Reformed Epistomology

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Christopher, Apr 6, 2003.

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  1. Christopher

    Christopher Puritan Board Freshman

    Anyone here hold to Reformed Epistomology besides me?
     
  2. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    What do you mean by "Reformed Epistolomogy"? If you mean Presuppositionalism, then yes.
     
  3. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Would not the evidential epistimology also be consider Reformed since it was the primary epistimology used prior to Van Til (and is used today)?
     
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I suppose that a proper reformed epistemology would be the one that Calvin used in order to understand the Bible as well as he did. It's not so much the one that developed [b:05a8f63559]from[/b:05a8f63559] Reformed theology so much as the one [b:05a8f63559]that[/b:05a8f63559] developed Reformed theology.

    Since you are the only one that knows what you mean by Reformed epistemology, Christopher, why not tell us too.

    I take it to be as the Belgic Confession states it, especially Article II.
    [quote:05a8f63559]
    Art. I: [i:05a8f63559]There Is Only One God[/i:05a8f63559]
    We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that He is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.

    Art II: [i:05a8f63559]By What Means God Is Made Known unto Us[/i:05a8f63559]
    We know Him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says (Rom. 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.[/quote:05a8f63559]

    And I believe that it is not exclusively either Presuppostional or Evidential.
     
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    I prefer classical apologetics myself. Van Til's irrational presuppositionalism is a bit to contradictory for my taste.
     
  6. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:b72809a20c][i:b72809a20c]Originally posted by wsw201[/i:b72809a20c]
    Would not the evidential epistimology also be consider Reformed since it was the primary epistimology used prior to Van Til (and is used today)? [/quote:b72809a20c]

    While I think evidentialism could be considered Reformed, there is significant evidence that the Puritans actually used a form of presuppositionalism (albeit not exactly or to the extent that Van Til developed it).

    See Joey Pipa's article:
    The Puritan Apologetical Method


    [quote:b72809a20c][i:b72809a20c]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:b72809a20c]
    I prefer classical apologetics myself. Van Til's irrational presuppositionalism is a bit to contradictory for my taste. [/quote:b72809a20c]

    For my taste, suped-up Josh McDowell arguing people into the Kingdom by means of piling up proofs completely misses Paul's point in 1 Cor. 2.
     
  7. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Fred - I wouldn't go with Josh either. :duh:

    But I am definitely not going to say that there are three distinct persons and three distinct essences in the Godhead as Van Til so elequently did.

    [Edited on 9-10-2003 by webmaster]
     
  8. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:c441b7798f][i:c441b7798f]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:c441b7798f]
    Fred - I wouldn't go with Josh either. :duh:

    But I am definitely not going to say that there are three distinct persons and three distinct essences in the Godhead as Van Til so elequently did.

    [Edited on 9-10-2003 by webmaster] [/quote:c441b7798f]

    I'd go half as far. :smilegrin:

    I'll leave it to you to figure that out. :rolleyes:
     
  9. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In comparing the apologetic methods, a bunch of questions rise up:

    [quote:ac90970772]For my taste, suped-up Josh McDowell arguing people into the Kingdom by means of piling up proofs completely misses Paul's point in 1 Cor. 2. [/quote:ac90970772]

    Is it possible that a person can be convinced of his need for Christ without proof? Is it possible that a person can be a Christian and not see the proofs? Does not Presuppositionalism try to convince as much as any other method? Are we confusing epistemology with apologetics?

    Why cannot someone try to convince of one as much as another method? Are they mutually exclusive? Is it Reformed to divide into parties over apologetics?

    I still have to read Pipa's article. Usually I find these anachronistic ideas curious, but not at all convincing. I've been balking at reading it because I'm afraid that it's just more Bahnsenisms. But if this goes into discussion, I guess I'll hazard it.
     
  10. George Bailey

    George Bailey Puritan Board Freshman

    Not

    R.C. Sproul's approach intrigues me...he's said several times that when he goes round and round with someone, discussing evidences, he just finally says to the person "what do you do with your guilt?".

    I guess that this would be in the "presuppositional" category, if I understand the term correctly.

