Gordon H. Clark on Logic in Man

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rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Bob,

Someday, I hope sentence (5) expresses a true proposition! :duh:

Brian


Brian I may or may not understand the recent point that you were laboring to make. I think you have a good grasp of propositions at any rate.

Regarding Clark and Van Til:

Van Til erred on the side of our having only an analogical knowledge of God.

Clark erred on the side of our having nothing but propositional knowledge of God.

I appreciate both men. But in any case I must say that we know some things just as God knows them because He has graciously revealed them to us (Deut. 29:29). The following declaration, though in five human languages, are but one proposition. They are all true of God; and that not merely analogously.

(1) I AM."
(2) εγω ειμι
(3) ego sum
(4) yo soy
(5) bin ich

We are not shut up in a Kantian lightless cellar ignorant of Das Ding an sich relative to the Self Revealing God.

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every ρηματι word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

Jeremiah 9:24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Gentlemen,

Rob said:
These are three different "finite forms of words consisting of subjects and predicates"; yet, they all express the same meaning. Because they are all the same proposition.

Exactly! :) You do have a good grasp of the point I was laboring to make. This is why Matthew’s definition is inadequate. His definition deals with sentences and not the meaning of those sentences. In fact, it seems as if he missed this distinction altogether or chose to simply ignore it. :um: The meaning of a sentence is properly called a proposition. As such, there is a difference between a proposition and a sentence.

Matthew said:
So do you believe a finite form of words can express an infinite meaning?

There are some issues with this question. (1) The first issue is that it is not at all clear what this has to do with your argument. You are asking vague questions when you should be clarifying your position. (2) The second issue has to do with what you mean by “an infinite meaning”. I really have no idea what it is for someone to say that something has infinite meaning. Perhaps, all you are saying is that as finite creatures there are things we cannot know about God? I would agree with this. However, this does not lead to the conclusion you are seeking.

Matthew said:
I stand by what I have stated -- the proposition is a finite form of words.

It is interesting that in the previous quote above you speak of a finite form of words expressing some meaning. I define propositions to be the meaning expressed by these finite forms of words; yet, you say they are the words themselves. As such, we are talking about two different things. You ignore this, and as such, it seems that understanding is not paramount in this thread. :um: Let's go with your definition of proposition for the sake of the discussion.

You have claimed that because of God’s perspective and relation to truth “God and man are absolutely different” and you draw the conclusion from this that God does not conceive of truth in “finite forms of words” expect to accommodate men. Here are the problems with this…

Problem 1: If God and man were absolutely different, then there could be no point of contact between the two. This is contradicted by you when you say that God does conceive of truth in propositional form as a way to accommodate man. Also, I think Genesis 1:26 contradicts the claim to “absolute difference”. Perhaps, you were using the term loosely to simply say that there are some things about God man can never know?

Problem 2: The argument is not valid.

________________________


Premise 1: There are things about God and His existence that we can never know due to our finitude.​
Premise 2: God communicates to us via “finite forms of words” to facilitate “covenantal relationship.”​
Conclusion: Apart from God’s communication with man God does not conceive of truth in “finite forms of words”.​
________________________



I am sure it is the case that we cannot fully know the way God's mind works in and of Himself outside of creation. However, this is *not* the same thing as saying that God’s knowledge is not propositional as He exists outside of creation. As creatures we simply would have no way of knowing this kind of thing apart from God explicitly revealing it to us (which to my knowledge He has not). Your "argument" ends up not being an argument at all, but mere assertion. If you feel the Bible teaches that God's knowledge is not propositional (apart from His communicating with creation), then please share your exegesis. (Keep in mind that I am one "bad" exegete! ;))

Sincerely,

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I really have no idea what it is for someone to say that something has infinite meaning. Perhaps, all you are saying is that as finite creatures there are things we cannot know about God? I would agree with this. However, this does not lead to the conclusion you are seeking.

Do you believe God knows Socrates is mortal through the syllogism which starts with all men are mortal? If not, then you know very well what is meant by infinite meaning. God knows all things at once. Man's knowledge by means of propositional truth is partial. I don't think this is as hard for you to comprehend as you are suggesting.

Problem 1: If God and man were absolutely different, then there could be no point of contact between the two. This is contradicted by you when you say that God does conceive of truth in propositional form as a way to accommodate man. Also, I think Genesis 1:26 contradicts the claim to “absolute difference”. Perhaps, you were using the term loosely to simply say that there are some things about God man can never know?

Please pay attention to terms of reference. The absolute differences were pointed out. It was stated from the outset that the subject knowing is Infinite Creator. If you don't agree that is an absolute difference then you have a theological problem. One should not appeal to God's immanence to deny His transcendence.

