For those opposed to "Scripturalism"

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Jon, Feb 13, 2006.

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  1. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    For those opposed to \"Scripturalism\"

    In the unceasing endeavor to honor God according to his word, I would like to hear some definitive arguments from anti-Clarkians concerning the presuppositional view commonly referred to as, Scripturalism. Please note that I do not mean the variety espoused by Cheung or any other system that incorporates a doctrine of Occasionalism. Instead, the simple axiomatic principle that the Bible alone is the source of all knowledge would be what I consider to be "Scripturalism." I would like to hear arguments against this position to see if I have erred in believing the persuasiveness of its arguments.

    I would also like to participate and interact with some of the objections given to see if I cannot clarify some misunderstandings and perhaps even provide satisfactory answers.

    If anyone is interested to read my blog, I am about halfway through a series on Scripturalist epistemology. There are around 30 pages or more of 12 point single spaced text to read, though. I am not sure if anyone wants to actually read that much. Even more, the arguments are still incomplete, since I am only halfway done with the series.

    In any case, my hope and prayer is to glorify God in the manner he requires. One requirement is to defend the faith, and I want to be sure I am doing so properly. Thanks in advance.

    Soli Deo Gloria


    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Jon]

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Jon]
  2. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman


    I would respond with a simple question:

    If the bible alone is the source of all knowledge, then how can anyone read your post/question and understand it (have knowledge from it) since it is not the bible? I believe the argument for "scripturalism" is self-defeating. We gain much knowledge of many things without reading our bibles. For instance I have the knowledge that your name is Jon. I didn't find that in the bible. So "all" cannot be correct. You would have to qualify what "all" means.

    I would suggest a book called "The Shape of Sola Scriptura" by Keith Mathison to see the difference between fundamentalist and classically reformed understandings of sola scriptura.
  3. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi RAS,

    Thanks for your question. The easy answer is you do not have "knowledge" of my question. In order for a proposition to be an object of knowledge it must be true, but there is nothing inherently true about the proposition that I asked the question. That is, it is not inferred from anything necessarily. Nevertheless, you perceived that I asked a question that merited a response, so you made a judgment that you should respond, based on your belief that I posed the interrogative. In short order, you do not know my name is Jon (perhaps I am lying) and you do not know that I asked such and such question (maybe a naughty moderator posted it in "Jon's" name).

    I believe this illustrates one of the many misunderstandings people have with the colloquial use of the term "knowledge" and the strict philosophic usage of justified true belief. I use "know" and "knowledge" informally sometimes too (although, I am trying to break myself of that--cosistency, you know).

    Thanks, but that would be reading the Reformers out of context. The Reformers did not deal with the philosophical issues that arise when we talk about theories of justification and truth. They expounded a theological doctrine that asserted the Bible alone is the foundation of the Christian faith. To read back into what they wrote for affirmation or denial of Scripturalism is to make a dubious and distracting appeal to authority. Even more, I could readily cite a number of instances of in Calvin that would support the proposition that the Bible is the sole source of truth, but then I would be guilty of the same fallacious reasoning.

    No, instead, we must address the subject within the present context.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  4. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I think anti-Clarkian would mean someone who is against being a Clarkian or against Clarkians, not someone who is against Gordon Clark's views (just in case someone objects to being thought of as against Gordon Clark). I'd like to hear more non-Clarkian views myself. Since I'm a Clarkian, I'm disqualified.

  5. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    Good call Anthony.

    Gordon Clark is cool. It is his apologetics that are disputed.
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Misleading question. I am not against Clark. In fact, I am quite sympathetic to a lot of what he says. My first intro to presup was reading Carl Henry's God Revelation and Authority, first two volumes.

    That being said, I do not hold to some of his views, but I don't have the time/desire to critique scripturalism at the moment.
  7. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    I am open to investigating Clarkian epistemology and the Clarkian method of apologetics but a few tendencies of Clarkians I am decidedly against is their narrowing of faith to knowledge and assent without trust, the removal of the faculty of affections from the soul and religion and denial of personal assurance. The Clarkian obsession with mind and the understanding to the complete exclusion of all subjectivity is a tremendous departure from the Reformed faith and a big issue for me.
  8. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    Topic title changed in view of comments. Additionally, I have a very specific problem that I would like to pose that I believe cripples Scripturalism. That problem is languge.

