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Monday, May 30, 2011

More on Paradox

If God is good, then he cannot ordain evil. God ordains evil and is good. Therefore, I have to accept "by faith" that although what appears contradictory is not. I'm to believe what appears to me to be defeated. Some Reformed Christians actually say that we are to think that way. We are to believe what we think looks false.

Greg Bahnsen had a response to that problem had by so many, which is commonly called the problem of evil. His answer was simply that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil he ordains. With Bahnsen, I find that response sufficient to remedy any apparent contradiction between God’s goodness and his determination of all things including evil, but I don’t find the additional premise to be a stroke of genius by any stretch. The apparent problem had by so many is that they judge goodness by carnal standards, forgetting that God defines goodness and what is acceptable behavior for himself. (Note: That God defines goodness does not imply that goodness is arbitrary.)

That God’s goodness and his sovereign determination of evil appears contradictory to some hardly implies that it should appear contradictory to all. It’s simply too grand a claim to suggest that if some perceive contradictions then others should.

One might even expect to have a better chance of alleviating apparent contradictions by beginning with a simple presupposition that says there need not be any apparent contradictions. The belief in apparent contradiction can make one not only lazy but also very unjustified in his theology, just like by not believing that the inverse operation of subtraction is always addition can make a child think his wrong answers could be correct though they don't check out just right by performing the inverse operation. The less partisan will find the analogy acceptable, whereas those who blindly follow Van Til will no doubt throw the rationalistic flag at this juncture. Notwithstanding, the point that can be received by the less fearful who are brave enough to be their own man is simply that once we become committed to our ability by grace to alleviate apparent contradictions within God’s word, we might end up working a bit harder at resolving them rather than letting the axiom of apparent contradiction cause us to accept things as true that really appear false to us.  Now of course this comes at a price. There must be a willingness to accept the label rationalistic, but what’s the alternative, believing in something that appears false yet while hoping it is not?

Now some might say that we have reason to believe what appears false and that reason is the church teaches it, which reduces the belief to an inference short of knowledge if that's all the belief is based upon. There is a subtle distinction that must be teased out from such a theory. It pertains to the difference between a justification for believing something is true and a justification of the facts themselves that are believed to be true. I can believe a doctrine is true because the church teaches it, but it’s quite another thing to know those teachings are true. Such a justification of the truth of the church's teachings can only come from God. This is not to say that the God does not speak through the church, for he does. Notwithstanding, if one is basing a theological propositional belief on something other than God's testimony, then such a belief can hardly account as knowledge of the truth.

How can we know truth while it appears false? What would be the warrant for believing what appears to be a defeated proposition? If one says God's say-so, then why if I'm to believe what appears false ought I not disbelieve what appears true?

Not only do the following passages teach that we’re to hear from God and not men on these matters, the Confession's addresses cited below, in concert with Scripture, commend such a practice. (Matt. 16:13-17; John 4:39-42; Galatians 1:11, 12; I Thess. 2:13;  WCF 1.5 and 1.10; WCF 14.2) Note well that Paul when battling the Judaizers did not even cite the apostles but rather Christ alone in his defense of the gospel he knew to be true, for he did not receive it by man but from God.

In a nutshell, contradictions take the form of p = ~p, so if a doctrine is to appear contradictory it must appear to take that form. Until one shows how any Christian doctrine appears to take that form, he fails to show that any doctrine actually appears contradictory. But it gets much worse than that. Until one shows that any doctrine takes a contradictory form, he fails to show how it appears contradictory even to himself! Consequently, not only have these people failed to show that Christian doctrines are apparently contradictory, a universal claim of theirs that applies to every person – they even fail to show that they appear contradictory to them personally.

The only contradictions I’m finding are in their reasoning. They assert apparent contradiction and fail to demonstrate any.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

These people that think like that are an embarrassment to the church. Fortunately they've been quarantined. Unfortunately, depending on your view I suppose, they've been quarantined in the OPC.

Reformed Apologist said...

True sentiments. Bitter-sweet but nonetheless true.

Tim said...

Re: Real contradictions take the form of p = ~p

What do you mean by “real”?
What do you mean by “contradictions”?
What do you mean by “take”?
What do you mean by “the”?
What do you mean by “form”?
What do you mean by “of”?
What do you mean by “p”
What do you mean by “=”?
What do you mean by “~”?

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Mr Jones reminds me of Darryl Hart in many ways. When Hart defends 2K he shows himself to be very irrational and flippant. Mr. Jones only more so. It is your time my friend but I wouldn't squander it on the likes of men like them. Obviously Jones isn't interested in making an argument or he would have made one by now. :)

Reformed Apologist said...

Ha, good link Tim. I look forward to looking at it later.