Problem 2: The argument is not valid.

I haven't presented a formal argument so you have no formal logic to criticise. Sorry to spoil your party.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
With some trepidation, I venture this suggestion.

All our propositions do express a finite meaning. Take our propositions about God, for instance, as contained in WSC 4. The fact is, there are many of them. They are true (they are ectypal theology, after all), but if any of them had infinite meaning, wouldn't it be the only statement we'd need to make? Our minds are not capable of infinite propositions anymore than they are capable of any other sort of infinity. So when God formulates theology for us, He necessarily puts it into the form of true, but finite propositions.

At least, that is what I glean from Mr. Winzer's remarks, though I may be misunderstanding something (don't laugh - it could happen).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Take our propositions about God, for instance, as contained in WSC 4. The fact is, there are many of them. They are true (they are ectypal theology, after all), but if any of them had infinite meaning, wouldn't it be the only statement we'd need to make?

Brilliant observation!
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Matthew,

Do you believe God knows Socrates is mortal through the syllogism which starts with all men are mortal? If not, then you know very well what is meant by infinite meaning. God knows all things at once. Man's knowledge by means of propositional truth is partial. I don't think this is as hard for you to comprehend as you are suggesting.

First off, I am not sure what you mean by that last sentence. I have tried to be genuine and sincere in this conversation. I hope you are not suggesting otherwise. :um:

Secondly, it seems as if you are talking about how God knows the meaning of the sentence “Socrates is mortal” rather than His knowing the meaning of the sentence itself. It sounds as if you are saying that given any proposition X, the way God knows X is different than the way mankind knows X. Mankind might know X at the end of a syllogism, but God knows X immediately in the sense that it is ever present to Him; however, it does not necessarily follow from this that God’s knowledge of X in and of itself is altogether different than man’s knowledge of X - and it certainly does not clarify what you mean by "infinite meaning". Consider the following two arguments…

Premise 1: All men are mortal.
Premise 2: Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

Premise 1: If Socrates is not mortal, then Socrates did not die.
Premise 2: Socrates did die.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

These are two different ways a person can come to the knowledge that “Socrates is mortal”; yet, it seems reasonable to think that the content conveyed by the conclusion is the same in each syllogism. So, even if God knows the meaning of the sentence “Socrates is mortal” immediately and in context with all other true propositions, this in itself does not entail that God’s knowledge of the proposition is utterly dissimilar to ours. Does God know with infinite meaning the meaning of "Socrates is mortal"?

Please pay attention to terms of reference. The absolute differences were pointed out. It was stated from the outset that the subject knowing is Infinite Creator. If you don't agree that is an absolute difference then you have a theological problem. One should not appeal to God's immanence to deny His transcendence.

It sounds as if you are admonishing me to pay closer attention. In an effort to accept your admonishment, allow me to go back to the quote under question. Here is the first part...

…we have to raise the issue of "perspective" and "relation," which opens the door to the "personal" side of knowledge, and this personal side cannot in any sense be the same for God and man for the simple reason that God and man are absolutely different.

You are trying to explain from the personal side of knowledge why man’s knowledge and God’s knowledge cannot “in any sense be the same.” The reason for this is because “God and man are absolutely different.” Here is the rest of the paragraph…

God's perspective is infinite and eternal and He stands related to the truth as the Creator and Revealer. Man's persepctive is finite and temporal, and he stands related to the truth as created and receiver.

It sounds like you are saying that “God and man are absolutely different” in the sense that “God’s perspective is infinite and stands in relation to truth as the creator, while man’s perspective is finite and stands in relation to truth as the created.” If this is so, then you are saying…

“The personal side of knowledge cannot in any sense be the same for God and man for the simple reason that God’s perspective is infinite and stands in relation to truth as the creator, while man’s perspective is finite and stands in relation to truth as the created.”
Here is your argument…

Premise 1: God’s perspective is infinite and stands in relation to truth as the creator.
Premise 2: Man’s perspective is finite and stands in relation to truth as the created.
Conclusion: God’s knowledge of truth cannot in any sense be the same as man's.

This argument is not valid. You immediately went on to say…

Given God's perspective and relation to the truth, it is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.

This is like saying, “Given premise 1, it is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.” I have two thoughts about this: (1) This, too, is an invalid argument, and as such is not so obvious. (2) Given your exception clause, apparently in some sense God does conceive of truth in propositional form. But this seems to contradict the conclusion of your argument above. I appreciate your admonition to pay closer attention, but maybe the issue of my misunderstanding has less to do with my lack of attention and more to do with your communication? Just a thought. :um:

I haven't presented a formal argument so you have no formal logic to criticise. Sorry to spoil your party.

