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The Unity of a Biblical Philosophy and Biblical Theology: A Grand Demonstration!

or

Law (Responsibility) and Freedom

 

Philosophers have contemplated the ultimate meaning of man and his universe and “how can we truly know what we know.”  Some have even tried to unify the whole philosophical endeavor.  They have also pondered the question, “How is it that the subject (man’s mind) corresponds with the objective (the universe)?” 

 

Chapters or books could be written on any one of the subjects that follow, so this discourse is an overview more than a defense.  I plan to demonstrate that “This is our Father’s world.”  We can neither function nor worship in the fullest extent possible until we can see how marvelous is our God and His Creation in its internal coherency, external correspondence, and perfect pragmatism—all classical tests of truth in philosophical study.  Only a few Bible verses or philosophical assertion will be cited, where often many more are relevant.  Usually, those who are willing to accept a Biblical or philosophical argument will accept it, and those who are not willing will not accept lengthy arguments or lengthy citations of verses either. 

 

First Principle or First Philosophy.  Any philosophy worth considering will posit a first principle that governs all subsequent principles.[1]  The answer to all philosophical studies and unsolved dilemmas is found in Biblical philosophy which posits as its first principle that the Bible is the inerrant (infallible) and sufficient Word of God for all areas of reality and meaning.  “The Bible speaks truth about everything to which is speaks, and it speaks about everything. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4)  “In (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).  “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and logos was God…. (The logos) was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:1, 9). 

 

Christian philosophers and theologians have discussed the simplicity of God.  But I have never found where they actually demonstrated the many different ways in which God unifies all the quests of philosophy.  The following is not presented to be complete, but perhaps it is a good start for someone else to come along and expand this wonderful enterprise. 

 

Branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic.  While there may be some disagreement about these four selections, my reading and quite a few sources agree on them.[2]  The Bible answers the problem of metaphysics in its first verse, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  A few verses later, the human thinker who is to ponder “ultimate reality” is introduced, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).  The problem of epistemology is also answered in Genesis 1 when God spoke for the first time in history, “‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (v. 3).  God spoke, and he continued to speak through the end of the Bible in Revelation 22:21.  The omniscient God by His speech gives certainty to the spoken word as His communication to man.  If spoken, and later written, language is certainly adequate for God’s communication to man, and it is certainly adequate for men to communicate back to Him and with each other! 

 

Then, God addresses Himself to ethics, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (v. 28).  God instructs man in what he is to do, and later, what not to do.  By Jewish count, there are 613 commandments in the Old Testament.  Likewise, some Christians have counted 1000 or more in the New Testament.  And, the Bible tells us that this system is complete,[3] as “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).  This system of ethics has a dimension that no other system has, the rules or right and wrong conduct are commanded by the highest authority—God Himself!  Further, the most important of these commandments are duties towards Himself (The First Commandment). 

 

To some extent, logic stands apart from specific philosophical positions because it is a method of argument for any system of thought.  Logic is a group of applications that are applied to words, propositions, and systems for the consistency of their reasoning and coherence.  But in a real sense, logic is derived from Scripture.  Logic could not stand on its own without having its ground in Scripture.  For example, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  By positing Himself as the truth (John 1, all of the chapter), He has applied the law of noncontradiction and challenged all other religions and philosophies[4] to prove themselves true and Him false, or accept Him as Lord and God!  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Physicalism (realism), Idealism, and Dualism.  Without doubt in Scripture, God has posited a universe that is both physical and spiritual.  “God is spirit” (John 4:24), thus He is neither physical nor material.  Indeed, He created matter ex nihilo. God existed before He created the universe and man (Genesis 1:1).  He is not subject to time (Revelation 1:8).  God is omnipotent, “All things are upheld by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:4).  Therefore, He controls all energy.  God is omniscient; “He knows all things from the beginning” (Acts 15:18).  Thus, God, as the Creator of all things, is not subject to time, matter, space, or energy.  And, God created beings that are purely spiritual,[5] angels and other beings that are faithful to God or have turned against Him (Satan and his henchmen).

 

Man is both body and spirit[6] (Genesis 2:7, James 2:26).  Man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  Since God has no physical image (other than the Incarnate Christ), this identity must be spiritual.  Indeed, the best analyses of what the image of God in man consists is his mind and reasoning ability.  Here, even Christian physicalists have to posit an “epiphenomenon,” something different from a purely physical substrate in order to answer what God’s image in man is.

