Glossary (Dictionary) of Biblical and Christian
"A Concise Christian and Biblical
Philosophy of Words and Terms"
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The length of definitions in this Glossary will differ, as some need
more clarification, and still others are more important to this
philosophy. After all, this site is about the
Bible, theology, and philosophy. Thus, definitions are basic to
this area of study—as they are in any area of
serious study. Every effort will be made for coherence in
these definitions and elsewhere on this site. This Glossary will
essentially be a capsule summary of this website (which I began in
August 2008). Therefore, this Glossary is under construction and
many words will be incomplete and expanded as the site is developed.
The author welcomes comments as this construction develops. Also,
I will use my Glossary at
www.biblicalworldview21.org which is supplemental to this one.
This glossary is a work in progress.
As my thinking and reading progresses, definitions may be
modified or added. This glossary is not intended to be
comprehensive of philosophical terms that have little or no
correspondence to a Biblical theology. It is not a
theological dictionary—many theological terms are
addressed, however, as they correct or more fully develop
philosophical terms. One goal here is to
reflect the entire website in miniature, focusing on
those words and terms that are essential to a truly Christian
and Biblical philosophy. Thus, this Glossary could be
considered "A Concise Christian and Biblical Philosophy
in Words." A cross-reference alphabet allows you to
quickly move about the Glossary.
The problem with many glossaries of philosophy by Christians
is their neglect of explicit theology, especially that which is
consistently and thoroughly Biblical. Philosophy should
be the "handmaiden" of theology, the "queen of the sciences."
All philosophy should be viewed in the light of, and logical
coherence, of Special Revelation. Theology is
philosophy, and philosophy is theology. Their concerns are
identical and therefore, are either complementary or
competitive. However, sound, believing and Biblical
theology must always govern any philosophy with which the
regenerate Christian engages.
A great supplement to this Glossary is
1828 Dictionary which by its date, the brilliance of its
author, and his Christian commitment avoids much of the trivial
and secular changes in American vocabulary. It was written
before the later modern period began to distort definitions and
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A priori: knowledge that
precedes or is otherwise given prior to, or apart from,
experience. This knowledge may be
innate or given supernaturally later, as in
"your faith (notitia component) has made you well"
(Matthew 9:22). "Every non-Christian has an a priori.
And the a priori of every non-Christian is different,
radically different, from that of the Christian." (Van Til
quoted in Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic, page 107).
regeneration that accounts for this "radically different"
a priori—Ed. Kant
relegated his "synthetic" a priori over the a
posteriori, but William Van Orman Quine in recent times
demonstrated the inherent fallacies of Kant's argument.
Abduction: see hyothesizing, imagination.
Charles Sanders Peirce should be read on this subject.
intentional killing of unborn life. Spontaneous abortion
is sometimes applied to pathophysiological losses of the unborn, but
miscarriage does not carry the connotations of "abortion."
Abortion is the most serious and most heinous ethical issue of
modern times. It is one of the most serious economic
issues of modern times for various reasons: loss of talent,
labor, creativity, and spending. It is the ultimate strike against
the image of God in persons.
Absolute: "The exact
opposite of relative.
The context is very important for understanding the
meaning of this term.
(1) As a noun, it is sometimes used with reference to
God. (2) More often,
the noun refers to a concept (in particular, a moral value) that
is not modified by cultural circumstances; a concept[t that is
universal and unchanging.
An absolute is not limited by anything outside itself.
(3) As an adjective, it describes that which is
unconditional, uncaused, and is totally independent. (4)
In Hegel’s philosophy, the Absolute is a term that conveys
Hegel’s idea of the greatest, most complete concept of ultimate
Absolute can and does grow, but it cannot diminish.
It is the impersonal sum of all thought and being.
(5) Biblical philosophy is built upon the affirmation that all
truth is God’s truth.
God is (and His Word reveals) the absolute standard for
truth and morals.
God’s knowledge is complete, exhaustive, infallible, and
God’s knowledge is the standard by which a Christian defines
truth itself cannot change.
Truth is always and forever the same.
Thus, truth is an absolute."
“What God has revealed is to be believed
because it is God’s truth.
The fact that 'God has spoken and thereby revealed some
of His knowledge' is a central affirmation of all Christian
theology. The Bible,
as God’s Word, may be said to have truth without mixture of
error for its matter.
In other words, God’s revealed character and his eternal
purpose has not and will not change.
The cultural situation, however, is constantly changing.
The culture of the Biblical world is very different from
the culture of the modern world.
Truth speaks of the universal and the unchanging.
We must be careful that we do not hastily identify our
ever-changing cultural opinions and interpretations with God’s
absolutes. God has
spoken to particular people at particular times in particular
of God’s truth, which is eternally valid at all times and in all
place, is the primary hermeneutical task of the Biblical
expositor. We must
seek to discover cultural situations (to which to apply the
absolutes of Scripture).” (L.
Rush Bush, A Handbook for
Christian Philosophy, 215-6—numbers
added by Ed)
Abstract idea, abstraction, abstract art: “The process of
forming a general concept by omitting every distinguishing
feature from our notions of some collection of particular
things; thus, substantively, an abstraction is the concept or
idea that results from this process.…. Thus, for example, the
idea of "green" could in principle be derived by abstracting
from one's specific experiences of a summer lawn, the leaves of
trees, and emeralds.”
A synonym would be a
Abstraction is supposed to exist apart from
the concrete, as Locke’s triangles.
And, the debate between abstraction and concrete
it seems clear to me that an abstraction does not really exist.
While there are categories (chairs, for examples) and
universals (green), they are only applied to actual objects. If
I envision a chair in my mind, it is quite specific—I could draw
it on paper or describe it to someone else.
I cannot picture “green” as just a color; it is always a
green object (for example, a tree) or green splotch which is
still a concrete picture in my mind.
Even ideas that seem “abstract” are not.
For example, “justice” seems abstract.
But one person cannot talk to another or write about the
subject without reference to specifics of right and wrong.
For example, it is always wrong to steal from others.
Even if one thinks that there are exceptions to stealing,
these are concrete, definable exceptions, not abstractions.
The number “two” does not exist apart from “two” objects.
Even as printed or painted, the number two is just a
symbol that has no meaning apart from application to two
objects. Finally, there is abstract art.
But what does one do with abstract art?
Just listen to conversations in an art gallery.
As spectators look at the splay of paint on a canvas,
they inevitably say, “That looks like ____.”
Or, “Down there in that corner, that looks like a ____.”
A thought of nothing that exists is not possible. The idea of abstraction, as it is usually used,
is really an idea of nothing.
Sometimes, it may even be a conscious or unwitting
attempt to avoid being concrete!
For the mind to think, it must have content.
An “abstraction” of something that does not exist
concretely simply does not exist.
Nay, it cannot exist either for idealists or
abstraction is simply a universal that is common to two or more
things or propositions. A
thought is always intentional—thought about a particular object,
term, or concept.
There was a vigorous debate between Locke and
Berkeley about abstraction which the reader can research on his
own. This Ed thinks that Berkeley demolished Locke's
Absurd: The "absurd" is
always relative to an individual's perspective, point of view,
or worldview. Kierkegaard's "absurd" was from his or his
character-writers' point of view which differed from book to
book and subject to subject. The Apostle Paul speaks of
the Cross of Christ being "absurd" (foolish) in I Corinthians 3.
The "absurd" person has said in his heart, "There is no God"
(Psalm 14:1). See foolish, foolishness.
Acts 17:22-32: Paul's speech
to the Athenians at the Aeropagus is possibly the most focused
encounter between Biblical and pagan philosophy. It can
also serve as a model for apologetics.
For a more substantive review of Paul's speech by Greg Bahnsen,
Addiction: at first glance, addiction
would not seem to be a philosophical problem. However,
Kent Dunnington has written a book that expertly explores
philosophical, theological, and other issues within this complex
process with his Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of
Disease and Choice.
Aeropagus: the hill where
Paul addressed Greek philosophers and theologians. See
Acts 17:22-32 above.
Agreed-upon Bible: the
66 books of the Holy Scriptures that is "agreed-upon" by the
orthodox Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox
churches. While translations differ, and apart from
modernistic and fanciful influences in them, they are based upon
the same surviving documents. That God has superintended
these documents is demonstrated in the almost 100 percent
agreement of these old texts as "the word of God written."
All: Yes, you see correctly,
"all." A pesky word that has wreaked havoc in Biblical
theology. Sometimes, "all" does not mean all.
We use it in a limited way in everyday conversation. "All"
people everywhere watched the Super Bowl. Well, not "all"
even have TVs or neighbors with TVs. Caesar Augustus
decreed that "all" the world should be taxed—were the American
Indians or Indian Indians taxed? I Timothy 2:4 says that
God desires that "all" men should be saved—is universalism then
inescapable? Could Paul mean only the elect? Dear
readers, that "all" is not "all" is basic language usage, but
what havoc has been wrought by trying to make all every
particular of a class in the universe.
"All truth is God's truth": a
frequent term among Christians in philosophy, psychology, and
other areas who believe that truth is
found outside of Scripture. There are at least two major
problems with this approach. (1) All knowledge
outside of Scripture is empirical, and
empiricism (induction) is by definition a
Critique of Empiricism.) (2) Scripture is the ultimate
authority on all areas of knowledge. While the Bible does
not speak in detail to all areas, it is the controlling
authority for all study. Far and away, the common error
among Christians in the "academy" and in churches is to limit
the breadth and depth of Biblical knowledge by either by
assuming its limitations or by not investigating it
comprehensively. Almost without exception, those who use
"all truth is God's truth" restrict the application of Scripture
and give false truth-claims to knowledge outside of the Bible.
American Association of Christian
Scholarship: see Dooyeweerd.
Amsterdam philosophy: see
Dooyeweerd and the Word of God.
Analogy: "Analogy ... must
depend on some sort of similarity; but if so, that similarity
can be designated by a single term, however broad in meaning;
and unless this broad term has one meaning equally applicable to
the two things in question, the similarity does not exist and
there is no analogy at all." Gordon Clark, Thales to
Dewey, page 278.
Anathema: statements in the Council of Trent
and other church councils (most particularly Roman Catholic)
remind us of the great importance of theological and other
propositional statements. If such a statement is believed
to be true, the consequences of an opposite belief is to be
condemned to Hell! See Galatians 1:8-9, where Paul the
Apostle sets the example.
Anthropology: the study of the nature,
origins, purpose, and destiny of man. This area of study
in a Biblical system rises to great prominence in that man is
not just another evolved creature, but made in the image of God
(Genesis 1:26). Further, he lost his close identity with God in
his Fall into a sinful and inimical status to God. But
this Fall instituted God's great plan of salvation through His
Son Jesus Christ to save many of those who would otherwise be
condemned forever. This anthropology includes The
Creation Mandate and man's eternal destiny to heaven or
hell. In contrast to any non-Christian anthropology, one
can readily see how creation, purpose, fall, redemption, and
eternal destinies form a huge dimension in a Biblical
philosophical system. For more, see
here. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and
enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Shorter Catechism #1). See
Antinomy: literally, against (anti-)
law (nomos). For Kant and others, antimony was
the status of two contradictory propositions, both of which have
equal proofs within their philosophical system. (2) For
others, this contradiction may be only apparent ... one that can
be eventually solved or the solution of which rests in God's
knowledge, but unknown to man. Paradox is
a rough synonym.
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Antithesis: (1) the dialectic of Hegel
and Marx: thesis-antithesis-synthesis. (2) The opposite of
truth—the application of the law of noncontradiction—the
opposite of truth is falsity. Lack of antithesis is one of
the great errors of many 21st century Christians in philosophy.
There is philosophy of religion which blurs the
boundaries between Christianity and other religions. There
is classical theism which posits a god not of
the Bible, but a "god of the philosophers."
There is little talk of regeneration which
structures a human mind to become "the mind of Christ"
(I Corinthians 2:16). Instead, the Bible posits
"light" and "darkness"—an antithesis for which there can be no
Apologetics: An organized defense of the
Christian faith, based upon I Peter 3:15-16. There are
primarily three approaches. (1) The evidentialist
in classical apologetics
takes a position on the evidence of Christianity, for example,
the historicity of the Gospels, the unity of the Bible, and the
findings of archeology. These evidences will convince the
unbeliever of the truth of Christianity and his need for
salvation in Christ. (2) The presuppositionalist
takes the position that the unbeliever cannot be convinced by
evidence, but must be regenerated by the Holy
Spirit so that his presupposition becomes that of the Gospel and
the truth of Scripture. (3) The evangelist or
preacher simply preaches or tells others about the truths of
Christianity. He is usually an evidentialist, but he may
never have adopted a serious position. In all these
approaches, Christianity must be defended as a whole. This
lack of defending the whole is where apologists often fail.
See a review of the book,
Apologetics which is an evidentialist approach.
A comprehensive study of apologetics and Christian (Biblical)
philosophy are virtually identical, as faith
reason have been at the center of philosophical
arguments since they were begun. See
"Apostles to the intellectuals": John Frame
coined this phrase for those who address philosophical and other
(Apologetics to the Glory of God, page 74) This
endeavor is extremely important to demonstrate the intellectual
coherence and logical system of Biblical Christianity.
However, each Christian in this endeavor, especially the
philosopher, must be careful that Biblical truth governs his
work. Else, he may be guilty of another phrase coined by
Frame, "philosophical imperialism."
Aquinas, Thomas (1225-1274):
"Thomas Aquinas was a
quiet and great scholar, a stupendous author, a constructive
though not very original thinker, an excellent teacher; he was
not a dynamic, even less a demonic, personality as
Origen, Augustine, and other Christian philosophers were. He
was prone to reconcile diverse and even opposite tendencies of
thought. He did not have the mystical vein of his forerunners,
Dionysius or Erigena, or of his succors, Eckhart and Nicholas of
Cusa. For the church, his victory quickly turned to tragedy,
for it promoted the revolutionary undercurrents that finally led
to the Reformation and the destruction of the glorious medieval
harmony of antiquity and Christianity." Richard Kroner,
"Aristotle Conquers Christian Philosophy," in Speculation
and Revelation in the Age of Christian Philosophy (1959),
Concerning the transition from Augustinianism and Platonism
early in Aquinas’ career, “Thomas strategy, well-developed in
his mind, from his days with Albertus Magnus, was first to
produce an interpretation of Aristotle less hostile to religion
than that of Averroes. He also disguised his break with
Augustine by claiming that Augustine had cited but hand not
adopted various Platonic or Neoplatonic views; the same purpose
was served by clever reinterpretation of Augustine’s words and,
if necessary, by silence. Der klarste Kopf won the
battle…. He was canonized in 1323." Gordon Clark,
Thales to Dewey, p. 270.
“It also seems evident that (Aquinas) has
changed the context for a discussion of God’s character and has
left the biblical portrait of God far behind.
Thomas appealed to Exodus 3:14 (“I am that I am”), but
the philosophical elaboration of this passage only highlights
the fact that Thomas was developing his doctrine of God through
rational exploration in an Aristotelian mode, rather than
through exegesis of Scripture.
Clearly, Thomas’s philosophical claim was not elaborated
in terms of the narrative of the text but instead a single
phrase is pulled from its narrative context in order to be made
the foundation for philosophical speculation.
In form, if not yet in content, this is
theology that works within guidelines set by an alien
Peter Leithart, “Medieval Theology and the Roots of
Modernity,” Revolutions in
Worldview, W. Andrew Hoffecker, pp. 166-7
Argument: Neither a "hostile encounter, as
the term is sometimes used in ordinary language... nor ... an
acrid, purposeless discussion of abstract or theoretical issues—the
concept that some people associate with the word.... rather ...
in the logical sense... a group of premises which the arguer
claims, imply a conclusion.... roughly synonymous with reasoning....
Every sermon, every Bible study, every witness to Christ seeks
to warrant a conclusion (faith, repentance, obedience) and thus
has an argumentative aspect. (John Frame, Apologetics to the
Glory of God, page 16)
Arminianism: see the note on this term under
Art: the creative or imaginative application
of rules, laws, skills, and otherwise rational knowledge and
reasoning. What is a painting? The creative
application of the rules of art. Why else does a student
of art have to learn basics? In an orchestra, if one
violates the rules of music, cacophony results. Art is
advanced by the application and synthesis of new
patterns and arrangements without violating the old
first principles of the particular craft of the artist.
Art is found is any scholarly endeavor: medicine, law,
economics, history, etc. The mystery of art is its variety
of appeal to some individuals and communities and not to others,
as well as, the difference of art from culture to culture.
See abstract art
A se, aseity
means “from himself.”
Aseity, then, means that God is complete within Himself.
And, since “In the beginning, God …,” only God can be
That is, only God is without derivation, without source,
and without beginning.
Everything else “is” at the direct creation of God or
secondarily through agents that he has created.
God is the original and only true substance— Greek
In His essence, God does not “need” anything—He is
complete within Himself.
He did not need to create or to “save” men.
He is and always has been complete within Himself.
Further, God’s attributes are not a comparison or analogy
with something else, but synonymous with His being.
He is His attributes: holiness, righteousness, justice, love,
faithfulness, truth, etc.
God has no “intention”—His thought and His will are one
in decree. Self-contained, self-existent, self-sufficient,
and truly independent are synonyms for a se.
Attributes of God, Priority of the: The most
common attribute of God in evangelical groups and churches today
is that "God is love." But, God must first be understood
as truth or His love cannot be believed. Second, God's
righteousness must be posited, else His love cannot be
understood. For example, Jesus said, "If you love me, keep
my commandments." One of His commandments is that of
capital punishment by the state (Genesis 9:6). Also, John
3:16 cannot be understood without knowing that God is both
righteous and just. Jesus Christ as a perfectly righteous
sacrifice, satisfied God's requirement of justice, which He
gives to sinners that they might have "eternal life." John
3:16 is not the simple "love of God" that is so facilely
presented from pulpits and public arenas today. All God's
attributes must be equally considered to have a knowledge of His
Person. See the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter
2, Sections 1-3. See omnipotence, love, will
(declarative and decretive),
Augustine of Hippo (354-430
A.D.): The most extraordinary intellect in history
outside of Scripture. Every philosopher,
theologian, and historian must study Augustine because of his
stature in their respective fields. He was
regenerated at age 32 after becoming a recognized
rhetorician and scholar, although his diligent studies never
satisfied neither his mind nor his soul. His works that
survive (the majority probably did not) include 113 books and
treatises, over 200 letters, and over 500 sermons.
Amazingly, he is one of the great fathers of the Roman Catholic
Church and is also considered the father of the Protestant
Reformation (often considered as the revival of Augustinianism).
While his writings and sermons are prolific, his lacked the
precision of modern systematic theology. Thus, there
continues to be vigorous debate about his precise formulations.
Incidentally, he wrote the first autobiography in history!
He is commonly referred to as just "Augustine." Thus, his
work is often referred to as the "early" and "late" Augustine
because his Neo-Platonic and other pagan philosophies were
gradually replaced by a Biblical understanding. His
theology was central to the Reformation and was systematized by
John Calvin and others. Any modern theologian,
philosopher, or historian cannot neglect study of his influence
in these subjects. His life is often considered to be the
beginning of the Middle Ages.
Augustine's epistemology: the
best summary which is also very readable and concise is B. B.
Warfield's book, Calvin and Augustine;
another good source is Ronald Nash's book, The Light of the
Author of sin, evil (God as the): God in His
omnipotence "who works all things after the counsel of His
will," is the cause of everything that happens in His universe,
including all the thoughts and actions of His creatures.
He is the potter an they are the clay (Romans 11). God
cannot be both omnipotent and "permit" anything, including the
Fall of Satan and the Fall of man. He predestined the
death of His own Son (Acts 2:23). He cannot be both
omnipotent and "passive" to any thought or event in His
creation. See compatibilism and
more explanation, see
Authority: all knowledge
(epistemology) is inescapably based upon one of two authorities: (1) an
absolute authority or (2) the authority of self.
Sometimes, a third authority, that of the majority of a group,
is named. But in reality, that position is limited in
practical application and always falls back into one of the two
first named here.
One could further conclude that there is only the authority of
self, as it must yield completely to the absolute authority
without picking and choosing what instructions that he will
This complete yielding never happens, but it becomes the goal of
the Biblically-based Christian, the Koran-based Muslim, and the
Old Testament Jew. There are no other absolutes which are
as widely recognized as these. The only true and
ultimate authority is God Himself speaking through the
66 books of the agreed-upon Bible See ultimate
concern. All knowledge is self-authenticating.
Possible ultimate authorities for
various Christians: (1) the individual Christian instructed by his own
conscience and any other Christian authority that he chooses;
(2) the Roman Catholic instructed by the Bible, tradition, the Pope or the
magisterium; or (3) the individual Christian instructed by
his conscience in what the Bible says, systematically and
comprehensively understood. Only the latter is
All decisions are based upon
authority: One cannot investigate knowledge for
every decision: asking directions, studying history, making
purchases, raising children, gardening, etc.
These authorities may be parents, friends, “experts,”
books, magazine, the Internet, etc.
So, making decisions by authority is commonplace to
person’s lives, not unique to religious decisions.
"The suggestion that disagreements between believers
and unbelievers can(not) be settled by an appeal to 'religiously
neutral' principles of reason." (James Anderson
This idea is similar to that of Abraham Kuyper who posited that
knowledge of anything is never isolated from its relationship to
a whole system. Thus, while the regenerate and
unregenerate may use the same language, their propositions
correspond to antithetical systems. This antithesis among
the respective communities of Christian and pagans is
Augustine's city of God and city of man.
proposition formally accepted without demonstration, proof, or
evidence as one of the starting-points for the systematic
derivation of an organized body of knowledge." From
philosophypages.org All metaphysics, epistemology,
religion, worldview, and philosophy begins with one or more
axioms--which is also a position of faith.
See synonyms at first principle.
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Baptismal regeneration: simply, the
sacrament of baptism by an official of the Church is the
equivalent of being "born from above" in John 3. It is one
of the most far-reaching errors of the Christian Church.
John 3 says that the Spirit operates unpredictably—that
statement alone means that He is not tied to a scheduled event,
even a sacrament. Baptismal regeneration welcomes into
membership, and even offices within the Church, those who
remain, not only unregenerate, but as such, are actually
enemies of the Church. Granted, his issue is more
complicated than my singular statements here. However, all
Biblical texts that refer to "baptism" should be evaluated by
the possibility that each refers to regeneration by the Holy
Spirit, and not to the sacrament. For example, Titus 3:5
is not the sacrament, but baptism by the Holy Spirit (not in the
Pentecostal sense, either). See the chapter on baptism in
the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Baconian fallacy: "The idea that a historian
can operate without the aid of preconceived questions,
hypotheses, ideas, assumptions, theories, paradigms, postulates,
prejudices, presumptions, or general presuppositions of any
kinds. He is supposed to go a-wandering through the dark
forest of the past (or various philosophies) gathering facts
like nuts and berries, until he has enough to make a general
truth. Then he is to store up his general truths until he
has the whole truth. This idea is double deficient, for it
commits a historian (or philosopher) to the pursuit of an
impossible object by an impracticable method." (David
Hackett Fischer, Historians' Fallacies..., 1970, page
4, quoted in D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, page
"Bad News": see "Good News."
Basic belief: Sometimes called "properly
basic belief." A proposition that needs no prior belief—it
is justified within itself; it needs no "proof," as in fact
proof is impossible because proof belongs to a system based upon
these basic beliefs. No two systems with basic beliefs can ever
necessarily cohere. Synonym
of presupposition, first principle, axiom, fundamental
principle, premise, assumption, and many other terms.
"While a Christian can prove that his Christian position is
fully as reasonable as the opponent's view, there is no such
thing as an absolutely compelling proof' that God exists, or
that the Bible is the word of God, just as little as anyone can
prove its opposite." (Greg Bahsen, Van Tils'
Apologetic, page 79. From the text, it is not clear
whether Bahnsen is quoting Van Til, George Mavrodes, or
Beatific vision: an ancient concept of
the Christian's highest experience of God, presented in I
Corinthians 13:1 and I John 3:2. A common mistake,
however, even among the best theologians and philosophers is
that this "seeing:" is an actual vision. However, since
God is Spirit, He cannot be "seen" except with the "mind's eye,"
that is, with understanding or with intellectual comprehension.
In our spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:44) without sin and
with an increased ability, we will comprehend God intellectually
in a way that seems "face to face"--a greater clarity of
understanding that can be imagined in our earthly state of body
Begging the question: petitio principii;
synonym of circularity.
Being: See essence, true (truth)
Belief: synonym of faith.
To state a difference between belief and faith is a failure to
understand the English language which has no verb form for
"faith." In the Greek, the stem pist- is the same
for both noun and verb. There is no other stem to
correspond to a difference between "faith" and "belief."
Plato in his Theaetetus pushes the arguments of his
protagonist to demonstrate that "justified true belief"
is insufficient to the problem of knowledge. Without
belief, reason would have no propositions with which to apply
Big Bang: Perhaps the most irrational
of non-theistic beliefs. In mans' experience, especially
since the invention of gun powder, the bigger the bang ... the
bigger the destruction and chaos. And they want us to
believe that the grand order of the universe from gigantic
galaxies to sub-atomic structures acquired their complex systems
from an explosion? This conclusion is beyond rational, it
is silly, childish, and should be ridiculed, rather than
considered as possible truth. See chance.
Bible: See Scripture.
Biblical ethics: right and wrong based
upon God's decretive will, as revealed in the Bible.
See Euthyphro dilemma and voluntarism.
For a more substantive discussion, see
Summary Principles of Biblical Ethics.
Biblical presuppositionalism: See
Biblicism: See dogmatism...
"Blind" faith: This term is false. Faith,
by definition, cannot be blind. All actions are based in
faith (whether generic or Biblical), that is, action taken
according to what one knows to the extent (certainty) that he is
willing to take action. While the
origin of the knowledge upon which faith operates may be
unclear, the action and its expected result are quite definite.
See faith, especially generic faith herein.
Body: See dualism.
Brain: the physical organ through which the
mind works in the physical world. See mind.
Thinking (cognition, judgment, reflection, imagination, etc.) takes place in the mind (a spiritual entity)
and is not an
"epiphenomenon" of the brain. Under the concept
of occasionalism, a substantial relationship of
cause and effect does not have to exist. Modern
neuroscientists err greatly in their belief that cognition can
be understood on the basis of brain physiology. Many
Christians in science, psychology, theology, and other
disciplines have bought into this error.
"By faith alone": I have a problem with this
shibboleth of the Reformed camp. It is the
ordo salutis in its entirety that saves
individuals. Rather, faith is the instrument "whereby the
elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their soul" (WCF
14:1). Faith is process by which Biblical truths are
understood and enacted as the full obedience of love to God and
to fellow men.
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Calvinism: The basic teachings of John
Calvin in breadth of particulars, not just casual association.
Presbyterian theology are close synonyms. The
tenets of Calvin were the central doctrines of the Protestant
Reformation, but overt and covert Arminianism
has greatly diluted the understanding of these central
doctrines. Often, the Five Points of Calvinism or the Five
Solas of the Reformation are used as shorthand to represent
Calvinism, but these misrepresent the breadth and depth of
Calvin's teaching, as well as that of the Reformation. The
best summary of Calvinism would be the Westminster Confession of
Faith along with its Larger and Shorter Catechisms, although it and Calvin
would differ on some matters.
Canon, canonicity: the issue of what
books should be included as Holy Scripture. Actually, this
issue is settled. There are 66 books that are orthodox to
all Christians. Sometimes, on this website I refer to
these books as the "agreed-upon Bible." This issue is
foundational to a Biblical epistemology; it determines what is
truth (the included books) and what is not truth (all other
writings). Truth is not found anywhere else.
Here is a great article that we may know that we have
all the Canon.
Capitalism: the term does not appear
in Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language, in
spite of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations being written in
1776 which demonstrates its ideation is modernity. Essentially,
capitalism is the free exchange of goods and services without
government interference. Prior to the Declaration of
Independence, the "inalienable rights of man" were "life,
liberty, and property." Without ownership of property, any
man is only debtor (slave) to another. The modern idea of
a commune is a violation of the Eighth Commandment, for
how can theft occur without ownership in the first place?
Markets can never be entirely free, as there are obligations of
individuals and businesses to the state, e.g., taxes for a just
war, but the latter should be minimal and the obligation placed
upon the state to prove their interest overrides that of those
governed. One obligation that Christians often overlook
are the moral obligations of "superiors" to "inferiors" and vice
versa. (For a great explanation of these interests, see
the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q/A 123-133.) But,
neither is the system itself inherently evil, as many
postmodernists are want to deconstruct. The godless
elevation of individuality and capitalism of Ayn Rand is to be
condemned, as well as, impractical. Thus,her tragic
personal life illustrates.
Cartesian dualism: see dualism.
Categorical imperative: see Kant's
Category: see classification.
Cause and effect: One of the most
interesting and complex concepts in philosophy. Cause and
effect in everyday life seems straightforward: the world rotates
and the sun comes up, one flips the electric switch and the
light comes on, and "what goes up, must come down." Each
day would be chaos, if these events and hundreds of others were
not predictable. However, these events are far more
complicated than they appear. Virtually the entire solar
system, even the universe must be in almost perfect balance for
the "sun to rise" each morning—an almost endless series of
causes and effects in themselves. Then, consider the
complex structures necessary for the light bulb to receive
electricity and "burn"—the generator, power lines, and the light
bulb: their manufacture and continual operation. Then,
electricity becomes even more complex at a cellular, atomic, and
subatomic level. Any of these links in the chain can
prevent the particular "cause and effect." Indeed, one
finally has to see an "invisible hand" that keeps all these
forces in balance—the hand of God. "In Him we live and
move and have our being" (Acts 17:25). "All things are
upheld by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).
Four particular problems are present in "cause and effect."
(1) Mind and body. How mind (immaterial) affects body
(material) is an ongoing mystery in philosophy. However,
as we have seen, God's power and plan and sustain all that is,
making the relationship between mind and body simply another
relationship in this plan. Indeed, in God's universe the
spiritual world is foundational to physical world, "the evidence
of things not seen" (Hebrews 12:1-2). (2) Miracles.
Miracles interrupt cause and effect. The conception of
Jesus Christ was a miracle that superceded the normal union of
egg and sperm. Miracles within God's universe are simply
His choosing to override His own "cause and effect" for His own
glory. They are "supernatural" from our vantage point, but
not from His. (3) The black swan. All swans
are white... until one encounters a black swan. Black
swans are interruptions of usual cause and effect. There
are 50,000 airline flights a day around the world—rarely do they
crash—but they do. In humans, most conceptions are a
smooth transfer of maternal and paternal genes—but there are
genetic defects that do occur. (4) Chaos and quantum
theory. These concepts have virtually destroyed an
historical understanding of cause and effect. These events
are seemingly random and unpredictable, yet there is an
incredible, but not absolute, orderliness and predictability in
the universe to the extent that man is able to (mostly) know
what to expect from nature from day to day.
Cause and effect is severely problematic in humans.
Some adults follow evil behaviors in spite of "normal"
upbringing. A man divorces his wife after 25 years of
marriage. A penicillin injection cures most patients when
used properly, but an allergic reaction may maim or kill.
There are virtually no drugs or procedures that are one-hundred
percent effective. In an impersonal universe, cause and
effect can only be seen as "fate" or random events. In a
Personal universe of the Biblical God, nothing is random but
worked together for His will (Ephesians 1:11).
Certainty: a psychological and possibly reasoned state in
which one will have varying degrees of willingness to speak or act.
Certainty was a major goal of the Enlightenment Project based
upon empiricism and/or rationalism, of which Descartes is considered the
"Father." Fro a more thorough discussion, see
Certainty by John Frame.