    I think that it's the concience, not the intellect, that is awakened to the need. I think that evidential apologetics is good for answering "secondary" objections to the Gospel, but I think that the "Primary" objection to the gospel is always the good ol' Redirect technique, as attempted by the Woman at the Well!

    I received a great observation from a Calvary Chapel pastor: (yeah!)
    I've heard dozens of time how Paul was so brilliant at Mars hill, in using the popular quotes of the time, etc. in his reasoning; however, it only mentions that some folks heard the word and received it. Pauls' next step was to go to Corinth, and if you Cross Ref into 1 Cor 1, you see that at the time between Mars Hill and Corinth, Paul changed his strategy and determined to only "come to you with Christ and Him crucified". It appears to me that he dropped the "apologetics" for the simple, Offensive Cross.

    [Edited on 9-11-2003 by George Bailey]
     
  11. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    George says---
    I've heard dozens of time how Paul was so brilliant at Mars hill, in using the popular quotes of the time, etc. in his reasoning; however, it only mentions that some folks heard the word and received it. Pauls' next step was to go to Corinth, and if you Cross Ref into 1 Cor 1, you see that at the time between Mars Hill and Corinth, Paul changed his strategy and determined to only "come to you with Christ and Him crucified". It appears to me that he dropped the "apologetics" for the simple, Offensive Cross.

    This seems to imply that Paul thought his time in Athens was a failure forcing him to change his stradegy. But that was not the case. Paul preached the same message to both Athens and Corinth and that was Christ and him crucified. The difference was in the people he preached too. The audience in Athens was made of the "noble" and "mighty," of which few believers are found. But Paul always started where the people were, and then brought them to Christ. Mars Hill was a pagan place, with little knowledge of the true God. He had to tell them who God was first and who they really were first before explaining the gospel to them. But it was still Christ and him crucified that Paul preached.

    Puritan Sailor
     
  12. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    [quote:21278babe2][i:21278babe2]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:21278babe2]
    Is it possible that a person can be convinced of his need for Christ without proof? Is it possible that a person can be a Christian and not see the proofs? Does not Presuppositionalism try to convince as much as any other method?
    [/quote:21278babe2]

    The proof for presuppositionalism is the Scriptures. The proof for classic apologetics is the world around us (generally speaking). But we need both in our evangelism. They should complement not oppose one another. Let us not forget that the Scriptures effect the unbeliever whether he believes them to be the Word of God or not. It will harden or soften depending on that work of the Spirit.

    My :wr50:
    Puritan Sailor
     
  13. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [quote:0cf5d42e34][i:0cf5d42e34]from Puritan Sailor[/i:0cf5d42e34]
    The proof for presuppositionalism is the Scriptures. The proof for classic apologetics is the world around us (generally speaking).[/quote:0cf5d42e34]
    I would suggest that the Classical and the Evidential methods are no less based on Scripture than the Presupposotional method, and that all three are equally as dependant on the world around us. Furthermore, I would suggest that all three take for granted the Ontological position that you cannot escape the knowledge of God.

    In other words, I don't see a need for a division here between one method or another. It is as you say, Puritan Sailor, we need them all, depending on the questions asked, or the challenges made to the Christian's faith.
     
  14. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Going back to the original question about epistimology, I think JohnV is right in that we are getting off into apolegetical methods. Or was this what Chris was asking? What say you Chris?

    I would think that in considering "how we know what we know" would have to go to whether there is such a thing as "a priori" knowledge or that all knowledged is learned.
     
  15. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    We'll have to fly by the seat of our pants for a week, Wayne. Christopher is gone for a while.

    [quote:772d316613]...whether there is such a thing as "a priori" knowledge or that all knowledge is learned.[/quote:772d316613]

    I had a discussion about that one time. We ended up with that all learned knowledge was "a priori", and all "a priori" knowledge was learned. The precis version: You need somethng to start with, and you don't learn truth that isn't already true. It needs to fit that which the thoughts can accept, and the thoughts have to be able to accept it.

    It has to fit the facts; and the facts have to be propostionally discerned. We are not strangers to this reality; we were made for it, and it for us.

