More from Myers II

This post continues on from these three posts, to provide some juicy quotes from the first section of Myers’ paper “Christianity, Culture, and Common Grace.” This first section, I. Reason and Revelation spends some time on the topics of A Definition of Culture, Cultural Apathy, and Triumphalism & Theonomy before getting down to brass tacks with the subheadings General & Special Revelation, Insufficiency of Reason, Insufficiency of Scripture, and finally Authority of Scripture.

Myers’ main point in this section is not to delineate the distinction between general and special revelation, so much as it is to distinguish the category of Reason from the category of Revelation (whether general or special):

Some people believe that there is a battle between reason and revelation. But to pit reason and revelation against one another is to misunderstand what they are.

In an essay on Jonathan Edwards, John Gerstner wrote the following: “Revelation is a means of communication (and secondarily that which is communicated); reason is the means of apprehension of that which is communicated. Really the only means by which anything is communicated is revelation (unfolding or disclosing). The only way anything revealed is apprehended, grasped, or understood is by reason. There is no other way of communication but by revelation. There is no other way of apprehension but by reason. Without revelation there would be no knowledge; without reason there would be no apprehension of knowledge.”

Gerstner’s point is that there is no antithesis, no conflict between reason and revelation. Reasoning is what we do with revelation. We may do it badly, but then it is unreasonable reasoning, and it may be so unreasonable as to be nonsense. But there is at least an attempt at reasoning.

More important than the fact that “General Revelation” is general, and “Special Revelation” is special, is the fact that both are revelation — even more, both are revealed by God! Based on this understanding, Myers goes on to explain that the phrase “from reason alone” is meaningless:

What they mean is reason acting only on general revelation. And general revelation is, as we have said, limited. But it is not impotent. … Paul, in Romans 1, says that unregenerate haters of God are nonetheless capable of knowing that many things are contrary to God’s will… (Rom. 1:21, 28ff.). If only that standard of human behavior was established in our common culture, a standard that Paul says is known even by those that God has given over to a depraved mind, our culture would be much improved.

As this article was written in 1989, Myers’ use of the term “Insufficiency of Scripture” predates (and anticipates) T. David Gordon’s more famous article from 2002. Myers’ take (my emphases):

We don’t hear much about the “insufficiency of Scripture.” But it is an important point to keep in mind when thinking about Christianity and culture. Scripture does not present itself as the only source of truth about all matters. It does not even present itself as a source of some truth about everything. It presents itself as the only authoritative source of truth about some things, and they are the most important things. But the Bible does not claim to teach us the fundamentals of arithmetic, of biology, of engineering, or of music. About most of the matters of culture, the Bible has little explicit to say….

The belief that all the blueprints for all of life are in Scripture is in part derived from the notion that reason and general revelation are not to be trusted.

I would call that a lack of faith; using Myer’s non-dichotomy above, we understand that general and special revelation are both revealed by God! Myers concludes part I on Reason and Revelation as follows:

The Church has been given the mandate to speak from God, and as Protestants we affirm that the source for that speech is in Scripture. Individual believers may offer their own opinions on complex and controversial cultural matters, and those opinions should be given careful consideration by those competent to consider them. But the Church does not have that liberty.

Perhaps one reason there is virtually no respect for the Church in our culture, even among Christians, is that the Church has abused its authority so badly.

…If the doctrine of the authority of Scripture is to mean anything at all, it must mean that what Scripture teaches is authoritative, and Scripture teaches some things and not other things, certainly not all things.

It is common to note that modern education’s tendency to reinforce self-esteem at the expense of performance is self-defeating: if everybody’s special, then nobody’s special. And so it is with Scripture: if special revelation teaches everything, then it isn’t actually special at all.

Continue on to part III…

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23 Responses to More from Myers II

  1. Amen! Myers eloquently makes the point that I’ve been awkwardly trying to express for some time in comments here: that the church (as an organization) does not have the liberty to offer “opinions on complex and controversial cultural matters.”

    In fact, I might go further and say that the church (again, as an organization) does not have the liberty to offer opinions at all; its authority is grounded on truth, and to step beyond announcement of that truth is to forsake its purpose. Individuals may offer opinions, to be taken with whatever weight their expertise affords, but the church’s concern should be with dissemination of the truth.

