Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Aquascum, Developing Scripturalism, and Potential Rapprochement

It’s been nearly a decade since a short but well-constructed critique of Vincent Cheung's philosophy appeared. I’m referring to an article by a pseudonymous author, Aquascum, entitled Top Ten Reasons to Reject the "Scripturalist Package." This and a few of Aquascum’s more substantial papers are posted on the website of James Anderson, who apparently didn’t write them. 

On the one hand, it doesn’t really matter who wrote them. In polemical contexts in which two sides are presenting cases for the benefit of an audience, the arguments are more important than the arguers - and Aquascum makes some good arguments. In fact, I have yet to read a decent Scripturalist rebuttal. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough.

On the other hand, given how interesting and stimulating some of the material is, I would have liked it if I could know where else, if anywhere, Aquascum has written about apologetics. That’s a bit selfish, I suppose. As for why he didn’t write more, I gather that is because 1) he made all of the arguments he wanted to and 2) the person to whom his arguments were directed, Cheung, never really responded. Still, a recommended apologetic for Christianity, if not an actual presentation of one, would have been nice. As he said in his initial response:  
My primary concern is for those who read Cheung on Christian apologetics and somehow think his proposed method is a coherent one, worthy of imitation, and impervious to cogent rebuttal. It is not any of these...
I understand this concern, and I also understand a concern he might have had if he had further recommended an apologetic: Cheung et al. may have just focused on attacking that recommendation, making the apparent evasion of Aquascum’s criticisms less stark. But in consideration of people who Aquascum believed could be disillusioned of Cheung’s “invincibility” in one way or another, whether by unbelievers or intramural criticism - the latter being the light in which I believe Aquascum’s critique was intended to be read - I think such people really could have used some direction.

Additionally, I would argue, in apparent contrast to Aquascum (link), that applying reductio ad absurdum argumentation does require an epistemology on his part - namely, one which allows for use of that methodology. The legitimacy of assuming Cheung’s position for the sake of argument in order to discredit it must proceed from Aquascum’s “own premises,” whatever those may be. Aquascum might have replied that this begs the question in favor of internalism by requiring him to justify how he could legitimately use reductio ad absurdum argumentation. I will return to this point below. Of course, most of Cheung’s distinctives are problematic either way.

In any case, I decided to venture a few thoughts on Aquascum’s article. I don’t do this on Cheung’s behalf, I do it so that readers can see that Scripturalism needs to be developed beyond what Cheung (or Clark, for that matter) argues. Several of Aquascum’s points require familiarity with concepts in contemporary epistemology, which neither Cheung nor Clark discuss. I've been saying for a while now that Scripturalists should be taking contemporary epistemology more seriously, and a reason why becomes evident when reading these kinds of criticisms. Whether or not they touch one’s own particular formulation of Scripturalism, one should at least be able to understand the objections.

Aquascum’s ten reasons for rejecting the Scripturalist package are mostly summations of arguments he presents more fully in a few other articles, all of which I've read. I will reply in kind, noting that some of the responses I give are simplified recreations of arguments provided elsewhere on this blog, even while acknowledging that some of those arguments require further development.

A quick point with significant implications is that I think one can reject the "Scripturalist package" Aquascum presents without rejecting Scripturalism. Aquascum also seems to acknowledge this, as "Scripturalism" is but one of four other ideas he mentions which constitute this package.

For instance, while I would identify with Scripturalism, I don’t believe all things or even all [true] beliefs are immediately caused by God, although they are ultimately caused by God. Scripturalism doesn’t require and, as Aquascum points out, would in fact be incompatible with a thorough-going occasionalist metaphysic. So in my case, I see no reason to respond to arguments 5-7. Incidentally, I recently read some Scripturalists say Cheung doesn't deny secondary causation. I refer those Scripturalists to this post.

I also believe some kinds of “knowledge” can be fallible or can be justified on externalist grounds. So while I think some historic Christian doctrine can be infallibly and internally known by Scripture - a host of Christological doctrines quickly come to mind - I will forego further response to argument 10 for now. I also see no reason to respond to argument 2, except to note that Aquascum would have been more precise if he had said that Matthew 24:32 refutes, not Scripturalism per se, but an exclusively internalist and/or infallibilist epistemology. In Cheung's case, though, argument 2 is true, so I won't quibble too much about this.

I suppose acceptance of fallible knowledge and externalist justification also addresses arguments 3 and 4 insofar as I don’t believe infallibilism or internalism are "constraints" on knowledge, as if everything we can be said to "know" must satisfy the criteria of infallibilism and internalism. There are various forms or types or kinds of "knowledge." Of course, there is overlap: each involves true beliefs. But I would admit there is a middle ground between an arbitrarily held true opinion and infallibilist justification. I would also admit that God may have (and I think did) design certain secondary causes to effect true beliefs, which allows for externalist justification. It’s just a matter of teasing out the nuances of different meanings of epistemic terms with respect to their different contexts. Knowledge and epistemic justification don't mean the same thing in every context, nor do they need to. Aquascum knows this, many Scripturalists don’t seem to.

Rather than focusing on whether knowledge is solely or only infallible or internally justified, I think more relevant questions for me would be whether there are any beliefs must be known according to the prescriptions of infallibilism and internalism and, if so, what are they and how are they known. It is in answering these questions that I find a motivation for a qualified Scripturalism.

Now, whenever we ask whether anything "must be," a natural follow-up question is - for what? Must we ever drink and eat? Well, yes - to live. Must we accept the gospel? Yes - to be saved. Some people starve, and some die in sin, but the point is that in order to achieve certain ends, certain means must occur. 

So let's start with internalism. What ends do I have in mind when I say we must accept that there is internalist justification? There could be several contexts, I'll name two: apologetics and exegesis. It's one thing to have justification for your beliefs. Externalism is compatible with this, as in that case, what confers or grounds the justification of a belief isn't an intentional activity on the part of the believer. It's another thing to show you have justification or could have justification in holding some belief. That sort of justification is the result of a person's intentional activity and involves giving reasons or an explanation of what is[n't] or can['t] be known and how. 

Aquascum calls epistemological internalism "fairly implausible" and "disputable." Surely it is the latter. And I would agree that an internalist constraint is also implausible. But is internalist justification itself implausible? I don't think so. Nor, I think, should Aquascum think so.

Returning to my earlier statement that reductio ad absurdem argumentation presupposes an epistemology, Aquascum provides numerous reasons to reject Cheung's core beliefs. He doesn't just claim one could have justification for or could know this, he actually takes it upon himself to show that if we were to accept Cheung's position, we would have to reject it; hence, we should reject it. He presents reasons to reject the "Scripturalist package."

So doesn't reductio ad absurdem argumentation - or any argumentation, really - presuppose internalist justification? Apologetics is a defense of something. That defense consists of giving reasons for holding a certain worldview over against another. Aquascum is implicitly defending his own apologetic - thus, using his apologetic - in rejecting Cheung's. Aquascum views Cheung's apologetic as detrimental to Christendom. As such, his internal critiques are intended to defend Christianity, benefit readers, and, so it seems to me, to justify his conclusions about Cheung and what consequences should follow. This is completely understandable. But it would also be indicative of implicit acceptance of internalist justification.

