Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Gordon Clark and the Necessity of Internalist Knowledge

Almost 5 years to the day (where does the time go?), I wrote a post in which I addressed how I thought a consistent Scripturalist would have to stand on the question of whether the nature of epistemic justification is internalist or externalist. My initial leaning was towards access internalism, the idea that one's epistemic justification is something of which one can be aware of, reflect on, or is otherwise cognitively accessible. My own views have developed since then, as I now think some beliefs may be internally justified whereas others may be externally justified. In fact - if "justification" is as fuzzy a concept as some epistemologists think - one belief may be both! Still, I tend to agree with my initial suspicion insofar as consistent Scripturalists should be internalists with respect to some knowledge, at least.

But given the stated differences on this blog between my epistemological views and those of Gordon Clark, some might question whether those differences color whether I'm confusing what I think a "consistent Scripturalist" or "strict adherent" to Gordon Clark's epistemology would believe vs. what I think a consistent Christian would believe. In other words, am I fairly representing what Gordon Clark would have defended?

While that is not my primary concern in developing my own epistemological views, it is a fair question and, in part, a reason why I've decided to argue, in this post, what position I think Gordon Clark himself would have had to say. Another reason is that a few self-identifying Scripturalists who have used my thoughts in the past as their own have taken the opposite position, stating they think Clark was an externalist (link).

Now, I would preface any discussion about Clark's views regarding internalism and externalism with my opinion that Clark didn't seem to be aware that this was a much debated subject. To some extent, that would make sense, as I don't think externalism was much developed until the 1960s or 70s.

In any case, the idea that our epistemic justification comprises things of which we could be unaware or fail to be able to reflect on is something which, in my mind, is completely foreign to Clark's view on which Scripture is our source of knowledge, our sole epistemic foundation. Admittedly, the Holy Spirit's function in the production of our knowledge is indeed important because He does, indeed, cause it:
How then may we know that the Bible is true? The Confession answers, “Our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority [of the Scripture] is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit.” Faith is a gift or work of God. It is God who causes us to believe: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee” (Psa. 65:4). (GHC What Do Presbyterians Believe?, 1985, pg. 18)
So, does this give us reason to think Clark believed that one's epistemic justification for believing God's word just is the causation of the Spirit, as some Scripturalists think? Not at all. It's fallacious to infer from "God causes knowledge" or "God causes us to believe" that our epistemic justification just is the causation itself. Rather, the "how" here is a metaphysical question yielding a metaphysical answer. I might as well ask, "how do we desire God?" or "from where does our desire for God come?" God ultimately - if not immediately - causes our desires. Of course, God causes knowledge, and blessed by God is he who receives it over against one who doesn't. But how we even know and justify the work of the Spirit which took place logically prior to accepting our axiom must be via deduction made from and justified by our axiom:
Any axiom eliminates its opposite. The Christian system is no more indefensible on this point than any other system. 
Therefore, the more serious reply to the charge that the axiom of revelation begs all questions is that the objection fails to distinguish the status of axioms and the status of theorems. Obviously a first principle or a set of axioms covers all that follows. Indeed, that is why first principles are asserted. It is their function to cover all that follows. But this is not to identify the axioms with the theorems. Euclidean geometry may have six axioms and a hundred theorems. The axioms imply the theorems, to be sure; but the theorems are not axioms. The distinction between axioms and theorems is for the purpose of arranging derivative truths under a basic or comprehensive truth. Were a geometer to assume one of the Euclidean theorems as his axioms, he would, except in very special cases, deprive geometry of many of its propositions. Thus an all-inclusive axiom that swallows everything at one gulp is most desirable. (Clark and His Critics, 2007, pg. 55)
The point is that it seems to me that the justification for our philosophical knowledge is never, for Clark, grounded in the mere causative process itself but rather his faith in the axiom of revelation. For Clark, the axiom of revelation is not that the Holy Spirit must cause our beliefs in order for them to qualify as knowledge, it is that "the Bible is the word of God." Anything about what the Holy Spirit does must be deducible from this axiom.