    Thanks for this, Rube!

  2. Zrim says:

    “I would call that a lack of faith.”

    Exactly. The low view of natural revelation to be able to carry the weight for which it was ordained sure strikes as fantastic lack-of-faith.

    “It is common to note that modern education’s tendency to reinforce self-esteem at the expense of performance is self-defeating: if everybody’s special, then nobody’s special. And so it is with Scripture: if special revelation teaches everything, then it isn’t actually special at all.”

    And if all is grace then nothing is. Point very well taken.

    (But I have to pipe up over this “modern education” point: you’re working with a strawman, one that resembles another that would have us believe abortion is largely used as a device of convenience and birth control.)

  3. Paul M. says:

    Ken Meyers: “Scripture does not present itself as the only source of truth about all matters. It does not even present itself as a source of some truth about everything. It presents itself as the only authoritative source of truth about some things, and they are the most important things.

    Cornelius Van Til: “We do not mean that [Scripture] speaks of football games, or atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or indirectly. It tells us not only of the Christ and his work but it also tells us who God is and whence the universe has come. It gives us a philosophy of history as well as history. Moreover, the information on these subjects is woven into an inextricable whole. It is only if you reject the Bible as the Word of God that you can separate its so-called religious and moral instruction from what it says, e.g., about the physical universe.”

    Rube, are these two contrary, or can they be harmonized? I have yet to read that Meyers paper. How do you think he’d respond?

    “But the Bible does not claim to teach us the fundamentals of arithmetic, of biology, of engineering, or of music.”

    Of course the term “fundamentals” would need to be defined…but, does he give any footnotes or cite any sources of who he’s thinking of? I am having a devil of a time finding out who has ever claimed the above (with the caveat that “teach the fundamentals” needs to be defined, of course, maybe you could define what it means?).

    Also, RSC said in his RRC that “Special revelation speaks to football games but not of them” (24).

    How do you parse all this out. Thanks!

  4. sean says:

    Paul,

    Interesting question. I don’t know how Meyers harmonizes with Van til or RSC but at the very least there’s some overlap or “sourcing out” if you will. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as “SR” explicitly points the reader to “GR” on numerous issues as “wisdom calling out on the street corner” or vices or virtues or vanities accessible by all “simply” by observation/experience. There is an direct appeal here by “SR” to heed “GR” commendation of various truths. Certainly God provides a covenantal context (lens) through which the covenant member views aspects of life, yet it also assumes upon “common” experience as adequate or sufficient to provide direction or explanation to numerous “life” issues to that same covenant member. Whatever Meyers or RSC or Van til may mean they all seem to concur that “SR” isn’t intended to be exhaustive of all “truth” or even adequate to all truth. Scripture at least through the wisdom literature, if not the NC imperatives, seems to attest to it’s own limitations or if you prefer, limited intentions.

  5. Paul M. says:

    Sean,

    I certainly agree with this: ” Whatever Meyers or RSC or Van til may mean they all seem to concur that “SR” isn’t intended to be exhaustive of all “truth” or even adequate to all truth” (though I’d add that “adequate to all truth seems a bit vague, nevertheless, I agree with the intent here).

    But, VT and RSC seem contrary to this claim at least: “It does not even present itself as a source of some truth about everything.”

    Indeed, I’d go as far to say that that sentence is flat out false as SR tells me that the truth about all things viz. they’re either created or not. Eternal or finite. Creator or creature.

    Since that is not the whole truth about all things, but it is indeed true, then it is some truth about all things.

    That’s why Van Til used to always say, “Christians know something about everything.”

    So, given that, I’d part ways with Meyer on just this small matter (leaving room for possible meanings that don’t render his claim false though yet to be explained to me).

    Thoughts?

