For those opposed to "Scripturalism"

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

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  1. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    There are different ways to get those quotes into separate boxes. You could just click on the quote button in the upper right hand corner of each post; or you could look up the codes. I often just click on the [, then type "quote" ( without the quotation marks ) and then the right hand ]. Then after the quote I want to quote is in place I type the same thing again, only with a backslash in front of the word "quote", but after the [ .

    Of course that's only when I don't depend on the quotes mystically appearing.

    In answer to your question about mysticism, I want to be careful about how I make an answer. If I've left the impression of mysticism, then I've overstated the case. But I've done so because I want to convey that there is a deep reality to Christianity. It is not merely using the word "relationship", or "communion", but having these terms really mean what they mean. The relationship is real, and the communion if real. There really is answer to prayer. It is not at all what the world thinks of prayer, or of relationship to God.

    Yes, you are right that it is not direct like that we have with our fellow men. And yet it is direct, in a way that men cannot have with each other. I only wanted to convey that one can not only receive answer to prayer, but he can know that his prayers are heard by the real person of God the Father. One can know that his salvation is secure. One can know that he truly is in the Covenant. These are not mere wishful thinking; nor are they only true in the believing of them. Rather, one can believe in them because they are true. It is not just reading about it in the Bible, and binding it to oneself. It is finding that we have been bound by a real and loving God, Who does speak into this world, and who does touch our lives.

    It is not mysticism to claim that. But it is mysticism to those who have no idea about it.

    And this was my point. Knowing is more than intellectual exercise. It is more than formula. It is more than theory. It is more than building upon an impersonal Scripture. One grows mature in the faith as one leans on Christ through His Scripture and the Spirit, as he is faced with the many tests of his faith throughout life. It is dependency upon the person of Christ, not just upon the idea of Christ.

  2. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

  3. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    :ditto: + :amen:
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    First you tell me that I'm saying the exact opposite of what I'm saying, and then you call it mysticism. All I was trying to convey was the a relationship with Christ is not a pretence, but is real; and you keep telling me that a relationship with Christ is not a pretence, but is real. I say the Scriptures are not impersonal; and you say the Scriptures are not impersonal. I don't know what you are saying to me. All I can gather from what you say is that I am somehow into mysticism.

    I suppose that you might be getting this idea because I refuse to be condescended upon by those claiming a higher system of analyses. I have had to prove that I too am a Christian, and am Reformed, even though I do not hold to these scholasticisms. I have had to try to prove that ordinary Christianity is not at all inferior to these new-fangled ideas. I've had to excel at things that I was never taught, that I never took any classes for. I've sat face to face with a couple of scholars in the field to find out exactly what they are saying, not just the iterations and repetitions of their students. I stand my ground against those who tout and insist upon the necessities of the theories of men; I say that the Scriptures are sufficient and clear enough, but that it is the Scriptures of the Christ that are sufficient and clear. Thus I do not subject the Scriptures to cultural movements ( which is why I left the CRC eventually ), nor to traditional movements ( which is why I left the URC eventually ) nor to philosophical movements ( which is why I am now in difficulty in the OPC. ) If there is no room for the ordinary Christian without man-created tabs attached, then there is no room for me. I don't want to be tossed about by the winds of doctrine that have been blowing through the churches for the past number of decades.

    Does that make me mysitical? I don't see how. It would be the essence of what I oppose in our modern churches. Mysticisms abound in so many forms that it is almost useless to use that term anymore. But yet it is clear in its simple formula, as nothing more than an encounter with one's own ideals, instead of with the real Christ.

    No, I could not speak of an encounter with Christ as you describe it, as if He communes with me without the Scripture and without the Spirit: a "naked encounter with Him", as you call it. I believe I have stated that I stand against this clearly enough; that it is through the living Scripture and His own Spirit and through prayer that I have communion with Him. I have also stated that a vital part of communion with Him is also through the communion of the saints and in corporate worship. I have included all the ingredients that true communion with God depends upon because each one is important to that relationship; but I have never centred it upon myself alone.