But before I express my reasons why I believed Clark would have identified with internalism, there is a problem with a purely Scripturalist externalist position that I have never received an answer to, and it is this:

If Scripturalism is true, then all that we can "know" are the propositions of Scripture or those deducible from it. But does the Holy Spirit - the epistemically justifying cause Scripturalist externalists I have encountered constantly appeal to - only [immediately] cause true beliefs of believers in regards to that which may by good and necessary consequence be deduced from Scripture? That is, does the Holy Spirit not [immediately] cause us to believe truths which cannot be deduced from Scripture? Nowhere do I find this to be a deducible proposition from Scripture, and yet it is needed in order to say that we can only know what Scripture reveals, i.e. to be a Scripturalist. Where does Scripture say the Holy Spirit [immediately] causes only beliefs which are deducible from Scripture?

There are other problems I find with a Scripturalist externalist framework, such as the question of whether or not I am more justified in actually having deduced propositions from Scripture than a person who believes - without reason - in a deducible proposition as a result of the causation of the Holy Spirit. But for the sake of the topic of this post and due to the fact that I have lodged other arguments elsewhere on this blog, I will move on. The following constitute my reasoning for believing Gordon Clark himself would have identified as an internalist:

To start with the obvious, something all Scripturalists can agree with is that Clark believed that the axiom of revelation is that alone by which we know anything:
It is incorrect, therefore, to complain that the axiom of revelation deprives us of knowledge otherwise obtainable. There is no knowledge otherwise obtainable. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pg. 76). 
The axiom of revelation, "the Bible is the word of God," was, for Clark, the foundation for philosophical knowledge. Of course, Clark was aware that knowledge could bear different meanings (The Pastoral Epistles, 1983, pg. 166), but for "knowledge with a capital K":
Granted, it is unlikely that anyone should go to such extremes to substitute another woman for the wife of an unimportant theologian or philosopher. But how do you know? So long as substitution is possible, certainty is impossible... 
The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pgs. 75-76)
Here already we see several reasons why Clark would not have been an externalist. For him, knowledge at least entailed the possibility of certainty. For externalists who believe one's justification for knowledge is located in a causal process, a person experiencing this process need not be aware of it, let alone certain of the resultant belief.

Further, Clark is obviously interested in a "method" by which classes of beliefs like opinion and knowledge can be distinguished in practice. Two externalists with contradictory beliefs could both appeal to a causal process (like that the Holy Spirit caused their belief) to justify their beliefs without a method for distinguishing who to believe. Right or wrong, then, it looks like Clark believed that such a situation would amount to ignoring the problem rather than confronting it. Any time a so-called Scripturalist externalist attempts to defend his "case" exegetically as if it contributes one iota towards one's epistemic justification, he is ironically probably presupposing an internalist framework. For it is not the work of the Holy Spirit that he considers his epistemic justification, it is the actual content of or reasoning from one's first principle, both of which he is aware.

Finally, Clark believed that not only is the axiom of revelation self-authenticating but also that all first principles must be:
The first principle of Logical Positivism is that a sentence has no meaning unless it can be verified (in principle at least) by sensory experience. Yet no sensory experience can ever verify this principle. Anyone who wishes to adopt it must regard it as self-authenticating. So it is with all first principles. (Christian Philosophy, 2004, pgs. 46-47)
I once discussed with someone who thought that Clark meant that the axiom of revelation is self-authenticating merely in that the Holy Spirit caused our beliefs. I pointed out that this quote shows that Clark's understanding of self-authentication can't be meant in that way. The Holy Spirit does not bear witness to logical positivism! Instead, Clark means that for a first principle to be "self" authenticating (e.g. the Bible) means that it shouldn't require verification by something else (e.g. the Spirit) for its epistemic justification. So too with any other alleged first principle, including that of the logical positivist - although they are wrong to think so. For Clark, self-authentication as such has nothing to do with causation.

So while debate can continue about whether or not Scripturalism should be developed along externalist or internalist lines (or both), the preceding indicates that Clark himself would probably have given primacy to epistemic internalism.