  6. sean says:

    My objection to the CVT and maybe RSC is that in dealing with epistemology we’re imposing categories of philosophy upon a document (scripture) that is through and through religiously and covenantally couched. As with Edwards, Van Til has been accused of imbibing a bit more in his particular philosophical school than in scripture in establishing his epistemology and subsequent distinctions of knowledge. Now, I’m no philosopher, but in reading CVT you “feel” this disconnectedness from the text at different times. I think RSC calls it QIRC, it’s popularly been known as the universal whole or unity of truth or the abstract universal. CVT seemed very concerned with establishing not only the possibility of such a concept but proving it, albeit fideistically from scripture. Though not Thomistic, I’m much more comfortable with something along the lines of Aristotle’s self-evident truths, or even common sense realism. I find this to be more in common with the philosophical underpinnings of scriptures; ” a fool says in his heart there is no God” amongst many others. Now none of this proves Meyer’s claim, but I’ve often found the reformed in pushing for a more Vantillian scope of particular understandings push beyond the text of scripture not only specifically but in mood or context as well. This isn’t an slippery slope to noumenal truth mind you, just an bounding, hopefully a biblical one, of SR and GR. SR, in my mind, is best expounded when it’s particular covenantal context is always kept in front of the expositor. When we bridge out into the seperate discipline of epistemology we seem to start using scripture in an acovenantal way, and in doing so, lose a basic underlying assumption that is inherent in the text. IMO.

    Sorry if this is an less than precise answer or even a confused one, as I said I’m no philosopher

  7. Paul M. says:

    Sean,

    “My objection to the CVT and maybe RSC is that in dealing with epistemology we’re imposing categories of philosophy upon a document (scripture) that is through and through religiously and covenantally couched.”

    This is getting off track I think. My point is a more simple one: The Bible does tell us some truth about everything.

    My paragdigmatic example has been: Everything is either in the set of Creator or creature, and the set of Creator has one member.

    You wrote:

    “As with Edwards, Van Til has been accused of imbibing a bit more in his particular philosophical school than in scripture in establishing his epistemology and subsequent distinctions of knowledge. Now, I’m no philosopher, but in reading CVT you “feel” this disconnectedness from the text at different times.”

    Perhaps I’m unclear about what you mean here. Is the Bible a “handbook” on epistemology? If so, why is it a handbook there but not for, say, biology?

    Besides that, you’d have to give me specifics about what you have in mind re: Van Til. (Below?)

    I think RSC calls it QIRC, it’s popularly been known as the universal whole or unity of truth or the abstract universal.

    I have some severe criticisms of RSC’s use of QIRC. I plan to lay them out in my upcoming review. Anyway, Van Til was known for harping on the idea of a “concrete” universal in contradistinction from his idealist contemporaries who argued for an abstract universal. Anyway, I’d agree if you meant “truths of fact” but not if you mean “truths of reason.” So, we’d have to make sure we’re clear here.

    CVT seemed very concerned with establishing not only the possibility of such a concept but proving it, albeit fideistically from scripture.

    Though I agree with you that what has been called “the strong modal version of TAG” has been shown to be unable to make good on its promises, I staunchly disagree that “fideism” is the appropriate category – and I assume we’re using ‘fideism’ in its technical sense?, i.e., in the sense of one who maintains that our knowledge of God (and of the truth of Christianity) is based on a subjective faith apart from any evidence or rational considerations?

    I think these Van Tillian quotes demonstrate otherwise:

    “It will then be possible to compare the Christian epistemology with any and with all the others. And being thus enabled to compare them all, we are in a position and placed before the responsibility of choosing between them. And this choosing can then, in the nature of the case, no longer be a matter of artistic preference. We cannot choose epistemologies as we choose hats. Such would be the case if it had been once for all established that the whole thing is but a matter of taste. But that is exactly what has not been established. That is exactly the point in dispute.
    (A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. xiii-xiv, emphasis added)

    “In our great concern to win men we have allowed that the evidence for God’s existence is only probably compelling. And from that fatal confession we have gone one step further down to the point where we have admitted or virtually admitted that it is not really compelling at all. And so we fall back on testimony instead of argument. After all, we say, God is not found at the end of an argument; He is found in our hearts. So we simply testify to men that once we were dead, and now we are alive, and that one we were blind and that now we see, and give up all intellectual argument. Do you suppose that our God approves of this attitude of His followers? I do not think so. […] A testimony that is not an argument is not a testimony either, just as an argument that is not a testimony is not even an argument.”
    (Why I Believe in God, p. 16, emphasis original)

    And I’d part ways with him in the last quote as I believe probability can ground compellingness, so this is no partisan rant on my end, just pointing out that ‘fidesim’ as a identifying term for what van Til took his project to be is more caricaturization than characterization.

