There are three general Characters whereby we may know any Word to be the Word of God; and a Religion to be the true Religion. 1. That which doth most set forth the glory of God. 2. That which doth direct us to a rule which is a perfect rule of holinesse toward God, and righteousnesse to men. 3. That which shows us a means suitable to God’s glory and men’s necessity, to reconcile us to God. The word of God sets forth God’s glory in all the perfections, and is a compleat rule.
Leigh, Body of Divinity, quoted in Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol. I, 435.
The proper use of reason and philosophy in theological discourse rests upon recognition of their place and the limits of their competence. Truth, comments Turretin, cannot be set against truth–rather, one truth may transcend another. Thus truths of sense stand below truths of reason (infra rationem), truths of the intellect in immediate relation to truths of reason (juxta rationem), and truths of faith above those of reason (supra rationem). Once this pattern is recognized and the hierarchy of truth acknowledged, then rational truth can be used in theological discourse: “grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, nor does supernatural revelation abrogate the natural, but cleanses it.”
Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol. I, 387.
We maintain…that reason should not be heard when it complains of its incapacity to comprehend the mysteries of faith: for, since it is finite, there is no surprise that many things concerning the infinite cannot be grasped by reason–so that to reject a mystery because it is incomprehensible to reason, is to offend against reason itself. It is in this sense that reason is to be made captive (2 Cor 10:5).
Benedict Pictet, quoted in Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Richard A. Muller, 386.
Truth is one and simple, whether conveyed by theology or by philosophy, and is true consistently wherever it is presented (for indeed the distinction of discipline does not multiply truth). Therefore truth is not contrary to itself whether presented in theology or in philosophy.
Bartholomaus Keckermann, quoted in Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Richard A. Muller, 385.
The scientific method was pioneered by men like Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a devout Christian who believed in the supernatural, yet was able to outline and test some founding principles upon which scientific discoveries could be made to learn more about the natural world and its processes. Through the use of objective methodologies to observe and predict theories concerning the natural world, wonderful discoveries have been made and life on earth for humans has been measurably improved. We have also been able to learn quite a bit more about the world around us. Yet observing the world around us, how it works, and according to what laws it operates cannot tell us precisely how any of these things originated. On this question, nature is silent. There are many signs pointing to an Intelligent Designer, like the uniformity and universality of its laws, and the overall order and harmony of nature. Yet we cannot learn much more than that from nature. Here is where evolutionary science is flawed. It attempts to connect the dots of the observed phenomena in nature to provide a theory of origins, but it cannot accurately reconstruct the origin of anything of significance in the universe (separate classes and species of animals, stars, natural laws, etc.) because there were no modern scientists present to observe when the universe was formed. Science was never meant to answer such a question. If natural scientists were honest, they would admit that although the universe points to a universal Creator and Designer, for the answer as to how precisely, how long ago, over what length of time, and in what order it was all created, we have to look elsewhere. Science was not designed to answer those questions, and so it cannot. The natural world doesn’t tell us. The answer to this question requires supernatural revelation. For scientists to try to answer the question, “how did it all get here?” is to step beyond their available data, operating principles, and field of expertise. In evolution, natural science has bitten off more than it can chew.
Ok, I must be in a debating mood. This is the first official debate being held on the highplainsparson blog. If you disagree with me, I want to hear from you. Let’s be friendly but take it seriously. And let’s be rational. Here it goes.
Argument: God is the true God. Not just any god or religion is true, but the God of Christianity, the God who gave us the 66 books of Scripture. Every other philosophy, system of thought, worldview, or religion is false. This can be demonstrated without much trouble.
For the purpose of this debate, I will use the Transcendental Argument for God (TAG)–The proof for the God of the Bible, is the impossibility of the contrary.
In other words, God as revealed in Scripture is the only principle that can accurately account for the world as we know it. Let’s debate. I want to hear from you. If you disagree, why and how? I will do my best to respond and refute all competing claims. I’ll let you go first.
In the contemporary debates between proponents of presuppositional vs. classical apologetics, it is often asserted that the classical apologetic arguments, which are based on what can be known of God from nature and human reason, are of no use. In contrast to this viewpoint, the classical Reformed theologians, while affirming that such arguments drawn from natural theology cannot save anyone; affirmed that they are nonetheless useful:
“Even though it is not salvific, comments Heidegger, the natural knowledge of God (notitia Dei naturalis) ought not to be dismissed as useless: it leaves the contentious and obstreperous among the unregenerate without excuse before God (Rom. 1:20) and provides those not yet regenerate but searching in nature for God and salvation with the capability of sensing and discovering the presence of God (Acts 17:27).” Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol I, p. 304.
Here, as quoted by Muller, the Swiss theologian Johann Heinrich Heidegger affirms two uses of natural theology to the natural unbelieving man. First of all, it leaves him without excuse for sin, thereby magnifying the justice of God in condemning sinners. Secondly, it gives him a sense that there is a God who exists. While of course this sense of God’s existence derived from a natural knowledge of God will not save him, it may serve to help awaken him to his condition (i. e. being under God’s condemnation) and in this way prepare the ground for the saving good news of the Redeemer when he hears it. So, while the transcendental argument of the presuppositionalists has its place in apologetics; the classical arguments drawn from natural theology have their use as well, even for the unregenerate.