishes a true opinion from knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons.

    [Michael] Sudduth dared me to provide any passage of Scripture that so defines knowledge. It seems to me that there are many. For example, “Be ready to give a reason….” “To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.” “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account on knowledge.

  60. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, while I’m at it, here is the complete follow up to another one of John’s interlocutors, Jim Beale, that I posted above. Beale went apoplectic at John’s response to Sudduth. It’s funny how history repeats itself and how ignorant Clark’s critics are concerning the problem of epistemology not to mention what Clark wrote. Again, emphasis mine.

    #373

    In a message dated 1/22/1999 10:27:21 AM Eastern Standard Time,
    beale@… writes:

    All this is absurd and irrelevant. You beg the question in
    the large. How do *you* know you are not an angel, an extra-
    terrestrial or a gerbil? On what grounds do you *include*
    yourself among those for whom salvation is possible? That
    was the original question, and one which you have carefully
    avoided answering (or so it seems). I don’t think you can,
    and so you employ ad hominem.

    (If you ever did answer a question directly without employing
    ad hominem, I think I would faint! 😉

    Get the ammonia ready, Jim.

    First, Christ used ad hominem arguments frequently, and I am simply imitating his example. I invite you to read “The Apologetics of Jesus and Paul” at trinityfoundation.org.

    Second, your objection is of the same ilk as those who say, How can I obey the Ten Commandments if I don’t know who my wife is. Well, GHC gave one answer to that question [see the Clark/Hoover debate Q&A for starters – SG], and I gave another many years ago, but since Clark critics are reluctant to take the trouble to acquaint himself with what Clark or I have written, let me repeat myself.

    The statements and commands in Scripture apply to all our thoughts, whether they rise to the level of knowledge or not. We are to bring every thought into captivity to Christ, that is, into captivity to Scripture.

    I distinguish–as the Bible and Plato do–between three noetic states:
    knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. Perhaps you do not so distinguish. But why would you not distinguish between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and ignorance? It seems to me that a refusal or failure to distinguish between these three states can lead only to greater confusion.

    Knowledge is always true. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5. Opinions may be true or false. Ignorance is neither true nor false. What distinguishes a true opinion from knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons. Sudduth dared me to provide any passage of Scripture that so defines knowledge. It seems to me that there are many. For example, “Be ready to give a reason….” “To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.” “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account on knowledge.

    In the strict sense no one in the twentieth century knows that he is a man, for he has not deduced it from the Bible. (Now perhaps such a deduction is possible, and I would be open to an argument on that point.) It is an opinion we hold. You do not know that you are a man. Your opinion may be true, but unless you can show me the argument, it does not rise to the level of knowledge. If you claim to know that you are a man, please show me the argument. Please do not water down, dilute, or make ambiguous the definition of the word “knowledge.” Don’t blur it with opinion. Don’t bother citing immediate “self-knowledge” or some such notion, for the Scriptures explicitly say: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” What you take to be easily come by, the Scripture says is impossible. Why should anyone believe you rather than Scripture?

    So if we have the opinion that we are men, then the syllogism I provided is neither absurd nor irrelevant; it is right on target. We may or may not be correct in our opinion, but if we have that opinion, if you have that opinion, you are required to believe that you are a sinner.

    See Christ’s answer to the Pharisees who wanted to know why he ate with sinners.

    Robbins

  61. Sean Gerety Says:

    OK, just one more (for now) of Robbins Speaks from the Grave. 🙂

    #406
    [Clark] Re: [clark] simple question

    Jim,

    Once again, let me try to explain. You exist. I exist. We all exist.
    “Existence” is a word that applies to everything without exception. So far as your argument rests on the notion that Clark taught that we might not exist, or that we cannot know we exist, it fails.

    Everything exists. The important question, as Clark explained many times over, is not, Do we exist, but, What are we? What we are we learn only in Scripture. There we learn what men are and what sinners are. Nowhere else do we or can we learn those things.

    John says that he has written that we may know–that is, it is the
    writing–the Scripture–that gives us knowledge. He does not say that extra-Biblical knowledge–if there could be such a thing–is needed. He says the Scripture is sufficient. In that he agrees with Paul in 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Colossians, etc. One who believes the Gospel, whether he is assured or not, can have the true belief that he is saved. When Clark spoke of deduction, I suppose he had in mind a syllogism such as the one I suggested earlier:

    All who believe the Gospel are saved.
    I believe the Gospel.
    Therefore, I am saved.

    Now the question is, Can we be mistaken about whether we believe the Gospel? Yes, we can. Do you deny that? It is not possible that the proposition “All who believe the Gospel are saved” is false. That is a revealed truth. But we may deceive ourselves about what the Gospel is, and about our own state of mind. Christ says that many church leaders will appear before him on the last day, assured of their salvation, only to be thrown into Hell. That is, they believe, incorrectly, the proposition “I am saved” to be true. They are
    assured of eternal life, but they do not know they have it. Assurance is a state of mind, not a quality of propositions. Biblical assurance comes from believing the Word of God, as John says.

    In your last paragraph you speak in terms of belief–good.
    Beliefs–opinions–may be true or false. You seem to be laboring under the impression that Clark taught that all opinions are false. They are not. Opinion merely cannot be shown to be true. In an attempt to show their assurance to be based on truth, the unfortunate damned in Matthew 7 appealed to extra-Biblical evidence of their belief.

    There are many warnings in Scripture–take heed, lest you fall–that the Arminians have misused to teach that a person can lose his salvation, but which in my opinion bear on this very question of self-deception. If anyone wants to be assured of his salvation, he must stop looking at himself and look only at Christ. The error of those in Matthew 7 who are turned into Hell is that they cite their own accomplishments, not Christ’s.

    I apologize for the length of this post. This medium does not lend itself to such length.

    Robbins

  62. Sean Gerety Says:

    Going through some old Yahoo posts and couldn’t help myself with one more Robbins Speaks From the Grave and another response to Jim Beale. I’m sure that those following this discussion will pick up on it’s relevancy (again, emphasis mind):

    #455
    [Clark] Re: simple question

    Jim,

    Let me point out the errors in your latest post.

    First, I asked if you saw any epistemological difference between the two propositions “All who believe the Gospel are saved” and “Jim Beale believes the Gospel.”

    You responded by citing a logical, not an epistemological distinction: One proposition is universal and the other is not. (Actually both are universal propositions, but that is another story.) Then you go on to say that one proposition is exegeted from Scripture and the other is not. Very good. I take that to be an epistemological distinction. It implies (though you do not say it) that one proposition is revealed, and one is not. It implies (though you do not say it) that one is infallibly true, and the other may be mistaken. Is it possible that you are mistaken, Jim? Or are you claiming to be infallible, just as Scripture is?

    Your second response says that special revelation does carry some weight in your epistemology. What weight is that? You assert that propositions not found in Scripture are just as infallible as propositions found in Scripture. In fact, you imply that you can know yourself (and all men can know
    themselves) infallibly.

    Third, you seem stuck on the word “know” in 1 John. You should know that the Scriptures are written in ordinary, not technical, language. Paul and James both use the word “justification,” but they mean quite different things by it. It is the job of the systematic theologian and exegete to clear up the ambiguities, point out the different usages, and at times, invent new terms to clearly express what the Scriptures teach–terms such as Trinity. But you insist in interpreting terms, as I have already shown, in such a way that
    makes the Bible contradict itself. Since we know the Bible does not and cannot do that, we ought to interpret Scripture in a logically consistent fashion.

    The contradiction you see in me is really the contradiction you have imposed on Scripture by your misinterpretation of Scripture and your elevation of your opinions to the epistemological level of Scripture. The infallible hope that the WCF refers to is not our subjective hoping, but the promises of Scripture, Jim. You have misunderstood the WCF as well. If assurance is infallible, it is because it is based solely on the infallible statements of Scripture, not because it is based on our infallible knowledge of ourselves or some combination of self-knowledge and revelation. Your argument requires you to be as infallible as Scripture. Vox Beale, vox Dei. Finally, if Jeremiah were the only passage that teaches the void of knowledge outside of Scripture, you might have a point, but there are scores of such passages.

    Robbins

  63. Hugh McCann Says:

    So, let me get this right, according to Sean’s (and others’ ?) definitions of “knowledge,” we cannot KNOW whether we’re
    saved, or sinners, or men, or in existence.

    So, how did John & Paul know and want us to know?

    Also, Ye shall know the truth, LJ, and the truth shall set you free, but according to Sean & J.R., you’re not to know this.

  64. Sean Gerety Says:

    Correct. The Scripturalist dogma that we can only “know” what can be deduced from Scripture contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture itself. God has directly imparted “knowledge” of Himself to all men apart from the special revelation of Scripture:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them…. (Romans 1:18-32).

    Yet, Paul elsewhere says that God will come” in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” But you assert that all men know (and I assume by putting the world knowledge in quotes you mean in the strict or philosophic sense). So, how can all men know and not know God? Do you think you might be equivocating on the word to know here? I do.

    As John Robbins pointed out long ago on the old Clark list trying to unpack the confusion of one of his interlocutors who similarly tripped up over the various senses of the word to know:

    Obviously the word “know” is used in Scripture in various ways. Adam knew his wife. The ox knows his master. And all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. It is only the latter sense that merits the name “knowledge” in philosophy, where we try to use words in a strict sense, and avoid some of the confusions of colloquial language.

    Now, I take it that you’re not interested in knowledge in the philosophic sense, but this discussion hinges on it so that’s where you should keep your focus if things have any hope of moving along.

    Scripture plainly teaches that we in fact “know” the thoughts of our own mind. Therefore, I “know” that I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, just as I “know” that I don’t believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet.

    I’m not sure if you’re grasping the distinction here, but knowledge is always true. While I hope it is always true that you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, how can you possibly know that you always will? I think you’re being just a tad presumptuous. Peter had a lot of bravado and was pretty sure of himself too, yet when push came to shove he denied Christ three times.

    Again, while it may seem like an extreme example (when actually it is not), if you haven’t yet watched the Showtime series “Homeland” you should. In it a Marine is taken captive and tortured and eventually converted to Islam and becomes a sleeper agent for a terrorist cell (great show btw). Take heed lest you fall and some falls are bigger than others. Just ask Mike Sudduth!

    If I didn’t “know” that I in fact believe in Jesus, then I’d have no basis for any assurance of salvation, and all the comfort afforded by the gospel vanishes in to thin air!

    As repeatedly explained this is a non sequitur. As John Robbins correctly observed; “Assurance is a state of mind, not a quality of propositions.” You and others are dead set on making it about the quality of propositions, specifically the proposition P2.

    No, my assurance of salvation rests solely upon the merit and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins, since I believe that the propositions of the gospel are true.

    That is simply not true. You said; “I get P2 from knowing the propositions that I assent to within my own mind.” You have not deduced P2 from Scripture. It is the product of your own mind. The only thing you’ve done is to assert 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 while pressing Paul’s analogy too far, that is unless you want to assert that your own thoughts are the way, the truth, and the life and that in Roger are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    As John said; “If anyone wants to be assured of his salvation, he must stop looking at himself and look only at Christ.”

    Sean, if your position is correct, then I can’t even “know” whether or not I’ve “given assent to any number of propositions” that I no longer believe to be true. If I don’t “know” my own thoughts, then how could I?

    My point exactly. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

    What it boils down to, Sean, is that the position you are espousing exhorts believers “to be always anxiously in doubt as to the will of God, or to tremble from uncertainty as to their salvation, as Papists dream.” For my part, I will rest on the promises of God, and derive my confidence from them alone, for I “know” that I believe them to be true and immutable and without error.

    If you would reason more and emote less you would see that I do rest assurance on the promises of God and encourage people to derive their confidence from them. Unfortunately, P2 and the proposition “I believe the Gospel” or one of its variants, is not a promise of God. But, then, I see assurance as a state of mind and I don’t have such a low view of opinions as many here do. I don’t find it at all distressing that P2 hasn’t been shown to rise to the level of knowledge and I’m quite happy with that as it is all the more reason to not put any confidence in myself. Even my continued belief depends of the work of God the Holy Spirit as, I guess unlike you, I’m “prone to wander Lord, prone to wander.”

    How can our confidence be in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross if we don’t “know” whether we believe the promises of the gospel or not?

    Because I believe my opinion about myself in this case is true and I try to make a distinction between knowledge, opinion and ignorance. As I’ve said elsewhere and you either didn’t notice or didn’t care, but the argument P1) All who believe the gospel will be saved, P2) I believe the gospel, therefore I am saved is a valid argument. And, if I believe P2 then I am biblically and logically bound to believe the conclusion even if P2 remains an opinion that I hold at least for now. Recall, we are to bring all our thoughts, including our opinions, into captivity and subjection to Christ.

    That said, knowledge requires an account, a view Van Til and Bahnsen shared (so this view isn’t unique to Clark), and a consistent biblical philosophy would require me to account for my belief in my own salvific state from the Bible and I’m not at all nonplussed that I can’t do it.

    I believe that my name is written in the book of life despite myself and despite Charlie’s prophetic skills and Allan Strange’s claim that I am akin to an Arian for maintaining justification by belief alone. However, I won’t know it until that day when my Lord says; “Well done, good and faithful servant for standing for Justification by Belief Alone when even your wayward brothers like Ron DiGiacomo, Lane Keister and Allan Strange didn’t get it.” I can hope can’t I? 🙂

    We can only have confidence in Christ if we believe the gospel! But if we don’t “know” that we in fact believe the gospel, then we can’t have any confidence in Him, and we can’t have any assurance of salvation. Period. Full stop. End of story.

    I guess so if you don’t care about logic or about maintaining a consistent biblical philosophy. There’s always so-called “Reformed Epistemology.” Maybe you’ll be happy with a that. Michael Sudduth was.

    That’s not true Roger. You said you “get P2 from knowing the propositions that [you] assent to within [your] mind,” so it follows that you do find at least part of your assurance in yourself.
    _____
    No, having assurance “in myself” would require believing that my “belief” in the gospel is self-initiated and contributes something toward my justification.

    It doesn’t matter how it was initiated. Maybe it was delusion-initiated. You have not provided an account, any account at all, for P2. You merely have asserted it over and over and you seem to think that saying the same thing in mantra like fashion will somehow change P2 from and opinion into knowledge.

    Which is just another restatement of the major premise, not the minor one. The major premise has never been in contention.
    I’ve already explained how I get the minor premise – from “knowing” my own thoughts

    And I’ve already explained that your assertion to self-knowledge is just that, an assertion. 1 Cor. 2:11-12 doesn’t support your claim at all since people claim to “know” all sorts of things that turn out to be false. You stretch Paul’s analogy too far.

    Nevertheless, 1 John 5:13 explicitly teaches that believers may “know” that they have eternal life. And they can’t “know” that they have eternal life unless they also “know” that they are in fact believers! There’s no alternative here, Sean. Therefore God’s word itself plainly refutes your position.

    Know in what sense?

  65. Hugh McCann Says:

    I don’t know about this discussion! 😉

    But I now know that I’m not interested in knowledge in the philosophic sense,

    but in the Pauline and Johannine sense, which appear to be unimportant ’round here. . .

    Since we’re told that this discussion hinges on it

    And that, that’s where you should keep your focus. . .

    Good-bye & God bless, all.

  66. Sean Gerety Says:

    In Colossians 2:3 and elsewhere Paul uses the world knowledge in the philosophic sense even if you’re unwilling to draw the necessary distinction and instead allow your knee to jerk every time you see the word “know” in Scripture.

  67. Hugh McCann Says:

    Col. 2:2f ~ That their [the Laodiceans’] hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  68. Hugh McCann Says:

    But even with all this comfort, love, riches, assurance, understanding, mystery acknowledgment, one cannot know any of them.

  69. James Says:

    There seems to be foundational premise (clearly put forth by James above) that if some have lied to themselves about salvation, then none can know they are saved.

    I mentioned that the thief knew it – so this grand entrance of yours was full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

    That some even confuse the two (self confidence with the Spirit’s testimony) does not imply that all must in all cases.

    How do you know the difference? ‘Robustness’ is not a very good answer.

    Now of course God knows whether the personal proposition is true, just like he knows whether 1 John 5:13 is true. The only question is whether God ever bears witness to one’s personal salvation based upon promises contained in Scripture.

    No the question I asked is how do *you* know the personal proposition is true in your own case?

  70. LJ Says:

    I’m not saying another word🙊🙉🙈

  71. Ron Says:

    No the question I asked is how do *you* know the personal proposition is true in your own case?

    The same way I know Jesus lives. God persuades me of the truth. Now prove me wrong. Prove that God has not granted me warrant sufficient for knowledge of my salvation. While you’re at it, demonstrate from Scripture alone that you only can know what Scripture states or implies. Prove also how this verse: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” can possibly make room for one to know propositions from Scripture given that it’s being used as a proof-text for the denial knowing things not contained in Scripture. Does the verse distinguish between objects of knowledge or what sorts of things can be known?

  72. Hugh McCann Says:

    And we know that we are of God… And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM THAT that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. St John.

    Or is it that we cannot know that we are of God (or that St John was)?

    Cannot we know that the Son of God is come, or that he’s given us an understanding, so that we cannot know him that is true, much less, that we are in him that is true, Jesus Christ?

    “How Does Man Know God?” was a Clark talk and essay. It appears that here, acc. to Sean, man does not and cannot know God, but even he could, he certainly cannot know that he knows God.

  73. Steve M Says:

    Sean
    Thank you so much for the very apropos quotes from JR. It is my (quite fallible) opinion that you (and Robbins) are on the correct side of this issue.

  74. Roger Says:

    Although I agree with what you’ve been arguing, I don’t think this follows. I see you repeated the sentiment this morning so I’d thought I’d mention it all the more. It’s the word “any” I would take issue with. Aren’t I justified in having some degree of assurance that a plane will safely transport me to an intended destination without knowing it will? If so, then how does an opinion that does not rise to the level of knowledge preclude any assurance (or confidence) that the opinion is true? – Ron D.

    If “assurance” is defined as “the state of being sure or certain about something,” then I disagree that we can have any degree of assurance that a plane will safely transport us to an intended destination. A plane may or may not get us safely there, depending upon millions of variables that we have no way of knowing. So it’s a gamble every time we board a plane. Granted, it’s a very good gamble, as most planes do safely travel to their destination. So the “odds” would appear to be our favor. But it’s still a gamble nonetheless. And only a fool would be “sure or certain” about something so tenuous.

    But that’s not what we’re talking about with regard to the propositions of the gospel. God’s word is infallibly true. Therefore, we can be “assured” that we are justified in His sight if we believe the gospel (1 John 5:13). But if we can’t “know” for a certainty whether we presently believe the gospel or not (as Sean maintains), then we can’t have any degree assurance that we are in fact saved. I don’t see any way around this conclusion.

  75. Roger Says:

    So, let me get this right, according to Sean’s (and others’ ?) definitions of “knowledge,” we cannot KNOW whether we’re saved, or sinners, or men, or in existence. –Hugh

    Correct! This is why I wrote this earlier in the discussion:

    “If our definition of ‘knowledge’ flatly contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture, then we need to start over and come up with a new definition!”

  76. Hugh McCann Says:

    Roger, Hear, hear!

    Here: we can be “assured” that we are justified in His sight if we believe the gospel (1 John 5:13). But if we can’t “know” for a certainty whether we presently believe the gospel or not (as Sean maintains), then we can’t have any degree assurance that we are in fact saved.

    And here: “If our definition of ‘knowledge’ flatly contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture, then we need to start over and come up with a new definition!”

    Such does seem to be the case, and no straight answers are apparently forthcoming as to how Sts John & Paul knew what they did, or why we’re not able to do so, as well.

  77. Hugh McCann Says:

    Steve M – Do (or can) you know whether you know God?

  78. Roger Says:

    Sean, I’ll try to address your last response by tomorrow or the next day, as I simply don’t have time right now. But I will get to it…

  79. Roger Says:

    By the way, just to be clear, when I said earlier that boarding a plane is a “gamble,” I didn’t mean that I believe that anything is truly left to chance. Of course God is sovereignly in control of all the millions of variables that we don’t know about. But we don’t know what God’s decretive will is in such a situation either, so the point I was making still stands.

  80. Hugh McCann Says:

    Roger, You don’t know anything, acc. to the philosophical definition of knowledge, right?

    COL. 2:8ff Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power…

    Because philosophy says that you cannot know Christ, his fullness, your completeness, his headship, etc.

  81. Hugh McCann Says:

    Again, St John saith, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye knoweth all things.” ~ 1st John 2:20. Hmm…

  82. Hugh McCann Says:

    Oops, ye know all things…

    Or do we? 😉

  83. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Hugh/Roger,
    Scripturalism says we can only know what is revealed to us, in scripture, the word of God, together with good and necessary consequences. What is not either explicitly a deliverance of scripture or a good and necessary consequence, is an opinion and does not rise to the level of knowledge. Do you have a problem with that, Hugh/Roger? The disagreement is over certain particulars, whether they are a deliverance of scripture or good and necessary consequences, and in this discussion, assurance.

  84. Sean Gerety Says:

    James writes:

    That some even confuse the two (self confidence with the Spirit’s testimony) does not imply that all must in all cases.

    How do you know the difference? ‘Robustness’ is not a very good answer.

    No kidding. But for those enamored by “warrant” are satisfied identifying whatever pops in their head as knowledge. Ron has a “feeling” and that’s all he needs. By DiGiacomo’s standard Reformed Epistemologist Sudduth is warranted in his devotion to Shiva or whatever other false god he now worships. After all, if you’ve read his conversion testimony I would say it is robust to the extreme.

    If anyone missed it, you can read Michael’s profession of saving faith in Krishna here: http://tinyurl.com/k9m5x68

    Now of course God knows whether the personal proposition is true, just like he knows whether 1 John 5:13 is true. The only question is whether God ever bears witness to one’s personal salvation based upon promises contained in Scripture.

    No the question I asked is how do *you* know the personal proposition is true in your own case?