    Now, assuming the Scripturalist begins with the axiom of Scripture, how does he deduce language from the Bible? Even more, how can one avoid linguistic skepticism when attempting to deduce theorems from the Bible without begging the question? A good example of this is found in Clark's argument that man knows language (and this must be fallible) because Scripture says God talked to Adam; therefore, God must have given Adam the gift of language. I find this argument to be viciously circular, even as a semi-Scripturalist, myself. It just screams for a demonstration of how such an inference can be drawn from the Bible. Even more, how can the Scripturalist justify his appeal to extra-biblical grammars for indications on the meaning of the texts? How does the Scripturalist support the appeal to Strong, Thayer, or BDB, when such "empirical" evidence lies outside of the bounds of Scripture?

    What Scripturalism--especially as Clark manifested it--critically lacks in a demonstrable theory of language that is deducible from the Scriptures. Without that, the system just collapses upon itself.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  9. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    You know, this is a good post because it actually illustrates a number of points that I believe people misunderstand about Clark.

    In the first, I do depart from Clark and maintain a tripartite formulation of saving faith and rather think that Clark missed the point in ignoring fiducia based on etymological considerations.

    A small correction would clarify that Clark did not deny affections proceed from the soul. Clark argued that all of human nature proceeds from the soul. In other words, he did not distinguish among mind, will, and emotions. Rather, he said that mind is will and is affections.

    Clark does exclude the possibility of infallibly knowing that one is saved, but that's a biblical propositon, for God alone knows the name and number of the elect. It is not proposed in Scripture that one may know with infallible certainty that one is justified. Indeed, much of Scripture focuses on the dedication of oneself to sanctification, which is the fruit of justification. But engaging this topic could probably derail this thread pretty quickly, so I'd rather not even get into it.

    And Clark does not deny subjectivity at all. In fact, his philosophy makes all human experience subjective in additional to all natural phenomena. That rains makes the ground wet is not an objectively true scientific proposition for Clark, but a subjective personal proposition. In this regard, Clark provides a greater realm for subjective experience than most philosophies do.

    I should also like to clarify that Clark was in almost every theological matter, an historic Presbyterian. Even more, the Reformers did not deal with the issues raised by Clark in a matter specifically philosophical and it is probably a fallacious appeal to them to argue that Clark does not merit the label, "Reformer," because of this. Clark was very Reformed, and a cursory read of his books on theology (see especially, What Presbyterians Believe) will demonstrate that.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  10. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I know I'm a Clarkian, but I can't help it. Language is an important issue, but I don't think it is critical. It helps to look at what knowledge is, and what language is. It's easy to get them confused because the Clarkian view of knowledge is propositional. And we think of propositions as verbal. But this is not the case. You can say the same proposition in multiple languages. Language itself is not a element or requirement knowledge, it is a means of conveying knowledge. We can know things without language. But be careful, this does not mean knowledge is not propositional. If you can not express knowledge propositionally, then it is not knowledge - but the words and terms that we think of as the content of propositions, are pointers to the knowledge.

    Can one deduce language from Scripture - yes. Language is the outworking of logic. Can we deduce English from Scripture, indirectly. Any language is a verbalization of knowledge. If there was no knowledge, there would be no language and no Scripture.

    I'm not saying this as well as I would like.

    Another point. Scripturalism is an epistemology. For a justified true belief, to be a justified true belief - we must justify the truth of the belief. Does that make sense. The belief is there. A truth is a truth. A truth one believes is either an opinion, or knowledge. Epistemology may simply divides beliefs between knowledge and opinion. Scripturalism say the what we can call knowledge is the propositions of Scripture, and what we can deduce from those propositions. But implied in this is the axiom of logic and language. I don't think Scripturalism justifies language and logic, but that both are implicit in any rational epistemology. By taking the axiom of Scripture as true, we implicitly take that logic is also necessary. The alternative is to assuming language and logic is irrationalism.

    So take any given proposition, and Scripturalism says that it is knowledge if it can be deduced from Scripture. But I think the assumption of the Scripturalist Axiom can lead to much more than what we assume at first blush. We can deduce geometry (both Euler's and Hyperbolic). Because by asserting the validity of logic and language, we are asserting the any axiom-based self-referential rational system is valid. Any particular language can be used. Logic is so ingrained in any system of thought, that any denial of it is absurd. Logic is the foundation of all languages and mathematics.

