Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Snippet from Reymond's Systematic

I was reading in Reymond's Systematic Theology last night. The topic was the reliability of Scripture, particularly the portion where Reymond gives the most pertinent Scripture passages defining and supporting the Divine inspiration of Scripture.

With the weight of Biblical evidence being so strong in support of its Divine inspiration I am reminded of how important one's premises are when endeavoring to do any sort of evaluation and thinking whatsoever.

For the individual whose premise is that the Bible is Divine revelation, there is no cause to doubt its testimony in the face of decontextualized "proof"-texting of the supposed "contradictions" of Scripture, no fear from scientific, linguistic, anthropological or otherwise man-made theories that seek to undermine the propositions of Scripture, no reason to back down from any argument that would question whether the Bible can speak faithfully for itself. When one begins with Scripture and studies it with faith to understand, it does not leave one without a defense--indeed, from its basic premises there is no surer defense!

The "problem" with Scripturalism and presuppositional apologetics is that people refuse to adhere to the fundamental principles of argumentation. If one is willing to allow a first premise or first premises to be advanced, then the validity of the position stands or falls by the consistency and coherence of the consequences of those premises when weighed on the scales of logic and fact. Archeology has been a science providing overwhelming factual validation for the testimony of Scripture and I have yet to see an opponent of Scripture show is logical inconsistency from its basic premises. No, rather, all proposed arguments against Scripture as God's Divinely inspired Word must begin from premises that are not accepted by the position they wish to refute. In argumentation, the opponent must show the errors of the position they wish to refute by first accurately representing the position itself. This most basic requirement of argumentation is the one breached by nearly (if not all) opponents of Biblical Christianity.

The premises of the Bible's critics are also open to criticism, for if they would wish to undermine the validity and sufficiency of Scripture it is incumbent upon them to provide a better replacement in the wake of their refutation. This they do, implicitly or explicitly, by simple assertion or by more adequate arguments, but careful scrutiny of their proposals will show that their premises cannot support their conclusions. Sciences based upon sensation, that is, the empirically driven induction, are not logically valid, though they may provide useful and pragmatic information. But if we are talking about the truth of anything rather than simply its usefulness, then validity is the standard by which we must judge, not pragmatics. Competing standards of truth thus require a prior argument of epistemology, which are almost never had amongst sciences outside of philosophy and theology, to their embarrassment, I think.

Regardless of the intellectual currents of our present day and irrespective of the linguistic gymnastics that scholastics participate in, the basic requirements of argumentation remain the same: an understanding of the premise(s), logically sound definitions (that avoid ambiguity and equivocation), and commitment to discover the consistency and coherency of one's system of conclusions. If you will take your interlocutor back to the basics, technical problems disappear (for if they understand them, surely they can explain them in colloquial language) as do secondary arguments. Just as grammar school must start with grammar before moving to logic and rhetoric, so too the apologist must encourage his opponent to face up to the basic requirements of argumentation.

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