    He doesn’t, but that won’t stop him.

  85. Ron Says:

    Roger,

    Given the definition of assurance you’re operating from, I think I could agree with you. It seems you might be defining assurance in a binary fashion of being in a state of 100% certainty that, also, must be based upon your understanding of knowledge and without regard for degree of certainty produced by rational inference that does not constitute knowledge. I infer this because you say that one cannot have *any* degree of assurance that his plane won’t crash. Given a definition of assurance that precludes degrees of rational confidence based upon, say, inductive inference and not knowledge as you might define it (in an internalist-infallibilist sense?) then naturally one cannot have any degree of assurance of such things, given such terms. Of course I find that definition strained and esoteric. I simply take assurance to mean confidence, which plays nicely into statistical confidence, which is a measure of degree, and would apply to crashing planes. I have confidence the pot will whistle when the water is heated. I’m assured of this probable outcome because of the uniformity of nature. To say I cannot have assurance that the pot will eventually whistle because of the possibility of losing power to the stove is I believe to employ the term “assurance” in an uncommon sense. In any case, I don’t want to detract from the main thrust of the thread so I don’t feel the need to pursue this matter further.

  86. Ron Says:

    Sean,

    I appreciate that it’s your prerogative to moderate my posts. The problem in doing so, especially if this thread gets populated at a fast pace, is that my posts will most likely not appear on the site until others have posted after me, yet my post will occupy an earlier position in the thread. So, if one checks back and sees that the sidebar has the same sequence as before, say: Hugh, Denson, Sean (or as we’ve seen: Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie…) they might think that nothing new has been added when there has been. No big deal, I’m sure. I think the impasse is already apparent so there’s not much more to say.

  87. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thank you so much for the very apropos quotes from JR. It is my (quite fallible) opinion that you (and Robbins) are on the correct side of this issue.

    Thanks Steve M. As Denson points out, this shouldn’t be an issue for those claiming to be “Clarkians” or “Scripturalists” like my friend Hugh and my sometimes friend Charlie Ray. IMO these men are without excuse and have only revealed their ignorance of Clark’s biblical philosophy. So, in that sense this discussion has been helpful and hopefully these men will take the time and go back to Clark’s Intro to Christian Phil and check their premises. OTOH I understand why Roger and Ron are confused. They’re not Scripturalist in any sense and their epistemology is virtually non-existent, and, what epistemology they do have consists of no identifiable system or methodology. Consider this:

    The pertinent question would seem to be whether the Spirit ever testifies salvation to the believer, which He does not with respect to the unbeliever. The distinction is that deception does not come with the same robust affirmation that accompanies the Spirit’s testimony when knowledge obtains.

    Now, does the Spirit testify salvation to the believer in terms of additional propositions not found or deducible from Scripture? I have no idea and Ron doesn’t tell us, but he assures us that those who are deceived have not received the same “robust affirmation” that those who are God’s legally adopted children receive. So, what is this “robust affirmation”? Is it a feeling? Does it make you wake up at night in cold sweats? Is it akin to indigestion? Or, the feeling you get when you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Well, Ron doesn’t tell us this either, but he assures us that there is a difference.

    Yet, as you know (and, yes, you do know this), those in Matthew 7 are pretty robust in their claim to know Jesus as their Lord. I’m quite sure that Doug Wilson, Peter Leithart, Jeff Meyers can all claim “the same robust affirmation that accompanies the Spirit’s testimony when knowledge obtains” as Ron can claim for himself. So what’s the difference between Ron’s claim and Wilson’s claim? As far as I can tell nothing and besides these two men share almost an identical view of faith by which we are saved.

    Like those in Matthew 7, Wilson, Leithart, Meyers, et al., will claim all sorts of plausible evidences, like pointing to their baptism, or maybe the proper functioning of their minds, in order to support their “final justification.” See, for men like DiGiacomo knowledge requires no account whatsoever. For knowledge to “obtain” one just has to have “warrant” which is nothing more than to to be persuaded and convinced in one’s own mind that what they believe about themselves is true. There is no method, no system, by which we might identify opinion from knowledge since as long as there is “warrant”, which is always a moving target wrapped in all sorts of psychological vagaries like “proper function,” opinion and knowledge are one in the same.

    Besides philosophy, DiGiacomo has already demonstrated his inability to reason clearly by his rejection of justification by belief alone. I have to think he recognized that his analysis of faith results in faithless believers which makes his view of faith logically impossible. But the laws of logic won’t stop him. If they did he’d be a “rationalist” and come under the wrath of the professional seminary thought police. Instead, he’s just another Vantillian who maintains, at least in practice if not always in word (since he likes to say that he is more rational than your run-of-the-mill Vantillian), that logic must be curbed when it conflicts with what he believes.

  88. Sean Gerety Says:

    Aren’t I justified in having some degree of assurance that a plane will safely transport me to an intended destination without knowing it will? If so, then how does an opinion that does not rise to the level of knowledge preclude any assurance (or confidence) that the opinion is true? – Ron D.

    If “assurance” is defined as “the state of being sure or certain about something,” then I disagree that we can have any degree of assurance that a plane will safely transport us to an intended destination.

    Perhaps this is your problem Roger. I understand why you wold define assurance as Websters does as:

    the state of being sure or certain about something.

    Or,

    a strong feeling of confidence about yourself or about being right.

    Or,

    a strong and definite statement that something will happen or that something is true.

    But why would you confuse assurance with knowledge?

    I have to think you would agree that there are many, many who are in “the state of being sure or certain about something,” but are wrong. Atheists I have met are assured that there is no God and absolutely certain that your belief in the Bible is akin to believing fairy tales. So how is their assurance any different from your own? Ron said there is a difference and that is in the “robustness” of the “Spirit’s testimony,” whatever that means.

    But that’s not what we’re talking about with regard to the propositions of the gospel. God’s word is infallibly true.

    I grant this, but what I don’t grant is that P2 is God’s word and is infallibly true. That not to say that P2 isn’t probably true. In your case I would say it is. I’m even more assured of that then I am that “a plane will safely transport me to an intended destination,” but I still might be wrong. That because when it comes to P2 I can’t know it and all my certainty to the contrary has no bearing whatsoever on the question of knowledge. My certainty and yours is besides the point. As James said above: “God knows whether the personal proposition is true, just like he knows whether 1 John 5:13 is true,” but how do you know the personal proposition is true? You insist that it is and that P2 is true, but your asserting the truthfulness of P2 is just begging the question. Don’t you see that?

    Therefore, we can be “assured” that we are justified in His sight if we believe the gospel (1 John 5:13). But if we can’t “know” for a certainty whether we presently believe the gospel or not (as Sean maintains), then we can’t have any degree assurance that we are in fact saved. I don’t see any way around this conclusion.

    Just because you don’t see any way around your conclusion, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way around. We can be certain of any number of things, even things about ourselves, that turn out be false. Nothing I hope ground shaking here. Yet, you keep saying things like if we can’t know for certain, etc., but certainty is not a condition for knowledge, much less a necessary condition. Certainly like assurance may be rooted in knowledge, or even in degrees of probability like Ron boarding a plan, or even a gambler throwing some dice, but why would you confuse the one for the other? If you posit and accept the Bible alone is God’s word and is the content and account for knowledge, then what difference is it whether or not you can know (certainty notwithstanding) that you presently believe the gospel or not? If you think you do, then in your case P2 obtains and the conclusion follows whether or not P2 is an object of knowledge or not.

    How is stating the obvious and that P2 is not a proposition of the gospel, is not a proposition of Scripture, is not a proposition that you have validly deduced from Scripture, a hindrance to assurance?

  89. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hi Denson, Can you tell me whether we know anything, then?

    And how do Paul and John mean “know” in the many verses I’ve referred to and/ or quoted?

    Thanks.

  90. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean & Denson,

    The latter wrote:

    Scripturalism says we can only know what is revealed to us, in scripture, the word of God, together with good and necessary consequences. What is not either explicitly a deliverance of scripture or a good and necessary consequence, is an opinion and does not rise to the level of knowledge.

    Then we cannot know we exist, since we are not in Scripture, or can we be deduced by “good & necessary consequence”? Please show me that syllogism.

    Thanks.

  91. Sean Gerety Says:

    Then we cannot know we exist, since we are not in Scripture, or can we be deduced by “good & necessary consequence”? Please show me that syllogism.

    Got you covered Hugh. 🙂

    https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/john-robbins-quick-quote-10/#comment-15005

  92. Roger Says:

    Yet, Paul elsewhere says that God will come “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” But you assert that all men know (and I assume by putting the world knowledge in quotes you mean in the strict or philosophic sense). So, how can all men know and not know God? Do you think you might be equivocating on the word to know here? I do. – Sean

    No, Sean, I’m not equivocating on the word knowledge at all. The verses I cited from Romans 1 (not to mention Romans 2:15) reveal that God has imparted “knowledge” or “true information” about Himself to all men innately apart from the special revelation of Scripture, something that you adamantly deny is possible. As I’ve mentioned before, your “Scripturalist” philosophy blatantly contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture itself. John Calvin, in his commentary on Romans, makes this quite clear:

    “The truth of God means, the true knowledge of God; and to hold in that [true knowledge], is to suppress or to obscure it: hence they are charged as guilty of robbery.” (Commentary on Romans 1:18)

    “And he said, [“the true knowledge of God” has been revealed] in them rather than to them, for the sake of greater emphasis…to indicate a manifestation, by which they might be so closely pressed, that they could not evade; for every one of us undoubtedly finds it [i.e., “the true knowledge of God”] to be engraven on his own heart.” (Commentary on Romans 1:19)

    “But this knowledge of God [imparted to all men by God Himself], which avails only to take away excuse, differs greatly from that which brings salvation, which Christ mentions in John 17:3, and in which we are to glory, as Jeremiah teaches us, Jeremiah 9:24.” (Commentary on Romans 1:20)

    As Calvin points out above, this “knowledge” of God that He has imparted to all men innately is quite different from the intimate saving knowledge that only believers possess (“differs greatly from that which brings salvation”), even though both sets of knowledge include “true information” about God. Therefore your citation of 2 Thessalonians 1:8, in an attempt to show that I’m equivocating on the word “knowledge,” has failed. For 2 Thessalonians 1:8 refers to the special saving knowledge of God that only the elect receive, just as John 17:3 and Jeremiah 9:24 do.

    I’m not sure if you’re grasping the distinction here, but knowledge is always true. While I hope it is always true that you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, how can you possibly know that you always will?

    The point I’ve been making is that because I “know” or possess true information about the content of my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), I “know” that I presently believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, just as I “know” that I don’t believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet. But, you ask, how do I know that my saving knowledge of Christ will “always” be true? Well, if my belief in Christ was self-initiated or self-maintained, then I wouldn’t know that this would always be true, and I would in fact have zero assurance of salvation from God’s final judgment. But, thankfully, Scripture clearly teaches that belief in the gospel is an unconditional gift of God to His elect people (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that all who believe in Him are granted eternal life “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28-30). Therefore, my assurance that I will “always” believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is firmly rooted in the explicit promises of the gospel (e.g., “that you may continue to believe” – 1 John 5:13), and not my own presumptuousness as you have implied.

    “If I didn’t ‘know’ that I in fact believe in Jesus, then I’d have no basis for any assurance of salvation, and all the comfort afforded by the gospel vanishes in to thin air!”

    As repeatedly explained this is a non sequitur. As John Robbins correctly observed; “Assurance is a state of mind, not a quality of propositions.” You and others are dead set on making it about the quality of propositions, specifically the proposition P2.

    Of course assurance of salvation “is a state of mind,” and I’ve never claimed otherwise. But you have no legitimate basis to be assured of your salvation (a state of mind) if the proposition “I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” cannot be known to be true! Again, God’s word plainly declares:

    “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

    If no one can “know” that they believe in the name of the Son of God, then how can anyone “know” that they have eternal life? You keep avoiding answering this question simply because you cannot answer it. It’s truly dumbfounding that you are dead set on continuing down this path!

    “No, my assurance of salvation rests solely upon the merit and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins, since I believe that the propositions of the gospel are true.”

    That is simply not true. You said; “I get P2 from knowing the propositions that I assent to within my own mind.” You have not deduced P2 from Scripture. It is the product of your own mind.

    I’ve never claimed to deduce P2 from Scripture. As I’ve made quite clear throughout this debate, the “knowledge” that I in fact believe the gospel comes from genuinely understanding or possessing true information about the content of my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12); the “assurance” that I am in fact saved rests upon the explicit promises of Scripture that all believers are granted “eternal life” (1 John 5:13). I’m not the one confusing the basic distinction between “assurance” and “knowledge” here, Sean. You are.

    The only thing you’ve done is to assert 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 while pressing Paul’s analogy too far, that is unless you want to assert that your own thoughts are the way, the truth, and the life and that in Roger are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11)

    How am I “pressing Paul’s analogy too far?” He plainly states that the spirit of man “knows” the things of man just as the Spirit of God “knows” the things of God. Therefore if God “knows” or possesses true information about the content of His own thoughts, then man likewise “knows” or possesses true information about the content of his own thoughts. The analogy is quite simple and holds.

    If you would reason more and emote less you would see that I do rest assurance on the promises of God and encourage people to derive their confidence from them.

    How do you derive “confidence” from the promises of God? By “believing” them? But you don’t even “know” or possess any true information about whether you believe the promises of God or not! So on what basis are you deriving any confidence from them?

    Even my continued belief depends of the work of God the Holy Spirit as, I guess unlike you, I’m “prone to wander Lord, prone to wander.”

    What do you mean by your “continued” belief? You don’t even “know” or possess any true information that you presently believe the gospel!

    Because I believe my opinion about myself in this case is true and I try to make a distinction between knowledge, opinion and ignorance.

    But your “opinion” that you believe the gospel is based completely upon “ignorance” rather than upon any “knowledge” (i.e., true information) about the content of your thoughts, so your so-called “assurance” is merely wishful thinking and devoid of any rational basis.

    That said, knowledge requires an account, a view Van Til and Bahnsen shared (so this view isn’t unique to Clark), and a consistent biblical philosophy would require me to account for my belief in my own salvific state from the Bible and I’m not at all nonplussed that I can’t do it.

    Scripture itself “accounts” for the fact that God imparts “knowledge” (i.e., true information) about Himself to all men apart from Scripture (Romans 1-18-32; 2:15), and that He has granted all men “knowledge” (i.e., true information) about the content of their own thoughts apart from Scripture. That’s a consistent enough biblical philosophy for me.

    1 Cor. 2:11-12 doesn’t support your claim at all since people claim to “know” all sorts of things that turn out to be false. You stretch Paul’s analogy too far.

    You’re simply confused over the distinction between “knowing” the content of one’s thoughts and “knowing” whether that content is in fact true or false. One may “know” the content of what one believes (e.g., Muhammad is God’s prophet) even though that content may in fact be false. Therefore Paul’s analogy that men “know” their own thoughts just as God “knows” His own thoughts stands.

    “Nevertheless, 1 John 5:13 explicitly teaches that believers may ‘know’ that they have eternal life. And they can’t ‘know’ that they have eternal life unless they also ‘know’ that they are in fact believers! There’s no alternative here, Sean. Therefore God’s word itself plainly refutes your position.”

    Know in what sense?

    “Know” in the sense of possessing “true information,” as I’ve explained quite clearly throughout this debate. Therefore my conclusion stands: “God’s word itself plainly refutes your position,” as anyone paying attention can clearly see.

  93. Roger Says:

    Roger,

    Given the definition of assurance you’re operating from, I think I could agree with you. It seems you might be defining assurance in a binary fashion of being in a state of 100% certainty that, also, must be based upon your understanding of knowledge and without regard for degree of certainty produced by rational inference that does not constitute knowledge.

    Yes, Ron, that’s correct. I understand our “assurance” of salvation as believers in the sense given in God’s promise “that you may know [i.e., be sure or certain] that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

    Of course I find that definition strained and esoteric. I simply take assurance to mean confidence, which plays nicely into statistical confidence, which is a measure of degree, and would apply to crashing planes. I have confidence the pot will whistle when the water is heated. I’m assured of this probable outcome because of the uniformity of nature. To say I cannot have assurance that the pot will eventually whistle because of the possibility of losing power to the stove is I believe to employ the term “assurance” in an uncommon sense.

    My only problem with that understanding is that God’s promise doesn’t say “that you may probably have eternal life,” which is the most it could say if it were only referring to “statistical confidence.”

    In any case, I don’t want to detract from the main thrust of the thread so I don’t feel the need to pursue this matter further.

    Fair enough… And sorry for not responding to your emails yesterday, but I was extremely busy working a sixteen hour shift and didn’t have access to my computer.

  94. Hugh McCann Says:

    Thanks, Sean. I hope to review more of your JR quote, but this is not a syllogism; it is merely a series of dogmatic assertions (are these supposedly obvious, universal truths?):

    Once again, let me try to explain. You exist. I exist. We all exist. “Existence” is a word that applies to everything without exception. So far as your argument rests on the notion that Clark taught that we might not exist, or that we cannot know we exist, it fails. Everything exists. . .

  95. Sean Gerety Says:

    There is no syllogism Hugh. Existence is a meaningless word along with every other word that can be predicated on everything.

  96. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger writes:

    No, Sean, I’m not equivocating on the word knowledge at all. The verses I cited from Romans 1 (not to mention Romans 2:15) reveal that God has imparted “knowledge” or “true information” about Himself to all men innately apart from the special revelation of Scripture, something that you adamantly deny is possible.

    But, you are equivocating Roger or else the Scriptures contradict themselves and a person could both know God and not know God. 2 Thes 1:18 says that there are those who “know not God.” Obviously, unless you’re a Vantillian or a Barthian or worse, a man cannot both know and not know God in the same sense. If the Scriptures are using the word in both Romans 1 and in 2 Thes in the same sense then they would contradict themselves. Plus, we know that in Romans 1 Paul tells us that unbelievers suppress the truth of God within them in “unrighteousness.” They don’t account for that which is within them; they reject it and their minds are enmity with God. Besides, we wouldn’t *know* anything about what is innate in man if it wasn’t for Scripture.

    In addition, Calvin uses the word “knowledge” in different senses as well which is something you appear to acknowledge then systematically ignore. For example, also in his Commentary on Romans 1 he says:

    Yet let this difference be remembered, that the manifestation of God, by which he makes his glory known in his creation, is, with regard to the light itself, sufficiently clear; but that on account of our blindness, it is not found to be sufficient. We are not however so blind, that we can plead our ignorance as an excuse for our perverseness. We conceive that there is a Deity; and then we conclude, that whoever he may be, he ought to be worshipped: but our reason here fails, because it cannot ascertain who or what sort of being God is. Hence the Apostle in Hebrews 11:3, ascribes to faith the light by which man can gain real knowledge from the work of creation, and not without reason; for we are prevented by our blindness, so that we reach not to the end in view; we yet see so far, that we cannot pretend any excuse. Both these things are strikingly set forth by Paul in Acts 14:17, when he says, that the Lord in past times left the nations in their ignorance, and yet that he left them not without witness (amarturon,) since he gave them rain and fertility from heaven. But this knowledge of God, which avails only to take away excuse, differs greatly from that which brings salvation, which Christ mentions ….

    Calvin differentiates “real knowledge” from the knowledge men have innately but reject and suppress as the result of sin.

    In his commentary on 2 Thes 2:18 he writes:

    [Paul] distinguishes unbelievers by these two marks—that they know not God, and obey not the gospel of Christ. For if obedience is not rendered to the gospel through faith, as he teaches in the first and in the last chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, unbelief is the occasion of resistance to it. He charges them at the same time with ignorance of God, for a lively acquaintance with God produces of itself reverence towards him. Hence unbelief is always blind, not as though unbelievers were altogether devoid of light and intelligence, but because they have the understanding darkened in such a manner, that seeing they do not see. (Matthew 13:13.) It is not without good grounds that Christ declares that this is life eternal, to know the true God, etc. (John 17:3.) Accordingly, from the want of this salutary knowledge, there follows contempt of God, and in fine, death. On this point I have treated more fully in commenting on the first chapter of First Corinthians

    Here, instead of “real knowledge” as opposed to what men have innately, he calls it “salutary knowledge.”

    And in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, specifically 1:21a (For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God ….) Calvin writes:

    For it is true, that this world is like a theater, in which the Lord presents to us a clear manifestation of his glory, and yet, notwithstanding that we have such a spectacle placed before our eyes, we are stone-blind, not because the manifestation is furnished obscurely, but because we are alienated in mind, (Colossians 1:21,)and for this matter we lack not merely inclination but ability. For notwithstanding that God shows himself openly, it is only with the eye of faith that. we can behold him, save only that we receive a slight perception of his divinity, sufficient to render us inexcusable.

    Accordingly, when Paul here declares that God is not known through means of his creatures, you must understand him to mean that a pure knowledge of him is not attained.

    Calvin repeatedly differentiates “pure” knowledge with that which men have innately and that which renders men without excuse. I would even be inclined to define this latter knowledge according to your definition as possessing “true information.” But that is not how I would define “pure” knowledge (see below), yet you repeatedly conflate and confuse the two.

    Admittedly, Calvin doesn’t define these different senses in which the word “knowledge” or “to know” is to be understood, but he does draw a clear distinction to where he can say, without contradiction, that men, in the strict or pure sense, do not know God. In philosophy the concern is knowledge in the “pure” sense, which is sometimes defined as true opinion or true information with an account of its truth.

    This is something that should be completely non-controversial except for those who reject biblical epistemology completely and want to replace it with the fraudulent “Reformed Epistemology” variety where knowledge is weighed according to “warrant” and “proper function” and not strictly in accordance with logic in light of Scripture.

    As I’ve mentioned before, your “Scripturalist” philosophy blatantly contradicts the explicitteaching of Scripture itself.

