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Quo Vadis Christian Philosopher? Some Concerns among the Successes*

 

Are Christians in philosophy placing their faith and hope in philosophical concepts or in Biblical truth (knowledge)?

 

*This paper was presented at the 2011 Southeast Meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, March 25, 2011.

 

No Christian in philosophy today would argue that there has not been a virtual explosion in the number of Christians working in philosophy.  William Lane Craig and Paul Copan declare, “Nothing short of a veritable revolution in Anglo-American philosophy has begun! … God is making a comeback.”[1]  Someone has estimated that 30 percent of all faculty at the college and graduate levels, including those secular, who are working in philosophy, are Christians.  Alvin Plantinga played a considerable role in this development with his leadership in several ways and in particular his landmark address in 1978, “Advice to Christian Philosophers.”  Then, there are a plethora of others who deserve mention, but cannot for reasons of time.[2]  At first glance this growth of Christians in philosophy is a cause for celebration—an exciting advancement for the Kingdom of God. 

 

However, rapid growth in any area is almost never entirely positive.  In this paper I propose that some definitions, methods, traditions, and conclusions may not be advantageous to the Kingdom and even inconsistent with a basic Biblical understanding.  Christians in philosophy have been sometimes too influenced by non-Christian philosophies and tradition, and thus have not developed a philosophy that is fully coherent with God’s Special Revelation.

 

I am new to philosophy, as a full-time study.  I am a physician, receiving my M.D. degree in 1969, having served five years in the military and Family Medicine training and having held a faculty position for 25 years at the Georgia Health Sciences University where I retired in the year 2000.  With my spiritual awakening in the mid-1970s, I began work in what I have called “Biblical-medical ethics,” producing four books, several periodicals, conferences, and eventually a website.  When I started, there were few evangelical Christians writing on medical ethics, and their work lacked some of the same problems that I will discuss here.  I take this time briefly to review my career in medicine and medical ethics because certain of these particulars apply to this paper.

 

First, ethics is one major traditional branch of philosophy.  So, although I have less than three full years working in philosophy, I have been working in an area that is intrinsically and essentially philosophical—requiring considerable interface with other branches of philosophy. 

 

Second, being “new” to a full-time pursuit in philosophy and primarily from another field of study, I have a perspective that lacks the familiarity of those who have long been in this discipline.  While this view does not guarantee accurate insights, it does provide for a different perspective.  On my website, www.biblicalphilosphy.org, I have listed more than thirty unique concepts or emphases that are not commonly found among other Christian philosophers.  So, at least in my own mind (!), I am contributing to this field of scholarship.

 

I am going to focus on five areas.  There are many other concerns that I am unable to address in a short paper.

 

Christianity, the Bible, and Regeneration: A Two-fold Division

 

Abraham Kuyper, who lived and worked in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, defined an approach in his Principles of Sacred Theology, which he named a “two-fold starting point,” that of palingenesis and Scripture.[3]  Palingenesis, of course, is regeneration, also variously called “being born-again” or “born from above” (John 3:3, 5), “a new heart,” or “a new spirit” (Ezekiel 25:37).  This change is rich and profound.  Last year at this meeting, I discussed the epistemological changes that occur with regeneration.[4]  In summary and for our purposes, regeneration is a change of belief: a change from trust in one’s own basic foundation (that is, the self) to trust in Scripture—God’s Special Revelation to man.   Regeneration is more than that with the implantation of new life, the fruit of the Spirit, and other graces, but my focus here is the change in epistemology.

 

Now, you should immediately note that I said “trust in Scripture,” not trust in God or even Jesus Christ.  This observation is important, and what was recognized by Kuyper, but missed by too many modern evangelicals and is hugely epistemological.  John’s apocalyptic Revelation, 22:18-19, states with a startling warning that the voice of God to man has ended.  We trust Christ for salvation, but we only know of His saving work from Scripture.  We trust God the Father to be the same, yesterday, today, and forever, but we know this truth from Scripture.  We trust the Holy Spirit as our “earnest” until we enter heaven, but we have this hope through Scripture.  All the definitive and trustworthy knowledge that we have of God, His universe, and man are found in the Scriptures.