Similarly, exegesis consists of giving reasons for holding one interpretation of Scripture over against another. One of Aquascum's papers is "How Mt 24:32 Refutes Scripturalism." In this paper, he exegetes Mt. 24:32. He makes a number of points about the text, all of which are intended to ultimately function as a justification of his conclusion that [Cheung's version of] Scripturalism is "self-referentially incoherent." That requires a certain interpretation of the passage. I think Aquascum's points are, in general, correct, but the point here is that internalist justification is not only plausible but also necessary for both apologetics and exegesis.

The issue of infallibilism is a bit more tricky. For I have already conceded that some knowledge can be fallible or merely probabilistic. That could extend to apologetics and exegesis. But let's see what can be said about this. For one thing, I do think infallibilist knowledge is possible - necessarily possible, actually. After all, the claim that "all [human] knowledge is fallible" would itself be fallible. It could be false. So even on purely fallibilistic grounds, infallibilist knowledge is necessarily possible.

But I think we can do better than that. If a pure fallibilist would admit infallible knowledge is necessarily possible, wouldn't he also have to acknowledge there is criteria according to which we could discriminate between fallible and infallible knowledge? The reason we wouldn't have infallible knowledge would only be because we couldn't satisfy the criteria. Then again, what of our knowledge of that criteria? If it were infallible, he wouldn't be a pure fallibilist. But if it were fallible, then he couldn't really acknowledge that there is any criteria according to which we could discriminate between fallible and infallible knowledge. Satisfaction of a fallible criteria would yield fallible beliefs.

Further, while I've argued pure fallibilism would necessarily entail that any belief could be false, such would seemingly include that necessary entailment! So in effect, pure fallibilism rejects necessity. It corresponds to pure possibilism in which everything and anything goes. In that case, everything could be true, could be false, could be both true and false, meaningless, etc. I don't see that this can be intelligibly defended, for any such defense would presuppose that concepts or propositions mean something definite. So either pure fallibilism is, as Aquascum would say, "self-referentially incoherent," or I've misunderstood what pure fallibilism is, in which case there would seem to be a case to be made for infallibilism anyway.

Now, clearly Scripturalism can't be defined how Cheung would define it per argument 1. But a rough, alternative definition of Scripturalism could be as follows: the belief that any knowledge which is both internally justified and infallible must be founded on divine revelation which, in our case, is coextensive with Scripture. I would primarily argue such on the basis of the problem of partial knowledge, about which I have written extensively (for example, herehere, here, here, and here, among others). These posts probably need to be updated to reflect subtle changes in my views. Either way, I could see a potential for epistemic and apologetic rapprochement along these lines, which is partly what motivated this post.

This leads me to a few final thoughts on Aquascum's 8th and 9th arguments, particularly 8a and 9a. 9b isn't a problem if 9a can be answered. Furthermore, 9b as well as 8b, 8c, and 9c seem to be directed at epistemologies with an infallibilist "constraint." So while I think Scripturalists who agree with Cheung could formulate cogent responses to a few of these scenarios, I don't see a need to.

8a and 9a respectively concern how a Scripturalist could know the law of non-contradiction or know himself. I think these are knowable in the same way internal justification and infallibilistic knowledge can be known. Here's what I mean: am I saying everyone needs to engage in apologetics and exegesis? No. Am I saying everyone possesses internally justified or infallible knowledge? No. Am I saying everyone knows the law of non-contradiction or himself? No.

But - and here's the point - are these ideas incompatible with Scripturalism? Or rather, are the contradictories of these ideas compatible with Scripturalism? Can one intelligibly defend a worldview which precludes internalist justification, infallible knowledge, the law of non-contradiction, or self-knowledge? No. But then, given such an answer, and given Scriptural affirmations of self-knowledge, the legitimacy of apologetics and interpretation of Scripture, etc. - given these things, is it not the case that Scripturalists necessarily could have internally justified, infallible knowledge, self-knowledge, or knowledge of the law of non-contradiction? I argue yes.

In addition to the aforementioned arguments for internalism and infallibilism, I've argued that self-knowledge is necessary in order to show one infallibly knows the canon of Scripture (here) and that self-knowledge can't consistently be denied (see here). Clearly, the law of non-contradiction can't be consistently denied. But I don't see how this would invalidate Scripturalism as defined above, not that I'm saying Aquascum intended to address that definition, obviously.

The point is, there are several propositions which must be true in order for a worldview to be true. To recognize any of these truths as such implies one should be able to recognize the others as such, and in this sense the truths are mutually dependent. If I accept the law of non-contradiction, I should also be able to accept that there are fundamental principles of language. I couldn't know either one without its being possible to know the other. But the same goes for the point that there is a need for a person (or persons) who is omniscient to communicate with us in order for us to know - in an internalist and infallibilist sense - anything. Can one defend this without being able to internally justify anything, know oneself, know linguistic principles, etc.? No. That being the case, all it takes for something to be internally justified and infallibly known is for it to be compatible with Scripturalism and its contradictory to be incompatible with it. The law of non-contradiction and self-knowledge both fall into this category.

There is more that needs to be said. Scripturalist meta-epistemology in particular needs to be addressed. Much as Aquascum's first reply to Cheung was intended to be the first, not last, word on the matter, so too I consider the above to be an outlined development of Scripturalism and, at best, a beginning. But I think it's a much needed beginning.

55 comments:

Max said...

Hmm that is interesting... I've heard of this guy before and also Cheung, but I thought Cheung already debunked him. I would respond to Aquascum in the following manner:

Point 1. I don’t believe this thing.

Point 2. God alone supplies all true knowledge, but I would argue that the Scriptures are the only written form of certainly knowable propositions. But if this is true, then a person can write the words “I exist” on a piece of paper and show that there is another piece of writing outside the Bible with a certainly knowable proposition. But anyway, I would argue that the Bible is more certain that any uninspired writings. So you should trust it instead of making your own truth.

Point 3. I don’t know of any Scripturalist who believes this, but I know that intuition and induction cannot be sources of knowledge because they are logically invalid.

Point 4. I don’t believe in this stuff.

Point 5. This is false; it is deducible from Scripture that God is the only cause in the universe, from a divine perspective. From a human perspective, you can speak of this causing this or that causing that, but from God’s perspective it’s all His work.

Point 6. If the argument is that divine revelation is not certain because God regularly causes millions of false beliefs, I would say that God causing a false belief is not the same as God giving a revelation. By definition, divine revelation or illumination is God speaking, and when God speaks, He always speaks truth. When a person becomes aware of God speaking to them, then they learn the ultimate and most important truths, resulting in the saving of their soul. On the other hand, causing false beliefs is the precursor to divine illumination. In order to illumine someone, God must first cause false beliefs. Without the false beliefs, no one can be illumined later.

Point 7. From a practical viewpoint, I would argue that the ultimate and most important truths must be additionally constrained in order for someone to be saved. Someone can have a true belief that they exist, but it won’t do them much good. The Bible is practical; the truth should be learned because it profits much.

Point 8A. Every verse in the Bible can be used to deduce the law of non-contradiction, because they all consist of language.

Point 8B. Why must Scripturalists have to "account for induction"?

Point 8C. Well, infanticide is the murder of a person (infant), so it’s murder. As for racism, you’ll have to define it. Obviously it’s bad to be partial and judge others on the basis of looks. (see James 2:1-4).