    Sorry, but you haven’t shown where Clark’s Scripturalist philosophy contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture at all. All you’ve show is your own ability to equivocated on the world knowledge thinking every time the word is used it must convey the same meaning. In that case Adam knowing his wife and the Ox knowing his master’s voice all are the same as Paul’s use in Romans 1 which is the same as in 1 Cor. 1:21 and 2 Thes 1:18.

    As Calvin points out above, this “knowledge” of God that He has imparted to all men innately is quite different from the intimate saving knowledge that only believers possess (“differs greatly from that which brings salvation”), even though both sets of knowledge include “true information” about God.

    Yes, both sets of knowledge include “true information” about God, but knowledge in the strict or epistemic sense, it true information (or belief) with an account of its truth. Only those who come to a saving belief in Christ can account for the truth they have within them, which is why Calvin says only believers have this “pure”, “real”, or “salutary” knowledge.

    It’s this knowledge I’m interested in and P2 ain’t it.

    Therefore your citation of 2 Thessalonians 1:8, in an attempt to show that I’m equivocating on the word “knowledge,” has failed. For 2 Thessalonians 1:8 refers to the special savingknowledge of God that only the elect receive, just as John 17:3 and Jeremiah 9:24 do.

    Um, no, you still equivocate because you fail to define ordinary knowledge as opposed to this “special” variety which the elect alone receive.

    You equate can conflate the two types, whereas I would say the former is knowledge in the colloquial sense like I know I know it’s going to be sunny tomorrow or I know I’m a believer. These are things which I take to be true but still may not be true for I can’t account for them.

    The point I’ve been making is that because I “know” or possess true information about the content of my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), I “know” that Ipresently believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, just as I “know” that I don’t believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet.

    But that’s just knowledge in the colloquial sense. What you presently know to be true, may not be true tomorrow and may not be true of you presently. All I have is your say so. That’s because P2 is not a deliverance from Scripture nor is it deduced therefrom.

    But, you ask, how do I know that my saving knowledge of Christ will “always” be true? Well, if my belief in Christ was self-initiated or self-maintained, then I wouldn’t know that this would always be true, and I would in fact have zero assurance of salvation from God’s final judgment. But, thankfully, Scripture clearly teaches that belief in the gospel is an unconditional gift of God to His elect people (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that all who believe in Him are granted eternal life “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28-30).

    I know that all who believe in Him are granted eternal life, but how do I know you believe in him regardless of how it’s “initiated” or “maintained”? Also, I know belief is an unconditional gift God gives to His elect people, since that’s what Scripture teaches, but how do I know that you or I actually have that gift and that what you believe to have been bestowed on you by God isn’t really just “self-initiated”?

    Again, how does your opinion about your own salvific and blessed state rise above opinion? Is it just your say so? Is it Ron’s “robust” sense of his own salvation which he claims he has received from the Spirit?

    Therefore, my assurance that I will “always” believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is firmly rooted in theexplicit promises of the gospel (e.g., “that you may continue to believe” – 1 John 5:13), and not my own presumptuousness as you have implied.

    I hope that’s true. And, I even believe it’s true. Wouldn’t it be nice if you and I could know it. 🙂

    Of course assurance of salvation “is a state of mind,” and I’ve never claimed otherwise.

    Well, of course you did, and you did so again above. You have insisted that if you couldn’t KNOW P2 then assurance would be impossible, but that doesn’t follow. That’s because whether or not you can know P2 has nothing to do with assurance since you can know P1 and that *IF* P2 is true then the conclusion that you are saved follows necessarily. But your assurance should rest on the MAJOR premise, not the minor one.

    However you say that unless the minor premise is an object of knowledge then assurance is impossible which is total hogwash. I just don’t understand why you confuse knowledge with opinion and seem incapable of telling the difference. Perhaps for you there is no difference and knowledge is whatever you believe is true for no other reason than you believe it.

    I’ve never claimed to deduce P2 from Scripture. As I’ve made quite clear throughout this debate, the “knowledge” that I in fact believe the gospel comes from genuinely understanding or possessing true information about the content of my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12);

    OK, let me see if I get this. You claim to have never deduced P2 from Scripture and then cite Scripture in support of your claim to know P2. Weird. But, 1 Cor 2:11-12 doesn’t support your claim either since you would need to show that the word “know” is meant in the “pure” or “real” sense, to use Calvin’s phrase, or just the colloquial or general sense which I think is the case.

    Instead you again seem to maintain that P2 is a justified true belief (which is why you cite 1 Cor), but if it’s not deduced from Scirpture (and it isn’t), then how do you account for it without continually begging the question which is all you have done from the start?

    He plainly states that the spirit of man “knows” the things of man just as the Spirit of God “knows” the things of God.

    You push the analogy too far for the reasons I’ve just explained. However, I might also add that while Spirit knows the things of God, those things which the Spirit knows are always true PRECISELY BECAUSE God thinks them. The same cannot be said for man who only knows the truth derivatively and as he receives it from God who is Truth.

    Therefore if God “knows” or possesses true information about the content of His own thoughts, then man likewise “knows” or possesses true information about the content of his own thoughts.

    That would only be true if man were God. Man doesn’t by nature possess true information about the content of his thought or even any true thoughts at all. And, the truth thoughts he has by nature by virtue of being created in God’s imagine, he can’t account for and holds in unrighteousness; “and their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.”

    So the analogy, while quite simple, does not hold as you are attempting to use it.

    You’re simply confused over the distinction between “knowing” the content of one’s thoughts and “knowing” whether that content is in fact true or false. One may “know” the content of what one believes (e.g., Muhammad is God’s prophet) even though that content may in fact be false.

    I beg to differ, knowledge in the strict sense and in the sense I have been using it and as James has been using (not to speak for him, but that’s how I take him) cannot be false. As John Robbins said; one cannot know 2+2=5. Robbins was also correct when he said; “the question is not how does one know one knows? [which is an impossible question to answer to begin with – SG] but how does one know? Scripturalism says, one knows only by explicit statements in or valid inferences from Scripture.”

    Know in what sense?
    “Know” in the sense of possessing “true information,”

    Which is not the sense that I’m using the word which is justified true belief. Everyone claims to possess true information, but my question is how do they know it’s true?

  97. James Says:

    The same way I know Jesus lives.

    Let’s explore that ‘way’. Your belief that Jesus lives is a belief in truth – But what is needed is something more -something, that propels that true belief into the blessed state of knowledgehood. So what is that in this case? Surely it’s that the proposition is a deliverance of Scripture which is God’s propositional revelation.

    But what about your belief that you are saved? What is it that propels that true belief (assume its true) into the blessed state of knowledgehood? Well if it’s the same way as the previous as you claim, then it would have to be a deliverance of Scripture. But there’s already been quite a tussle over P2 but I have yet to see anything that would give ‘warrant’ from Scripture for it, or even as Clark said a ‘clear intellectual understanding’ from Scripture.

    Unless of course you deny that your ‘warrant’ for knowing that Jesus lives comes from Scripture, in which case I am interested in what exactly gives you ‘warrant’ such that

    the way I know I am saved is the same way I know Jesus lives….

    aside:
    “possesses true information” is perhaps enough for true belief or true opinion. But not enough for knowledge.
    Also, as far as 1 cor 2:11 goes, not only is Sean correct – “know” here may not be in the strict sense, but may be equivalent to something like “being conscious or aware of in a comprehending manner” – there is also a difference between
    knowing that I am a believer
    knowing that I think I am a believer

    but be that as it may, 1 cor 2:11 does not tell me how a true belief becomes knowledge nor does it give me ‘warrant’ for knowing P2.


  98. So you admit that you are eternally insecure, you don’t know if you are saved, and you can have no assurance of salvation. But can you infallibly know the truth just as God knows the truth on any single point? Does 2 + 2 = 4 infallibly impress itself on your mind? Or is there some possibility that you erred?


  99. If believing the system of theology in the Bible is not enough, then why would God reveal special revelation and make empty promises to save those who believe, trust, assent to that written revelation? Basically, Sean, you have out thought God. Agnosticism and unbelief is not the point of the Bible. Dr. Clark insisted that there are many who have a false assurance of salvation because both the Bible and the WCF teach this. But the Bible and Dr. Clark and the WCF all teach that assurance of salvation that is genuine is possible. That was the whole point of Clark’s commentary on 1 John. And nowhere does Clark say that all true believers struggle with assurance for an unspecified length of time. How long is this purgatory of unassurance supposed to last, Gerety?

    You cannot even get Clark’s ethics right much less Clark’s epistemology. Clark’s apologetics method was to show all other sources of knowledge except the Bible lead to irrationalism and skepticism. But you, you say the Bible provides no knowledge of anything at all. The WCF says that the Spirit regenerates and causes faith. Clark said that the only way someone can know that the Bible and not the Koran is the inspired Word of God is by regeneration. Do I need to show you the quote?

    And the WCF says that the Spirit illuminates the Scriptures for the believer. Now, according to you regeneration and illumination of the Scriptures provides no knowledge. So therefore saving faith is impossible and you are an agnostic and an atheist. Maybe that’s why you advocate anarchy and atheistic secularism as your political theory as well?

    Just saying…..


  100. And as for innate knowledge, what does Romans 1:18-32 say that innate knowledge does for the reprobate, Sean? Could it be that the noetic effects of sin have caused you to suppress the truth in unrighteousness? No sinner knows himself that well. The potential for self deception renders the sinner unable to believe. Only God can cause the sinner to believe, right? So isn’t that a subjective appropriation of the propositional truths of Scripture understood with the mind? And isn’t regeneration the result of a change of the mind and the disposition in the sinner apart from the will? Your problem is you have rejected the system of theology in the Bible and you have replaced it with your skepticism of even Scripture. The promises of God stand as genuine promises, not unknowable nothings. Those who believe the promises believe because it is God who causes them to believe.

    The Presbyterian churches accept believers into membership based on a valid profession of faith and an examination by the elders. But since they cannot know anything how would they know if the profession is valid or invalid?

    The blind are leading the blind and both fall into a ditch.

  101. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Presbyterian churches accept believers into membership based on a valid profession of faith and an examination by the elders. But since they cannot know anything how would they know if the profession is valid or invalid?

    They don’t. That’s the point. I’m glad to see despite all your bitterness and confusion that you’re beginning to catch on. 🙂

  102. Sean Gerety Says:

    BTW Charlie, and just to correct your confusion about membership in the Presbyterian church, what elders require is a “credible” profession of faith. There is no Presbyterian session on earth that can validly deduce P2 from Scripture or from anywhere else (for those like you who reject revelation alone, the axiom of Scripture, as the only source of knowledge).

    If you’re curious what that might entail for Presbyterians, see PCA BCO 57 for starters.

  103. Denson Dube Says:

    Hi Hugh,
    There are many things you do not know, and that includes things that you may think you know( No kidding!). I am surprised you do not seem to know that !!!! :-). P2 is not a deliverance of scripture. The syllogism then fails. Surprised?

    What we know is that the scriptures say Paul and John claim they knew certain things(such as from the scriptures you quoted). How they knew what they claim to know is a different matter altogether, and it does not seem to occur to you(and Roger, and Ron) that it may not be for the same reasons for your quixotic gumption.

    As an aside, I do not define Christian assurance as the psychological state of confidence. Our heroic knight, Don Quixote had plenty of that.
    I define assurance as God’s promises in scripture on salvation, made to the elect that he will save them and bring them to his eternal blessedness without fail. In other words, it is something objective, outside of me, in the scriptures, not my subjective state of mind. It is irrelevant how one “feels”. Feelings of confidence may be induced on a man’s mind for any number of reasons, such as when they have had a good cup of coffee or because it’s pay day and the cheque looks good or they had good sex with their spouse. A state of mind is therefore not a reliable indication of one’s salvic state. On the other hand, one may despair of life itself and yet be assured of eternal rest, such as the apostle Paul in challenging circumstances in his missionary journeys.
    Obviously, this definition is not how many have defined assurance and I will probably be given a laugh off for it. Oh well!

  104. Ron Says:

    James,

    You’re simply begging the question of Who persuades you that Jesus lives. Who persuades you that any proposition is God’s word? Surely your epistemology doesn’t rest with the Nelson publishing house, or does it?

    Secondly, I’d like to see you put forth a formal proof for any doctrine that uses only propositions from Scripture. Keep in mind, the Bible is not a dictionary of terms. It will be interesting to see how you define “if” and “then” or “therefore” from the Bible; yet it’s your claim that all knowledge comes from Scripture alone.

    If Scripturalism were true you couldn’t know it given the limitations of Scripturalism. Please derive Scripturalism by stringing together only propositions from Scripture – I’ll even allow for non propositional words like “if” and “then”. I’ll even allow for what constitutes a valid argument, though the laws of logic aren’t *defined* by Scripture. Yes, they’re employed by Scripture but even that is not knowable given the tenets of Scripturalism because the use of logic is not a proposition.

  105. Denson Dube Says:

    Charlie,
    The reformers called our accepting others as Christians, a “charity of ignorance”. They never claimed to know who is saved and who is not. I presume they extended the same charity to themselves.

  106. Ron Says:

    “What we know is that the scriptures say Paul and John…”

    Denson,

    How do you know it’s not just Nelson saying this? Even if you say the Spirit persuades you, you really cannot know that He does on your terms since “the Spirit persuades Denson” is not a proposition contained in Scripture.

    At best, all I’m gleaning from Scripturalists is that a book with marks on pages, often bound with black leather, provides occasion for you to think certain propositions.like “Paul and John…” However, what I haven’t read is the epistemic basis for a Scripturalist to think he knows that those propositions are special revelation. Careful, you might have to abandon your strict internalism.

  107. Ron Says:

    I define assurance as God’s promises in scripture on salvation, made to the elect that he will save them and bring them to his eternal blessedness without fail.

    Denson,

    How can propositions be assurance? Propositions confirmed by the Holy Spirit can certainly yield assurance in individuals, but *propositions* aren’t assurance otherwise all would have the same assurance since all can come in contact with the same propositions. Where’s the individuation?

  108. Sean Gerety Says:

    P2 is not a deliverance of scripture. The syllogism then fails. Surprised?

    I’m surprised. Denson, you had me, then you lost me. The syllogism is perfectly valid. Are you confusing validity for soundness?

  109. James Says:

    James, You’re simply begging the question

    Actually you are the one who had said that you knew Jesus lives the same way you knew you were saved. I actually tried to flesh that out to see what you meant by that – so no I haven’t made any effort to prove you’re wrong, or begged the question – I’m asking you what actually gives you warrant such that you know the one the same way as the other.

    As far as “Jesus lives” – I’ve been quite clear – on what gives warrant for knowing that. I find no such warrant for P2.

    May I also make a suggestion – it’s one thing to reject Scripturalism -but be careful – surely God’s propositional revelation gives warrant does it not? Let me put it this way, and to be sure the following is not Scripturalism (there’s a qualifier missing):

    Warrant comes when God persuades me of, in, by and through Scriptures.

    Even you ought agree to that correct?

  110. Denson Dube Says:

    Sean,
    Yes I meant soundness … my bad.
    Ron
    “How can propositions be assurance ..”
    Propositions and only propositions are objects of belief.
    For example, on discussions on saving faith, it is the propositions believed and not some additional psychological element that makes belief saving. I am defining assurance as those propositions stating God’s intent to save and bring the elect to the blessed state. It is the content of the propositions, the meaning of the sentences that make them assurance. Example … “He that believes in me, will never see death ever”, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. Feelings are useless since I gave examples of the apostle Paul despairing of life itself yet I am sure you would agree that he was covered by the propositions such as the two above.

    The reason not all having the same assurance is because not all come to the same propositions(some people hardly read their bibles) and some do not believe all these propositions. Some misunderstand the bible. There is a group of Christians who believe that Jews are God’s chosen people, in spite of Jesus telling the Jews that they are of their father the devil.

  111. Roger Says:

    But, you are equivocating Roger or else the Scriptures contradict themselves and a person could both know God and not know God. 2 Thes 1:18 says that there are those who “know not God.” Obviously, unless you’re a Vantillian or a Barthian or worse, a man cannot both know and not know God in the same sense. If the Scriptures are using the word in both Romans 1 and in 2 Thes in the same sense then they would contradict themselves.

    Sean, I’ve already acknowledged that the expression to “know” is being used in a different sense in the passages from Romans and 2 Thessalonians. In Romans to “know” refers to the innate knowledge or “true information” about God that He has imparted to all men apart from special revelation (that they suppress in unrighteousness), while in 2 Thessalonians to “know” refers to the special saving knowledge or “true information” about God that He has imparted to the elect alone through special revelation (that they willingly embrace). So I’m not equivocating or denying that there’s a difference in both the quality and degree of information between these two sets of knowledge.

    Nevertheless, that doesn’t in any way affect the main point that I’ve been making all along – that regardless of their differences, both sets of knowledge still contain true information about God, which makes both sets genuine “knowledge” as far as Scripture is concerned.

    Besides, we wouldn’t *know* anything about what is innate in man if it wasn’t for Scripture.

    We may not be able to “account” for our God-given innate knowledge apart from Scripture, but the knowledge itself nonetheless remains within men’s minds no matter how much they attempt to “suppress it in unrighteousness.”

    In addition, Calvin uses the word “knowledge” in different senses as well which is something you appear to acknowledge then systematically ignore.

    I didn’t ignore it at all. I wrote:

    “As Calvin points out above, this ‘knowledge’ of God that He has imparted to all men innately is quite different from the intimate saving knowledge that only believers possess (‘differs greatly from that which brings salvation’), even though both sets of knowledge include ‘true information’ about God. Therefore your citation of 2 Thessalonians 1:8, in an attempt to show that I’m equivocating on the word ‘knowledge,’ has failed.”

    The reason why your charge that I’m equivocating fails is quite simple – despite their differences both sets of God-given knowledge include true information about God. That’s the common denominator between both sets of knowledge, which makes them differ only in quality or degree but not in kind.

    Calvin repeatedly differentiates “pure” knowledge with that which men have innately and that which renders men without excuse.

    And so have I. What Calvin referred to as “pure” or “salutary” knowledge, I have referred to as “saving” knowledge – and I clearly distinguished it from the “innate” knowledge that all unbelievers suppress in unrighteousness. You either haven’t been paying close attention or you are purposely trying to mischaracterize what I’ve written. I’m not sure which.

    I would even be inclined to define this latter knowledge according to your definition as possessing “true information.” But that is not how I would define “pure” knowledge…

    But isn’t the true information about God’s “eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20) that’s suppressed by unbelievers the same true information about God that’s embraced by believers? It sure seems that way to me. In this specific instance the difference isn’t in the “knowledge” or “true information” about God itself, but only in its acceptance or suppression by believers and unbelievers respectively.

    Yes, both sets of knowledge include “true information” about God, but knowledge in the strict or epistemic sense, is true information (or belief) with an account of its truth.

    Where do you get the notion that only true information which provides “an account of its truth” rises to the level of “knowledge in the strict or epistemic sense?” Did you “deduce” that definition from Scripture itself? If so, then I’d love to see how, because that type of philosophical definition of “knowledge” isn’t taught anywhere in Scripture. So much for “Scripturalism!”

    To the contrary, in the passages of Scripture that we’ve been referring to the word “knowledge” means “possessing true information” about God, regardless of whether that information is suppressed in unrighteousness or embraced in belief. Unbelievers are said to “know” God in the sense that they innately possess “true information” about Him (through general revelation), even though they suppress that knowledge in unrighteousness. On the other hand, believers are said to “know” God in the sense that they possess “true information” about Him (through both general and special revelation) that they willingly embrace as true. Yet, despite the differences between these two sets of knowledge, in both cases the “true information” about God is still defined as “knowledge” in Scripture.

    As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times now, “If our definition of ‘knowledge’ flatly contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture, then we need to start over and come up with a new definition!”

    “The point I’ve been making is that because I ‘know’ or possess true information about the content of my own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), I ‘know’ that I presently believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, just as I ‘know’ that I don’t believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet.”

    But that’s just knowledge in the colloquial sense. What you presently know to be true, may not be true tomorrow and may not be true of you presently. All I have is your say so.

    No, that’s not “just knowledge in the colloquial sense” if we define knowledge the way that Scripture defines it here, as possessing “true information” about one’s own thoughts. I “know” that I believe the gospel because I “know” the content of my own thoughts. I’ll let you stick with your strained “philosophical” definition that’s nowhere to be found in Scripture; I’ll stick with the definition that’s clearly given in God’s word!

    I know that all who believe in Him are granted eternal life, but how do I know you believe in him regardless of how it’s “initiated” or “maintained”?

    You don’t “know” whether I believe in Him or not. All you have is my verbal testimony and the judgment of charity that you ought to give all professing believers. But since I “know” the content of my own thoughts, I “know” that I believe the gospel and can rest “assured” in God’s promise that I have eternal life.

    You have insisted that if you couldn’t KNOW P2 then assurance would be impossible, but that doesn’t follow. That’s because whether or not you can know P2 has nothing to do with assurance since you can know P1 and that *IF* P2 is true then the conclusion that you are saved follows necessarily.

    And *IF* P2 is false, then the conclusion that one is not saved follows necessarily. Therefore, if one cannot “know” whether P2 is true or false in his own case, then “assurance” of salvation is impossible! This is such an obvious fact, that I’m surprised I have to keep pointing it out to you.

    But your assurance should rest on the MAJOR premise, not the minor one.

    My assurance of salvation does rest on the major premise. The minor premise merely lets me “know” that the major premise applies to me personally. Without “knowledge” of the minor premise, it’s impossible to “rest on the major premise!”

    “He plainly states that the spirit of man ‘knows’ the things of man just as the Spirit of God ‘knows’ the things of God.”

    You push the analogy too far for the reasons I’ve just explained. However, I might also add that while Spirit knows the things of God, those things which the Spirit knows are always true PRECISELY BECAUSE God thinks them. The same cannot be said for man who only knows the truth derivatively and as he receives it from God who is Truth.

    That hardly changes the fact that Scripture plainly teaches that we “know” the content of our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), whether derived from God or not. I’m not “pushing the analogy too far,” rather you are simply rejecting what it clearly teaches.