    So there is an element of "a priori", and of learning. And they seem to be co-dependant.

    That is as far as we got. I wish we could have carried it further, but we ran out of time. And I can't remember all the arguments anymore.
     
  16. PASSION4TRUTH

    PASSION4TRUTH Inactive User

    Epistemology is a tricky area because as Christians we accept that we all see through a glass darkly but that the light of God's truth shines in our hearts through the KNOWLEDGE of God in Jesus Christ, the Logos, the Rational Center of Reality. Presuppositionalist have a unique view and I am still trying to figure out what the unique differences between each system are. The Counterpoint book by Zondervan on 5 Views only whet my appetite. I personally like Edwards approach and many people claim he was classical and some say he was presuppositional. I do not understand what Van Til says yet, but I think most of our reformed friends seem to like the presup position due to Bahnsen's influence. As far as I can tell I am dialogical reformed existential presuppositional evidentialist apologist. I am eclectic and see no problem with it.
     
  17. Nomos

    Nomos Puritan Board Freshman

     
  18. Nomos

    Nomos Puritan Board Freshman

    Reformed Epistemology

    [quote:7228352c63][i:7228352c63]Originally posted by Christopher[/i:7228352c63]
    Anyone here hold to Reformed Epistomology besides me? [/quote:7228352c63]

    Hi Christopher,

    I too enjoy 'reformed epistemological' writings (particularly Plantinga's trilogy) and find them quite complementary to a presuppositional methodolgy. Concepts such as warrant/proper function presuppose functional normativity inherent to transcendental reasoning.

    If you're interested, Plantinga's first chapter of WPF and Clark's RTR are available in audio format at: http://radioapologia.com/archives.html .

    blessings,
     
  19. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    Webmaster,

    Where did Van Til say that there are three distinct persons and three distinct essences in the Godhead? (Why do people love to slander?)

    Van Til said that God is both one Person and three Persons. Although that may rub some the wrong way, his whole point is that God is a personal essence. He was emphasizing how the Trinity solves the problem of the one and the many.

    There is an interesting book out called Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity. This is good for any Reformed Epistemologists out there, as well as for presuppositionalists.

    As for presuppositionalism, I think that Greg Bahnsen is the best study for true Van Tillian presuppositionalism. In fact, those who critique presuppositionalism usually show they misunderstand presuppositionalism. If you want to understand presuppositionalism, listen to Bahnsen's tapes and read his books. It is not "illogical" as webmaster said. Sproul himself doesn't even understand it, and he misrepresents it. He misrepresented it publically when I took his class on justification a year ago!

    I truly believe that the God-honoring, biblical apologetic is presuppositionalism.

    Josh Brisby
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow. This thread was started a while ago and did not take off and now look at it. My time on the computer is short so nothing in-depth (still at the library with a line behind me). I would agree with Ryan on this and Ryan, thanks for the site I will listen to it when my computer is up again.

    Josh, are you saying that just because someone disagrees with presupp that they do not understand it?
     
  21. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    [quote:787e312115][i:787e312115]Originally posted by Josh Brisby[/i:787e312115]
    (Why do people love to slander?)

    In fact, those who critique presuppositionalism usually show they misunderstand presuppositionalism.

    Sproul himself doesn't even understand it, and he misrepresents it. He misrepresented it publically when I took his class on justification a year ago!

    Josh Brisby [/quote:787e312115]

    Why do you think everyone is out to slander people?? Do you even know what slander is? And why do you accuse everyone of slander and then turn around and [i:787e312115]libel[/i:787e312115] people yourself?? I have left the [i:787e312115]libelous[/i:787e312115] portions of your post in the quote above.

    Delete the word slander from your vocabulary would ya?

    Phillip

    PS - for those not sure, to slander is to [i:787e312115]say[/i:787e312115] something false about another person that damages their reputation. Libel is to [i:787e312115]write[/i:787e312115] something that results in public ridicule.



    [Edited on 10-3-03 by pastorway]
     
  22. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Back to the original question

    Christopher,

    Don't you mean Alvin Plantiga's system instead of Van Til's ? From what I know of it, it has things in common with VanTil's presuppositional system, but is distinctly unReformed in that it posits knowledge of God and revelation of the Spirit unmediated by the Word.
     
