Scripturalism Refuted

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Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,
First, I want to say that I am not a logician, so my comments won't be technically difficult.
In reviewing the discussion, I do agree with Anthony and Sean. It seems that you don't understand Clark's view of an axiomatic starting point being a "presupposition", not a "post-supposition". Meaning, that if you have to prove the starting point then it's not your starting point. Clark's starting point is the Scriptures in their entirety. When it is said that Clark's starting point is "The Bible alone is the Word of God", the word "Bible" is a symbol for ALL of the propositions found therein and to choose ANY proposition is to start from the axiomatic starting point of the Scriptures. It seems that you don't get that point. Have you read Clark's response to Mavrodes which Anthony and Sean have cited?
Another area seems to address the process of knowing. How do we know?
I think Clark demonstrates (in Lord God of Truth), that it is Christ, the Logos, who makes us understand anything. He is the Teacher. He uses the innate equipment which He created us with, being made in His image, In other words, a mind structured rationally, not a "blank" mind. And what is knowledge? Isn't it what God thinks. God knows all true propositions and He has chosen to reveal some of them to us in the Scriptures and valid deductions from them.
Anyways, that's my two or four cents worth.
Jim
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Thank you for your comment. I am going to be writing a paper dealing with Scripturalism. In it I will analyze Clark's response to Mavrodes. I hope you will read it when I am finished.

Sincerely,

Brian
P.S. Jim, to illustrate the problem with Scripturalism, I am going to ask you to provide me with something easily done for any axiomatic system. Provide me with the axiom (which I grant as a presupposition), and from this derive any theorem (read: proposition of Scripture) using only justified premises in your derivation.
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,
Please state what "the problem" is with Scripturalism. Also, you say "Provide me with the axiom" and from this axiom derive a theorem which you say is a proposition of Scripture. Well, first of all any axiomatic statement that I would provide would already be a proposition of Scripture so I don't really understand what you're getting at. If you mean something like this, here goes...
1. All who believe in Jesus have everlasting life (John 3:16)
2. Lydia believed in Jesus (Acts 16)
Therefore, Lydia has everlasting life.

Or, perhaps, less syllogistically, I could look at Genesis 1-2 and from that axiomatic starting point reject the evolutionist's theory that the cosmos are the result of time plus chance.

I'm still curious as to what your main beef is with Scripturalism?? Why is it a problem for reformed people to believe that God is sovereign in the area of epistemology as He is in soteriology? It seems like they adopt an arminian view of autonomy when it comes to knowledge though they vigorously defend God's sovereignty in salvation. My understanding of Scripturalism is the idea of Sola Scriptura. And my understanding of Clark's works is that he takes Scripture as his starting point, his source of knowledge, and from that weaves a Christian world view covering the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, politics, economics, salvation, and worship. That's why Robbins calls him the "philosopher of the Reformation", because he takes sola Scriptura and applies it to all of life. Why do you have a problem with that??
Jim
 
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Vytautas

Puritan Board Freshman
Why is it a problem for reformed people to believe that God is sovereign in the area of epistemology as He is in soteriology? It seems like they adopt an arminian view of autonomy when it comes to knowledge though they vigorously defend God's sovereignty in salvation.

Why does affirming that God is sovereign in our processes of knowing mean that all knowledge is exclusively found in Scripture?
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Why does affirming that God is sovereign in our processes of knowing mean that all knowledge is exclusively found in Scripture?

It's not just about knowledge being found in scripture. The issue is justified knowledge.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Thank you for your patience.

Also, you say "Provide me with the axiom" and from this axiom derive a theorem which you say is a proposition of Scripture. Well, first of all any axiomatic statement that I would provide would already be a proposition of Scripture so I don't really understand what you're getting at.

Clark said he had one axiom, namely, “The Bible is the word of God.” From this he thought he could deduce syllogistically all of the propositions of the Bible. Do you agree that this properly represents Clark’s position? (By the way, in prior posts in this thread, these words were quoted directly from Clark). If this is Clark’s position, then any deduction he provides that concludes to a proposition of Scripture contains premises not part of the axiom. This is fatal for any axiomatic system. In the case of Scripturalism, it means that all propositions in Scripture cannot be properly called justified knowledge.

By the way, I do not have any problem saying that God is the ontological foundation for epistemology. My beef is that Scripturalism does not provide us with what it claims it does.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Hello Jim,

Thank you for your patience.