    And that is what I was driving at. If there is an analytical system of comprehending the fullness of theological epistemology, then no one man or system is big enough for it. There must be a Church. Our systems cover the basics at best, and even then we cannot rely upon them to keep us on the straight and narrow. We have had Confessional covenants for centuries already, and that has not kept the churches pure. We have pages and pages of direction that the preaching of the Word is to remain pure, that it is to be Christ's message through His Word; but that has not kept men from expounding their own theories and opinions within that mandate.

    Am I a mystic because I refuse to be alienated from Christ so that I won't be alienated from the status quo of the churches? If so, then I prefer that mysticism to that status quo which cannot understand the simple objection to things such as Presuppositionalism preached from the pulpit as a very serious objection. While it is possible for preachers to use the pulpit to propound their own particular adiaphora ideas of the creation days, of the eschatological millennium, and even of new views of justification, then clearly mysticism is preferrable. But I also repudiate mysticism, and I mean to refuse, with all my endeavour, to fall prey to that too.
  5. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Brother John,

    Knowledge can not hurt your relationship with Christ. The enemy is not a rational thought or logic or reason. The enemy is the rejection of reason. Communion with Christ is meaningless if you don't know Him, and you don't know him by experience but by knowledge which requires clear reasoning.

    Had the church not abandoned the Confessions, it would have remained pure. Doctrine is what keeps the Church united. When we lose site of that, we just float about and splinter apart. That's why there are so many denominations - because the majority of the church has said doctrine is to abstract and we need to have relationships. But doctrine is the Word understood. The confessions were written to refute errors that were killing the unity of the Church. Failures to reason and understand the doctrines of justification, trinity, atonement, salvation, adoption. We split apart because we decided experience and relationship trump knowledge and wisdom. We've even redefined knowledge in terms of mystical experience and undefined religious terms that have no clear meaning.

    Scriptures were given to us so that we can know Christ. Doctrine is how Scripture is understood. Logic and systematic theologies are just the tools used to keep us firm in the knowledge that is communion with Christ. Not experience, not journeys, not passions, it is knowledge. There is an analytical system of comprehending the fullness of theological epistemology - we have this in the WCF, and the Larger and Smaller Catechisms. Knowing correct doctrine is the key to union with Christ. This goes against everything the world and the post-modern and neo-orthodox have been trying to ingrain into our brains - which is why we have a sense of distrust of doctrine. We think "dry knowledge" can kill our union with Christ - that we need to balance the heart and head (mystical eastern clap-trap). Don't fall for it. Read the Word. Look up the word "relationship", then "experience", then try "know", "knowledge", "wisdom". Ask what does Christ mean when his says if you believed him you would believe his words. Words! Mere abstractions. We want love and union and feelings. But what is Biblical love - relationship to Christ - no, it's obedience. "Yuck! Give me love" is how we react. Obedience is not love. But that's what Christ said to us in his Word. Keep my commands. This calls for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. I don't care how many times you "experience" the "living Word" if you don't know what the Word is. You can not keep his commands if you don't know good old dry cold doctrine.

    Now I know this is not what you are saying entirely - I am exaggerating to make my point. Reason is not the enemy - but fear of knowledge and logic is. Don't fall for it. Define you terms, reason carefully, know doctrine. What does "real" mean. What about "existence"? Can we reason from loosely defined terms? Does that help us know Christ?

    You seem far from being a mystic, but you seem to resist reason. You seems to embrace reason on one hand, but undermine it with the other. That is why I worry about you. Because you don't seem to trust reason - to the point that you want to set it aside. Like you think it's impossible to be as rational as you can and still be in Christ. The Spirit is not some irrational being, but a fully rational person who will keep you safe if you don't reject the Word by rejecting reasoning you need to know it.