An argument does not need to be a formal argument for it to be invalid. All kinds of implicit arguments are made in discussions like these. This lack of explicitness becomes the seedbed to all kinds of fallacious thinking.

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Secondly, it seems as if you are talking about how God knows the meaning of the sentence “Socrates is mortal” rather than His knowing the meaning of the sentence itself. It sounds as if you are saying that given any proposition X, the way God knows X is different than the way mankind knows X.

Why make it a question of "mode" when I have clearly stated it is a question of "subject." The very idea of "mode" is a creaturely limitation.

Does God know with infinite meaning the meaning of "Socrates is mortal"?

It is not about God knowing a proposition and importing His infinite knowledge into it. He knows without partition and process. The proposition itself is a part of the whole and requires a process of reasoning from universals to particulars to arrive at it. When God presents truth to man, He does so in parcels and through process; but it is folly to suppose that God Himself conceives of truth in this way. Just as it is folly to suppose a parent crawls everywhere simply because he crawls on the ground when playing with his toddler.

You are trying to explain from the personal side of knowledge why man’s knowledge and God’s knowledge cannot “in any sense be the same.” The reason for this is because “God and man are absolutely different.”

Don't forget the qualification where I have already agreed that the object of knowledge is the same for God and man. My statement only pertains to the subject of knowledge. It appears to me that your arguments are fitted more as a criticism of Van Til than of what I have presented.

An argument does not need to be a formal argument for it to be invalid.

It does if you are going to criticise the form of it. As it stands you have made up your own form, imputed it to me, and called it invalid.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Matthew,

Why make it a question of "mode" when I have clearly stated it is a question of "subject." The very idea of "mode" is a creaturely limitation.

Words are rarely, if ever, univocal. (I suppose there could be some very precise techincal term that is univocal.) As such, I do not know precisely what you mean by ‘mode’ or ‘subject’. I suppose whay you are asking is “Why make it a question of ‘how’?” My answer is because you seemed to ask a question about “how God knows” when you asked if God knows that “Socrates is mortal” as a result of it being at the end syllogism. This sounds to me like a question of ‘how’. As such, if this is not what you meant, then please clarify.

He (God) knows without partition and process. The proposition itself is a part of the whole and requires a process of reasoning from universals to particulars to arrive at it. When God presents truth to man, He does so in parcels and through process; but it is folly to suppose that God Himself conceives of truth in this way.

Consider the following argument where I get the premises from what you said above as indicated by the parenthetical quotes next to the premises…

Premise 1: If person A knows particular proposition X, then person A used a process of reasoning from universals to particulars. (“The proposition itself is a part of the whole and requires a process of reasoning from universals to particulars to arrive at it.”)
Premise 2: It is not the case that God uses a process of reasoning from universals to particulars. (“He (God) knows without partition and process.”)
Conclusion: It is not the case that God knows particular proposition X.

The conclusion seems to follow from what you said above. Are you really saying that God cannot know particulars? If not, then it seems one of the premises is wrong. If so, then does God know that He cannot know particulars? If so, then it is not the case that knowledge “cannot be in any sense the same for God and man” as you seem to claim. If not, then what is the basis to say that the conclusion is true? In fact, you imply that we can know particulars because we can use a process that reasons from universals to particulars. This seems to mean that there are some things we know that God does not know – but this is absurd.

Notwithstanding what was said above, I think the conclusion is false because premise 1 is false. Consider the sentence “I feel pain.” When we are in pain, many philosophers would say that we know the meaning conveyed by this sentence, and that it is a properly basic belief. That is to say, it is a belief that is both true and its truth was not determined by some chain of inference. If this is true (and I see no reason to think it is not), then premise 1 is false. Also, I grant that God knows all truth immediately in the sense it is ever-present to Him. This, too, provides a counter-example to premise 1.

Since this argument came directly from my understanding of what you said above, either I misunderstood what you said, or what you said was mistaken. If the former is the case, then would you show me the courtesy of explaining which of my premises was incorrect, and why it was incorrect based on what you said in the quote above? If the latter is the case, then can you make whatever corrections are needed to make your position understandable?

Don't forget the qualification where I have already agreed that the object of knowledge is the same for God and man. My statement only pertains to the subject of knowledge. It appears to me that your arguments are fitted more as a criticism of Van Til than of what I have presented.

This is helpful for me. Two things right off of the bat: (1) I am not versed in what Van Til has said, or the intricacies of the debate between him and Clark over these matters. My participation in this thread has strictly to do with your claims made in post #43. It is my position that your conclusions are not “obvious” or arrived at in any valid sense. As such, my arguments are not geared towards Van Til, but rather they are geared towards you. It is possible that I am misconstruing things you are saying that might look like I am interpreting you in light of Van Til. If this is the case, then I assure you it is unintentional. (2) You understand a distinction between the object of knowledge and the subject of knowledge. One might consider propositions, or Plato’s Forms or “what is” to be the objects of knowledge. One might consider the one doing the knowing to be the subject of knowledge, or perhaps that subject of knowledge is simply some particular field of knowledge? Can you make explicit the distinction you mean to be drawing?