 

The Bible clearly posits dualism of the physical universe and living beings.  We are accountable to Him (ethics) by what we think, say, and do spiritually and physically.  The spiritual or Spirit is primary (Acts 17:28, Hebrews 1:3).  To posit the composition of man as only physical, as many modern Christians—especially those in various sciences are doing—is to deny Special Revelation of the Infinite God to the bumblings of finite man.  To posit pure spiritualism (idealism) is pure speculation.  While God does not limit our imaginations for our own enjoyment and ideations, to teach idealism, as some sort of believable scholarship, denies Special Revelation in the opposite direction of physicalism.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Subjectivity and Objectivity.  Among philosophers, there has always been an attempt to separate the thinking and acting subject from the object of his activity.  This attempt has clearly failed.  It has even failed in science from the level of social studies to sub-atomic particles (Heisenberg’s Principle). While the goal is admirable, that is, to find objective truth that is not affected by the subject, it cannot be obtained.  In Biblical Revelation, however, there are two ways in which the subjective and the objective are one.

 

First, Biblical Revelation is objective.  It totally and completely exists outside the subject.  While subjects (persons, churches, and councils) were agents in its formation, it now stands in its total objectivity.  There is no debate today about the 66 books comprising the Protestant Bible.[7]  While there is some debate about the “best” manuscripts and some variation among them, Biblical scholars have demonstrated over and over again that these variations are miniscule in their relevance to discerned theology.  The great debates of theology are over texts that are interpreted differently, not over the words of the text.  And, the debates over sexist language is not one of text, but commitments outside the text.  In fact, one of the greatest arguments for Protestant Christianity as a “fact”[8] would be agreement on the text of the Bible in a day when virtually no two people agree about anything. 

 

Second, God is both totally subjective and objective.  For a person to posit that God is omniscient is to posit that God knows everything that there is to know.  And, His knowledge is truth, perfect knowledge.  There are no greater criteria for objectivity.  But God is a Person.  Therefore He is both totally objective and subjective. 

 

(As an aside, the failure of dedicated and scholarly philosophers to accept the Bible as objective truth is clear demonstration of the need for regeneration of individual men.  The historical, personal, and philosophical “facts” confirming that the Bible is truth exceed all other “facts” on planet earth.  Yet, the great philosophers either do not accept it or they want to mold it to fit their image of themselves and their philosophies.)  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One!”

 

Universals and individuals.  One of the great debates in philosophy is how an object can exist independently of other objects and of the minds of those who can identify it.  For example, a tree is green, has limbs, a trunk, roots, and hundreds of other characteristics.  But, does the tree exist as an independent object or is it only a composite of its characteristics?  That is, is it just a composite of universals, and thus one with all other trees?  Or, does it exist as in individual tree, in spite of its common characteristics with other trees. 

 

The Bible answers this dilemma simply: God speaks of individual trees, rocks, sand, stars, and a myriad of other objects.  Yes, they have characteristics in common, but they also exist individually.  In everyday discourse, we do the same.  We do not debate whether the chair is really there, we just sit in it!  We may momentarily debate whether a sort of stool is a chair or not, but that is really silly thinking to have to identify it as belonging to a particular class.  God created individual things (objects).  He chose to give them common characteristics (universals), rather than create them all differently.  We call this creation, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”[9]  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One!”

 

Law and freedom.  Man’s great desire throughout history has been to be free.  But what is freedom?  There is political freedom, concerning matters of civil government without expectation of unjust punishment.  There is freedom of religion.  There is freedom of person, to go and do what one pleases.  In a real sense, all these freedoms are dependent upon the first—the freedom within civil government.

 

However, the first thing to say is that freedom never exists without limits or laws.  A man may live on a desert island, but for the sake of his health he must live according to the laws of nutrition, sanitation, and other matters of bodily health.  In any society, there are social consequences of mores, restrictions by civil law, and natural laws (for example, sexual promiscuity brings certain diseases only through that activity.)