    Though not Thomistic, I’m much more comfortable with something along the lines of Aristotle’s self-evident truths, or even common sense realism.

    I wouldn’t go all the way with Aristotle, though I apreciate Reid and CSR – fan of Plantinga that I am. But, CSR has certain problems that need to be dealt with, cf. Marsden’s critiques in Faith and Rationality.

    but I’ve often found the reformed in pushing for a more Vantillian scope of particular understandings push beyond the text of scripture not only specifically but in mood or context as well.

    You get a hearty “Amen!” from me there. I think one particularly egregious violation is Bahnsen’s “egegesis” (ahem) of his two-step apologetic method from Proverbs 26. 🙂

    SR, in my mind, is best expounded when it’s particular covenantal context is always kept in front of the expositor.

    Indeed. When Christ is preached. Or, has Horton has said, “Would your exposition call for Jesus’ crucifixion?” Classic!

    but, my point was rather smaller: Meyers is wrong if he think SR does not say “some” truth about “everything.” That’s it. But, we all know that great errors usually begin with little ones – think of the poor Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly!

    When we bridge out into the seperate discipline of epistemology we seem to start using scripture in an acovenantal way, and in doing so, lose a basic underlying assumption that is inherent in the text. IMO.

    Certainly this can happen, but it need not. The text of Scripture does have implications for one’s epistemology, almost all Reformed have agreed on this. This can be seen especially when you grant what almost all philosophers do, viz. epistemology and metaphysics cannot be sharply separated (e.g., one who is a physicalist isn’t going to normally believe one can know a priori. One who believes that reality is physical and non physical will hold that we ca know in more ways than just by using our senses, etc.,), or when we try to take into account the various insights from virtue epistemologists (e.g., Sosa).

  8. sean says:

    “This is getting off track I think. My point is a more simple one: The Bible does tell us some truth about everything.

    My paragdigmatic example has been: Everything is either in the set of Creator or creature, and the set of Creator has one member.”

    So, the broad covenantal context that SR is illuminating in your example is monotheism?

    Because the scriptures argue that the creation, declares His glory, which seems to presume His existence and our relation to Him. Scripture’s not shy about attributing that understanding to nature (GR). Or in using creature/creator paradigm are you just wanting to establish a set that is sure to encapsulate all the actors and derivatives?

    I would argue that scripture concerns itself with a much more specific (ethnocentric even) covenantal context than merely creator/creature distinctions. GR is good enough for creator/creature distinctions.

    I’m batting around in my small head your truths of fact vs. truths of reason distinction. Certainly I’m arguing more for the former than the latter, but If I’m going to argue for GR establishing creator/creature distinctions, I don’t need scripture to establish my epistemological foundations for thinking or believing in agreement with the set, and if we wan’t to take this into the realm of ethics, as I’ve pointed out, SR outsources much of these truths to GR.

    You’re more familiar with CVT than I am so if you think I’ve mis-characterized him in terms of being fideistic than I won’t argue with you, but I don’t think even he would object to the charge of circular reasoning.

    I think we just completely missed each other on scripture being a handbook of epistemology, I obviously wasn’t arguing for it.

    As for Meyer’s, I guess you’ll have to wait on Rube for an answer.

  9. Paul M. says:

    Sean,

    So, the broad covenantal context that SR is illuminating in your example is monotheism?

    Again, the claim is that Scripture teaches “some truth about everything.”

    Because the scriptures argue that the creation, declares His glory, which seems to presume His existence and our relation to Him. Scripture’s not shy about attributing that understanding to nature (GR).

    This is besided the point. The point is: Scripture teaches “some truth about everything.”

    Remember Meyer said, ” [Scripture] does not even present itself as a source of some truth about everything.”

    I would argue that scripture concerns itself with a much more specific (ethnocentric even) covenantal context than merely creator/creature distinctions. GR is good enough for creator/creature distinctions.

    Both these claims are consitent:

    [1] GR teaches some truth about everything

    [2] Scripture teaches some truth about everything.

    No rule of inference would show the two incompatible.