It (an argument) does if you are going to criticise the form of it. As it stands you have made up your own form, imputed it to me, and called it invalid.

All implicit arguments entail formal arguments. As such, all implicit arguments can be criticized on their form from the basis of the formal argument they entail. All I was trying to do was to tease out the arguments entailed by you. I grant that I may have misunderstood your argument, and as such ask you to fix any of the incorrect premises. The more explicit we get the clearer the issues become, and the less chance we have of falling into fallacious thinking.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This sounds to me like a question of ‘how’. As such, if this is not what you meant, then please clarify.

OK, I will clarify again. There is no "how" in the knowledge of God. He just knows. He doesn't come to know.

Are you really saying that God cannot know particulars?

No, I haven't even hinted at it. I said, "The proposition itself is a part of the whole and requires a process of reasoning from universals to particulars to arrive at it." It seems to me that your freedom to create logical forms of argument on behalf of others enables you to make them say anything you please.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Matthew,

It seems to me that your freedom to create logical forms of argument on behalf of others enables you to make them say anything you please.

Whatever arguments I have formed have come from my understanding of your position. Now, I may have misunderstood you, and as a result constructed arguments not representing your position. But this was done from misunderstanding rather than from intentionality as you seem to indicate when you say “you…make them say anything you please”. I have already told you that my interaction with you is sincere and genuine. This is twice now that you have brought my sincerity into question. I assume you are trying to be sincere and genuine in our discussion. Please show me the same courtesy by not questioning my intentions. It hurts my feelings and adds nothing to our discussion. :(

OK, I will clarify again. There is no "how" in the knowledge of God. He just knows. He doesn't come to know.

I understand you to be saying that God knows all truths immediately in the sense that all truths are ever-present to Him.

Brian said:
Are you really saying that God cannot know particulars?
Matthew said:
No, I haven't even hinted at it. I said, "The proposition itself is a part of the whole and requires a process of reasoning from universals to particulars to arrive at it."

OK, it is your position that God knows particular propositions. He knows them immediately; whereas, we know them through a reasoning process starting with universals and concluding to particulars. This is how I understand your position at this point. Is my understanding accurate? I want to bring in a little context regarding this. I have been attempting to clarify what you meant when you said...

...we have to raise the issue of "perspective" and "relation," which opens the door to the "personal" side of knowledge, and this personal side cannot in any sense be the same for God and man for the simple reason that God and man are absolutely different. God's perspective is infinite and eternal and He stands related to the truth as the Creator and Revealer. Man's persepctive is finite and temporal, and he stands related to the truth as created and receiver.

So, based on my current understanding of your position I now understand this paragraph to say…
_________________________


God’s knowledge is not in any sense the same as man’s because:

(1) God is omniscient.
(2) All of God’s knowledge is immediate.
(3) God is the creator
(4) No man is omniscient.
(5) Some of man’s knowledge is not immediate.
(6) Man is the created.​
_________________________

If this is not what you mean, then please clarify. For now, I am going to assume that (1)-(6) is what you mean and continue. Your conclusion based on (1)-(6) is…

Given God's perspective and relation to the truth (i.e., (1)-(6)), it is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.

Given (1)-(6), I do not see how the conclusion you give in this quote is ‘obvious’. It certainly does not immediately follow from (1)-(6). So, how do you get from (1)-(6) to the conclusion: God does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship? Can you make the argument explicit?

Brian
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This is twice now that you have brought my sincerity into question. I assume you are trying to be sincere and genuine in our discussion. Please show me the same courtesy by not questioning my intentions. It hurts my feelings and adds nothing to our discussion. :(

At no point have I said anything about your sincerity. You are inflicting self-hurt by reading this into my words.

If you are going to have beneficial discussions with people you will need to stop shadow boxing with their statements. Not all arguments move from premise to conclusion. I don't know too many people who will be interested in discussing things with a person who transforms every statement into a syllogism and proceeds to criticise them for an invalid formal logic they never even adopted.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
On logic:

I think it should be remembered that inductive logic is always invalid, yet is still useful. In addition, premises are often assumed rather than explicitly stated. Just because an argument is invalid does not mean it is not useful--that's a medieval-enlightenment assumption that I, for one, am trying to get away from.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Gents,

Matthew said:
At no point have I said anything about your sincerity. You are inflicting self-hurt by reading this into my words.