    I could put this more clearly with more time, but I think this is true. Any rational system of knowledge assumes and demands the laws of logic, and from logic we can deduce any language and mathematics. If knowledge - then logic. If logic, then language and mathematics.

    Scripturalism is not logically prior to language, logic is. And Scripturalism assumes logic is prior to itself.

    Does that make sense? I'm sure I've messed this up and you can restate it more clearly if you can understand what I'm trying to say. But I think we need to set Scripturalism in it's right place. It does not define the source of knowledge, or really the method of knowing, it really defines the justification of knowledge. We know what comes from the revelation in Scripture and what we can deduce therefrom.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Civbert]
  11. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    I am a Clarkian, and so for the most part, will stay out of this discussion as requested. Just for clarifications sake though, Clark does not reject trust so to speak, he rejects trust as a SEPERATE element of saving faith. Whereas the traditional reformed view of saving faith is "Faith=knowledge+assent+trust", Clark's view would be more like "Faith=knowledge+assent=trust."

    I understand what you mean on one hand, but not so much on the other. I think you would have to clarify exactly what you mean before I could comment.
  12. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Civbert. Glad you decided to join the discussion (and Jeff Bartel, too). I find it pretty helpful to discuss the problems of Scripturalism with others who think similarly.

    I should clarify what I believe the problem is. I do not find the plurality of languages as much a problem as Clark's theory of meaning. Clark maintains that meaning can be communicated through language because man has a rational mind and God has used language to communicate meaning to man. Incidentally, this is really a problem for any philosophy that appeals to revelation, but I digress from the present problem. Empirical philosophies can appeal to experience as the genesis for a person's knowledge of language. But the Scripturalist must demonstrate how one obtains the knowledge of language from Scripture. One of the escapes for this problem has been Occasionalism, but that raises a whole host of other problems. Augustine tried to apply the Platonic theory of remembrance to the biblical proposition that Christ is the light that lights the minds of all men. In De Magistro he proposed that all "learning" was nothing more than the remembrance of previously conveyed ideas from the mind of Christ to the mind of the man. This uniquely Platonic view did not catch on much and suffers many of the problems that Occasionalism does. Thus, the Scripturalist is hard-pressed to demonstrate a theory of meaning and its expressibility through language from the Scrpitures.

    I am sorry, but I must disagree. Language is not the outworking of logic. Logic itself is non-lingual. It is simply the science of the forms of valid inference. And it can be expressed symbolically, without the use of language (although language is needed to express the meaning of the symbols, but that is preciely the point). The meanings of all logical propositions are expressible in language, but the meanings of all language are not expressible in logical propositions. An interrogative or exclamation is logically meaningless, but language conveys meaning in these forms. Because not all language conveys logical propositions, language cannot universally be "verbalization of knowledge." A question is not an object of knowledge. You have said yourself that propositions are the lone objections of knowledge (something Clark also maintained), and I agree with you on this count, but that is precisely why I see a theory of language as critical to Scripturalism.

    It also does not follow that if there were no knowledge, there would be no language. What follows is that if there were no meaning, there would be no language. Meaning is what language communicates, and only some of the meanings conveyed are propositions, i.e. objects of knowledge.

    See, this is where the problem creeps in. I agree that logic is implicitly assumed in the system. It also happens that logic is indeed demonstrable from Scripture, so both bases are covered. But the problem comes when we start to interpret the Scriptures.

    The commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," is not a logical proposition. The proposition, "The Bible says, 'Thou shalt not kill,'" is. But here is the problem. How do you know the Bible means, "Thou shalt not kill"? How do you know that râtsach means "kill"? At this point, one must appeal to extra-biblical sources for the usage. In order to do this, he must first demonstrate that such procedure is consistent with his axiom that the Bible alone is the source of all knowledge.

    How does one determine the identity of the meaning of a biblical proposition. I readily grant that a given meaning must mean A and not non-A, but how do you know the meaning is A to begin with? How do you know it is not non-A? I just don't think the axiom addresses this problem adequately. I think a theory of meaning is needed, and to be internally consistent, it must be deduced from the Scriptures.