 

Kuyper goes further with his two-fold starting point.  There are two, and only two, epistemologies: one “mined” from the golden ore of Scripture and another formulated by unregenerate man.  In his encyclopedic endeavor, and later in his Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1898, he posits a thoroughgoing worldview that covers every area of study, scholarship, and human concern.  His famous quote is:

 

Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”[5]

 

Kuyper’s two epistemologies are only what Scripture designates as “light” vs. “darkness,” “the wisdom of God” vs. “foolishness of the world”, and “truth” vs. “falsehood.”  Harry Blamires in his book, The Christian Mind, has called this division, the “gigantic battle between good and evil which splits the universe.”[6]  Augustine of Hippo divided the history of man into the City of God and the City of Man.  These are all designations for the same two-fold division.

 

With some concern, rarely have I seen this division portrayed by Christians in philosophy.  In fact the opposite seems prevalent.  “Classical theism”—to be discussed later—usually includes the other religions of Islam, and Judaism.  Scripture, however, recognizes only two “theisms”: one true and one false.  Worse, many Christians in philosophy specifically eschew Scripture from their works.[7]  Yet, if the revelation of God’s mind to man is not relevant to epistemology, then God is not relevant to man, for we know nothing with certainty of God outside of His own Revelation.

 

What Scripture is and how it fits into man’s epistemology is the greatest issue—the watershed issue of scholarship and worldview.  The usual reason that Christians in philosophy say that they do not reference Scripture is that the unbeliever will not accept it.  That is a tenuous argument at best, as the unbeliever already knows that who is a Christian and who is not.  In addition, no philosopher entirely accepts the beliefs of other philosophers.  In fact, as Peter Van Inwagen,[8] Scott Oliphint, and others have concluded, there are no agreed-upon answers in over 2500 years of philosophy.  Surely, the revelation of God has some answers that all of the mind-power of men throughout history does not have!

 

Stephen K. Moroney in his book, and a similar paper,[9] differs with Kuyper’s approach and offers a different paradigm for the noetic effects of sin.  In the sense of a fuller development of this concept, Moroney has advanced this understanding.  However, he did not retain Kuyper’s division between the regenerate and the unregenerate which is a fatal mistake.  Even in mathematics, which virtually all philosophers consider the most “objective” of the sciences, unless those who use this knowledge do so to the glory of God, they are both epistemologically and morally guilty.  Further, Moroney has only partially grasped the great noetic impact of the more “subjective” sciences, such as sociology, psychology, and personality theory, but even the so-called “hard sciences,” such as physics and chemistry, are approaching metaphysical speculations of a mystical, religious nature.

 

Plantinga, in his noteworthy paper previously mentioned, states my own concern here, when he says, “I deeply believe that the pattern displayed in philosophy is also to be found in every area of serious intellectual endeavor.”[10]  Let me give two examples from medicine how serious this issue is.  (1) Abortion.  Without the Scriptures as an ethical norm, one-third of all pregnancies in the United States are aborted—over 1.2 million a year.  (2) Iatrogenic (medically related) deaths.  One book argues that modern medicine in the United States is now the leading cause of death at 800,000 per year—above cancer, heart attacks, and strokes—the big three diseases that cause death.[11]  This high death rate which does not include abortions results from a failure to apply the “truth” of Biblical ethics and the fallacies of empirical science to medical practice. The ignorance and avoidance of Scripture and simple reason is incredibly fatal and deadly, both morally and pragmatically.  Thus, my concern is no light matter! 

 

Moving back to philosophy, one of the most prominent figures in Christian philosophy, J. P. Moreland, delivered a paper at the 2007 Annual Meeting of ETS and EPS[12] on the over-commitment of evangelicals to the Bible.[13]  There are many issues concerning that paper, but I will address only three.  First, Moreland greatly misunderstands what is and is not truth.  For someone who wrote a good book on scientific fallacies, Moreland shows a commitment to empiricism, induction, and the scientific method that is justified neither by his prior book, nor a logical understanding of that method.  By definition, induction or empiricism is never true because of assumptions throughout, limited means of measurement, and the impossibility of examining the entire universe of facts.[14]  Relative to medicine, I have shown the great impact of failure to understand the fallacy of the scientific method.  Michael Polanyi, Thomas Kuhn, and Karl Popper have written volumes about this problem.

 

Second, Moreland gives an elite status to the “scholarly duties of Christian intellectuals” over “pastors, parachurch staff, and lay folk.”  If my understanding of Christian history is accurate, then the greater problem of deviation from the truth of Christianity has resided in the “Christian scholars,” not the “lay folk.” 

 

Third, Moreland is solidly linked to “extrabiblical” knowledge in his commitment to The Third Wave, discussed in this paper as “guidance, revelation… impressions, dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom.”  He should read the Revelation of John, Chapter 22, as cited above.