Monday, November 25, 2019

A New Master, A New Father

The new life in which we can walk (Romans 6:4) as new creatures, slaves to God and righteousness, in turn presupposes being set free from slavery to sin (6:18). Thanks be to God for that (6:17), because it is He, not we, who made such both possible and actual through the work of His Son. How have we been set free from sin? We have been crucified with Christ and raised with Him (6:5). His death and resurrection have defeated sin (6:9-11), and only by being united with the righteous Messiah by grace, through faith, and in His Spirit, are we now able to obey and do good works as slaves to a new and infinitely better Master. In short, our justification precedes our sanctification, and as we are united to the Son who is Lord over all facets of our salvation, we will experience all facets. As facets of our salvation, sanctification and eternal life are fruits of a life of slavery to God, of obedience and good works. Thus, the latter necessarily follow the former, although they do not function as the meritorious ground for such ends.

So being under grace rather than law does not mean we should live lawlessly (6:15). We should present our members or persons as slaves to righteousness – which implies obedience (6:16) to some standard or law – and if we do not, we are living a life which has not been set free from sin, a lawless life which ironically keeps us under “the law” and its demand for sinless perfection. Just as union with Christ pervades the life of believers, union with sin pervades the life of unbelievers. Practicing sin evidences a life which has not been freed from sin (John 8:34). A life of practiced love for the greatest and second greatest commandments is a life that fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10) and can do so precisely because it is not attempting to be justified by it – to live under it.

Now, while Paul speaks in “human terms” (6:19) when he talks about our slavery, it is also clear that he also considers us free. To be a slave to one master is to be free from another. When we are slaves to sin, we are free from righteousness (Romans 6:20). Is that the sort of freedom we want? Paul speaks of our slavery as either to sin, leading to death, or to God, leading to eternal life (6:16). To which of these ends does pretending to be our own, “free” masters lead?

We should then endeavor to be free from sin just as we were free from righteousness, for this freedom is deeper. Elsewhere, both Paul and Jesus contrast slavery to sin with freedom in sonship:

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Galatians 4:21-26 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

So in Romans 6, slavery to God and righteousness corresponds to sonship. As slaves to God, we are sons of God, and our sonship gives us an inheritance (Galatians 4:30) that slavery to sin and sonship to the devil (John 8:44) cannot. Our new life of “slavery” is not only freedom from sin but also the freedom of a gifted promise (Romans 6:23), because our new Master is really a new Father. Or, in divine rather than human terms:

Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Update on the Podcast and Reflection

Two new podcasts - one on textual criticism, the other on prayer - have been uploaded in the past few months, and I'm happy to say that, starting with the most recent one, we have been and should from now on be able to record in person with better audio equipment, with plans to go live on camera in the near future and, with it, the possibility of answering live questions, which I would look forward to.

Thus far, it has been an interesting, enjoyable process. I've already written about textual criticism (link) and prayer (link) in the past, but this has been an opportunity to talk out loud about them with friends I've known over half of my life. Before we started the podcast, we agreed its goal should just be that we enjoy each other's company while focusing on books that, with a little critical thinking, will help to sanctify our minds. If the only people who benefit from it is us, that's fair enough, and thank God for it. That's basically how I approached this blog, and I haven't ever regretted it.

At the same time, I wonder where this can lead. Right now, my friends and I know our shortcomings. Personally, I still rely too much on having pre-written material at my disposal while recording. If we were to transition from this to video or to something more ambitious, I need to work on internalizing material in such a way as to recall or speak to it organically. That probably requires a degree of intentionality I can't expend right now, with a new job licence and a wedding in the next few months. But I do look forward to what God has in store, even if it is just many more episodes of getting to chat theology with my friends.

The next episode will be a book of my choosing: David A. Dorsey's "The Literary Structure of the Old Testament."

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Sleep Podcast

Boy, we are long-winded. Here's the recent discussion between my friends and I about Gordon Clark's book, "In Defense of Theology." Hour and a half for a 60 page book... enjoy a nap while you listen! Hopefully, some of what we talk about osmosis-es into your minds, but if nothing else, it was highly enjoyable for me to revisit my long lost blog muse, Gordon Clark.

Up next is "Text and Time," by Edward Hills.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Podcast Episode 2: Lord of Glory (Strevel)

Happy New Year to those of you who still follow this blog. You can find the newest podcast episode I am a part of here, in which myself and a couple of friends discuss "The Lord of Glory" by Chris Strevel, the local pastor for one of my friend's church.