Certainty of death.The greatest certainty in life is the impending
death of every person. Philosophers can speculate at length about
epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, but death is the great issue of
life. Whether one speculates about creation or evolution, reason
vs. faith, realism vs. idealism, materialism vs. spiritualism, or any
other of the ongoing debates within philosophy, death is always reality—up
close and very personal. Not only is death the specter
towards the end of one's life, but disease and death in babies,
children, and young adults remind each person that even the remainder of
a current day has no guarantee, regardless of age. If death is
recognized for what it is, then the sober-minded person will
seriously consider the various possibilities of the meaning of
life and what happens after death. "It is appointed unto
to man once to die, and after that the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
Certitude: the subjective condition of being
certain, as opposed to certainty which concerns
coherence of argument for a belief. While philosophers
make a distinction between certainty and certitude, there is
really no difference. Michael Polanyi in his book,
Personal Knowledge, and in other books, destroys the notion
of any knowledge being objective, even the "hard science" of
physics! All knowledge is understood by a person, not a
book, computer, or other thing. Persons have degrees of
certainty; nothing else does.
randomness without order or law. The
evolutionists have been granted too much with their concept of
chance. In common language, chance has prescribed
boundaries, as in games of chance: cards in a deck are limited
to 52, a roulette wheel has 39 slots, dice have 6 sides, etc.
Or, the chance that it might rain tomorrow is limited to weather
patterns. The chance of a stock market crash has a limited
number of factors. However, chance "in the beginning," there
would be nothingness. But "in the beginning," there would
be no organization of any atom or molecule and no possibility
that there would ever be any structure of any kind.
"Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could." The
importance of Biblical creation as ex nihilo destroys
evolution before the idea can ever even be conceived!
Probability (as in "statistically significant")
has no place in a chance universe. Chance and probability
are incoherent, yet probability is the basis of modern
science, especially in medicine. Thus, evolution by chance
is antithetical to the very basis of modern science—that past
data can lead to accurate predictions. That most modern
scientists have a dogmatic belief in evolution contradicts their
own science! Thus, the supposedly "most rational"
endeavors of modern scholarship, that of the natural sciences,
believes that their system has its origin in irrationality.
Belief in anything! "If
you believe in chance, you will believe that anything is
possible, except God, Who is the antithesis of chance." (Rousas
Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction, 498)
Person or mind: Another way
to think of chance is the absence of mind or control. A
person plans and tries to control his universe. If that
person is omnipotent, then chance disappears. Chance
cannot appear in a universe controlled by an omnipotent person.
All actions (movement of power) are controlled by definition and
by necessity. Thus, a universe of chance is a universe
without an omnipotent Person and without mind. Actually,
on this basis total chance is nothing—as
God created ex nihilo—out of nothing.
Chaos theory: a theory developed in the
latter 20th century because the laws and “regularity”
of the universe had been long known to have variations from the
supposed “norm” that were entirely unpredictable on a long-term
basis. Thus, laws and
regularity are operationally useful, but they can produce
powerful unpredictable effects far removed from their immediate
effect. The frequent
example is the flapping of a butterfly’s wings that contribute
to a major weather disturbance on the other side of the earth.
Another example are
weather forecasts which are fairly accurate out to 7-10 days
only. Biblically, if
true, chaos theory destroys the Newtonian-Lamarkian mechanical
determinism that has dominated science for several centuries.
Chaos theory, along with
quantum theory, are perhaps the most powerful arguments from
naturalistic science for forces that do not entirely conform to
natural laws. It is not an
explanation for free will because human decisions are influenced
far more powerfully by spiritual factors, than physical factors.
For more, see this
Cheung, Vincent: virtually
independently operating theologian with great insight, wisdom,
and logical thought. Go to
Chomsky, Noam: a modern linguist whose
theory and research stand solidly for an a priori or
innate structure of language that would be most coherently
explained by man's being created in the image of God, Christ as
logos, and other principles of Biblical
anthropology. Chomsky is a convinced naturalist and
political activist, so his generative grammar
should in no way be considered an endorsement of any of his
opinions outside of his expertise in language.
Nevertheless, a Biblical theism must acknowledge the science
that best conforms to its principles. ( For an excellent
discussion of language and its relevance to Biblical theism, see
Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority,
Vol. III, 325-346)
Christian: See discussion
Christian rationalism: see Dogmatism
and Gordon H. Clark
Christianity: (1) A broad classification
that includes beliefs from the humanism of Universalism, the
false testimony of Joseph Smith (Mormon), the re-sacrifice of
the mass in Roman Catholicism, the Biblical Christianity of the
Westminster Confession of Faith, and everything in between.
All except the last one represent some degree of error or
heresy. (2) Belief in the infallibility and total
sufficiency of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible. As a
system, it is best represented in the Westminster Confession of
Faith and its catechisms. The central message of this
system is The Creation Mandate and The Great Commission.
Church: the church is related to philosophy
as: (1) a body of regenerate people whose
orientation is to follow the ethical teachings of the Bible
(righteousness) in families, institutional churches, and
society; (2) an institution with sovereign powers of admission
and excommunication according to right or wrong beliefs of its
members, which unfortunately is made up of the regenerate and
unregenerate ("wheat and tares")—the other sovereign
institutions being the family and the civil government; (3) the
primary teacher and organizing force of the regenerate in their
understanding of the universe (metaphysics) and knowledge
(epistemology); (4) should always, as an institution, be
separate from civil government (while individual members should
help shape legal policy); (5) consists of all institutions with
orthodox beliefs (Apostle's Creed, Nicene
Creed, Creed of Chalcedon, etc.)., primarily belief in the
Church-science conflict: see
Circularity, circular reasoning, circular argument:
A process that is inescapable when a person argues from
basic beliefs with another person who has
different basic beliefs. Both a Biblical system and a
naturalistic system are antithetical to each other.
Arguments that are acceptable within one system can only be seen
as circular. See basic beliefs
for more discussion. Thus, all arguments are circular and
dependent upon the worldview that the individual or group
sum total of a society's spiritual, intellectual, ethical, and
institutional values, which in varying degrees will permit those
living in it to develop as completely and harmoniously as
What Is Civilization? Civilization is a concept which
must be re-thought within a Biblical worldview. Great
architecture, substantive writing, structured government, and
other entities (the commonly accepted criteria of
"civilization") along with the presence of human sacrifice and
child abandonment (as was present in "the grandeur that was
Greece and the glory that was Rome") does not qualify as being
"civilized." A civilization must have some consistent
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Clark, Gordon H. See dogmatism
and Gordon H. Clark. I believe that Dr. Clark
will someday be recognized as the greatest Christian
philosopher—ever! (Unless God raises up someone after his
Clark-Van Til controversy: This episode is
one of the great tragedies of Christian history. Gordon
Clark was ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of which
Cornelius Van Til was a teaching elder in the 1940s. Van
Til with twelve others made a complaint against Clark's
ordination on disagreements over the "incomprehensibility" of
God primarily and secondarily over other issues. John
Frame states that neither Clark nor Van Til was "at his best,"
personally nor in their explanations. Frame further states
that "truth was the great loser in this battle." Working
together, Clark and Van Til could have been far more powerful
than working independently. Their failure at
reconciliation both personally, theologically, and
philosophically says much about personal pride prohibiting
rational thinking and discourse. Most certainly, if the
pride had been overcome on both sides, the rational issues could
have been resolved. (John Frame, Cornelius Van Til,
97-114; Herman Hoeksema, The Clark-Van Til Controversy)
Classical education: see Greek
Classical foundationalism: see
Classical theism: See theism,
“On one major base, some sort of theory of Ideas stands
Unless we can use concepts and talk of groups of things,
philosophy (nay any communication at all—Ed)
would not be possible.
If only individual things existed, and every noun were a
proper name, conversation and even thinking itself could not be
carried on. Neither
the medieval nominalists nor Bishop Berkeley, who tried to get
along without abstract ideas, were able to explain the reason
why we classify men as men and horses as horses.
Classification requires ideas, and zoology requires
Cubes vary infinitely in size, but they all have the same
identical shape. Not
only are the ellipses and parabolas, but there is also an
invisible, eternal, unchangeable general conic.
Theology, too, uses the classes Jew and Gentile, saint,
and sinner, not to mention God and man.
All thought and speech depend on classification, and no
epistemology can succeed without something like the Platonic
Ideas.” (Gordon Clark,
Philosophy of Gordon Clark, page 28.) Synonyms:
Cognition: all actions of the mind
(judgment, memory, reflection, imagination, etc.). See
mind, brain, soul, spirit..
Coherence: the internal consistency of a system of
thought (mind), as determined by all the
processes of reason (definition, logic, grammar, etc).
Interestingly, only a system that is based upon a Biblical
epistemology meets this criteria. Unfortunately, few
Christians ever understand this Biblical system in a complete
form that will demonstrate its coherence.
Coherence test of truth: a traditional
test of truth based upon the logical agreement, consistency, and
coherence within a worldview or philosophical
system. Only knowledge and truth that are coherent with a
Biblical system can meet this criterion. All other systems
will have a considerable degree of incoherence.
Common sense, common knowledge, common sense philosophy, common sense
realism, Reidian philosophy: "Some knowledge is
'self-evident'—that is, forced upon us
simply by the way human nature is constituted. As a
result, no one really doubts or denies it. It is part of
immediately, undeniable experience. For example, no one
really doubts that he or she exists (not in practice, at
least).. No one doubts the material world is real (we all
look both ways before crossing the street). No we doubt
our inner experiences like memories or pain.... if anyone does
deny these basic facts, we call him insane or a philosopher."
(Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, 297) See
Scottish Realism. (Ed: The problem is that there is no
composite standard by which to determine which common sense
beliefs are valid and which are not. No two people, much
less the entire human race, agree on what the common sense
principles are. One wonders how this approach ever had the
influence that it did.)
"Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally
distributed, for everybody thinks himself so abundantly provided
with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other
matters do not commonly desire more of it than they already
Descartes, A Discourse in Method, quoted in
Irving Copi, Introduction to Logic, page 17. (Ed:
Does more need to be said about the invalidity of common sense
or its philosophy? Common sense philosophy is an extreme
One thing needs to be said in defense of this approach—it
works quite well. We carry on conversations, even as you
are reading this definition, and communicate quite well.
Without it, daily discourse would fail. But the process
itself fails to establish truth, just as any other form of
pragmatism does. Pragmatism does not work for the same
reason—there is no common agreement on what "works" means in the
sense of right and wrong (ethics). Common sense does not
tell you specifically what is "right" (good or moral) and what
is wrong (evil or immoral).
Communication: see language.
The belief that free will (in its common and philosophical use)
and God's Sovereignty are "compatible." This position is
Biblical and logical nonsense. If God is omnipotent, then
no "effect" can occur without His "cause," else He has given up
some of His "all" power to someone or something else, making Him
no longer have it "all." Fore-seeing is not "compatible"
with "fore-directing." Biblically, God works all things
according to His own will (Ephesians 1:11), and as the Potter
demonstrates His wrath on those whom He decides should receive
it for His glory (Romans 9). See author of sin,
evil (God as) and free will.
Comprehensibility of God:
Too many systematic theologies, other books, and teaching start
with the in-comprehensibility of God. However, with
several hundred names of Himself in Scripture, His plan of
salvation, and His eternal plan revealed in His Word, surely "we
have (a great deal of) the mind of Christ" (II Corinthians
2:16). And just as surely, we do not want to minimize how
"high his thoughts are above our thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
But from a Christian perspective, the
comprehensibility of God should be our focus, more
than His incomprehensibility. "But these have been written
so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God; and that believing you may have life in His name" (John
20:31). Many errant philosophies and theologies could and
should be corrected with what is comprehensible about God and
His Word to mankind. For a great discussion of this issue,
Concept: simply a statement, proposition, or
definition. A concept is not abstract,
although the process of forming a concept may be called an
"Conflict thesis is the theoretical premise of an intrinsic
conflict between science and religion. The term was originally
used in a historical context: its proponents claim the
historical record is evidence of religion's perpetual opposition
to science. Later uses of the term may refer to
Conscience: Conscience is simply, the act of thinking
(judging) about moral norms. It does not differ from other
acts of rational thought except in its subject matter.
(See Gordon Clark,
The Biblical Doctrine of Man, page 55.)
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Contextual absolutism: "in each and every
ethical situation, no matter how extreme, there is a course of
action that is morally right and free of sin.... the moral
absolutes of Scripture need to be understood and applied within
their proper context." (John Jefferson Davis,
Evangelical Ethics, 20-21) One Biblical example is
that of the apostles preaching, in spite of Jewish prohibition
(Acts 5). Another might be voting for one of two or more
politicians, none of whom are really desirable, but one may have
a few moral qualities or do less less damage than other
Continuous creation: a theory of Augustine
and Jonathan Edwards that God creates ex nihilo every
moment of experience, there being no link between each creation
except for the connected flow of history and experience.
Conversion: the movement of a person
from one belief system to another.
(1) For most Christians, conversion is the observable act
regeneration: a pagan changes his belief from a former way
(atheism, agnosticism, egoism, Buddhism, etc. or even an
unorganized, mixture of beliefs) to the Scriptures as the truth
that reveals God’s plan for mankind and his world.
perhaps more than any other epistemologist, discusses
“conversion” in a non-Christian, scientific context.
On a multi-person or
community level, there are many similarities to Thomas Kuhn’s
“paradigm shift.” While
the subject matter of this latter form of conversion is entirely
different, and perhaps without the emotional components, the
psychological mechanism is the same. See
Correspondence test of truth: The proximity of a
thought to reality (truth), or "what is." Truth is God's
revelation in Scripture with its application to every area of
knowledge, so truth can be tested by its "correspondence" to
Scripture. In secular philosophy, correspondence has
traditionally been one test of truth, but since there is no
agreed-upon reality, there is no standard by which any thing or
moral truth can be judged to "correspond."
Cosmic personalism: the true character
of the universe. The universe is not a cold, stark, blind
product of chance, but the creation of a Person,
therefore, personal. This omnipotent, omniscient,
and all-wise God "works all things according to the counsel of
His will" (Ephesians 1:11). "All things are upheld by the
word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). "In Him we live and move
and have our being" (Acts 17:28). He is personally
in control, avoiding fatalism. He is
immanent in the cosmos, yet transcendent (avoiding
pantheism and panentheism).
(I give credit to Gary North for this
term in his book, The Creation Mandate. See
Two religions (belief systems): (1)
cosmic personalism or (2) the autonomy and
self-creation of the
universe. One is personal; the other is a stark, naked,
purposeless, and viciously void of conscience. Either the
universe is omnipotent or the God of the Bible is omnipotent.
The autonomous universe is random purposeless (thus, evolution
by chance). God has purposed all things. The
universe is uncaring and merciless; God is long-suffering with
his loving-kindness (hesed). For more on
these two religions, see
Cosmology: the study of the origin and
workings of the universe. Biblical cosmology is
cosmic personalism. (See above.)
Cosmos: see kosmos.
Creation: "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth" ex nihilo—out of nothing.
But, He is still immanent in the ongoing events of the material
universe and all living things. See cosmic
Creation Day: the designation for the
"evening and morning" of Creation Week, coined by this Ed.
The first six days of Creation were miraculous. Miracles
are not subject to time and other natural "laws."
Therefore, there is no "length" of time for each day. Each
Creation Day should be defined by the events of that day, not by
a period of time. See Bible
Verses - Genesis 1:5 for a little more explanation.
Creation, Biblical: (1) the act, or (2) the product of
the act. Christian orthodoxy declares that God created all
things ex nihilo: spiritual (angels, demons,
worshipping creatures in Heaven), physical (the universe and
plants), and spiritual-physical beings (humans and animals) in
six days. Genesis 1:1 establishes Biblical metaphysics,
ontology, cosmology, and any other term relatively synonymous
with this concept. This creation is sustained by Him and
He is immanent in it, but He remains distinct from it
(transcendent) in contrast to Deism, Pantheism, or panentheism.
"The view that the world began has its only source in Biblical
revelation." (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, 231)
Mandate was given by God to all men and women to
achieve as both families and in social structures. The
Fall of man and the Flood greatly affected the course of this
creation. God created it "very good," but these two events
made it abnormal and "groan" for regeneration (Matthew 19:28;
Romans 8:22). Man only is created in the image of God
which is primarily his ability to think, reason, and
communicate. This creation was by the Trinity of Persons.
After the Fall, God enacts a plan of salvation (soteriology) for
man that will culminate in heaven for those whom He calls and
hell whom He does not choose. Natural laws are concluded
from the observations of the orderly universe. The
inductive (empirical, experimental) method in Natural
Revelation, under the clarity and deduction of Special
Revelation, is the method by which the Creation Mandate
is to be effected. The hypostasis of creation is
spirit, as God is spirit first in time and ontological priority.
Creation Mandate is he
sum of God's decrees given to mankind before his Fall.
These are (1) "the procreation of offspring, (2) the
replenishing of the earth, (3) subduing the same, (4) dominion
of the creatures, (5) labor, (6) the weekly Sabbath, and (7)
marriage." (John Murray, Principles of Conduct,
page 27). The Creation Mandates
should be linked to The Great Commission, which includes "make
disciples of all the nations" and "teaching them to observe all
things that I have commanded you... all authority in heaven and
earth" (Matthew 28:19-20). They can also be linked to The
Lord's Prayer in "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth
as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). In essence, The
Creation Mandate, The Great Commission, The Kingdom of God,
Biblical Worldview, Biblical ethics, and The Two Great
are one and the same.
Creationism, creation science, scientific creationism:
A modern understanding of science that is developed and taught
by Christians and considered to be compatible with the Biblical
account of Creation and The Flood. As empirical science,
it is interesting and helpful to Christians, but it is not
truth—it is only probability or possibly true. As theories of science
change, creation science is subject to change, as well.
Indeed, not all creation scientists agree among themselves. For
more on this subject,
Creator: God created ex nihilo;
therefore, all answers of metaphysics are "that is the way
that God created things to be and to do!"
Credulity: A willingness to believe with little
evidence. Biblical Christianity is not credulous with its
historicity, world-changing effects, its correspondence to
reality, its non-conflicting ethics, etc. Modern Biblical
apologetics has assembled an enormous body of evidences of
Biblical faith. The problem to unbelievers is not the
evidence, but their being unregenerate. Belief in
Scripture and thus God's plan of salvation is to embrace a
rational system with rational evidences, not a "leap of faith."
Creed: see doctrine, "no creed but
Cultural Mandate: See Creation
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Darwin, Charles (1809-1882): See
skepticism. Charles Darwin was a skeptic to his
own belief in evolution!
the Biblical definition of death
is separation from a another state of existence. There are
four types of death found in the Bible. 1) Separation from self, other
people, and God because of the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis
2:17, 3:7, 9-11, 23) and one's own sins. 2) Separation
from this sinful way of life (the "flesh" or "old man") upon
regeneration, profession of faith, and repentance. 3)
Physical death, when our soul/spirit is separated from the
physical body. 4) The Second Death, the most terrible
punishment of being separated from God and the fellowship of any
other living person forever (Revelation 20:14, 21:8).
Man's greatest fear is the fear of death (I Corinthians 15:26;
Hebrews 2:15)—this fear is manifested in
his aberrant want for medical care. "The last enemy that will be destroyed is
death" (I Corinthians 15:26): "when faith quickens the soul
of a man, death already has its sting extracted and its venom
removed, and so cannot inflict a deadly wound" (John Calvin's
commentary on John 8:51). Thus, in heaven there will
be no separation from our true selves, others, and God Himself.
Greatest issue: For
philosophy, physical death is the greatest certainty in epistemology and
the reason to investigate religious and philosophical claims
with some urgency and comprehensiveness. Philosophers who
are not Biblically based are anti-God and pro-death: "All those
who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:36). See
While "religions" are endlessly complex, eternal destinies are
not. There are only three possibilities: Heaven and Hell,
nothing (naturalist worldview), and some form of reincarnation
without conscious identity.
Definition: the inclusive and
exclusive meaning of a word that is historically and culturally
situated in both the individual and community. If a word
means everything, it means nothing. (See religion
herein.) Thus, there is not such thing as a "square circle."
Words change meaning significantly over time and in various
cultures. For example, "culture" and "art" do not appear
in Webster's 1828 Dictionary. Even spellings
change, as will be apparent to anyone who has read original
writings in English over two centuries ago. Definition is
similar to the atomic table except that it involves tens of
thousands of basic units (words) and are not as strictly
limited, as almost every word has more than one meaning.
Descartes, René (1596-1650):
considered the Father of Modern Philosophy. Curiously,
that philosophy is almost entirely non-Christian, but many may
not know that after coming to his cogito, "I think;
therefore, I am," he based his foundation for reasoning upon the
perfection God. For more on this matter, see
An Irony of History. Descartes also "spoke of God as
maintaining the vast machine by his 'general concourse,' and
even recreating it constantly because of the supposed
discreteness of temporal moments." (E. A. Burtt, The
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 2003 Dover
Edition, page 292) Further, he said that mathematical laws
sought by science were legislated by God in the same manner as a
king ordains laws in his realm. (Pearcy and Thaxton,
The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy,
Deduction The method in formal logic of
reasoning by syllogism. If the premises are true, and the
method valid, then the conclusions are necessarily true.
Valid deduction may be applied to Scripture to derive
conclusions that are as true as the statements of Scripture
itself, e.g., the Trinity. See Westminster Confession of
Faith, Chapter 1, Section 6.
Devolution: the descent of man, rather than
ascent. Man was created imago Dei, in the
image of God. He disobeyed and fell. His Fall
severely defaced that image, such that he is "devolving," rather
than "evolving." Demonstration of this fact resides in the
educational ability of men of 200 years ago, compared to the
present. Yes, we have technology, but they had powerful
memories and powers of reasoning that are not present today.
Dialectic: (1)Reasoning by means of
dialogue, discussion, debate, or argument with others—the method
of Socrates. One's ideas are frequently modified by this
process through the ideas of others that may agree, disagree, or
be completely opposite to one's own ideas. The process of
thesis-antithesis-synthesis is more ideal, than actual.
While a dialectical process is one method of learning, absolutes
cannot exist in that process. Also, a position may be
decided by a process of dialectic, but not subject to further
revision. Thus, the dialectical process does not
necessarily continue with every subject. (2) In the Middle
Ages, dialectic was the term for logic or simple inquiry into a
matter of philosophy. (3) The means by which a philosopher
expresses himself. Plato wrote dialogues to express his
thoughts indirectly. Kierkegaard wrote under
pseudonyms—discourses by different characters who took stances
on various subjects that both agreed and opposed his own
thinking. See "dialectic"
Dialectical materialism: Hegel developed the
thesis-antithesis-synthesis of his Absolute (Giest or
Begriff) as pure idealism, that is, mind-spirit is the
all-encompassing reality with the material as simply a manifestation of
the mind. Marx opposed Hegel, his immediate predecessor,
in that all that exists is a manifestation of the
physical-material world of inanimate and animate objects.
Marx kept Hegel's dialectic, but for Marx the dialectic then
became material (physical), thus "dialectic materialism."
The mind is an epi-phenomenon of the material-physical brain.
Ding an sich: German for "thing in
itself." This term originated with Kant for whom the
ding an sich could not be known. On this one concept,
he was correct. All that a Christian can say about an
object is that God created it. We can know its
characteristics: for example, an atom has electrons, protons,
neutrons, and other sub-atomic particles. We can know much
about their behaviors, but we can only say that they function
this way because God made them that way. There is no
natural phenomenom "in itself" to explain those functions and
behaviors. This understanding is not a "God of the gaps,"
but a God of the whole "in whom we (and all that exists) live
and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). See
Divine command theory: see
Doctrine: (1) faith or
belief; (2) formally, a proposition or delineated system of a
recognized group, such as Humanist Manifesto II or the
Westminster Confession of Faith. In common parlance, and
perhaps in careless scholarly discourse, a contrast is made
between beliefs of an individual and formal systems.
However, neither is more "properly basic" nor
less influential on an individual's thoughts and actions.
For example, by any reasonable judgment, ""No creed but Christ"
is as much doctrine as the creeds at which the statement aims.
Dogma: see doctrine.
Dogmatism, Biblical: "That method
of procedure that tries to systematize beliefs concerning God,
science, immortality, etc. on the basis of information divinely
revealed in the sacred writings." (Clark, Christian
Philosophy, page 19). Clark also accepted the
synonyms of "Biblical presuppositionalism," "Christian
rationalism," "Scripturalism," and "axiom" of Scripture.
(Gary Crampton, The Scripturalism of Gordon Clark, 27)
John Frame has written "In Defense of Something Close to
here.) One should note that dogmatism is no more than
the beginning point of faith and presupposition, that is, one's
first principle—Biblical foundationalism.
Dooyeweerd, Herman (1894-1977). A
neo-Calvinist whose thought is associated with
a thoroughgoing, Reformed worldview, known as the "cosmonomic
idea" and embodied in the Toronto Institute for Christian
Studies. While their goals were notable, they deviated
from Scripture as their final and ultimate authority. For
further study, read a summary of the issues in
Machen's Warrior Children under "Philosophy" (Number 5), or
a more lengthy discussion,
"Dooyeweerd and the Word of God" and
The Toronto School.
Doubt: since all knowledge is
faith-based, doubt is merely the shifting of one's faith to
other foundations (object, person, source of truth, etc.).
With no agreement among epistemologies for over 2500 years, and
a general consensus that foundationalism is impossible,
the basic beliefs in which a person trusts is a personal choice.
Doubt for the Christian is trusting in epistemologies other than
God in the 66 agreed-upon books of the Bible. When
doubt forms in a Christian, he has shifted his faith to other
epistemologies that are far weaker rationally, logically,
historically, and emotionally. The choice between "Thus
says the Lord" vs. "Thus says man" seems obvious.
Sin: Doubt for a Christian may
arise because of personal sin. This focus is not an
epistemological issue, but a psychological-spiritual one.
Its answers lie in an understanding of true and emotional guilt, justification by faith
and the sanctification process. Its imperative is found in
Romans 14:23. Doubt may also be a means by which one
diminishes or justifies personal sin.
Doubt is a synonym for belief: "The doubting
of any explicit statement merely implies an attempt t deny the
belief expressed by the statement, in favor of other beliefs
which are not doubted for the time being." Thus, "I doubt
p (any statement of belief, e.g., "All men are mortal,"
simply means that I believe non-p." I
believe the opposite of p. (M. Polanyi,
Personal Knowledge, 272. Polanyi follows this
statement with 65 pages of possibly the best discussion of the
nature of knowledge, faith, and doubt every written.)
of Christianity. "The
belief in the efficacy of doubt as a solvent of error was
sustained primarily—from Hume to Russell—by skepticism about
religious dogma and the dislike of religious bigotry. This has
been the dominant passion of critical thought for centuries, in
the course of which it has completely transformed man’s outlook
on the universe." (Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 279)
or substance dualism. The metaphysical position that the
universe consists of two realities: that which is physical and
that which is spiritual. God, angels, and demons are pure
spirit. All non-living things in the universe are purely
physical. Animals have a kind of spirit (soul)—Ecclesiastes
3:21. Man has another that is created in the image of
God—Genesis 1:26. This image represents primarily, if not
entirely, man's mind: the ability to think, reason, and
remember. God, as Spirit, existed before anything physical
which He created ex nihilo—Genesis 1:1.
Everything physical is maintained by by that same Spirit—Hebrews
1:3. Thus, the ultimate reality is spiritual or Spirit,
Man is the unique creature in the universe,
having both physical (body, material) and spiritual (soul, mind,
heart) components. Jesus Christ was both fully God and
fully man. Thus, the dualism of man, as described here, is
orthodox (Biblical), Christian doctrine. Those Christians
who posit that man is only a physical being with mind being some
sort of epiphenomenon are in serious error, if not heresy.
Neither neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, nor any other
finding of natural science (empiricism) has any epistemological
justification to supplant Scripture in its anthropology,
especially soteriology, or any other clearly defined Biblical
Within this structure, thought (ideas,
concepts, hypotheses, etc.) exist independently of any material
or physical influence. This domain is more "real" than the
physical world. On this basis epiphenomenalism is
decidedly erroneous, if not heresy.
(2) Greek dualism.
"(One) of the views that were current in Greek philosophy.
In the form of Gnosticism, it found entrance into the early
Church. It assumes the existence of an eternal principle
of evil, and holds that in man the spirit represents the
principle of good, and the body, that of evil. It is
objectionable for several reasons: (a) The position is
philosophically untenable, that there is something outside of
God that is eternal and independent of His will. (b) This
theory robs sin of its ethical character by making it something
purely physical and independent of the human will, and thereby
really destroys the idea of sin. (c) It also does away
with the responsibility of man by representing sin as a physical
necessity. The only escape from sin lies in deliverance
from the body." (Berkhof, Systematic Theology,
(3) Scholastic dualism or "All truth
is God's truth" and "integration." The view of the
Scholastics in general and Thomas Aquinas in particular about
natural and special revelation. "He (they) recognized,
besides the structure reared by faith on the basis of
supernatural revelation, a system of scientific theology on the
foundation of natural revelation. In the former one
assents to something because it is revealed, in the latter
because it is perceived in the light of natural reason.
The logical demonstration, which is out of the question in the
one, is the natural method of proof in the other." (Louis
Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pages 37-38) This
position has also been called "the two-fold" theory of truth or
"upper story" and "lower story" truth. There was no way to
resolve conflicts over "truth" in each category. A
modern version of this dualism is that "all truth is God's
truth," when the speaker equates natural or empirical "truth"
with Biblical truth. This modern edition also goes under
the name, "integration." This dualism is especially
prevalent among Christians in psychology and other "social"
(4) Cartesian dualism or substance
At a superficial level, it is the same as Biblical dualism.
However, Descartes did not work from a consistent and
comprehensive Biblical foundation, so
body and soul do not mean the same to him as in a Biblical
understanding. Nevertheless, the mind is spiritual
(immaterial) and the body is material. Descartes used the
terms "extended substance" and "thinking substance."
In addition, Descartes did not seem to postulate the extensive
interdependency of mind-brain that is necessary to explain
neurophysiology and spiritual mind in this connection being only
through the tiny pineal gland.
(5) Sacred/secular dualism: a
division exists between the world that is governed by men and
their ideas and that which is governed by God and His Church.
This dualism is prominent in the Roman Catholic Church beginning
with the Scholastics and continuing to modern times. The
Reformation, and especially the Puritans, saw that every sphere
of life, whether church or social, was a calling of the
Christian. The Creation Mandate and
The Great Commission calls every Christian to
think and act Biblically and claim dominion for the Kingdom of
God, advancing in history.
(6) Epistemological dualism:
the view that the "objects out there" are in some ways or
entirely different than what the mind constructs of their
representations to it. Kant stated that the mind could not
know the "thing-in-itself," but only the a priori
representations of the object to the mind.
(7) Dualism in philosophy of mind.
All non-Christians and many Christians would posit
something "anti-material" in place of the Biblical soul/spirit,
thus not affirming #1 above. What those "anti-materials is
too complex to discuss here.
Duhem's conception of science: "simply a
device for calculating... a deductive system that is systematic,
economical, and predictive, but not one that represents the deep
underlying nature of reality. Duhem... thought that such
representation was only achieved by rational thought." (Oxford
Dictionary of Philosophy, "Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem)
"Duhem's name is given to the under-determination or Duhem-Quine
thesis, which holds that for any given set of observations there
is an innumerably large number of explanations. It is, in
essence, the same as Hume's critique of induction: all three
variants point at the fact that empirical evidence cannot
force the choice of a theory or its revision." (reference)
Duhem (or Duhem-Quine) thesis: "The thesis
that a single scientific hypothesis cannot be tested in
isolation, since other, auxiliary hypotheses will always be
needed to draw empirical consequences from it." (Oxford
Dictionary of Philosophy, "Duhem thesis") This view
would be consistent with the unity of a universe created by one
Mind—the God of Scripture."
"Suppose two theories are being compared and
tested against experimental data in such a way that the data
appear to confirm one of the theories better than the other
(Ed-one of the most common approaches in science).... The
data do no such thing.... With sufficient adjustment, both
theories could have accommodated all the experimental results,
and it is difficult if not impossible, to state general criteria
for when such adjustments are inappropriate.... Theory
assessment is a multifaceted affair, and theories simply are
not chosen on empirical grounds.... Theories are not tested
in isolation but in conjunction with a whole system of auxiliary
theories about instruments, or other physical phenomena beside
the ones under investigation. (Ed: This thesis is also
known as "conventionalism" and "pragmatism., as noted by the
author, J. P. Moreland, Christianity and the Nature
of Science, 1989, page 83—Ed's emphases)
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Education: the life-long pursuit of wisdom
and knowledge, necessarily dependent upon one's Christian or
non-Christian beliefs. That most Christian parents turn
their children over to an anti-Christian, public school system
is startling evidence of their not understanding what education
is. Education is inescapably, unavoidably, necessarily
dependent upon one's "religious" beliefs. See
Summary Principles of Education.