Point 9A. I don’t believe in this; also see 1 Corinthians 2:11.

Point 9B. Universalists can have assurance of salvation (I am one and also a Scripturalist). If all mankind will be saved, and you have knowledge of yourself as part of mankind, then you have assurance of salvation.

Point 9C. Wrong; one only needs to be of the opinion that the woman is his wife in order to fulfill those moral mandates.

Point 10. irrelevant.

Max said...

Darn it I wish I can delete some of my words in my comment on Point 2 because they are fumbled up. I would just say Point 2 is irrelevant.

Ryan said...

The reasons are mostly based on Cheung's writings - the first seven or eight are, anyway. If you disagree with a reason because of that on which the objection is premised, you disagree with Cheung. Maybe he's changed his views now, I haven't read anything by him in a while.

So I recommend you read the extended argumentation by Aquascum to understand his objections. For instance, "I know that intuition and induction cannot be sources of knowledge because they are logically invalid" presupposes that Scripture only warrants a certain interpretation of knowledge. But it doesn't. In fact, I think there are fairly clear instances in which the knowledge in question is fallible - a true belief and grounded on reasons or the product a generally reliable cause, but not infallibly recognizable as such. Search for "know" in the Bible and see how many times that word must or even could mean "infallibly believed." Not often.

I don't understand your statement in point 5. Maybe you're saying God's determination that something function as a secondary cause implies God is the "only cause." I guess that's fine, though I think that's not really nuanced enough as a reply to this objection. As I argued in a different post (link), there are some kinds of causal connections that would hold on all possible worlds, e.g. between sin and punishment. Insofar as God determines all things ultimately, you can say He causes all things. But immediate causation (occasionalism) certainly isn't necessary. Steve Hays also pointed out - somewhere, I don't remember where - that immediate causation entails that God is temporal.

"In order to illumine someone, God must first cause false beliefs. Without the false beliefs, no one can be illumined later."

What is your justification for this? Understand that Cheung's epistemology is tied to his metaphysic. He's argued that a version of occasionalism must be true in order for us to possess knowledge. Objections 5-7 proceed on this basis and on the basis that Cheung believes all knowledge must be infallible and internally justified. So I think all of these objections are good ones.

Max said...

"I recommend you read the extended argumentation by Aquascum to understand his objections. For instance, "I know that intuition and induction cannot be sources of knowledge because they are logically invalid" presupposes that Scripture only warrants a certain interpretation of knowledge."

He never defined the word "knowledge" in point 3, so I simply thought he was using it in the sense of Philosophic (infallibly certain) knowledge.

"But it doesn't. In fact, I think there are fairly clear instances in which the knowledge in question is fallible - a true belief and grounded on reasons or the product a generally reliable cause, but not infallibly recognizable as such. Search for "know" in the Bible and see how many times that word must or even could mean "infallibly believed." Not often."

I agree. In my view there are at least three types of knowledge: the first is Philosophic, the second is Opinionated or colloquial, for example when we tell someone that they know something or we know something, but it's actually our sincere opinion. And there is what I call Pragmatic, that is, the knowlege of how to perform a certain activity, like how to cook, how to draw, etc. These skills are called arts and sciences and even knowledge, but are distinct from propositional knowledge.

"I don't understand your statement in point 5. Maybe you're saying God's determination that something function as a secondary cause implies God is the "only cause." I guess that's fine, though I think that's not really nuanced enough as a reply to this objection."

I don't think there are any secondary causes from God's perspective - He simply doesn't need them. But from a human perspective, of course there are.

"Insofar as God determines all things ultimately, you can say He causes all things. But immediate causation (occasionalism) certainly isn't necessary."

In my (necessitarian) view, there's only one possible world, so it's more logical to affirm immediate causation, but you are right in that I still haven't figured out why immediate causation is necessary. :(

"Steve Hays also pointed out - somewhere, I don't remember where - that immediate causation entails that God is temporal."

Are there any bad implications if God is temporal?

In my comment on point 6, my justification is that we all sinned at some point, so we all had a false belief which I believe is one of the causes of sin. But I still didn't think through it enough, so I can't provide any Scripture proof, unfortunately :( . I'm just trying to help develop Scripturalism, as you put it in your post.

Ryan said...

"He never defined the word "knowledge" in point 3, so I simply thought he was using it in the sense of Philosophic (infallibly certain) knowledge."

He was. He's saying that Cheung defines knowledge solely as infallible belief. His point is that this doesn't follow from and is in fact contradictory to Cheung's axiom, i.e. Scripture.

"Are there any bad implications if God is temporal?"

It surely begs several important questions. Did the Father exist earlier than the Son? Would this be indicative of being created? Or do we reject eternal generation? Etc. I find the philosophy of time to be one of the most complex topics, as it touches on metaphysics, theology, creation, the incarnation, end times, etc. Very interconnected, and very hard to see how one domino effects all others.

"I'm just trying to help develop Scripturalism, as you put it in your post."

I know, I'm just asking questions non-Scripturalists would ask - and myself, since a present goal of Scripturalism should be to cut out all non-essential elements, which is why how I define Scripturalism in the OP is pretty narrow.

Regardless, Adam/Eve could have been illuminated on that view.

Max said...

"Did the Father exist earlier than the Son? Would this be indicative of being created? Or do we reject eternal generation? Etc."

In one of your earlier posts, I said I am a Unitarian and I consider the Son to be a creature. To accept this, you would have to abandon the Substitution atonement theory (I hold to the Moral Influence theory). But the pre-existence of Christ question is quite complicated and I have not yet figured it out. (don't know if I'm an Arian or Socinian)

"I find the philosophy of time to be one of the most complex topics, as it touches on metaphysics, theology, creation, the incarnation, end times, etc. Very interconnected, and very hard to see how one domino effects all others."

I think I am on the right track in figuring those things out. I spend most of my free time reading ancient Greek books, so I have nothing new to write on my blog until I achieve some level of fluency in this (dead) language. I found that most English bible translations are simply not good, that is why I was always confused while reading English translations. The way to truth is very narrow indeed.

steve said...

I don't think Aquascum is implicitly defending his own apologetic - thus, using his apologetic - in rejecting Cheung's. To the contrary, I think he's responding to Cheung on his own grounds. Reductio is an effective strategy against Cheung, not because Aquascum has "implicit acceptance of internalist justification," but because  reductio is an essential tool in *Cheung's* apologetic toolbox. Either Cheung thinks reductio argumentation is relevant, or not. If it's relevant, then the reductio against him is relevant. If reductio argumentation is not relevant, then Cheung's apologetic is deprived of its central tool. That's how I construe his argumentative strategy.

Anonymous said...

"That being the case, all it takes for something to be internally justified and infallibly known is for it to be compatible with Scripturalism and its contradictory to be incompatible with it. The law of non-contradiction and self-knowledge both fall into this category."

By 1 Cor 2:11 is it not compatible with the above alleged Scripturalism that an unregenerate person have access to and know (in the internalist sense) his own thoughts/beliefs?

Thanks

Ryan said...

Steve,

I agree the reductio is effective for the reasons you state. But I think that Aquascum's having a "strategy" is what commits him to internalist justification. Any strategy has a goal. Aquascum's goal is or was to show why Cheung's views should not be accepted by Christians. Why does he think that? For various reasons, each of which intended to lead to this conclusion. The reductio is just one of these reasons, but it still provides Aquascum and his readers justification for how he or they knows this conclusion.