Ok. This is good enough for me. I apologize for reading into your words. Please forgive me.

Matthew said:
If you are going to have beneficial discussions with people you will need to stop shadow boxing with their statements. Not all arguments move from premise to conclusion. I don't know too many people who will be interested in discussing things with a person who transforms every statement into a syllogism and proceeds to criticise them for an invalid formal logic they never even adopted.

It is easy to go about making philosophical/theological claims using vague, equivocal terms and sloppy arguments. In fact, some hide behind such tactics because they know their arguments are fallacious. All informal arguments can be put into formal terms. Let me say that again, *ALL* informal arguments can be put into formal terms. Making an argument explicit does three things: (1) It allows one to clearly see the form of the argument so as to be able to judge the validity of the argument, (2) it allows the soundness of the argument to be more accurately determined because the premises are clear, and (3) it exposes those sophists who like to hide behind vague, equivocal terms and sloppy argumentation. Now, you made an argument that clearly had a conclusion. Here was your conclusion (the bolded part)…

Matthew said:
Given God's perspective and relation to the truth, it is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.

This so-called "obvious" conclusion is based on a given (your words, not mine) that was explained in the prior paragraph from which I gathered this quote. That means you reasoned from premises to a conclusion. So, please do not lecture me about the flow of arguments. You went from some type of premise to a conclusion. Yet, you seem to be either unable or unwilling to make your argument explicit. My guess is the issue is not ignorance, but unwillingness. If I were to guess why you are unwilling it is because you know deep down that your argument is invalid.

Philip said:
I think it should be remembered that inductive logic is always invalid, yet is still useful.

We are not talking about induction here. Matthew was not making his case via an inductive argument.

Philip said:
In addition, premises are often assumed rather than explicitly stated.

This is true. I am just asking Matthew to make everything explicit, but he does not seem to want to do these things. I suspect he does not like being called out like this, and I suspect he knows his argument is invalid.

Philip said:
Just because an argument is invalid does not mean it is not useful--that's a medieval-enlightenment assumption that I, for one, am trying to get away from.

I am not sure what you mean by this. I agree that inductive arguments can be very useful. The context of this discussion is not inductive argumentation. All valid arguments with assumed premises can be made formally valid by making explicit the assumed premises. If arguments with assumed premises cannot be put into valid form, then they are *not* useful arguments – except as illustrations of fallacious argumentation.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is easy to go about making philosophical/theological claims using vague, equivocal terms and sloppy arguments. In fact, some hide behind such tactics because they know their arguments are fallacious. All informal arguments can be put into formal terms. Let me say that again, *ALL* informal arguments can be put into formal terms.

Obviously it can, if the person making the argument decides it is best to specify terms and link them in the logical chain required to argue fom premise to conclusion. If he doesn't, it is not competent to someone else to formally state the argument for him, and it is simply poor form when that other person has it in view to criticise the logic of the argument that has never been presented logically.

I suspect he does not like being called out like this, and I suspect he knows his argument is invalid.

You suspect wrongly. I simply see no benefit in debating with a person who doesn't agree with the underlying principle of transcendence that I have espoused. To put it in the logical language you are obviously chained to, there is no point explicating a minor premise when one's interlocutor will not even accept the major.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Matthew,

I simply see no benefit in debating with a person who doesn't agree with the underlying principle of transcendence that I have espoused. To put it in the logical language you are obviously chained to, there is no point explicating a minor premise when one's interlocutor will not even accept the major.

My criticisms had to do with the validity of your argument in post #43. This means that whether or not I accepted your major premise is completely irrelevant. As far as disagreeing with your "underlying principle of transendence," I simply would not know. I have yet to even figure our what this underlying principle of yours is. Was it the six points I laid out in post #70? If so, I agree with all six of those points.

I have claimed your argument in post #43 is not obvious, which I think I have reasonably established at this point, and I have claimed that it was not valid. So, why not make explicit for us both your major and minor premise as found in post #43 that leads us to the conclusion found in post #43? Whether or not I think the premises are true is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This means that whether or not I accepted your major premise is completely irrelevant.

My argument amounts to this -- "If A, then B." You reject A -- God's transcendent knowledge. That being the case, there is no point in showing "then B." Besides, you would refuse any minor premise I might provide because you have rejected my statement that a finite proposition contains a finite meaning. We obviously have no common ground in this "discussion," and I find you to be too interested in debate for the mere sake of it; such circumstances are not congenial to a beneficial discussion of the holy things of God.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Reverend Winzer,

I am not as able as you guys to discuss this kind of argumentation, so please bear with me as I impose on you what I am seeing and where I am having a disconnect with understanding your discussion with Brian.