    OK, let me see if I get this. You claim to have never deduced P2 from Scripture and then cite Scripture in support of your claim to know P2. Weird.

    I cited 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 in order to justify or account for my assertion that I “know” the content of my own thoughts. I don’t have to “deduce” this doctrine from Scripture; it’s explicitly taught in both the Greek and English text of Holy Writ!

    “You’re simply confused over the distinction between ‘knowing’ the content of one’s thoughts and ‘knowing’ whether that content is in fact true or false. One may ‘know’ the content of what one believes (e.g., Muhammad is God’s prophet) even though that content may in fact be false.”

    I beg to differ, knowledge in the strict sense and in the sense I have been using it and as James has been using (not to speak for him, but that’s how I take him) cannot be false. As John Robbins said; one cannot know 2+2=5.

    One may not be able to “know” that 2+2=5 is true, for it is in fact false. But a mathematically ignorant person can most definitely “know” that they believe that 2+2=5, because it is in fact true that they believe that proposition. You apparently cannot grasp this basic distinction.

  112. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ll try and keep this short because it is clear Roger that you and I are just talking past each other. However, IMO if we could agree on this issue below any other differences we may have concerning assurance would disappear.

    Sean, I’ve already acknowledged that the expression to “know” is being used in a different sense in the passages from Romans and 2 Thessalonians. In Romans to “know” refers to the innate knowledge or “true information” about God that He has imparted to all men apart from special revelation (that they suppress in unrighteousness), while in 2 Thessalonians to “know” refers to the special saving knowledge or “true information” about God that He has imparted to the elect alone through special revelation (that they willingly embrace). So I’m not equivocating or denying that there’s a difference in both the quality and degree of information between these two sets of knowledge.

    Sorry, Roger, I think you’re still equivocating. In both cases, and you say so again above, you are defining the word “KNOW” as “true information.” The source of this “true information” you acknowledge is different, but you have not defined the word differently. To say that the former is innate “true information” and the other is special saving “true information” is not using the sense of the word “KNOW” differently.

    Don’t you see that?

    As James said above; “possesses true information” is perhaps enough for true belief or true opinion. But not enough for knowledge.”

    Knowledge has been defined throughout history, at least since the early Greeks and in Scripture, as JUSTIFIED true belief or true opinion with an account of its truth (something which only has been abandoned in probably the last century as all secular philosophies have failed to attain any knowledge at all and so-called “Reformed Epistemology,” which one person here seems to defend, is just Christian capitulation). As mentioned, Scripture too uses the word in this sense too as we see in 2 Thes where unbelievers don’t KNOW God and as John Robbins explained:

    “What distinguishes a true opinion from knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons . . . For example, “Be ready to give a reason….” “To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.” “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account on knowledge.”

    Nevertheless, that doesn’t in any way affect the main point that I’ve been making all along – that regardless of their differences, both sets of knowledge still contain true information about God, which makes both sets genuine “knowledge” as far as Scripture is concerned.

    It does affect the main point profoundly because it is equivocating on the ambiguity of the word “to know.” To you both sets are KNOWLEDGE in the same sense, one just contains more “true information” than the other, but Paul says that unbelievers do not KNOW God. He does not say that they know God just a little bit whereas believers know Him just a little bit more.

    We may not be able to “account” for our God-given innate knowledge apart from Scripture, but the knowledge itself nonetheless remains within men’s minds no matter how much they attempt to “suppress it in unrighteousness.”

    Which is exactly why being able to give that account is the difference between knowledge in the sense of a justified true belief and knowledge in the colloquial sense, like when I say something like I know a mechanic who can fix my car.

  113. James Says:

    Roger,
    2 minor asides:

    1. But since I “know” the content of my own thoughts, I “know” that I believe the gospel

    (leaving aside the issue of equivocation – Sean has handled that well),
    knowing that I think I am a believer
    knowing that I am a believer
    are two different things and the latter does not follow from the former. At the very least, 1 cor 2:11 does not give warrant for knowing P2.

    2. “they suppress in unrighteousness”
    have you considered – and I will borrow from the modern epistemological lexicon – that this suppression amounts to a type of defeater* such that the true info they possess does not rise to the level of knowledge (defeated)? at the very least you’d have to consider this possibility seriously correct?

    *Ironically it was Dr. MSudduth who put forward one of the best descriptions of such defeaters in the modern parlance (http://www.iep.utm.edu/ep-defea/) – not to say that what he wrote concerns Romans 1 – it’s just something I am throwing out there for your consideration….

    Thanks,


  114. >>>>assurance is not the same as knowledge. It is a psychological state of mind.<<<< Gerety, you deny that assurance is a logical deduction made from the information in the Scriptures about the criteria necessary for assurance? Assurance is not a feeling. If so, then assurance is impossible because no knowledge arises from feelings. Assurance is a logical deduction made from the Scriptures that compares the propositions of Scripture with the propositions a person thinks about himself. Likewise, since Clark argues that sanctification is not a feeling but is based on knowing the truth and having the mind transformed (John 17:17; Romans 12:1-3), how is it that regeneration does not produce both the change in thinking in regards to faith/conversion/repentance and in regards to sanctification and assurance? According to Dr. Clark, assurance comes from loving God, which he defines as obeying the moral law. So there are objective propositions that can be known that either confirm or deny that you have a valid profession of faith. So you argue there is no knowledge of assurance. What a contradiction! Assurance comes from justification by faith alone AND sanctification, according to Dr. Clark. This is not a psychological feeling. It is a logical deduction made on the basis of the standards laid out in Scripture and how one's own life, thought, and behavior matches up with regeneration. Regeneration produces a real change, according to Dr. Clark.

    Now, I know you love to show how you know the finer points of an argument. But as Dr. Clark once said about justification that no one attains any lasting assurance without it, how can you deny that assurance comes from knowledge of the Scriptures?

    For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJ)


  115. >>>>Which is exactly why being able to give that account is the difference between knowledge in the sense of a justified true belief and knowledge in the colloquial sense, like when I say something like I know a mechanic who can fix my car.<<<

    But technically Clarkianism is just another form of agnosticism. You cannot really know the Bible is the Bible. You can only presuppose it and that comes from regeneration, another subjective thought. Shoot. IF the information in the Bible provides no knowledge, just say so, Gerety. The false dichotomy between colloquial and logical does not help your arguments in favor of agnosticism. You side with Rome. I side with Scripture. There are false professions of faith but it is a non sequitur to assert agnosticism because of it. Your view is the same as the Arminian view. You don't really believe in assurance.

  116. Roger Says:

    Sorry, Roger, I think you’re still equivocating. In both cases, and you say so again above, you are defining the word “KNOW” as “true information.” The source of this “true information” you acknowledge is different, but you have not defined the word differently. To say that the former is innate “true information” and the other is special saving “true information” is not using the sense of the word “KNOW” differently. Don’t you see that?

    Nice try, Sean, but I’m hardly equivocating when I openly acknowledge that “there’s a difference in both the quality and degree of information between these two sets of knowledge.” Yes, they share a common denominator (“true information” about God), but they are in no sense the same in every respect, as you falsely accuse me of teaching.

    Moreover, in addition to both the quality and degree of information about God being greater for believers, believers are said to “know” God in a spiritual or relational sense (e.g., John 17:3), which is what Paul meant when he said that unbelievers “do not know God” in 2 Thessalonians 1:8. But this in no way means that unbelievers do not possess genuine “knowledge” of His eternal power (Romans 1:20) and binding moral law (Romans 2:14-15), for Scripture explicitly says that they do possess such knowledge, and are culpable for suppressing it in unrighteousness. John Gill correctly interprets Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians:

    on them that know not God; which is a periphrasis, or common character of the Gentiles, ( 1 Thessalonians 4:5 ) who know not the one, true, and living God; or know him not so as to glorify him as God, and be thankful to him for the mercies they receive from him, and still less know him in Christ Jesus; which ignorance of theirs is not without sin, nor will it excuse from punishment; for though vengeance will not be taken on them, because they have not a spiritual saving knowledge of God, in the Mediator Jesus Christ, who never was revealed to them; yet forasmuch as they had the light and law of nature, by which the being of God, and the invisible perfections of his nature might be seen and understood, and much of his will, with respect to moral good and evil, be known, against both which they have rebelled, and having sinned, will perish without law: though it may also include all such persons, who having been favoured with an external revelation, have professed to know God, and yet in works have denied him.” (John Gill, Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:8)

    As James said above; “possesses true information” is perhaps enough for true belief or true opinion. But not enough for knowledge.”

    That would be true only if one imposes a non-Scriptural definition of “knowledge” upon Scripture, as you have been doing throughout this debate. For all your talk of “Scripturalism,” it’s patently obvious that you haven’t in any way deduced your “philosophical” definition of knowledge from Scripture. As Gill’s commentary above demonstrates, 2 Thessalonians 1:8 does not support your artificial definition of knowledge in the slightest.

    Finally, since you ignored this point from my earlier comments, I’ll simply repeat it again. *IF* P2 is false (i.e., that one believes the gospel), then the conclusion that one is not saved follows necessarily. Therefore, if one cannot “know” whether P2 is true or false in his own case, then “assurance” of salvation is impossible! Thankfully, Scripture plainly teaches that we do in fact “know” the content of our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), and can therefore “know” that we believe the gospel and “have” (not may or may not have) eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

  117. Roger Says:

    knowing that I think I am a believer

    knowing that I am a believer

    are two different things and the latter does not follow from the former. At the very least, 1 cor 2:11 does not give warrant for knowing P2. — James

    If “belief” of the gospel is an activity of thought (and it is), and I “know” the content of my own thoughts (which I do), then 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 does indeed give warrant for “knowing” P2.

    have you considered – and I will borrow from the modern epistemological lexicon – that this suppression amounts to a type of defeater* such that the true info they possess does not rise to the level of knowledge (defeated)?

    No, for in that case Paul wouldn’t call it “knowledge” of the one true God, and unbelievers wouldn’t be culpable for suppressing it in unrighteousness.

  118. Sean Gerety Says:

    Nice try, Sean, but I’m hardly equivocating when I openly acknowledge that “there’s a difference in both the quality and degree of information between these two sets of knowledge.” Yes, they share a common denominator (“true information” about God), but they are in no sense the same in every respect, as you falsely accuse me of teaching.

    I didn’t falsely accuse you and you are equivocating. Paul clearly is using the word “know” in different senses and to say one is “relational” or “spiritual” (whatever that means) and the other isn’t is not defining the word “know” differently. Whether you call one “relational” and the other not “relational” (even though Romans 1 is addressing why all men are without excuse in “relation” to God), you still maintain that knowledge in both cases is “true information about God.” You are defining the word in exactly the same way.

    Regardless, that is not how I am defining knowledge. So why don’t you deal with my definition? Why must I accept yours when I can’t see any difference at all in how you’re defining the word? As explained, I’m more than willing to grant that in Romans 1 Paul is talking about true information about God or what I would call true opinion or true belief. I have no problem with that at all. However, in 2 Thes I would argue that that is an example of those who have true information about God but who cannot account for the true information within them. This is why they are said not to know God. Just like we cannot account for the apriori in man apart from Scripture, we similarly cannot account for the true information about God within us apart from Scripture. Giving this account, or as Peter said we are to give an account to the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15), is the difference between knowing in colloquial sense verse the epistemic sense.

    Jesus said we if abide in his word we will KNOW the truth. By parity of reasoning if someone does not abide in Jesus’ word they will not know the truth.

    As James said above; “possesses true information” is perhaps enough for true belief or true opinion. But not enough for knowledge.”

    That would be true only if one imposes a non-Scriptural definition of “knowledge” upon Scripture, as you have been doing throughout this debate.

    Sorry, Roger, it is you who is imposing a non-Scriptural definition of knowledge on the Scripture. Paul teaches that in Christ are *all* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Paul is not saying that unbelievers have *some* of the treasures, just not the “relational” or “spiritual” variety (besides, isn’t all knowledge of God spiritual by nature). All, not some, of the treasures of knowledge are in Christ and are found nowhere else. If they were found somewhere else, then they would not *all* be found in Christ.

    Finally, since you ignored this point from my earlier comments, I’ll simply repeat it again. *IF* P2 is false (i.e., that one believes the gospel), then the conclusion that one is not saved follows necessarily.

    I don’t know who it is you think you are arguing with, but I have never once said that P2 is false. Take a look again even do a word search of this entire thread and you will never once find where I said P2 is false.

    What I have said is that I can’t know if P2 is true. In your case it’s my opinion that it is true, so the conclusion necessary follows. Applying the syllogism to me I think P2 is true as well, but, Charlie thinks I’m a closet Romanist and Allan Strange said I’m a heretic on the order of Arius. Consequently and even being charitable, I would hardly think either of these men think P2 is true of me, therefore their conclusion would be that I am not a believer. Marc Carpenter once called me a “smoking son of Satan,” so his opinion of me is even more dim. Frankly, sometimes if I look at my own life and my own indwelling sin I have my doubts about P2 too and there have been times where my assurance has been indeed shaken. I’m sure there have been times in my life when I wasn’t even sure P1 was true either.

    Therefore, if one cannot “know” whether P2 is true or false in his own case, then “assurance” of salvation is impossible! Thankfully, Scripture plainly teaches that we do in fact “know” the content of our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12),

    As already and repeatedly demonstrated 1 Corinthians does not “plainly teach that we in fact know the content of our own thoughts” much less that our own thoughts are true. That is what 1 Cor would have to teach for your argument to hold, but it doesn’t and so your argument fails. Moreover, continuing to push Paul’s analogy too far doesn’t make it right just by doing it over and over.

    and can therefore “know” that we believe the gospel and “have” (not may or may not have) eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

    Your “therefore” only follows if P2 is true and that is something I don’t know. I can only opine it.

    How do I know if you are among the “we” John is referring? Well, you’ll say “I know my thoughts and I know I believe.” Well, I’ve known plenty of people in my life who believed that John was referring to them and that they were among the “we” he was addressing, but it turned out not to be the case. FWIW I’m quite sure Doug Wilson and Peter Leithart think they are among the “we” right now. Now, in their case I can safely say that P2 is not true for them regardless of their opinion because they deny the gospel, or, rather, teach a different one. However, if either of these men repents then I will have to revise my opinion.

  119. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean: As James said above; “possesses true information” is perhaps enough for true belief or true opinion. But not enough for knowledge.”

    Roger: That would be true only if one imposes a non-Scriptural definition of “knowledge” upon Scripture, as you have been doing throughout this debate. For all your talk of “Scripturalism,” it’s patently obvious that you haven’t in any way deduced your “philosophical” definition of knowledge from Scripture.

    Can anyone please show the scriptural argument (or even a non- scriptural argument) for the philosophical, non-Pauline / non-Johannine meaning of “knowledge”?

    And, how can Sean know that Roger or I anyone else cannot know that we are elect, regenerate, etc.?

  120. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, Do you believe you are regenerate/ elect?

    If so, do you not know that you are regenerate/ elect?

    Thanks.

  121. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, how can Sean know that Roger or I anyone else cannot know that we are elect, regenerate, etc.?

    Sean can’t. Why do you keep asking questions that have been answered many times now?

  122. Hugh McCann Says:

    Thanks, Sean.

    And you’ve said you cannot know that you are elect, regenerate, etc. Correct?

    Can you please show the scriptural argument (or even a non- scriptural argument) for the philosophical, non-Pauline / non-Johannine meaning of “knowledge”?

  123. Sean Gerety Says:

    No I can’t show the non-Pauline/non-Johannie argument for the meaning of knowledge. I’ve already shown the Pauline/Johannie argument for the meaning of knowledge. If you want a non-Scriptural argument start with Plato.

  124. James Says:

    Roger,
    For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?

    knowing [the content of] your thoughts does not even imply that the thought is true let alone knowledge.

    surely Roger you know you thought X, but X turned out to be false. But it does not follow that you do not know you thought X.
    ____________________________

    No, for in that case Paul wouldn’t call it “knowledge” of the one true God, and unbelievers wouldn’t be culpable for suppressing it in unrighteousness.

    isn’t it perfectly reasonable to think they were culpable for something they ought to have known but because of their suppression (defeater) did not?

    Hugh-
    I think I am a believer but admit I have my own doubts – I don’t know either way to be honest. I certainly have not been able to deduce it from Scriptures. Honestly, my friend, I envy the thief.

  125. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, You cannot show us the non-Pauline/ Johannine (i.e. non-biblical) meaning of “knowledge,” and yet, that’s the philosophical distinction you’re trying to get across to us?

    Or am I misunderstanding?

    I maintain that the biblical “knowledge” the inspired apostles wrote of is sufficient for Christian discussions and that the philosophical definition is at best unhelpful- particularly if you (or anyone) cannot produce it.

    They wrote of true, sure, salvific knowledge. They knew about that, and so do we. The vagaries of philosophy have again proven it unhelpful and necessarily divisive.

  126. Hugh McCann Says:

    James – I urge you to study how John and Paul use the words “knowledge,” “know,” et. al.

    It is stunning to receive the Bible alone and to reject the bogus & necessarily unhelpful meanderings of extra-biblical philosophy.

    It *will* turn you away from Christ – Paul assures us:

    1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

    6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

    10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

    13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. {Col. 2}

    Yours,
    Hugh
    hughmc5hotmail.com

  127. Sean Gerety Says:

    I maintain that the biblical “knowledge” the inspired apostles wrote of is sufficient for Christian discussions and that the philosophical definition is at best unhelpful- particularly if you (or anyone) cannot produce it.

    What is it that you want me to produce? I’m not even sure what you’re asking? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. P2 is not according to the law and the testimony (recall Roger said he “never claimed to deduce P2 from Scripture”). Therefore, P2 has no light in it.

    Gary Crampton put it this way:

    Knowledge and Opinion

    An important part of the Scripturalist worldview is the epistemological distinction between knowledge and opinion. Throughout the history of Western thought, philosophers such as Parmenides, Plato, and Aristotle, have correctly differentiated between these two. Augustine and Gordon Clark are just two examples of Christian philosophers who have done the same.(36) There is a difference between that which we “know” and that about which we may have opinions.

    In the Scripturalist worldview, knowledge is not only possessing ideas or thoughts; it is possessing true ideas or thoughts. Knowledge is knowledge of the truth. It is justified true belief. Only the Word of God (that which, as the Westminster Confession [1:6] says, “is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture”) gives us such knowledge.

    Opinions, on the other hand, may be true or false. Natural science is opinion; archaeology is opinion; history (with the exception of Biblical history) is opinion. In these disciplines we are not dealing with “facts.” In them there is no justified true belief. To “opine” something is not to “know” it. Justified truth is found only in the Word of God.

    The Scripturalist begins with the presupposition that the Bible is the Word of God; this is axiomatic. He then deduces everything else from Scripture. How does man come to knowledge of God and His creation? This is possible only by means of God’s self-revelation. Knowledge is possible only because God has chosen to reveal Himself to man. Such knowledge is not received from or discovered by either sensation or ratiocination. All knowledge is revelational and propositional by nature, and its source is God.

    – See more at: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=276#sthash.tDLLNHFR.dpuf

    I maintain that the biblical “knowledge” the inspired apostles wrote of is sufficient for Christian discussions and that the philosophical definition is at best unhelpful- particularly if you (or anyone) cannot produce it.

    They wrote of true, sure, salvific knowledge. They knew about that, and so do we. The vagaries of philosophy have again proven it unhelpful and necessarily divisive.

    What is arguably more frustrating than it is divisive, is that you cannot see that P2 is not biblical knowledge that the inspired Apostles wrote nor is it a necessary inference from what they wrote. This is so obvious that it blows my mind that anyone would try and raise their own opinions about themselves to the same level as what the inspired Apostles wrote and then get miffed when it is pointed out. Now that might be divisive, but I place that one at your feet and others here, not mine.

    Finally, I don’t think I have been at all vague and Scripturalism, unlike the confused and contradictory notions of my opponents, is very clear on what distinguishes opinions from knowledge. I mean, it’s almost too simple and I suspect it is an insult to those who think they are very clever and sophisticated.

  128. Hugh McCann Says:

    OK, Sean.

    St. Gary says, “In the Scripturalist worldview, knowledge is not only possessing ideas or thoughts; it is possessing true ideas or thoughts. Knowledge is knowledge of the truth. It is justified true belief.”

    No duh.

    St. Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep [my soul].”

    I say the same thing, knowing the true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, knowing the truth, having been set free.

    That I cannot prove it to your satisfaction is unimportant.

    Like St John, I have the “understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

    I know that my sins are forgiven me for his name’s sake.
    I have known him that is from the beginning.
    I have known the Father.
    I know that I am strong.
    I know that the word of God abides in me.
    I know that I have overcome the wicked one.

    To anyone else, it reads as my opinion, my hope, my belief. That’s *their* skepticism, doubt, problem – not mine.

    For me, it is my sure knowledge – more sure than the sun coming up tomorrow.

  129. James Says:

    Hugh –

    That I cannot prove it to your satisfaction is unimportant.

    ok then what’s important to me is how you proved it to your own satisfaction – or doesn’t that matter either? Just what is it that elevates your strong opinion to knowledge – and yes you do claim to know.
    I have a pretty good idea what did it for the thief, Paul, and John – but I don’t have the kind of access to Christ and his direct personal revelations like they did (and in some cases were not allowed to reveal).
    Thanks, and forgive if I missed it somewhere else,

  130. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, Amen.

    We are to make our calling and election sure, not someone else’s.

    What makes my knowledge real (“elevates,” as you say),

    “what did it for the thief, Paul and John,”

    is not esoteric or mysterious or charismatic. It is for all believers.

    It is found in the word of God alone: These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. {1 John 5:13}

    For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. {Romans 15:4}

    As well, Paul’s prayers in the Colossian epistle and in Ephesians:

    1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

    2:1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: {Hebrews 6:11}

  131. Sean Gerety Says:

    That I cannot prove it to your satisfaction is unimportant.