Clark said he had one axiom, namely, “The Bible is the word of God.” From this he thought he could deduce syllogistically all of the propositions of the Bible. Do you agree that this properly represents Clark’s position?


(By the way, in prior posts in this thread, these words were quoted directly from Clark). If this is Clark’s position, then any deduction he provides that concludes to a proposition of Scripture contains premises not part of the axiom. This is fatal for any axiomatic system. In the case of Scripturalism, it means that all propositions in Scripture cannot be properly called justified knowledge.

By the way, I do not have any problem saying that God is the ontological foundation for epistemology. My beef is that Scripturalism does not provide us with what it claims it does.

Sincerely,

Brian

Brian,
No, I do not believe you understand Clark's position. IN the statement, "The Bible alone is the Word of God", the word BIBLE represents ALL the propositions of Scripture. In other words,, Scripture is his axiomatic starting point. He didn't say that he could deduce all the propositions of Scripture from that statement. That is absurd. I think you are approaching the idea of axiom too reductionistically. He wasn't trying to deduce the propositions of Scripture from those eight words! In Clark's system he begins with the Scriptures as his starting point, as the source of knowledge and than by the process of deduction makes necessary inferences from that starting point. Pastors do this all the time when they preach a sermon. They begin with Scripture, exegete it's meaning and then deduce it's application for the congregation. That's what Clark does in his system, which is really not his system. It's the system that the WCF says is the biblical system (See WCF, Chap. 1, sec 6).
Also, Clark defines knowledge somewhere as "possession of the Truth", and "Truth is what God thinks". in my opinion we use the word "knowledge" very loosely and it covers everything from techical skills to the weather report. The Bible says, "IN Christ are hidden ALL the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge" , Col.2:3. God is omniscient and knows all the Truth, all true propositions. And he has chosen to reveal some of His mind to us - The Bible. This makes us dependent on Christ, the Teacher (who enlightens everyman -John 1:9) to teach us. If we know anything, it is because He has taught us. This demonstrates His Sovereignty in epistemology and not just in soteriology. Christ is the epistemological Logos as well as the soteriological Logos.
Brian, I think your "beef" is barking up the wrong tree.
Jim
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Richard,
See my reply to Brian above.
Also, all knowledge is not found in the Scripture. It would have to be a much bigger book if that were the case!:D (See John 21:25)
All knowldege is in God's mind, right? He is omniscient. There is no knowledge outside of God's mind. "In Christ are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col.2:3), Note, ALL, not "some" of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And God has graciously revealed some of His mind to us. It's called the bible. And since God thinks logically and has made us in His image to do like wise, if we make a good and necessary deduction from Scripture that is Truth as well (See WCF, chap1, sec 6).
Jim




Why does affirming that God is sovereign in our processes of knowing mean that all knowledge is exclusively found in Scripture?
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Jim said:
He didn't say that he could deduce all the propositions of Scripture from that statement. That is absurd.

Here is what Clark says in An Introduction to Christian Philosophy on page 88…

Gordon Clark said:
The thousands of Biblical propositions need not be construed as an immense set of axioms…this theology can operate on a single axiom. The single axiom is: The Bible is the Word of God. But though single, it is fruitful because there is embedded in it the law of contradiction, plus the nature of God…plus thousands of propositions thus declared true.

On this latter point the form of deduction can be maintained. From the one axiom it follows syllogistically that such and such a sentence in Scripture is true because it is the Word of God.

In the next place, as would not be the case if each Biblical proposition were singly and strictly regarded itself as an axiom, the truths of Scripture can be arranged in patterns of logical subordination.

Clark clearly thinks it is neither desirable nor necessary to make the “thousands of Biblical propositions” an aggregate set of axioms. It is not desirable because it does not allow one to arrange the truths of Scripture “in patterns of logical subordination.” It is not necessary because through deduction, syllogistically each of these thousands of propositions can be proved true. Is my understanding of Clark really absurd? I think not.

My “beef” is that when you deduce these thousands of Biblical propositions syllogistically from the one axiom one necessarily must use premises that are not part of the one axiom. These additional premises are not justified knowledge according to Scripturalism. As such, all the deductions fail to provide justified knowledge.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Why does affirming that God is sovereign in our processes of knowing mean that all justified knowledge is exclusively found in Scripture?

That's the whole point of this thread. :D We're trying to figure out whether we can justify any knowledge without starting with Clark's axiom.
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Please read it and abandon your present course of thinking because it is to misunderstand Clark's position.