 

So, first I would posit that no person or thing is totally free.  No order or structure can exist in either animate or inanimate objects with a plethora of natural laws being followed.  The absence of such law would be total collapse or non-existence.  At the macro level, planets would wander aimlessly about the universe.  At the cellular, organic level life on planet earth would cease without the warmth and nourishment provided by the sun.  At the sub-atomic level, electrons would fly in all directions.  There would be no atoms; there would be nothing!  Total freedom then is the absence of everything—nothingness![10]

 

Second, I would posit that some law and order must always exists to have anything with structure.  Precise atomic laws (even allowing quantum leaps) are perhaps the highest order of lawful structure in the physical universe.  Life on earth is preserved by the laws that govern the heat and light created by the sun in its precise orbit around the sun.  All societies have some law and restrictions.  It cannot function otherwise.  In fact, social and political anarchy will not last long.  Order will be restored by someone’s power within a short period of time.

 

Finally, I would propose that the greatest freedom exists where there is the fullest application of God’s laws.  Or to return to our beginning theme, the greatest freedom exists where there is the greatest application of responsibility!  According to the Bible, when is a person most free?  He is most free when he is most obedient to God’s laws—when he is most responsible.  He is most free when he lives fully according to God’s laws in the family, the church, and civil society and maximizes his physical and mental abilities in the presence of opportunities.  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One!”

 

Work and worship.   Christians have too often seen worship as restricted to a “quiet time” and corporate worship on Sundays.  However, the First Answer of the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith is that “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.”  Glorifying God is hardly fulfilled by a small fraction of a week devoted to personal and corporate worship!  If man’s chief end is worship (glorify God), then it ought to be a constant activity.  Does that mean that we worship God in our minds, as we go about our daily activities?

 

No, I want to posit that everything that we do and say, as well as our thoughts, should be worship.  What does God desire most from man: righteousness?  The whole of Scripture, indeed one could say, the whole of human history has been about God’s program of righteousness.  Man could not achieve it, so God had to make it available to man through Christ’s perfect obedience.  Did Christ work or worship His entire life?  Of course, He did both—at the same time.  God requires both perfect work and worship—all the time! 

 

What are good works?  Good works are all the activities—personal, family, civil, and ecclesiastical-- that God requires of us.  Work and worship, then, become one and the same!  The reformers corrected this error with Soli Deo Gloria, that in all things, God should be glorified.  For almost 200 years now, Protestant Christians have lost that principle in actuality, if not in theory.  “Full time” Christian service means being a pastor or missionary.  One does not see a booth during missionary emphases for “vocations,” calling our youth (and adults) to serve God outside these two areas.  Who would deny the reformation needed today in economics, medicine, psychology, politics, art, natural science, and all other disciplines?  Christian need to unite their work and worship.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

The internal mind and external universe.  Many philosophers down through the centuries have queried about how the mind can correspond to the external universe.  For example, consider this observation.

 

The problem of the logical and epistemological foundations of mathematics has not yet been completely solved. This problem vitally concerns both mathematicians and philosophers, for any uncertainty in the foundations of the “most certain of the sciences” is extremely disconcerting. Of all the various attempts already made to solve the problem, none can be said to have resolved every difficulty. [11]

 

This problem, “which has not yet been completely solved” (according to the authors above) is solved simply by the Bible.  “God created the heavens and the earth,” and “God created man in His own image.”  The same God created both, so that man’s mind and the universe correspond to each other as creations of the One Mind.  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One!”

 

The unity and logic and absolutes.  One has often heard in this postmodern age, “There are no absolutes.”  Oh?  That statement, then, invalidates itself.  It is illogical.  Therefore, if it cannot be an absolute, by logical necessity there must be at least one absolute.  Indeed, Plato, Hegel, and other philosophers have posited an Absolute of their own making “behind” or “above” the universe.  What is strange and demonstrative of the unregenerate mind is that they have no evidence that such a being exists, while they reject the objective Bible which posits the very Absolute of Whom they speculate!  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

The law of non-contradiction.  In this postmodern age of emotions, rather than thinking, there is the notion of plurality of religions.  However, Jesus declared that all religions must contend with His own.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  And Peter stating, “There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

 

It is interesting that the law of non-contradiction is one of the most consistently cited and agreed upon laws in philosophy.  Thus, by their own attempt at coherence, all thinkers are forced to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord or deny Him altogether.  Then, by their statement of Absolutes (above), they are forced to choose another system.  But in reality (correspondence), there are only two other religions that compete as identified absolutes to which there is any significant  following: Judaism and Islam.  Judaism is really incomplete because their Messiah has not come (from their perspective).  Islam is internally incoherent by any of the common measures of philosophy and logic.  No other religions or philosophies identify the Absolute concretely or with any evidence.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Autonomy and theonomy.  In the three traditional areas of philosophy (above), how does one finally arrive at a belief system?  Ethics (right and wrong) is always secondary and dependent upon one’s metaphysics and epistemology.  Interestingly, there are only two choices: autonomy and theonomy, that is, self-choice and a choice that totally embraces a system totally outside oneself.  In a real sense, only autonomy exists, for even a choice of the Bible as a truth-system, is a personal choice.  But its object is not of the self, but one that stands as a whole to accept or reject. 