Anonymous,

Can unregenerates have externalist justification for their beliefs? Yes. Can they have internalist yet fallible justification? That's more complicated, I need to read more to be able to make a good case for either side. Can they have internalist and infallible justification? No.

The question shouldn't just be whether one verse is compatible with Scripturalism, though. The single verse "Jesus wept" is itself compatible with all sorts of statements, many of which are unbiblical. I've argued why only regenerates can have internalist and infallibilist knowledge elsewhere, and even if you're not the same anonymous who's been posting different variations of the same one-track question, you can refer to the links in the post for where I make those arguments.

Anonymous said...

Can they have internalist and infallible justification? No.

Why not? 1 Cor 2:11 says that a person knows one's own thoughts/beliefs. There is no distinction between regenerate /unregenerate at all there. The internalist infallible justification would have to be the same for both in this case in order to remain compatible with 1 Cor 2:11. Ironically the arguments you cite rely implicitly on a concept of internalist access/justification you try to build precisely from 1 Cor 2:11. And that verse does not so distinguish - for example no other commentator so distinguishes.
John Calvin:
"This he proves by a similitude drawn from our own spirit: for every one is conscious of his own thoughts, and on the other hand what lies hid in any man's heart, is unknown to another.... A man's innermost thought, of which others are ignorant, is perceived by himself alone: if he afterwards makes it known to others, this does not hinder but that his spirit alone knows what is in him. For it may happen that he does not persuade: it may even happen that he does not properly express his own meaning; but even if he attains both objects, this statement is not at variance with the other -- that his own spirit alone has the true knowledge of it."

The point is that your argumentation is worthless if it not only cannot be supported by Scripture but Scripture is against it. Can you actually show a verse that says or implies that an unregenerate soul cannot know (internalist infallible) their own thoughts/beliefs precisely because they are unregenerate? I doubt it.

Or look at it this way - you claim to infallibly know your own thoughts - what verse says/implies that it is precisely because you are regenerate that you have such? Certainly not 1 Cor 2:11 - then which?
As you can tell, I'm much more interested in , not your argumentation, which is secondary, but the Scriptural references, which are primary - especially for a so called "Scripture" - alist.
Thanks

Ryan said...

Why not? 1 Cor 2:11 says that a person knows one's own thoughts/beliefs. There is no distinction between regenerate /unregenerate at all there.

There's also no indication that the sort of knowledge in 1 Corinthians 2:11 must pertain to infallibilist justification. Or are you an ardent supporter of "Caitlyn" Jenner?

Calvin also said:

"...it is plain that no man can arrive at the true knowledge of himself without having first contemplated the divine character and then descended to the consideration of his own. For such is the native pride of us all, we invariably esteem ourselves righteous, innocent, wise, and holy, till we are convinced by clear proofs of our unrighteousness, turpitude, folly, and impurity. But we are never thus convinced, while we confine our attention to ourselves, and regard not the Lord, who is the only standard by which this judgment ought to be formed."

The real irony is I didn't even mention 1 Corinthians 2:11 in this post, the content of which you have yet to engage. Allow me to help you:

//Here's what I mean: am I saying everyone needs to engage in apologetics and exegesis? No. Am I saying everyone possesses internally justified or infallible knowledge? No. Am I saying everyone knows the law of non-contradiction or himself? No.

But - and here's the point - are these ideas incompatible with Scripturalism? Or rather, are the contradictories of these ideas compatible with Scripturalism? Can one intelligibly defend a worldview which precludes internal justification, infallible knowledge, the law of non-contradiction, or self-knowledge? No. But then, given such an answer, and given Scriptural affirmations of self-knowledge, the legitimacy of apologetics and interpretation of Scripture, etc. - given these things, is it not the case that Scripturalists necessarily could have internally justified, infallible knowledge, self-knowledge, or knowledge of the law of non-contradiction? I argue yes.

In addition to the aforementioned arguments for internalism and infallibilism, I've argued that self-knowledge is necessary in order to show one infallibly knows the canon of Scripture (here) and that self-knowledge can't consistently be denied (see here and here).//

Also, your interests don't concern me.

Max said...

I am about halfway through reading Aquascum's paper, and I remembered that I have a copy of Clark And His Critics stored away that I still did not read, so I feel the urge to read it and see if anyone already asked Clark the same questions as Aquascum. Ryan, have you read through Clark And His Critics?

I might change my view of 1 Cor 2:11, because the sense of the text (and context) is a bit more difficult than I first thought. The issue of "assurance of salvation" is probably the first thing that I struggled with when I learned of Clark's view, but now I have a different soteriology where the concept of "assurance of salvation" is no longer a stumbling block to me, so with this in mind I will try to review Clark's work again. Who knows, I might even humbly admit that I might not exist! After all, if it's a self-evident truth, how can anyone question their existence? But I opine that at one time we have all questioned our existence.

Ryan said...

Clark and His Critics is probably the best representation of Clark's philosophy there is. That isn't to say it's true; rather, it's that in it, Clark takes his views as a whole to their logical end more so than in any other work, in my opinion. In that sense, I found it to be the most stimulating of his books. In another sense, because Clark takes his views to their logical end, it evinces a lack of nuance and need for development.

But the book doesn't really engage in any issues popular among contemporary epistemologists. So I don't see anything in it that would add to this discussion that I haven't accounted for, although it's possible I've missed something.

Anonymous said...

There's also no indication that the sort of knowledge in 1 Corinthians 2:11 must pertain to infallibilist justification.

There's also no indication that it must not - it *may* indeed mean that afterall correct? Afterall, it says *know* - as in "know your own thoughts/beliefs" - it certainly may entail just that. But alas you are biased: it seems to me the only reason you would deny that it does so is to save your own epistemological rear. That's not much of an indication for your view really....And since you could be in error here, a significant error, it turns out by your own measure (infallibility) you know nothing. Perhaps, I won't hold my breath, you might actually engage the scriptures that you so loudly proclaim?

Ryan said...

There's also no indication that it must not - it *may* indeed mean that afterall correct?

No. Follow the above argument I quoted from the original post. Let me know when you have a decent response to it.

Anonymous said...

Max,
tsk tsk
for you to admit that you might not exist or question it requires you to....what? exist. ..you cannot escape that knowledge. Not even the unregenerate can escape that knowledge - Clark says
"But the most crushing refutation of skepticism comes when Augustine asks his opponent, Do you know that you exist? If he so much as hears the question, there can be no doubt about the answer. No one can be in doubt as to his own existence. “We both have a being, know it, and love both our being and knowledge. And in these three no false appearance can ever deceive us. For we do not discern them as things visible, by sense…. I fear not the Academic arguments on these truths that say, ‘What if you err?’ If I err, I am. For he that has no being cannot err, and therefore my error proves my being.” Thus in the immediate certainty of self-consciousness a thinker has contact with being, life, mind, and truth."