  23. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    Brother Chris,

    No, I am not saying that just b/c someone is not presup that it means they don't understand it. But when it is critiqued as subjectivism, etc., it shows they don't understand it.

    I would, however, say that all Christians are closet presups! :0)

    We'll talk about apologetics sometime over beer and cigars!

    In Christ,
    Josh

    [Edited on 10-3-2003 by Josh Brisby]
     
  24. Christopher

    Christopher Puritan Board Freshman

    Paul, if you are going to use this thread please dust the cobwebs off of it first.Man is it dusty in here too.:lol:
     
  25. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Christopher:
    This thread lay quiet for quite some time. Then someone read it, and made a reply. It was active for a while, and then the activity slowed again.

    Plantinga's approach is harder to read than others. Though I understand much of his method and terms, being quite precise in his constructs, I don't always follow it. At first it was the fact that I had an impression of his views; he is renowned far and wide as the modern-day defender of Anselm's Ontological Argument. But his method at getting at it is quite different, so that threw me off. I think that his justification of sufficient warrant is short of the mark that Anselm aimed at, but he is speaking in modern terms, which makes a difference.

    I think the remarkable thing about Plantinga is his attitude in his writings, as well as his desire for precision at the same time. I take him to be a very serious fellow who can have fun with his subject. It's as if he is walking through the slums of fallen thinking with you, rather than making you feel like you're on your own, but he's made it. The pitfalls and rabbit-trails are just as much his nemeses as ours. I can respect that.

    For all that, though, we missed you while we you were gone. I see you're getting caught up still. I have trouble keeping up; so I don't know how you do it, especially at the library with a line-up behind you.
     
  26. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Paul:

    I read Plantinga about four or five years ago. My interest at that time was focused on something else. Since then I haven't read him much, though I do go through some basic stuff now and again. I do not know what specific works you're talking about.

    What I can remember I must say that I am not in whole-hearted agreement with him. In that sense I see him leaning toward the same limitations of comprehension that I see in Presuppositionalists. But this borders on those things that I find hard to explain because of the block that seems in the way of communicating my concepts. It has to do with the absolute sense of things being there whether or not man understands it, as opposed to sense being limited to man's capabilities and certainties in his own mind.

    It seems to me that Planting rides the fence here. He tries to provide the "warrant", but does not admit the solid foundation, at least from what I have read of him. He focuses on trying to establish a groundwork between the subject and the object through philosophical constructs, and so he cannot take an evidential stand, and thinks it unfounded. Yet he definitely seems to want to take such a stand once he has established such constructs. And "warrant" is the closest he comes to that.

    But neither is he strictly Presuppositional. He believes that the "warrant" is necessary, whereas a Presuppositionalist believes the presupposition is necessary. Or, to put another way, the Presup thinks that the presupposition is the warrant, while Plantinga does not seem to think so. Plantinga wants to ground it in logic, while the Presup wants to groung logic in the presupposition or the warrant.

    I'm not comfortable with either one. I don't want "proof" to depend on man or his presuppositions or his constructs; and I don't want the truth of things to fall outside the norms of thought, though the truth is true regardless of thought. I am more in line with the idea that wisdom is personified as an entity apart from man, that she opens up her books for us if we search for her diligently. Her house is fully built, and we all are but poor workmen trying to figure out her workings. It all begins with the fear of the Lord, a real personal and experienced fear of a God we have come into contact with personally. Once we have more than just this creation to work with, something greater than the creation, then all the creation starts to make sense. And the presence of evil makes no difference to the outcome, but tends rather to accentuate the truth, even in its' suppression of it. Then there is no more talk of warrant or presupposition, but of sheer fact and of solid foundation to which man, in his mind, tries to attain.

    I do like Plantinga's style, though. I don't know him personally, or ever even met him, but his writing seems to connect with me in his presentation when I do read him. So I may not be in agreement with everything he says, but I find him hard to read only in the subject matter, not in his use of language or attack of the subject.

    [Edited on 5-30-2004 by JohnV]
     
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