It seems you both are agreeing with transendence. Maybe it is a matter of degree that you are seeing a difference in. But I see both of you saying that the creature / creator distinction is so wide that it can not be fathomed. Nor can this transcendence be understood because of the natures between Creator and creature are so different. But when immanence is being discussed concerning knowledge there is a void or disconnect between the two of you. You seem to be neglecting that factor when Brian is trying to discuss things on that level. I am only an observer and not as equipped on speaking about this as you guys are. So please forgive me if I am intruding on the discussion in an improper way.

In the immanent realm of life where God by logos communicates to man can truth be solid and factual both between God and man? Is truth the same at that level as in let your yes be yes and your no be no?
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Reverend Winzer,

I am not as able as you guys to discuss this kind of argumentation, so please bear with me as I impose on you what I am seeing and where I am having a disconnect with understanding your discussion with Brian.

It seems you both are agreeing with transendence. Maybe it is a matter of degree that you are seeing a difference in. But I see both of you saying that the creature / creator distinction is so wide that it can not be fathomed. Nor can this transcendence be understood because of the natures between Creator and creature are so different. But when immanence is being discussed concerning knowledge there is a void or disconnect between the two of you. You seem to be neglecting that factor when Brian is trying to discuss things on that level. I am only an observer and not as equipped on speaking about this as you guys are. So please forgive me if I am intruding on the discussion in an improper way.

In the immanent realm of life where God by logos communicates to man can truth be solid and factual both between God and man? Is truth the same at that level as in let your yes be yes and your no be no?


Randy, I too have been (with but few exceptions) been watching from the sidelines as Matthew and Brian debate the issue of our knowledge and God’s knowledge.

I am concerned because an old Achilles Heel is returning to threaten the Church which was thought to have been cured last century. G. K. Beale, who will soon take up teaching at Westminster, has a new book coming out called “The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority”.

When we posit that God has not communicated His mind to humanity BECAUSE such is not possible (transcendence, incomprehensibility, infinitude, etc) then we open ourselves up to any number of rabbit trails and theological dead ends. Alas Barth is receiving new appreciation among men in erstwhile solid seminaries and schools.

Carl Henry wrote:
“The Word of God is personal and rational, and the truth of God, whether given in general or in special disclosure, including the climactic revelation of the Logos in Jesus of Nazareth, can be propositionally formulated. All divine revelation mediated to man is incarnational, inasmuch as it is given in human history, concepts and language. Even the supreme personal revelation historically manifested by the incarnate Christ shares in this verbal and propositional expressibility.

John the evangelist did not begin his gospel by declaring that Agape (love) became flesh, or that Dunamis (power) became flesh, or that Dikaios (righteousness) became flesh__as indeed they did in the incarnate Christ__but rather that the Logos (word) became flesh.” GRA III.173

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [εξηγησατο ] Him.

“Revelation is that activity of the supernatural God whereby he communicates information essential for man’s present and future destiny. In revelation God, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, shares his thoughts with man; in this self-disclosure God unveils his very own mind; he communicates not only the truth about himself and his intentions, but also that concerning man’s present plight and future prospects.” GRA III.457
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It seems you both are agreeing with transendence.

Randy,

Brian says, "I really have no idea what it is for someone to say that something has infinite meaning. Perhaps, all you are saying is that as finite creatures there are things we cannot know about God? I would agree with this."

We do not agree on God's transcendence. I teach that God's thoughts are above our thoughts, that we cannot by searching find out God, that God's love passeth knowledge, that there is a joy unspeakable and a peace that passeth understanding.

But when immanence is being discussed concerning knowledge there is a void or disconnect between the two of you. You seem to be neglecting that factor when Brian is trying to discuss things on that level.

I do not use the teaching of God's immanence to modify the teaching on transcendence. As I noted, seeing a parent crawl on the ground to interact with his children does not indicate that he can only crawl.

In the immanent realm of life where God by logos communicates to man can truth be solid and factual both between God and man? Is truth the same at that level as in let your yes be yes and your no be no?

Yes; I have affirmed this against Van Tillian paradox over and again. The object of knowledge is the same for God and man. The qualities of truth, including non contradiction, should be a given of ectypal theology.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Carl Henry wrote:
“The Word of God is personal and rational, and the truth of God, whether given in general or in special disclosure, including the climactic revelation of the Logos in Jesus of Nazareth, can be propositionally formulated. All divine revelation mediated to man is incarnational, inasmuch as it is given in human history, concepts and language. Even the supreme personal revelation historically manifested by the incarnate Christ shares in this verbal and propositional expressibility.

This reaches the heart of the discussion. We affirm the propositional nature of God's revelation, but we cannot say it is only propositional. It is also personal.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello PB Members,

Matthew Winzer said:
We affirm the propositional nature of God's revelation, but we cannot say it is only propositional. It is also personal.