    So, your point, however true, is irrelevant to the more contextualized point I’m making, IMO.

    “I’m batting around in my small head your truths of fact vs. truths of reason distinction. Certainly I’m arguing more for the former than the latter, but If I’m going to argue for GR establishing creator/creature distinctions, I don’t need scripture to establish my epistemological foundations for thinking or believing in agreement with the set, and if we wan’t to take this into the realm of ethics, as I’ve pointed out, SR outsources much of these truths to GR.

    A.

    i) Truths of fact are contingent on the divine decree. God could have made them different, e.g., I could be taller and have more hair.

    ii) Truths of reason are necessary, regardless of the decree.

    iii) One cannot infer my height from the color of the grass outside. One truth of fact doesn’t necessarily imply the other truth of fact.

    iv) Truths of facts can differ in all possible worlds, not truths of reason. So, “all triangles are three-sided figures” is a truth of reason and is true in all possible worlds. it’s truth is unified across worlds. Not so with truths of fact – or, a posteriori truths.

    B.

    i) I don’t know what you mean by “I don’t need Scripture to establish my epistemology foundations…” Would that differ with what Horton says: “Instead of regarding questions of method (e.g., epistemology, ontology, metaphysics) as predogmatic axioms that all were obliged to accept and from which dogma could be deduced with considerable certainty, these theologians insisted that this was already an exercise in dogmatics. In other words, the foundations were to be derived not from universal foundations from the light of nature, but from the particular self-revelation of God according to the light of grace” (Covenant & Eschatology, p.2).

    ii) As far as ethics, for now I tennatively hold to a natural law theory.

    C.

    Again, I never argued that GR isn’t a source for some truth about all things. But Scripture is also a source – ’cause it obviously teaches it. So, I claim Meyers is wrong to say “Scripture isn’t a source for some truths about everything.”

    Does GR teach us “that everything was created good?” It does teach us that we are guilty, I agree. But does it render a verdict on the initial state of creation? Perhaps. I’d like to see the argument fleshed out. If not, then that’s another one for Scripture, i.e., it teaches “some truth about everything,” i.e., that everything was created good. Or how about “creation groans with birth pains for the revealing of the son’s of God”? With a little more thought I think I could find numerous places where Scripture “teaches some truth about everything.”

    You’re more familiar with CVT than I am so if you think I’ve mis-characterized him in terms of being fideistic than I won’t argue with you, but I don’t think even he would object to the charge of circular reasoning.

    You’re certainly correct that he wouldn’t object to that charge, but that in and of itself doesn;t imply fideism.

    Indeed, Douglas Walton, one of the top experts on logic, fallacies, and circular arguments (and he’s not a Christian/Van Tilian either 🙂 )writes: “Circularity: A sequence of reasoning is circular if one of the premises depends on, or is even equivalent to, the conclusion. Circularity is not always fallacious, but can be a defect in an argument where the conclusion is doubtful and the premises are supposed to be a less doubtful basis for proving the conclusion.” (Oxford Companion To Philosophy, p. 135).

    And, here’s an excellent paper by one of today’s leading epistemologists where it is pointed out that not all forms of circularity are epistemically naughty.

    http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~bergmann/epistemic%20circularity.htm

    I think we just completely missed each other on scripture being a handbook of epistemology, I obviously wasn’t arguing for it.

    Roger.

    Btw, I don’t think Scripture is a “handbook of epistemology.” But I do claim that it “has some things to say” on the matter, even if, to agree with R.S. Clark and Van Til, it speaks to it indirectly.

  10. sean says:

    Paul,

    Forgive me for a more truncated response. It’s late. I think as it regards your set (creator/creature) if you want to argue SR affirming GR as primary to knowledge of the distinction as being evidence of SR’s speaking some truth about everything; o.k. However, I think SR’s pointing to GR as “the source” therefore establishing SR as “a source” is a bit of fine parsing that I don’t think I’d hang my epistemological hat on, but again I don’t really care.

    If I follow your train, Meyer’s may have overstated his case, and yet still made good on his larger point of the insufficiency of scripture to illumine all things directly or indirectly,adequately. Not because scripture as SR is inherently inadequate but rather it doesn’t “care” if you will, it points numerous times to the adequacy and expectation of GR both in terms of knowledge and ethics. Not exhaustively mind you.