I think technical issues are being sorted out a bit better now that we have someone who's helping us. My fiance tells me I really opened up in this one (as in I may have talked to much). At an an hour and 45 minutes, I'm sure some people may hate the sound of our voices by the end of the discussion, but so be it!

Our next episode will cover a book I put up for discussion, Gordon Clark's "In Defense of Theology." As it's a short book, I figured it would be the best way to introduce Clark to anyone interested in the podcast, although I suspect consistent readers of this blog well know where this is headed. As always, you can find the book through our home page.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Podcast Episode 1: What is Faith? (Machen)

The first episode of TheSanctifiedMind podcast can be listened to here as well as a variety of other platforms. In it, myself and two friends discuss "What is Faith" by J. Gresham Machen.

For the first time recording ourselves having a discussion, I think it went well. There was audio drift at some points, and I think we all have a whole new appreciation for the work that has to be put in to various ministries that do this full time. But I consider it a good and enjoyable work in progress that I'm really looking forward to continuing.

Our next episode will be posted by the first of the new year and will cover Chris Strevel's "The Lord of Glory," which you can find on the home page if you would like to follow along or have questions we could put up for discussion.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Words of the Wise

A recent post of mine about where we can find, how we can know, and why we should follow God-given wisdom:


Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Sanctified Mind

I will be joining two friends I have known (and put up with!) for half of my life to begin a monthly podcast in December. The website for this podcast is a work in progress but can be found here. The podcast itself will involve a discussion of a book one of us has chosen, and articles will be coming shortly as well.

For anyone interested in following along, the first book we will talk about will be Machen's "What is Faith?"

Monday, May 28, 2018

Rhetorical criticism

Recently, Steve Matthews wrote a series of articles on his time at Knox Seminary (link), a follow-up to his 2008 book, "Imagining a Vain Thing." The subject of his book is a controversy surrounding then professor Warren Gage. I've recently been reading through Warren Gage's works which I find, on the whole, to be quite insightful. I can see some of the points Matthews makes in his criticisms here and elsewhere (link), but I also think he is, for whatever reason, harsh in his conclusions. Mainly, while Matthews does not believe that Gage is a Christian, from what I have read, Gage consistently aims to defend Reformed soteriology.

What I do want to do in this post is note a potentially useful apologetic method when arguing about textual variants and canonicity. Gage refers to this method as "rhetorical criticism." Rhetorical criticism involves considering structural or thematic issues within a text when attempting to argue for or against given variants. In this post, I'll just be dealing with the former. It is for this reason I bring up the aforementioned criticisms by Matthews. Consider one of Matthews' remarks:
...even if Gage were to establish his case for the existence of chiastic structure in John and Revelation and for intertextuality between these two books, precisely no logically valid doctrinal conclusions could be drawn from it. One can imagine and intuit anything he wants from a literary pattern. If Gage claims to divine a particular meaning from the use of chiastic structure in the Biblical text, a thousand others can draw a thousand different conclusions, and all of them will be just as legitimate as those intuited by Gage. For that reason, literary patterns do not and cannot furnish us with knowledge... nothing valid can be inferred from literary patterns... (link)
Maybe Matthews did not intend his statements to be read this way, but if he did, a blanket statement to the effect that a structure or order embedded in a book or books isn't meaningful or useful strikes me as narrow-minded. It's also quite interesting when compared with statements made by other TrinityFoundation authors about the meaningfulness or usefulness of logical principles being embedded throughout Scripture. Although it's possible Matthews would not agree with these authors, I doubt it, especially given that Matthews seems to contradict himself when he later writes, "chiastic structure is simply a technique ancient authors used to organize their material." I could be wrong about what Matthews is getting at in his article and book, but is that not an inference he thinks would be valid?

In any case, at the very least, surely Christians ought to at least be able to appreciate the beauty in a design or pattern. Noting a particular example of a pattern and being a bit awe-struck isn't an inappropriate reaction. Frankly, the patterns Gage recognizes have the potential to be just as convicting as, say, Clark's ability to reduce non-Christian views to absurdity. Both are plausible in their intention to provide a gracious occasion for belief in redemptive, revealed truths.