Emergence: the greater effect of a
whole than the individual effects of its parts. An atom
has characteristics that none of its subatomic particles has.
Sodium chloride (table salt) is totally different from sodium
and chloride as elements that are dangerous to life and health.
Naturalism has no explanation for emergence. This
phenomenon may only be understood according to God's creative
design, not from the physical properties of the "lower" level
parts. See supervenience.
The supernatural in plain sight.
Because emergence results in properties which are often
considerably beyond those of constituent parts, what explanation
is to be given except that the Creator has supernaturally, that
is, exceeded naturalistic phenomena? Thus, the existence
of "super-nature" is "hidden in plain sight," in the functions
of the universe!
momentary (acute) and ongoing (chronic, continuous) disturbance
within the mind (soul, spirit) caused by the discrepancy between
perceived reality and one's desires." (From
A Definition of Emotions.) Positively, emotions result
from the fulfillment of one's desires. Acute emotions
fluctuate considerably in intensity and may cause sudden,
not-thought-out reactions which are often harmful to self and
others. Chronic emotions are more stable and given to
attitudes and actions that are more thought-out and purposeful.
Values, ethics, and worship are derived from these more solidly
Emotivism: "the belief that 'all moral
judgments are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions
of attitude or feeling, insofar as they are moral or evaluative
in character.'" (Alistair McIntyre, After Virtue, page
here) If we did not have the detailed and fully
developed morality of the Scriptures, then this definition would
indeed be descriptive.
Empirical, empiricism: the process by which
observations are made and conclusions are reasoned from those
observations using a priori knowledge or
categories. For example, the sun rises every day from
therefore, the sun will rise tomorrow and every day thereafter.
Empiricism is a synonym for induction and is virtually
equivalent to the scientific method.
Empiricism is a logical fallacy by its very
process, because it cannot examine every condition in the
universe. In our example of the sun rising, both the Bible
and science agree that the sun will not rise forever (although
each gives different "causes" for that failure).
Major Refutation of Empiricism and Its Danger for a Biblical
Worldview for a more detailed understanding of empiricism.
Enlightenment, Enlightenment Project:
Usually, just called the "Enlightenment." However, a major
theme of Alister McGrath is the "failure of the Enlightenment
project" which was the attempt to divorce knowledge and derived
ethics from God and His Revelation—the
attempt to explain the universe and man strictly by his own
reason. That project has failed, creating possibilities
for appeals to and reasoning grounded in the transcendent.
(Alister McGrath, The Open Secret, 12) While
post-modernism is usually seem as a philosophy following the
Enlightenment, it is really only the inevitable conclusion of
the attempt at pure rationalism which is irrationalism.
Eric Voeglin called the enlightenment "The Enlightenment Gnostic
Illegitimate: The Enlightenment Project has not just been
unsuccessful; as a totalizing project, it is inherently
illegitimate. (Merold Westphal commenting on Lyotard,
Overcoming Ontotheology, xiv)
Persons and Person rejected:
what the Enlightenment rejected were individual persons and
their affinities to form groups, in favor of the "herd," loving
mankind and not persons. It also left behind the Person of
God, His Word, and their importance for the "flourishing of
these persons and their convivial groups.
Creation, rather than Creator:
The Enlightenment sought to explore the Creation
through natural revelation, rejecting
special revelation as the authority over all
epistemology, ontology, and ethics.
Epiphenomenonalism: A theory of monistic
materialism that thought and reason is a product of the
physiology of the brain, but that they are not material in
themselves. Usually, if not exclusively, espoused by
Christians and non-Christians who do not believe in an
"immaterial" soul. This belief is inconsistent with
Biblical orthodoxy which clearly and necessarily defines and
describes the mind that is a part of the soul (spirit).
Episteme: one of the Greek
words for knowledge in which justified true belief
for Plato, is perhaps best illustrated in his
Divided Line where one progresses from image, belief, and
opinion, through reasoning to episteme. For
Aristotle, episteme, was "scientific knowledge" in
which science meant systematic and studied
Epistemology: traditionally, how does one
know what he knows? Epistemology looks for grounds on
which to have knowledge that is certain or true. Also,
traditionally, justified true belief (JTB) has
been equated with knowledge since Plato and some of his
predecessors. However, JTB has caused hopeless confusion
as it is too complex to be based upon any concrete concept.
I prefer to consider knowledge as the matter with which the mind
occupies itself. Then, the question becomes where does
knowledge come from: (1) innate, (2) acquired by experience
(observation, reading, education, etc.), and implanted
(mystical). Certainty, truth, and
belief become separate issues. I have discussed
justified true belief briefly below and more fully
Epistemology, Biblical. Synonym of
Epistemology, Reformed. See
Epistemology, Revelational: See
Essence: a thing as it really is;
being. Only God knows this reality. Man can
only describe characteristics, function, and associations of a
existence, real (reality), substance, and true (truth).
Eternal destinies: see death.
Eternal problems of philosophy:
Traditional "questions concerning
the ultimate nature of the real, the existence of God and His
relation to the world, the nature of truth, of goodness and
beauty, and the spirit and destiny of man." (Errol E. Harris,
Nature, Mind, and Science, 3-4) While this
term is infrequent among philosophers, it well describes what
ought to be a central concern. After all, if there are no
"eternal problems," then all problems are temporal. Since
"now" is always moving to the past, temporal problems do not
exist. For more see
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Ethics: "Ethics deals with the voluntary conduct of individual
man insofar as it is judged to be good or bad in reference to a single,
inclusive, and determinative principle of moral value grounded in and
validated by ultimate reality (metaphysics)." Stob, Ethical
Reflections, page 24. "Ultimate reality" and "moral value" are
"grounded" in the agreed-upon Bible. See Ed's work in ethics, see my website
The Bible does not use the word "ethics" or "morality." Instead,
from the Greek stem diké (justice) comes dikiaos
(just, righteous) and dikaiosuné (justification,
righteousness). The casual reader may overlook the
identity of these common Christian words with ethics and
morality. To the classical Greek culture "justice" was one
of the four virtues (with moderation, courage, and wisdom) and a
central concept in their philosophy. In my opinion, the
second most important attribute of God is righteousness (or
justice)—truth being first. Thus, the ethics of the Bible
is identical with justice and righteousness, and perhaps the
most important branch of theology and philosophy. And, or
course, "justification" before God is the most important concern
of the Christian.
Euthyphro dilemma: perhaps, the most important
question in ethics, derived from Plato's dialogue Euthyphro
where Socrates asks Euthyphro whether "the pious loved by the
gods because it is pious, or it is pious because it is loved by
the gods?" In Christian terms, this question is posed as,
"Is 'the good' good in itself or because God declares it good?"
Or, "Is God 'good' (righteous, just, holy) because that it is
His essence or because the good transcends Him, and He chooses
to endorse it in His creation?" Or, in ethical terms, "Are
ethics right because God endorses a higher standard or because
right ethics are what He says they are?" The answers to
the dilemma and these questions are: (1) Rightness
(ethics, goodness, righteousness, justice) is known
through God's Special Revelation because God's essence and one
of His attributes is righteousness. (2) Whatever God says
is right because there is no higher court of appeal; no standard
above God. Since He is omnipotent, there is no other power
to which He is subject.
C. S. Lewis' Tao: for all of
Lewis' great reasoning, he made the mistake of placing the "Tao"
above God in the Abolition of Man. Other
Christians in philosophy, ethics, theology, and other
disciplines have made a similar mistake as well. The
omnipotence and omniscience of God is destroyed, if He is
subject to any other authority or knowledge.
Evangelical: A Christian who believes in the
infallibility (inerrancy) and sufficiency of Scripture as the
ultimate authority for all matters of theology and ethics.
The statement of the Evangelical Theological Society for
membership is that "the Bible alone, and the Bible in its
entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant
in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power
and glory." What is lacking in this statement is that
through the best translations, Christians today have the
very Word of God written, in spite of not having the
Evangelical Philosophical Society: an
organization which by statement of faith has a similar
commitment to inerrancy and infallibility to the Scriptures, as
the Evangelical Theological Society. However, its
publication, Philosophia Christi, rarely has substantive
Biblical content and presentations at its conferences have a
considerable variety of Biblical substance. There is a
practical, if absent theoretical commitment, that philosophy
should be done without reference to, or without substantive
formulation by, Biblical truth. Many in that organization
would deny what I have said here, but their practices
demonstrate otherwise. See my critique of Christians in
Quo Vadis Christian Philosopher?
Evidentialism: The belief by a Christian (1)
that the evidence for Christianity (historical records,
prophecy, empty tomb, etc.) can convince a non-Christian to
covert; “the claim that religious belief is rationally acceptable only if there
are good arguments for it” (Alvin Plantinga, Warranted
Christian Belief, page 82
); (2) that
presuppositions are not necessary; (3) that there are "brute
facts," that is, facts that are indisputable to any rational
person and require no presuppositions; and (4) that ontological,
cosmological, transcendental, and other arguments for God are
Evil: Evil must be
defined from both the perspective of God and man. And, it
cannot be defined without defining what is "good." On that
basis, there are four definitions. (1) God, as wholly good
and omnipotent, is "working all things to the counsel of His own
will" (Ephesians 1:11). Therefore, from that perspective
the universe and all that happens within it are "good," as He is
omnipotent. There is no evil. This world is the
"best of all possible worlds" because it is the only world.
Another name for this good is God's decretive or secret will or
His Providence. "
Romans 9 is clear. It gives a reason why
evil exists. God says that He wanted to demonstrate His
nature. He wanted to demonstrate His wrath and His power, and so
he endured with long-suffering vessels of wrath that He designed
for that purpose.... The same is true of this other side of His
nature. Wishing to exhibit His mercy and grace, God
designed the vessels of mercy for that purpose." (Jay
Adams, "Jay E. Adams's Reply to John Frame," in John Frame,
Apologetics to the Glory of God, page 246. For a
greater length of explanation, see Adams' book, The Grand
Ed: "The problem of evil," then, is not a problem about God's
goodness or omnipotence, it is His central purpose in the
creation of the universe and of man!
(2) Any other definition of evil can only be defined by an
individual (which from a Biblical perspective has no
legitimacy). No two individuals are ever going to agree
fully on the specifics of what is "good" and what is "evil."
All goods and evils, then, are arbitrary, except as two or more
people are able to agree on an arbitrary standard, for example,
a well-defined religion or life philosophy. Another
example is that the short term evil of an economic disaster may
settle the economy on a more solid base for future prosperity.
A tsunami may destroy thousands of lives, much property, and the
beauty of nature, but there will be many stories of "good" told
of individual lives that were changed for the better, property
re-built as bigger and better, and nature has a way of restoring
her beauty over time. See
Nature Discloses God's Good in National Magazine.
(3) Another definition of evil is a subset of (2), yet
distinct because it comes from man's only infallible and
sufficient source of truth. Christians choose subjectively
the Bible as the One Source of definition of "good."
Sexual relationships within marriage are good. Sexual
promiscuity is evil. Christians are to "overcome evil with
good" (Romans 12:21). And, there are hundreds of other
"goods" in the Bible. These goods may be called God's
declarative (moral, prescribed, defined, revealed) will.
Even here, all Christians will not agree on the specifics of
what is good (i.e., God's will), but at least they will be
arguing from the same objective source. So, evil would be
any action by individuals or groups that violate God's
prescriptive will. This same definition would be that of
sin, as well.
(4) "All things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose"
(Romans 8:28). God promises the Christian that he will
never experience evil. Everything that happens to
him will work towards his good. This promise includes
persecution and martyrdom, sexual infidelity, church schisms,
natural disasters, etc., etc. This promise does not extend
to the unbeliever whose only "good" is that which God's common
grace extends to him (Hebrews 6:7-8) while he lives on planet
Much, if not most, of the evil in the world must be
attributed to false religions. The masses of
Asia, Africa, South America, and elsewhere experience poverty,
illiteracy, and cruel dictatorships because of what they
believe. Surely, God cannot be blamed for these great
evils where His truth and His Son are rejected. Where
Christianity has gone, these evils (for the most part) have been
reading on evil and theodicy: (1) Gordon H. Clark,
God and Evil: The Problem Solved, available at
A Biblical Theodicy, paper by Gary Cramptom, and (3)
The Problem of Evil by Greg Bahnsen.
Evil as a problem for civil government: It
seems that the problem of evil as a social problem is almost
never discussed by philosophers and few theologians. Yet,
it is a real problem—an immediate problem. Evil cannot
allowed its freedom for a civil society to exist.
Evolution: a concept and term that has no
place in a Biblical philosophy or worldview. While there
may be the remote possibility of Genesis, Chapter One, occurring
over long periods of time, by the omnipotence and omniscient
Providence of God, nothing happens apart from His direct
control. In addition, "evolution" is inherently a secular
idea and carries all its implications to destroy and distort the
inevitable destiny of God. See Westminster Confession of
Faith, Chapters 3 and 5.
Complexity so soon?
How such mind-bending
complexity could have evolved at such an early stage, and in
such a hostile environment, has forced a fundamental
reconsideration of the origins of life itself,
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.
Exist, existent: (1) to be present in the
created universe (both seen and unseen); the being or reality of
an object, that is, as a thing really is, known only to God.
Man can know characteristics of an object that God has created,
but not its essence or its
substance ... he same as Kant's ding-an-sich
("a thing in itself"). (2) Existence has a relationship to
the mind in which it is known. The universe exists in the
reality of God's mind, as He created it. A world and its
characters in a novel "exist" in the mind of its author and
those who read it. A dream "exists" in the mind of the one
who envisions it. Exist is synonym of real,
Expert: a person who knows a great deal
about a narrow subject; because his subject matter is narrow,
experts are prone to overlook the obvious; further, their
insight is likely be be flawed by this narrow focus. While
experts are necessary to our modern way of life, their opinions
must be carefully and lightly held. See the book,
Wrong: Why experts keep failing us and how to know when not to
trust them by David H. Freeman (Little Brown and Company,
in philosophy or theology or both, the tendency to place
major emphasis on external matters rather than on more profound
realities. In terms of morals and ethics, it tends to stress the
external observance of laws and precepts, with lesser concern
for the ultimate principles underlying moral conduct.
In Christian thought, for example, this is illustrated by the
tendency to define the church in terms of such exterior elements
as its social structure, rituals, and the obligations it imposes
on the faithful, rather than to view it as an essentially
spiritual entity. Historically, extrinsicism has been an
important factor in disputes over the nature of supernatural
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Fact or facts:
(1) a synonym for truth, "what is" or reality itself. For
a fact to be true, it must be understood or interpreted within a
Biblical framework. A "fact" does not exist apart from a
philosophical or religious system or worldview.. (See Sir Fred
Hoyle's quote under scientific method
below.) (2) Knowledge of a situation, object,
or person that is sufficiently and commonly known among enough
people to be acted upon with considerable reliance and a
relatively predictable outcome, but it is not necessarily true.
For example, that the sun will rise tomorrow is a fact. It
is not true (1) because the sun does not actually "rise" (in the
heliocentric solar system) and (2) because sometime in the future, the sun will not
rise. That is, most philosophies and worldviews (including
the Biblical one) posit that time and the universe will not
continue, as we know it, forever—whether one's belief system is
Bible-based or naturalistic. (3) There are
difference kinds of facts that are evidenced in different ways.
"We might ask , 'Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?' (Bahnsen)
And we know how we would go about answering that question. But
that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering
questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure,
quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity,
natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself
that you're now at, past events, categories, future
contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations,
individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or
even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything
like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There
are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are
not at all answered in the same way in each case." (Quote from
Greg Bahnsen from the Bahnsen-Stein debate) (4) A known state of
affairs that has been determined by the empirical method.
Thus, its accuracy is wholly dependent upon the validity of the
method used to establish the particular fact. See
on Facts: Complexity Masquerading as Simplicity on
this site which is a comprehensive discussion of the idea of
“All our perceptions of the world are
influenced by our interpretations; there is no knowledge of
facts that is not influenced by our interpretative activity.
The Christian knows by
faith that this world is not of his own making, that there is a
“real world”—a world of facts—that exists apart from our
interpretation of it. But
in actual life, we only encounter the world through the
mediation of our interpretations, and so the world we live in is
to some extent of our own making…. human beings (are) secondary
creators. What prevents
us from constructing an absolutely
Only our faith.
our faith assures us that there is a “real world” that
exists apart from our interpretation.
God’s revelation provides us with a sure knowledge of that
world and so serves to check our fantasies.
have no safeguards against such craziness, except for their
tendency to live parasitically off Christian capital”—Ed's
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, page 100)
Facts are related to functionalism
or operationalism. Facts "work" in that they have
a certain utility that does not require that they be true.
Faculty psychology, faculties of
the mind: differing actions of the mind, identified
variously as understanding (judgment, reason), will (power to
act, emotive, emotions), and cognition (knowledge, intellect).
Interest in such functions was waxed and waned over the last two
centuries, and is sometimes linked to particular kinds of
philosophy and psychology. Probably, the most important
concept here is the interrelatedness and interdependency of the
various faculties. Each may predominate in decision-making
and execution, but upon what information this process is based
seems most important. That is, it is better to act with
understanding and knowledge, than on ignorance, a "hunch,"
emotional burst, "spur of the moment," or otherwise momentary or
superficial process. This position is usually identified
as "the primacy of the intellect."
See heart, soul, mind, and spirit.
Jonathan Edwards is often
mis-understood in his faculty psychology. His "affections"
are thought to be equivalent to the modern concept of emotions,
but if one reads carefully his A Treatise Concerning
Religious Affections, it is easily discernible that his
affections include "understanding" and "knowledge." In
modern times, heart, as it is used in the
Bible, is often misunderstood in the same way. See
"Properly functioning faculties"
is sometimes used to qualify "basic beliefs" (e.g., Alvin
Plantinga). However, who determines whether they are
"properly functioning." If I differ with someone over a
basic felief, is his or mine or both of our faculties not
Faith, generic: Knowledge
(innate, learned, assumed, "subconscious," studied, etc.) that
predisposes to action, the truth of which will be determined by
reality in the near or distant future. Every behavior (action) of
every person anywhere at any time is a result of faith.
Faith is usually thought of relative to religious ideas,
especially in Christianity. However, faith is present for
every decision made in life because there is always some degree
of uncertainty. Knowledge must start somewhere. (See
first principle.) Nothing in life can be known
absolutely, for sure. Belief in God and His promises
comes the closest to absolute certainty in our physical
existence. However, even on God's Word, we only "know in
part" (II Corinthians 13:9-10). Both philosophers,
theologians, and laymen have greatly diminished the force of
Biblical faith by not understanding that reason rests on faith,
that is, on some first principle. Reason
helps faith to work out its coherence and may challenge that
first principle. But, faith, as a first principle,
is always prior and foundational to reason.
Knowledge may be instinctual, that is, what one knows without really
thinking about it. Knowledge may involved weeks, months, years of
study. Knowledge has varying degrees of trustworthiness or
certainty; for example, there is a great deal of certainty that the sun
will rise tomorrow; there little certainty that a "hot stock tip" is
worth placing an investment. The point here is that knowledge has
an extreme range from the hunch (intuition) that an item on sale is a
good buy to the life-long study of a college professor. What is
fascinating about knowledge that its certainty or truthfulness has no
necessary correlation to the degree to which it was acquired by study.
mullah of Islam is just as wrong after 40 years of study of the
Koran, as he was when he first embraced Islam. The stock that is
studied for weeks may be not more profitable than one chosen with a dart
thrown to the stock page.
Certainty or uncertainty is what makes the apparent difference
between knowledge and faith. This distinction has been the great
debate of philosophy throughout history: rational thought vs. religious
faith. But, once it is understood that no absolutely certain
knowledge exists, then faith is prior to all knowledge. Augustine
was right when he said, "I believe in order to understand." The
evolutionist has greatly misplaced faith to project present scientific
knowledge into history.
Faith, as a gift. Faith is a always of gift of God.
He gives faith to every person so that he or she is able to function in
life without absolute certainty. In saving faith, God causes a
person to accept His Word as true (Ephesians 2:8-9). In miraculous
faith, he gives the conviction that He will heal (Matthew 9:22).
In other contexts, this knowledge of faith would be called
A synonym of "belief." "Believe" is the verb form of faith, an
idiosyncrasy of the English language. I have written a book on
Faith, saving (Biblical): Knowledge of Scripture that predisposes to
action, initially, in confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and,
thereafter, to love Christ by "keeping His
commandments" (John 14:15, that is, all the directives of both the Old
and New Testaments) to the extent enabled by the Holy Spirit.
These directives are synonymous with good works.
Is there certainty and assurance of saving faith, as in being "saved
from the wrath to come?" How much certainty does God require of a
regenerate person in his faith? God only requires that one of His own be
certain sufficiently to act on that belief. Of course, that person
must have sufficient knowledge to perform the many "good works" that God
requires of him. Interestingly, assurance of one's salvation
depends upon acting (faith is action - see above) in these "good works."
Assurance of Salvation.
"Salvation" includes sanctification, the process of
increasing holiness of the believer over his lifetime. So
"saving faith" in this sense is the knowledge of those
propositions and actions required on an ongoing basis to live
"'Faith,' the author of Hebrews says, 'is the
substance of things hoped for.' The word here translated
'substance' is translated in the American Revised Version
'assurance.' But the difference is not important.
The point in either case is that by faith future events are made
to be certain: the old translation merely puts the thing a
little more strongly: future events, it means, become through
faith so certain that (it) is as though they had already taken
place; the things that are promised to us become, by our faith
in the promise, so certain that it is as though we had the very
substance of them in our hands here and now. In either
case, whether the correct translation be 'substance' or
'assurance,' faith is here regarded as providing information
about future events; it is presented as a way of predicting the
future.'" (J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?,
"(The" Faith (Bible):
the knowledge, as a foundation for action, found in the 66 books of the
Protestant Bible, for example, Ephesians 4:5, Jude 1:3.
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Faith healing: see implanted knowledge.
Faith-Reason: Faith cannot be divorced from reason. The evolutionist has his "scientific" evidences.
The humanist says that the facts speak against miracles, and therefore,
any concept of a supernatural being. The regenerate Christian
points to all the amassed arguments of modern apologetics and to the
Scriptures. Reason is required to use language to make a coherent
declarative sentence, that is, a proposition or premise of faith.
Philosophy obscures the interaction and interdependency of
faith and reason. It is impossible in the human mind to
separate faith and reason. For example, any statement of
faith, e.g., God is a Trinity of Persons, is a grammatical
statement, that is, a logical connection of words with intended
meanings. A statement of faith, then, is an intended
logical construction that can be understood by most any person. (Ed: I credit Vincent Cheung
with leading me to this concept.)
(The) Fall: simply, the disobedience
of Adam and Eve to obey God and the effects thereof.
Perhaps, the greatest dilemma in philosophy and
religion is to explain the present of evil and
suffering, and people that are just inherently evil.
Outside of Genesis 3, there is no break in any philosophical or
religious metaphysical chain of human development and history to
explain the presence of both good and evil in mankind.
And, there is no explanation for conscience and moral guilt.
Hume was correct when he said that no "is" can determine an
"ought." The Biblical explanation of The Fall not only
explains these realities, but it also posits a break in
scientific uniformitarianism to explain certain discrepancies of
dating, geological inconsistencies, etc.
Anthropology becomes much more of a central feature of
metaphysics and posits not only the need for correction
(salvation) of this great defect in man and the universe, but
the solution in Jesus Christ and the final consummation of
history. Devolution, rather than evolution,
is the Biblical narrative.
False witness: "You shall not bear false
witness against your neighbor," states the Ninth Commandment.
As seen in truth
below, man cannot know truth as God does. Thus, this
commandment is carefully crafted as it is, not as, "You shall
always tell the truth." There are two parts. (1)
"False witness" means that the witness intentionally is
telling something different from what he knows. It also
means that he is making sincere effort to be accurate and
complete in what he knows. What he knows, may or may not
be the best representation of "what is," but he has done
everything reasonable to present his best understanding.
(2) The commandment says, "neighbor," not enemy.
When confronted by a declared and avowed enemy, one is not
required to tell the truth. Cory ten Boom was not required
to disclose the Jews that she hid from the Nazis. Now, one
has to be careful that enemies are not casually defined, but
nevertheless this commandment does not say that one must always
tell the truth. See truth below.
Fatalism: "q'est sera, sera—whatever
will be, will be." The notion that all events are caused
by random, impersonal, blind forces in the universe and thus
being resigned to whatever happens. Fatalism has a strong
tendency to deaden personal responsibility and initiative.
However, there is no fatalism in cosmic
personalism; a Person directs and controls every atom
and every miniscule movement in the universe, as well as nations
and stellar bodies.
Feelings: synonym of emotion.
Fideism: A term that is used loosely to
denote faith that ranges from one that is virtually without any
evidence, "a leap," or reason to one that has substantial
evidence or reason to believe. Essentially, fideism is a
synonym of faith, but some authors have a more particular
First principle: The most basic truth
(reality, certain knowledge) upon which a system of knowledge is
based and from which all ideas within that system are derived.
A first principle is chosen on the basis of belief
from which reason builds a consistent system.
Augustine said, "I believe in order to
understand." Reason (logic) may challenge the
correspondence of a system, but does not choose its
first principle. Therefore, all systems of thought are
built upon faith (belief), not reason.
Synonyms include dogmatism, fideism, foundationalism, starting
point, axiom, and presupposition.
Synonyms of first principle include belief, faith, first
truth, first philosophy, presupposition, basic presupposition,
fundamental principle, axiom, basic foundation, basic belief,
assumption, bias, prejudice, starting point, and several others
that are favorites of particular philosophers. First
principles are accepted by faith, they do not have to be proven.
Fool, Foolish: "The fool has said in his
heart, 'There is no God.'" Those that are unregenerate are
also foolish--the epitome of anti-wisdom. "Foolish" is
different in the Biblical sense. It is not just "unwise"
or not the best policy, but it is ethical and religious—enmity
against God. This attitude is easily seen in the atheism
and agnosticism of our day. God has chosen the foolishness
of the Cross—His greatest wisdom—to
humble the earthly wise (I Corinthians 1:27). True
philosophers, who "love wisdom," will love the Word of God and
discuss it at length in their speaking and writing. In
addition, the fool has denied what he knows to be true (Romans
1:19ff). If he no longer "knows" what he denies, then he
truly has a reprobate heart that is likely beyond
regeneration. See absurd.
Foundationalism: epistemology based
upon belief. Classically, these beliefs have been divided
into (1) "properly basic beliefs" (PBB or classical
foundationalism) which require no prior beliefs, thus stopping
an infinite regress). These beliefs had to be "justified"
by their being self-evident, evident to the senses, or
incorrigible. However, there is no common consensus about
what these PPB are. Thus, the process fails of its own
criteria. If there are no PPB, then (2) the concept of
properly non-basic beliefs collapses also.
A basic or foundational belief (faith)
simply is one upon which a person (subject) chooses to construct
his epistemology and coherent philosophical system.
Whether it is "proper" or "justified" is that person's judgment
alone. He may choose to examine it carefully according to
various tests of truth and rational thinking, or he may simply
go his way accepting no challenges. A basis belief is a
first principle or
axiom. As axioms of geometry do not require
proof and cannot be proven, thus basic beliefs do not require
proof and cannot be proven. Such action is not required of
them by definition. On this basis, the Great
Pumpkin argument is indeed valid ("valid" means a valid
argument, not a truthful statement—see definitions of logic in
any basic book on the subject).
The great importance of this sort of belief is that it should
be the basis of Biblical Christianity. I believe that the
66 books of the agreed-upon Bible are truth. I will
construct my coherent system (systematic theology) upon that
Free will, freedom, freedom of the will: (1)
Philosophical sense: the mistaken notion, thought to be
necessary to moral responsibility, prevalent among philosophers
and many Christians, that man is "free" to make any choice that
he desires. The error in this thinking is that some form
of predestination is unavoidable. No man makes decisions without
being pre-conditioned by his physical capacities and his
accumulated knowledge over which he had no choice in his early
(2) Biblical sense: man
is not forced to make any particular choice. His "freedom"
is to choose consistent with what he is and what he desires
without external compulsion. See
Responsibility. Also, see Chapter IX of the
Westminster Confession of
(3) Sense relative to God's character.
Among Biblical theologians and consistent with Scripture, God is
considered "most free," that is, the entity in the universe who
is the most "uncoerced," as He is omnipotent. Yet, God is
limited by His own nature, for example, He is perfectly
righteous—He cannot be unrighteous. Thus, if God has
limited freedom, it is only consistent that "freedom" for
created beings to have "freedom" that is limited. This
supposed dichotomy can be illustrated by the title of two of the
greatest books written on the subject. Martin Luther's
book was entitled, Bondage of the Will. Jonathan
Edwards' book was entitled, Freedom of the Will.
Pelagianism and Arminianism:
The propositions of Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism are more complex
than just that of free will.
However, they give a certain freedom of the will to men
and women in choosing for or against God (that is, to be saved).
It is significant that
both have been condemned by official church councils.
While councils may err, in this case they condemn an
unbiblical (erroneous), even heretical teaching.
Free will, in the philosophical sense (above) and the
theological sense here, undermine clear Biblical teaching about
the sinful soul and its need for regeneration, the complete
efficacious work of Christ in salvation, the character of God
Himself, and other central Biblical doctrines.
Christianity, neither philosophically nor theologically,
will ever achieve its full power and influence until Pelagianism
and Arminianism are rooted out of evangelical Christianity.
For a complete review of this subject, see G.
Freedom: "Freedom untethered from
truth is freedom’s worst enemy. For if there is only your truth
and my truth, and neither one of us recognizes a transcendent
moral standard (call it “the truth”) by which to
adjudicate our differences, then the only way to settle the
argument is for you to impose your power on me, or for me to
impose my power on you. Freedom untethered from truth leads to
chaos; chaos leads to anarchy; and since human beings cannot
tolerate anarchy, tyranny as the answer to the human imperative
of order is just around the corner. The false humanism of the
freedom of indifference leads first to freedom’s decay, and then
to freedom’s demise." See free will...
Freedom and bondage in marriage:
theory of psychology originating from Sigmund Freud (1856-1939),
centrally concerned with the id, ego, and super-ego which has
had major influence on psychology and psychiatry.
A reader may wonder why this subject appears in a
The knowledgeable Christian will understand that Freud explains
away the central issue of sin, as Biblically defined before a
holy and righteous God.
And, he has had a profound influence of subsequent
generations of thought in this field.
“(Freud’s) model for the dynamics of the mind has been a potent
influence on many philosophers and of course on the culture
(social thought) in general.”
of Philosophy, “Sigmund Freud”)
Yockey. “The ‘science’
of psychology is chosen as the vehicle to deny all the higher
impulses of the soul.
On the part of the creator (Freud) of psychoanalysis,
this assault was conscious.
He spoke of Copernicus, Darwin, and himself as the three
great insulters of mankind.
Nor was his doctrine free from the fact of his Jewishness,
in his essay on The
Resistance to Psychoanalysis, he says that it is no accident
that a Jew created this system, and that Jews are readily
“converted” to it, since that know the fate of isolation in
(Francis Parker Yockey,
Imperium, p. 88)
This author's preferred term for technical or scientific pragmatism, that
is, a technical or scientifically derived procedure that the
cause of what "works"
or produces predictable results does not have to be true.
Operationalism is an approximate synonym. The
tricky aspect of this definition is that "what works" does not
have to be true, even when the desired results occur. For
example, placebos in medicine can reduce blood pressure,
significant pain, tense muscles, and more. But there is no
possible correlation between the chemical ingredients of the
placebos and the physiological effects.
This concept is considerably broader than its application
to science—applicable to everything that concerns the
physical world. For example, the understanding and theory
of language is quite complex, but it works remarkably (not
perfectly) well. Statistics have a certain usefulness, but
their basis and interpretation are somewhat tentative. I
would even propose that functionalism (or operationalism) is the
mode by which The Creation Mandate is to be
achieved in the physical world—probably because of the Fall that
distorted communication and the physical universe.