What's absolutely stunning to me is that Ryan would deny Augustine's argument (directed at unregenerates mind you) at this point which just is an internalist infallibilist point about self-knowledge. Further it seems to me that Augustine's argument, among other things, is much more-so than Ryan's argument in line with 1 Cor2:11 (if persons know their own thoughts as per self-consciousness then so much the worse for skepticism) - - but Ryan would deny that verse to Augustine and thereby exonerate the skeptics. If only poor Augustine had responded decently to Ryans's arguments....

Ryan said...

What's your point? Are you suggesting Augustine anticipated every development in Christian doctrine? I guess you don't believe in the perseverance of the saints, since Augustine didn't. I guess you believe Augustine completely escaped the metaphysics of Neoplatonism. I've concluded you're naive. That would explain why you don't consider the fact that people often deny what is blatantly self-contradictory.

Still waiting for a response to my argument.

Max said...

Anonymous,

You can ask me, "Do you know you exist?" but you still can't know that I'm real. I might be a character in one of your dreams.

Hey Ryan,

Remember John W. Robbins? Didn't he outright deny self-knowledge? Was he just being logically consistent with Clark's scripturalism, I guess?

Ryan said...

Remember John W. Robbins? Didn't he outright deny self-knowledge? Was he just being logically consistent with Clark's scripturalism, I guess?

Logically inconsistent. Remember that for Clark, the fundamental question he thought Scripturalism answered was, "how do you know?" (see the early pages of his Wheaton Lectures in Clark and His Critics or Christian Philosophy for the context).

The "you" here is obviously generic, for the question is meant to apply to everyone. But then, if there is no knowable [human] "I," there can be no answer and thus no Scripturalism. Scripturalism is obviously internalistic in respect to epistemic justification, despite anonymous' opinions.

Max said...

Wait, I think I was wrong about Robbins; he did not say you cannot know your existence; he said you cannot know that you believe the Gospel. Which is kind of strange. I think your objection would still apply to him.

So let's say all of my knowledge is, "I exist and the Bible is true". Then I think it can be deduced that I believe the Bible. Everything I know, I also assent to. Then Robbins's view would not be correct, I think. I remember that Cheung also faced the issue of self-knowledge, and he simply said, "if you don't know you exist, then you cannot be present at the debate," or something. But I will think more on this later, because I feel I must study Greek first, and just "go where the Bible takes me." I look forward to your future blog posts.

Ryan said...

I believe he would have argued both, if he did actually only argue the latter.

Anonymous said...

Max,
You can ask me, "Do you know you exist?" but you still can't know that I'm real. I might be a character in one of your dreams.

The question was not "Do I know you exist?" The question was "Do you know you exist?"

Augustine wins. You and the unregenerate know something that "is obviously internalistic in respect to epistemic justification" and cannot be in error (as Augustine says). But that something is (1) not a Divine utterance *at all* (2) not conditioned on the salvation of the soul. further, 1 Cor 2:11: any person's thoughts are known by the spirit in him *in the same way* God's thoughts are known by His Spirit. do you deny this?

Max said...

"Augustine wins. You and the unregenerate know something that "is obviously internalistic in respect to epistemic justification" and cannot be in error (as Augustine says). But that something is (1) not a Divine utterance *at all* (2) not conditioned on the salvation of the soul. further, 1 Cor 2:11: any person's thoughts are known by the spirit in him *in the same way* God's thoughts are known by His Spirit. do you deny this?"

I exist. God puts this knowledge in us when we are born, and it is not a divine utterance; that is, we don't read "the reader of this Bible exists" in Scripture, but we can deduce that God this knowledge to be in us due to His power of predestination.

Luke Miner said...

Hi Ryan,

Interesting timing. We just kicked off a series on responding to Aquascum's critique over on scripturalism.com. Check it out at: http://scripturalism.com/10-reasons-to-reject-scripturalism-a-response-part-1-of-10/

Anonymous said...

"respond to my argument"

Sure

-who knows the things of a man save the spirit within him?

first to clarify: self-knowledge centers on knowing that oneself is regenerate, and that entails that one knows at the very least some of one's own thoughts/beliefs (if even only in principle).

It is a consequence of Ryan's argumentation that the word 'know' used of the regenerate in John 10 is internalistic infallible self-knowledge.

It is also a consequence that the same word 'know' (greek:oida) used of the spirits of persons mentioned in 1 Cor 2:11 *is not* internalistic infallible knowledge of one's own thoughts/beliefs. 2 things:
(a) the persons mentioned in 1 Cor 2:11 span both regenerate and unregenerate spirits - there is no limitation.
(b) the verse span all of a spirit's thoughts/beliefs - there is no limitation.

However, as can be easily seen, there is a contradiction:
according to the consequence of John 10, regenerates have self-knowledge hence know some of their own thoughts/beliefs and that internalistically and infallibly.
But, according to the consequence of 1 Cor 2:11, no spirits know any of their thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly; implying that no regenerate (and no unregenerate too) knows any of their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly.

Now given the contradiction, Ryan is in error, and by his own lights knows nothing.

Further, is it not possible that Ryan is mistaken on 1 Cor 2:11 and/or John 10? Is it not possible that if the word 'know' is taken to mean internalistic infallible self-knowledge in John 10 it could also mean that in 1 Cor 2:11? Of course it is possible. Ryan has not shown otherwise, and, as above, he contradicts himself anyway. This possibility translates to a possibility of error on Ryan's part - and again that means that Ryan does not have the kind of knowledge his own viewpoint requires. Again he knows nothing.

Ryan said...

Hi Luke,

Have you or CJ read Aquascum's other articles? I only ask because his 10 reasons article - especially reasons 1-6 - are just a summation of them. Since those other articles deal with Cheung, not Clark, and Aquascum does, for the most part, take Cheung's premises to their logical conclusions, I wouldn't say he begs the question very often. Of course, you are free to define Scripturalism, knowledge, etc. however you like. I'm hoping some degree of general agreement will eventually emerge among Scripturalists, though.

A few recommendations:

I would avoid blanket statements. That's what causes Cheung so much trouble, I think. For example, "Justification of a belief always consists in showing that it follows from the axiom." Taken with a few other statements in your post, you're essentially agreeing with Cheung that knowledge must satisfy internalist and infallibilist constraints to qualify as knowledge.

There's no need to cut ourselves off from externalist or fallibilist justification if 1) we can still show that it is only through Scripture that we can at this time attain internally justified, infallibilist justification and 2) that it is only in having internally justified, infallibilist justification for some of our beliefs that we can defend having any other sort of epistemic justification. Furthermore, you say:

"It might also be objected that our definition of knowledge is not deducible from the axiom and it was used in the proof above. This objection depends on a theory of language which makes meaning depend upon language. Rather, we use words to express express meaning."

Okay, but the authors of Scripture also use words to express meaning, and the meaning they express when they use the word "knowledge" usually refers to something other than internally and infallibly justified belief. So given "the Spirit reveals truth to the believer through the Scriptures" and "The physical book is just the way God has chosen to carry out his will to reveal truth to believers," shouldn't we follow suit in specifying the sort of knowledge or justification Scripturalism is interested in? The fact God uses a physical book to reveal Himself surely implies some sort of non-arbitrary connection between language and meaning.

In short, Aquascum's objection here only works if we argue with Cheung that there is no middle ground between unjustified opinion and knowledge, i.e. exclusively internally and infallibly justified belief. In that case, Scripturalism would be self-referentially incoherent, given Scripture obviously uses knowledge in other epistemic senses.