 

Being “Christian,” Protestant, and Catholic

 

I fear that Moreland’s understanding is all too prevalent among prominent Christian philosophers, for example, the use of the word, “Christian,” in Society of Christian Philosophers, founded by Alvin Plantinga and others.  Membership in “The Society is to open to anyone interested in philosophy who considers himself or herself a Christian.”[15]  I submit to you that this admitting requirement is overly broad.  The large majority of “Christians” are in mainline churches which are essentially apostate by historically orthodox standards.  Then, there is the problem of “Christians” relative to Catholic-Protestant issues (which I will address shortly). 

 

What then is “Christian?”  Is there a minimal standard?  What is the essence of Christianity?  What is and is not orthodox?  Well, I have already indirectly covered that subject.  No one would deny that “Christian” comes from “Christ” who is central to orthodoxy.  And, what knowledge do we have of Christ—only that of the Old and New Testaments.  There are no other documents outside the Bible with knowledge about Christ!  We either take all those documents or we selective choose, as Thomas Jefferson, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, “liberal churches,” and others have done.  In the later case, the individual has been the judge of who Christ is, not the historical and God-breathed documents.  Further, I am speaking of a substantial, systematic understanding of Scripture in philosophy, theology, and ethics, not the confused, random selectivity of many who claim “No creed but Christ” or the sects that are aberrant even to a minimal Christian orthodoxy.

 

Now, I realize that the EPS has its commitment to evangelical orthodoxy with its requirement for Biblical inerrancy and the Trinity.   But my review of the articles in Philosophia Christi, the publication of the EPS, shows a striking paucity of Biblical references, while at the same time the inside cover quotes Colossians 2:3, “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  For example, in the last issue, Volume 12, Number 2, in which the theme was “Theism and Ultimate Explanation,” I found only one article that cited any Scripture, and those verses were not really pertinent to the main arguments of the article.[16]  Surely, if any topic had unique insights about theism and ultimate explanation, Scripture would.  Yet, this absence of references to God’s revelation stands for this particular issue of the periodical.  While referencing Scripture does not guarantee right interpretation, at a minimum the centrality of Special Revelation to epistemology has been considered.

 

Further, there is a disturbing friendliness with non-Christian religions.  While I vigorously embrace every opportunity for dialogue with them— as an opportunity for evangelism—my reading of most of these articles is their attempt to find some truth or compatibility with Christianity.  The theme of Volume 11, Number 2, was “Religious Diversity: A Dialogue.”  Chad Meister begins his Introduction to these articles with this statement.

 

Religious diversity may well be one of the greatest challenges currently facing Western culture, and few issues are more troubling to Christians than how to understand Christian truth claims in relation to the claims of the many other faiths of the world.[17]

 

I reference back to the Biblical division of two belief systems.  All “faiths of the world,” to use Meister’s words, other than Biblical Christianity are man’s attempt to find another way to God.  They can only be “understood” in this light by Scripture.  (I will come back to philosophy of religion which is pertinent here.)

 

More troubling, is the final proposition of Paul Knitter in the same issue, “There might well be other revealers/teachers/saviors similar to Jesus.”  I find no coherence in this proposition with Jesus proposition, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father (that is “is saved”) but by me” (John 14:6).  In fact, I find Knitter’s statement, “anathema,” to use familiar Catholic terminology, but I also find it here in a periodical which claims Christian orthodoxy. 

 

If we are doing philosophy that is not related to Scripture, we have no more insights that the non-Christian.  We are not doing Christian philosophy, we are doing philosophy just as the non-Christians and other religious philosophers do.  Now, I realize the validity of “academic freedom,” but any sort of freedom is really dependent upon specific guidelines or laws.  I am not convinced that these have yet been well defined by Christians in philosophical academics.  This concern leads into my next one.

 

Classical Theism

 

William Lane Craig wrote an article entitled, “The Resurrection of Theism,” as the Introduction to Volume 3 of The Truth Journal in 1991.  In that article he uses the various terms of “philosophical theism,” “traditional theism,” and mostly just plain “theism,” which is perhaps more commonly known as “classical theism” or “god of the philosophers.”[18]  I find this term problematic for Christians.

 

For example, Alvin Plantinga in his book, Knowledge of God, a debate with Michael Tooley, equates “classical theistic belief” with Christianity, Islam, and Judaism[19].  Are we called to defend false beliefs, as indeed we would all agree that the latter are false beliefs, or at least Judaism is an incomplete belief since Messiah has not come in their system.  By contrast and appropriately Greg Bahnsen, in his famous debate with Gordon Stein in his introductory remarks declared that he was defending Christian theism...