Structural order in particular has the plausible effect of drawing one's attention in a certain way. For instance, when I see the chiastic structure inherent in the Flood narrative (link), my attention is drawn to the truth that God remembered Noah and the creatures in the ark. That's the pivot point of the specified structure. Is that an invalid inference? No. There is a structure. The structure "ascends" to a certain point and, upon reaching that point, it correspondingly "descends." Is this to say that the pivot point is any more true than the bookends of it? Of course not. That was never in question. But a literary as well as logical structure underlies the narrative.

Yet another consideration is that a belief needn't be validly derived in order to be useful - indeed, to even be known, as in the case of foundational or externally justified beliefs. Anyone who agrees with Clark's philosophy of science can at least agree with the first half of the above. If I think a baseball is flying towards my face, I'm not going to take my time to reason out whether or not I should duck or block it with my glove. I'm going to do one or the other! I didn't need to carefully lay out a number of premises in order for my quickly formed belief that "I really, really would prefer to duck or block this baseball to avoid being hit in the face" to be highly useful towards a self-preserving course of action.

Now, keeping these and preliminary points in my post on textual criticism in mind (link), let's turn to consideration of how rhetorical criticism in the form of a biblical text's structure might be able to provide a Christian apologist with an alternative avenue by which he can argue for or against certain textual variants. A case study can be found in Gage's book, "A Literary Guide to the Life of Christ in Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts," in which Gage argues that the "longer" ending of Mark is canonically authentic.

To begin, I don't see anything in Mark 16:9-20 which is logically incoherent with the rest of the canon of special divine revelation. So it passes the " logical coherence test," if you can call it that (since there is no live possibility of divine revelation actually failing any rigid "test" like that). Yet there seemingly are no preconditions for knowledge given in Mark 16:9-20 which are not given elsewhere, so from an apologetic standpoint, both positions are defensible in that respect.

Next, Gage defines what he calls "deltaforms" throughout Mark. Basically, these are pivot points in Mark around which a truth is exemplified or expounded in different contexts roughly equidistant from the pivot point. It's very complex and very beautiful. I will give a short example to clarify what he means:

Mark 1:24 I (the demon) know who You are, the Holy One of God!
Mark 8:27 He asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?"
Mark 14:61 Again the high priest asked Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"

The pivot point is the middle verse, both other verses being 288 verses away from it. The bookends both inform or relate to the pivot point. Another example:

Mark 1:10-11 And immediately as He came up out of the water, the heavens were rent, and the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'
Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’
Mark 15:37-39 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit. And the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom. And the centurion … said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God’

Approximately 320 verses from the pivot point (Mark 9:7), in which the Father's voice expresses that Christ is His Son, we find bookends. These bookends express the same truth, a truth also expressed by voices which speak that Jesus is the Son whose baptism rent heaven and whose baptism-crucifixion rent the temple veil.

The structural argument for the "longer" ending of Mark, then, is that their are pivot verses or deltaforms which extend to this longer ending. We can suspect that there is such a pivot or deltaform when we see textual echoes. Mark 16:17-18 echoes Mark 6:13-14. Mark 11:15 lies roughly between those verses:

Mark 6:13-14 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick and healing them. And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known
Mark 11:15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to cast out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and seats of those who were selling doves
Mark 16:17-18 [I]n My name they will cast out demons … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover

Demons are cast out and the sick are healed by Jesus' name in both the front and back side bookend passages. Gage notes that in driving out the moneychangers at the pivot point, Jesus also "performed a sort of exorcism on the temple." He further notes that Mark 11:15 can function as a pivot point for other "bookend" passages in Mark, like 6:12 and 16:20, 10:17-18 and 12:32, and a dozen or so others.

Gage finishes his structural discussion by observing "23 separate deltaform structures that include correspondences extending into the longer Markan ending." In other words, sections in the longer ending of Mark are at least 23 times anchored to earlier bookend passages by means of a pivot point, as in the above examples. In fact, some of these sections in the longer ending are found to be "back" side bookends for more than one pivot point in Mark, meaning that these sections are anchored to multiple earlier, "front" side bookend passages, depending upon which pivot point one wishes to consider.

Now, given this information, I can anticipate a few replies. Matthews or others could argue that while a logical structure must necessarily be embedded in the text of Scripture in order for it to qualify as divine revelation, an ordered structure of a different variety - chiastic, deltaformic, etc. - is not. Therefore, an argument might be given that Scripture does not explicitly identify any such order of the latter variety, so they cannot be known.