    Assuming language as axiomatic is wrought with innumerable problems. The biggest problem is expressing "language" in a proposition from which all the functionality of language (or at least sufficient functionality to interpret the Scriptures) can be deduced. That is a daunting task. And even more, if such a principle cannot be deduced from Scripture, it makes the system all the more suspect. And if it contradicts Scripture, then it makes the whole system inconsistent.

    The problem with the argument that any axiom-based self-referential system is valid comes when we ask, "But is it true?" Unless the axioms can be demonstrated from Scripture, we must answer, "No." Clark understood this, which is why he praised Keister for demonstrating the axioms of arithmetic from Scripture. So, in Clark's system, we know arithmetic, but not geometry.

    I think the problem with this inference has been demonstrated above.

    Yes, that does make sense, and it really helps to narrow the problem as well. Thanks again for responding. I am hoping we can put our heads together and tackle the problem of meaning. I am currently planning a project to attempt to solve this problem from Scripture, but I wanted to see what other people thought, first.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  13. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Jon and Jeff,
    thanks for your help here. Trust does not equal knowing and believing. Trust is a seperate receiving and resting on the truth we accept. So I see no difference in rejecting trust and making Faith=trust. But I will see the thread on the subject.

    "A small correction would clarify that Clark did not deny affections proceed from the soul. Clark argued that all of human nature proceeds from the soul. In other words, he did not distinguish among mind, will, and emotions. Rather, he said that mind is will and is affections.In other words, he did not distinguish among mind, will, and emotions. Rather, he said that mind is will and is affections."

    It seems like a heathen Greek mistake to equate mind with soul. Mind, will and emotions are all *seperate* faculties of the soul. Also its typical of Pelagians (and probably the source of the error) to confuse mind (understanding) with will, as if the mind could be pursuaded then the will shall follow. I think Boston's "Human Nature in its Four-fold State" is the best treatment of this though I haven't read it myself. The reason I mentioned this was Robbins' tirade against Joel Beeke and experimental calvinism.

    The common denominator in all these things is Clarks aversion to the personal aspect of religion and exclusive focus on objective notions. But this impression only comes from fragments of debates I've read on the PB and John Robbins' hysterical emails so its possible I'm misinformed.
  14. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    I wish you would rather address the error directly than accusing those who maintain such a lack of distinction are thinking like "heathen Greeks." No one has accused those who divide the nature of man of "Arminian heresy."

    I am afraid you yet misunderstand much of what Clark said. He was not at all adverse to personal religion. In fact, he was an ordained Presbyterian minister for a majority of his life. And please do not associated Robbins's diatribute against Beeke as being indicative of Clark's position on the matter.

    In any case, I can see you do not have much to add to the present subject, which is Scripturalism. Thanks for your thoughts, though.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  15. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman


    As one who was immersed in Clark's writings during my introduction to the reformed faith, your resonse was what I anticipated. And it is why I do not get too involved in this debate anymore with folks. It is like playing the exact same game of chess move for move in the same order, only with a different person doing the moves each time. I responded to your question because I thought you were tackling something new to you (scripturalism), I did not realize your question was really a set up for the response I gave.

    In this I was only trying to help. I was not aware you wanted a debate. I guess I misread the intent of your original post?

    In my referencing you to the Mathison book, I am most definitely not appealing to authority or any other fallacy you may find. I was not presenting an argument. I simply thought it would help you over the issue of sola scriptura, and clear up any distortions of it whether due to "scripturalism" or anything else. But again, you were looking to advance debate, and not seeking help on a basic level. My apologies.

    I know what it is like to be enamored with the deep exposure to logic one feels when being immersed in Clark. I found myself more concerned with how many fallacies I could find in a person's arguments than I was in actually understanding their arguments for what they were. I have nothing against Clark; and I am not a Van Tillian either.