 

Self, autonomy, must get out of the way.  It is a problem for the best-thinking Christians. In modernity, there is arrogance that any idea older than a few years is suspect or not even important.  In America, there is the independent spirit of self-sufficiency.  Modern Christians’ thinking must be molded by the best teachers of the past and the present.  There is an orthodoxy that one ignores to his peril and the demeaning of God’s glory.  While there is a true sense in which theology is always advancing, its advancement must be within orthodoxy.

 

Many Christians today have a problem with “theonomy.”  Usually, they identify extremes and caricatures of theonomy.  But these Christians have a serious problem: with what approach do they challenge and overcome autonomy?  Well, they could define a Biblical approach.  But “Biblical” does not correspond to “autonomy.”  It means the same thing, but why substitute the latter?  The Bible (God) speaks commonly and often of law, commandments, statutes, precepts, etc.   (See the numbers of laws above.  Also, see Psalm 119 for the varying synonyms of  “law.”)   Why not oppose self-law (autonomy) with God-law (theonomy)?  Once a majority of Bible-believing Christians identify on this spectrum of theonomy, then perhaps we can make progress in leading our churches and culture to ecclesiastical and civil laws that do not violate personal, family, or civil rights, that is, those laws that are God-ordained.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Universals and particulars.  One of the great debates of philosophy is the place of universals and particulars in one’s philosophical system.  Take a chair as an example.  Universals could include its arms, fabric, color, shape, and size—to name a few.  Yet any one given chair is unique in the universe.  No other chair has exactly the same measurements for its arms.  While the measurements may not vary more than a few millimeters or even less, they still differ.  No fabric is exactly the same, even if the variation is even a small number of fibers and microscopically small differences in the weave.  No two colors are the same—perhaps to our eyes they are, but a spectrometer will show that they differ.  The shapes of chairs, even with the same design, will vary slightly.  The size of the chair will differ slightly.  But you already know this.  You can sit one chair and then another of the same manufacturer and design, but they will feel different!  So, any one universal is a particular for a particular object, and a particular object has particulars that identify it with all other objects with the same definition.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

No conflict of ethics (duty) at any level of persons, “the one and the many.”  God has given instructions for self-government, family structure, church government, social interactions, and civil government.  Properly understood and applied, there is no conflict at any level.  Self-love is assumed and not condemned in the commandment “to love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  It is also seen in “husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28).  In these same commands, love of other persons is denoted.  Children are to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1).  In the church, we are to go to each other to resolve conflicts, even to the extent that the church must be involved if those disagreements are not resolved on an individual basis (Matthew 5:23-25  ; 18:15-20).  Beyond the church, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).  God’s rules take precedent over the rule of civil government (Acts 5:29).  And, civil government is to “reward good” and “punish evil,” according to Biblical criteria (Romans 13:1-7).  (Again, see the number of commandments cited above.)  But, there are no conflicts within any spheres within this Biblical system.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Good and evil.  These two concepts require a little more stretching of the mind than most of the other concepts presented here.  And, it covers a number of other philosophical issues such as “possible worlds.”  We can start with “all things work together for good, for those that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Most Christians, even those not Reformed, accept this promise.  It states that “all things” of both an active and passive nature that happen to Christians is ultimately for their good.  That includes their own personal sins and calamities that overtake them. 

 

But, beyond working “all things” for the good of His own people, is there both good and evil for non-Christians?  No Christian would deny that God is ultimately “good.”  That is one of His attributes.  But how can He be good in the face of evil as great as Satan himself and natural disasters that destroy thousands of lives?  Well, let us start with the latter first.  Even natural scientists have argued for “good” that comes from natural disasters:  replenishing of natural resources, getting harmful debris out of the way, and creating new opportunities for the flora and fauna.[12]  Then, there are the stories of people who later talk about the “good” that happened for them and their families, in spite of loss of property and life. 