Ryan said...

Anonymous,

Once again, here is my argument, to which you have yet to respond:

//Here's what I mean: am I saying everyone needs to engage in apologetics and exegesis? No. Am I saying everyone possesses internally justified or infallible knowledge? No. Am I saying everyone knows the law of non-contradiction or himself? No.

But - and here's the point - are these ideas incompatible with Scripturalism? Or rather, are the contradictories of these ideas compatible with Scripturalism? Can one intelligibly defend a worldview which precludes internal justification, infallible knowledge, the law of non-contradiction, or self-knowledge? No. But then, given such an answer, and given Scriptural affirmations of self-knowledge, the legitimacy of apologetics and interpretation of Scripture, etc. - given these things, is it not the case that Scripturalists necessarily could have internally justified, infallible knowledge, self-knowledge, or knowledge of the law of non-contradiction? I argue yes.

In addition to the aforementioned arguments for internalism and infallibilism, I've argued that self-knowledge is necessary in order to show one infallibly knows the canon of Scripture (here) and that self-knowledge can't consistently be denied (see here and here).//

This argument doesn't rely on John 10 or 1 Corinthians 2, although you obviously beg the question by importing one specific definition of "knowledge" in one context to a completely different one. It's as though you think words can only bear one possible meaning.

Let me help you out: do you think one can internally and infallibly justify a knowledge claim regarding the canon of Scripture apart from being regenerated? I assume yes, or else you reject Scripturalism and your critique is not a reductio after all. But then you have to explain Johannine statements such as that only those from God listen to His messengers and discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error, that only God's sheep hear and follow His voice.

Anonymous said...

I *am* responding to your argument.
You mean to conclude that regenerates can have internalistic infallible self-knowledge, but unregenerates cannot.

I never said your argument *relies* on those verses nor have *I* begged any question - but I showed that the *result* of your viewpoint as it pertains to these Scriptures leads to a contradiction, again to repeat:

by John 10, regenerates [can] have self-knowledge hence know some of their own thoughts/beliefs and that internalistically and infallibly. *You affirmed this*.

But, by 1 Cor 2:11, no spirits know any of their thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly; implying that no regenerate (and no unregenerate too) knows any of their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly. *You just admitted this* a few posts back when I asked of internalistic infallible knowing in reference to this verse, "There's also no indication that it must not - it *may* indeed mean that afterall correct?" you replied: "No" and referred me to your argument (the No is obviously a conclusion therefrom).

Obviously the contradiction is of your own making, I am just making it visible. The only way out is to admit that 1 Cor2:11 *is* referring to oida that is internalistic and infallible (I assume you would not do the alternative and deny that John 10 is referring to such). But that is too rich for you since the verse also refers to all persons without divvying them up into regenerate or unregenerate.

Either way you're view is in trouble.
Thanks,

Ryan said...

"I never said your argument *relies* on those verses..."

Then how is your post, which deals exclusively with those verses, a response to my argument?

Even with this in mind, you also failed to respond to the following point: "you obviously beg the question by importing one specific definition of "knowledge" in one context to a completely different one. It's as though you think words can only bear one possible meaning."

Do you actually have anything else?

Anonymous said...

Amazing -
my post is a response to your argument in that I show it leads to a contradiction when it comes to the verses at hand.

I actually did respond to the latter point: as far as 1 Cor 2:11, I said that oida may mean infallible internalist self-knowledge or it may not - *you* are the one who said that it could not mean that in 1 Cor 2:11. And it is as result of *your* limiting the definition in 1 Cor 2:11 that I am able to show the contradiction with your understanding of John 10. The problem isn't with the word knowledge, the problem is with your limitation of what that word means (as per your argument as you admit) and the the resultant contradiction.

I also note that you did not deal with the contradiction.

Ryan said...

There is no more contradiction here than there between Matthew 24:36 and John 20:17. Exegesis entails more than comparing words.

"I said that oida may mean infallible internalist self-knowledge or it may not - *you* are the one who said that it could not mean that in 1 Cor 2:11."

Right - in 1 Corinthians 2:11. So why are you talking about John 10? I never said knowledge couldn't mean internally and infallibly justified belief in John 10. Do you know what a contradiction is?

Anonymous said...

Ok..let me repeat,
I *am* responding to your argument.
You mean to conclude that regenerates can have internalistic infallible self-knowledge, but unregenerates cannot.

by John 10, regenerates [can] have self-knowledge hence know some of their own thoughts/beliefs and that internalistically and infallibly. *You affirmed this*.

But, by your denial that oida in 1 Cor 2:11 can mean internalistic and infallible, it means that no spirits know any of their thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly; implying that no regenerate (and no unregenerate too) knows any of their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly. *You just admitted this* a few posts back when I asked of internalistic infallible knowing in reference to this verse, "There's also no indication that it must not - it *may* indeed mean that afterall correct?" you replied: "No" and referred me to your argument (the No is obviously a conclusion therefrom).

Your take on John 10 asserts that regenerates [can] know [some of] their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly, but your take on 1 Cor 2:11 affirms that no regenerate can know their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly.

Thus the contradiction.

Luke Miner said...

Hey Ryan,

I'm starting to get used to your site. I did not see your response to our article until now. I think your response has some great points. Would you be willing to post it as a comment on the article on scripturalism.com so others can benefit from it and from our response?

Ryan said...

Anonymous,

"...your take on 1 Cor 2:11 affirms that no regenerate can know their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly."

No, my take on 1 Corinthians 2:11 affirms that the "knowledge" in mind is something other than internally and infallibly justified beliefs. So obviously, I don't think 1 Corinthians 2:11 speaks to whether persons can have internally and infallibly justified beliefs at all. Thus, no contradiction.

I don't see why this is so hard to grasp for you, the above is very simple.

Anonymous said...

Actually you denied that 'knows' in 1 Cor 2:11 can mean internalistic infallible - let me repeat again:

a few posts back when I asked of internalistic infallible knowing in reference to this verse, "There's also no indication that it must not - it *may* indeed mean that afterall correct?" you replied: "No" and referred me to your argument.

I see nothing in your recent post that retracts this denial (hint: in order to do that you would have to admit that knowledge here could mean internalistic and infallible).

who knows the things of a man save the spirit within him?

this teaches us the spirit of a man (regenerate or not) knows his own thoughts/beliefs - but is the knowing internalistic and infallible? You said "No". So the spirit of a man knows his own thoughts/beliefs (but not internalistically and infallibly).

The contradiction I mentioned before stands.
"I don't see why this is so hard to grasp for you, the above is very simple."

Ryan said...

"Actually you denied that 'knows' in 1 Cor 2:11 can mean internalistic infallible..."

Actually, this has no relevance to what it can mean in a completely different context like John 10, as I've pointed out several times now. Still don't get it?

Anonymous said...

It certainly does when the two together assert a contradiction as your understanding does -

Clark:
The consent or logical consistency of the whole is important; for if the Bible contradicted itself, we would know that some of it would be false. – What Do Presbyterians Believe

Your take on John 10 asserts that regenerates [can] know [some of] their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly, but your take on 1 Cor 2:11 affirms that no regenerate can know their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly.

Ryan said...

"...your take on 1 Cor 2:11 affirms that no regenerate can know their own thoughts/beliefs internalistically and infallibly."