    For what it's worth, your response to my question avoided what I was asking. It was not about whether I should have faith that you didn't lie about your name being Jon, or that someone else wrote your post. I made the inference out of charity that one would not purposely lie. My point was that if I am reading the phrase "the bible alone has all knowledge", I am receiving some knowledge from reading this phrase on my computer screen. I am not reading it from the bible. In this sense I am receiving knowledge from a source outside of the bible, thereby showing that the bible does not contain "all" knowledge. My illustration of learning your name (does knowledge come without learning?) was that I see the letters J-o-n on my screen. Whether that is your name or not, I am inferring from the letters on my screen (not from the bible) that it says the name Jon. If this simple truth is denied, then all thats left is absolute idealism (i.e. nothing is learned at all through the senses). If nothing is learned by reading your post, then you and I aren't really communicating are we? Our words on the screen are meaningless. The only way I could communicate to you is through quoting scripture.

    Perhaps you are aware that this idea of scripturalism/Clarkian epistemology has had qualifications even among Clarkians. Robert Reymond pointed out to Clark (see "Clark Speaks from the Grave") that if his idea of scripturalism were consistent then Gordon Clark could not even know himself nor Robert Reymond. I believe R. Nash points out the same things. The question for me is whether the soft-clarkians like Reymond and Nash or if the hyper-clarkians like Cheung are more consistent with what Clark was saying. I tend to believe the latter.

    Anyways, you may want to check out some previous threads involving a guy named Paul Manata who is a member of the Puritanboard. He was willing to go deeper into the debate than most of us. I hope this helps.

    Welcome to the PB, by the way.:handshake:

  16. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, just for the record, today is Valentines Day, and chocolates speak clearer than words. Somehow they make more sense than anything I might say. Don't ask me where this fits in with Clark's theories, 'cause I don't know about that. But that doesn't mean that I don't know that chocolates are better than words today.
  17. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    The accusation was framed to elicit a clearer explanation of Clark's views. I dont understand Clark, I was hoping you could clear my objections but from your answers I see you don't understand or desire to understand what I'm asking. My apologies for diverting attention from the subject of the thread. Thank you for entertaining my curiosities for a while any way, I will seek answers else where.
  18. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh, no, I am not really looking for a debate. I am interested in hearing sound arguments against Scripturalism. Honestly, I really am. When I said I would "interact" with the responses, I meant that if I felt the objections missed the point or were weak, that I would show why I thought so. I do that because it can really help us all to recognize the precise problems and narrows the discussion to some specific points of contention that really help to illustrate the problems Scripturalism faces. One of those I brought up myself, which is the need for a theory of meaning for Scripturalism to be consistent.

    I hope I did not sound to critical on that point. I certainly was not trying to. I only wanted to bring to light that addressing the problems with Scripturalism really requires that the philosophical issues be addressed over against appealing to traditional theological principles and asserting Scripturalism is inconsistent with them. Mathison's book does look good, though. I think I will read it all the same.

    That depends on the definition of knowledge used. And it also depends on the criteria of justification used to justify the proposition. That is, knowledge is not simply a cognitive proposition, but justified true belief. The reason I objected that I might be lying or a moderator might have played a trick is that either of these cases would ruin the possibility of justifying that I, Jon, said such-and-such, thus denying that the proposition is an object of knowledge.

    Well, no, you could still communicate with me without quoting Scripture. The only caveat is that nothing you say is inherently true except were it is validly inferred from Scripture. Even the propositon that you said something is unknown. The proposition certainly has meaning, too (although that brings up the problem of meaning that I did). Simply because something is not known to be true does not mean it suddenly becomes devoid of its other significant points, such as meaning, communicability, etc. It just doesn't follow that these things disappear with truth. That something is true only means it is necessarily so.

    Yes, I am hoping Mr. Manata will drop by and offer his objections to Scripturalism. I have read some of them, and while I think a number of them miss the point rather critically, I think that he has some very significant objections that must be addressed.

    Thanks a lot! I'm glad to be here.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  19. Jon

    Jon Puritan Board Freshman

    Ah, well I suppose that misrepresenting someone's position can be one way of raising a subject. It is not usually my preferred venue, though, so it caught me off-guard a bit. I would take up the issues you have addressed in an effort to help you understand Clark a little more, except that, honestly, I am not altogether interested in defending Clark personally, and am more interested in the implications of his philosophy, over against his theology. I would be more than happy to recommend some of his books that you could read for a better understanding his theology, though. Alternatively, if you'd rather not acquire them, you can read much of his though through back issues of the Trinity Review, available at the Trinity Foundation's website.

    Thanks again.