    Then why do you persist? The philosophic import of Scripture is enormous, but if that not something you’re interested in and think it’s divisive, please feel free to bow out. Not one of the verses you have adduced so far, even the ones you have bolded, demonstrate the proposition: “Hugh is elect,” “Hugh is a believer,” etc. Sorry, Hugh, but that’s just your opinion. It might be true, but it might not. Given the scope of propositional revelation I don’t know who the elect are and neither do you. And, I’m not impressed with those who simply quote Scripture and assert they are among God’s chosen. Particularly those on the internet. Heretics do that too and arguably even better. But it’s clear you don’t have any method by which you determine opinion from knowledge, but I guess that’s OK for you. Although I don’t believe for a second that ignorance is bliss.

    The book of James was written so that first century Jewish believers might be able to determine the true believer from the feigned variety. Any Session member will tell you it is not always an easy thing even if you[‘re a Baptist. It’s an opinion we hold based on the evidence of their lives; by what they say and what they do. Logically speaking it is a conclusion we reach based on an induction even when we examine the evidence of our own lives and often, if we’re honest, that’s not always too pretty. And, if you are not familiar with the problem of induction I recommend you read Clark’s treatise on the philosophy of science. Regardless, our assurance, our confidence, should not be based on anything within us (“put no confidence in the flesh”), but rather based solely on what Christ has done for us completely outside of us. God promises to be faithful.

  132. justbybelief Says:

    The pastor at the PCA I used to attend gave his “testimony” in which the “evangelist” replaced the general words of scripture with specific ones particularly this pastor’s name. For example, he changed the scripture passage “Christ died for our sins…” to “Christ died for [so and so’s] sins…” That “interpretation” of scripture did not set well with me then, and it definitely doesn’t set well now after following this discussion.

    Thanks for being clear, Sean.

    Your last statement clearly wrenches us off of ourselves and places all confidence in Christ, where it should be and which God commands.

    Eric

  133. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean,

    I’ve persisted here to try to understand the nuances of philosophical “knowing” and the Scripturalist “knowing” and the biblical “knowing” of John & Paul. And to try to help men in doubt like James.

    I’m not aware what is “the [enormous] philosophic import of Scripture,” however. Not not interested, just ignorant.

    I am not trying to prove either that “Hugh is elect” or, “Hugh is a believer.” I was trying to show the biblical use of “know” and “knowing.”

    I realize that for others, my assertions/ professions can never appear to rise above mere “opinion.” Again, I was not trying to prove my election or faith to anyone’s satisfaction. I know it’s impossible to do so. Pun intended.

    And of course I agree too that, Regardless, our assurance, our confidence, should not be based on anything within us (“put no confidence in the flesh”), but rather based solely on what Christ has done for us completely outside of us. God promises to be faithful.

  134. Roger Says:

    For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?

    knowing [the content of] your thoughts does not even imply that the thought is true let alone knowledge.

    James, I’m honestly not sure what your point is here. If “knowledge” is the possession of “true information” about someone or something, then possessing true information about one’s own thoughts is indeed genuine “knowledge.” And, as I’ve mentioned numerous time now, Scripture plainly teaches that we “know” or possess true information about our own thoughts. John Calvin agrees:

    For what man knoweth? Two different things he intends to teach here: first, that the doctrine of the Gospel cannot be understood otherwise than by the testimony of the Holy Spirit; and secondly, that those who have a testimony of this nature from the Holy Spirit, have an assurance as firm and solid, as if they felt with their hands what they believe, for the Spirit is a faithful and indubitable witness. This he proves by a similitude drawn from our own spirit: for everyone is conscious of his own thoughts, and on the other hand what lies hid in any man’s heart, is unknown to another

    A man’s innermost thought, of which others are ignorant, is perceived by himself alone: if he afterwards makes it known to others, this does not hinder but that his spirit alone knows what is in him. For it may happen that he does not persuade: it may even happen that he does not properly express his own meaning; but even if he attains both objects, this statement is not at variance with the other — that his own spirit alone has the true knowledge of it

    The spirit of a man. Observe, that the spirit of a man is taken here for the soul, in which the intellectual faculty, as it is called, resides. For Paul would have expressed himself inaccurately if he had ascribed this knowledge to man’s intellect, or in other words, the faculty itself, and not to the soul, which is endued with the power of understanding. (Calvin’s Commentary, 1 Corinthians 2:11)

    The terms Calvin uses here, such as “conscious,” “perceive,” and “known,” are clearly meant to convey the idea that we possess true information about our own thoughts. And notice that he even calls this true information about our own thoughts “true knowledge.” So I’m hardly alone in my observation of what this passage teaches.

    surely Roger you know you thought X, but X turned out to be false. But it does not follow that you do not know you thought X.

    James, a person may indeed believe something that is false, such as 2+2=5. Nevertheless, for such a person, the proposition “I believe that 2+2=5” would indeed be a true proposition, and they would in fact “know” that they believe it, since Scripture plainly teaches that we “know” our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).

    “No, for in that case Paul wouldn’t call it ‘knowledge’ of the one true God, and unbelievers wouldn’t be culpable for suppressing it in unrighteousness.”

    isn’t it perfectly reasonable to think they were culpable for something they ought to have known but because of their suppression (defeater) did not?

    No, for Scripture plainly states that they are culpable for suppressing “the truth” that they in fact know about God (“because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” – Romans 1:19), specifically concerning His “eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).

  135. Roger Says:

    Paul clearly is using the word “know” in different senses and to say one is “relational” or “spiritual” (whatever that means) and the other isn’t is not defining the word “know” differently.

    Sean, I’ve already acknowledged that Paul is using the term to “know” in different senses in Romans and 2 Thessalonians, even though the possession of “true information” about God is the common denominator of both sets of knowledge.

    In 2 Thessalonians Paul is referring to knowing true information about God (through special revelation) that is willingly embraced or believed due to the Spirit’s enlightenment. This is also how Jesus used the term when He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). That’s what I meant by knowing God in a “relational” or “spiritual” sense.

    In Romans Paul is referring to “knowing” true information about God (through general revelation) that is suppressed in unrighteousness. In other words, they possess true information about God, but they willfully refuse to embrace or believe it.

    I’ll try to respond to some of your other comments tomorrow if I can find the time, but I’ve been extremely busy lately.

  136. Sean Gerety Says:

    I honestly don’t understand what spiritual or rlational knowledge is or how it is different from knowledge that unbelievers have since both possess true information about God and this is what you call knowledge. It is a differences without a distinction.


  137. Gerety, define “psychological state of mind” if you can. Logic and the law of contradiction are apparently not the basis for your speculative theology. Feelings?


  138. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:13-15 NKJ)

  139. Roger Says:

    It’s not that difficult to understand, Sean. Unbelievers possess true information about God that they suppress in unbelief and rebellion. Believers possess true information about God that they embrace in belief and obedience. Both “sets” of true information about God are referred to as genuine “knowledge” in Scripture, despite the slightly different ways the term is used. Your “justified true belief” simply doesn’t fit the Scriptural use of “knowledge” with regard to both believers and unbelievers, while the possession of “true information” about God does.

    As I’ve already mentioned, John Gill correctly interprets Paul’s words in Romans 1 and 2 Thessalonians 1, and is saying essentially the same thing that I’m saying (as is John Calvin and many other notable commentators):

    Because that which may be known of God. There are some things which could not be known of God by the light of nature; as a trinity of persons in the Godhead; the knowledge of God in Christ as Mediator; the God-man and Mediator Jesus Christ; his incarnation, sufferings, death, and resurrection; the will of God to save sinners by a crucified Jesus; the several peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, particularly the resurrection of the dead, and the manner of worshipping of God with acceptance: but then there are some things which may be known of God, without a [special] revelation. Adam had a perfect knowledge of him; and his sons, though fallen, even the very Heathens have some notion of him, as that there is a God; and by the light of nature it might be known that there is but one God, who is glorious, full of majesty, and possessed of all perfections, as that he is all powerful, wise, good and righteous: and this

    is manifest in them, or “to them”; by the light that is given them: it is light by which that which may be known of God is manifest; and this is the light of nature, which every man has that comes into the world; and this is internal, it is in him, in his mind and conscience, and is communicated to him by God, and that by infusion or inspiration; see (Job 32:8);

    for God hath showed [it] unto them; what may be known of him by that light; and which is assisted and may be improved by a consideration of the works of creation and Providence. (John Gill, Commentary on Romans 1:19)

    on them that know not God; which is a periphrasis, or common character of the Gentiles, (1 Thessalonians 4:5) who know not the one, true, and living God; or know him not so as to glorify him as God, and be thankful to him for the mercies they receive from him, and still less know him in Christ Jesus; which ignorance of theirs is not without sin, nor will it excuse from punishment; for though vengeance will not be taken on them, because they have not a spiritual saving knowledge of God, in the Mediator Jesus Christ, who never was revealed to them; yet forasmuch as they had the light and law of nature, by which the being of God, and the invisible perfections of his nature might be seen and understood, and much of his will, with respect to moral good and evil, be known, against both which they have rebelled, and having sinned, will perish without law: though it may also include all such persons, who having been favoured with an external revelation, have professed to know God, and yet in works have denied him. (John Gill, Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:8)

  140. Roger Says:

    Sorry, Roger, it is you who is imposing a non-Scriptural definition of knowledge on the Scripture… All, not some, of the treasures of knowledge are in Christ and are found nowhere else. If they were found somewhere else, then they would not *all* be found in Christ.

    Yes, “all the treasures of knowledge are found in Christ,” and no one possesses any knowledge that does not come from “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). However, as Scripture makes quite clear (see the John Gill quotes above), God has indeed revealed or imparted knowledge of Himself to all men apart from Scripture, and they are culpable for suppressing that knowledge in unrighteousness.

    I don’t know who it is you think you are arguing with, but I have never once said that P2 is false… What I have said is that I can’t know if P2 is true.

    I’m well aware of that fact. If you notice, I never claimed that you said P2 is false. I said that “*IF* P2 is false (i.e., that one believes the gospel), then the conclusion that one is not saved follows necessarily.” Notice the big *IF* there, Sean? This was in response to your repeated statement that “*IF* P2 is true, then the conclusion that one is saved follows necessarily.” The point I was making is that since you can’t know whether P2 is true or false in your theology, all you are left with is a big fat *IF* with no assurance of salvation!

    In your case it’s my opinion that it is true, so the conclusion necessary follows. Applying the syllogism to me I think P2 is true as well…

    No, Sean, the only conclusion that necessarily follows from an uncertain “opinion” is that no one who professes to believe in Christ knows whether they are saved or damned:

    All who believe the gospel are saved.

    No one knows whether they believe or disbelieve the gospel.

    Therefore, no one knows whether they are saved or damned, and assurance of salvation is impossible.

    As already and repeatedly demonstrated 1 Corinthians does not “plainly teach that we in fact know the content of our own thoughts” much less that our own thoughts are true.

    You’ve “demonstrated” no such thing, Sean. All you’ve done is “assert.” But the Apostle Paul explicitly states that we in fact “know” the content of our inward thoughts, just as God “knows” the content of His thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11). And since we can’t “know” anything that is false, it necessarily follows that we know the “true” content of our thoughts. Asserting to the contrary over and over again won’t change that fact. I “know” that I believe the proposition that 2+2=4, just as I “know” that I believe the proposition that Jesus Christ is Lord!

    “and can therefore ‘know’ that we believe the gospel and ‘have’ (not may or may not have) eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

    Your “therefore” only follows if P2 is true and that is something I don’t know. I can only opine it.

    If all one can do is “opine” whether P2 is true or false, then the Apostle John must have been lying, for he explicitly states that believers may “know” that that they “have” eternal life (1 John 5:13). And if one cannot “know” whether they are a believer or not, then it necessarily follows that they cannot “know” that they “have” eternal life. As I’ve stated before, you have no way around this quandary, as your theology on this point directly contradicts Scripture. All you are left with is a big fat *IF* with no assurance of salvation!

  141. Sean Gerety Says:

    All who believe the gospel are saved.

    No one knows whether they believe or disbelieve the gospel.

    Therefore, no one knows whether they are saved or damned, and assurance of salvation is impossible.

    Your argument is invalid. The second clause in your conclusion is nowhere found in either of your premises. Sorry Roger. Try again.

  142. James Says:

    -In other words, they possess true information about God, but they willfully refuse to embrace or believe it.
    -If “knowledge” is the possession of “true information”

    Roger,
    May I make a suggestion? Drop ‘possession’. It’s throwing this discussion off and rendering your use of ‘knowledge’ absurd (knowledge without belief?? really??) Why not just say that knowledge in this context is the set of true propositions that God has made evident – that is clarify that what you mean by knowledge in this context is the object of belief – the set of propositions as revealed;made evident; to be believed upon.
    That actually fits the context too – God revealed knowledge (the set of props,the object to be believed) to them (they were aware of it) that they reject and do not retain in their knowledge (JTB) thru unrighteous suppression (defeater) for which they are culpable (they ought to believe hence know (JTB) the knowledge (object)). Something like that. I think if we clarify our equivocations then we’ll make headway.

    -“I believe that 2+2=5” would indeed be a true proposition, and they would in fact “know” that they believe it, since Scripture plainly teaches that we “know” our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).

    OK, this is clearly: Since I know I think X, therefore I know X. (I refuse to accept that you mean Since I think X therefore I know X which is plainly absurd)

    Does it follow that since I know I think 2+2=5 therefore I know 2+2=5? Obviously not.
    The neither does it follow that since I know I think “I believe that 2+2=5” therefore I know “I believe that 2+2=5”.

    But both must follow on your understanding of 1cor 2:11. Both. But I will never agree with you that 1cor2:11 teaches such an absurdity. You may know you think that 1cor2:11 teaches what you think it does, but it doesn’t. And you certainly don’t know that 1cor2:11 teaches it.

    Alas, it does not matter what proposition you substitute in for X,
    I know I think X
    is not the same as, nor does it imply
    I know X

    oh, by the way, this,

    -we in fact “know” the content of our inward thoughts, And since we can’t “know” anything that is false, it necessarily follows that we know the “true” content of our thoughts.

    is an invalid argument, viz,
    All known is true
    All inward thought content is known
    therefore
    all “true” content is known.

    the valid argument is
    All known is true
    All inward thought content is known
    therefore
    All inward thought content is true

  143. Roger Says:

    “All who believe the gospel are saved.

    No one knows whether they believe or disbelieve the gospel.

    Therefore, no one knows whether they are saved or damned, and assurance of salvation is impossible.”

    Your argument is invalid. The second clause in your conclusion is nowhere found in either of your premises. Sorry Roger. Try again.

    Assurance is “the state of being sure or certain about something” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). A secondary definition is “being certain in the mind [the puritan’s assurance of salvation]” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Therefore, “assurance” of salvation is the state of being sure or certain of one’s salvation, which is impossible if one cannot “know” (second premise) that one in fact “believes” the gospel (first and second premises). So the second clause of my conclusion (“Therefore…assurance of salvation is impossible”) most certainly is found in the premises of my argument. You’re starting to sound a little desperate, Sean.

    Again, you have no way around this quandary, as your theology on this point directly contradicts Scripture (1 John 5:13). All you are left with is a big fat *IF* (“ignorance” rather than “knowledge”) with no assurance of salvation!

  144. Roger Says:

    No, James, I actually mean that every man “possesses” true information about God which has been “communicated to him by God, and that by infusion or inspiration” to use the words of John Gill. Scripture puts it this way, “because what may be known of God is manifest in them” (Romans 1:19).

    As for the rest of what you wrote, I’m sorry but I’m not even going to attempt to wade through that much confusion…

    Anyway, this debate has obviously run its course, so it’s about time that I move along. There’s no sense in beating a dead horse, as the saying goes!

  145. Roger Says:

    I should probably clarify that I see “assurance” as being inseparably linked to genuine “belief” of the gospel, which is why I say that the second clause of my conclusion is most certainly found within the premises of my argument. In fact, I would wholeheartedly agree with Calvin’s definition of saving faith here:

    “Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us [i.e., personally ], founded upon the truth of the freely given promise of Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.7)

    Elsewhere he says that “faith is a firm and solid confidence of the heart, by means of which we rest surely in the mercy of God which is promised to us through the Gospel” (Calvin, Instruction in Faith, 38). In both of these definitions, Calvin inseparably links “assurance” of salvation to “belief” of the gospel.

  146. Sean Gerety Says:

    I should probably clarify that I see “assurance” as being inseparably linked to genuine “belief” of the gospel,

    That’s part of your problem. The WCF is clear and assurance is not part of the essence of faith. The other problem is your logic is atrocious, which I hope to address later when I don’t have to type on a bleedin tablet. But, I can understand why you want to bow out after Jim has so effortlessly shredded your argument. The fact that you can’t see why is illustrative of that other noetic state: ignorance. 😉

  147. Hugh McCann Says:

    You all probably know that heirs of the Continental Reformed (Three Forms of Unity) and the Westminster Reformed have had debates about assurance, whether it is an inherent component of saving faith.

    The WCF is clearly wrong about assurance not being of the essence of faith. Calvin and the Continentals got it right. Assurance is dimmed because faith is dimmed, not because something other than faith is dimmed.

    WCF 17:3 This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it…

    Note the proof texts to this assertion:

    1 John 5:13. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

    Isaiah 50:10. Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.

    Mark 9:24. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

    & Psalm 88. Psalm 77:1-12.

    John’s quote doesn’t support this, and the pre-Calvary verses are not about post-Pentecost believers. Paul and Peter & Co. have a different story for the believer.

    Note the next set of proof-texts for, …yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto:

    1 Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.

    1 John 4:13. Hereby KNOW we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    These verses actually vitiate the WCF’s point! They help provide proof for ours. Assurance is a necessary component of faith; further, there is no mention of any “means” in these passages. But, we do grow as saints, believing more consistently, and increasingly rejecting our worldly thinking, as we grow in grace and in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    (I will say “amen” to Roger and Calvin, above, in the biblical use of “know,” “knowing,” and “knowledge.”

    Maybe Scripturalism cannot know, but Biblicism DOES!)

    Then: Hebrews 6:11-12. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

    Ephesians 3:17-19. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND WITH ALL THE SAINTS what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

    There is a growing in faith/ assurance, which may appear to be a sometimes gain, sometimes loss, of said faith/ assurance. But assurance not as component, but as additive to faith (a “faith +” ?) would be incorrect. I see the “divines” wanting to give hope in their analysis and prognosis, but it actually does the opposite.

    Silly. What they should have said was that the conscious awareness and enjoyment of faith/ assurance may at times be dimmed, but are stoked and increased by God the Holy Spirit as one looks to the finished work of Christ on behalf of the believer.

    This the Heidelberg better helps us do than the WCF, and I therefore strongly recommend it!

    Q & A 1
    Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
    A. [in part] Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life.*
    * Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14
    __________

    Q & A 22
    Q. What is true faith?
    A. True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;1
    it is also a wholehearted trust,2
    which the Holy Spirit creates in me3
    by the gospel,4
    that God has freely granted not only to others but to me also,5
    forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation.6
    These are gifts of sheer grace, granted solely by Christ’s merit.7
    1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19
    2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16
    3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5;x Acts 16:14
    4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21
    5 Gal. 2:20
    6 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10
    7 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10
    __________
    Amen.

  148. justbybelief Says:

    “Silly. What they should have said was that the conscious awareness and enjoyment of faith/ assurance may at times be dimmed, but are stoked and increased by God the Holy Spirit as one looks to the finished work of Christ on behalf of the believer.”

    In other words, Christ is our assurance as He is found in the Word of God.

  149. James Says:

    -No, James, I actually mean that every man “possesses” true information about God

    do you mean every man believes this true information about God?

  150. James Says:

    just some questions on assurance,

    Hugh and Roger,

    if I have no assurance, am I lost?

    Hugh,
    is assurance an *essential* component of faith?
    if it is, then what about the Clarkian faith=belief=assent to understood truth?
    Are you saying that saving faith must require something more than assent to the truth?
    saving faith=belief+understood truth+some level of assurance?

    Roger,
    assurance is inseparably linked to faith? what is “linked”? Taking your understanding of Calvin and Webster, it seems faith is *defined* in terms of certainty (assurance) – so what if I’m not certain – am I lost? –

    So guys,
    what level of certainty is required for saving faith? How does one attain it? by assenting harder? or by doing good works? so how?

    note that the infallible Calvin and the infallible Heidelberg doesn’t quite say….

    let me just opine:
    The Continentals were perhaps more affected by Rome and did not quite jettison all the dross they could’ve and perhaps those darn Brits were a just a little bit better at it…

    Thanks for your patience,

  151. Hugh McCann Says:

    NOW we’re getting somewhere! Great questions, James.

    Working backwards in your post:

    The WMDs (WestMinster Divines) and CRs had more popery they needed to jettison, for sure. I’d be very interested in things you could recommend we read, comparing the remnants of Romanism retained by both groups…

    I think works can be a help to assurance, but not in and of themselves – only as they remind you that it is God that worketh in you, and that you are a wretch.

    “Assenting harder”? No, not at all. Just believe (understand and assent) – THAT’S the essence of assurance! One attains saving faith by God working it in your heart/ mind and faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

    The “level of certainty” that faith engenders is 100%. Our flesh just loves to rebel, however, balking at free grace, God’s un-meritable love, etc.

    As for the formula, faith says what? What are we understanding and assenting to? 1 Cor. 15:3f, which says that Christ died for us and rose again the 3rd day. Faith says what the Bible says, and in this instance, it says whosoever believeth is saved/ delivered, has eternal life, shall receive remission of sins, will not be ashamed, shall ever die, abideth not in darkness…

    “Jesus…delivered us from the wrath to come.”

    Believest thou this of thyself?

    Then, if you are trusting Christ alone, what are you doubting, James? And why?

  152. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hugh, the essence of a thing is its definition. If justification by belief is the “essence of assurance,” then saving faith is not assent to the understood propositions of Scripture. It is something more. Or something different entirely.

    Also, you simply ignored James’ question:

    “if I have no assurance, am I lost?”