    The ethics connection is an important one to the set proposed (creator/creature distinction) as it regards epistemological foundations. If I can know right and wrong as it regards the distinction (guilt) that presumes a right or sound enough understanding of the actors, distinction and interaction, and it’s a GR grounded understanding, it may not be exhaustive but it’s not necessarily faulty. In other words Law is innate, Gospel is not. Can SR further this understanding, make it more particular, give it color? Absolutely. It’s interesting to note that SR never finds fault with GR in what it communicates. So yes dogmatics can consistently be begun in GR. SR seems to presume that, much less affirm it. That that doesn’t always happen is not a failure of GR as it regards creator/creature distinctions.

    That Circularity is not always fallacious does not therefore make CVT’s circularity not fallacious.

    Anyway, we may agree more than we disagree, and I don’t really have a dog in the fight of whether Meyer’s overstated his case or not. The concepts of GR and SR and where we draw the lines of distinction and how we use scripture are important.

  11. RubeRad says:

    Hey Paul,

    Sorry, I don’t have any special insights into Myers. No trace of Van Til in the footnotes; but plenty of Kline, Clowney, Murray, Calvin, Bavinck, and Kuyper, as well as smatterings of others.

    I realize not many will read the whole paper, so my goal is, once this series is finished, they won’t have to!

    As to your suggestion that “created vs. uncreated” is some truth the bible gives about all things, I’d say that that truth in particular is so universal as to be unuseful. OK, music is created — so is football. So how does that biblical truth help me tell them apart, or understand what is good music/football vs. poor, or how to do them better?

    I would guess, however, if pressed, Myers would have to admit that the bible does offer some pedantic truths about all things. Things get more interesting, I think, with Van Til’s allowance of directly or indirectly — the devil will be in the details of fleshing out just what that indirectly means.

  12. RubeRad says:

    But I have to pipe up over this “modern education” point: you’re working with a strawman

    I was looking for, but failed to uncover, a link to a recent survey (quoted I think on WHI, as well as other venues) in which American students’ objective performance was predictably way down in the international rankings, but in the subjective category of “how do you feel about your performance?”, they were absolute tops! Conversely the nation(s) that performed best, rated their self-esteem about their performance much lower.

    If anybody can find me a link to that study, I’d be much obliged.

  13. RubeRad says:

    Paul, note the following paragraph I had omitted above (I was trying to keep the post from getting too long):

    the Bible has little explicit to say.

    Many people insist on taking implicit statements from Scripture (or allegedly implicit statements) and deducing from them an entire theory. This is often done in the name of a high view of Scripture, but it is rather to treat Scripture as a magic book. It is a superstitious view of Scripture, not the view God has himself presented.

    The belief that all the blueprints

    Note also the last quote from the previous post. Maybe Myers’ double-mention of ‘blueprints’ sheds some light onto the intention of his phrase “the Bible does not claim to teach us the fundamentals of” this, that, or the other common grace endeavor.

  14. Paul M. says:

    Rube,

    I agree with Meyers (what I’ve seen from you, and I have downloaded the paper and will read it – as you know I have no problem reading) in the main.

    My only aim is to halt larger errors which could be a consequence of his over-stated claim.

    I do doubt that the truths are “pedantic.” We can add this too: All created things after the second advent will be either destroyed, brought to glory, brought to everlasting death, or be newly created things.

    I’m unsure if that is pedantic as it’s simply a mish-mash of various verses, and it isn’t taught by GR.

    I would agree with Meyers’ claim about blueprints (though I guess that would possibly need to be defined). That’s what I thought he meant too. That answer’s the first part. The second is like unto it – who does he have in mind that supposedly claims such a ridiculous thing? Has anyone ever published his opinions that the Bible gives “the bluprints” for making chicken pot pie? The closest I can think of is some well-menaing Christian saying that the Bible tells us how we should do whatever it is we do – for the glory of God. So, we should cook pot pies to that end? I dunno, that’s the best I can get.

    If that’s so…talk about “pedantic.” 🙂

    Anyway, I’ve appreciated the Meyers’ posts and look foreword to reading the “tome.”