    Soli Deo Gloria

  20. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    What is 'true' is a good question - and many people will come up with many answers. My take is basically mathematical - a true proposition is true in relationship to prior true propositions. But there is also the view of true in a more cosmic or spiritual sense, as in "God's Truth" or Knowledge with a capital K. And there is an empirical view of true which says whatever we can confirm with observation or experience is true. Then there is "true is whatever is real", but this is really avoiding the question since what is real is not defined.

    So I see truth in a simple mathematical way as a relationship between propositions. I believe that the rules of logic can determine if propositions are true, and that axioms must also be assumed in order to do this. Scripturalism uses the axiom of Scripture to define what proposition we can call knowledge. But inherent in the adoption of Scripturalism is the adoption of the formal laws and rules of logic (law of contradiction, law of identity, and the rules of inference).

    The implication of this is that ANY axiomatic and coherent system can identify true propositions under Scripturalism (as long as the axioms do not contradict Scripture and are formal) - including Euler's Geometry (which Clark identified as a kind of ideal system) as well as Hyperbolic Geometry. The propositions (statements) which are deduced within these systems are true within these systems (with regard to their axioms and the rules of deductive logic). Since these examples of mathematic systems are purely formal, then they are valid under Scripturalism which implicitly adopts formal logic as valid.

    What Scripturalism doe not accept is empiricism because that epistemology violates formal logic due to the induction fallacy.

    Before anyone objects to rejecting empiricism - this is not saying that we can not believe things based on inductive reasoning from observation - many beliefs that are based on observation are quite reasonable - but they are not knowledge. This is really a technical distinction. We technically don't "know" Bill Clinton was President, but that is not to say it is unreasonable to believe he was President - even believe without doubt. But that is not on the level of propositions like "Jesus is the Son of God" which we can know is true. Or 2+3=5 which we know. Or that 'All (a is b) implies that Some (a is b)' is true.

    The last example - which no doubt Clark would declare true (a formal logical rule of implication) is why I say the Scripturalism allows for Geometry of any form that is logically coherent. 'a' and 'b' are variable with undefined content, but the 'implication' is a truth.

    So I think unless one wants to reject logic, one can not reject any formally coherent system. These systems are valid to God as well as man.

    An aside - does Scripture solve the Problem of Induction? Is there a proof text that can give a good reason to know that for any effect there is a prior cause. If so, we could extend Scripturalism even further than Geometry and into Physics.
  21. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    I'm enjoying this discussion.

    I do think that logic is the basis for language, even the meaning of questions and commands. That is because each word in a sentence that expresses a question or command has a proposition that defines it, and rules of grammar that define the way the words and sentence structure covey meaning as questions and commands.

    The meaning of any sentence may be a question or a command, but logic is required to understand the meaning of the words and the rules of grammar are propositions. And these rules are essentially formal - which is why we can use the same words in different sentences, and the same sentence structures with different words. There are also rules for context that help us understand sentence.

    We don't normally conscientiously think of these propositions that make up the rules of grammar, the meaning of words, the rules of context, and the many other rules that allow us to know the meaning of language, but they are still the basis of meaning. We implicitly assent to these rules when we speak and expect that people understand and know what we mean. Words are symbols for propositions, sentences are forms, and logic is the core of all language.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Civbert]
  22. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman

    Dr. Michael Sudduth, not sure what happened to his screen name - maybe he'll be back, has some critiques of Scripturalism. He's a former Clarkian. He's a Reformed Epistemologist (Plantinga) who stated in his bio here he leans toward VT, but didn't want to be 'pigeon holed' in methodology.

    He posted this critique on the All-Bahnsen yahoo group a while back, which was directed toward Cheung. You'll need to register to view.

    His critique was in response to this post by George Macleod Coghill.

    [Edited on 2-14-2006 by Don]
  23. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman

    Any comments? Able to register? He deals with 3 or 4 'versions' of scripturalism.

    I thought this was pretty much the nail in the coffin against Scripturalism - probably the best critique I've read to this day.