    Sorry, maybe you did answer him. You said: “The “level of certainty” that faith engenders is 100%.”

    Therefore if someone doesn’t have 100% assurance they are lost.

  153. Hugh McCann Says:

    Let me answer James (and by extension, Sean): Yes, if you have *no* assurance, then you are unregenerate, aren’t you?

    I imagine that James is speaking hypothetically, and not personally/ absolutely. But I do not know the genesis of his question. And, as we delve into psychoanalysis or some such, we are on shaky ground.

    But my point about faith engendering 100% assurance (apart from hopefully gaining people’s attention here) was to state what I’d hope would be the obvious, given I John 5’s neglected quotes:

    13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

    And, 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

    It isn’t a 100% vs 80% or 93%, like some test.

    It’s a yes/ no, true/ false, pass/ fail situation.

    You either have it – assurance/ faith (as Calvin *well* defined it above, in Roger’s quotes)- or you don’t.

    So, yes, Sean & James, NO assurance = NO faith.

    What else *could* James be trusting in, if not Christ?

    There’s only one other answer: James. And that’s why he has doubts. If he looks to James, he’ll be damned.

    If we look to Christ alone, we’re saved. Amen.

  154. Hugh McCann Says:

    Again, key here is that “knowing” something is be sure of it. 🙂 100%

    These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE…

    And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM that is true…

    …I am not ashamed: for I KNOW whom I have believed, and am PERSUADED that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

    The Scripturalist “know” is ultimately unhelpful, as it militates against assurance, whereas the biblical, apostolic “know” seems quite clear.

    Thus saith Sean: “It follows that if knowledge of one’s election could be deduced from Scripture, then the true believer would not have to wait long or struggle for assurance at all for; all they would need to do is simply deduce their eternal blessedness from the Scripture.

    “But, that my friends, is impossible.”

    Hmm. I’d like someone to produce the prooftext[s] for *that*!

    Next, JR said: “First, the issue is not skepticism. Even if a sinner cannot know (in the proper sense of the word) that he is saved — and so far no one has shown that he can — Scripturalism furnishes us with many truths when all other methods fail, and so skepticism is avoided.”

    Can the Scripturalist provide us these “many truths” that help us avoid skepticism?

    Finally, “Scripturalism says, one knows only by explicit statements in or valid inferences from Scripture.”

    Indeed! I have repeatedly quoted Paul & John (to which I get no answer), showing *their* very different “know” to that of the Scripturalists.

    Why can’t we know like the Apostles say we can know?

  155. Sean Gerety Says:

    Can the Scripturalist provide us these “many truths” that help us avoid skepticism?

    Absolutely. P1 for starters. Beyond that maybe your should familiarize yourself with WCF 1.

    Why can’t we know like the Apostles say we can know?

    Because we’re not Apostles and they didn’t equivocate on the word “to know” like you do.

  156. James Says:

    Hugh,
    I am not that much of a scholar – it turns out my little opine about Brits and Continentals is nothing more than my mind rehearsing quotes from Clark – – see for example Clark’s work called Sanctification pages 35-39 on Ryle and Assurance. Just too long to quote here…

    you wrote,
    -You either have it – assurance/ faith (as Calvin *well* defined it above, in Roger’s quotes)- or you don’t.

    Roger defined assurance as to be certain or sure about something, but to be honest, I do not know what *you* mean by assurance.

    Thanks,

  157. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, Roger’s definition of assurance seems right, “to be certain or sure about something.” And I appreciated & commend the Calvin quotes, as well as the Heidelberg Catechism’s stance on the issue.

    To wit, True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true all that God has revealed to us in Scripture; it is also a wholehearted trust, which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel, that God has freely granted, not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins, eternal righteousness, and salvation. (Ans. 21.)

    Hence our emphasis on assurance.

    I note that the Apostle reminds that Jesus by himself purged our sins (Heb. 1:3).

    And, that ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).

    And that there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

    If we stand before God purged, washed, sanctified, justified, and un-condemned,* who is he that condemns us?

    * And none other *can* stand before a holy God.

  158. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, John says we can know. Paul appears to not write to encourage the saints to know things, but prays for them as well.

    With the completed canon, we possess all that God would have us have/ know. So, why can’t we know like the Apostles say we can know?

    SG: Because we’re not Apostles and they didn’t equivocate on the word “to know” like you do.

    How am I equivocating on “know”?

    I am trying to understand and use “know” as the Bible does.

    Help me understand if I am wrong.

    Where in the Bible does an apostle or our Lord say anything akin to what you’ve written? I see just the opposite in the verses I’ve been quoting.

    Rather than say, “We have knowledge you cannot have,” they say, “we know,” and, “that ye may know.”

  159. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, Please explain this:

    HM: Can the Scripturalist provide us these “many truths” that help us avoid skepticism?

    SG: Absolutely. P1 for starters. Beyond that maybe your should familiarize yourself with WCF 1.

    “P1” has been variously defined on this page as,

    1. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

    2. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

    3. “Scripture says “all men are sinners.” And,

    4. “All who believe the gospel will be saved.”

    Which P1 are you referring to? And how does it relate to our debate?

  160. Sean Gerety Says:

    Not sure if Roger has bowed out for good, but for the record I had to start blocking Charlie Ray’s posts. Besides him privately and publicly attacking me as an unbeliever, a “rationalist,” and a closet papist, there is absolutely no reasoning with the man. But if you want to read his hate filled screeds you can head over to his blog: The Irrational Christian.

    I’m even hesitant to comment any further on Roger’s posts since James did such a great job demonstrating the impossibility of his position. But to hopefully clarify a few things, Roger wrote:

    I’m well aware of that fact. If you notice, I never claimed that you said P2 is false. I said that “*IF* P2 is false (i.e., that one believes the gospel), then the conclusion that one is not saved follows necessarily.” Notice the big *IF* there, Sean?

    I guess I did miss the big *IF*, but I completely agree, if P2 is false then the conclusion that one is not saved follows. Without additional revelation we don’t know P2. P2 is an opinion and opinions can be either true or false. John wrote: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Perhaps Jesus listed all of His elect sheep and the list just wasn’t written down? I doubt it, but I do think it odd that there are Christians on this list that are unsatisfied with what has been written down for our knowledge and edification. One would think that alone would be enough for a Christian to be confident and assured. Guess not, because Roger continues:

    The point I was making is that since you can’t know whether P2 is true or false in your theology, all you are left with is a big fat *IF* with no assurance of salvation!

    Once again this argument doesn’t follow. Whether P2 is true or not has no bearing at all on assurance. There will be those who are very assured of their salvific state and will even cry “Lord, Lord” yet are lost. As Jesus points out their confidence was misplaced. But, if P2 is what you base your assurance on, and in the case of some here it is, then I would argue it is equally misplaced and you are bound to lack the very thing you desire.

    Assurance should not be based on whether you or not we *know* we are saved, but rather on what we believe Christ has done for us completely outside of us. He is our righteousness and not the proposition “I am saved.” “I am saved” is not the gospel. The gospel is a message about what Christ has done and not my own presumed self knowledge.

    Besides, I think opinions function very well and I have a whole lot of them that I think are true and I’ll be more than happy to tell you why. People like Rush have made a great living on their opinions, but recall Clark’s monographs on historiography and science and you’ll see that those guys are in the opinion biz too.

    “In your case it’s my opinion that it is true, so the conclusion necessary follows. Applying the syllogism to me I think P2 is true as well…”

    No, Sean, the only conclusion that necessarily follows from an uncertain “opinion” is that no one who professes to believe in Christ knows whether they are saved or damned:

    All who believe the gospel are saved.
    No one knows whether they believe or disbelieve the gospel.
    Therefore, no one knows whether they are saved or damned, and assurance of salvation is impossible.

    First, certainty and uncertainty have nothing to do with knowledge. Second, you did it again. You attempted to smuggle assurance into your conclusion when there is nothing about assurance in either one of your premises. Your conclusion does not follow from your premises.

    You’ve “demonstrated” no such thing, Sean. All you’ve done is “assert.” But the Apostle Paul explicitly states that we in fact “know” the content of our inward thoughts, just as God “knows” the content of His thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11). And since we can’t “know” anything that is false, it necessarily follows that we know the “true” content of our thoughts.

    Actually, I thought I did demonstrate why your interpretation of 1 Cor 2:11 doesn’t hold, but I admit James did a much better job when he wrote:

    “I believe that 2+2=5” would indeed be a true proposition, and they would in fact “know” that they believe it, since Scripture plainly teaches that we “know” our own thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).

    OK, this is clearly: Since I know I think X, therefore I know X. (I refuse to accept that you mean Since I think X therefore I know X which is plainly absurd)

    Does it follow that since I know I think 2+2=5 therefore I know 2+2=5? Obviously not.
    The neither does it follow that since I know I think “I believe that 2+2=5″ therefore I know “I believe that 2+2=5″.

    But both must follow on your understanding of 1cor 2:11. Both. But I will never agree with you that 1cor2:11 teaches such an absurdity. You may know you think that 1cor2:11 teaches what you think it does, but it doesn’t. And you certainly don’t know that 1cor2:11 teaches it.

    Alas, it does not matter what proposition you substitute in for X,
    I know I think X
    is not the same as, nor does it imply
    I know X

    oh, by the way, this,

    -we in fact “know” the content of our inward thoughts, And since we can’t “know” anything that is false, it necessarily follows that we know the “true” content of our thoughts.

    is an invalid argument, viz,
    All known is true
    All inward thought content is known
    therefore
    all “true” content is known.

    the valid argument is
    All known is true
    All inward thought content is known
    therefore
    All inward thought content is true

    FWIW I think you should carefully think about what Jim argues above since it was devastating to your entire argument, but which you clearly didn’t understand. BTW there is nothing “confusing” about what he wrote.

    If all one can do is “opine” whether P2 is true or false, then the Apostle John must have been lying, for he explicitly states that believers may “know” that that they “have” eternal life (1 John 5:13). And if one cannot “know” whether they are a believer or not, then it necessarily follows that they cannot “know” that they “have” eternal life. As I’ve stated before, you have no way around this quandary, as your theology on this point directly contradicts Scripture. All you are left with is a big fat *IF* with no assurance of salvation!

    A good exegete would carefully define the sense in which key words are being used. You haven’t done this. After all, there are those who “know” they are saved (e.g., those who will cry “Lord, Lord”) but are lost. The “Lord, Lord” folks are probably the ones who would argue the loudest that we can know we are saved, after all look at all the evidence of their faithful obedience.

    In addition, and what you seem to have overlooked, the sense of the word “know” is modified by the word “may.” Your argument has John saying that these things were written “that you WILL know that you have eternal life,” but that’s not what he said.

  161. Sean Gerety Says:

    Which P1 are you referring to?

    All of them.

  162. Sean Gerety Says:

    How am I equivocating on “know”?

    I am trying to understand and use “know” as the Bible does.

    Help me understand if I am wrong.

    Hugh, I have tried and tried to help you understand, but I’m really at a loss on how to help you see. I suggest you read or reread Introduction to Christian Philosophy. Also, I posted this way above, but if you think carefully about the different senses of the word “know” JR identifies in Scripture perhaps you will finally get it:

    Obviously the word “know” is used in Scripture in various ways. Adam knew his wife. The ox knows his master. And all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. It is only the latter sense that merits the name “knowledge” in philosophy, where we try to use words in a strict sense, and avoid some of the confusions of colloquial language.

  163. LJ Says:

    Sean, I do indeed get it but, like you opined, I just don’t like it. That may be ultimately brother Hughe’s problem too, with which I’m quite sympathetic.

    Maybe this helps: It is my strong opinion, very strong opinion indeed, that if I step in front of that 18-wheeler (truck) bearing down on me at 60 m.p.h. I will get struck and die; that I will indeed get struck and die is NOT certain knowledge but opinion. It is opinion because, lacking omniscience or the FACTS of my death revealed from God, something could possibly happen to avert the collision and my death, e.g., the truck could blow a tire and veer away, an earthquake could cause the earth to split and swallow the truck, Superman could fly down and stop it, or the Lord could return and end this earthly existence.

    I would bet my life I’m a saved man (most of the time!), I would bet my life Hughe is a saved man as is Sean and all the other brothers who contribute to this excellent Blog, but I cannot know with apodictic certainty, with CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, that it is true that I will get struck and die.

    Just my inept stab at the logic of the argument.

    LJ

  164. LJ Says:

    what I meant was … “I cannot know with apodictic certainty, with CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, that it is true any of us are indeed saved men. I also cannot know whether or not, with CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE, that truck will strike me and end my life.”

    LJ

  165. justbybelief Says:

    IMHO the bottom line is this:

    Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)

    Is scripture.

    Therefore being justified by faith, Eric [some arbitrary person] has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Eric 5:1)

    Is not scripture.

    Eric

  166. Steve M Says:

    I agree that Eric can be quite arbitrary at times.

  167. justbybelief Says:

    Thanks, Steve. Can you prove that from scripture?

    🙂

  168. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, So the avoidance of skepticism is believing biblical truths? OK. So what? But OK.

    In your other conversation: Assurance should not be based on whether you or not we *know* we are saved, but rather on what we believe Christ has done for us completely outside of us. He is our righteousness and not the proposition “I am saved.” “I am saved” is not the gospel. The gospel is a message about what Christ has done and not my own presumed self knowledge.

    Of course, but “believing on what Christ has done for us completely outside of us,” his gospel of 1 Cor. 15:3f, is to also trust in his imputed righteousness is it not?

    In believing in his finished work, we also believe that we “stand in” this gospel (v. 1), by which also we are saved (v. 2), as a necessary corollary to believing that Christ died for our sins, etc.

    To trust/ believe in (be assured of) his finished work for me, and his righteousness credited to me is know that I am saved, just as Paul & John repeatedly indicate.

    Yes, he is our righteousness, not the proposition, “I am saved.” That’s silly, and no here has affirmed that (unless I’ve missed it). But that’d be silly to put forth, Sean.

    And of course “I am saved” is *not* the gospel. Where has anyone here argued *that*?! Come on, Sean, these are absurdities – where has anyone argued for them?

    You have not proven why we cannot know that we’re saved (in the apostolic biblical sense*), when we can know we believe the gospel, can know we have his righteousness, and when the Apostles tell us we can know.

    You simply say we are not apostles. So what? We have the exact same word and Spirit as they.

    * I do now understand the Scripturalist “knowing,” and by that definition, we can “know” nothing outside of the Bible and the necessary deductions derived therefrom.

    Hence, we cannot “know” that we exist as individuals or that we’re sinners, or that we’re personally elect/ saved. Though we can “know” that people have existed, that all men (but Christ) are sinners, and that some people are elect/ saved.

  169. Hugh McCann Says:

    Also, Sean, in “believing on what Christ has done for us completely outside of us,” would necessarily include believing (being assured that) Jesus by himself purged our sins, that I am washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. And that there is therefore now no condemnation to me in Christ Jesus.

    As I asked James: If we stand before God purged, washed, sanctified, justified, and un-condemned, who is he that condemns us? What sin is separating us from God?

  170. Steve M Says:

    “Thanks, Steve. Can you prove that from scripture?”

    No. It is definitely opinion rather than knowledge.

  171. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, So the avoidance of skepticism is believing biblical truths? OK. So what? But OK.

    What do you mean, so what? That is huge. Peter said Scripture is a light that shines in a dark place. You don’t seem to realize the depth of darkness we live in without it.

  172. Sean Gerety Says:

    You have not proven why we cannot know that we’re saved (in the apostolic biblical sense*),

    Hugh, it is not my job to prove we can know we are saved the the strict sense. That is your job and the job of all those who claim we can know we are elect, saved, eternally blessed, etc. The onus is on you my friend. The only thing I need to do is show that your arguments have failed. That has been done and not just by me thankfully. P2 is not a proposition of Scripture, i.e., a proposition in the “apostolic biblical sense.” That has already been demonstrated and a point long conceded by Roger even if you still think your salvific state is an inference from Scripture. As for continuing to explain why this is, I am getting tired of trying to talk to someone who refuses to listen and who shows no evidence of understanding anything I’ve been saying. Maybe it’s my fault, but I have tried every which way I can to explain it to you but to absolutely no avail. I mean, what Christian man, particularly a seminary trained man, could say; “So the avoidance of skepticism is believing biblical truths? OK. So what?”

  173. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, It is your “job” to defend your Scripturalistic “knowing” against the Apostolic, biblical knowing – which latter type you simply dismiss as being beyond our reach because we are not Apostles. Hmm.

    And yet (I say again because it’s been not refuted), John wrote so that we could *know* that we have eternal life. You deny this.

    I asked, Can the Scripturalist provide us these “many truths” that help us avoid skepticism?

    Your answer was the four scriptural P1 statements mentioned above.

    I respond: “So the avoidance of skepticism is believing biblical truths? OK. So what? But OK.”

    Because that -like the J.R. quote quote below- is patently obvious.

    Obviously the word “know” is used in Scripture in various ways. Adam knew his wife. The ox knows his master. And all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. It is only the latter sense that merits the name “knowledge” in philosophy, where we try to use words in a strict sense, and avoid some of the confusions of colloquial language.

    Yes, obviously. So what? Now what? Prove to us why we cannot know as the Apostles tell us we can know. Please.

    Can you prove why I cannot know that I am
    washed, justified, sanctified, purged, forgiven, saved,

    when you admit that I can know that I believe the gospel,
    can know I have Christ’s righteousness,

    and when the Apostles TELL me that I can know that I have eternal life?

    Do we have the same word and Spirit as they?

  174. Sean Gerety Says:

    Do we have the same word and Spirit as they?

    I don’t see how? They had direct propositional revelation and were the unique mouthpieces of God (at least some of them were). Paul was taken up to the “third heaven” and while “caught up in paradise… heard inexpressible things that no one is permitted to tell.” I’m certainly not privy to such riches of knowledge and neither are you. You and I have those things which the Apostles were permitted to tell and they didn’t tell us that you or I are saved men. This is so patently obvious that it is hard for me to imagine I’m actually having this conversation. So, clearly, when for example John tells us that he wrote things so that we might know we have eternal life, he was not using the word know in the strict or epistemic sense, but in the sense of understanding; i.e., that we might be of that opinion and persuaded of that truth. If all the treasures of knowledge are in Christ he hasn’t revealed to me or to you whether you or I are saved men. I don’t know where else this type of knowledge might be found but in Christ, but since it is so important to you and your assurance, why don’t you tell me where it is found?

  175. justbybelief Says:

    Hugh,

    Are the following statements on the same level. Are they both scripture?

    “Christ died for our sins…”

    and

    “Hugh is a Christian”

    Eric

  176. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, This was unclear: If all the treasures of knowledge are in Christ he hasn’t revealed to me or to you whether you or I are saved men. Can you clarify?

    I don’t know where else this type of knowledge might be found but in Christ, but since it is so important to you and your assurance, why don’t you tell me where it is found?

    It certainly is found only in Christ. His word is his revelation to us, no less God’s word than is Jesus. I don’t see how dividing them is true or, thus, helpful.

  177. Hugh McCann Says:

    And, Sean, Paul’s revelation of heavenly things certainly was unique and unrepeatable. There is no more revelation to us than the Scriptures. But his experience isn’t what concerns us here.

    We are talking about whatsoever things were written aforetime [which] were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

    And these are sufficient to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ as well as for to know/ be assured/ believe that we have eternal life.

    Eric, No and no. 🙂

  178. Hugh McCann Says:

    I meant to write that the Scriptures are sufficient to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as for us to know/ be assured/ believe that we have eternal life.

    That’s what they say, and I’ll take their “know” over yours any day of the week, thank you.

  179. James Says:

    Hugh –
    – James, Roger’s definition of assurance seems right, “to be certain or sure about something.”

    OK. but you are aware that to be sure of something does not make that something true – so let me ask,
    How do you know that what you are sure of is the truth?
    How do you distinguish between surety and self-deception?
    How do you know that you are not deceived in your own case?

    Thanks,

  180. Hugh McCann Says:

    James,

    Yes, I am aware that assurance doesn’t necessarily guarantee possession.

    And, that assurance doesn’t make anything true.

    How do you know that what you are sure of is the truth?
    I believe the Bible is telling me the truth. That’s my assurance.

    How do you distinguish between surety and self-deception?
    By the Bible.

    How do you know that you are not deceived in your own case?
    By bringing my beliefs to the Bible. By seeing that I believe the Bible’s gospel, I am assured of eternal life – not potentially, but in reality.

  181. James Says:

    Hugh –

    very carefully now listen to Robbins (thanks for the quote (above) Sean!):
    __________________________
    John says that he has written that we may know–that is, it is the
    writing–the Scripture–that gives us knowledge. He does not say that extra-Biblical knowledge–if there could be such a thing–is needed. He says the Scripture is sufficient. In that he agrees with Paul in 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Colossians, etc. One who believes the Gospel, whether he is assured or not, can have the true belief that he is saved. When Clark spoke of deduction, I suppose he had in mind a syllogism such as the one I suggested earlier:

    All who believe the Gospel are saved.
    I believe the Gospel.
    Therefore, I am saved.

    Now the question is, Can we be mistaken about whether we believe the Gospel? Yes, we can. Do you deny that? It is not possible that the proposition “All who believe the Gospel are saved” is false. That is a revealed truth. But we may deceive ourselves about what the Gospel is, and about our own state of mind. Christ says that many church leaders will appear before him on the last day, assured of their salvation, only to be thrown into Hell. That is, they believe, incorrectly, the proposition “I am saved” to be true. They are
    assured of eternal life, but they do not know they have it. Assurance is a state of mind, not a quality of propositions. Biblical assurance comes from believing the Word of God, as John says.

    In your last paragraph you speak in terms of belief–good.
    Beliefs–opinions–may be true or false. You seem to be laboring under the impression that Clark taught that all opinions are false. They are not. Opinion merely cannot be shown to be true. In an attempt to show their assurance to be based on truth, the unfortunate damned in Matthew 7 appealed to extra-Biblical evidence of their belief.