    Sean,

    I think as it regards your set (creator/creature) if you want to argue SR affirming GR as primary to knowledge of the distinction as being evidence of SR’s speaking some truth about everything; o.k. However, I think SR’s pointing to GR as “the source” therefore establishing SR as “a source” is a bit of fine parsing that I don’t think I’d hang my epistemological hat on, but again I don’t really care.

    I listed some other one’s as well. Offered a brand new one in the above response to Rube. These would get around any “fine parsing” about “a” or “the” source. And, again, I simply wanted to make sure certain directions weren’t going to be traveled. As a former theonomist, transformationalist, glawspel lover, I used to loathe the bad, weak, and straw man attacks on those positions as I held them (and Rube can attest that I fought hard for what I believed in). As I enter into more “confessional outhouse” friendly positions, I carry my same standards with me. As I work on critiquing my old self I don’t want to offer bad arguments. And as I defend my new self I want to do it in the most clear and cogent way.

    . In other words Law is innate, Gospel is not.

    I agree.

    That Circularity is not always fallacious does not therefore make CVT’s circularity not fallacious.

    As Rube can attest, I am no stranger to critiquing Van Til. But I wouldn’t go here. Not only do I think his “circularity” was fallacious, I don’t think any of this makes him a fideist. There’s other, better critiques.

    One of the better critiques of TAG, if you’re looking, is the article by Sean Choi found in Reasons For Faith, eds. Geisler and Meister.

    Anyway, we may agree more than we disagree…

    I certainly hope so.

  15. Paul M. says:

    “Not only do I think his “circularity” was fallacious,…”

    EDIT: “…wasN’T fallacious,…”

  16. sean says:

    Paul,

    I don’t want to carry this out too long, and I’m not sure I want to defend unequivocally Meyer’s position. However, I think in making your point you may be proving too much or too much eclipsing of GR contribution. I think I could find in GR at least anthropologically, despite all disney considerations for the “circle of life”, that death is out of step for the human creature. The very observance of the imago dei, and the incongruity of both tremendous virtue and vice in the same creature seems to point both to “something else” and “something wrong”- these observations were/are not peculiar to the christian or SR. Your creation groaning reference isn’t a universal one but a particular one to SR and the state of the earth bearing within itself those saints who were yet to be revealed-Kline has an interesting take on that verse as graveyard scene that while it could have universal context to the earth actually consuming those who were to exercise dominion over it, actually is a more specific, covenant particular, reference and certainly is not an argument for future sub human creational destruction and/or renewal.

    My experience with Van Til is limited, but my general impression is that he overstates his case, and attributes to much specificity(christian) to his TAG.

    Anyway, I think that’s all I got. I appreciate the interaction.

  17. Paul M. says:

    Sean,

    I admitted guilt was found in GR. But I spoke also of redemptions, which all Reformed agree is not taught in GR. The creation groaning is cupled with other verses and, viola, you have “the Bible” teaching “some truth” about “everything.” That something is “not right” doesn’t logically entail that original creation was “good.” It could have been “better than now.” Or, “neutral.” And, of course, now you have brought in tons of content to GR that you’d have to prove is there. GR shows there’s a God and that his existence is clear and that creation is his handiwork and that there’s a law men are held accountable to and which they know violation of brings death.

    Anyway, we all know that much of theological development is a reaction to certain positions. Problems come when the reactions are turned into overreactions. That’s a story of history. Given the good turn people have been taking from biblicism, let’s not have an overreaction.

    My experience with Van Til is limited, but my general impression is that he overstates his case, and attributes to much specificity(christian) to his TAG.

    Again, I agree. But I’ve only been spekaing to your claim that he was a fideist.

    Anyway, I don’t want to carry this out too long as well. I’m surprised it went this far. I thought it was rather sef-evident that Meyers over stated his case. And that was my only point. 🙂

  18. RubeRad says:

    who does he have in mind that supposedly claims such a ridiculous thing? Has anyone ever published his opinions that the Bible gives “the bluprints” for making chicken pot pie?