No, it's that infallibilist, internalist justification isn't even mentioned there. Keep lying, keep trying.

Anonymous said...

it's not mentioned in John 10 either sir.

It's the results of *your take/argument* that is under scrutiny (no matter how erroneous it is in light of the actual verses). And it's *your take/argument* that produces the contradiction. Again I repeat - can the word oida mean internalist infallibilist justification in 1 Cor 2:11 (as it does for you in John 10 for some odd reason) - you said "No". So your take here is that the spirit's knowing one's own thoughts cannot be internalist infallibilist. But your take on John 10 is that it can.

The contradiction remains.

Ryan said...

The concept is. Only the sheep hear God's voice. This is repeated in Johannine literature numerous times. Hence, only the sheep are in a position to know that they know the canon.

"So your take here is that the spirit's knowing one's own thoughts cannot be internalist infallibilist."

Yes, *in this context,* it cannot. In a completely different context, it can, but in said context, the only persons in question are believers.

No contradiction. I've made this point several times now, if you have nothing more to add, expect any further repetitious posts to be deleted.

Anonymous said...

No it isn't. It takes quite an illogical twist to think it does sir.
Only the sheep hear God's Voice in no way implies that sheep are in a position to know that they know the canon.

As far as you know they cannot be in such a position but that does not imply that they do not hear the voice: you have it exactly backwards. If they know that they know, then they know. If they do not know, then they do not know that they know. They know. But from that you cannot conclude that they know that they know.

btw the contradiction remains - in one context you claim that regenerates know some of their own thoughts/beliefs infallibly and internalistically and in the other context you deny regenerates know any of their own thoughts/beliefs infallibly and internalistically. one of the keys which you don't seem to grasp is that both contexts address believers. If a context addresses both believers and non-believers it follows that it addresses believers. Just as much as the context which addresses only believers. And what's affirmed of believers in one context cannot - on pains of a contradiction in the Bible - be denied of believers in another.

Ryan said...

Lol. Let's revisit your earlier comment:

"I never said your argument *relies* on those verses..."

Care to retract your last post, or are you finally going to respond to my argument for self-knowledge posted in the OP? Here it is just one more time:

//Here's what I mean: am I saying everyone needs to engage in apologetics and exegesis? No. Am I saying everyone possesses internally justified or infallible knowledge? No. Am I saying everyone knows the law of non-contradiction or himself? No.

But - and here's the point - are these ideas incompatible with Scripturalism? Or rather, are the contradictories of these ideas compatible with Scripturalism? Can one intelligibly defend a worldview which precludes internal justification, infallible knowledge, the law of non-contradiction, or self-knowledge? No. But then, given such an answer, and given Scriptural affirmations of self-knowledge, the legitimacy of apologetics and interpretation of Scripture, etc. - given these things, is it not the case that Scripturalists necessarily could have internally justified, infallible knowledge, self-knowledge, or knowledge of the law of non-contradiction? I argue yes.

In addition to the aforementioned arguments for internalism and infallibilism, I've argued that self-knowledge is necessary in order to show one infallibly knows the canon of Scripture (here) and that self-knowledge can't consistently be denied (see here and here).//

You've also misread me. I said:

//Only the sheep hear God's voice. This is repeated in Johannine literature numerous times. Hence, only the sheep are in a position to know that they know the canon.//

This is true. You can't yourself justify a belief you have if your belief isn't already in some sense justified. If only the sheep know the voice of the Shepherd, then clearly only the sheep *can be in a position to justify* what they know.

At this point, your insistence that there is a contradiction at this point is just laughable. It's as if you have this naïve view that a word can only bear one meaning even in completely different contexts. Point blank then, do you think unbelievers can know God's voice?

"And what's affirmed of believers in one context cannot - on pains of a contradiction in the Bible - be denied of believers in another."

Lol. And what's affirmed of believers in one context (John 10) needn't apply to unbelievers in another context (1 Corinthians 2). So no contradiction.

Max said...

"I find the philosophy of time to be one of the most complex topics, as it touches on metaphysics, theology, creation, the incarnation, end times, etc. Very interconnected, and very hard to see how one domino effects all others."

Me too. Maybe that's why I have not decided which eschatological view is right, even though I have studied mostly eschatology for the last 2 years and appear to be going in a giant circle, because I don't have an adequate philosophy of time. I guess I must be content to admit I don't know enough, but the Scriptures must have a true interpretation, so we must strive to reach it (or be patient and wait for God to reveal it).

After you convinced me that self-knowledge is possible, I've been fascinated with the idea that we can know or not know that we have one of the apostolic spiritual gifts. Do you have a view on the cessation or continuation of the apostolic gifts?

For instance, I see the list of gifts that Paul gives in 1 Cor 12:7-10, and he says words of wisdom and words of knowledge are spiritual gifts. If all the spiritual gifts have ceased, then there would be no one with wisdom or knowledge, it seems. Thanks for any insights you can give...

Ryan said...

That isn't my area of specialty, but I think John Phillips provides sound exegesis in his commentary on 1 Corinthians - of which you can read a large portion via preview on Amazon - for the cessation of transitional gifts in the apostolic age like speaking in tongues and prophesying due to the completion of the canon. See his commentary on the last few verses of chapter 13 in particular.

Naturally, there is overlap between the gifts the apostles and their contemporaries had and gifts we can have (teaching, wisdom, faith, etc). In regards to more specific gifts like healing, I'm ambivalent.

Max said...

Thanks for the response but I wasn't able to view those pages! oh well. I find that whenever I try to systematize my views or theology, I always run into some dead end or difficulty with one of the NT epistles, mostly Paul - and mostly Ephesians or Colossians! I am currently researching the German Higher Critics and I'm open to the possibility that some of the accepted NT books might not be authentic or inspired, while still remaining a Scripturalist in epistemology.

Since the Bible contained the Apocrypha for so long, and the Protestant Reformers used logic to determine which OT (apocryphal) books are not inspired, I think we can do the same for the NT books. For instance, I'm at a loss on how to reconcile 1 Cor 14:9 with 2 Peter 3:16. I just checked John Gill and Adam Clarke's commentaries, and they don't seem to notice the apparent contradiction. Either Peter was wrong, or Paul was a hypocrite in not speaking clearly. We must be honest about what the NT says. (I believe 1 Corinthians is authentic)

As the Pentateuch is the OT foundation, the 4 Gospels are the NT foundation; so I think we ought to test all things by the sure foundation, using logic of course. Just my feelings on what I have experienced in my studies.

Ryan said...

I don't know why you can't read the preview. Search "canon" and it's on pg. 300 or so in the "Look Inside" function.

I'm not sure what contradiction you see. 1 Corinthians 14 is speaking of a language people can't understand without translation, like if someone were to speak to me in German. 1 Peter 3 is speaking about the complex content of Paul's letters. It's the relationship of milk to meat.

Also, Jesus spoke clearly when he communicated parables - it was the interpretation of the parables the disciples found difficult. Obviously, Jesus is divine or there is no discussion. But then the grid you are using to judge Paul needs to be adjusted.

Knowing the canon of Scripture and defending it are distinct. Further, the NT references the OT to a much larger degree than itself, so more inter-textual arguments for the OT are possible. There is also what the apocrypha states about itself and whether or in what sense you mean the Bible "contained" the apocrypha - as additional edifying material or divinely authoritative.