I have three things to say about this:

(1) What is the referent of ‘it’ in these two sentences? It would seem to me that the referent of ‘it’ is either: (A) the “propositional nature of God’s revelation,” or simply (B) “God’s revelation.” If A is the case, then Matthew is saying, “We cannot say the propositional nature of God's revelation is only propositional.” But it is absurd to speak of the propositional nature of anything being something other than propositional. If B is the case, then Matthew is saying, “We cannot say the nature of God's revelation is only propositional.” Now, I am not sure what this means. If all Matthew is saying is that there is more to revelation than special revelation, then no one is arguing this. We all affirm general revelation. Another problem deals with his use of the term ‘proposition’. Matthew fails to understand the distinction between the meaning of a sentence and the sentence itself. It is common amongst philosophers of language and logicians to understand the meaning conveyed by sentences to be propositions. Matthew refuses to acknowledge this and thereby confuses propositions with sentences that express propositions. Lastly, I do not think Matthew meant A or B at all. I think he intended the referent of ‘it’ to be “God’s knowledge.” If so, this is just another illustration of his lack of precision in this thread.

(2) Assuming Matthew is indeed speaking of God's knowledge, it sound as if Matthew may have changed his position (maybe not?) regarding the claim he made in post #43. To say, “We cannot say God’s knowledge is only propositional” is a much smaller claim than saying, “It is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.” Now, I agree that we, as finite creatures, cannot make such dogmatic claims like “God’s knowledge is only propositional.” We would have no way of knowing this apart from God explicitly revealing this to us. But for the very same reason, we cannot make such dogmatic claims like “It is obvious that He does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship.” Matthew does not know this - much less that the conclusion is “obvious”!

(3) Matthew speaks of God’s knowledge as being “personal.” But as hard as I have tried, he still will not make explicit what he means by this. In post #70, I gave six statements trying to clarify what he means by this based on what he said in his post #43. In addition, I asked him that if I was not accurate in my representation that he clarify things. Rather than taking the opportunity to clarify things he simply chose to ignore it altogether! It should be noted that Matthew’s conclusion in post #43 does not follow from these six statements in my post #70.

All in all, after repeated attempts to ask Matthew to make explicit his argument, and clarify his terms, he has chosen for not to do so. Either he is unable to do so, or he is afraid to do so. I think he is afraid to do so because when all of the obfuscation is removed one will find that Matthew has merely asserted his conclusion – a conclusion that he himself does not know and cannot know as a finite creature unless God has revealed it to us. I am unaware of anywhere in the Scriptures stating that "God does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship." :um:

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If B is the case, then Matthew is saying, “We cannot say the nature of God's revelation is only propositional.” Now, I am not sure what this means.

Of course my meaning is B -- the revelation is more than propositional. Brian's inability to understand what I mean by this lies at the heart of his criticism of my overall position. He simply cannot understand what is meant by personal or non-propositional revelation. He knows not what is meant by a love that passeth knowledge, a peace that transcends our understanding, and a joy unspeakable. In short, he knows not how to thank God for His unspeakable gift, which is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. Brian needs to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the false rationalist version he has been following.

I think he is afraid to do so

When Brian believes the true gospel and turns from his rationalist perversion of it he will know what Paul means by the statement, Unto the pure all things are pure.
 
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Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Matthew,

To make it clear, we are talking about the nature of God's knowledge and not revelation. The conclusion that "God does not conceive of the truth in propositional form except insofar as He accommodates the truth to human capacity and for the purpose of covenant relationship," does not follow from the reasons you gave for it in post #43 or anything you said since then. Not only that, as a finite creature you cannot know this.

Matthew said:
Brian needs to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the false rationalist version he has been following. When Brian believes the true gospel and turns from his rationalist perversion of it he will know what Paul means by the statement, Unto the pure all things are pure.

Resorting to this type of rhetoric is a beautiful thing. It simply shows the bankruptcy of your position and the quality of your character. I trust the PB will see this for what is.

Brian
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Resorting to this type of rhetoric is a beautiful thing. It simply shows the bankruptcy of your position and the quality of your character. I trust the PB will see this for what is.

So Brian thinks calling upon a person to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ shows the bankruptcy of one's position. I'm sure that will certainly indicate to PB members what Brian thinks of ministers of the gospel and the message that they are commissioned by the Head of the church to preach.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
There's not nearly enough clarity in this thread for Matthew to accuse Brian of not being a Christian, so perhaps it is a "high-context discussion" and I don't know the context?

2 Cor. 9:15, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." All Christians can give thanks in this manner. Can Brian? You will have to ask him.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
If B is the case, then Matthew is saying, “We cannot say the nature of God's revelation is only propositional.” Now, I am not sure what this means.