    I hope I've been of some use to you. I'm not trying to attack you - more the irrationalism that has infected the church going back to St. Thomas who tried to separate reason and faith. It's still a problem for the Catholics who embrace thoughtless "faith" and the charismatics who embrace sensation and experience - and many who have assumed the yin-yang heart head dichotomy. The church quit thinking and Bacon said science the theology shall never meet again as if we could compartmentalize faith and reason and the public schools system has divorced Christianity from education as if this would cause no harm to push secularism. So I'm unloading a bit on you because of the stupidity of the "church" which has let us down when if gave up doctrine as if this were not really a rejection of Scripture.

    So I'm going to stop even if I've not really wrapped this up.

    God bless,
  6. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thank you. That was what I was trying to say too.

    And again; we do not disagree, then.

    Perhaps here we may be focusing on different errors in the church, but again this poses not major difference.

    Upto this point we agree.
    This last sentence misrepresents the conclusion that I've come to. Yes, love is indeed central. But it does not reject reason or obedience. But neither does reason or obedience reject a true love.
    But it surely is.
    To be more precise, He said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments", and, " By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."

    That is exactly right. And the reverse is also true, that no matter how well you know the dry cold doctrines, without the relation to Christ through the Spirit, His Word, and the communion of the saints, you do not know the dry cold doctrines as you should.

    That is right, Anthony: does it help us to know Christ? We cannot keep going around in circles, saying we know Him when all we know is the reasoning, or saying we know the reasoning when all we are claiming is knowing Him without the reasoning. Just as we are called to a true relationship with Him, so we are called to reason truly. For God is not a God of confusion.

    I am merely resisting the modern notion of reasoning; the notion that cannot recognize the clear abuse of the Word, the offices, and the pulpit when men's theories are proclaimed as equal to, and even normative to God's Word. Have you not seen how Presuppositionalism is nothing more than the reigning orthodoxy? Yet no one, not even the one denomination considered the bastion of Presuppositionalism, has ordained it as doctrinal necessity. Yet here are men openly and boldy proclaiming it as the higher Reformed theology as if it were God's Word. Do you not see that you cannot on the one hand call it adiaphora, and on the other hand place it as a cornerstone in Reformed theology? It cannot be both: it must be either or. That is simple enough logic. That is very reasonable.

    I am not arguing against anyone holding to Presuppositionalism; I'm only saying we should get it back to it proper place. And at the same time, to bring back close and careful propagation of the Word as the Word of God.
    What I am saying is that what is commonly held as reasonable and rational is not as reasonable and rational as it should be. And it is because I do trust reason because I trust Christ. Rejecting the modern trend is not rejecting reason or being irrational. I can reject Van Tillianism, Bahnsenism, Clarkism, and many more, on reasonable and rational grounds, as I have been doing. And I have been doing it on solely rational grounds. And yet I have not rejected Van Til, Bahnsen, or Clark themselves, or even their main teachings. I've only rejected exclusivism carried out in their names. And I've done it rationally.
    That has been the same warning bell I have been ringing. Don't give yourself to a poor imitation of the real thing.

    And it has been replaced by a new rationalism, though not so altogether different. I too have been unloading because the churches have been ignorantly following the times, giving in on doctrine in the names of culture, tradition, or philosophy, and even thinking themselves rational all the while. As you have said, "The Spirit is not some irrational being, but a fully rational person who will keep you safe if you don't reject the Word by rejecting reasoning you need to know it." I mean to uphold both: His personhood; and His truth in unity, which is what reason entails.

    It is not reason I reject. It is what some would call reason that I reject. Therefore I am not a mystic.
  7. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    Please forgive me for misunderstanding you. I meant no offense. This is a perfect example of what I don't like about web forums like this: Communication can be derailed. Again, Please accept my apologies.
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I am not offended at all, Jim. All is forgiven. In fact, I am thankful for the exhange. It helped to put things in perspective for me again. Please forgive me too, for I am not as good a writer as I wish I were. But that's one thing I like about this web forum: if at first you don't succeed, then write, write again; there are friends who give you the chance.
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