 

…not general theism—whatever that might be.  I have not found the non-Christian religions to be philosophically defensible, each of them being internally incoherent or undermining human reason and experience.  Since I am by the grace of God a Christian, I cannot, from the heart, adequately defend those religious faiths with which I disagree. My commitment is to the Triune God and the Christian world view based on God's revelation in the Old and New Testaments.[20]

 

Interestingly, that position confused Stein.  He was prepared to argue against classical theism which Bahnsen was not defending because other Christians, whom he had debated, had used that approach.

 

In another direction, there has been much rejoicing in Anthony Flew’s “conversion” to theism, especially in the publication of his book, There Is a God.  But is theism, even classical theism, sufficient for salvation?  Theism includes no orthodox specifics about Jesus Christ.  Without Him and His work there is no salvation.  So, is Anthony Flew in Heaven or Hell today?  I would not dare speculate, but Romans 10:9 declares, as far as belief is necessary for salvation, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  It says nothing about a confession of a “god of theism.” 

 

Blaise Pascal warned that the "The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob (was) not the God of the philosophers!"  Of course, one could use the terms “Christian theism,” as do Cornelius Van Til and others, or even something like “maximal classical theism.”  But being consistent with a Biblical epistemology, why not advocate and defend Biblical theism?

 

Philosophy of Religion

 

“Philosophy of religion” is a similar problem.  I am not taking the simplistic position that Christianity is not a religion—I believe that it is the religion, even though there is a paucity of definitions for “religion” in major philosophical books, including dictionaries, both Christian and non-Christian—a fact that is quite amazing! 

 

Philosophy of religion in the West is predominately and overwhelmingly about Christianity.  As Scott Oliphint states, “philosophy of religion … is terminology used to designate an old, old task, that of natural theology.”  Other names include philosophical theology, natural religion, theological philosophy, and natural law.  The website, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, has this introduction.

 

Philosophy of religion is the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions. It involves all the main areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics and value theory, the philosophy of language, philosophy of science, law, sociology, politics, history, and so on.

 

What?  It seems that philosophy of religion includes virtually all of philosophy.  Being overly broad is one problem with philosophy of religion.  A second problem is that Christianity as the true religion is obscured among many false religions.  And the presence of Christianity does the opposite: gives credence to false religions. Third, as previously stated, Christianity is not “Christian” without supernatural revelation—that is supernatural epistemology.  Fourth, this term  implies that religion is grounded in rationalism: how else can one “faith” be decided against another. 

 

An almost fatal concern here is the current use of “faith-groups” or “faith-based” groups in common discourse and in the news media.  To understand how critical this issue is, ponder what is the opposite of “faith-based?”  The opposite is “reason-based.”  Now, in a debate between “faith-based” and “reason-based,” who wins before the argument starts?  The reason-based idea.  So, I posit that in today’s common dialogue, “faith groups” have no real chance to be heard.  Theirs is virtually a shrill cry compared to “reasoned groups.”  Christian philosophers, perhaps better than anyone, understand that all ideas of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and politics are faith-based—not just those that are religious.  Communism, secular humanism, naturalism, scientism, socialism, republicanism, and all the others –isms of the day are faith-based, as well.  Christians must speak to their every area of influence—churches, parachurch organizations, publications, and conferences—with this message.  We cannot win an argument with “faith” against “reason.”  The terms of debate must be “faith” vs. “faith.”  The writings of Michael Polanyi can help a great deal in this regard with the secular community.[21]

 

What About Rome and Protestantism?

 

In the Preface to Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga writes:

 

This book is about the intellectual or rational acceptability of Christian belief. When I speak here of Christian belief, I mean what is common to the great creeds of the main branches of the Christian church, what unites Calvin and Aquinas, Luther and Augustine, Menno Simons and Karl Barth, Mother Teresa and St. Maximus the Confessor, Billy Graham and St. Gregory Palamas—classical Christian belief, as we might call it.[22]

 

Now, that is some hodgepodge of beliefs to be called “classical Christian belief,” but I want to focus only on Rome and Protestantism.  We recall the historical event called the Reformation.  We recall Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Westminster Fathers, and a great host of other “protesters” who decried the doctrines of Rome.  We recall the blood that was shed over these issues. 