Of course my meaning is B -- the revelation is more than propositional. Brian's inability to understand what I mean by this lies at the heart of his criticism of my overall position. He simply cannot understand what is meant by personal or non-propositional revelation. He knows not what is meant by a love that passeth knowledge, a peace that transcends our understanding, and a joy unspeakable. In short, he knows not how to thank God for His unspeakable gift, which is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh. Brian needs to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the false rationalist version he has been following.

Perhaps Brian doesn't know what is meant by a love that passeth knowledge, and a joy unspeakable bc those are God's attributes....they are who He is and you said we don't posses them. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising for me to find that Brian believes only in propositional revelation. How could it be personal revelation if one cannot possess God's attributes of love and joy? He cannot believe in personal revelation that would be blasphemy. He has to believe that propositional revelation is all that mankind can endeavor to hold in his hand.....thank goodness for paper and ink! :um:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The point Rev. Winzer is stating is that all truth can't be propositional. There are truths that are not propositions. When a non propositional truth is presented, such as the ones Rev. Winzer has presented, a person who claims that all truth is propositional can not believe in those truths that he claims are only propositional. Thus that makes him an unbeliever because his rationalism can't take him to accept those truths. Sometimes absurdity reveals the absurd. Also, I will note that Rev. Winzer does not fall into the Van-Tillian error concerning paradoxes.

In the immanent realm of life where God by logos communicates to man can truth be solid and factual both between God and man? Is truth the same at that level as in let your yes be yes and your no be no?

Yes; I have affirmed this against Van Tillian paradox over and again. The object of knowledge is the same for God and man. The qualities of truth, including non contradiction, should be a given of ectypal theology.

I have not communicated with Rev. Winzer outside of this thread. I have only read what he has written here in dealing with Brian. Brian has called out Reverend Winzer very harshly and attacked his character concerning avoiding certain questions. I think Reverend Winzer has actually answered his questions in various posts.

When Rev. Winzer acknowledged that he wouldn't answer Brian in some parts it was because Brian wasn't listening to him and thus not interracting with Rev. Winzer. It would be like me getting into a debate with someone who wanted to rabbit trail down paths of straw men and me not being willing to give answers because of the hypothetical set ups that would clearly be misunderstood because of the faulty premises and conclusions that should be lead to because of the the faulty premises. We see this happen a lot in the Calvinism / pelagian debate. It happens in many other kinds of senerios also.

Behind the immanent realm their is always the transendant realm that is the reality. And Matthew will not divorce the one from the other. It is wrong to do so.

I will be gone the rest of the day so please understand that Rev. Winzer is not unjustifiably addressing Brian the way he did. He is taking Brian's conclusions to their end. Brian has called Rev. Winzer out, so to speak. Rev. Winzer has, in my opinion, addressed the issues that Brian has accused him of. Rev. Winzer has taken Brian to where his conclusions lead him.

Rev. Winzer is in a different time zone and will not be on the board most likely till Monday. He is a very Godly Pastor who tends to the Sabbath and his flock.

Be Encouraged,
Randy
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
armourbearer said:
Of course my meaning is B -- the revelation is more than propositional. Brian's inability to understand what I mean by this lies at the heart of his criticism of my overall position. He simply cannot understand what is meant by personal or non-propositional revelation. He knows not what is meant by a love that passeth knowledge, a peace that transcends our understanding, and a joy unspeakable. In short, he knows not how to thank God for His unspeakable gift, which is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.

I had to highlight this as, in my opinion, this type of acknowledgement guards, at the same time, against the twin errors of rationalism (Clark) and irrationalism (Barth). Both ultimately lead to nonsense and neither leads to God. In the end, both the orthodox and neo-orthodox are right--and therefore both are wrong: God's revelation is propositional and personal at the same time.
 

dr_parsley

Puritan Board Freshman
The point Rev. Winzer is stating is that all truth can't be propositional. There are truths that are not propositions. When a non propositional truth is presented, such as the ones Rev. Winzer has presented, a person who claims that all truth is propositional can not believe in those truths that he claims are only propositional. Thus that makes him an unbeliever because his rationalism can't take him to accept those truths.

Randy, I defer to your greater analysis of the discussion. If Brian does indeed hold to the position alleged, then no, he can't be a Christian. In which case why is he on the board? I would just say that Brian and Matthew seem to disagree significantly on the very definition of a proposition. On such a basis, to say that the other party is not a Christian because, for some function f, f(propositions)|Brian=false seems foolhardy at best. On the other side, Brian simply seems determined to prove Matthew wrong. If I was a moderator I'd consider deleting all the posts involved for the edification of all. :(
 
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