 

God has said that He is “(working) all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).  “All things” must include the great evil of Satan.  God cannot be both good and evil.  He cannot be mostly good and a little evil.  The Bible never attributes evil to God.  Thus, God is good, and He is working “all things” to His own glory.  The greatest “good” that comes from God is that He demonstrates more of His greatness because of the presence of evil, as Jay Adams as “demonstrated.”[13]  God is not the author of evil, but He has caused “all things” to work for His glory—that is good!  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Cause and effect.  One of the most universal of philosophical principles is that fore every effect, there is a cause.  But could cause and effect be opposite sides of the same phenomena?  Did World War II happen because of the political and empirical issues of Nazi Germany and Japan, or did it happen because God had certain purposes to fulfill in history?  History, from a Biblical (God-oriented) perspective is taught backwards.  As we saw above, God is working “all things” to His glory—He is working “all things” towards a specific goal.  Thus, that “goal” determines events that precede it.  The goal is synonymous with the future.  Thus, the future actually determines the past.  God has to orchestrate all the events of history to reach the “end” of history.  So, we have understood history backwards.  All events—past, present, and futures—are determined by the ends toward which God is directing them.  The future determines the past.

 

But this conclusion is not so different from what one does on a daily basis.  One does not start out building a house until he already has plans, even pictures, of what that house will look like.  One does not start the first grade without someone planning what is required for high school graduation.  One does not plan a trip without knowing where he is going and how to get there.  It is the end that determines the beginning and all events until the end is reached.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Faith and reason.  Philosophers have seen these methods as diametrically opposed throughout the history of philosophy.  But actually they are one and the same.  Augustine of Hippo said, “I believe in order to understand.”  Reason is always built upon faith.  That faith is either the Bible or one’s self.  This choice of faith is seen simply in everyday life when someone responds to any new concept presented to them.  They will say, “Yes, I believe that,” or “No, I don’t believe that.”  Belief is always temporally and logically prior to reason.  The most basic belief (first principle or first philosophy) is that principle which governs all else.  But a first principle cannot be proved—by definition.  Reason is applied to test that first principle to see whether it corresponds to the real world, coheres within its own system, and has pragmatic value after belief has chosen that principle.

 

For the Christian, his first philosophy should be the infallibility and inerrancy of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.  God presents Himself in this way.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1,3).  And, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  God does not begin with arguing for Himself as the Trinity—He simply declares it.  Even God must begin with a First Philosophy—The Trinity and their Scriptures.  So, faith always provides the knowledge for the work of reason.  They do not exist independent of one another but are designed to work out the system that God intended.  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

Restoring unity to the effects of the Fall.  God said to Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).  But Adam did not “surely die” in his physical body for 930 years (Genesis 5:5).  So, the death of which God spoke was immediately spiritual death—which is primarily separation.  This separation is separation from self—we never live up to our own moral expectations; separation from others—all relationships are difficult and many times entirely broken; separated from the physical world, having “thorns and thistles” in every endeavor that we attempt; separated to the power of the state to control man’s “inhumanity to man”; and worst of all, separation from God—the Source of all that is life itself. 

 

Regeneration or being “born from above” is the first step of restoration with God and with self.  Then, the principles and laws of Scripture are to be applied to the governing of self, families, social relationships, and civil government.  Salvation, then, is the movement towards unity of the person and all the other relationships damaged by the Fall.  It is restoration, as much if not more, than “salvation.”  This restoration will be complete in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Revelation 21-22).   “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

 The law of non-contradiction, revisited.  There are not many ideas among philosophers that are agreed upon with anything close to unanimity.  However, the law of noncontradiction is one proposition that is almost universal.  (1)  Truth must exist.  For the statement, “Truth does not exist” to be true would be a refutation of itself.  Thus some truth, somewhere, must exist.  (2) Truth and falsehood about the same idea or object can exist at the same time.  The presentation of some Oriental religions that would posit truth and falsehood alongside each other is just untenable, even nonsense, in the communication that occurs among persons in just everyday conversation, much less accurate scholarship.  (3) In His statement, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6), Jesus used this law to take a stand against any other religion being true.  Thus, He has structured human thought and communication in the laws of logic that truth can only be identified with Himself and what He has said in His Word.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 