If you accept John, I'm not sure how you could reject the Johannine epistles or Revelation. If you accept Luke, I'm not sure how you could reject Acts. If you accept the gospels, I'm not sure how you can reject any of the epistles.

Disputation of authorship or questioning Hebrews is one route. But that's as speculative as who authored several of the gospels, if we're going strictly on inherent evidence. Further, specific, concrete instances of divine revelation can never be proved by logic. They can be tested, but that only serves a confirmatory function. So the apologete or critic can only go so far. Epistemology and its foundation, divine revelation, is primary.

Max said...

Regarding parables - when I said "not speaking clearly" I meant not making the meaning clear, and this was the purpose of Christ's parables, as he said: "I speak to them in parables, because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matt 13:13). And when he made his meaning clear, the disciples said, "Now you speak plainly, and speak no proverb." (John 16:29). Now notice that the question of meaning is in Paul's context: (1Cor 14:11) "if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me." Speaking a foreign language and speaking in riddles have the same effect; having an unclear meaning to the hearer. I think the contradiction still stands. (my current opinion is that 2 Peter is pseudepigraphical)

You said: "But then the grid you are using to judge Paul needs to be adjusted."

Can you further explain?

You said: "There is also what the apocrypha states about itself and whether or in what sense you mean the Bible "contained" the apocrypha - as additional edifying material or divinely authoritative."

I meant that according to secular history, the Bible has been bound together with the apocrypha (Latin Vulgate or the Greek LXX) for most of history and even in Protestant lands after the Reformation.

You said: "If you accept John, I'm not sure how you could reject the Johannine epistles or Revelation. If you accept Luke, I'm not sure how you could reject Acts. If you accept the gospels, I'm not sure how you can reject any of the epistles."

I agree with the first two sentiments, but not the third.

You said: "Disputation of authorship or questioning Hebrews is one route. But that's as speculative as who authored several of the gospels, if we're going strictly on inherent evidence."

Yes, but you are not in doubt concerning the inspiration of Hebrews, are you? (just curious)

You said: "Further, specific, concrete instances of divine revelation can never be proved by logic. They can be tested, but that only serves a confirmatory function. So the apologete or critic can only go so far. Epistemology and its foundation, divine revelation, is primary."

Fully agreed; I cannot conceive of any way, logically speaking, to have truth without divine revelation, and Clark's arguments for its necessity are convincing.

Ryan said...

"Speaking a foreign language and speaking in riddles have the same effect; having an unclear meaning to the hearer. I think the contradiction still stands. (my current opinion is that 2 Peter is pseudepigraphical)"

2 Peter doesn't say Paul's letters are unintelligible, only that they're hard to understand. Obviously, Paul deals with more complex doctrines than most of the other letters in the NT, Hebrews and Revelation being exceptions. We should expect meaty doctrines to require a foundation of knowing "milk," hence why Paul's words can be twisted.

The Incarnation is a complex doctrine. It took 100s of years to deduce various details. That doesn't mean it's unintelligible or false or that authors whose letters contain the latent substantiation for the doctrinal exposition are uninspired. You're insistence of contradiction is unreasonable.

And yes, Jesus did later explain the parables in plain language. But only to the disciples. You left out the three verses prior to the one you quoted:

Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

So what of the people he never explained the parables to? They may never have understood them. So what? That doesn't mean the parables were unintelligible or without meaning. Same goes for Paul. People may indeed not understand him. They may twist his words. But that's irrelevant to whether his letters are intrinsically meaningful and capable of being understood by those to whom God has granted knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, a subject Paul himself deals with in numerous places.

And if you believe 2 Peter to be pseudopigraphical, there should be no problem for you in accepting Paul's letters even allowing your original gripe.

"I meant that according to secular history, the Bible has been bound together with the apocrypha (Latin Vulgate or the Greek LXX) for most of history and even in Protestant lands after the Reformation."

Yes, but that doesn't imply readers - especially the Jewish contemporaries at the time - believed them to be canonical. Extra-biblical evidence is generally against this idea, I think.

I agree with the first two sentiments, but not the third."

Given what the Gospels and Acts have to say about Peter and Paul as individuals - their apostolicity in particular - I don't see how you can reject their epistles as Scripture, especially given certain self- and inter-referential statements they make.

"Yes, but you are not in doubt concerning the inspiration of Hebrews, are you? (just curious)"

Not at all.

Anonymous said...

"No, my take on 1 Corinthians 2:11 affirms that the "knowledge" in mind is something other than internally and infallibly justified beliefs."

Wait. The spirit of a man knowing/aware of/access to his own thoughts is not internalism? is it externalism? How so?

Ryan said...

No, I had in mind that internally justified beliefs aren't necessarily infallibly justified.

Are you going to respond to my last post? You sure obsess about it enough.

Anonymous said...

whew I was worried for a moment.

1 Cor 2:11 is also an example of self-knowledge. So, your point is that the self-knowledge here isn't infallibly justified thus it isn't knowledge?

So, what proof from this verse do you have for thinking that the self-knowledge here isn't infallibly justified?

Excuse me for thinking it is: there is the identification with God's Spirit knowing His thoughts "In the same way" etc...

Ryan said...

The proof is in the OP which I've constantly pointed out to you without any meaningful engagement.

//Here's what I mean: am I saying everyone needs to engage in apologetics and exegesis? No. Am I saying everyone possesses internally justified or infallible knowledge? No. Am I saying everyone knows the law of non-contradiction or himself? No.

But - and here's the point - are these ideas incompatible with Scripturalism? Or rather, are the contradictories of these ideas compatible with Scripturalism? Can one intelligibly defend a worldview which precludes internal justification, infallible knowledge, the law of non-contradiction, or self-knowledge? No. But then, given such an answer, and given Scriptural affirmations of self-knowledge, the legitimacy of apologetics and interpretation of Scripture, etc. - given these things, is it not the case that Scripturalists necessarily could have internally justified, infallible knowledge, self-knowledge, or knowledge of the law of non-contradiction? I argue yes.

In addition to the aforementioned arguments for internalism and infallibilism, I've argued that self-knowledge is necessary in order to show one infallibly knows the canon of Scripture (here) and that self-knowledge can't consistently be denied (see here and here).//

Anonymous said...

that's real nice but....irrelevant.

perhaps you could deal with *Scriptures* in a meaningful way? that is Scripturalism first and foremost you know?

God certainly knows His own thoughts in an internalistic and infallible way - and since the verse says "the same way", and since you are more than willing to allow humans (ok some) and sheep (most assuredly) to know infallibly and internalistically, how can you prove that's not the case here?
(1)humans know their own thoughts internalistically but not infallibly and in the same way God knows His own thoughts?
False for sure.
(2)humans know their own thoughts internalistically and infallibly and in the same way God knows His own thoughts
yes that's true.


Ryan said...

That's not what Paul says. He says people know their own thoughts. But our knowledge of ourselves isn't comprehensive whereas God's knowledge of Himself is. Yet if we were to read Paul how you think we should that's exactly what we'd have to say.

Also feel free to keep reading the rest of the chapter.

Ryan said...

As you have nothing of substance to add, we're done here and elsewhere.