One of the most interesting aspects of functionalism is that,
as the "real world," it does not matter what one's philosophy or
religion is. The Indian mystic who goes to market must
deal with sellers in real terms and coins, not the mystical
sayings of his belief system. The naturalist lives in a
world whose only explanation can be transcendental, and one that
the large majority of people on earth believe. The
pacifist must fight his natural urges to protect himself and his
family from bodily harm.
Future states: see death.
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Galileo-Church Controversy: This historical
event has been portrayed as a conflict between modern science
and religion (Christianity), when in fact it was a controversy
over the same facts which were interpreted differently by the
each side. Those representing the Church held to the
geocentric system, not because of the Bible, but the
interpretations of Aristotle and Ptolemy. Galileo and
others held to the heliocentric interpretation of Copernicus.
Both sides had the same facts, but interpreted them
differently. This historical controversy is factually
presented by Michael Polanyi in Personal Knowledge,
Part One, Chapter One. For a varied and interesting
discussion of his issue, see
Does the Sun Rise?
While there is a widespread belief that there are numerous
church-science conflicts, there are really very few. As
discussed, the above "controversy" was not church against
science but one scientific interpretation against another.
Even the Creation-Evolution is mostly about so-called "creation
science" vs. "evolutionary science"—a science-science
Generative grammar: See Noam
Geocentricity: the belief that the earth is
the center of the solar system and the universe. While
this position has been laughed at, there are strong arguments
for its truth, particularly Einstein's theory of relativity
(that is, where does one choose his reference point).
While the argument has its evidential difficulties, the reality
that it has any substantial evidence at all, belies the
naivité and extreme bias of its opponents. See
Galileo-Church controversy. For a varied and
interesting discussion of his issue, see
Does the Sun Rise?
Gnosticism, Gnostic Gospels:
the search for the truth in a mystical experience, whether a
"Christian" or other belief system. "If one's own inner
religious experience is the only arbiter of religious truth,
what's to stop every aspirant who can pull a grave face from
saying he's reached the seventh heaven of spiritual attainment?"
For more on Gnosticism, see this article and website by
God, argument(s) for the existence of: See
Two Dozen or More.... While these are pleasing and
supportive for Christians, they do not convince non-Christians
because their presuppositions differ. Facts and values
cannot be separated. Many of these arguments are logically
valid, but a pagan must be regenerated in order
to have their beliefs changed and their hearts converted.
God as the author of sin: see author
of sin (God as the) above.
God of the Bible vs. gods of the philosophers:
"(Philosophers) adopt a presupposition contrary to the
conclusion they wish to argue. They seek to gain knowledge of
God by adopting a non-theistic epistemology." (John Frame,
In philosophical discussions, a distinction is rarely made of
which "god" is being discussed. Neither Descartes,
Spinoza, Kant, Sartre, or Anthony Flew are talking about the God
of the Bible. If one examines closely the characteristics
of "God" used by these philosophers, one will find distinctions
among each one. Moreover, these "gods" are not the God of
the Bible. Yet, even Bible-believing Christians enter these
discussions, often attempting to defend their God against the
particular philosopher's "God," as though each side was
discussing the same God. Such argument is doomed to
failure by both sides. Blaise Pascal understood this
distinction when he referred to the "God of Abraham, God of
Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars."
Perhaps, this definition is most central in a discussion of
Evil or Theodicy. (See both
definitions in this Glossary.)The God of the Bible is "working
all things to the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).
Since He is omnipotent, no evil can exist in this
"best-because-it-is-the-only world." He is the cause, not
the immediate agent, of all that happens.
A more complete definition of the God of the Bible is found
in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Section 1:
There is but one only, living, and true God,
who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit,
invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense,
eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most
free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel
of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory;
most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in
goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;
the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most
just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who
will by no means clear the guilty.
More of the definition continues in Section 2 and 3, and
Chapters 3, 5. For more on the discussion of the God of
the Bible and evil, see Gordon Clark's God and Evil: The
Problem Solved (Trinity Foundation, 2004). For more
on this subject, see Gods of
the Philosophers and Theologians.
God of the Gaps: Philosophers, scientists,
and others have sometimes posited "God" to fill in the "gaps" of
their systems of knowledge and cosmology. However, by His
own Special Revelation God states that "In Him we live and move
and have our being," and that "all things are upheld by the Word
of His power." Thus, He is not only Creator of all that
exists, but sustainer of all that He created. He is not
the "gap"; He is the creator and sustainer—past, present, and
future—of everything that exists.
"God of the philosophers": Blaise
Pascal said upon the event of his regeneration,
""Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the
philosophers and the scholars...." The god of the
philosophers is also called ontotheology.
"Classical theism" is a "god of the philosophers," many of them
Christians. Only the God who is fully described in the
Bible is the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob"—the true God.
See God of the Bible, ontotheology, and
Good (goodness): all that God does; all that God
prescribes and proscribes, as His law or His
love) the opposite of evil.
evil. Good is always relative to a
person or Person. When someone says, "How can evil
(non-good) exist when God is good and omnipotent?" This
question has a subtle, but powerful shift in "goods." The
"evil" (non-good) is from a man's perspective and the "good" of
God concerns Himself and His Word. See
Logic and the Problem of Evil. The "good" of man is
never the "good" of God except when a regenerated man
or woman makes a conscientious effort to
understand and apply the law (love) of God to himself, his
neighbor, or in worship of God. "Love is the fulfillment
of the law" (Romans 13:10; "The whole law is fulfilled in one
word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians
5:14); "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15—that
is, all the commandments of Scripture—Ed).
Righteousness, love, and good (goodness or good works) are synonymous in the Bible.
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins and The Euthryphro
"Good News": The "good news" is
The Gospel. But by antithesis,
there is "bad news"—"should not perish" (John 3:16; Revelation
20:15). The Gospel, then, is indeed a "two-edged sword."
Good works: Good works are all the ethics of
the Bible. They are essentially all that God requires of
mankind, first in the Two Great Commandments, and second,
in the Ten Commandments, and third is all the remainder of
Scripture. See good (goodness).
Synonym of love, righteousness, holiness, and justice.
Gospel (The): The Gospel is the entire
Special Revelation of God from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.
It is not simply the message that "Jesus died for your
sins" preached most simply from the pulpit and evangelistic
podiums. This abbreviated message that began with Finney,
Moody, and others has resulted in the weakness of modern
Christians to impact their own lives, much less the culture and
civil state for the Kingdom of God. A creed that
encompasses the most and the clearest of this whole is the
Westminster Confession of Faith.
(The Two) Great Commandments: "Jesus answered
him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O
Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your
soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This
is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is
this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There
is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31,
NKJV). These are a summary of the Ten Commandments which
is a summary of the entire Law of God (The Bible).
Application of these commandment is the Creation Mandate, the
Kingdom of God, Good Works, the Great Commission, and a Biblical
(The) Great Commission: See
Greek civilization, so-called: "The glory that
was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome," wrote Edgar Allen
Poe. Many, including Christians, lament for the
civilization that was Greece. But was it really
"civilization?" Consider these characteristics and then
consider whether "classical education," with this Greek history
is right for Christians.
"(1) The legitimacy of homosexuality,
especially the seduction of teenage boys by men over age 30; (2)
warfare as a man's supremely meaningful activity; (3)
polytheism; (4) a personal demon as a philosopher's source of
correct logic; (5) slavery as the foundation of civilization;
(6) politics as mankind's only means of attaining the good life,
meaning salvation; (7) the exclusion of women from all aspects
of public religion; (8) the legitimacy of female infanticide."
Quoted from here.
"Ancient democracies like Athens, Syracuse,
and Argo, present an instructive albeit terrifying spectacle of
tyrannical and violent mob rule at home and empirical aggression
abroad. In the latter phase of the Peloponnesian War,
Athens acted more like a band of robbers than like a legitimate
city-state, killing and enslaving the inhabitants of Melos
simply because the Melians would not abandon their traditional
alliance with Sparta, executing victorious generals who failed
to rescue shipwrecked Athenian sailors. Only Socrates
tried to stop the illegal and unjust proceeding, and his reward
came seven years later when a restored democracy sentenced him
to death." (Thomas Fleming, "The Tyranny of Democracy,"
Chronicles (Rockford Institute), November 2011, page
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Hamann, Johann Georg (1730-1785):
known in his own time as The Magus of the North; a friend,
contemporary, and fellow-town citizen in Königsberg
of Immanuel Kant, but a main proponent of the sturm and
drang (storm and stress) movement which opposed the tenets
of the Enlightenment from its beginning; had a dramatic
conversion (regeneration) experience in 1758 at
the age of 28 years; strong Biblical apologist; renowned
philologist; developed theory of language that was prescient and
still being appreciated; a relatively unknown Biblical Christian
who should be studied by all Christians engaged in scholarly
activities. See References
on this website for books on Hamann by Isaiah Berlin and John R.
Happiness (Greek, eudaimonia):
regeneration and a life of obedience to all the instructions of
narrowing down one’s belief system, happiness is a
difficult term to define, but it has been a central concern of
philosophy since first queried by the pre-Socratic philosophers,
widely discussed by Plato and Aristotle, and addressed by many
secular and Christian philosophers since.
What makes happiness for one person may not give
happiness to another.
Also, happiness is fleeting.
For example, there is great happiness at a wedding, but
then the everyday-ness of married life sets in and possibly ends
in divorce. The
Sermon on the Mount substantially addresses happiness in its
“blessed” personal characteristics (Greek, makarios), and some translations even use “happy” or “happiness.”
The Sermon gives a breadth and depth of attitudes and
actions that are consistent with achieving happiness.
In essence, however, true happiness can be found only in
repentance and faith which begin with regeneration (“being
born-again) and follows in obedience.
Without regeneration, achievement of the right attitude
is impossible (John 3:1-17).
Without obedience, the peace and joy of happiness is
impossible (Matthew 5:1-7:29).
“Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in
Jesus.” There are
many synonyms for happiness: joy, joyful, peace, peaceful,
contented, contentment, pleasing, pleasure, etc.
“Joy” is common used for what might be called happiness,
but it connotes something much more deep and abiding (Romans
15:13, II Corinthians 2:3, Philippians 1:4, and particularly
Happiness is inherently and inseparably tied to one’s belief
system. The only
true system is that of Biblical Christianity.
No other philosophies or religions can produce real or
Hate: the opposite of love,
as defined Biblically; whatever opposes the declared
will or decretive will of God.
Like love, hate is not an emotion; it is a defined attitude that
results in works which oppose the will of God in both its forms.
God calls its action against love of family (Luke 12:53, 14:26,
16:13; Romans 9:13). That "God loves the sinner but hates
his sin" is a severe error of interpretation. A person is
what he thinks and does (Matthew 12:34); when God judges a
person's sins, he judges that person. It is the person in
Hell, not his sins.
one of the spiritual (non-material or non-physical) aspects of a
person (others are soul, spirit, mind, will, and conscience);
the life that we live within ourselves, unknown to anyone except
God; the thought-life of a person; the source of all motives and
desires. Thinking and understanding, rather than emotions,
is the predominant activity of the heart. See
The Biblical Heart, Soul, Mind, and Spirit.
Hegel and Napoleon:
the influence of Napoleonic politics
here. The following is a quote from this site: "What
are its dominant features, which apply here? I would say there
are three which suffice. First, that universal history is ruled
by the Absolute; then, that the Absolute is realized
dialectically and progressively in the dramas, comedies and
tragedies of history; finally, that heroes, nations and states
constitute the successive instruments of the accomplishment of
the Absolute.... Napoleon achieves on the level of action what
Hegel carries out on the level of thought."
Hermeneutics: The rules that
govern Biblical interpretation. It is interesting that the
large majority of them are not Biblically derived themselves, as
rules of grammar, definition, logic, coherence (system), etc.
This situation demonstrates the interdependence of Special
Revelation and the tools of philosophy.
science, historical biology: the natural science that is applied to
evolution, ice ages, uniformitarianism, and other past events,
using evidence from the 19th-21st centuries and assuming
that such evidence never underwent any changes in the past.
This projection has two fallacies: (1) the fallacy of induction
whereby a small area of the immeasurable universe is examined
and conclusions drawn to the whole, and (2) the fallacy of
historiography that past events can be understood by projections
of current presuppositions. These fallacies are equally
applicable to Creation Science and Evolutionary Science.
Holiness: see good
(goodness), righteousness, and justice.
Holism: the concept that
emphasizes the whole over its parts. In its largest
application, it would apply to the whole of the universe—that
every part of the universe influences and constitutes the whole.
(On this latter use, see
The Powerful Epistemology of a Flea.
Hope: "Hope is
nothing else than perseverance in faith For when we have
once believed the word of God, it remains that we persevere
until the accomplishment of these things. Hence, as faith
is the mother of hope, so it is kept up by it, so as not
to give way." (John Calvin Commentary, I Corinthians
13:13) In other words, hope is faith is more immediate,
and hope is faith-applied more distantly to future events.
Hume's Fork: See
naturalistic fallacy, "no ought from an is."
always a derogatory term that denotes what an individual
(usually) or group believes is an extreme position of some form
of Calvinism. In this Editor's opinion
and in today's shallow theological understanding, hypercalvinism
is usually applied to those who actually believe and state the
fullness and accuracy of Calvin's Biblical position. For a
discussion of this issue, see
Hypercalvinism: A Brief Definition.
literally "standing-stasis under-hypo; ultimate
reality; substance, essential nature; ground of being.
This word has a complex and varied history, especially in
attempts to understand the nature of the Trinity, as "one
substance, three Persons." However, that discussion is
beyond our scope here. On this site, I use hypostasis as
defined here. God, as spirit, is the hypostasis
of the physical world; it is the result of creation ex
nihilo. One can only say that the ultimate reality,
cause, substance, or essence is God Himself. All our
knowledge of the physical universe is descriptive, not
explanatory. This knowledge is quite functional
or operational, as noted by scientific
and technological achievements of the modern era. But even
science today has no explanation why atoms and molecules
function the way that they do; they have no hypostasis
for matter. The Bible does.
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Idol: what one values more
than God. It may be the obvious, such as "Mammon," or it
may be more subtle as in autonomy—one's own powers of reasoning.
This idea should not to be limited to non-Christians only, but to include
Christians who do not place Scripture above all other
epistemologies. An idol is also the object of one's faith:
where one places his belief. See value.
Image of God,
imago Dei: The image
of God in man is his heart and mind: his ability to think, make
judgments, and communicate with other men and with God.
This concept is closely allied to that of
logos (below). See
The Image and Likeness of God and
Man as Created in God's Image.
Imagination: the incredible
ability of the mind or minds to synthesize new concepts, images,
sounds, propositions, scenarios, possibilities, "thought
experiments, etc. from the present knowledge of an individual or
group. In natural science, this method is call
"hypothesizing." In the arts, it is a new painting,
sculpture, or music arrangement. Charles Peirce called it
"abduction." This ability (talent, gift) varies from
person to person, but everyone has their own unique imagination.
"In Kant's epistemology, imagination is held to be a condition
of all possible knowledge in virtue of its synthesizing power
over the raw contents of mind." (Antony Flew, A
Dictionary of Philosophy, "imagination") Imagination
may involve induction, deduction, assimilation, association,
judgment, and perhaps some other faculties of the mind that is
essentially tacit (inarticulate) to the imaginer.
Immanence and transcendence:
"Immanence and transcendence are always opposed to each other in
ordinary speech; but technical language can specify different
types of opposition. When immanence and transcendence are
taken as contradictory or contrary terms, the former is applied
to systems in which God is the essence of the universe and the
universe is the essence of God. In such a sense no
principle can be both immanent and transcendent. At the
same time Christian theologians (with Biblical accuracy) though
retaining the colloquial opposition between the two words, have
used them not as contraries but subcontraries. Thus they
can say that God is both immanent and transcendent.... The Greek
philosophers can be called immanent in the stricter sense so
that all notion of the transcendence (of God) is precluded."
(Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, page 183.)
Pantheism from that of Spinoza to that of Hinduism is immanence
with no transcendence. Deism is pure transcendence with no
Immediacy: The general method of
philosophers is virtually an endless debate about their own and
others theories. Yet, there are real, immediate problems
that need to be addressed for everyone, including the "common
man," for example, the problem of evil in society and death with
an or no afterlife. Praise God that He has provided those
answers in Revelation... if philosophers would only look.
knowledge, given to a person from without (by God), in which the
person is totally passive in the process. For example,
"Go. You faith has made you well," which Jesus said to
several whom He had healed. The notitia
(knowledge) that they would be healed was implanted by God—it
was not some power that could be (then or now) conjured from
within the person. Implanted knowledge is a miraculous,
individually extended special event that is totally at God's own
discretion and cannot be curried or commanded by the person
himself or herself.
"In Christ": Philosophy has an insight into
this phrase. Christ is no longer incarnated; that if,
embodied in a physical, fleshly sense. So, Christians
cannot be "in" Him in the sense of being in a house, a baby in a
mother's womb, or any other earthly location. "In Christ"
means to have the metaphysical (spiritual) identity by means of
epistemology; that is, having the same knowledge (in an infinite
lesser quantity) as Christ (I Corinthians 2:16). For a
more lengthy discussion, see
Christ. See indwelling.
Inclusivism: See exclusivism.
Incomprehensibility of God: See
comprehensibility of God.
method of reasoning in which "the truth of the premises merely
makes it probable that the conclusion is true." Induction
proceeds from observations to conclusions. Deduction,
however, within the laws of logic render true conclusions, if
the premises are true. Induction does not render
true conclusions, only "probable" ones. "Probable" is not
a sufficient basis upon which to base one's life and conduct, as
well as eternal life.
Induction, Biblical: The
process by which all occurrences of a term or concept are
examined. If logical deductions are valid, and coherence
is achieved, then the conclusions are as true and applicable as
a direct quote of God's Word. The Trinity is one example
of this process, as the word, "Trinity," does not appear
anywhere in Scripture.
A term of Michael
glossary) that has interesting applications to a Biblical
philosophy. A person
indwells knowledge. Christian indwells Christ.
The New Testament commonly refers to our being “in
Christ.” But we cannot
indwell Christ bodily; He is not on earth but in Heaven.
However, we can indwell the knowledge that we have of Him
through the work of the Holy Spirit.
That we “worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24))
and “it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) demonstrates
this indwelling. See "in Christ."
"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of
God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs,” is the
statement of belief for members of the Evangelical Philosophical
Society. The Bible is the
most “objective” of written documents known to man, and thus is
unique in both theology and philosophy. The 66 books of the
Bible are agreed upon by orthodox Protestants, Roman Catholics,
and Greek Orthodox. While
there are minor disputes about inclusion or exclusion of
manuscripts, the extant text of the Bible has almost exclusive
agreement by these churches.
One can make the case that without the Bible, nothing can
be known for certain—neither epistemology, metaphysics, nor
ethics, the major subdivisions of philosophy, because no one can
“get outside of his own mind.
Yet, God has revealed such knowledge that can give us
assurance that reality, truth, and a right way of life exists.
Thus, the centrality of the Bible for both Christian
beliefs and philosophical certainty cannot be overestimated.
For more on this subject, see the
The Chicago Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
Infallibility of Scripture:
roughly equivalent to inerrancy.
Infima species: the
lower limit of definition of a species within a class.
When one begins to list essential characteristics, it becomes
obvious the arbitrary nature of classes, species, etc. See
Why Modern Categories Are Wrong.
Infinite, infinity: a
nonsense term because nothing exists that is infinite. God
is not infinite; otherwise, He could not know everything.
The universe is not infinite because it matter is confined by
space and time. God, however, is omniscient, omnipresent,
and omnipotent. He does know everything. For a
complete discussion of infinity, see Gordon Clark, The
Innate knowledge and categories: knowledge
that is present at birth (inborn, a form of intuition). That
persons are born with John
Locke's tabula rasa seems to have
little credence today. Modern science has
demonstrated the tremendous amount of motor and cognitive skills
that infants and children have that could only be inborn,
especially the work of Noam Chomsky. In De Magistro,
Augustine works through a teaching process whereby all knowledge
is supernatural, that is, provided immediately by the Logos,
Himself, Jesus Christ. That argument is strongly worth
considering, based upon John 1:9 and Romans 1:19ff. But
this position does not necessarily endorse Kant's categories or any other
epistemology. It is to endorse God's being immanent in His
creation, including the minds of humans. Read De
Magistro for more on this subject. Innate knowledge,
at least as categories, is an unavoidable
concept because thinking would otherwise be impossible.
See Noam Chomsky.
Then, there is the transcendental argument
that the existence of language, communication, logic, and
meaning presuppose God through His special revelation.
Inerrancy: "The Bible alone, and the Bible
in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore
inerrant in the autographs..." is the belief required to
join the Evangelical Philosophical Society (and the Evangelical
Theological Society). Mostly, inerrancy applies to these
"original autographs," but extensive and repeated examinations
of the surviving ancient manuscripts shows clearly that we have
the entire textual message of these "originals" today.
This preservation is a work of the Holy Spirit. For more
on nuances, see
Thus, the Bible is "without error" when properly and
systematically interpreted. Inerrancy is essentially
equivalent to "infallibility," although the
latter is more often associated with application than theology
Informal fallacy: a process of reasoning
which in its method is false; performative
contradiction. For example, an ad hominem
argument attacks the opposing person, not the argument
itself. "Asserting the consequent" is to assume a position
in making reference to it, e.g., "Have you stopped beating your
wife?" Empiricism (scientific method,
induction, experience, etc.) is an informal fallacy because
particulars are made into universals. There are hundreds of logical fallacies.
See any basic textbook of logic or search the Internet for
Integration (of Scripture): an attempt to reconcile
Scripture and other sources of knowledge into a coherent whole.
Those who use "integration" usually claim that "all
truth is God's truth." The great danger is
calling any source of knowledge, other that the Bible, "truth."
The process should be to bring all other knowledge under the
ultimate authority of Scripture, not to "integrate."
Almost all "integration" diminishes the authority and
comprehensive application of Scripture. Those who
understand this place of Scripture in questions of truth and
epistemology will not use the term "integration." See
"Is": see predication. "Is"
is not an equals sign. Sounds simple, but the reader
should study "predication." For example, " God is love" is
a severe restriction on God's attributes. God is much more
than love, or one could say that love is one term for several
attributes. God is merciful, immensely gracious, long
suffering, just, kind, tender, wrathful, vengeful, righteous,
good, providential, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.,
etc. Also, one should factor that "love is the fulfillment
of the law" (Romans 13:10). "God is love" communicates
very little, unless one knows a great number of God's
characteristics. Such a view of God severely limits one's
understanding of God, his worship, and obedience to Him.
Is/ought problem: No "is" can determine an
"ought," or "what is" cannot determine "what ought to be,"
or "What is" is not necessarily "what ought to be." The
origin of this fallacy is attributed to David Hume. It is
similar to the naturalistic fallacy.
Insanity: (1) "The fool has said in his
heart, 'There is no god.'" There is no greater insanity
than to take a knowledgeable stand as an atheist, as does
Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and others. In this
same category are those who may acknowledge some sort of "god,"
even a Christian "God," but who do not believe in Biblical
inerrancy. For to not accept the Scriptures of God Himself
is to reject the God of the Scriptures.
There is insanity in any disobedience to a known violation of
Scripture. Thus, regenerate and unregenerate alike have
some degree of insanity. However, the regenerate have hope
of progress (sanctification) in this insanity; the unregenerate
(2) Behavior that is clearly irrational and inconsistent with
established norms, as in some real "mental illnesses."
This category is imprecise in its definitions and based upon an
evolutionary hypothesis. It can be feigned, as well as,
misdiagnosed. For more, see
The Christian Worldview of Psychology and Counseling.
Intelligent Design: An attempt by Christians
to oppose evolution and remove a personal God from a concept of
origins (cosmology), so that this teaching will be acceptable in
public schools. Their attempt is misguided. (1) The
God of Christianity cannot be removed from intelligent design
because He was the Intelligent Designer. (2) Intelligent
design is nonsense without naming that Designer. In this
attempt, they deny the Creator God and overlook the Biblical
truth that the state should not be involved in public education.
For more on this subject,
Intuition: (1) Knowledge known immediately
without having to reason. All knowledge in God's mind is
immediate, while most of man's knowledge is discursive, that is,
learned through the process of reasoning. (2) Knowledge
that is acquired passively at birth (innate) or thereafter
(implanted or mystical). An example of passively acquired
knowledge is that God "breathed out" the Scriptures
through His Prophets (II Timothy 3:16). Another example is
that "Christ can and will heal me" in cases where Jesus said
afterward, "Your faith (knowledge that He would heal)
has made you whole, e.g., Matthew 9:22. (3) Colloquially, knowledge
that seems to be "just there," that is, present without having
to consciously think about its content. It is sometimes
called a "gut feeling." While such is often presented as
being mysteriously acquired, the origin can usually be discerned
with conscious effort or outside guidance. Almost always, this "knowledge" is
actually discursive, rather than passively acquired. (4)
Kant's theory of the application of categories to experience so
that it can be understood.
Irrational: (1) The opposite of rational.
Only valid arguments are rational. Therefore, an argument
may be valid (rational), but not true. Or, must the
argument be both valid and true for it avoid being irrational?
It would seem that only an absolutely comprehensive, coherent
and true system could avoid some degree of irrationality.
On a human level, the possibility of a system without some
irrationality is impossible, even from a Biblical perspective.
The latter, however, would offer the greatest hope, as it is the
Revelation of God's mind that is perfect logic. (2) Any
argument that does not agree with one's own, especially in
matters of first principles (i.e., presuppositions, basic
beliefs, or faith positions). (3) Any argument that is
inconsistent or incoherent with one's first principles and
deduced theorems. Every person will commit some fallacies
somewhere in their system. (4) Any inductive or empirical
inference. (5) Any argument that commits an established
Ishmael effect: virtual synonym of performative
contradiction. Ishmael could not have survived the
tale that he told. Many statements cannot survive the
message that they convey. "Even that great public skeptic
about the value of science, Prince Charles, never flies a
helicopter burning homeopathically diluted petrol, that is,
water with only a memory of benzine molecules, maintained by a
schedule of reading tea leaves, and navigated by a crystal
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Justice: application of a code of right
and wrong in society. Biblical justice requires the
application of all the Biblical parameters of ethics and law
that are relevant to a situation. Justice may be
applied within the family, a group, the church, society, or civil law.
As such, justice is identical with love, righteous, right
ethics, and good (goodness). Under
ethics, see "righteousness" and "justice." Or,
in other words, there is no conflict between love and law. See Euthryphro dilemma, attributes of God,
and good(ness) and
Love, Law, Grace, and Justice.
Justification (philosophy), justified true belief:
A term that makes epistemology hopelessly complicated. It
states that a basic or foundational belief should be chosen from
which all other principles are inferred. This basic
belief, then, is either true or false for the person holding
that belief. The problem is that there are no absolute
criteria by which a belief can be determined to be true and that
is held by all people and philosophers. All basic beliefs
are simply positions of faith. One's first principle is
his truth, not The Truth (unless founded upon the
Bible). A process of justification just adds complexity to
two issues: belief and truth. And, philosophers disagree
considerably over what is justified and what is not (again, no
standard). Epistemology is about one's belief and whether
it is true. "Justification" lies in the the eyes of the
one believing—first principles do not require justification,
just because they are first principles. This justification
should not be confused with the theological concept of
justification: the imputation of Christ's righteousness to
Justification by faith: This term is often
called the "formal" principle of the Reformation. It is
the legal application of the perfect keeping of all laws of God
by Christ to the account of a person who has broken all the laws
of God—by this act of God Himself in His own courtroom, that
person is viewed with Christ's righteousness. Although
this term is strictly theological, it is pivotable in history
because of (1) its place in the Reformation against Roman
Catholic doctrine and (2) the only means by which salvation is
possible in all the other schemes of philosophy and religion.
For a more complete definition, see the Westminster Confession
of Faith, Chapter 11.
Kalam Cosmological argument:
means literally "word" or "speech," often used to
translate the Greek word, logos.
The argument is that (1) "Whatever begins to exist has a cause
of its existence." (2) "The universe began to exist."
(3) "Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence."
Like any cosmological argument, one has to accept its premises
for it to be persuasive. If one accepts its premises, the
argument is not necessary. Thus, any cosmological argument
is a tautology. Premise (2) has a much more detailed
development that can be seen
Kant's categorical imperative: "Act
only according to that
maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should
become a universal law." ("Kant, Immanuel,"
translated by James W. Ellington  (1993). Grounding for
the Metaphysics of Morals 3rd ed., p. 30)
Pragmatically, this method seems to work well, and is similar to
the Tao. However, there are sufficient and
significant differences between individuals and cultures that
prevent universal agreement. Further, this approach
violates the complete Biblical standards of the Ten Commandments
and all their inferences. (See the Westminster Confession
of Faith, Larger Catechism on the Ten Commandments.)
Further, se the deep-souled cry of Arthur Leff, Duke Law
Journal, December 1979, found
Kenosis, kenotic theology: The name of
interpretations of Philippians 2:7 given to the phrase, "Christ
emptied (Greek kenoo) Himself." Serious errors are
often made, especially from those of an existentialist bent. (1) Christ gave up or discarded some or
all of His attributes as a member of the Trinity. However
R. C. Sproul writes, ". If God laid aside one of his
attributes, the immutable undergoes a mutation, the infinite
suddenly stops being infinite; it would be the end of the
universe." (2) We are to emulate Christ by total self-denial.
While this directive is mostly true, we cannot ignore another of
Christ's total directives, "If you love me, keep (all) my
commandments" (John 14:15). Often this "self-emptying"
becomes self-absorption, trying to find some transcendental,
inner development that is directed away from all the
instructions ("commandments") of how we are to behave towards
one another. (For more specifics on such instructions, do
a word search in the New Testament on the "one another" passages
of the New Testament. For more information on "kenosis,"
see the above reference to Sproul and
Kierkegaard, Søren (1813-1855):
perhaps, the most
misunderstood Christian philosopher in history. Some
reasons for this misunderstanding were his ranging literary
style; his writing from beliefs that differed from his own,
e.g., Judge William and Johannes Climacus), which were then
attributed to his own beliefs; his eccentric personality; his
own paranoia; his love of the true Christian faith (which had
become sterile in its statism); and more. This editor is
solidly convinced that, not only was he a true Christian, he
believed in a Sovereign God Who was the cause of man's "leap"
into true Christian belief; man could not save himself, only God
could. For more of this editor's beliefs about
Brief Notes... and
Kierkegaard's Leap of Faith.
Kingdom of God: Synonym for Kingdom of
Heaven. See Creation Mandate. See
Kingdom of God - Summary Principles
Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
"Heidegger set forth not only
the basis for the so-called “New Hermeneutic” of Ott, Ebeling,
Fuchs, Bultmann, and Gadamer but also the foundation for the
widely and often naively used Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of
the New Testament. Among the troubling hidden premises in this
massive work are the contentions that: 1) The origin of a term
is the key to its meaning; 2) This meaning is non-conceptual and
mystical; 3) Language is symbolic, not descriptive. Even the
liberal James Barr exposed Kittel’s Heideggerian presuppositions
in his Biblical Semantics. Considering the extensive and often
philosophically uncritical use of Kittel by even evangelical
scholars...." (Norman Geisler, "Beware of Philosohy: A Warning
to Biblical Scholars, Christian Apologetics Journal,
Spring 1999, page 8)
Knowledge: Knowledge is the activity of the
mind (incorporeal, not brain). Common knowledge is that
which is present in two or more minds. Knowledge only has
three sources: (1) that which is passively given, or (2) that
which is actively acquired or experienced—the
empirical or scientific method. But even the latter is
determined by categories and knowledge that is already present
in the mind. The former may be innate or given after birth
(mystical, infused, imparted). See
What Is Knowledge? (3) Knowledge gained through
Special Revelation, the only source of knowledge that is true.
In an ultimate sense, all knowledge comes from the omniscient
God who "enlightens every mind" (John 1:9).
"Kosmos": New Testament word translated
"world." See world.
Kuyper, Abraham (1837-1920): a remarkable
Dutch theologian who was confronted and regenerated in a small
country parish, but founded a new denomination, public
newspaper, Free University of Amsterdam, and political party,
becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901-1904.