The Creation Mandate and the Great Commission.  John Murray has capsulated The Creation Mandate (sometimes called The Cultural Mandate), thusly, (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.”[14]  The power of this directive is in its being given before the Fall.  However, the Fall infinitely complicated this mandate, such that all the rest of Scripture was necessary to implement the plan of restoration.  For man to even care about The Creation Mandate, he must be regenerated or “born from above.”  Further, he is not able to fulfill this mandate until he is empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit.  Thus, The Great Commission is God’s great plan to continue the implementation of His Creation Mandate through salvation in Jesus Christ.[15]  This plan is also summarized Christ’s Two Great Commandments, the Ten Commandments, and all the principles and laws  of Scripture.  (See “No conflict of ethics” above.)  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Love and hate.  “Love” is possibly the most misunderstood word in the Bible.  To get at the breadth and depth of this word, simply work out what “love” means in John 3:16—which requires virtually the whole of Scripture to express the fullness of its meaning.  Then, one should  determine how the “law” of the entire Old and New Testaments can fit into the love of neighbor of Romans 13:10, “love is the fulfillment of the law” and Galatians 5:14 where the fulfillment of the law is the love of neighbor.” 

 

But not only is love comprehensive, it cannot be separated from hate.

 

“Real love is also real hatred.  He that loves feebly or falsely cannot hate energetically.  But if ardent love reigns in your heart, then hatred reigns with it.  He that loves the beautiful, hates the ugly.  He that loves harmony, hates discord.  In like manner, he that has fallen in love with holiness has conceived by the Holy Spirit an equally strong hatred for unholiness.”[16]  (Emphasis is Kuyper’s.)

 

Hatred is not something that Christians are supposed to have in their attitude and actions today.  “Winsome” has triumphed over Biblical love and “hatred.”  Many today have heard, “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.”  Well, it is the sinner who will end up on Hell because of his sin.  Perhaps this misunderstanding is one of the reasons why Christianity appears to be so impotent in today’s culture.  We try to love without hating, and this compromise is not Christianity.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Election and reprobation.  These two concepts flow from “love and hate” above.  By the same action that God elects many to eternal blessedness, He elects many others to eternal wretchedness.  Omnipotence can never be passive.  To choose an elect is to deny the reprobate.  You cannot have one with the other.  (See Romans 9.) “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

General revelation and special revelation.  Sometimes, a conflict between natural science and revelation is posited.  But under the unity of God and His creation, there can be no conflict.  Any conflict arises over the different language that science uses and that which God has chosen to use in the Scriptures.  Conflict also arises over the methods of science, such as, the artificial constructs that science uses in experimentation.  Induction, reasoning from a sampling of the universal to the particular, never determines truth because the size of its sample is always a miniscule portion of the universe. 

 

Had not the Fall occurred, Special Revelation would not have been necessary.  All man’s knowledge, though finite and not omniscient like God’s, would have been true.  His moral reasoning would have been certain.  So, Special Revelation is God’s provision to restore man’s knowledge back towards its original design, to understand God’s world and His will for mankind.  Rightly, understood there can be no conflict between general (natural) revelation and Special Revelation.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Unity of the Biblical system and of God Himself.  Reader, take a moment to review the above.  Do you know what you are seeing?  You are seeing the beauty of symmetry, unity, comprehensive design, and a cohering system.  If you are saying, “So what?” you will make little progress in Biblical understanding.  If there are only parts, pieces, and puzzles, both God Himself, His creation, and His plan as a unified Grand Demonstration will be missed.  This failure to harmonize the whole is one of the great problems of modern Christianity and its legion of churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.  Once a Christian recognizes this unity, he is forced to fit all Scripture and theology into this whole.  Contradictions, paradoxes, and mysteries must be resolved—where they can within the parameters of Deuteronomy 29:29.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Unity of the Uni-verse.  One dimension of the notion of truth is its relationship to the whole.  Every atom and composite thereof in the universe affects every other part to determine the whole and events therein.  Modern chaos theory is an illustration, whereby small changes in one area of the world (universe) can be causal in a series of other events that cause a great upheaval or explosion somewhere else.  A classic example is a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan and causing a hurricane in the Atlantic.  Or, the poem that goes something like this, "For want of a nail, a shoe was lost; for want of a horse, a rider was lost... a King and Kingdom were lost!"  In spite of modern reductionisms, the universe still functions as a whole... the way that God designed it.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Art and science.  The dichotomy of art and science has a long history, but their unity under the surface is amazing.  Music is the best example.  Every musical note is a precise frequency; that is why pianos must be tuned regularly—to those precise frequencies.  Yet music is "art," a beautiful form of art. Artists in their training study strokes, balance, landscape, harmony, etc.  Then, they imaginatively assimilate their own work.  Art, then, is the imaginative or creative synthesis of principles (rules, tradition, practices, etc.) into a coherent whole.  Even "abstract art" must have coherence for the one who views it or it is nonsense.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