    There are many warnings in Scripture–take heed, lest you fall–that the Arminians have misused to teach that a person can lose his salvation, but which in my opinion bear on this very question of self-deception. If anyone wants to be assured of his salvation, he must stop looking at himself and look only at Christ. The error of those in Matthew 7 who are turned into Hell is that they cite their own accomplishments, not Christ’s.

    I apologize for the length of this post. This medium does not lend itself to such length.

    Robbins
    _____________________

    May I add:

    if you really think about it carefully, your reply amounts to no more than what Sean pointed out previously about giving a credible profession. And that’s ok but it is not knowledge.
    Further, and this is just my opinion, the idea that *I* could base knowledge on *my own* [extra-Biblical] attempt to make a *comparison* between what I think I believe and what Scripture says is fraught with difficulties: Not only is my heart deceitful such that I cannot know it, I am prima facie biased and have a significant conflict of interest. I am not an impartial [all]knowing judge. There is only one. And if that one tells me then I know, but if not then I do not know, no matter how credible my profession, no matter how sure I am, no matter how good I look to myself in the mirror of my own making.

    Thanks,

  182. louis breytenbach Says:

    James,

    Thank you for your @ 10:19 pm.
    I am also reminded of Psalm 139:23-24:

    “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my (disquieting) thoughts:
    And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

  183. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, Thank you. I want to respond soon, as God wills. But briefly on the matter of your referencing Jer. 17:9 -and Louis quoting Ps. 139- How can you say you know your hearts well enough to rightly quote or divide the word?

    Jer. 17:9 taken to its extreme would destroy all analysis and thought and debate, and we’d just sit in the monastery all day, chanting and meditating.

    But actually don’t have those deceitful hearts if we’re born again. true, we battle the flesh, but it’s winning proposition, as we’re (1) born again by/ with God’s Spirit, and (2) we have the mind of Christ.

    We can now claim complete cleansing of all (not just the last-confessed batch of) sins. Complete righteousness is imputed to us without condemnation entering the picture. Justification is ours.

    Further, in the NEW Testament, we are told to Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. {I Thes. 5:21.} Indeed, ALL NT commands demand we have the Holy Spirit/ mind of Christ.

    With these, we can discern good from evil. Our totally depraved, deceitful little heart has been removed, and an heart of flesh transplanted in there! Being born again has its privileges.

    In other words, being in Christ, you have NO wicked way in you. Such could not stand in God’s sight.

    And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    More tomorrow, I hope. Thank you for interacting with me and making me think hard about this. I love J.R. and S.G. and want to understand.

  184. justbybelief Says:

    “John says that he has written that we may know–that is, it is the
    writing–the Scripture–that gives us knowledge.”

    What a great quote from Robbins, James. Thanks!

  185. Hugh McCann Says:

    I am impressed with how much John (the Apostle) says we can know in letter #1. The preponderance of knowledge there is staggering.

    1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

    1 John 2:13f I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

    1 John 2:20f But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

    1 John 3:1f Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

    1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

    1 John 3:14f We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

    1 John 3:19f And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

    1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

    1 John 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

    1 John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

    1 John 4:7f Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

    1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

    1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

    1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

    1 John 5:15 and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

    1 John 5:18-20 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

  186. Roger Says:

    I guess I did miss the big *IF*, but I completely agree, if P2 is false then the conclusion that one is not saved follows. Without additional revelation we don’t know P2. P2 is an opinion and opinions can be either true or false. – Sean

    So, *IF* P2 can be either true or false, and it’s impossible to know whether we believe the gospel or not, then how can we “know that [we] have eternal life” (1 John 5:13), as Scripture plainly declares? Or did John really mean to say that we may “know that we might have eternal life?” Do we need to edit our Bibles so they line up with Scripturalist principles now?

    Assurance should not be based on whether or not we *know* we are saved, but rather on what we believe Christ has done for us completely outside of us.

    How can assurance be based upon “what we believe” Christ has done for us, if we can’t possibly know whether we “believe” in Christ or not? Do you “believe” that Christ is the Son of God, Sean? Or do you actually “believe” that He is a false Messiah who worked His miracles by the power of Satan? You can’t possibly know one way or the other! Therefore, any “assurance” of salvation that you claim to have is merely wishful thinking, based upon nothing more than blissful ignorance.

    A good exegete would carefully define the sense in which key words are being used. You haven’t done this.

    The immediate context makes it quite clear that the word “know” is being used in the sense of understanding and believing the truth. “We know that we are of God” (v. 19) in the same sense that “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (v. 20). But, according to you, the Apostle John must have been wrong. We can’t in fact “know” that we are of God. We can only hold a fallible “opinion” that we are of God, even though we may truly be children of the devil. What a pathetic philosophy to hold over the word of God!

  187. Roger Says:

    One who believes the Gospel, whether he is assured or not, can have the true belief that he is saved. – John Robbins

    How can one “have the true belief that he is saved,” if he cannot know whether he “believes the Gospel” or not? The one necessarily follows the other. Moreover, having “the true belief that one is saved” is nothing other than having genuine “assurance” of one’s salvation, so Robbins makes no sense whatsoever here.

    Assurance is a state of mind, not a quality of propositions. Biblical assurance comes from believing the Word of God, as John says. – John Robbins

    Yes, “assurance” is a state of mind in the same sense that “believing” the word of God is a state of mind. The two may be distinguished but not separated.

    “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

    I’m “assured” of my salvation because I “believe” this promise from Scripture, and only because I “believe” this promise from Scripture. Moreover, I cannot have any “assurance” of my salvation if I cannot know that I in fact “believe” this promise, and neither can you or anyone else!

    Furthermore, “I believe Christ’s word and the Father who sent Him” is a proposition, and one’s “assurance” of salvation most definitely depends upon the “quality” of that proposition (i.e., whether it’s true or false). So, once again, Robbins makes no sense whatsoever here.

  188. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am impressed with how much John (the Apostle) says we can know in letter #1. The preponderance of knowledge there is staggering.

    It’s staggering how little you’ve understood. Anyone can do a word search, but what does it prove? John used the word “if” too a lot. I know, impressive, right.

  189. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, Are degradation and mockery preferred teaching styles? Is such the way you wish to be treated?

    All they teach me is that you despise my attempts to figure this out and to make my points. Belittling me is not helpful, and it easily stumbles those of us prone to arrogance, impatience, and similar snideness (I being one of the chief sinners).

    I cited those because what they prove is that John obviously uses “know” in a way that Scripturalism does not, and further, he makes the points that there are things we are to know, for our assurance.

    Being God-breathed, John’s “knows” are vital for our understanding, knowledge, assurance, our Christian walk.

    They’re given here in light of James’s early comments. Not merely to be doing a random word search.

  190. Hugh McCann Says:

    Excellent, edifying questions, here, Roger: https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/john-robbins-quick-quote-10/#comment-15176

    And these points!

    > One who believes the Gospel, whether he is assured or not, can have the true belief that he is saved. – John Robbins

    > How can one “have the true belief that he is saved,” if he cannot know whether he “believes the Gospel” or not? The one necessarily follows the other. Moreover, having “the true belief that one is saved” is nothing other than having genuine “assurance” of one’s salvation, so Robbins makes no sense whatsoever here.*

    > …“assurance” is a state of mind in the same sense that “believing” the word of God is a state of mind. The two may be distinguished but not separated. Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. – John 5:24

    > I’m “assured” of my salvation because I “believe” this promise from Scripture, and only because I “believe” this promise from Scripture. Moreover, I cannot have any “assurance” of my salvation if I cannot know that I in fact “believe” this promise, and neither can you or anyone else!

    > Furthermore, “I believe Christ’s word and the Father who sent Him” is a proposition, and one’s “assurance” of salvation most definitely depends upon the “quality” of that proposition (i.e., whether it’s true or false). So, once again, Robbins makes no sense whatsoever here.* <

    * In J.R.'s defense, he was writing a mere aside off the cuff, as he indicates. Upon greater reflection, he’d no doubt have had have a better argument, and perhaps even seen his errors.

    From The Quotable Roger:

    …having “the true belief that one is saved” is nothing other than having genuine “assurance” of one’s salvation… Moreover, I cannot have any “assurance” of my salvation if I cannot know that I in fact “believe” this promise…

    Amen and amen. Thank you, Roger.

  191. Sean Gerety Says:

    All they teach me is that you despise my attempts to figure this out and to make my points. Belittling me is not helpful

    My apologies, but it is tiring when after all this time and effort you have provided not even the slightest indication that you’ve understood anything I’ve been saying even if only to disagree. So, yes, I am guilty of being little impatient and very frustrated.

  192. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, Roger’s comments on Robbins’ comment well represent my thinking (when I am as cogent as he).

    Further, and this is just my opinion, the idea that *I* could base knowledge on *my own* [extra-Biblical] attempt to make a *comparison* between what I think I believe and what Scripture says is fraught with difficulties: Not only is my heart deceitful such that I cannot know it, I am prima facie biased and have a significant conflict of interest. I am not an impartial [all]knowing judge. There is only one.

    Were all you had going for (against) you was a Jeremiah 17:9 heart, you’d be toast.

    But, as I said, we have the mind of Christ, not merely en-darkened thinking. We’re not just fallen anymore. Our flesh is, but our mind is not!

    We have within us the Spirit of *the* “impartial, all-knowing judge! And we have his entire revelation to us in his Bible.

    Paul indicates that with these glorious weapons[1] at our disposal, we can wage some serious & successful warfare: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. {I Cor. 16:13f}

    These indicate that we can do some mighty things by God’s grace:
    We love b/c we were first/ eternally loved by him;
    In and of ourselves we are weak, but
    We are strong in him, for he is strong;
    We stand fast b/c he stands fast;
    We watch b/c he watches (for) us.

    Then, you mentioned self-examination. This is not optional. And Paul encourages us that we *can* do it with these exhortations: Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? {II Cor. 13:5}

    Pretty strong evidence that we have the resources and capabilities to wage warfare against our unbelief.[2]

    But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.

    Hmm… Even the Corinthians could know that Paul was regenerate?

    Finally, And if that one tells me then I know, but if not then I do not know,

    Amen & amen.

    no matter how credible my profession, no matter how sure I am, no matter how good I look to myself in the mirror of my own making.

    Agreed. *That* is utterly sinking sand!
    _____________

    [1] We are armed with truth,
    the breastplate of righteousness,
    feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,
    the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked,
    the helmet of salvation, and
    the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

    And prayer: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

    [2] II Cor. 10:2b ~ I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
    3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
    4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
    5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

  193. Hugh McCann Says:

    James, I urge you to Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    Examine yourself, whether you are in the faith once delivered.

    Are you believing in Christ alone for your redemption, justification, et. al. Why then do you doubt?

    What do you doubt? The strength of your faith? Salvation is never dependent on that.

    Here’s another Apostle for ya. Is he describing you?

    1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
    2 ELECT according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: GRACE unto you, and PEACE, be multiplied.
    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy HATH BEGOTTEN US AGAIN unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED in heaven FOR YOU,
    5 Who are KEPT by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
    7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
    8 Whom having not seen, YE LOVE; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, YE REJOICE with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
    9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the SALVATION of your souls.

  194. Sean Gerety Says:

    So, *IF* P2 can be either true or false, and it’s impossible to know whether we believe the gospel or not, then how can we “know that [we] have eternal life” (1 John 5:13), as Scripture plainly declares? Or did John really mean to say that we may “know that we might have eternal life?” Do we need to edit our Bibles so they line up with Scripturalist principles now?

    Scriptrualist principles have really nothing to do with it. You don’t need to be a Scripturalist to realize that “know” doesn’t always refer to knowledge or sexual intercourse for that matter. Just like arguing with the WMO crowd and other less closeted Arminians, we don’t go in to a discussion admitting that “all” always means “all” universally considered.

    By the same token, “know” doesn’t always mean knowledge (compare Colossians 2:3 with 1 John 5:13). You also seem to recognize this and if we’re not careful we end up with people knowing and not knowing God which is impossible.

    And, even if I think yours is a distinction without a difference, you at least pretend to draw a distinction between some generic form of knowing and “spiritual” or “relational” knowing (which sounds like some quasi-religious gobbledegook).

    Beyond that, and as already mentioned, the word “may” modifies the word “know” so that when I read John as saying that we might “know” it is in the sense of understanding and believing (on this point we agree). After all, he says he is writing to those who believe, but belief alone isn’t knowledge. The things John has written are objects of knowledge, but our believing them doesn’t make them true. What makes them true is that they are divine revelation and for a Scripturalist, unlike you, the revelation of Scripture is our chosen axiom from which all knowledge is derived.

    Robbins is right, “Biblical assurance comes from believing the Word of God, as John says” and not knowing that we believe.

    How can assurance be based upon “what we believe” Christ has done for us, if we can’t possibly know whether we “believe” in Christ or not?

    Concerning the syllogism that got this wonderful ball rolling:

    All who believe the Gospel are saved.
    I believe the Gospel.
    Therefore, I am saved.

    John wrote: “Now the question is, Can we be mistaken about whether we believe the Gospel? Yes, we can. Do you deny that?”

    While John was being rhetorical, it seems you do deny it.

    Do you “believe” that Christ is the Son of God, Sean?

    I do believe that Roger. But, unlike you I don’t confuse believing that something is true with knowing that it is true. Knowledge is not just believing something is true, but also showing that it is true. Knowledge requires an account.

    Or do you actually “believe” that He is a false Messiah who worked His miracles by the power of Satan? You can’t possibly know one way or the other!

    Of course it makes a difference Roger. I just told you I believe the former and not the latter therefore the conclusion to the above syllogism follows, but I might be lying. I have no way to account for P2 and neither do you. Yet, bizarrely, you have conceded that you have not derived P2 from Scripture, but then wrongly cite 1 Cor 2:11ff while trying to argue the exact opposite.

    P2 is my opinion and my profession. My profession is good enough for most Sessions, but as we both know that’s not always good enough. Ron Henzel at Greenbaggins said he wouldn’t allow me to be a member of his church because I believe in justification by belief alone. I guess if you were on a Session of a church you would not accept me either because I don’t claim to know P2 in the same way or in the same sense that I know P1.

    Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to find another church.

    Therefore, any “assurance” of salvation that you claim to have is merely wishful thinking, based upon nothing more than blissful ignorance.

    No, you’re wrong again Roger. My assurance of salvation is based on the infallible promises of God in Scripture. My profession that I so believe those promises is based on an opinion that I hold.

    The immediate context makes it quite clear that the word “know” is being used in the sense of understanding and believing the truth. “We know that we are of God” (v. 19) in the same sense that “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (v. 20).

    Seems like we agree on how the word “know” is being used after all. So what’s your problem? Oh, yeah, here it is:

    But, according to you, the Apostle John must have been wrong. We can’t in fact “know” that we are of God. We can only hold a fallible “opinion” that we are of God, even though we may truly be children of the devil.

    Even you should be able to understand that believing something is true doesn’t make it so. Knowledge is always true. Consequently, for an opinion to rise to the level of knowledge requires an account or we would never be able to tell the one from the other. But, according to you just believing something is true makes it true, but that doesn’t follow.

    You are not a Scripturalist and clearly deny that the Bible alone is the Word of God. You don’t differentiate between P1 and P2 even though you admit and have conceded repeatedly that P2 is not an inference from Scripture. You have provided no account whatsoever for P2 and even falsely appeal 1 Corinthians to support P2 even after admitting P2 IS NOT SOMETHING YOU’VE ARRIVED AT FROM SCRIPTURE.

    And you call Scripturalist epistemology “bankrupt.” What a farce.

  195. Sean Gerety Says:

    James writes:

    Further, and this is just my opinion, the idea that *I* could base knowledge on *my own* [extra-Biblical] attempt to make a *comparison* between what I think I believe and what Scripture says is fraught with difficulties: Not only is my heart deceitful such that I cannot know it, I am prima facie biased and have a significant conflict of interest. I am not an impartial [all]knowing judge. There is only one. And if that one tells me then I know, but if not then I do not know, no matter how credible my profession, no matter how sure I am, no matter how good I look to myself in the mirror of my own making.

    One of the best summations of what a real biblical epistemology looks like. 🙂

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. A profound and wonderful admission of our absolute dependence on the Lord God of Truth in order to know anything at all.

  196. Hugh McCann Says:

    No it’s not, Sean. You and James are reveling in Jer. 17:9 self-deception? *That’s* somehow comforting?

    Yes, it is a fine admission of a sinner’s conviction of his wretched state, B.C., and description of his flesh, post-conversion, but as I have shown from Paul, above, we are not merely wallowing in pious-sounding self-deception and mirror-gazing.

    We are gazing into the very glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who has begotten us again unto a lively (living), real, knowable hope of eternal life!

    Please look at my (scriptural) answer to James.
    https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/john-robbins-quick-quote-10/#comment-15183

  197. Sean Gerety Says:

    No it’s not, Sean. You and James are reveling in Jer. 17:9 self-deception? *That’s* somehow comforting?

    Yes, it is a fine admission of a sinner’s conviction of his wretched state, B.C., and description of his flesh, post-conversion, but as I have shown from Paul, above, we are not merely wallowing in pious-sounding self-deception and mirror-gazing.

    Fallen or not doesn’t change the epistemic status of any proposition. You sound like those delusional “creation scientists” who think that science arrives at true conclusions if done by Christians. What a crock. Further, you wrote:

    But, as I said, we have the mind of Christ, not merely en-darkened thinking. We’re not just fallen anymore. Our flesh is, but our mind is not!

    Darkened or not does not change the epistemic status of any proposition. Either a propositions can be accounted for or not. For those who subscribe to the Scripturalism of Gordon Clark it is Scripture alone that provides the content and account for knowledge. It is the sole basis by which we can differentiate opinion from knowledge. As far as I can tell, knowledge is found nowhere else, including your fleshly mind (what do you think flesh is anyway but our minds). True, our minds are being renewed and transformed, but that doesn’t make whatever we think true because we think it.

    I get it that people don’t like Clark’s Scripturalism, but I haven’t seen them putting forth anything better, certainly not so-called “Reformed Epistemology.”

    Looks to me like you are in desperate need of an epistemology since you clearly have no theory of knowledge at all.

    Please look at my (scriptural) answer to James.

    Case in point.

  198. Hugh McCann Says:

    our minds are being renewed and transformed, but that doesn’t make whatever we think true because we think it.

    Of course not. Who is saying that?

    But we do think God’s thoughts after him. We have the mind of Christ, and we *know* all things.

    My answer to James included a great deal of Bible showing that we have warrant to believe that we are saved because we are given commands and resources to wage war with our flesh, the world, and the devil.

  199. Sean Gerety Says:

    But we do think God’s thoughts after him.

    P2 isn’t one of God’s thought . . . or at least we don’t know if it is.

    Get a grip Hugh.

    My answer to James included a great deal of Bible showing that we have warrant to believe that we are saved

    So what? What does that have to do with knowledge? I’m quite sure Mike Sudduth has warrant for believing that the so-called “Lord Krishna” transformed his life and he too is justified in believing in that particular Satanic lie.

  200. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, I don’t understand why Sudduth has anything to do with this.

    The Bible is given to God’s people for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

    To give us true faith, hope, love, etc.

    I was trying to show James that the commands of Paul give us warrant to believe that we have the mind of Christ.

  201. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean & Roger,

    SG: After all, he says he writing to those who believe, but belief alone isn’t knowledge.

    I demur. To believe is to know, biblically. At least, acc. to St John, even if not acc. to JR.

    The things John has written are objects of knowledge, but our believing them doesn’t make them true.

    Of course it doesn’t. Has Roger or anyone else asserted *that*?

    What makes them true is that they are divine revelation..

    Amen. And we know this about them!

    Certainly we all agree with JR here: “Biblical assurance comes from believing the Word of God, as John says”, but I believe you’re wrong here, Sean, with your conclusion: and not knowing that we believe.

    As Roger asked, How can assurance be based upon “what we believe” Christ has done for us, if we can’t possibly know whether we “believe” in Christ or not?

    Amen. Further, if one cannot know Christ, acc. to Scripturalism, and certainly not know that he knows Christ, just how is this useful to the saints? The Heidelberg Catechism is a lot better!

    Finally, John [Robbins] wrote: “Now the question is, Can we be mistaken about whether we believe the Gospel? Yes, we can. Do you deny that?”

    I sure deny it! 🙂 The born again child of God is to press on -as John, Peter, and Paul all make clear- to know (in the apostolic/ biblical sense) that he *has* eternal life. He is *not* mistaken about whether he believes the gospel.

    JR is not saying that a Christian might “be mistaken about whether” he “believe[s] the Gospel.” That’d be gross folly to assert, and JR clears it up here: https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/a-note-on-faith-by-john-robbins/

    The pertinent bits here are John’s comments on the oxymoronic “faithless believer.”

    No, the believer knows that he believes, is saved, etc., b/c he is given the infallible Holy Spirit to infallibly inform him of his salvation in Christ. (God gloriously overrides the sinner’s flesh!)

    The verses for Biblicism’s *know* are sure and comforting, while Scripturalism’s *know,* while interesting for philosophical wrangling, is ultimately unhelpful, RE: one’s faith, one’s assurance, etc.

    Our Lord himself said things in John 14 pertinent to the can-we-know-we-know question:

    1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me…

    4 And whither I go ye *know,* and the way ye *know.*

    7 If ye had *known* me, ye should have *known* my Father also: and from henceforth ye *know* him, and have seen him.
    8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
    9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not *known* me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
    10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
    11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
    12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
    17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye *know* him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
    18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

    To believe in Christ and his gospel is to not be troubled/ doubting, to know, to see, be assured of, be comforted by, our Lord.