His major works include The Work of the Holy Spirit,
Principles of Sacred Theology, and Lectures on Calvinism.
His work is sometimes labeled, "Neo-Calvinism," but his
disciples have distorted some of his central themes so that his
original works should be sought out and the work of his
followers not attributed to him. The summary of his work
may be found in his famous declaration, "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!”
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Language: "First, language is a bearer of
meaning because words are arbitrary signs (that) the mind uses
to tag thoughts. Second, communication is possible because
all minds have at least some thoughts in common. This is
so because God created man a rational spirit, a mind capable of
thinking, worshipping, and talking to God. God operates
through the Logos, the wisdom that enlightens every man
in the world. Third, language is logical because it
expresses logical thoughts. Not to deny the noetic effects
of sin, examples of which are incorrect additions and various
fallacies in reasoning, man is still a rational or logical
creature and hence he cannot think three is four or that two
contradictories can both be true. Language therefore is
built upon the laws of logic." (Gordon Clark, Language
"Man's endowment with rationality, his innate
ideas and a priori categories, his ability to think and
speak were given to him by God for the essential purpose of
receiving a divine revelation, of approaching God in prayer, and
of confessing with other men about God and spiritual
realities.... A dubious appeal to metaphor, symbolism, or
to explain this transition would be unnecessary." (Gordon
Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation, pages 135-136)
An instrument of power at Babel, language was,
according to Scripture, confused by God in order to create
diversity and the possibility of separate and integral
fail to understand one another not only when they speak alien
tongues, but when they use the same words with very diverse
and conservative U. S. Republicans alike use the word
“republic,” but with radically different interpretations.
Christians and relativists both speak of “law” with no
identity of meaning.
Again, the definition of liberty is not limited to its nine
dictionary definitions but has, in its civil and religious
connotations, as many meanings almost as there are political
parties and religions in existence.
As a result, the very fact of a common tongue and an
identical word can sometimes, on the presupposition of a
necessary cultural unity, further the confusion of speech.
(R. J. Rushdoony,
This Independent Republic, page 1, 1978)
First, language is a bearer of meaning because
words are arbitrary signs (that) the mind uses to tag thoughts.
Second, communication is possible because all minds have at
least some thoughts in common. This is so because God
created man a rational spirit, a mind capable of thinking,
worshipping, and talking to God. God operates through his
Logos, the wisdom
that enlightens every man in the world. (Ed: from
Augustine on John 1:9) Third, language is logical because
it expresses logical thoughts. Not to deny the
noetic effects of sin, examples of which are incorrect
additions and various fallacies in reasoning, man is still a
rational or logical creature and hence he cannot think (that)
three is four or that two contradictories can both be true.
(Gordon Clark, Language and Theology, 152)
Language theory of Noam Chomsky:
Modern linguist who has resurrected the idea of innate
structures as being necessary for the rapidity of development of
language in children. With the Enlightenment and modern
materialism, there was no room for innateness. Innate language
structure and ability is consistent with a Biblical philosophy
that man is made in the image of God and certain knowledge of
Him is written on their hearts. Chomsky is also well-known for
his geopolitical views which are not endorsed by his
mention here. See language above and
Law: a course of action
established by some authority with power of reward for obedience
or punishment for its neglect or violation.
Law, civil: the codification
of some system of ethics by a civil authority with prescribed
punishments for disobedience. The system may be custom or
tradition, the demands of a dictator or other absolute
authority, or the vox populi (majority vote).
The summun for civil law would be the Biblical law: the
law prescribed and proscribed by God.
Law, natural. See
Laws of logic: the law of
noncontradiction, the law of the excluded middle, and the law of
identity. These three can really be summed up as the law
Law(s) of nature: see
Law of contradiction or
"A is never non-A at the same time and in the same respect."
(John Frame, No Other God, 44) The same
proposition cannot be both true and false. The law of
noncontradiction seems more a propos, since it is a
negative of what can be known. It is really the summary of
the other laws of logic: the law of identity and excluded
Law of unintended consequences:
one can rarely, if ever, predict the outcomes of one's
action, especially the laws of governments. For example, a
law that required parents to purchase an airplane seat for their
children was intended to save lives, but because of cost, more
families drove which increased the deaths of travelling
children. Unintended consequences can be avoided by
following Biblical instructions, trusting that God has fully
informed us of good will happen when we take particular actions
that are clear instructions from His Word.
Leibniz, Gottfried (1646-1716): a
polymath and thoroughgoing Christian. He posited that
"what is" is the "best of all possible worlds" and occasionalism
(the congruence of cause and effect) because God is omnipotent,
omniscient, perfectly good, and coherently unified in His
thought; as such, a being can only act in the best (one)
possible way. His works have never been fully translated
and should be studied by all serious Christians in philosophy.
He is labeled a rationalists, but he is more of a dogmatician in
that his primary axiom was Biblical revelation.
Life, as in all "living things":
the state of being derived from another living thing.
God is the creator and sustainer of life. There is no life
apart from His creation and sustenance. Characteristics of
life: mobility, reproduction, animation, metabolism, intake of
nutrients, disposal of toxins and waste, etc. is an insufficient
definition of life, as no living things have all these functions
throughout their lifespans nor do all forms of "life" have all
of these.. Through reproduction, life
forms generate life forms according to their own "kind," but
this generation is simply passing on to their offspring what God
As an argument for Creation.
The incredible (supernatural) step from inorganic compounds to a living form seems
to have been overlooked as an argument for Creation. This
step requires the activity of God. That animal or plant
life could originate on its own defies every reasonable
understanding of the difference between life and non-life.
Non-Biblical philosophy does not even recognize the higher and
highest forms of life: man's immortal soul, angels and demons,
and God Himself.
Life, highest form:
life in heaven by those who have experienced the new birth of
Spiritual life (John 3). The second highest form would be
the earthly life of those who are born again and are obedient to
all the commands of Scripture. This life is inextricably
linked to righteousness, as in "I have come that you might have
life and have it abundantly."
Physical life predicated on spiritual
life. "God is Spirit," and God created.
Thus, Spirit is foundational to all that is physical, and
temporally prior (before Creation). But because of our
"sense" orientation, we mostly give priority to the physical
realm. To "grow" in life, therefore, is to increase in our
knowledge and understanding of His Revelation. "Man shall
not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from
the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
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Light: "Light" is identified with language,
understanding, and "seeing." First, "light" is often used
to mean "understanding" in common speech—"I see," that is, I
understand. But in the Bible, "light (or seeing) is
closely identified with the knowledge (understanding) of saving
faith (Matthew 13:15). Greater faith is exemplified by not
actually "seeing" in the physical sense by contrast to understanding with the mind (John
20:29). In the Gospel of John, Chapter 1, Jesus is
identified as the "Word" and the "light." He enables every
man to have "light" (v. 9) which Augustine saw as His being the Teacher of
all men. (See his book, De Magistro - The
Teacher). Also, God spoke physical light into being
(Genesis 1:14-15). Thus, physical "light" and "light," as
understanding and communication, are closely associated. In
the new heavens, Christ will be the light without there being a physical light,
as He was in Creation (Genesis 1:3) until He created the
physical light (Genesis 1:14-15). See light of
Light of reason, light of nature, natural light:
"Augustine's theory of illumination (by God of every man—John
1:9) found in Malebranche and Descartes's "light of
nature" (also called "light of reason" or "natural light")—reference
here. It is ironic that Descartes is the Father of
modern philosophy which is almost totally secular, yet he
grounded his cogito in God in at least two ways: (1)
Augustine's light of reason, (2) a cosmological argument, and
(3) an ontological argument.
Logic: The science of the derivation, study,
and application of laws that are necessary for communication,
using language, to occur and for valid arguments to be
constructed. Valid arguments of true propositions
inescapably result in true conclusions. See
Logic, Eastern: "There is really no such
thing as "Eastern logic." It is true that certain strands
of Hinduism and Buddhism teach that contradiction lies at the
heart of reality and that on the path to enlightenment one must
learn to embrace contradiction. But as Mortimer Adler
pointed out, as long as Hindus and Buddhists accept the results
of modern science and technology (and the mathematics of the
market place—Ed), they are tacitly
affirming the law of noncontradiction, which lies as the very
foundation of science." (DeWeese and Moreland,
Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult, page 12)
Eastern and Western Logic.
Logic, "merely human." See
"merely human logic": A phrase that has crept into
modern evangelism that posits a difference in the way that God
reasons and that man reasons. But the statement itself is
self-refuting. If "God's logic" is different from (merely)
"man's logic, then the statement itself makes no sense. If
the statement itself is not true for God, then neither can it be
true for man. If truth is different for God and also
different for man, then we cannot "know the truth that will make
us free" (John 8:32). Neither can we have "the mind
of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16).
Logical positivism: An early 20th century
movement by a group of philosophers called the Vienna Circle.
It was based upon the verification principle
that all meaningful statements had to be
empirically verifiable. It should never have had any
impact because the principle itself could not be verified
empirically, thus violating its own condition. Thus, it
was a performative contradiction. It
should also be noted that the verification principle is itself a
faith position since it is presupposed, not proven.
This example is one of the best historically to demonstrate that
all philosophies and religions have their starting
point in faith! See
Logos: Too many
philosophers and theologians seem to have overlooked the breadth
and depth of the concept of Logos, as presented in John
1:1-16 and elsewhere in the New Testament. Augustine of
Hippo posited in De Magistro (The Teacher) that Christ
is the teacher of all men of all things. In epistemology,
the problem of innate and intuitive knowledge is almost, if not,
inescapable. If knowledge can only exist in a mind, then a
greater Mind has to create the lesser mind, and the knowledge of
the lesser mind can only come from the greater Mind. This
concept would also be consistent with man's being created in the
image of God See
Faith Is Logical Deduction and
Logos Defined. Also, see Gordon Clark, The
Johannine Logos (The Trinity Foundation, 138 pages).
John Calvin in his commentary on the Gospel of John translates logos in John 1:1 as "the
Speech." (1) God (Jesus Christ) "spoke" the universe into
being, "Let there be... and there was...." Thus, in a real
sense speech is metaphysical essence. (2)
Communication ("speech" to one another) has always existed
amongst the Trinity. (3) Communication between God
and man and man is impossible without "speech." (4)
Knowledge and language are necessarily the same. If
Augustine is right (I think that he is) about "God enlightening
every man," that is, imparting knowledge directly to persons is
Christ "speaking" to every man. Thus, how accurate was
Calvin and how central is the concept of "the Speech" to
metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic—the
principles that allow clarity of communication and argument.
Ronald Nash states that the Logos Doctrine is
central to the debate over the Bible as the objective revelation
of God. (121)
The New Testament ascribes three distinct but
related functions to the Christian Logos which make it possible
to speak of Christ as the cosmological Logos, the
epistemological Logos, and the soteriological Logos. This
is simply another way of saying that Jesus is a necessary
condition for the existence of the world, for human
knowledge, and for human redemption. (66)
The reader should note that the major
divisions of philosophy are cosmology (metaphysics),
epistemology (knowledge) and ethics (right living). Thus,
Jesus is "in all" and "is all."
Carl F. H. Henry adds:
(The Christian Logos doctrine presupposes) an
intelligible order or logos in things, an objective law which
claims and binds man and makes possible human understanding and
valid knowledge.... (It) comprehends at once the
interrelationship of thought, word, matter, nature, being, and
(Page numbers refer to Nash's The Word of
God and the Mind of Man)
"If you love me, you will keep my
commandments" (John 14:15), that is, sacrificial acts
(speech and behaviors) within Biblical or Godly parameters (law,
precepts, principles, etc.) for the greatest good of the one
loved (God, spouse, child, neighbor, and even enemies).
Biblical parameters (law) limit "anything goes," as acts of
love. For example, a man cannot divorce his wife because
he "loves" another woman. Love must cohere with
law. Sacrifice on the part of the one
who loves illustrates its supreme value. The ultimate act
of love, as sacrifice, is "to lay down one's life" (John 15:13).
Obviously, love is one of the richest of Biblical concepts.
It is commonly misunderstood by many Christians as an emotion
(which cannot be commanded). The greatest act of love in history
was God's sacrifice of His Own
Son for the greatest good of those whom He loved. His
"active and passive obedience" was
the fulfillment of the law to propitiate God and impute His
those whoe would be saved (Matthew 5:17-18). Jesus said, "If you love
me, keep my commandments." Love is obedience to
all the commandments of God. See
Attributes of God, Priority of above. For a full
discussion of the dependency of love on law, see
Law, Justice, Love, Law, etc..
Synonyms for Biblical love include Creation Mandate, Ten
Commandments, Biblical law, Biblical worldview, Kingdom of God,
and Great Commission. Love is the fulfillment of all that
God requires of persons.
Greek philosophers discussed "love" widely.
Their primary focus was eros which had a variety of
meanings according to the philosopher or philosophy using it..
Philo was also common. Agapé was rarely
mentioned among philosophers, literature, or common discussions.
As the Bible gave a complete meaning to logos, it also
gave new and completer meaning to agapé.
Love, unconditional: see
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Mars Hill: the Roman name for the Aeropagus
where Paul addressed the Greek philosophers. See
Acts 17:22-32 (above).
Materialism: See proof
Mathematics: for a primer on basic and
Biblical mathematics, see
and the Bible.
Meaning: (1) in linguistics. How is
communication possible? How do symbols translate into
understanding? (2) “The meaning of life is deeply
entrenched in the philosophical and religious conceptions of
existence, social ties, consciousness, and happiness, and
borders on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning,
ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will,
conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, and the
afterlife.” (Wikipedia, “meaning of life”)
The issue is rather
simple. Either there is
a personal creator who determines meaning for human persons or
an impersonal universe in which no meaning exists.
Biblically, meaning is
found in all of man’s callings: vocation (gifts and talents),
family, society, and government.
The sum of these is found in the answer to the 1st
answer of The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession of
Faith: “The chief end (meaning) of man is to glorify God and
enjoy Him forever.” All
work is worship, and all worship is work. See
Memory: (philosophy of mind) an incredible
power of the mind to “know” past events.
Bertrand Russell proposed that proof of what we remember
five minutes ago is impossible.
He is correct except for Biblical testimony that gives
man reassurance that his memory is dependable (not perfect).
Spoken language and music would be impossible without
memory, as only isolated, incoherent sounds would be heard.
Surely, memory is one of God’s greatest gifts to persons;
one could postulate that humans could not exist without memory.
Memory in Luke 22:19.
"Mere human logic": A phrase used piously to
reflect that "God's thoughts (or his "logic" or reasoning) are
not our thoughts." This phrase is destructive of all
believable propositions in the Biblical, Christian faith.
If God's "logic" differs from ours, then we know no eternal
truths. Any understanding of language is necessarily
dependent upon logic. There is, then, no correspondence
between human language and God's language, so that what He has
revealed to us in salvation is not "real." What we will
experience "face to face" is nothing like what we think that it
will be. While the intent of the phrase is noble, that is,
to protect the extent to which God's knowledge differs from
ours, the effect is to destroy any understanding of God and his
Creation, if not to annihilate the possibility of language
altogether. (2) The proof of my position is that "mere
human logic" must be used to state and defend this position.
The phrase is self-refuting, so it means nothing.
Therefore, there is correspondence between God's logic (He is
perfectly rational) and human logic. See
“If there is absolutely no point of contact between the
divine logic and so-called human logic, then what passes as
human ‘preaching’ can never be valid.” (Ronald Nash,
The Word of God and the Mind of Man, page 96)
The Westminster Confession of Faith and Logic.
This is God’s greatest attribute because God, Who is righteous
and in Whom is no sin, and Who cannot sin, Who is also perfectly
holy and just; yet, He is willing to grant to His elect, the
greatest blessings that He has to offer—inheritance and perfect
holiness In His Son—over and above this a se
righteousness. Of course, this offering required the greatest
possible offering—that of His Begotten Son, as the Son of Man
and God Himself. Mercy granted at infinite cost is “higher”
than righteousness. Thus, God predestined the Fall (not
“allowed it”) in order to demonstrate this mercy to “vessels of
wrath” (Romans 9:22). So, on a human level, mercy is the
highest attribute that man can show to others, as he gives up
justice and his own rights.
A metanarrative, as a Grand Narrative seems to face the same
problems as foundationalism or a search for justified
true beliefs. Since rejection of metanarratives is
within itself a performative contradiction, that is, is
itself a metanarrative, the end result is still a tautology
or circular argument (the place where all epistemologies
Metaphysics: a word coined to address study
"above and beyond" the physics of Aristotle and all speculative
philosophy since. Metaphysics without supernatural
Revelation is merely opinion and human speculation. See
cosmic personalism and speculative
Methodological naturalism: an approach to
natural science that excludes any supernatural cause, primarily the God
of Christianity. Is it essentially the approach of all
modern scientists, both Christian and non-Christian.
However, this author does not believe that it is a prerequisite
for modern, natural science. For a discussion of the significant
limitations of this approach, see
Methodological Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga.
Methodological supernaturalism: an approach
to modern, natural science that is interpreted through the grid
of a solid hermeneutical, Biblical framework. For a
proposal of what this approach might look like, see
Middle knowledge: “knowledge of what will
happen granted any possible set of conditions... (an attempt) to
reconcile divine sovereignty with indeterminist human freedom….
(but) if people have such
indeterminist freedom, God cannot have ‘middle knowledge’ of
what they will do, granted previous conditions. For the
conditions, on this view, never determine human free actions.
Thus indeterminism excludes divine middle knowledge.” (John
here.) For more, see
Paul Helm's refutation.
Mind: the non-physical component (spirit,
soul, heart, will) of man which thinks, reasons, and remembers
knowledge. The mind works through the brain by mechanisms
that will never be understood completely. However, the
brain as a physical organ cannot account for all the functions
of the mind and cannot be the "image of God" in man. See
Mind of Christ: (1) I Corinthians 2:16: "the
new mind" of a regenerate person, as it is
instructed, trained, and habituated by Scripture which "works
out (one's) salvation with fear and trembling" (sanctification).
(2) Abraham Kuyper conceived the idea of "an organic" mind of
all believers as they "mine the gold" of Scripture for every
encounter of its truth with falsehood throughout history.
Mind/brain dualism: See dualism
(Biblical or substance dualism).
Miracles: events that violate the patterns
(sometimes called laws) of natural science, devised by men.
While miracles are
often considered a great problem, extensively discussed
by both Christian and non-Christian philosophers, they are
simply a truth within the
framework of Biblical revelation. As someone has said, if
one can accept the resurrection of Jesus as one criterion for
eternal salvation, acceptance of other miracles simply
follows. For a philosophical treatment of miracles, see
Colin Brown: Miracles and the Critical Mind (Eerdmans,
"It is more consistent with the attributes of
the Deity to look upon miracles not as deviations from the laws
assigned by the Almighty for the government of matter and of
mind; but as the exact fulfillment of much more extensive laws
than those we supposed to exist." (Charles Babbage,
Ninth Treatise, quoted in Philip Jenkins, "The Miracle
Program," Chronicles (Rockford Institute), November
2011, page 40)
Everything or nothing. Either everything is a
miracle or there are no miracles! In common parlance,
miracles occur when usual events or “natural laws” are violated.
However, few persons reason that miracles require
pre-conditions. Water changed to wine is not possible
without water, jars, people with taste buds, an occasion to
drink wine, etc. Then, there are pre-conditions to these
objects: atomic and molecular structure that is water; DNA
coding and all else that pre-conditions one person, much less
several; then, there are the pre-conditions for the situation in
which wine is being drunk—all preparations and materials to make
that possible. So, what is the probability of all those
pre-conditions being present at the moment of the “miracle?” At
least as great as the miracle itself for the universe and people
in it have to exist, and that great pre-condition is
one that we all recognize as the 2nd greatest miracle—Creation
in Genesis in Chapter 1 and 2—in the
history of mankind. (The 1st being Christ’s
Modern philosophy: "The most disastrous day
in European history .. was the day that Descartes shut himself
up in his (warm room)," stated Archbishop William Temple.
"(On this day Descartes) set up individual consciousness as the
final criterion of truth." (Quotes from Colin Brown,
Philosophy and the Christian Faith, 52-53; also, see Andrew
Hoffecker, Revolutions in Worldview, 254)
Descartes is called "the father of modern philosophy," an
attempt by man to find all the answers to metaphysics,
epistemology, and morality within his own reasoning and without
the Revelation of the Holy Scriptures. See
Modernism: See modern philosophy.
Beginning with Descartes (at least with his cogito),
the attempt to understand metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics
without Special Revelation and based upon
reason alone. This approach resulted in
rationalism and its inherent presupposition
against Biblical Christianity. Its failure to achieve its
ends resulted in postmodernism. Modernism
failed to discern what Augustine stated, "I believe in order to
understand." All first principles are
beliefs, whether the thinker is an atheist or believer in
some religion. Both have their basic principles of
faith. That this
basic understanding of first principles has not been more widely
recognized is a glaring condemnation of the irrationality of
almost all philosophers.
Modernity: the modern attitude that almost
all ideas of the past are of no value. Moderns are the
only "enlightened ones." This attitude is linked to the
Enlightenment, although not quite identical with it (some
recognize the "genius" of past philosophers). This
position is a problem for Christians, as well as non-Christians,
because the ideas of the past are not always wrong.
Molinism: another term for middle
knowledge (see above).
Monism: The metaphysical belief that
everything in the universe is of one "substance." Fire,
water, numbers, and Greek "atoms" have been named. Modern
(post-Descartes) philosophy has narrowed the field to that which
is material (physical, sensical, empirical) and immaterial
(spiritual, ideal, supernatural). Orthodoxy
requires a Biblical dualism, but there
is a large contingent of (questionably) Bible-believing
Christians who are positing monism, at least relative to the
mind/brain issue. This latter position is therefore
"Mother-wit": "the ultimate agency involved
in exercise of our judgmental power" or in Michael Polanyi's
term, personal "tacit" power. (Reference for these
here.) While Kant wrote several books on his theories,
this small admission virtually negates all his attempts at "pure
reason": a mental faculty that is just "there" and not really
controlled by reason.
Music: (1) an aesthetic art. See
art. (2) Perhaps, the most purely
mathematical aesthetic. All musical notes are precise
mathematical frequencies that are arranged in a harmony that is
pleasing to human ears. Violation of these precise
harmonics results in cacophony—like the screech of fingernails
on a blackboard. Thus, music is a blend of the most
objective of the sciences—mathematics—with the most subjective
of disciplines—human art. We can only worship our Creator
at this wonderful combination of law and beauty. Does this
arrangement being to unpack an understanding of "the beauty of
Mystery: Biblically, some concept or event that is not
immediately understood, but may be known later. "Mystery"
is too often used among theologians and philosophers relative to
God's being and actions. Before declaring something a
"mystery," a diligent search should be made to see whether God
revealed what had been so-called. For example, He has
revealed the mystery that the Jews held for centuries that the
Gentiles should be "fellow-heirs" with them in salvation and
blessing (Ephesians 3:3-6). Also, the presence of evil and
an omnipotent, good God is not a mystery, but one solved both
directly by Biblical reference and logical necessity (Isaiah
author of sin, evil [God as the]).
Paradox is often used in association with
"mystery," and again sound Biblical exegesis may reveal that
neither mystery nor paradox exist where originally thought.
Certainly, many "mysteries" about God and His Providence will
always remain (Deuteronomy 29:29), but what has long and often
been declared "mystery" may have been clearly revealed in the
Bible after a diligent search.
Mysticism: Passively (on the part of the
recipient) imparted knowledge after birth (not innate).
Such knowledge cannot in and of itself be verified as true.
The person who receives it may believe it to be true, but should
not expect anyone else to believe it without some form of
objective (outside of himself) verification. Thus, such
knowledge may be entirely of the subject's imagination.
In the Bible, what might otherwise be called mysticism, is
sometimes called faith. For example, "Your faith has made
you well" (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, Luke 17:19, etc.). The
given knowledge was the certain conviction of healing.
That such knowledge can be acquired by an act of a person's will
or meditation (gnosticism) and not "from above" is a serious
misinterpretation of the definition of faith. In the above
sense of verification, the healing itself is the objective
evidence. God's activity in all such knowledge ended with
the close of Special Revelation, Chapter 22 of the Book of
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Naive realism: the concept prior to
Kant that the objects of experience are virtually what we
perceive them to be. Naive realism bypasses the comlex
process of an object registering on the retina, which must be
functioning "normally" (whatever that is), then be "perceived"
by the brain, and further interpreted by the "mind."
Interaction with that object is even more complex. Kant
structured the world of objects by intuitions and judgments of
the mind. See common sense philosophy.
Napoleon and Hegel: see Hegel and
Natural law: (1) The laws of nature, such
as, the law of gravity, Newton's three laws of motion, laws of
chemistry, etc. These are not really "laws," but
inferences (inductions) based upon the regularity of the
structures of God's Creation. The regularity was created
and is sustained by God; the scientist (man) calls it a "law."
The originator is God, not "nature." (2) Civil laws that derived from
natural ethics, as all civil law is based upon some ethical
system; all civil law that is not derived directly from Biblical
ethics and law. Basing civil law upon natural law, instead
of Biblical law, has been a major mistake made by Christians
through the ages and into modern time. Natural law can
only be decided by the authority of a tyrant (whether as an
individual or group) or vox populi, the vote of the
people as a majority or largest segment of a plurality.
For more on the invalidity of natural law, see this book
review of David Vandrunen's book,
A Biblical Case for Natural Law. See natural theology—natural
theology and natural law cannot be separated. The
inadequacy of natural law is seen in its advocates' inability to
establish definitively the problem of abortion, while God
simply, yet absolutely says, "You shall not murder!"
See noetic effects of sin.
Natural philosophy: beginning in the
Scholastic period, this term designated what today is called
natural science or just "science." For example, Isaac
Newton's great book on motion and gravity, published in 1687,
was entitled, The Mathematical Principles of Natural
Philosophy. Essentially, the process is
empiricism or the scientific method.
Natural theology: "Philosophy of religion
.... is terminology used to designate an old, old task, that of
"natural theology" (Oliphant, Reasons for Faith, page
13—emphasis his) Natural theology fails to establish any
concrete truths. In nature, there is both complex
construction and devastating destruction... beauty and
ugliness... complexity and simplicity... wholeness and
fragmentation... numbing coldness and invigorating warmth...
life and death, etc., etc. How does one determine a
theology from these extremes? Finite limitation and
vacillating contingency does not logically lead into perfection
and necessity, as many philosophers have argued.
These contingencies are all that unregenerate philosophers have
upon which to based their faith and reason. Christians who
base their arguments upon natural theology, one form of which is
lack coherence and correspondence, and are contingent in
themselves. Natural theology must be structured under
Biblical theology. Christian apologetics must defend
Christianity as the whole of Biblical and natural theology.
Brown's discussion and
philosophy of religion (below). See
natural law—natural law and natural theology
cannot be separated. Also, see negative natural
"The old term for philosophy of religion."
Reasons for Faith, page ix) "Natural theology
(is) the use of unaided human reason to draw theological
conclusions." (Paul Helm, Faith and Reason, page
15. See philosophy of religion.
Naturalism vs. Evolution. It is not clear to this Ed.
that naturalism is not the basis for
natural law and natural theology.
the mistake of
identifying moral good with any natural property.
That is, the characteristic of an object does not imply an
ought. For example, "water is good." Well, there is
the problem of drowning in water and floods, as opposed to water
being necessary for life in most instances. This obstacle
is also known as Hume's Fork. See
"No ought from an is."
Nature: (1) a synonym for the
material or physical world. Christians should be careful
the use of this term because of the connotation that "nature"
stands alone—the secular humanist's or Deist's belief. The
reality is that nature is God's creation, that it is maintained
by Him (Hebrews 1:3), and that a "supernatural" world exists
beyond nature. Further, the "reality" of nature is
predicated upon the greater "reality" of the spiritual world and
the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, Christians should use physical
creation, rather than "nature." See substance, being,
cosmic personalism. (2) The essence of something;
that which makes a nominal what it is. See
essence, substance, and ding and sich.
Negative natural theology: "natural theology
that tends to disconfirm the tenets of Christianity," (Philosophia
Christi 15(2):253. This Ed has argued against the
legitimacy of natural theology because it cannot be done with
inherent bias. This term, "negative natural theology,"
exposes that illegitimacy, as there is at least as much "natural
evidence" against orthodox Christianity, as for it.
More likely, there is exceedingly more such evidence when one
considers the theodicy of great natural disasters and heinous
crimes of humanity, as well as, the rarity of miracles vs. the
moment by moment action of the laws of nature.
Neo-Calvinism: a term variously applied to
post-Calvin philosophies and theologies that are mostly
consistent with his and traditional Reformed beliefs. Its
usefulness to designate any particular group is doubtful.
There are numerous such systems, each with their own
peculiarities and emphases. Almost certainly, the best
system was that developed and practiced by Abraham Kuyper,
although even he lacked Biblical consistency in some areas
(notably the role of the state in regulation). Calvinism
is alive and well today in multi-faceted forms. Those that
are Biblically consistent and true to one or more of the
Reformed confessions should preferably be seen as the continual
flowering of Calvinism, not some "neo-" group. Calvinism
is too rich and diverse for any one group to have the label,
"Neo-Calvinist." See Dooyeweerd
for one kind of neo-Calvinism that disparages the Scriptures.
Neo-orthodoxy: a movement that posited a
position between "liberal" theology and orthodox Christianity.
While there is not total agreement among them, they saw the
Scriptures as an important "word from God" along with tradition,
"personal encounter" of "being" with the "ultimate, various
philosophies, and various "modern sciences," such as, psychology
and sociology. They differ among themselves as to the
various emphases, but their vague terminology gives a deceptive
coherence to their philosophy. It is one of the broad
categories of Christianity that contrasts sharply with a truly
"No creed but Christ"; "no creed but the Bible."
Extremely naïve statements that are in every way as much a creed
(and a profoundly imprecise one) as any formally recognized
system. It is one of the great fallacies that perpetuates
divisions within Bible-believing Christianity because those who
make such professions indeed have their common ideologies.
See basic belief, basic belief, doctrine,
performative contradiction, and
"No ought from an is": any statement
about reality that intends to direct value (beauty, desire,
hope, etc.) or "what one ought to do" (morals, ethics) has moved
beyond description or objectivity. Modern science,
especially psychology and sociology, tries to pretend that it is
"objective." These "sciences" may say that two percent of
the population is homosexual, but they cannot say on the basis
of their research that homosexuality is moral or permissible.
Neither can any "hard" science say that God does not exist,
because metaphysics is a personal judgment, that is, an act of
faith (pro or con)--a value judgment. Textbooks on logic
discuss "no ought from an is" as a formal fallacy
or naturalistic fallacy.
Noetic effects of regeneration: Regeneration
does not eliminate the noetic effects of sin.
However, the primary noetic effect is an attitude to assent to
the Scriptures as the very word of God. The Scriptures
provide true propositions from which Biblical truth can be
extended by valid deduction. (Westminster Confession of Faith,
I:6) The central personal application of Biblical truth is one's
salvation in the grace of Jesus Christ alone.
Noetic effects of sin: "Noetic" is from
nous the Greek word for mind. Adam's fall affected
man's ability to think correctly and rationally. According
to Abraham Kuyper, those effects include the possibility of (1)
the constant possibility of falsehood, (2) unintentional
mistakes, (3) self-delusion and self-deception, (4) the
intrusion of phantasy into the imagination, (5) intentional
negative influences of other minds, (6) physical weakness
influencing the total human psychology, (7) the disorganized
relationships of one realm of life upon ideas from another
domain, (9) self-interest, (10) the weakening of mental energies
and the darkening of consciousness, (11) internal
disorganization of life harmonies, and (12) the loss of the
pou sto (a place to stand or point of reference for truth).
(Abraham Kuyper in Principles of Sacred Theology,
104-114, quoted in Robert Reymond, The Justification of
Knowledge, 30) God, however, has given a corrective
and certain method of avoiding the noetic effects of sin by
careful definitions and logic. Only valid deduction
(logical inference) from the propositions of Scripture avoids
these mistakes. (Westminster Confession of Faith, I:6) See
Noetic Effects of Sin (a more complete discussion).