The personal dimension of science.  Michael Polanyi has written extensively on the necessity of the "personal" in the most "objective" of the sciences, in his most substantive work, appropriately entitled Personal Knowledge.  The "person" organizes a plethora of data to decide what he will research; the "person" decides what methods he will use; the "person" decides what data he will accept and how he will measure it; the "person" decides what data is irrelevant; the "person" summaries the data and makes conclusions.  The "objectivity" of the scientific method is totally false.  If one is interested in the dangerous and destructive nature of dependence upon science as "objective," read Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us--and how to know when not to trust them (available at amazon.com or any book service).  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

Words, sentences, and context.  A word has no meaning apart from its contexts.  A glossary or dictionary in a sense is artificial and nonsensical.  Words have no inherent meaning; it comes from context.  So, a glossary or dictionary is a compilation of meanings-from-various-contexts.  And yet, a sentence is a group of words—parts—which make a whole.  Thus, words and sentences, even multiple sentences together, are necessarily interdependent.  Words have no meaning apart from sentences; sentences are dependent upon words for their meaning—parts and the whole.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”

 

 

Author's statement and reference.  Virtually all the above was initially thought out and written by me.  Later, I discovered another similar discussion, although it was far more brief.  See James Nickel, Mathematics: Is God Silent?, pages 254-255)

 

Endnotes



[1] Interestingly, most philosophies do not posit this principle.  Thus, they become internally inconsistent (lack coherence), as the reasons bounce from one principle to another, without being governed by one overall and overarching (supremely authoritative) principle.

[2] What is often not discussed is the interdependency of these branches.  One’s epistemology is affected by one’s metaphysics and vice versa.  One’s ethics will affect his epistemology and vice versa.  And, so on.  Each branch affects, modifies, and directs the other branches to varying degrees depending upon the emphasis of each branch and the internal power and consistency (coherence) of the entire system.  Logic, in a sense stands above the fray, but not entirely.

[3] One of the great problems that causes Christians to go astray is their failure to learn and know Christ and Christianity as a system.  Without a system, internal inconsistencies (coherence) are easily overlooked to the detriment of the Christian himself and God’s Kingdom.

[4] Religion and philosophy are both searches for ultimate understanding and meaning in the universe.  Thus, anyone’s philosophy is as much a religion as those commonly designated as such.

[5] Interestingly, spirit or soul always has to do with life.  The non-corporeal angels and demons are life.  Animals are said to have souls (Ecclesiastes 3:21).  Perhaps this perspective gives new meaning to “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26).  That is, where there is not a (the) spiritual presence, life does not exist.  Thus, the definition of life must be the presence of the Spirit or spirit.

[6] Spirit, soul, mind, and heart are all facets of the immaterial, non-physical component of man.  Man being bipartite, rather than tripartite, is the better Biblical and dominant traditional description.

[7] This discussion demonstrates the great gulf between Protestant truth and Roman Catholic “truth” which posits their Apocrypha, tradition, the magisterium, and the Pope speaking ex cathedra along with the Bible.

[8] I understand that there are no “objective” facts.  But, if there were such facts, agreement on the Biblical text would be one.

[9] A better expression would be, “The whole is different than the sum of its parts.”  The whole may not always be “greater” than its parts individually.

[10] There is an application here to origins.  Total chance is total nothingness.  “Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could.” Thus, evolution cannot even get started on the basis of  “chance.”

[11] Paul Benacerraf and Hilary Putnam (Editors), Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Readings (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1983, 2nd Edition), page 41.

 

[12] http://www.biblicalphilosophy.org/Theodicy/Good_Evil_Nature.asp

[13] Jay E. Adams, The Great Demonstration, (Santa Barbara, CA: Eastgate Publishers, ).

[14] John Murray, Principles of Conduct (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957),  page  27.

[15] David Chilton, The Greatness of the Great Commission, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993.

[16] Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979-reprint), page 567.

 


 

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