    As St John later said, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; THAT YE MAY KNOW THAT YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

    And, And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, THAT WE MAY KNOW HIM THAT IS TRUE, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

    Yes, we are to know that we truly know him, as the Bible and the Heidelberg Catechism so well teach us. And thus go on to do great things for him. Amen.
    __________________

    Finally, James, a quick Robbins quote for you:

    Paul tells us that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. Those whom God intends to save are saved by the message preached. There are many aspects of this point that we could develop, but we shall focus on an area that needs clarification, judging by much literature in the religious world. Paul says that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. Usually we take such a statement to mean only that if the Gospel is believed initially, then salvation will follow. In other words, we think that such a statement (the Gospel is the power of God) refers almost exclusively, if not exclusively, to the salvation of the unbeliever. But Paul’s statement is also applicable to the believer. The Gospel saves the unbeliever when he believes, but it also saves the believer as he believes. It is the continuing power of God for the salvation of the believer. The Gospel is that by which the believer is saved by God at the beginning, middle, and end of the Christian life. There is never a point in the Christian’s life when the Gospel is not saving him. He must therefore look to the Gospel at every point during his life.

    http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=159#sthash.Zz1We26W.dpuf

  202. Sean Gerety Says:

    Why would you equate warrant with knowledge?

  203. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also, if John Robbins is right, and I think he is, when he said: “Can we be mistaken about whether we believe the Gospel? Yes, we can. Do you deny that?” Then what good is warrant?

  204. Hugh McCann Says:

    What I mean is that when Paul commands us to use the mind of Christ, it is evidence that we not only have such, but can know it.

    Particularly applicable seemed to be:

    Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. {I Cor. 16:13f}

    Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? {II Cor. 13:5}

    As well as, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. {I Thes. 5:21} (See Ryle’s great sermon on this.)

    Are we not to know that we watch, stand, act, are strong, are loving, examine, prove, know, and hold fast?

  205. Hugh McCann Says:

    By “warrant,” I was trying to show that the commands of Paul give us the right to believe that we have the mind of Christ.

    We necessarily need that mind to do those things!

  206. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, is my 12:59 comment posting?

    I think JR would have better said, “Can one be mistaken about whether he believes the Gospel? Yes, one can.”

    What I dispute is that *we* believers can be mistaken about whether *we* believe the Gospel. No, *we* cannot. Do you deny that?

  207. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m going to wrap this up with you as we are clearly not making any headway, and, frankly, you’re all over the place.

    You wrote:

    By “warrant,” I was trying to show that the commands of Paul give us the right to believe that we have the mind of Christ.

    Of course you have “warrant” to believe that in the Scriptures we have “mind of Christ” (or at least some of it). That the Scriptures are the mind of Christ (or at least some of it) is something you can know and I hope that you do. Whether or not Hugh has the mind of Christ and believes the Gospel, etc., is a proposition not found in the mind of Christ revealed. Consequently, I have no way to account for it and neither do you. I guess I have “warrant” to believe it’s true, but, hey, I have been wrong about people before. What makes you so special?

    Do you have “warrant” to think you are a believer? I hope so, but “warrant” to believe something doesn’t magically raise a proposition to the level of knowledge. I imagine I have “warrant,” whatever that means, to believe Barry O is POTUS, at least that’s what people tell me. Perhaps Janet Yellen is the real president and Barry O is just an amateur golfer.

    I’m not sure why this is so difficult for you?

  208. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, Thank you for allowing me to post all that I have.

    I know you’re getting frustrated, and we both have other responsibilities than arguing at God’s Hammer.

    May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.

    Hugh

  209. Hugh McCann Says:

    James & Roger,
    If either of you want to continue this discussion privately,
    I’m hughmc5 AT hotmail DOT com

  210. Hugh McCann Says:

    For what they’re worth, the Larger Catechism has:

    Q. 80. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto salvation?

    Ans. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor to walk in all good conscience before him,[1] may, without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises,and by the Spirit enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made,[2] and bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God,[3] be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall persevere therein unto salvation.[4]

    (1) 1 John 2:3; Heb. 10:19–23.
    (2) 1 Cor. 2:12; 1 John 3:14, 18–19, 21, 24; 1 John 4:13, 16; Heb. 6:11–12.
    (3) Rom. 8:15–16.
    (4) 1 John 5:13; Heb. 6:19–20; 2 Pet. 1:5–11
    __________

    And the Shorter Catechism has:

    Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

    Ans. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience,(1) joy in the Holy Ghost,(2) increase of grace,(3) and perseverance therein to the end.(4)

    (1) Rom. 5:1-2, 5.
    (2) Rom. 14:17.
    (3) Prov. 4:18.
    (4) I John 5:13; I Pet. 1:5.

  211. Hugh McCann Says:

    We see in the WLC Q&A 80 a biblical knowledge with assurance.*

    This infallible assurance here is based on

    (a) faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises,

    (b) and by the Spirit

    — (i) enabling them to discern in themselves those graces to which the promises of life are made, and

    — (ii) bearing witness with their spirits that they are the children of God.

    And by these, may be infallibly assured that they are

    — (i) in the estate of grace, and

    — (ii) shall persevere therein unto salvation.

    __________

    * Which admittedly differs from the Scripturalists’ “knowledge.”

  212. James Says:

    Q. 81. Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?
    A. Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain it; and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations, and desertions; yet are they never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.

    “The Gospel promises the possibility of assurance. It does not quite promise every Christian actual assurance. It is strange that some preachers, some evangelists, even those and especially those already described, talk as if one cannot have faith without having assurance. They give the impression that you must know you are saved, if you are saved. But this is not what the Bible says. The verse from 1John (5:13).. .said that John wrote the epistle in order that those who read it might be assured. But if regeneration ipso facto guaranteed assurance, it would not be necessary to write an epistle encouraging assurance and giving direction on how assurance can be obtained.”

    “…First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible…All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses *with* our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness *to* our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation…although salvation can never be lost, assurance can.”

    “I must confess I do not like the word infallible in this context. The Pope claims infallibility, but if this is a false claim, it seems strange that it can be asserted of a thousand or a million protestants…Scripture is infallible, nothing else is….Those who are assured about assurance do not seem to understand the difficulties…If we wish to distinguish a valid assurance from a false assurance, how can we know that we have a sufficient theological knowledge and a sufficient degree of obedience to have met [John’s] requirements? Do we love deeply enough? Have we satisfied John’s criteria?”

  213. Hugh McCann Says:

    “But if regeneration ipso facto guaranteed assurance, it would not be necessary to write an epistle encouraging assurance and giving direction on how assurance can be obtained.”

    Are there not many NT admonitions or commands to faith, love, hope, etc., which are fruits of regeneration? Why not assurance as well?

    Comment: A God-inspired epistle encouraging assurance and giving direction on how it can be obtained ought to be heeded by Christians, not merely argued over and dissected.

    You have work to do, James. Get to it.

    “Infallible” is a great word here. It indicates that the assurance from God the Holy Spirit -like all other graces- is incapable of making mistakes or being wrong, never failing, always effective. Such are the gifts God gives his children.

    Bringing up papal (bogus) infallibility is a red herring, and thus, unhelpful. Antichrist’s crude mimicry of God’s good Spirit does nothing to discredit the latter. This was a poor attempt at guilt by association.

  214. Sean Gerety Says:

    You may have figured out Hugh that the bulk of Jame’s quote was taken from Ammi Burke’s first place 2014 TF Worldview contest essay. Seems to me it is you who has some work to do. Get to it.

    Case in point:

    “Infallible” is a great word here. It indicates that the assurance from God the Holy Spirit -like all other graces- is incapable of making mistakes or being wrong

    As punishment you should be required to memorize WCF XVIII:3 specifically this clause: “God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness, and to have no light…” If that isn’t enough for you to at least raise some doubts about your eternal state you must be delusional.

    The WCF, while clearly not an infallible document, and as good as it is, has been amended in the past and should be amended here as well as Clark is correct and the word “infallible” is a very poor choice of words in this context. For one thing, it has lead people like you and others that ought to know better down the wrong path. While I think Clark is correct (and so is Ammi) that infallibility is a reference to the promises of God on which biblical assurance is “founded” (WCF XVII:2), the way it is written is easily misunderstood. I would even be happy if people were to understand the phrase “infallible assurance” as a figure of speech akin to an “unwavering confidence” in the promises of God, the kind Guido de Brès exhibited right before being martyred by the Roman state-church.

  215. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean,

    Working in reverse through your post, I agree with that “unwavering confidence,” that God does apparently “turn up” for the martyrs in times of great tribulation. But it’s there in the faith once delivered, in the text of Scripture. Thus my returning there (esp. 1st John) repeatedly.

    And we can agree that infallibility is a reference to the promises of God on which biblical assurance is “founded”. Amen. But where you approvingly quote JR, I disagree:

    The infallible hope that the WCF refers to is not our subjective hoping, but the promises of Scripture, Jim. [So far, so good!] You have misunderstood the WCF as well. If assurance is infallible, it is because it is based solely on the infallible statements of Scripture, not because it is based on our infallible knowledge of ourselves or some combination of self-knowledge and revelation. Your argument requires you to be as infallible as Scripture. Vox Beale, vox Dei.

    First, he thankfully allows assurance to –possibly– be infallible, *if* it’s based on sola scriptura. But infallible knowledge is not based on ourselves, but on God who speaks and speaks infallibly to his creatures in such a way that they can believe infallibly. (Nor is it “subjective hoping,” of course) No other way to receive God’s word. His Spirit makes this happen. In the Bible it’s called “light,” “life,” “unction,” “anointing,” et. al. We are never 100% infallible, but we do have the infallible Christ/ Holy Spirit residing within who speaks to us infallibly. If we cannot receive it rightly, if the new birth doesn’t include a new heart, the mind of Christ, etc. then we can know nothing (in either the Scripturalist or Johannine meaning)!

    Ammi and Westminster are not divine, so we can argue over their accuracy. As for my being “punished,” what is this sentence *for* — what have you convicted me of?!

  216. James Says:

    You may have figured out Hugh that the bulk of Jame’s quote was taken from Ammi Burke’s first place 2014 TF Worldview contest essay.

    Actually I quoted from Clark! Sanctification and Today’s Evangelism.

    But I will check out the essay too!

  217. Roger Says:

    Hugh, I emailed you about a week ago. Did you get it? Just wondering. BTW, you are doing a fine job! Keep up the good work. Sorry, but I simply don’t have the time (or desire) to contribute to this debate any further at the moment…

  218. James Says:

    loose end:

    “How can one “have the true belief that he is saved,” if he cannot know whether he “believes the Gospel” or not? The one necessarily follows the other.”

    Logically, the form is,
    if one cannot know he believes X, then one cannot believe X.

    This means that a necessary condition for the possibility of you believing X is the possibility of knowing that you believe X. But this is exactly backwards. The possibility of knowing that you believe X would surely require that you [can] believe X but not the other way around. So the possibility of you believing X is a necessary condition for the possibility of knowing you believe X – but it is not a sufficient condition.

    And this means that if you can believe X, it does not follow that you can know you believe X, for that would be to assert the consequent (fallacy). But if you can know you believe x then you can believe X.

    What other condition(s) are necessary and together sufficient is what Scripturalism (as an epistemology) is all about. Robbins [not Roger] is correct here.

    [hope that is clear and accurate….]

  219. Sean Gerety Says:

    Actually I quoted from Clark! Sanctification and Today’s Evangelism.

    You are correct. My mistake.

  220. Roger Says:

    “How can one “have the true belief that he is saved,” if he cannot know whether he “believes the Gospel” or not? The one necessarily follows the other.”

    Logically, the form is,
    if one cannot know he believes X, then one cannot believe X.

    James, it is nonsense like this that has kept me from wanting to interact with you throughout this debate. It’s plain to see that my argument wasn’t “if one cannot know he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot believe X (the gospel).” Rather, it is “if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).” This necessarily follows from the Scriptural truth that one’s personal appropriation of salvation depends upon believing the gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). One simply cannot have “the true belief that he is saved” (or “assurance”) apart from knowing that he indeed believes the gospel.

  221. Sean Gerety Says:

    One simply cannot have “the true belief that he is saved” (or “assurance”) apart from knowing that he indeed believes the gospel.

    What is utter nonsense Roger is notion that one has to know he believes in order to believe anything at all. Romans 1:16 say that the gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes, not the gospel is the power of God for everyone “who knows they believe.” James has been patiently showing you the gaping flaws in your argument.

    Further, to this date and after some unbelievable number of posts I still have not seen a *single* account for P2 from you or anyone. Where’s the argument? It certainly isn’t found in Romans 1 and Clark above demolished your eisegesis regarding 1 John 5:13 and that was back on Nov. 28 of this thread and I’m guessing I’ll find that citation on the previous thread too. You haven’t had an exegetical or philosophical leg to stand on during this entire debate, yet like “The Irrational Christian” Charlie Ray, all you seem to be able to do is stamp your feet and thump your chest whereas Hugh just hasn’t been able to follow this discussion at all. I’m almost wishing for Ron DiGiacomo to jump back in since at least he liked to pretend he was advancing a logical argument. 🙂

  222. James Says:

    Roger –
    just to be clear,
    as far as Robbins is concerned, and it’s plain by his statements above, that “having the true belief Y” is the same as “to believe Y” – what do you mean by “having the true belief Y”?

    Thanks,

  223. Cliffton Says:

    Can anyone here know that for Sean the Scripture is the Word of God…from Scripture?

    Sean, you’ve got nothing.

  224. Sean Gerety Says:

    As penetrating as ever Cliffton.

  225. James Says:

    Hugh –

    a loose end:

    you wrote, concerning 2 Cor 13:5,6

    “you mentioned self-examination. This is not optional.”

    I do not deny that – what is denied is that such will produce knowledge strictly. “The idea of becoming assured of one’s own salvation is perfectly Scriptural, and part of the method is self-examination.” [Clark on 2Peter 1:9]. This in keeping with the idea that assurance is not knowledge.

    “Hmm… Even the Corinthians could know that Paul was regenerate?”

    Ahh, I appreciate your hesitancy – for nowhere in that verse is that the idea. The word is reprobate – the Greek here means discredited;not credible. The test amounts to bolstering a credible profession that one is in Christ, unless you are discredited. The self-examination does not rise to knowledge of one’s own or another’s regeneracy. The argument is that if their profession is credible (upon self-examination), then they ought agree that Paul’s claim to be credible as well; however if they are discredited then they have no grounds to pass judgement on Paul’s credibility.

  226. James Says:

    that ought be [Clark on 2 Peter 1:10]

  227. Roger Says:

    What is utter nonsense Roger is notion that one has to know he believes in order to believe anything at all.

    If that’s what I had written or implied, then it would indeed be nonsense. But you’re simply erecting a straw man here, Sean. What I actually wrote is that “if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).” Genuine assurance of salvation (i.e., the true belief that one is saved) can only be based upon the knowledge that one indeed “believes” the saving promises of Scripture, for the saving promises of Scripture only apply to believers.

    Are you a believer or an unbeliever? Are you saved or damned? Are you blessed or cursed? Are you a child of God or a child of the devil? You don’t know, Sean! And there’s no way that you can possibly know due to your unscriptural and destructive epistemology! For all of your boasting about knowledge and the possibility of assurance, all you are left with is ignorance and perpetual incertitude!

    Romans 1:16 say that the gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes, not the gospel is the power of God for everyone “who knows they believe.”

    Who said otherwise? I certainly didn’t. What I’ve said is that in light of the clear teaching of Roman 1:16 (that only “believers” are saved), we cannot have genuine assurance of salvation (i.e., the true belief that one is saved) apart from knowing that we indeed “believe” the gospel.

    Further, to this date and after some unbelievable number of posts I still have not seen a *single* account for P2 from you or anyone. Where’s the argument?

    The only “account” that anyone needs is the clear teaching of Scripture that we “know” the propositional content of our own thoughts (i.e., P2):

    “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”(1 Corinthians 2:11)

    The word “know” is defined the same way throughout this passage of Scripture. We “know” the propositional content of our own thoughts just as God “knows” the propositional content of His own thoughts. Whether our thoughts are “derivative” (i.e., originating from God) or not changes nothing; the fact remains that we indeed “know” the propositional content of our own thoughts. That’s what the passage explicitly states. The fact that you vehemently deny this simply demonstrates that you reject the clear teaching of God’s word when it contradicts your preconceived epistemology!

  228. Roger Says:

    Roger – just to be clear, as far as Robbins is concerned, and it’s plain by his statements above, that “having the true belief Y” is the same as “to believe Y” – what do you mean by “having the true belief Y”?

    I’m not sure what part of my argument you are unclear about, as I clearly define Y:

    It’s plain to see that my argument wasn’t “if one cannot know he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot believe X (the gospel).” Rather, it is “if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).”

    Only a genuine believer can have “the true belief that he is saved” (or “assurance” of salvation), for only a genuine believer can know that he assents to the saving promises of the gospel and relies upon Christ’s merits alone for justification. An unbeliever or false professor may indeed have “the belief that he is saved,” but it is a false assurance based upon something other than assenting to the saving promises of the gospel and relying upon Christ’s merits alone for justification (e.g., his own works of obedience, observance of the sacraments, etc.). As I mentioned before, one simply cannot have “the true belief that he is saved” (or “assurance” of salvation) apart from knowing that he indeed “believes” the gospel.

  229. Sean Gerety Says:

    “if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).” Genuine assurance of salvation (i.e., the true belief that one is saved) can only be based upon the knowledge that one indeed “believes” the saving promises of Scripture, for the saving promises of Scripture only apply to believers.

    1) True belief that one is saved or that the light will turn green does not constitute knowledge. That is an opinion. Not quite sure how many thousands of times this has to be pointed out to you. Consequently, 2) your conclusion doesn’t follow as you have no knowledge that you indeed believe in the saving promises of Scripture or that the light will turn green for you have no account.

    Romans 1:16 say that the gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes, not the gospel is the power of God for everyone “who knows they believe.”

    Who said otherwise? I certainly didn’t.

    “Genuine assurance of salvation (i.e., the true belief that one is saved) can only be based upon the knowledge that one indeed “believes” the saving promises of Scripture.” This is why this discussion, debate, whatever it is, is doomed.

    You don’t even know what you are writing from one sentence to another.

    What I’ve said is that in light of the clear teaching of Roman 1:16 (that only “believers” are saved), we cannot have genuine assurance of salvation (i.e., the true belief that one is saved) apart from knowing that we indeed “believe” the gospel.

    Besides repeating exactly what I said you said (even though bizarrely you said you didn’t say it), nowhere in Romans 1 does Paul teach that assurance of salvation requires knowledge that one believes the gospel. You are adding to the Word of God. Paul isn’t even addressing assurance even tangentially and he is not making self-knowledge a prerequisite to salvation (which is impossible, see Jer. 17:9), much less assurance.

    You are packing the verse with things that are simply not there.

    It’s sad because you were on the right side of the JBBA fight, but now you have not only left the building but have also departed from the Scriptures and are now adding to them. I realize that we don’t have to agree on everything, and I’m sure this side of heaven we won’t, but adding to Scripture isn’t helping your case.

    Further, to this date and after some unbelievable number of posts I still have not seen a *single* account for P2 from you or anyone. Where’s the argument?

    The only “account” that anyone needs is the clear teaching of Scripture that we “know” the propositional content of our own thoughts (i.e., P2):

    “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”(1 Corinthians 2:11)

    First, the Scriptures nowhere teaches that we know the propositional content of our own thoughts (Scripture does however teach the exact opposite elsewhere) so 1 Cor is of no help to you. Simply citing the verse over and over again doesn’t magically change its meaning. Second, and for the sake of argument, even if it did that still wouldn’t account for P2 because you still could be lying or mistaken or possibly even delusional.

    Your mental state aside, this is basic logic Roger. Anything found in your conclusion (in this case the conclusion would be P2) has to be found in at least one of your premises and P2 not found in 1 Cor. 2:11 or anywhere else in Scripture.

    What is really bizarre (and I mean Charlie Ray and Drake Shelton bizarre) is that you have also repeatedly admitted and conceded that P2 is not something you have derived from Scripture. So you have no biblical account and by putting the word “account” in quotes only illustrates the disingenuousness of your position. It is an admission that you cannot and have not accounted for P2 according to the Scriptures.

    If you or someone could actually deduce P2 from the Scriptures, you’d have something. But why should I believe you instead of the Scriptures?

    I get it that you are not a Scripturalist and don’t argue that Scripture alone provides the content and account for knowledge. Since you have provided no biblical argument for P2 I’m guessing you have another source for knowledge from which you derived P2 but won’t tell us?

    Maybe that’s where you should focus your argument?

    Either that, or join the RE crowd and lower the epistemic bar entirely to where nicely dressed probabilistic arguments constitutes the objects of knowledge. Like you, they don’t believe inferring truths from other truths is a necessary requirement for knowledge. For knowledge to obtain all you need are beliefs “produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly (subject to no malfunctioning) in a cognitive environment congenial for those faculties, according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth” (Alvin Plantinga). In that world P2 is knowledge even if it might be false, like in the case of former Reformed Epistemologist and now Hindu mystic, Mike Sudduth. Just think what you can do when truth is no longer the object of knowledge.

  230. James Says:

    Roger,

    1
    -“I’m not sure what part of my argument you are unclear about, as I clearly define Y”

    I asked you to define “have” – do you mean “to believe”, or “to be aware of” or “to know” or something else?
    for instance this,
    -“if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).”
    depending on what you intend by “have” can mean these:
    -If one cannot know X then he cannot believe Y(truth)
    or,
    -If one cannot know X then he cannot be aware of Y(truth)
    or,
    -If one cannot know X then he cannot know Y(truth)
    so, which is it?

    2
    you changed your argument from:
    “if one cannot know that he believes X (the gospel), then one cannot have Y (the true belief that he is saved).”
    to
    “one simply cannot have “the true belief that he is saved” (or “assurance” of salvation) apart from knowing that he indeed “believes” the gospel.
    that is, you changed it from, logically understood,
    if one can “have” Y then one can know X
    to:
    if one can “have” Y then one knows X
    so, which is it?

    3
    Also, your use of 1cor 2:11,12 has already been shown to be absurd – see, for example, my post at December 12, 2014 at 3:03 am


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