    For starters, Kazooless attests (in the first comment to the last post) to 10 volumes of Gary North. I don’t know if he covers chicken pot pie, but if you suggest it, he probably wouldn’t be averse to adding an eleventh volume on cooking. And perhaps Myers has in mind more generic transformationalists, with their “Christian” butchers, bakers, …

  19. sean says:

    Paul,

    You seem to switch between a standard of alluding to something than apply a hard standard of “proof” to a potentially adversarial retort. If you discount Imago dei realities in the human creation or creation itself-“good” as being unknowable from a GR perspective or unprovable then from my perspective you prove too much and find yourself in contest with what SR says itself on creation, and “knowability” of God through creation. I don’t think, and certainly didn’t intend that creation spoke to categories of redemption. Merely that creation shows marks of “goodness” ,beyond better than now, and “fall”. Creation doesn’t allude to or point to redemption. However the very Imago Dei points to eternality and something gone terribly wrong-guilt/death. If this is a last word kinda thing, you can have it. My concern is an premature or unnecessary eclipsing of GR information and knowability.

  20. Pingback: More from Myers III « The Confessional Outhouse

  21. Paul M. says:

    Sean,

    I agree that God is knowable via the created order. What I asked was whether something *else* was knowable, i.e., “creation’s original godness.” Ironically, it is you who (possibly” goes beyond what is written since, as far as I can tell, the list Paul offers in Romans 1:18-21 says nothing about “the original state of creation.”

    Also, i thought it was a “discussion” rather than a “last word kind of thing.” Anyway, I have no problem throwing a whole lot into the box of “what can be knows via GR.” So, there’s no “eclipsing.” Actually, all there was was a claim that Meyers was wrong that “Scripture does not claim some truth about everything.”

  22. sean says:

    Paul,

    I think you made your point as it regards Meyer’s but I’m not sure you successfully dodged Rube’s point that it’s rather pedantic. By the way “dodged” isn’t meant pejoratively.

    As far as going beyond scripture on GR I’ve always been a bit mystified that we’re ready to admit the “obviousness” of the negative consequences of a failed probation, representative or otherwise; guilt, wrath, judgement and death but slow to acquiese to the flip side. This is an obvious nod to the erroneous conception of a God so free, that He is free to be capricious and other than who He is, in this case good.
    Quite frankly this seems to be true whether the discussion is taking place in the context of SR or not. You can’t get consensus among reformed about the “end game” of a successful probation by Adam, much less what GR testifies to. Though I don’t find SR unclear on the issue.-That’s a whole other discussion.
    However, following the Imago Dei GR reality-“made him little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor” or “set eternity in their hearts” and the “goodness” of the original creation being evident via GR, much less a fallen one, as something testified to by SR, as part and parcel ,at the very least, to a good, infinite and perfect creator, the question comes to mind what other creation could possibly be communicated that’s affirmed by SR? “Better than now” doesn’t agree with Imago Dei realities nor the nature of the God communicated in SR as being evident in GR.

  23. Zrim says:

    “who does he have in mind that supposedly claims such a ridiculous thing? Has anyone ever published his opinions that the Bible gives ‘the blueprints’ for making chicken pot pie?”

    CVT thought there was a Christian way to do education. But I would suggest his contention that there was a Christian way to do a worldly endeavor was simply the religious mirror image of John Dewey’s secular transformationalist ideas about education. Sacred or secular, it all sounds good until one realizes that the goal of education is simply to get Johnny to read, write and add (as it were); same thing when in comes to statecraft, all it is meant to do is get us from day to day in one piece. Little wonder CVT was so frustrated that Christian educational institutions were not putting into practice his ideals—it means very little to those simply trying to get through their days of teaching and learning. Most public school teachers left Dewey’s highfalutin ideals in the books as well.

    I think the mistake in “Every Christian knows something about everything,” is that it seems to neglect the crucial distinction between creation and redemption: just because believers have been granted the eyes of faith to peer into the mysteries of redemption and apprehend it in ways the unbeliever cannot doesn’t mean they have also been given eyes to peer into the things of creation and apprehend it any better than either other believers or unbelievers. We know “everything” about redemption but only as much about creation. It’s like being married—at one time you had no idea what it was like to be married, you get married and know what singles don’t know PLUS what they do know. But being married doesn’t mean you know more than singles, it just means you know about something they don’t by definition.

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