 

Now, I reference Plantinga for four reasons.  (1) He is representative of many Christians in philosophy who blur the boundaries of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.  For example, several Catholics spoke at the recent Evangelical Society meeting in Atlanta.  (2) He is perhaps the most prominent Christian philosopher of recent times, and because of his stature, will influence a host of students and graduates in his thinking.  (3) He represents a common “crossover” of faculty serving at Catholic schools and Catholics serving at Protestant schools.  (4) I have more familiarity with him than most other current philosophers.

 

There are likely saved individuals in Catholicism, especially since Vatican II.  However, while Vatican II loosened some practices, dogma and anathemas of the Council of Trent still stand.  One of those is that Rome is the only true Church.  My brothers and sisters, the beliefs of Rome and those of Protestantism are not reconcilable, despite modern attempts.  For these lines to be blurred by Christian philosophers is to ignore “what is” and “what has been.”  It is to demean the blood of Protestant martyrs and the doctrinal efforts of all the Reformers. 

 

Philosophy in the Service of God and His Book

 

If I am right, what are we to do?  The Evangelical Philosophical Society needs to limit its focus to a truly Biblical approach—one based upon Kuyper’s two-fold starting point with more definition, as defined by Moroney and others.  Our doctrinal affirmation already declares an epistemology that is fully adequate to accomplish that goal.  If philosophy is to serve theology, then the latter provides the presuppositions for the former.  Currently, the evidence is that this situation is not the case, as I have presented.  Personally, I believe that the only truth that we will ever know this side of heaven is that which God has revealed in Scripture.  Further, God has promised fruit from the diligent application of Scripture; He has not made any promises concerning extra-Biblical knowledge.  I am not saying that the Bible is the encyclopedia of everything technical, or even academic, but we must be certain that its depth and breadth are fully explored and that it is the controlling ethical concern in every endeavor.

 

My suggestion does not mean that philosophers who are Christians should not address apologetically every challenge presented by the secularists.  But that work should be separate and distinct from a truly Biblical philosophy. 

 

We should heed the warnings of Norman Geisler in his Presidential Address to the Evangelical Theological Society in 1998, entitled “Beware of Philosophy: A Warning to Biblical Scholars.”[23]  While Geisler has his own philosophical and theological problems with which we might differ, he has some valuable guidelines here.  He directly addresses naturalism, agnosticism, evolutionism, progressivism, existentialism, phenomenology, conventionalism, processism, Platonic allegorism, Okhamistic nominalism, Aristotelianism, anthropological monism, and historical criticism.  He discusses how these are covertly influential among many theologians and philosophers who are Christians.  Further, he gives these instructions for as “intellectual advice for the mind.”

 

1.  Avoid the desire to become a famous scholar.

2.  Avoid the temptation to be unique.

3.  Steer right to go straight.

4.  Do not trade orthodoxy for academic respectability.

5.  Do not dance on the edges

6.  Reject any methodology with the Bible or good reason.

 

Then, he gives some spiritual advice for the soul

 

1.  Always choose Lordship over scholarship.

2.  Do not allow morality to determine methodology.

3.  Do not allow sincerity to become a test for orthodoxy.

 

Moreland has warned against “bibliolatry.”  I contend that the opposite is the problem: the Bible and sound theology have been largely ignored by Christians in philosophy and other areas of scholarship, and I have given evidence for that disturbing proposition.  The work of Plantinga and others have positioned Christians in philosophy for great opportunities to influence the church and society, perhaps greater opportunities than ever before.  However, my observations give serious pause for concern, rather than simply rejoicing.  The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians, Chapters 1 and 2, declares that that the wisdom of all the philosophies of the world are foolishness compared to the “mind of Christ” given in His Revelation.  Where will we place our trust?

 



[1] “Trajectories in Philosophy and Apologetics,” http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Trajectories-in-Philosophy-and-Apologetics.html

[2] For example, Gordon H. Clark, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Arthur Holmes, uGeorge Mavrodes, Stephen Evans, William Alston, Elonore Stump, James Sire, and others named elsewhere in this paper.

[3] (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, reprinted 1980). His two-fold starting point is present throughout the book.  However, his early development of the idea is found on pages 150-182.

[4] “The Centrality of Regeneration, Faith, and Sanctification in a Biblical Epistemology.”

[5] Kuyper, Abraham (1998),"Sphere Sovereignty," in Bratt, James D., Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,  1998), 488.

[6] (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1963), 70.