Natural law: The noetic
effects of sin absolutely preclude any consistent knowledge of,
or agreement about, principles of natural law. Thus, God
must reveal in Scripture what laws are necessary for the self-
and civil government of persons.
Nominalism: the belief that only
individual objects (nom-. name) exist and share nothing
in common with other objects. Thus, there are no
universals (classes, classifications, etc.). Nominalism
does not allow for a universal church, only individual churches.
It allows for no universal headship in Adam or in Christ.
It is generally anti-realism.
Noosphere: from Greek for "mind" and
"sphere." A concept attributed to Teilhard de Chardin and
others of a collective consciousness and interaction of human
minds that arises after the atmosphere and biosphere in an
evolutionary process. The World Wide Web could be
one manifestation of that phenomenon. Abraham Kuyper had a
similar idea in his encyclopedia (Principles of Sacred
Theology), but Biblically coherent in that this
consciousness is divided between those (1) who have a two-fold
starting point in being regenerate and
Scripture as the sole criterion of truth and (2) who are
unregenerate with no true, or cohering principle. The
Scripture refers to these divisions as light and darkness, truth
and falsehood, wisdom and foolishness, and the mind of Christ
vs. the composite of world, flesh, and devil.
Nouthetic counseling: ethics is inherent in
counseling and so-called "psychotherapy," as "What is the right
instruction to give to someone in distress?" The only
counseling endorsed by this Ed is the approach of Jay Adams in
his books, lectures, and articles. There are deviations of
his approach in recent years that must be evaluated closely by
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Object: (1) the nominative predicate of a proposition
or (2) a proposition itself, both of which are of a "public
nature." We say, "There is a chair" with the chair being
an object that virtually everyone can see or sense. The
law of non-contradiction is an object of the study of logic in
the public arena. Object as a nominative contrasts with a
universal. While it has been debated, especially among the
Scholastics, whether universals "exist," certainly they only
exist as a classification of an object.
For example, the color "blue," does not exist apart from an
object that is blue. See classification.
Objective, objectivity: an attempt to "get outside
oneself" to look at the universe or make decisions about ethics without personal bias. This attempt is impossible, as one cannot avoid
his own presuppositions and "categories" (e.g., Kant). The
only person who can be fully objective is also fully subjective,
God alone. This union of subjectivity and objectivity is
one more demonstration of the unity within the Person of God and
the universe which He created (immanent and transcendent, not
pantheistic or panentheistic). Kant tries to give "objectivity" to the
subjective dimension of the "sensible manifold" by his
transcendental method, but even this approach has its
The objective Bible:
Because of its cultural status in the West, the Bible is not often
appreciated for its objectivity. It is God's mind
objectified... it is His Special Revelation
objectified... it is the knowledge that God wants humans to
have available to them objectified. The Bible is
the knowledge of God entering history through a source that is
an object. It is there in the public square for
the Church and for society for understanding and direction.
It is the objectively thinking philosopher's dream: a source of
metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics in a fixed, determined
source that he can study! The agreed-upon Bible is
the objective foundation of the three great Christian groups:
Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant.
Postmodernism: This attempt at
objectivity is one fault of the Protestant Reformation that has
led to neo-orthodoxy and postmodernism within the Church.
A perfect systematic theology is impossible. Abraham
Kuyper in his Principles of Sacred Theology describes the
Christian mind as being organic, the minds of all Christians of
all times growing in their Biblical understanding, as each new
challenge to its teaching is encountered. There should be
a dynamic between the subjects who are individual, regenerate
Christians and the objectivity of Scripture, as printed, not
interpreted. "We have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians
2:16). But, that mind will never be completed until the
consummation of all things in Christ.
Obscene, obscenity: It would perhaps be
impossible to give a short definition of this concept here.
I refer readers to a discussion by Peter Leithart
Occasionalism: the denial of cause and effect because
God links "occasions" that are His immediate action. Cause
and effect is simply God's linking one preceding event (cause)
with its following event (effect) when He is actually the cause
of both. This concept has never had many followers, but
violates the stance of the Westminster Confession on "second
causes" (III.1.). A similar, but extreme version, of
occasionalism would be Augustine's concept of continuous
Old earth-young earth debate: see
young earth-old earth debate.
Omnipotence: one of the attributes of God
which states that all power comes from Himself whether for good
or "evil." Adam's sin was planned by God; Satan's fall was
planned by God; all "natural" disasters (formerly called "acts
of God") are planned by Him; all human wreckage (wars, fires,
crashes, etc.) are planned by Him—"I form the light, and
create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the LORD do
all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). Logically, omnipotence
cannot be passive; it is always active. However, God's
plan of "evil" does not override the will of the agent; God is
not the person who sins or does evil; they are "secondary"
causes. Two excellent books on this subject are
Predestination and God and Evil: The Problem Solved.
See author of sin, Gods as above.
One and the many: (1) Ethics:
Utilitarian ethics places the "good" of the
many over that of the few or individual. Individualism
places the rights of the person over the group. Only
systematized, Biblical ethics is able to avoid conflict between
these two positions. Ultimately, this mutuality of
interests is the relationship within the Trinity, and to a
lesser degree in the family, Church, society, and civil
government. (2) See (The) Whole and its parts.
Ontological Argument: see
Ontologism: a concept that is somewhat
hard to understand. Malebranche, the French philosopher of
the 17th century, is most noted for this view. Ontologism
mans' "direct knowledge of the divine ideas, that
man 'sees' the ideas that subsist in the mind of God.... (that)
we see all things in God." (Ronald Nash, The Light of the
Mind, 102-103.) Most importantly from a conservative
and historical perspective, ontologism has been considered to be
a view that Augustine held. However, two Augustine
scholars state clearly that, taking the whole of what Augustine
wrote, ontologism cannot be found in him. (Nash, ibid.
Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosopy,
Volume II, 60-61, 63)
Ontology: study that is concerned with "what
exists," "what is," or the "ultimate ground" of all being.
Modern physics and relations and properties of things
demonstrate that ultimate ground or "substance" does not exist.
Scripture says that the ultimate ground is God speaking (Genesis
1: "And God said, 'Let there be...) and "In the
beginning was the Word... (John 1:1); that is, the Person of
God. See cosmic personalism.
Ontotheology: "Ontotheology occurs when philosophy
allows God to become a theme of its discourse only on its terms
and in the service of its project," completely denying Biblical
revelation in which God describes Who He is. Quote is from
Peter Leithart, who is quoting Merold Westphal
here. Ontotheoogy was coined by Immanuel Kant as one
type of transcendental theology. Martin Heidegger has soundly refuted this
process in his writings, which is also discussed at the URL
cited. See "god of the philosophers, ontotheology, philosophical imperialism,
and theism (classical).
"Open mind": the false notion that one
can achieve some state of neutrality relative to an issue.
Beliefs (assumptions, biases, premises, prejudices, etc.)
are formed over a lifetime and are held with varying degrees of
passion that cannot be dismissed. As with doubt,
"openness" is on of the great misconceptions to clarity and
rationality of thought in the modern age.
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." See
A forum on free-will theism...
Operationalism: see Functionalism.
Origins: see creation.
Orthodox, orthodoxy: Orthodoxy, literally
"right doctrine," exists at various levels. (1) The most
basic level which would separate true Christianity from false
Christianity would be belief in the 66 books of the agreed-upon
Bible as the ultimate authority, inerrant, and totally
sufficient to govern rightly all man's thinking (religion and
philosophy) and actions (ethics). (2) The next level would
be agreement on the historic creeds on the "catholic"
(universal) church, such as, The Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian,
and Chalcedon Creeds. (3) The next level would be the
creeds of the various denominations or individual churches.
Obviously, these differ greatly to issues of heresy, being
anathema, and even warfare, inquisition, and other forms of
bloodshed. (4) Finally, there is the "orthodoxy" of
individual belief. No two persons on earth agree upon
every jot and tittle of any interpretation, even or the
"agreed-upon" Scripture. However, the former levels give
strict guidance to this individual belief. Departure from
them causes the Christian to face almost insurmountable
challenges to his thinking "Christianly." While corporate
bodies (sessions, boards, synods, and councils) make mistakes
("err"), extreme caution must be exercised to differ with them,
and rarely is one "orthodox" in doing so. It is possible
that many of these issues could be resolved with stricter
attention to the rules of logic and coherence.
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Panentheism: an attempt to define God as "being" in
all created things, but with both God and creation each
retaining an identity separate from the other. Panentheism
is an attempt to avoid the "extremes" of pantheism and Thomistic
theism, while still allowing God to be immanent with His
creation, while transcendent above it. Panentheism is central to
the process theology of A. N. Whitehead. It may be
possible to define a sort of panentheism with a Biblical,
orthodox understanding of God. However, this term is used
mostly, if not entirely, by Neo-orthodox, Catholic, and other
non-evangelical theologians and philosophers. Thus, even a
truly Biblical panentheism would still be linked to these other
uses and any helpful designation would be lost. It would
be best to use the traditional and orthodox description that God
is both immanent in, and transcendent above, His Creation.
Biblically, "all things are upheld by the Word of His power"
(Hebrews 1:3) and "in Him we live, and move, and have our being"
(Acts 17:28). (For a book on the subject, see John W.
Cooper, Panentheism: The Other God of the Philosophers,
Pantheism: a complex term that whatever
"god" or controlling influence in the universe is unified
and inseparable from the natural world. See
panentheism, immanence, and transcendence.
Paradox: the judgment that two or more propositions
cannot both be true, as a subjective position. However,
this conclusion may be only "apparent" due to incomplete or
false reasoning or a lack of sufficient knowledge. Every attempt
logically should be made to resolve what anyone has called a
"paradox." The Bible is not full of paradoxes
and contradictions. In fact, properly understood, it has
no paradoxes. Within the intuitive knowledge of God's own
are no paradoxes. See
here. Also, see "mere human logic" (above)
"When a theologian asserts that a given
paradox cannot be solved in this life by any human being, he is
making an assertion that requires omniscience. That a scholar
has failed to find in Scripture the solution of a difficulty
does not prove that none is there. Before such a conclusion
could be reasonably drawn, it would be necessary to trace out
all the inferences derivable from Scripture. When all are set
down, only then could one reasonably assert that the solution is
not there." (Gordon Clark,
Peace: "You will keep him in perfect
peace, Whose mind
is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You"
(Isaiah 26:3). A perplexing and slippery concept in
philosophy is certainty. There is a
definite correspondence of the Biblical concept of peace, which
includes regeneration and a basic understanding
of forgiveness that exists in the sacrificial death of Jesus
Christ. It is not too difficult to relate "trust" to
certainty. The truth is that true "peace" of mind
and "certainty" of knowledge can be found only in
regeneration and proper Biblical belief. Perhaps,
the "rest" of the Sabbath rest and the "rest" of the book of
Hebrews is virtually identical with "peace."
Peirce, Charles Sanders (1939-1914):
American philosopher, mathemetician, logician, and scientist who
is called the "father of pragmatism," but he preferred the term,
"pragmaticism" to distinguish his approach from that of William
James. An eccentric who thought "outside the box,:" and
who is well worth studying. Many of his writings are
Pelagianism: see the note on Arminianism and
Pelagianism under free will.
Performative contradiction: A statement that
contradicts itself when stated; self-refuting
proposition. Perhaps the most famous example is
from Descartes who said that whether his thinking was "clear and
distinct" or "false," he was still thinking. Thus, he
equated thinking with existence with his famous
cogito, "I think; therefore I am." This contradiction
is powerful. The only way to refute it is to posit that
thinking itself is a deception, but Scripture confirms that we
think so that the performative contradiction is true.
Other performative contradicting include the verification
principle of the Logical Positivists, and the statement of the
post-moderns that "There are no absolutes." See
Person: (1) the living organism which is conceived from a descendent
of Adam and Eve until its death. (2) "Philosophers err when they confine
their attention to 'universal man' There is only one real
man: the suffering, tearing, individual on the street; he who is
here today and gone tomorrow. he whose heart is the scene of
relentless conflict between the self as it ought to be.
Whenever a philosopher speaks of mankind in the abstract, rather
than concrete individuals at home and in the market, he deceives
both himself and all who have faith in his teaching."
(Carnell, The Case for Biblical Christianity... page
58) Only the Scriptures have the answers for this "real
man." Philosophy without revelation is an endless search
that will provide no answers for man's purpose and destiny.
(3) Gordon Clark, in several of his books, has defined a person
as a "set of propositions." Bible-believing philosophers
should seriously consider this definition and meet its
challenges. For myself, I have not yet fully been able to
limit person to this definition. Jonathan Edwards held a
similar, if not identical, definition as well. See
Personhood: This word does not appear in
Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1828
Edition) or in the Webster's New International Dictionary of
the English Language (2nd Edition, 1950). Neither
does it appear in several dictionaries of philosophy that I
reviewed. My personal belief, grounded in these and other
observations, is that "personhood" is a means of obscuration of
the status of the unborn child in the abortion debate.
Instead of the unborn child at his various stages (conceptus,
embryo, fetus, etc.) being a person (1st
definition above), then he has to have or achieve some
characteristic of "personhood" to be morally and legally
If my reasoning is correct, then to use personhood at all in
this debate is virtually to give away the argument. From
conception, the unborn child is a person.
Because of the Fall and sin, we are all imperfect in many ways,
so the idea of having to achieve some "state of being" (-hood)
is unbiblical, unscientific, and heinously immoral.
Phenomenology: an attempt to isolate
and understand an object without any kind of pre-conceived
concepts, categories, or presuppositions. In a
post-Kantian world, and moreso with the inherent nature of
beliefs and presuppositions, even the idea of such an approach
is beyond any reasonable consideration. Yet, this approach
occupies perhaps the predominant occupation of continental
philosophy. Further, that a Bible-believing Christian
would not apply Biblical propositions to all phenomena that he
encounters reduces Christianity to nonsense.
"Philosophical imperialism": "The
comprehensiveness of philosophy has often led philosophers to
seek to rule over all other disciplines, even over theology,
over God’s Word. Even philosophers attempting to construct a
Christian philosophy have been guilty of this, and some have
even insisted that Scripture itself cannot be understood
properly unless it is read in a way prescribed by the
philosopher! Certainly, philosophy can help us to interpret
Scripture; philosophers often have interesting insights about
language, for example. But the line must be drawn: where a
philosophical scheme contradicts Scripture or where it seeks to
inhibit the freedom of exegesis without Scriptural warrant, it
must be rejected.” (John Frame,
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, page 86) See
While Oliphint did not use the label, "philosophical
imperialism," as Frame did, nevertheless his comments are
"Francis Turretin's warning is as relevant now as it was then;
we must not allow our great love of philosophy so to captivate
us that we become all too ready to abandon our theology for the
sake of philosophical acumen or academic respectability (page
xi) ... One has to search far and wide for a philosophy
of religion that takes seriously its place as a
handmaid to theology. Conversely, one need hardly search
at all for an article or essay in philosophy or philosophy of
religion wherein the historic truths of Christianity are under
attack. Not only so, but philosophy, because of its
subject matter and its general methodology, has an allure to
many that is Sirenically seductive in its force. So, says
(Francis) Turretin, 'This [use of philosophy] must however be
done so carefully that too great a love of philosophy may not
captivate us and that we may not regard it as a mistress, but as
a handmaid.'" (Oliphint,
Reasons for Faith, page 32)
Philosophy: (1) A synonym of religion in that it is an attempt
to find meaning, purpose, and understanding of the universe apart from
the supernatural, that is, apart from God. This definition makes
all philosophy, that does not posit the Bible as its first principle,
merely forms of humanism. The apparent sophistication of philosophy
gives it an aura of intellectual pursuit that is deceptive in its denial
of God. See
All Philosophy Is Unavoidably Religious
Epistemology as Religion. See
philosophy of religion,
natural law, and natural theology
which are all one and the same.
"There are few areas of philosophy that are
shorn of religious implications. Religious traditions are so
comprehensive and all-encompassing in their claims that almost
every domain of philosophy may be drawn upon in the
philosophical investigation of their coherence, justification,
and value." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online,
"Philosophy of Religion")
"Of course, every system of philosophy is
religious, not in the sense that it advocates certain rites of
worship, but in the more important sense that (1) it is
committed at some point to faith-presuppositions, just as
religions, are, and (2) it offers a comprehensive worldview and
comprehensive solutions for the troubles of human beings.
(John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, page 32)
"Secularism... is the name for a ideology, a
new closed world-view which functions very much like a new
religion." (Harvey Cox, The Secular City, page
21, quoted in Sproul et al, Classical Apologetics, page
(2) A serious and self-conscious pursuit of reliable knowledge.
"The unexamined life is not worth living," said Socrates. In this
pursuit, one has to consider the origin of the universe (cosmology or
metaphysics) and how sound knowledge may be obtained. Based upon
these two considerations, one then must choose how to determine right
and wrong (ethics). Reasoning in the areas of metaphysics,
epistemology, and ethics uses the tools of language and logic.
Faith (basic belief) is the foundation for this pursuit, as no person
can avoid having an unproven and circular first principle (axiom) that
determines what conclusions he will draw in his subsequent theorems.
The regenerate mind will choose the Bible as truth, an epistemological
authority above all others. The unregenerate mind will choose some
other belief system than the Bible.
(3) The coherent and serious application of the rules of
logic and grammar to ideas (propositions), so that understanding
of those ideas and their derivative notions correspond to
reality and demonstrate their pragmatic value.
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Philosophy, Biblical: the philosophical system that
posits the 66 books of the worldwide agreed-upon Bible as the final,
ultimate, inerrant, and totally sufficient authority for all issues of
religion and philosophy. A synonym is Biblical Christianity.
A close approximation is the Reformed theology of the
Westminster Confession of Faith and its Catechisms. The only
difference between Biblical philosophy and Biblical theology is that
philosophy determines the form and nature of the discussion, instead of
the centrality of Biblical themes. However, Biblical authority
supersedes any philosophical authority in a broad and comprehensive
Philosophy, Christian: There are two types of
"Christian" philosophy. (1) One
"Christian" philosophy is exemplified by the Society of
Christian Philosophers. "The
Society is open to anyone interested in philosophy who considers
himself or herself a Christian. Membership is not
restricted to any particular 'school' of philosophy or to any
branch of Christianity, nor to professional philosophers."
Such a loose statement allows any position resembling
"Christian" that requires only a personal claim. But a
Christian who does not at least claim agreement with one or more
of the orthodox creeds (for example, Apostles', Nicene, or
Chalcedonian) has no grounds to call himself or herself a
Christian or to pursue "Christian" philosophy. The
definitive division for "Christians" is the infallibility and
sufficiency of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.
"Christian" today can mean almost any belief system and this
diversity of beliefs in reflected in Faith and Philosophy,
the journal of that society. For more, see
(2) "Christian philosophy deliberately poses to interpret the created
world in the light of the Christian Scriptures. In doing so, it
denies that it is sacrificing its claim to the name philosophy.
The Christian philosopher repudiates the dogmatism that would make the
human consciousness autonomous and philosophy a purely 'intellectual'
enterprise, carried on in a abstraction from 'faith.' He insists,
on the contrary, that the beginning of an adequate interpretation of the
world can be made only when a thinker allows himself to be instructed by
that world's maker and interpreter, only when a philosopher enrolls
himself in the school of God." (Henry Stob,
Theological Reflections, page 178-179.) True
"Christian philosophy" is Biblical philosophy.
Ed: I am using the term, "Biblical philosophy, hence this
website. Of course, one could list a number of "Christian"
philosophies: Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon,
Arminian, Calvinistic, liberal, Neo-Orthodox, etc. But the
watershed issue is that of the Scriptures, as stated above.
God has spoken clearly, and we heed His voice, or we only see
His voice as One among many.
Philosophy of ... : E.g. philosophy of
science, philosophy of art, philosophy of economics, or
philosophy of _________ any scholarly area. There is no
correspondence to "a philosophy of _________." There is a
philosophy of a person or a philosophy of a group in a
particular area who identifies themselves with a specific
philosophy. For example, the philosophy of science for
Isaac Newton was based in the Biblical God as Creator of the
universe, but the philosophy of science of Richard Dawkins is
based in a totally atheistic universe. Both have a
"philosophy of science," but their philosophies are not the
same. Not being specific with such terms is this manner
has caused great confusion in any attempt for clarity and
coherence within the whole of philosophy.
Philosophy of religion: See natural
theology above. Actually, this term is a
misnomer. "Philosophy" is a religious enterprise within
itself, as it seeks to understand the universe and mankind and
ethics—the same tasks as those of religion.
Philosophy of religion in the west is virtually identical with
philosophy of Christianity. Then, within Christianity
there is almost every "philosophy" or belief imaginable.
Actually, there are only two philosophies and they are
antithetical: Biblical philosophy and all other "Christian"
philosophies. See philosophy of ...
Synonyms: It may help the
reader to grasp the inclusiveness of "philosophy of religion" by
listing synonyms. These include natural religion,
philosophical theology, theological philosophy, natural
theology, natural law, theology of science, liberal theology,
neo-orthodoxy, atheism, agnosticism, all non-Biblical forms of
Christianity, non-biblical religion, non-biblical philosophy,
secular philosophy, all non-Christian religions, all “arguments”
for God (cosmological, ontological, metaphysical, etc.),
evidentialism, brute facts, naturalism… Thus,
does not posit the 66 books of the agreed-upon Bible as its
ultimate, final, inerrant, and sufficient authority stands in
antithesis to the true religion and philosophy: Biblical
Philosophy of theology, philosophical theology,
philosophical theism, theistic philosophy:
synonyms of philosophy of religion.
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idea that there are a variety of truths in epistemology and
That is, “all religions are fundamentally one,” “there is
strength in diversity,” and “we should all love each other.”
Pluralism is perhaps the most dominant philosophy in the
world today, including the thinking of Christians.
Likewise, it is possibly the most dangerous.
The Bible, and the God who wrote it, is the only truth
(Deuteronomy 6:4; John 14:6; John 17:17).
(1) There can be only one truth Biblically.
(2) There can only be one truth according to the law of
(3) There can only be one truth by common sense, as there must
be a standard by which to judge whether anything can be known.
There are only two systems, not a plurality ("light" and
"darkness"): (1) Biblical Christianity with its definitive and
comprehensive worldview and (2) all non-Biblical systems.
Modern uni-versities try to exist in
but they cannot cohere on pluralism.
Nations want a one-world government, but that is not possible unless
one ideology forces its beliefs on others.
Many people want “non-partisan” politics, but that is
impossible as everyone is trying
to promote their particular agenda.
Unity in diversity is impossible for the reasons named.
Truth only exists in the Scriptures.
Unity among people and nations will only be achieved
through Biblical ethics (governing in politics).
Philosophers, and particularly Christian philosophers,
who think diversity has any answers, first deny the law of
noncontradiction, and secondly, deny the God of the Bible.
Pluralism is unstable and cannot last: eventually one "-ism" or
an outside agency will subdue the other "-isms." It is
interesting, and an almost proof of Christianity, that it is the
only system not allowed among the others.
Polanyi, Michael (1891-1976):
born Hungarian, worked early in his career in Germany,
but spent most of his life in Britain.
He has possibly written the most important works of the 20th
century to refute the "objectivity"
of science. His book, Personal Knowledge, is an
extensive history and refutation of scientism
and a major defense of the subjectivity of the scientific
method. (These were his re-worked Gifford Lectures of
1951-52. When scientism and the scientific method are
refuted, atheism and secular humanism has nothing left upon
which to stand. Polanyi provides more than enough
ammunition to destroy these two intellectual enemies of
Christianity and truth. For more on Polanyi, visit
The Polanyi Society and my own
the dominant religion on the campuses of higher education and
in civil government today. That this ideology is called
"political" is telling. What is socially dominant
becomes civil law, and that is the intention of those who hold
these views. As same-sex marriage, widespread
acceptance of homosexuality, abortion as acceptable birth
control, a prevalent anti-Christian bias, and other unbiblical
practices increase (even what we can or cannot eat!), civil laws
to enforce this behavior increase, as well. See
Positivism: the theory
that knowledge is only possible empirically, that is, by sensory
means which includes natural science with instruments to enhance
these senses. Positivism excludes philosophy and religion
from producing knowledge. Embarrassing to positivists was
the rabid contention of the logical positivists
that their "verification principle" failed their own position.
Synonym of scientism.
many philosophers, both Christian and pagan, like to speculate
about possible conditions in other "possible worlds." For
a Christian, this approach is absurd. God necessarily
created this cosmos, the universe that we know.
Since God's thought is intuitive, rather than discursive, what
He thinks to create becomes or "is." He has given us no
hint of other worlds; thus, this cosmos is the only one
that is. Gottfried was correct that this is the "best
possible world" and the only world.
A logical problem of possible worlds is
that it creates infinite possibilities because of infinite
worlds. If philosophy cannot draw any consensus views
after 2500 years, then possible worlds makes any possible
progress virtually zero.
Postmodernism: a reaction to the
failure of The Enlightenment Project (godless
or pure rationalism). Its premise is that "There are no
absolutes" (which is a performative contradiction)
and a host of new concepts, such as "the death of the author," "metanarratives,"
"turns" of various kinds, the hermeneutical circle, and
"hermeneutics of suspicion."
It is basically a system of deconstruction with no
agreed-upon reconstruction. In a real sense, postmodernism was the
"logical conclusion" of modernism and its
irrationality of rationality, "and to this extent no real
alternative to modernity after all." (John R. Betz,
After Enlightenment: Haman as a Post-Secular Visionary,
313). For more on postmodernism, see
Leithart on Postmodernism or see his book, Solomon Among
the Postmoderns. For another Biblical perspective on
postmodernism, see Millard Erickson's book, Truth or
Pragmatism, pragmatic test of truth: the
test of truth by the criterion of "what works." Biblical
Christianity is not often recognized as being "pragmatic," but
being that it is God-designed, it must be the most pragmatic
system known to man. Properly understood, there is never
any conflict between the individual, his family, the church,
society, and government of the city, state, nation, and world.
What could be more pragmatic that that lack of conflict?
In the Christian West, the achievements of Christianity offer a
stark contrast to the rest of the world. It established
the nation with the most freedom of any in history: the United
States. It has achieved an economic prosperity that other
nation can only mimic or piggyback to achieve similar results.
It abolished and set a standard against human slavery. It
defeated Communism which was the most non-pragmatic of ideas. The
United States is the most philanthropic nation. Modern
science developed in the West. World exploration began in
the West. And, on and on. For a short, but accurate
summary of this development, see Rodney Stark, The Victory
of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and
Predication: to posit a characteristic of an
object or to say what a thing "is," e.g. Fido is a dog.
Possibly, the most common error in predication is that "is" is
an equals sign because it is most commonly used as an adjective,
not a noun.. One widespread and severe misunderstanding is "God is love." But God is far more than love: He is
truth, omniscient, omnipotent, unchanging, perfectly righteous,
holy, worthy of the greatest worship, etc., etc., etc.
Synonyms of predication are nature, essence, being, and
substance, as these apply to nominatives.
Pre-established harmony: Leibniz'
theory that God "pre-established" the spiritual world and the
material world to coincide at every point. Those who
believe in substance or Cartesian dualism have never solved the
dilemma of how the material and spiritual interact; more
correctly, how the spiritual realm "causes" actions in the
material world. By Leibniz' theory, this causality does
not have to occur. Particularly, this theory applies to
philosophy of mind; man's spirit does not "interact" with the
brain, but each works simultaneously with the other. This
concept is considered to be a form of occasionalism.
Presbyterian: roughly equivalent to
Calvinism and Reformed.
Presupposition: See first principle,
basic belief, etc.
Tacit presupposition: biases,
prejudices, and beliefs that are "subconscious" in the sense
that they affect our actions without conscious knowledge.
For example, a child raised in a particular religion will act on
those beliefs until he examines them for himself.
Socrates' "examined life" is a directive to evaluate and
understand how these beliefs affect us and whether they are the
best bases for our thought, speech, and actions.
Primacy of the intellect: See
Principium, principle: "All unprovable judgments, in so
far as they are the ground of all judgments, are called
principles, and they are either theoretical or
practical." (Kant, Lectures on Logic)
First principle, axiom, starting point, arché,
Webster, 1828 Dictionary: "(L.
principium, beginning.) In a general sense, the
cause, source or origin of any thing; that from which a thing
proceeds; as the principle of motion; the principles of action."
Etymology.com: "late 14c.,
"origin, source, beginning; rule of conduct; axiom, basic
assumption; elemental aspect of a craft or discipline," from
Anglo-French principle, Old French
principe "origin, cause,
principle," from Latin principium
(plural principia) "a beginning,
commencement, origin, first part," in plural "foundation,
elements," from princeps (see
prince). Used absolutely for (good or
moral) principle from 1650s."
Herman Bavinck: "the basic cause
and ground of reality, as well as, the means by which we come to
know them.... Theologians also adopted this terminology.
By way of revelation God makes himself known to us as the
primary efficient cause of all things. Holy Scripture is
the external instrumental efficient cause of theology, and
divine revelation also requires the internal illumination of the
Holy Spirit.... God is the essential foundation (principium
essendi); Scripture is the external cognitive foundation (principium
cognoscendi internum); and the Holy Spirit is the internal
principle of knowing (principium cognoscendi internum)."
(Reformed Dogmatics, "Scientific Foundations," 207)
Probability: The likelihood that a certain
event will happen based upon past events. In a chance
universe, probability has no place. There is no
probability to random chance, yet much of modern science is
based upon probability, especially in medicine.
Probability has a functional (pragmatic) basis in an ordered
universe which has been profoundly affected by a cataclysmic
event, The Fall. Probability is not truth
and has a varied certainty, but great pragmatic value in this
"The notion of probability is weaker than the notion of truth."
(James Loder, The Knight's Move, p. 39)
Progress: the idea that some condition of
man's existence is better than one that came before it.
However, "better" is a highly charged and relative term.
Better denotes a standard by which to measure... to recognize
change more in line with that standard. If that standard
is technology, then progress has been continual, virtually from
"pre-historic" times. Progress in education, however, is
not so certain; schools of the modern era do not necessarily
turn out "better" thinkers and scholarly persons.
But, the concern should be "better" by God's standards.
Better means greater evangelism, study of the Bible, growth of
the Church, greater righteousness of persons and peoples, and
most importantly, the worship of God. (Worship may be in
everyday, "secular" work, work of the Church, or formal
Scientific progress: Science
can say nothing about progress. Inherent to progress is
something "better." Better is a moral/ethical judgment.
Science can only say "what is" and attempt to explain how, but
value (goof, "better," morality, ethics) is metaphysical
speculation, not science.
Progressive creation: “God’s creative action (that) has occurred
over long periods of time through a variety of means.”
This definition “calls
attention … to the divine purpose (in creation), rather than on
the details of the processes God used to achieve those results.”
(J. J. Davis,
The Frontiers of Science
and Faith, 127). This
term would encompass several forms of what might otherwise be
called “theistic evolution.” The
term seems to have originated with Bernard Ramm.
evidence or propositions which are sufficient to a person to
cause him to change his mind or agree with the argument.
Proof, however, is always limited to an individual's worldview—what
he will accept; a proof is
not possible between worldviews. For example, a proof of
for a person who believes in
materialism or other atheistic system is impossible.
When the atheist asks for "proof," he has already decided what
he will or will not accept to support or deny his position.
Proof is always relative to the system of philosophy or
religions of any person. In fact, it would be incoherent
for a person to accept an argument as proof that contradicted
his system. Thus, all arguments are circular
and are dependent upon an individual or groups
worldview; and all cosmological arguments fail on this
basis. Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems destroyed
forever the notion of appeal to proof outside of a defined
system. Proofs are always and inherently circular and a
Properly functioning faculty: See
Property: In the 17th and 18th centuries, a
requirement for the most basic rights of man, stated as
"life, liberty, and property." Simone Weil states this
essential need/right in her Statement of Obligations, thus:
The human soul has need of both personal
property and collective property. Personal property never
consists in the possession of a sum of money, but in the
ownership of concrete objects like a house, a field,
furniture, tools, which seem to the soul to be an extension
of itself and of the body. Justice requires that personal
property, in this sense, should be, like liberty,
inalienable. Collective property is not defined by a legal
title but by the feeling among members of a human milieu
that certain objects are like an extension or development of
the milieu. This feeling is only possible in certain
objective conditions. The existence of a social class
defined by the lack of personal and collective property is
as shameful as slavery.