I have read both Mavrodes and Clark's response. In fact, I am currently writing an analysis of the engagement. Why don't explain to me Clark's rebuttal to this argument, and square it with the quote I provided you?

Brian
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,
I look forward to your analysis of the Clark/Mavrodes exchange. Here are two statements from Clark addressing your "beef" and Mavrodes:

"This criticism, so it seems to me, proceeds on the assumption that the "Bible" is just a word - a sound in the air, to use a nominalistic phrase. Apparently Mavrodes thinks that I would be better off technically if I made every verse a separate axiom. To me this seems like more machinery, which can be obviated by referring to them all under one name, the Bible".

And:

"There are two reasons why this seems to be a misunderstanding. In the earlier part of this reply, I argued that Mavrodes treated the Axiom as if the Bible were a mere word without content. Obviously from a word, nothing can be inferred. But such a nominalistic procedure is clearly not intended. Similarly, the Confession, when it says that all things necessary for the glory of God can be deduced from Scripture, does not use Scripture as an empty word. The Confession goes further, as I did not, and defines what it means by Scripture. The canonical list therefore is not a theorem deduced from the Axiom; it is a part of the Axiom itself in that it is the definition of its chief term. Hence the related objections fall away".


Jim
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Clark said:
This criticism, so it seems to me, proceeds on the assumption that the "Bible" is just a word - a sound in the air, to use a nominalistic phrase. Apparently Mavrodes thinks that I would be better off technically if I made every verse a separate axiom. To me this seems like more machinery, which can be obviated by referring to them all under one name, the Bible.

We are not sure what criticism Clark is answering, but let's see if it overcomes my objection. Clark gives us the axiom...

Axiom: The Bible is the Word of God.

It seems from the quote above that we are to understand 'Bible' in its denotative sense. That is to say, we are to understand the term 'Bible' to refer to as series of conjunctions made up of each proposition of Scripture. If this is the case, then the axiom could be stated as follows...

Axiom: (P1^P2^P3^...^Pn) is the Word of God, where 'Pn' is a proposition of Scripture.

Ok, from the earlier Clark quote I provided you, he thinks from this that one can syllogistically derive as true all the Pn's of Scripture. I agree that this is the case. However, the problem of having to utilize other premises still remains. In order to use the axiom to derive any Pn, one must use other premises. By definition these other premises do not count as justified knowledge. Therefore, whatever derivations that utilize such premises cannot be considered justified knowledge. But maybe Clark overcomes this in the next quote you provided?

Clark said:
There are two reasons why this seems to be a misunderstanding. In the earlier part of this reply, I argued that Mavrodes treated the Axiom as if the Bible were a mere word without content. Obviously from a word, nothing can be inferred. But such a nominalistic procedure is clearly not intended. Similarly, the Confession, when it says that all things necessary for the glory of God can be deduced from Scripture, does not use Scripture as an empty word. The Confession goes further, as I did not, and defines what it means by Scripture. The canonical list therefore is not a theorem deduced from the Axiom; it is a part of the Axiom itself in that it is the definition of its chief term. Hence the related objections fall away.

Well, this does clarify our axiom, but not by much. Rather, he is further defining what makes up the Bible. In other words, he is clarifying where all the the Pn's come from. If memory serves me correctly, for Clark the Bible is made up of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.

Axiom: (P1^P2^P3^...^Pn) is the Word of God, where 'Pn' is a proposition from the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.

Great, we know where each Pn comes from. However, this still does not address the issue. In order to deduce any Pn from the axiom other premises are needed. These other premises are by defintion unjustified knowledge. As such, all Pn's deduced from the axiom are unjustified. This is a serious problem for Scripturalism. I am unaware of anyone who has provided an adequate defense - including Clark.

Sincerely,

Brian
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Brian,
Since neither Sean, Anthony, me and Clark himself cannot make you able or willing to understand Clark's position I see no point in continuing this discussion. :banghead:
PS, I will read your full analysis of the Clark/Mavrodes interaction if you post it.

Jim
 

Brian Bosse

"The Brain"
Hello Jim,

Since neither Sean, Anthony, me and Clark himself cannot make you able or willing to understand Clark's position I see no point in continuing this discussion.

I think I understand Clark's position very well, and your attempt to help me see more clearly was not very vigorous. You provided me two quotes. When I explained how I understood those quotes, you just end the discussion. :think:

PS, I will read your full analysis of the Clark/Mavrodes interaction if you post it.

Thank you.

Brian
 
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