[7] Peter Van Inwagen, Metaphysics, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002), 7.   Kelly James Clark, Philosophers Who Believe, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 197-198.  I am sure that there are many others, since they make no reference to Scripture in their work.  These two avowedly avoid Scripture in these two references.

[8] Van Inwagen, Metaphysics, 12.  Scott Oliphint, Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), ix, 122.

[9] The Noetic Effects of Sin: An Historical and Contemporary Exploration of How Sin Affects Our Thinking, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 1999).  “How Sin Affects Scholarship: A New Model,” Christian Scholar’s Review, XXVIII (Spring 1999): 432-451.  This latter publication can be found easily with a title search on any search engine.

[10] Plantinga’s paper cited in my introductory paragraph.

[11] Gary Null, Death by Medicine, (Mt. Jackson, VA: Pratikos Books, 2010).

[12] Evangelical Theological Society and Evangelical Philosophical Society

[13] “How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done about It,”  56th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (jointly with the Evangelical Philosophical Society), San Diego, CA.

[14] A simple outline of these problems may be found here: http://ls.poly.edu/~jbain/philsci/philscilectures/08.Induction.pdf

[15] http://www.societyofchristianphilosophers.com/about/

[16] Timothy O’Connor, “Theism and Ultimate Explanation,” 363-4.

[17] 273.

[18] “Classical theism is an approach to the doctrine of God that emphasizes unchanging being, divine transcendence and sovereignty as captured in a set of divine attributes that typically includes atemporal eternity, immutability, impassibility, and divine simplicity.” Daniel J. Hill and Randal D. Rauser, Christian Philosophy A-Z, (Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh Press, 2006), 182.

[19] Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley, Knowledge of God, (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), 1-2.

[20] The entire text of the debate can be found here: http://www.bellevuechristian.org/faculty/dribera/htdocs/PDFs/Apol_Bahnsen_Stein_Debate_Transcript.pdf

[21] Perhaps, the best example is this one.  Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1958).

[22] (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), vii.

[23] The   text may be found here: http://www.ses.edu/Portals/0/journal/articles/2.1Geisler.pdf

 

 

More Disagreements with Present "Christian" Philosophy*

 

*The time limit for paper presentations was 35 minutes with 10 minutes for discussion.  Thus, I was only able to address five more important issues.  What follows here are more areas in which Christians have not discerned Biblically.

 

Open Theism.  A heresy that God is not omniscient about the future.  This limitation is an attempt to give man the freedom to choose among options without God's predestinating action.  Also called "the open view of God," "creative-love theism," and "free-will theism."  It should categorized as heresy.  I will not comment further, as the following website and others have stood against this issue. See A forum on free-will theism...

 

Exclusivism/Inclusivism.  Exclusivism is the orthodox,  biblical belief that those persons who do not believe in the Gospel truths of Scripture are "excluded" from God's blessings now and condemned to Hell forever.  Inclusivism has become popular in the last few decades that God judge's on the basis of the "light" that each person has who have not had opportunity to hear the Gospel.  Thus, a person who never professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can be saved according to the "light" (understanding) that he has.  Inclusivism is another heresy.  The Bible clearly defines what is necessary for salvific belief caused by regeneration and that the destinies of all persons is either to Heaven or Hell.  Others, particularly Millard Erickson, has written extensively on this issue, so I do not need to comment further here.

 

Correspondence theory of truth:  Among the more evangelical philosophers and theologians, the correspondence theory of truth seems to have a wide acceptance.  However, epistemology must precede any theory of truth.  That is, how can we know anything, much less truth?  For this theory to apply, one must thoroughly and systematically understand reality in great detail.  That is, one needs a reality to which to "correspond."  This reality can only come from the Bible, so a Biblical epistemology ("reality") necessarily must precede any "correspondence."  One could argue that coherence (another test of truth) must be prior, because one must know that his particular of correspondence fits with the whole of the universe.  It is this Biblical and coherent foundation that is lacking in almost all discussions of the correspondence theories of truth by evangelicals.

 

Reliance on empiricism.  Few philosophers, and even fewer theologians understand empiricism.  Failing to have this knowledge, they make great errors in their thinking, preaching, and writing.  For example, "integration" of knowledge from one discipline with the Bible is a failure to understand that only the Bible can be classified as truth from a Christian perspective.  One also hears of "all truth is God's truth," but empiricism is never, never truth.  Empiricism may have great "operational," "functional," or "pragmatic" value, but it is always subject to new evidence and new theories.  For more on empiricism, see Empiricism: A Modern Danger....

 

 

 

 

 


 

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