Psychologism: to identify
non-psychological with psychological entities. For instance,
philosophers who think that logical laws are not
psychological laws would view it as psychologism to identify
the two. Other authors use the term in a neutral descriptive
or even in a positive sense. ‘Psychologism’ then refers
(approvingly) to positions that apply psychological
techniques to traditional philosophical problems. ‘Psychologism’
entered the English language as a translation of the German
word ‘Psychologismus’, a term coined by the
Hegelian Johann Eduard Erdmann in 1870 to critically
characterize the philosophical position of Eduard Beneke.
Although the term continues to be used today, criticisms and
defenses of psychologism have mostly been absorbed into
wider debates over the pros and cons of philosophical
naturalism. (Ed has modified this definition for
brevity, clarity, and context from
The Plato-Stanford Encyclpedia.) Without God,
naturalism cannot explain how man thinks logically,
empirically, or conceptually; only as Creator can any
account be given for mind and reason.
Psychology, psychotherapy: ethics
applied in real-life situations. Apart from Biblical
control and authority, both are inherently
secular and immersed in an unbiblical anthropology.
Biblical counseling is nouthetic counseling.
Modern psychology. "Today,
psychology means a science in the sense of natural science, if
not exactly equal in stature to physics and chemistry, at least
a younger brother who is almost as smart or as strong.
Psychology lusted for a century and a half after the coronation
to the throne of Truth which the Enlightenment handed to
astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, and later to biology.
Sometime in the latter half of the 20th century, psychology
weaseled its way into the chambers of the common mind and raped
it, siring a 'science.' Psychology wanted the trappings of
natural science, and wears them now. No self-respecting
modern definition of psychology would dare use the term 'soul,'
with all the religious baggage that it packs. Today's
psychology is not a mere 'discourse' or 'treatise' but is
buttressed with 'facts.' Discourses and treatises are
fusty opinions. Psychology is (Enlightenment--above)
Truth." Hilton Terrell in private communication to this
Purpose of life: see meaning.
Psychiatry: essentially the practice
of psychology by a person with an M.D. or equivalent who can
prescribe drugs for mental conditions. A psychologist may
recommend, but not prescribe, such medications.
Psychology: the science of how the
mind works. Psychology must be Biblically
structured, as the Bible is "the textbook" on psychology:
psych-mind or soul and ology-science or study of. See Biblical psychology, secular
psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy
here (and the references at that url). The mind is almost
infinitely complex, and only God can fully understand it
(Jeremiah 17:9). The reader must be aware that heart
and mind are facets of the same entity (also, overlapping with
soul and spirit).
Psychology, evolutionary: A more recently
developed area of psychology that intends to explain human
emotions, reasons, and behaviors on the basis of evolutionary
theories. As a Christian would expect, it is entirely
secular and humanistic. Christians have no basis to use
its theories or research, instead of Biblical explanations, yet
many are attempting to do so. The Bible is truth; no
empirical science can arrive at truth by its own philosophy and
Van Orman: A modern philosophical linguist who
demonstrates the complexity of language. He has also
challenged empiricism in his paper,
The Two Dogmas...
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Rational: See reason.
Rationalism: "A system of philosophy which
holds that all knowledge is based upon reason (logic) alone."
(Clark, Thales to Dewey, page 311) However,
reason does not choose the knowledge that is already present at
the time that reason begins. Thus, all conclusions are
entirely and wholly limited by that a priori knowledge
that is either innate or acquired in the early phases of one's
life. Further, belief (faith) is prior to reason, as
Augustine said, "I believe in order to understand." So,
reason is not really a source of knowledge, as it is
traditionally designated, but is a method of forming
conclusions about knowledge that already exists in one's mind.
It is the application of the rules of logic, avoidance of fallacies,
carefully derived and coherent definitions, and other means of thinking
clearly. Reason may challenge and develop the
coherence of a system of knowledge, but it cannot choose that knowledge which
is already present—choosing one's basic beliefs is an act of
faith. Rationalism has been called "The
Enlightenment Project" since Descartes, as an attempt to discern
truth without Special Revelation, i.e., by man's reason alone.
Thus, man becomes the "measure of all things." This
concept is different from being rational.
See The Enlightenment Project.
Real; Reality: "what is." See true, truth.
Realism: (1) the belief that objects in the
universe exist on their own, independent of any mind that
perceives them. This position would be coherent with the
Genesis account of Creation ex nihilo. However,
objects are perceived only by minds. Thus,
objects can only be know subjectively, and for this
reason are always interpreted objects. Objects
can never be know objectively, or in Kant's terms, "in
themselves" (ding an sich). Empiricism
(induction) is the methodology of study of objects and their
behavior, even though this method by definition can never arrive
at truth (non-universal). However, as operationalism, it
can be quite powerful in a pragmatic way. (2) The belief that
truth exists. There are two forms: (a) Does objective
truth exist? If so, (b) can the mind perceive and
understand it? Jesus said, "You can know the truth, and
the truth will make you free!" So, yes, the truth exists
(only in the Bible) and we can "know" it, as He said. (3)
Do ethics exist in an objective form? Again, the Bible
gives the answer in that ethics (right and wrong, righteousness,
justice, etc.) is everything that the Bible has to say about
Implications of realism for the Christian Church:
(The controversy between Platonic realism and
universals) was very important to scholars during the Middle
Ages. If realism were correct, there could be a Universal
Church with authoritative dogma. We could all sin in Adam,
and the doctrine of redemption could apply to all humanity.
If nominalism were correct, only particular churches were real;
furthermore, the sin of Adam and the work of redemption would
not apply to everyone, and we might be free to substitute our
private judgments for the decrees of the Church. The
Medieval Church supported realism, since nominalism tended to
undermine its authority. (Titus, Smith, and Nolan,
Living Issues in Philosophy, 282. Perhaps, this brief
synopsis is a little simplistic, but it is illustrative of the
Reason and faith: see faith-reason.
Reason, rational: The process by which argument or
communication from one person to another is made skillfully, using
all the tools of philosophy: definition, sentence structure and
grammar, induction and deduction, syllogism, and any other means necessary to
the process. See
Reason Fully Defined
Unraveling the Concept of
Reasonable: A more colloquial term used loosely to
justify a statement or argument by virtually whatever means the
person chooses. "It seems reasonable that the student will
improve his grades if he works harder on his schoolwork."
(The) Reformation: A Biblical correction to the
theological errors and ethical (and social) abuses in the
Roman Catholic Church, beginning in the 14th century and gaining
its momentum and effective changes in the 16th century.
The participants were "protesting" (thus, Protestant), not
seeking to form a new church until the Council of Trent made
many of these errors, heresis, and abuses into formal Church
doctrine and the
persons who believed otherwise were condemned "anathema."
So, there was no alternative for those who made these
corrections, but to separate themselves from the Mother Church
to preserve the purity and peace of the
Church and in many cases, their own lives. There can be no true healing between Protestants
and Catholics until the latter revokes officially those
propositions of the Council of Trent. The Reformation is
important to philosophy because it was based upon Scripture (the
words of God) rather than philosophy (the words of men).
Reformational catholicism: a proposal by Peter
Leithart to promote a dialogue and eventual catholicity of
bible-believing Protestants and Roman Catholics. See his
"The End of Protestantism"
Reformed theology: See Calvinism.
Reformed epistemology: The position held by Alvin
Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and others
"that people are
rationally justified in believing in God without evidence or
argument, though such rational beliefs are open to refutation by
evidence and argument.... we come to know God when our faculties
of knowledge, working rightly and placed in the proper
environment, come naturally to form a belief in him."
(John Frame, "Machen's Warrior Children," at
"Reformed epistemology" is an inappropriately
chosen term. Wolterstorff identifies with the "Continental
Reformed (Calvinist) tradition .... (and) has characteristically
been antievidentialist." (Faith and Rationality,
page 7. ) But this position has also posited sola
Scriptura, the Bible as truth, inerrant, and sufficient as
a rule of faith and practice and total depravity or inability,
that man cannot know truth (God and His word to man, as defined
by Scripture) apart from regeneration. Neither "warrant"
nor "justification" (in the philosophical sense) can persuade
the unregenerate of the truth of Scripture. Belief in the
Scripture does not need to be "justified" for the regenerate.
He is persuaded by the Holy Spirit. Further, those in
Reformed epistemology rely on Scripture or theology only
sparingly, whereas the theologically Reformed are thoroughly
grounded in Scripture. In this Ed's opinion, Reformed
epistemologists are guilty of "philosophical imperialism."
The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, page 86. Also
quoted on this website
"Reformed epistemology" is not "Reformed
philosophy" nor "Reformed theology." It is a narrow
definition held by a few philosophers who minimize, even
compromise, the authority of Scripture as the ultimate
Regenerate, Regeneration: Biblically, "born-again" or
"born-from-above." The change wrought in the human soul (spirit)
by the work of the Holy Spirit that causes a person to believe that the
Bible is the Word of God (truth) and that it primarily speaks of
salvation in Jesus Christ. All peoples of the earth can be divided
into the regenerate and the unregenerate (the world and the church),
except perhaps those in the process of being effectually called, that
is, being moved from one division into the other. See
Regeneration results in considerable changes
for the person. He considers himself a sinner, but
destined to the glorious life of heaven. He has the
knowledge of God found in the Bible (I Corinthians 2:16).
He has a complete ethics on every aspect of life (all the do's
and don't of the Bible). He has totally new and committed
relationships: marriage, family, church, and civil. He
knows his origin in Adam and the narrative from there to the
present day. He has a profound certainty about
epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics and a hope for the future.
There is no metaphysical change, but he now knows of the
supernatural nature of God and other spiritual beings.
Interestingly, there are not changes to the basic principles of
Relativism: Relativism is simply
irrationalism because, if all is relative, the statement denies
itself. Also, if nothing is fixed (normative) then there
is no reality, and everything is meaningless.
"In the postmodern context, relativism is ...
less a conclusion than a presupposition, and a presupposition
whose purpose is to insulate us from the need for commitment,
decision, and passion. Observing ... students knee-jerk
relativism, (one) concludes that relativism is not a
philosophical theory. It is a spiritual truth, a protective
dogma designed to fend off any power that might claim our
loyalty. It is a habit of mind that insulates postmodern life
from the sober potency of arguments and the force of evidence,
from the rightful claims of reason and the wisdom of the past.
This is all done to protect the soul from all demands, rational
or otherwise. If truth is out there, and if we can know
it, then we might be forced to take a stand on truth. Truth
might claim us, and demand something from us, perhaps something
very difficult. But if we know before the game begins that there
will be no winner, we don't have to join a team." Peter
Religion: "Man seeks in religion ... strength, life, a
personal power, that can pardon sin, receive us into favor, and cause us
to triumph joyfully over a world of sin and death. The true
religion which shall satisfy our mind and heart, our conscience and our
will, must be one that does not shut us up in, but lifts us up high
above, the world; in the midst of time it must impart to us eternity; in
the midst of death give us life; in the midst of the stream of change
place us on the immovable rock of salvation. This is the reason
why transcendence, supernaturalism, revelation, are essential to all
religion." (Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation, page
"Religion and philosophy have the same objects." (John
Caird, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion,
The Croall Lectures; 1878-79 (Glasgow: J Maclchose, 1880), 1.
Cited in K. Scott Oliphint, Reasons of Faith, 15)
That is, religion and philosophy are about origins, belief, and
ethics—the same subject matter.
Religion is Biblical Christianity, based upon the inerrancy
and sufficiency of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, is the
only belief system that can satisfy these criteria of religion.
All other claims by beliefs that call themselves or are called
by others as "religion" or "philosophy" are false.
Therefore, Christianity is the only religion. All other
"religions" are false and caricatures of this true religion.
"The problem confronting paganism (and all non-Christian
religions) is thus apparent: only a fully self-conscious,
self-existent, sovereign, and creating God can save man, because
only He can fully control, govern, and determine all things."
J. R. Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule, page 2)
Secular quasi-religion: A
term used by Tillich to describe humanism, communism, fascism,
socialism, nationalism, and other such ideologies. While
Tillich is certainly not an evangelical theologian, his
discussion of these "-isms" is quite relevant to the notion that
they are indeed religions. Everyone believes in either a
religion proper (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) or a
Christianity and Encounter. Thus, Karl Marx only
replaced one "opiate of the people" with his own opiate—history
now reveals the deadliness and devastation caused by his
religion, as history reveals the overwhelming advance of
civilization under Christianity. Greg Bahnsen has an
article contrasting Christianity with other "religions"
Religion-science conflict: see
(The) Renaissance: There are several views
on this subject. I suggest
Renaissance and Modernity for view that presents more
than one side.
Repentance: in the koiné Greek of
the New Testament, repentance is meta-noia, literally
"a change of mind." Repentance, then, is primarily
epistemological in nature. This change is designed to be a
total and powerful effect on mind, belief, and worldview.
It is a move from self-reliance and self-limitation to the "mind
of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16) by the indwelling and teaching
of the Holy Spirit of the regenerate person
totally under the authority of the Holy Scriptures. The
power of this epistemological change is seen in Romans 12:2
where "transformation" is the same process as that which
"transformed" Christ in his transfiguration and transforms the
believer for his life in Heaven (II Corinthians 3:18).
Repentance is the ongoing attitude (education, obedience, and
sanctification) of the
Responsibility: See Freedom, freedom
of the will and
Law and Freedom.
Rest: see peace.
While "rest" and "peace" may not quite be synonyms, they have
many overlapping characteristics, such as, being in a calm
state, the state of regeneration ("born-again") in resting from
a works-salvation and being at enmity with God, cessation from
war, and the entering into rest of the book of Hebrew with the
analogy of entering the promised land.
Revelational epistemology: the system of
knowledge that begins with Sola scriptura or the 66
books of the agreed-upon Bible as its first principle or axiom
from which all other knowledge is derived.
rights are ethical or legal claims of duties or freedoms that
are given to those people under a higher authority. The
only legitimate rights are those given by God in His Word.
The Declaration of Independence declares that all peoples have
"inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness." Since God is the highest authority,
there is no court of appeal higher than Himself. Today,
everyone seems to want to claim their rights, but not
responsibilities. People who are not responsible are
subject to losing their rights, as in criminal and irresponsible
behavior. In marriages, each spouse seems far more willing
to pursue their own agenda without responsibility to their
husband or wife to place him or her first and diligent work to
development the marriage and or family itself.
"righteousness" under ethics (above).
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Salvation: Simply, "to be rescued from some dire threat
to one's limb, life, or soul."
Thus, to understand any form of salvation, one must know from
what he has been saved. Salvation in the Bible is no
different. But, few Christians seem to understand the full
extent of the terrible and severe circumstances from which they
have been rescued, and the great opportunities which they have
been given in their earthly life, not just heaven. The
Kingdom of Heaven
begins now! See
Salvation: Its Phases and Wonderful Fullness: Often Considered
Saving faith: This
definition depends upon whether one is an Arminian
or whether one is Reformed. The Council of
Dordt (1618-1619) was called to, and did, address this conflict
of understanding. One should consult those debates and
conclusions for a more thorough understanding of this
difference. More simply here, for the Reformed, faith is
not the primary condition but regeneration is. This new
ontological orientation is caused by the Holy Spirit who "blows
(converts the soul) where He will." That is, He
regenerates in a pattern that is unpredictable and beyond the
ability (total depravity, or better, total inability) of any
person to effect this change. This new ontology causes
saving faith which includes justification, adoption,
perseverance, sanctification, and glorification. For the
Arminian, saving faith precedes regeneration, this faith
being conditional on the will of the person to accept and trust
the Gospel message. Some Arminians believe that this faith
may be preceded by a "presient" action of the Holy Spirit, which
still requires the willingness of the person to cause conversion
and regeneration. Simply, the Reformed believe that
salvation in all its phases is monergistic—a
work entirely of the Trinity who change the will of the person
such that he or she desires to be saved. Arminians see
this faith as a cooperative, dualistic work of the
Trinity and the person with the latter having a will that is
entirely free to make the final decision to accept or reject
saving faith. This latter view with some different nuances is
the belief of Roman Catholicism, also. These particulars are
here. Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism
are variants of Arminism. Pelagianism was condemned
at the Council of Carthage (418 A.D.), and the Third Ecumenical
Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.). Semi-pelagianism was
condemned at the Council of Orange (529 A.D.). Thus, all
forms of dualism have been formally and officially
condemned by church councils.
Thus, for the Reformed "saving faith" is a
misnomer. Regeneration saves and forms the basis for
knowing and believing truths about salvation, as well as a
willingness to act in ways that are prescribed by this
knowledge. Practically, then, the believer is removed from
having to know every "jot and tittle" of a faith that saves,
even though his regenerate condition will cause him or her to
come to know many, if not most, of these wonderful truths.
Scholasticism: The work of
the "Scholastics" (Abelard, Aquinas, Ockham, and others) during
the late Middle Ages. Virtually every modern idea and
philosophy can be traced back to their work. Thus,
Scholasticism is foundational to modern "scholasticism"
The outstanding feature of Scholasticism is
its deliberately attempted synthesis of philosophy and biblical
theology in which the former provides the basis and the
latter the superstructure. If Abelard represents a
movement towards greater rationalism and Anselm towards a more
biblical conception of reason learning from faith, Thomas
Aquinas gives us the impressive norm which dominates all
subsequent development and is still a potent influence
In the light of this synthesis it is not
unnatural that Scholasticism should be semi-pelagian in its
doctrine of grace, codifying legalistic developments of an early
time within an Augustinian framework. It is to this period
that we owe the detailed outworking of such distortions
as the doctrines of baptismal regeneration, purgatory, penance,
infused grace, implicit faith, and transubstantiation, which
is only possible or intelligible in terms of philosophical
There are, of course, many satisfactory
features which we must not fail to note. The traditional
patristic doctrines were carefully maintained. Anselm
gives us a finely objective doctrine of the atonement in the
light of current views of satisfaction. Biblical material
is used even though it often appears in distorted form.
There is a good spirit of inquiry and disputation which allows
of the development of a conflicting trend like Nominalism and
thus prepares the way in some sense for the Reformation.
But these virtues cannot offset the fact that Scholasticism
was mistaken in its general enterprise and achievement, and must
bear responsibility for the disastrous corruption which follows.
(Geoffrey W. Bromiley, "Scholasticism," Baker's Dictionary
of Theology, 1962--emphases are Ed's)
Science: from the Latin scientia,
knowledge; Greek episteme. Plato's "divided line" was a process of
moving from uncertain knowledge ("image" or "belief") to more
certain knowledge (dianoia and episteme).
Aristotle's episteme involved an empirical process.
Scientia then became applicable to any systematic
study, for example, among the Scholastics,
theology was called "The Queen of the Sciences."
Webster's Dictionary of 1828 (see References below), in his 2nd
definition states, "In philosophy, a collection of the general
principles or leading truths relating to any subject. Pure
science ... is built on self-evident truths; but the term
science is also applied to other subjects founded on generally
acknowledged truths...." In modern times, "science" refers
to the physical and natural sciences. The great problem is
that the more "precise" sciences of physics, chemistry, and
mathematics connote the same precision to such areas as biology,
psychology (of man), and medicine, that these latter areas do
not have. But Michael Polanyi in his book, Personal
Knowledge, virtually destroys any concept of modern science
being "objective," "hard," or "precise."
See science fiction on science as religious transcendent
For more on this discussion, see
What Is Science? Science could also be considered a
synonym of systematics, as in systematic
theology. By science and systematics, subject matter is
fitted and understood as parts of a whole. Then, the whole
is greater than the sum of its parts.
"The term, 'scientist,' was not coined until 1834." (Pearcey
and Thaxton, The Soul of Science, 10) Ed: I
suggest that much of the derogation of Biblical Christianity has
resulted from this change in the meaning of science. The
"science" of systematic theology and its derivative ethics forms
the most coherent system of any other philosophy or "religion,"
and the utterly false notion that science can find "objective
Science, historical: see historical
Science-religion conflict: "The idea of a
war between science and religion is a relatively recent
invention—one carefully nurtured by those who hope the victor in
the conflict will be science.... (The goal of Thomas H. Huxley
and others) was to overthrow the cultural dominance of
Christianity.... to secularize society, replacing the Christian
worldview with scientific naturalism, a worldview that
recognizes the existence of nature alone." (Pearcey and Thaxton,
The Soul of Science, 19) When both science and
theology (systematic study of the Bible) are both understood
properly, there is not conflict. In addition, scientific
knowledge is always tentative by definition and waiting to be
superseded by new findings. See
Scientific creationism: see
Science fiction: Much, if not most,
science fiction is the transcendent hope that extra-terrestrial
life has found peace and happiness (human flourishing) and will
bring their answers to earth and the human race. This
faith is just that, religious faith, an alternative to earth's
religions, particularly Biblical Christianity. For an
excellent discussion of this connection, see the book,
Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge
New Religious Beliefs by James A. Herrick (InterVarsity
Scientific law: the formula from a finite
number of observations that is arbitrarily chosen by a scientist
or group of scientists. While such a "law" may be useful,
it is not true. For more,
Scientific method: A system of steps by which theories about
the physical universe may be tested and "proved." This
proof is limited to the design of the experiment. It
is not proof in the philosophical sense of finding truth.
Many people are deceived by the use of proof in this way.
The scientific method, by design, is limited to proofs
in the physical world. It can say nothing about the
supernatural world because the method excludes any supernatural
interference by design. Further, there is a great deal of
subjectivity, accepted authority, and contrived paradigm in the
process that is usually ignored at the college and university
level, as well as scientists not trained in the philosophy of
science. See Proof.
"Writers on scientific method usually tell us that
scientific discoveries made "inferentially," that is to say,
from putting together many facts. But this is
far from being correct. The facts by themselves
are never sufficient to lead unequivocally to the really
profound discoveries. Facts are always analyzed
in terms of the prejudices of the investigator. The
prejudices are of a deep kind, relating to our view on how
the Universe "must" be constructed." Sir Fred Hoyle,
Highlights in Astronomy (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman
and Company, 1977), page 35-36. Also, see Michael
Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, which destroys the
objectivity of the scientific method.
Scientific progress: see progress.
Scientific truth: a false concept, if based
upon empiricism (induction) which is a logical fallacy.
Scientism, scientific realism (rational realism): "The
view that science progressively secures true, or approximately
true, theories about the real, theory-independent world 'out
there' and does so in a rationally justifiable way."
(Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian
Worldview, pages 326-327) This truth, then, becomes
the foundation for a philosophy of reality that denies anything
supernatural and provides all the necessary answers to
individual's and society's issues and problems. Logical
positivism is one form of scientism, while
positivism per se is a synonym of scientism.
"Modern scientism fetters thought as cruelly
as ever the churches had done. It offers no scope for our
most vital beliefs and it forces us to disguise them in
farcically inadequate terms. Ideologies framed in these
term have enlisted man's highest aspirations in the service of
soul-destroying tyrannies." (Michael Polanyi, Personal
Scripture: The 66 books of the Bible that is
commonly agreed-upon by Bible-believing Christians worldwide.
See The objective Bible under
Scripturalism: s synonym for Biblical
Christianity. See dogmatism.
Self-authenticating knowledge: all
knowledge is authenticated by the self. "So and so (a
commonly recognized authority) says," and then comes the "...
but I think..." (a differing opinion. Everyone goes
through this process, even against published authors,
established "experts," and academic scholars. How is it
that an individual can so easily discount "heavy" opinion?
But, this process is really inevitable. "I" have to decide
what I will believe, and "I" (and those whom I influence) face
the consequences which may be mild ("I tried your recipe, and it
was not good.") or world-shaking, as in who is elected President
of the United States ("I voted for him because of the
'authority" of others."). The importance of recognizing
this inescapable truth is for me to be very careful how and why
I made decisions. That is, how and why do I exercise my
faith in self or in the "self-authenticating" God of Scripture,
"Thus says the Lord..." Synonyms are circular argument,
begging the question, or tautology.
Self-refuting statement (proposition): See
: Latin for
"sense of divinity." The primary text of the Bible from
which this concept comes is Romans 1:18-32-2:16 where man
deceives himself about his innate knowledge of God, and the
results are God's "giving him over" to worse sins than he would
have otherwise have committed. This "sense of divinity" is
commonly discussed among evangelical philosophers, especially
those Reformed. However, their base
reference is often that of a person (e.g., Alvin Plantinga bases
his sensus divinitatis on Aquinas and Calvin), rather
than the Scriptures. Exactly this term means in its
fullness is a matter of debate and speculation. However,
no evangelical apologetics should be done without some
understanding of what this term means.
Sequence: "Logical sequence is not
necessarily temporal sequence. Temporal sequence is not
necessarily causal sequence." Paul Helm
Skepticism: "With me the horrid doubt always
arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been
developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at
all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of
a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"
[Cited in Moreland and Craig, Philosophical Foundations for
a Christian Worldview, page 103. Original in Darwin's
letter William Graham Down, dated July 3, 1881, in The Life
and Letters of Charles Darwin Including an Autobiographical
Chapter, ed. Francis Darwin, 2 vols. (London: John Murray,
Albermarle Street, 1887), 1:315-316.]
Skepticism is an untenable position. In
order to "know what one does not know" ... "one must know that
he does not know." In other words, whatever proposition
the skeptic says he does not know, he is not skeptical that he
does not know; he is certain, not uncertain (skeptical) that he
does not know. This position corresponds to the absolute
statement, "There are no absolutes!" God has so structured
the pursuit of knowledge (epistemology) and truth that "There
must be at least one certainty; at least one truth; at least one
absolute." Of course that absolute is Absolute, and He has
given us Special Revolution to know that truth and the others
that He has revealed.
The skeptic also contradicts himself when he
says that he is a skeptic. Saying "I am a skeptic" is a
positive statement of knowledge. He "knows" (is certain)
that he is a skeptic. He does not doubt that he is a
skeptic. If there is something that he does not doubt, he
is not a skeptic!
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Society of Christian Philosophers: an organization of
philosophers who self-identify as Christians. However,
most Christians in the West deny traditional, orthodox
Christianity, so is the organization truly "Christian?"
See my critique of "Christian philosophy,"
Quo Vadis Christian Philosopher?
Sociology: A "modern
science" that studies the patterns of thinking, speech, and
behavior of groups. However, there is no sociological
norm, other than Scripture, to determine whether those
activities are ethical or unethical. "What is" can never
determine an "ought."
A Biblical Defense of Sola Scriptura.
Solipsism: the view that any real knowledge
is limited to one's own mind, as other mind's cannot be known
directly. One could be dreaming, or the other person could
be a mirage or an hallucination. To this Ed, solipsism is
one of the most difficult problems in philosophy—one that cannot
be overcome except by Special Revelation in which God tells of
God's mind and the existence of other minds.
Soteriology: the theological term for
salvation. While salvation and
soteriology could be seen as strictly theological, and not
philosophical, no anthropology of any kind cannot be discussed
without the primary problem with man—His alienation from God and
his disorientated and deranged state because of The
Soul: the immaterial component of man,
also called mind, spirit, heart, and will.
soul, rather than the sterile abstraction of an ego, was an
entire and unified spiritual and corporeal reality; it was the
life and form of the body, encompassing every aspect of human
existence, from the nous to the animal functions, uniting reason
and sensation, thought and emotion, spirit and flesh, memory and
presence, supernatural longing and natural capacity; open before
being, a permeable and multiplicity attendance upon the world,
it was that in which being showed itself, a logos gathering the
light of being into itself, seeing and hearing in the things of
the world the logoi of being, allowing them to come to utterance
in itself, as words and thought." (David Bentley Hart, The
Beauty of the Infinite, 138, found at www.leithart.com )
Speculative philosophy, metaphysics, or cosmology:
to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas
in terms of which every element of our experience can be
interpreted.” (A. N. Whitehead,
Process and Reality,
page 3). “Attempts
to synthesize an overall picture of reality as a whole, and of
the place of mankind within it.... large scale philosophies of
the kind found in Hegel or Bradley, or many religious pictures
of the cosmos.”
(Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy)
Speculative philosophy is contrasted with “critical
philosophy” in which rationalism interprets experience.
It is “speculative” because it exceeds rational precepts,
as Kant’s noumena and placement of the knowledge of God beyond
his “critical” structures.
However, Broad comments, “the discursive form of
cognition by means of general concepts can never be completely
adequate to the concrete Reality which it seeks to describe.”
here.) Ed: Thus,
the attempt by atheists and others to exclude religions and
other sources of “Reality” beyond the empirical are simply
ignoring a large portion of philosophical history and thought—a
naive and foolish approach.
Spirit: See soul.
Spiritual: of or relating to a spirit or the
Holy Spirit. Interestingly, spiritual may be a synonym of
logos, communication, or truth and error. Since
one definition of spirit (soul) is nous or mind, then
this association is easily acknowledged. "God is
Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and
truth" (John 4:23). "The words that I speak to you are
spirit, and they are life (John 6:33). "We know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (I
John 4:6—also see vs. 1-6). See logos
Starting point, starting principle: I use
this term with some variation from other philosophers. It
is usually used as a synonym for first principle.
However, one's starting point or principle does not necessarily
equate with one's final or most basic (first) principle.
Descartes really worked from a starting principle, not a first
principle, because he needed a prior proposition to complete his
syllogism, "Anyone who thinks exists." Then comes his "I
think; therefore I am." Many atheists' starting principle
has been, "Christianity lacks evidential validity." But
upon investigation (and the work of the Holy Spirit), their
first principle becomes "Christianity, as defined by the Bible,
is true." An empiricist may start with "All the universe
is real because I see it." When he becomes a rationally
consistent Christian, he will see that the universe is the
"substance of things unseen." See
See Where Do You Begin?
(The) State: "For
struggle is not against
flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the powers, against the
world forces of this
darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in
the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). If God
is omnipotent, who or what can even approach to challenge His
power: "the world, the flesh, and the Devil." Many
Christians are consciously or ignorantly apolitical, yet the
reality is that one of the three great challengers for
Christians is state governments. If the state is not under
God's rule practically and explicitly, then the "flesh" and "the
Devil" are the principles to govern the state, as the Ephesian
quote indicates. In the Biblically correct book, The
City of God, Augustine clearly says that there can be on one
victor in history. For the modern Christian to fail to
understand that that civil government is the primary challenger
to Christ's Kingdom is to fail to storm "the gates of hell" and
wander dreamily amidst the chaos, destruction, and death that
unbiblical government inevitably brings. "All those who
hate me love death" (Proverbs 8:36).
from a Biblical perspective
Exploring the Unconscious.
Subjectivism: The epistemological idea that
reality is person-determined and that each person determines his
own reality. While all systems have a starting point that
is subjectively chosen, each system must be tested for coherency
and correspondence with the "facts" of life and reality.
See dogmatism, first principle, and faith.
Subjectivity: See objectivity.
Substance: (1) what an object is in its most
basic core. Modern physics has demonstrated that no
substance is empirically discoverable, in spite of experimental
data and theories. This understanding is consistent with a
Biblical concept of two substances: God, the uncreated, and the
universe, that that He created. Scripture is clear that
all matter is its hyostasis in the non-material or
spiritual which is the speech and word (logos) of God
(John 1:1; Hebrews 1:3). (2) the attributes or characteristics
of an object. Since the substance of a thing is immaterial
(non-sensed), it can only be known by its behavior in
relationship to other things and beings. Synonyms of
substance are nature, essence, attributes, being, instantiation,
predication, etc. (3) The necessary attributes of a thing
without which it will not be what it is. A dog is its all
its cellular components and organs as a whole. A loss of a
leg does not change its being a dog, but change of its DNA
would. (4) a thing that exists independently of other
things. In an empirical sense, this independence is
possible, but in a Biblical sense all objects are dependent upon
a spiritual hypostasis. See #1 herein.
See being, functionalism.