But I believe would miss the point. Yes, for all we know, God could have revealed Himself in any number of ways. But this would equally apply to the actual content of divine revelation as well as its structure. To be saved, to know anything, it is not necessary that I know Jesus wept and was deeply moved by Lazarus' death. Yet because this contingent truth has been revealed, I can know it. Likewise, while an ordered structure of a text may not be necessary for me to be saved or know anything, if there is a structure, I can know it. Contingent divine revelation is just as knowable as necessary divine revelation; anything being divinely revealed is sufficient for us to know it.

The other reply I can anticipate is that one could argue that just because an ordered structure can appear to extend to the longer ending of Mark, such does not prove that the longer ending of Mark is divinely revealed. While true, this would also miss the point. As I mentioned in a post on textual criticism (link):
...while I think the goal of the textual critic shouldn't be to collect texts, compare and contrast them, and use that as an evidentiary basis to infer or reason to what has been specially divinely revealed, there certainly would be use in disposing ourselves and others to a causal process which tracks truth about what has been specially divinely revealed and codified in physical media - in this case, texts. So one function of textual criticism could lie in its capability to cause externalist knowledge of special divine revelation. In any case, there is certainly some apologetic role textual criticism may play within one's worldview, so long as it is remembered that apologetics is subservient to and in fact derives from one's epistemology.
True, rhetorical criticism cannot prove something has been divinely revealed. Then again, nothing can prove that, so such a criticism is fundamentally flawed and fails to acknowledge the practical means and purpose of apologetics.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Textual Criticism and Presuppositionalism

There's been an interesting dialogue between James White and Robert Truelove going on about textual criticism and presuppositionalism. One of my best friends goes to the latter's church. A few weeks ago, my friend mentioned that in a recent post on textual criticism (link), I unwittingly agreed with his and his pastor's position on the subject. After listening to both White and Truelove (here and here), he may be right. I would at least agree with many of the epistemological arguments he brings up which I don't think White addressed sufficiently.

For instance, I could be wrong, but it seems as though White thinks that our epistemic justification for our belief in the content of Scripture is inferential. That is, we're epistemically justified if we correctly reason to the correct content. Correct reasoning involves providing various textual evidences for a particular assertion. That's how we get to the knowledge of what the apostles said.

In that case, though, what justification we have for our beliefs about particular passages, especially those which have been differently codified in different manuscripts (textual variation) - which are questions White continually presses - would ultimately seem, on this view, to be probabilistic at best. After all, we may have more manuscripts and historical awareness than did previous generations, but our generations after us may have more than we do. What they will have may "correctly" overturn - on whatever White's own criteria is (he doesn't specify it) by which we can most correctly reason to a knowledge of divine revelation - what we now "correctly" currently think. What we now think to be the "best" manuscripts or evidence for a particular choice among textual variants may change.

I think this is why Truelove doesn't believe White is being a consistent presuppositionalist. Clark, Van Til, Bahnsen, etc. think that our epistemic justification for a belief in a self-authenticating, divine revelation is infallible. White seemed to take offense at the idea he wasn't a presuppositionalist, but I didn't hear him actually answer the method by which he himself weighs textual evidence - is the method one of his own making amounting to something like a cumulative case epistemology, one which he would purport to be supported by Scripture, our epistemological foundation... or something else? Perhaps he has answered this in one of his books or other videos, but it would have been helpful to someone like me to hear what that answer is.

And this is why I think both seem to be talking past one another. Truelove wants to press White into specifying how he knows what divine revelation is given what would seem to be prima facie evidentialism by White, not a presuppositional epistemology. White wants to press Truelove into specifying what divine revelation is, given Truelove's presuppositionalism.

I think Truelove hesitates to answer White's question because he doesn't want to give the impression that he thinks textual criticism is the ground for his epistemic justification in believing specific content, even though textual criticism could indeed have, say, an apologetic role in the life of a Christian. I don't really know why White hesitates to answer Truelove's question except other than that it hits the mark. While I'm not sure I would agree with what else he says, I agree with Truelove to this extent, if I've understood him correctly.