    [Edited on 2-15-2006 by Don]

    [Edited on 2-15-2006 by Don]
  24. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Could you ask Dr. Sudduth if you can copy it here?
  25. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman

    I'll try to email him.
  26. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman


    Also not sure if you are aware but 'aquascum' also has some devastating critiques. He is a professional philosopher who wishes to remain anonymous. I thought he had been referenced here before, so I didn't post it earlier. His critiques are directed at Cheung. Though Cheung incorporates Occassionalism, I think that these critiques are quite relevant. I think aquascum incorporates some of Sudduth's criticisms. These critiques of Scripturalism, infallibilism, internalism, and occassionalism remain unanswered to my knowledge.

    Top Ten Reasons to Reject the "œScripturalist Package"
  27. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Don Jon, ;)

    I've read aquascum and where I think he has missed the mark in not understanding the nature of axioms in any system of epistemology. Basically, his argument is that since the Axiom of Scripturalism can not be deduced from Scripturalism, it is self-referentially incoherent. But if this was the case, then all rational epistemologies are incoherent. (The irrational systems do no even get started. ) Basically speaking, all systems have axioms or some presuppositions which can not be proven from within their systems without being circular. You can not prove Structuralism's axioms any more than you can prove the axioms of Empiricism or Geometry.

    Not that this is relevant, but why would aquascum want to remain anonymous?
  28. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman


    A professional philosopher and an epistemologist do not understand the 'nature of axioms'! Oxford University should be notified! ;)

    Let me first say that I understand your (Clarkians) concern with being true to the Word and glorifying God, but I don't see Scripturalism as the way to accomplish that.

    It is not my intention to get involved in a long debate. But a few points: Self-referential incoherency does not enscapulate all of aquascum's (steve hays and manata are linked there) critique. Nevertheless, self-referential incoherency (a proposition(s) defeating itself) is different from being able to not prove axioms that are supposedly self-evident, so I'm not sure how your response is even relevant. Not all forms of foundationalism are self-referentially incoherent/self-defeating (Plantinga, Alston, Wolterstorff, and some others would come in handy here). So equating self-referential incoherency with self-evident axioms (or even epistemic circularity) would not be a sufficient response to salvage scripturalism. But even if what you say is true, this is still no justification for Scripturalism, since all epistemologies sink in the same epistemic boat.

    As far as aquascum remaining anonymous, I don't know his reasons. I don't know even know who he is. He does have an email posted at his site though.

  29. Don

    Don Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, this is copied from the All-Bahnsen yahoo group with permission received from Dr. Sudduth.

    [Edited on 2-15-2006 by Don]
  30. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Not let's replace the abbreviations:

    According to ("œBiblical epistemology...necessarily follows from biblical metaphysics."), at the very least something like (Propositions "œdirectly stated in Scripture" ) is either a proposition of Scripture or is validly deducible from propositions of Scripture.

    The second part of the sentence say the according to Cheung's " Scripturalist Grounding Principle", that the axiom that knowledge is "Propositions "œdirectly stated in Scripture" must be a proposition of Scripture or is validly deducible from propositions of Scripture.

    That is, the Axiom must be a deduction of the axiom. Ironically, any proposition implies itself. But that is not what Aquascum is saying. He is saying the there must be a scripture verse or deduction from Scripture that proves the axiom that knowledge is the propositions of Scripture or deducible therefrom. He is demanding a tautological deduction of the axiom. Since the axiom is the conclusion Aquascum wants, here is the argument.

    • P1. Knowledge is Scripture or deducible therefrom. (the axiom)
    • P2. Jesus is God's Son (or any other Scripture you want).
    • ...
    • Pn
    • therefore:
    • C. Knowledge is Scripture or deducible therefrom.

    Now Aquascum would object to P1 saying I have not proven it, and I can not assume it. But that is the nature of the axiom. The Bible is God's Word, not based on some proof or extra-biblical data, but that is to be believed by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and on no other authority.

    The Axiom of Scripturalism is knowledge is God's revelation in Scripture and what is deducible therefrom. Axioms are never proven, and are not validly deducible from anything. They must be assumed. Even if there were an explicate Scripture that stated the Axiom, this would not be a valid proof of the Axiom. Demanding it a Aquascum does is fallacious.

    Aquascum may complain that Cheung has claimed that the axioms follow from the Biblical metaphysics. This may be a fine complaint, because axioms do not logically follow from anything. But one could say that the axiom of Scripturalism is consistent with Biblical Metaphysics. But Biblical metaphysics is not the axiom of Scripturalism - and Aquascum error remains the same.
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