Substantivalism: the worldview that
defines "things" as what is their "substance." Likely,
this thinking originates with Aristotle and is certainly central
to the modernist, Enlightenment Project. Since a thing can
only be described by its relationship to its environment,
substance is actually relationship. This idea is
consistent with quantum mechanics in which no atom exist as
"substance," but only in a relationship of electrons, protons,
neutrons, and other sub-atomic particles. See
Substance dualism: see dualism
Supralapsarianism: "As Barth said, God’s Yes
to man precedes creation (in Barth’s terms, covenant precedes
creation). How could it be otherwise? If God had said No at
the beginning, how could we exist at all? Once God says
Yes, can He then change to No? Can we say of God what Paul’s
Corinthian opponents said of him: With God it is always 'Yes and
No.' Or, 'Maybe.' Must we not say, on the contrary, that God’s
Yes is Yes, and His No No? Once Yes, always Yes.
Therefore: Supralapsarianism." From Peter Leithart on his
website. Supralapsarianism is simply the view that God
planned all of history "from the beginning" and has never
changed his mind about His plan.
Supernatural: above or transcending nature;
the area which is closed to natural science; the
hypostasis of the natural world; the book of the
supernatural is Scripture. For more, see
Supervenience: the effects of
emergence viewed from the higher level. The effects of the
whole "supervene" over the characteristics of its parts.
Supervenience and emergence are virtual synonyms. See
Synonymy, synonyms: words that have an
approximate same meaning. A wider appreciation and
application of an understanding is one of the major keys to
epistemology in both philosophy and theology. For example,
presupposition, belief, faith, assumption, premise, first
principle, starting point, basic belief, foundation, etc. are
approximate, if not identical, depending upon their use by an
author or his context. When words are not linked as
synonymous, then they are discussed as though they involve
different subject matter, when they actually do not. One
of the great failures of philosophy and theology has been to
allow such a wide diversity of terms without an attempt to
link them as synonyms that the field is almost incoherent
and fragmented to the point of being totally unrecognizable that
the same subject matter is being discussed. Almost
everyone seems to want to have their own terms, so that every
philosopher speaks a language foreign other philosophers.
I have made some attempt to begin this process with a listing of
Synonyms of Philosophy. Another
resource with a comprehensive listing of synonyms is found at
System, systemization: perhaps, the most
neglected tool of both Christian and non-Christian philosophies.
First, few true or total systems are devised. Thus, no one
knows whether they cohere, that is, are
internally and thoroughly consistent. Second, of those
systems that may approach completeness, the standard of
coherence is rarely applied. "Without an
integrated system, it is easy to 'solve' two special problems
(of any kind) from two incompatible principles without noticing
the inconsistency; with an integrated system is it easy to
demolish less skillful constructions." (Gordon Clark,
Thales to Dewey, page 269) Thus, there is the
necessity of system, or systematic theology, of Scripture.
Because there are different genres (history, proposition,
poetics, etc.), time periods, and an increasing unfolding of
God's plan (Biblical theology), systemization of Scripture is
necessary to avoid possible contradictions, most paradoxes, many
mysteries, an incomplete understanding, and similar
misunderstandings of interpretation.
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Tabula rasa: Literally, Latin for
"blank slate," a term first discussed in the "modern" era by
John Locke. If the mind were truly "blank," that is,
without any prior knowledge or "categories," anything presented
to it would "stick" no more than a camera that is turned off.
Babies are born with an extensive knowledge of how to suckle,
move their eyes and extremities, cry, and eventually to talk and
walk. In De Magistro,
Augustine works through a teaching process whereby all knowledge
is supernatural, that is, provided immediately by the Logos,
Himself, Jesus Christ.
Tacit knowledge: associated with Michael
Polanyi, as that knowledge that is subconscious and not
immediately able to be articulated, or possibly cannot be
articulated. For example, we
recognize faces easily, but if asked to delineate exactly
how we know these faces, we are mostly at a loss.
Tacit knowledge has associations with the subconscious of Freud,
recollection of Plato and Augustine, innate and intuited ideas,
the "unexamined" of Socrates, etc. Augustine believed that
Christ, as the Word, provided all the knowledge that men possess
(John 1:9). This tacit ability of man which is so complex
and necessary to everyday life could only have been designed by
(The) Tao: see Euthyphro dilemma.
Tests of truth: Within this glossary, I have
commented on these tests: coherence, correspondence,
and pragmatic. There are other
various tests, according to a philosophical stance, these these
are the traditional and most commonly accepted.
Ten Commandments: see good works and
Tension: for example, D. A. Carson's book,
Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical
Perspectives in Tension ((Wipf and Stock, 2002).
Almost always, "tension" is used to denote an irresolvable
impasse, as the example cited. There are three
perspectives, however, (1) There is no tension in God.
He is perfectly at peace with Himself and His Sovereignty.
(2) Many tensions can be removed by further study and
application of reason and logic applied to Biblical truth.
Thus, "tension" is usually only apparent, not real.
"Tension" should not be invoked after only superficial
reflection for this reason. (3) There can be no tension in
Biblical philosophy or ethics. The Christian is never
faced with "a choice between two evils." See John J. Davis
article. Neither is there ever any conflict in the
Biblical system of ethics for the individual, family, society,
state, or world. Also, see paradox and
mystery, synonyms of this use of tension.
Theism: (1) The beliefs of any one of three religions—Christianity,
Judaism, and Islam—who believe in one all-powerful god.
While each has various sects, these religions have definitive beliefs
that are held by large groups of people which are considered orthodox.
See theism, Christian
(2) The personal beliefs of individual philosophers who pick
and choose the characteristics of "god" according to their
philosophical system. These gods have varying degrees of
correspondence to the gods defined by the orthodoxy of these
three religions. It is unusual for a philosopher to say
explicitly what particulars of orthodoxy with which they agree
or disagree. Thus, their gods are only personal deities.
Today, and in most of the history of philosophy in the West,
theism is overtly and covertly inseparable from Christian
theism, although "Christian" theism is not necessarily
"Biblical" theism. For examples of these personal theisms,
The Gods of the Philosophers and Theologians.
Theism, Biblical; revelational theism: The
preferable term to Christian theism in today's
"Christian" can mean a bewildering variety of beliefs about
Christianity, often with Biblical truth blended with "all truth
is God's truth" or given a lesser authoritative status among the
various sources of knowledge.
Theism, Christian: Properly understood, Christian
theism is Biblical Christianity; that is, belief in the
inerrancy and total sufficiency of the 66 books of the
Protestant Bible. Christian theism is best summarized in
the Westminster Confession and its catechisms.
Christian theism posited on any other belief than Biblical
Christianity is merely the opinion of those Christians who
espouse those beliefs and who are as prone to error as
non-Christians. Such theism has little
correspondence to Biblical Christianity and will have a
serious lack of
coherence to Biblical theism. "If the Christian
consciousness has no absolute standard by which to judge itself,
it is soon lost in the ocean of relativity, in which al the
standards of non-Christian ethics swim. More than that, if
the Christian consciousness does not completely submit itself to
the Scripture, it is already pagan in principle. All that
does not spring from obedience to God is sin." (Cornelius
Van Til, Christian Theistic Ethics, page 25) See
Classical Theism Refuted in Favor of Biblical Theism.
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"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.
Classical theism was developed over centuries by theologians
critically interacting with important pagan philosophical
theology.... Exponents of classical theism come from all the
major monotheistic traditions including Judaism (Philo,
Maimondes), Christianity (Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas), and
Islam (Averroës, Avicenna)."
(Hill and Rauser, Christian Philosophy A-Z, page 182).
Classical theism is incoherent. These gods are
incompatible with each other. In particular, Roman
Catholic doctrine established at the Council of Trent is
incompatible with that of traditional, Reformed doctrine.
And, the god of Islam is not the God of Biblical Christianity.
A better term for classical theism would be
philosophical theism, as the use of the former is more
commonly associated with gods created by individual
philosophers, than the God of Islam, Judaism, unbiblical
Christianity, or Biblical Christianity. See
Gods of the Philosophers.
conceptions of deity found in the other world religions are (in
most cases) logically incompatible, leaving no unambiguous sense
to general (Ed - "classical) theism…. I have not found the
non-Christian religions to be philosophically defensible, each
of them being internally incoherent or undermining human reason
and experience." (Greg Bahnsen, Introductory remarks in
his debate with Gordon Stein.)
See Classical Theism
Refuted in Favor of Biblical Theism.
Theism, philosophical: Essentially, the same as
classical theism, but is more accurate since
these "gods" are more the creation of individual philosophers
than monotheistic religions. For examples of the
differences between philosophical theism and Biblical theism,
Gods of the Philosophers.
Theistic arguments: "While Reformed theology
regards the existence of God as an entirely reasonable
assumption, it does not claim the ability to demonstrate this by
rational argumentation. Dr. (Abraham) Kuyper speaks as follows
of the attempt to do this: 'The attempt to prove God's existence
is either useless or unsuccessful. It is useless if the
searcher believes that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him
(Hebrews 11:6). And it is unsuccessful if it is an attempt
to force a person who does not have this pistis (faith)
by means of argumentation to an acknowledgement in a logical
sense.'" (Lois Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 21)
Theistic evolution: see
Theocracy: a government based upon "ultimate
reality" or one's (or a group's) most basic belief. It has
been wrongly assumed that a theocracy is based upon religious
belief, for example, Old Testament Israel or the Muslin states.
However, all law is based upon ethics, and
ethics is based upon ultimate reality. Thus, democracy or
communism is as much a theocracy as one that is overtly
"religious." All beliefs are based upon personal choice
about ultimate concerns. Therefore, all governments are
Theocracy Is An Inescapable Concept.
Theodicy: "Theodicy is any attempted
solution to the problem of evil," (Frame, Cornelius van Til:
An Analysis of His Thought,
page 84n.) "A theodicy is a defense of divine
omnipotence and perfect goodness in the light of the problem of
evil," (Daniel J. Hill, Christian Philosophy A-Z, 183).
Since this site is about "Biblical philosophy," any solution of
the problem of evil would have to include discussion of the
attributes of God, such as His love, justice, grace, providence,
What is the greatest evil that ever occurred
in the history of mankind? It would have to be the mock
trial and execution of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But
God planned that this greatest evil became the greatest good for
mankind. That event, as both evil and good, is a clue to a
Biblical understanding of theodicy. If God is indeed sovereign
and has predestined all thing, then he is working all events to
the good that He has intended for them. See
A Reconciliation of Good and Evil in Nature and in Mankind
and More on Apparent Evil Having
Inherent Good. For more great resources, see
Theology: literally, the study of God.
There are two sources for this knowledge: natural revelation
(i.e., nature and man's judgments about it) and special
revelation (the 66 books of the agreed-upon Bible.
The extent of the authority of each revelation is a common topic of discussion in
theology and philosophy. But a truly Biblical philosophy can
only posit the Bible as the controlling and ultimate authority
in both disciplines. This position is uncommon even for Christian
philosophers, causing much of the confusion and disagreement
that exists among them. There are many areas in philosophy
that are misunderstood because the attributes of God are
misunderstood or not known. One area is the presence of
evil: if God is good and He is
omnipotent, then evil cannot exist in the universe.
If God is truth, then the only truth that we
know is His inerrant (special) revelation—the
answer to questions of epistemology. If
God is the Creator ex nihilo, then all
metaphysics can only be understood by reference to "God made it
so." And so on to all the attributes of God.
literally, “the law (nomos-) of God (theos-); the
application of all the laws (statutes, commandments, precepts,
etc.) of the Old and New Testaments to the individual, family,
social groups, church, and nations—with the exception of those
sacrificial, ceremonial, and dietary laws that were prescribed
for Israel under the Mosaic Covenant. Any person who
believes that God has prescribed commandments for His people and
for the world is in some degreee, a theonomist. For a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of theonomy, see
Reconstruction and Theonomy: Reviews.
Thomism: the (mostly) erroneous thinking
of Thomas Aquinas.
Toronto School: see Dooyeweerd.
Transcendent, transcendence: See
immanence and transcendence.
Transcendental argument: "An argument that
seeks to show the necessary conditions for the possibility of
rational thought or meaningful discourse. Cornelius Van Til
believed this was the only kind of argument appropriate to a
Christian apologetic, since the biblical God is the author of
all meaning and rationality." (From the
Van Til Glossary) Ed: all arguments for God are
unacceptable and incoherent to an atheistic system of thought.
While they are coherent in the Biblical system and give
certitude to the believer, they are not "necessary" to an
irrational system—which all unbiblical philosophical systems
are, including those held by Christian philosophers.
Tradition: A truly Biblical epistemology will
posit the 66 books of the Protestant Bible as its first axiom or
first philosophy. Roman Catholicism includes tradition,
the magisterium, and the Pope when he speaks ex
cathedra. For a solid discussion of "tradition," see
John Murray, see
Tradition: Romish and Protestant.
Transcendental knowledge (Kant): "I call
knowledge transcendental which is occupied not so much with
objects, as with our à
priori concepts of objects." (Kant in Critique of
Pure Reason, page 10)
Trent, Council of: the official response of the
Catholic Church to the Reformation. This series (3) of
councils introduced new doctrine and solidified Catholic
positions against the basic principles and solas of the
Reformation. If a reader wonders what mention of this
council has to do with philosophy, the answer that particular
philosophies (especially those of Plato and Aristotle) have
always played a major role in the formulation of the doctrine of
the Catholic Church. Such particular philosophies were
part of the "protest" of the Reformation which based itself in
sola Scriptura. However, all Protestant
theologies have an inherent "philosophy," which may or may not
correspond to any identifiable philosophy of history or modern
times. For more, see
Council of Trent..
Trinity: "In the unity of the Godhead
there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity:
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father
is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is
eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally
proceeding from the Father and the Son." (Westminster
Confession of Faith, II:3) The concept of Trinity is
purely a Biblical-theological issue. The intricate
reasoning of philosophy is helpful, but any concepts of Trinity
must correspond to Biblical texts and deductions from the text.
The difficulty and uniqueness of Trinity should give anyone
pause to use analogy, either reasoning from Trinity to man or
from man to Trinity. For more on these issues, see
Trinitarian Analogies and
Intellectual Triunity of God, as a likely explanation of
"True truth": A phase used by Francis Schaeffer
in an attempt to separate "truth" claims from philosophy and
elsewhere to those of Scripture ("true truth"). However,
this term muddies the water. It gives too much ground to
unbiblical claims which in no way are a claim to truth except
where they properly correspond to Scripture, systematically
understood. It gives support to a two-fold theory
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True, Truth: “Since being is the subject of any
investigation, philosophers never quibble over the fact that the
real is the true. One may say, for example, “This is truly a
pleasant afternoon,” or, “This is truly the American way of
life.” Whatever is, is true. To the extent that
something participates in being, it is true. This is called
ontological truth…. ‘The real is the true’ … No matter what the
stuff of reality is, it has being, and to this degree it is
The Case for Biblical Christianity…, page 59)
Truth is "what is" or the "actual state of affairs" and is eternal.
Truth is God. Truth is the knowledge found in the Bible. Faith,
truth, and knowledge are synonymous in the Bible. Truth and
knowledge are virtually synonyms in philosophy, as well. Faith is
also, if it is based upon what is true.
Truth exists in different contexts for God and for man.
(1) In a sense, only God can know truth because He is
omniscient, and man is finite. "What is" has a context
that includes the entire universe and God's mind. While
man can speculate about the Butterfly Effect, God knows exactly
how the flapping of the butterfly's wings affects the weather
around the earth. Further, He knows how a man's thoughts
relate to His actions (Jeremiah 17:9-10). In relation to
the remainder of the universe and to all thinking beings, only
God "knows" with the absolute certainty and omnisciecne that
(2) In two different senses, a man cannot
know truth and can know truth. (A) Man
cannot know truth the way that God does. (B) But man can
know truth. God can know everything about the truth,
"Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt." Man can know only
what God has said about "a state of affairs" in the Bible.
But that "partial knowledge" is true. Man's knowledge
corresponds to God's knowledge. Thus, when man
knows what God has revealed in the Scriptures, he knows truth.
(3). Apart from the Bible, man cannot know truth.
If three people witness an automobile accident, each will see
what happened in a considerably different way. Even
assuming that they are doing their best to describe what
happened, they will not agree. Neither each one, nor all
together knows all that happened. Man can know the truth
of the Bible, but he can never empirically know "what is"
because he is finite.
It is quite interesting and extremely important that God does
not call man to know truth apart from the Bible. God said,
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
God's requirement of man is that he not intentionally tell
something that he knows is false except to an enemy (as opposed
to a "neighbor"). God only requires that each person make
his best effort to tell what he believes to be true.
For a more complete discussion of the many facets of truth
for philosophy and the authority of Scripture, see
Truth: A Comprehensive Review. Much discussion about
truth is confusing because the difference of truth
quantitatively and qualitatively is different for God and man.
The use of the word "truth" in the Bible makes
this difference clear. Synonyms of truth are real
(reality) and exist (existence).
Truism: A statement that is "true" most of
the time. For example, the sun rises every morning.
Well, by whatever metaphysics a person believes, one day the sun
will not rise. Possible synonym of a proverb (colloquial,
not Biblical). For example, "He who hesitates is lost,"
vs. "Look before you leap." Both cannot be true, but there
is a truth in each.
Truth-bearers: sometimes cited as beliefs,
propositions, sentences, and utterances (Stanford, online).
However, all truth-bearers are simply propositions.
Beliefs, sentences, and utterances must be in propositional form
to convey truth.
Truth, two-fold theory: "The theory that
what is true in philosophy may be false in theology and
conversely. (For example) in theology it is true to
say that there is a hell, but in philosophy it is true that
there is no hell. Both of these expressions are the same
truth." (Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey, page 267)
This same term could be used to apply to any apparent conflict
between Christian faith and any other worldview or philosophy.
A Biblical concept of truth means that the Bible is true in
whatever area to which it speaks, and the Scripture speaks to
every area of life and worldview. There can be only one
truth in reality. Where language is clear that there is a
conflict between Scripture and philosophy, philosophy is always
false. There can be only one truth, or as Francis
Schaeffer phrased it, "true truth." "Hear, O Israel, the Lord
our God is One!" See
Unity of God
Two kingdoms view:
Natural law (natural revelation) is God’s law for “civil matters,” and
supernatural revelation is law for “spiritual” matters (personal
The civil kingdom is temporal and earthly, that is, matters of
politics, law, and culture.
It is not concerned with, nor can it offer, salvation and
eternal life. It can
offer a relative peace and justice in society.
The spiritual kingdom is ruled by God and pertains to
things that are personal, ecclesiastical, and eternal.
The two kingdoms view is unbiblical and destructive to God’s
Kingship over all creation.
“Civil” and “religious” are inseparable.
For example, can society allow abortion, if rulers believe
that they are supported by natural law?
Is it permissible to steal in society, but not in the
church (Eighth Commandment)?
See natural law (above) and the
more extensive reference cited there.
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Ultimate authority: see authority.
Ultimate concern (Paul Tillich): the central
focus of Paul Tillich's definition of faith. "William
Alston notes, and rightly so, that what psychologically concerns
a person ultimately need hardly coincide with what is in fact
and truth ontologically ultimate." ("Tillich's Conception of a
Religious Symbol," cited in Carl F. H. Henry, God,
Revelation, and Authority, Vol. 1, 62)
Uncertainty: the inability to predict future
events. Uncertainty varies greatly from virtually certain
events, as the sun will rise tomorrow, to virtually uncertain,
as to the time and cause of one's death. See
Classical uncertainty: that
uncertainty based upon known mechanical laws, as a coin toss.
Quantum or Heisenberg uncertainty:
the impossibility of measuring both the
position and momentum of a subatomic particle at the same time.
The very act of measurement will affect one of the two
Chaos uncertainty: a late
20th century observation that what had been known as natural
laws, have variations that can cause powerful and unpredictable
long term effects. See chaos theory.
Unconditional love: a term that is nonsensical and illustrates the grave misunderstanding of what
love is. Love is conditional by
definition. Love is the sacrificial fulfillment of the law
(Romans 13:8, 10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). Love is
always conditioned by law. The love
of John 3:16 is conditioned on Jesus' fulfillment of the law to
propitiate His Father and to impute that fulfillment to effect
salvation of the elect. See
Law, Love, Grace, and Justice.
Underdetermination: See Duhem-Quine
"Unexamined life": Socrates said, "The
unexamined life is not worth living." If a pagan saw the
value of reading, thinking, and reflecting, how much more should
the regenerate Christian "examine" God's revelation for his own
good and God's glory?
Uniformitarianism: the presupposition of
modern science that current scientific evidence applies to past
events before these facts were induced. For
example, the various methods of radiometric dating are
assumed to have always deteriorated at the same rate.
Unintended consequences: See law of
Universal: See Classification.
Universe, Its Unity. It is easy to
overlook the obvious: the uni- of universe literally
posits that it is a whole that is interrelated. In this
case, the "whole being greater than the sum of its parts" is all
inclusive of both metaphysical and physical reality. For a
humorous, but profound illustration, see
The Powerful Epistemology of a Flea. Holism.
University: a school of higher learning that
began with the Scholastics to unify (uni-versity) all areas of
knowledge. This attempt was valid when the West was
united, as Christendom. Modern "universities" are
misnamed: they are multi-versities which can never have a unity
of understanding. A manifestation that such pluralism is
foolish is that they do not even recognize that their approach
contradicts their very name—university.
Unknowable: "Gordon Clark reminds us of the
assertion of an unknowable, that whether by Kant or his modern
successors, really asserts nothing. To know that X is the
limit of knowledge requires the knowledge that Y is beyond the
limit; but then Y is not completely unknowable." (Carl F.
H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol. 1, page
63.) See ding an sich.
Valid, validity: the beginner in logic or
philosophy should be aware that a "valid argument" only applies to the
reasoning process, not the truthfulness of an argument.
The truth of an argument depends upon both the truth of
the premises and valid reasoning. It
is a quirk of logic that "valid" reasoning can argue from false
premises to false conclusions! This description applies
primarily to the classical three-statement syllogism.
Value: The subjective condition of "what
matters" to a person and is evidenced by his words and works
(actions, behavior). Paul Tillich has called this concept
"ultimate concern." The objects of one's worship would be
a synonym, as "worship" means to give "weight," that is, "value"
to an object or to someone. The
"ultimate concern" of Tillich was his definition of faith—thus,
an inseparable link between faith and value, that is, what one
Value and Person:
Values come from the individual person, as does belief, but may
be modified by encounter with "facts," other
opinions, life crises, esteemed authorities, etc. In a
very real sense, a person is his or her values.
Value and atheists:
Examine the way people who
describe themselves as nonbelievers talk about values, and you
may discover an operational, everyday trust in a transcendent
source of values beyond self, culture, and biology. Except when
folks are in a funk, drunk, in France, or at a university,
almost all of them seem to believe that some things are really
right and wrong and not just right and wrong because they happen
to think so today or because natural selection has programmed
them with the illusion that some of their choices are more
virtuous than others.
Violence and Religion: There has been
a considerable literature on the link between religion and
violence, including and perhaps in particular, Christianity.
This link is almost entirely false. A great resource is
William T. Cavanaugh's The Myth of Religious Violence
available on Amazon.com.
This author believes that the word,
"violence," is severely overused by postmodernists and others.
To say that some comment "violates" the text or meaning of an
author undercuts heinous acts of physical violence, such as
Stalin's pogrom and Nazi Germany's death camps. There are
plenty of other words in every language, such as, distorts or
belies, to describe textual and other distortions.
Virtue ethics: the ethical theory that
ethics are what the virtuous person would do in a given
situation. From a Biblical perspective, the error of this
view is that "There is none righteous; no not one" (Romans
3:10). Even the regenerated Christian has
his "old nature" that cannot be trusted. The only
trustworthy ethics are Biblical ethics.
Voluntarism: (1) the position that the
will is superior to the emotions and the intellect. (2)
the answer to the Euthyphro dilemma that "good"
is good because God declares it to be so; simply, ethics based
upon God's commands or Biblical ethics; also called
divine command theory.
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(The) Whole and Its Parts: One of the most
fascinating aspects of Creation is that the whole is quite
different, usually greater, than the sum of its parts. Two
poisons, sodium and chloride form the delightful compound of
table salt. Two gases, hydrogen and oxygen form the most
common chemical on the planet: water. A single-celled
amoeba is composed of parts that could not exist apart from the
whole. A human being is much greater than its organs, and
even its soul/spirit, alone. Even the universe is one
whole, reflecting the aseity (oneness) of God.
See holism, universe,
Central tenet of philosophy:
This concept is one of the most, if not the, central
principle of any coherent philosophy. There are universals
and particulars, the one and the many, wholes as sum of its
parts, points and lines, a thing amidst its gestalt, an
individual and his family, a husband and wife, all the parts of
the universe in relationship to each, atoms and its sub-atomic
parts, cells-tissues-organs-bodies, elements and molecules, a
day in a lifetime, a lifetime in eternity, point-to-point vs.
linear distance, the books of the Bible and its unity, etc., etc. For
more on this Biblical understanding, see
The Grand Unity of God.
Wholism: see holism,
universe, and Whole and Its Parts.
Will, permissive will of God: "We may
'speak of the permissive will of God in order to stress man's
undoubted responsibility for sin, but this distinction may never
lead to subversion of the clear teaching of Scripture on the
all-controlling if ultimate and mysterious power of God."
( John Frame quoting Van Til in
Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, page 83.
Original quote is from Van Til, An Introduction to
Systematic Theology, page 175)
will of man within himself.
The will is the motive, emotive force, or judgment that
is sufficient or insufficient to result in an action.
If “I am willing,” does not result in action, then I am
not convinced sufficiently to act.
In this process, the will has a striking resemblance to
Perhaps, the old “faculties of the mind” and modern psychology
have made the mind more complicated than is necessary.
Francis Turretin of the 17th century posited
only the intellect and the will.
The mind, then, consists of knowledge and a willingness
or unwillingness to act on that knowledge.
Faculty psychology, receiving considerable weight from
modern psychology, added
a third component of the mind, “emotion.”
However, emotion is just a sensation that change may
occur or has occurred.
Its power ranges from weak to quite intense.
“For example, “I could care less.”
Or, “I am so angry that I
am going to kill you!”
However, the present situation and past experience (a
form of knowledge) give an emotion its intensity
I can feel “sad,” “mad,” “afraid,” or “glad” about a wide
range of thoughts and situations (knowledge).
mystery is how “willingness” is determined.
This judgment could be some sort of value or a command.
It could be the feeling attached to that value or
command. All these
interactions cannot be addressed here.
But I propose that “will,” as willingness, is a
synonym of faith. That
is, both faith and will are actions based upon knowledge with an
expected result that is dependent upon Reality (the truthfulness
of that knowledge).
If I believe (have faith) that I ought to do something (go to
church Sunday), then I will do it.
If I don’t’ go to church Sunday, I did not truly believe
that I should.
is a sense in which “unwilling” cannot occur.
If a child is unwilling to go to school on a particular
day, he has “willed” that he not go.
So, concerning any
decision to be considered, “unwilling” and “willing” are the
opposite sides of that one decision.
will of man compelled by a higher power.
A king may force a man into slavery against his will.
This situation is more complicated for actually the man
chooses slavery over the punishment that would occur did he not
“will” to be a slave, perhaps death.
So, in a sense, no man faces a situation in which he does
not “will” himself into one of several options.
While that higher power may limit his choices, he still
has some relative choice.
Highest Power, God does not compel man.
“God hath endued the will of man with that natural
liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute
necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil” (Westminster
Confession of Faith, IX:1). God
does limit man to two choices in all his decisions: God’s moral
will or evil, Heaven or Hell.
Man must choose between pleasing God and pleasing
properly understood, no conflict exists between what God has
prescribed and what is best for individual man.
The problem is that only the regenerate can understand
this unity of God’s will and man’s will.
decretive will of God.
God’s will is different altogether from man’s will.
If God wills something, that something occurs.
With God, willing and completion are one and the same.
For Him, willing is simultaneous with his action.
From man’s perspective, God’s willing may take place over
time, as God has willed everything that occurs in human history.
The will of God may be expressed in Scripture as His
declarative (prescriptive, moral) will for men, for example,
Romans 2:18. God
prescribes behaviors for men that He knows are best for them.
As was mentioned in (2) above, the problem is that
unregenerate man’s heart cannot understand this goodness.
question arises, “How can God’s decretive will and man’s free
will be reconciled?”
Man’s will is not coerced.
No man ever feels (senses, is aware of) working against
his own willingness.
He may feel strongly compelled by his values or the teaching of
another, but his final decision is never forced upon him.
So, while God “wills and to do His good pleasure,” in all
men, they are never compelled by God so to do.
Wisdom: "The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). "Foolish" is
different in the Biblical sense. It is not just "unwise"
or not the best policy, but it is ethical and religious—enmity
against God. This attitude is easily seen in the atheism
and agnosticism of our day. God has chosen the foolishness
of the Cross—His greatest wisdom—to
humble the earthly wise (I Corinthians 1:27). True
philosophers, who "love wisdom," will love the Word of God in
its entirety and discuss it at length in their writing and
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with
excellence of speech or of
wisdom declaring to
you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything
among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I was with you in
weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and
my preaching were not with persuasive words of human
wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should
not be in the wisdom
of men but in the power of God.
However, we speak
wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the
wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we
speak the wisdom of
God in a mystery, the hidden
God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the
rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have
crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has
not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart
of man, the things which God has prepared for
those who love Him.’ But
God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the
Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
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.
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. These
things we also speak, not in words which man’s
wisdom teaches but
which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with
spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive
the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to
him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he
himself is rightly judged by no one.
For “who has
known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we
have the mind of Christ.”
(I Corinthians 2:1-16, NKJV)
"In (Christ) are hidden all the treasures (thesaurus)
of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.
One wonders why Christian philo-sophers ("lovers of wisdom")
rarely discuss God's wisdom in these books, rather than their
A first principle of every religion or philosophy posits that
man must contribute in some way to "make himself better" or to
"save" himself. This definition includes virtually all
"free will" philosophies and Christian beliefs, especially those
called "Arminian." Only those theologies called
"Calvinism," "Reformed," or "Presbyterian," as posited in their
creeds are free of the "works righteousness." They receive
salvation and blessings strictly and only on the basis of the
grace of God, that is, the sola gratia cry of the
Reformation. See good works.
World: not a common term for historical
philosophy. However, it has a rich and varied meaning in
Scripture: (1) the whole universe of created beings (John 1:10);
(2) the inhabitable earth (John 1:10, 1st occurrence; John
16:28); (3) designation of unconverted people (John 15:19); (4)
that group of sinners who are so wicked that Jesus does not even
pray for them (John 17:9); (5) the elect only (John 1:29, 6:33);
(6) those people who have followed Jesus (John 12:19): (7) the
whole universe (John 1:10, 2nd occurrence); and (8) the greater
part of humanity (John 1:10, 3rd occurrence). In none
of these usages does "world" mean "all" or the "whole" of what
is designated. Thus, John 3:16 does not mean the
whole world, but those for whom Christ died intentionally and
specifically. (These definitions were adopted from Gordon
Clark's First John: A Commentary, pages 48 ff.)
Worldview: the composite of beliefs
(presuppositions) which govern all the opinions of an
individual. This composite is rarely coherent, but instead
is built haphazardly from what is learned from parents,
teachers, preachers, books, lectures, and other sources that are
considered authoritative. The only true worldview is that
constructed from a careful systemization of Biblical theology
and ethics. Synonyms for a Biblical worldview include
Creation Mandate, Biblical ethics, Kingdom of God, Great
Commission, and the Two Great Commandments (Biblical love).
Worship: "The chief end of man is to
glorify God and enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Shorter
Catechism, #1). If the summum bonum of man is the
worship of God, then any philosophy that does not have this end
as one of its foundational principles is empty and meaningless.
This criterion would eliminate all pagan philosophies and
many Christian ones!
X Y Z
Young earth-old earth debate: a debate
among Christians whether creation was over 6,000 years, tens of
thousands of years, or millions (even billions) of years.
This debate is not a test of Biblical orthodoxy. However,
anyone in these debates on either side who does not affirm the
inerrancy or infallibility of Scripture is not Biblically
orthodox for this position on Scripture alone. There are
two roots of this debate. (1) Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis
are unique in their difficult hermeneutics for Biblical
interpretation. It seems to this author that the
overwhelming Biblical evidence favors a roughly 6000-year old
earth, but that age is not absolutely certain. (2) All science
is a fallacy by definition and design. Thus, any
scientific position on these issues rests on a fallacious
argument, and is thus a personal belief only.
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