Follow by Email

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Question Begging From Another Radical 2 Kingdom Proponent

I'm publishing this piece again because I've been reminded of late that the Escondido crowd remains loud and a problematic force against the reasonableness of Reformed epistemology and morals.

More question begging from the Radical 2 Kingdom camp, this time by Darryl Hart.

Indeed, one can have a justification for x while not being able to offer it. So, to use Darryl Hart’s example, one can have a justification for discerning curves from fastballs while being incapable of articulating that justification. In such cases what one lacks is the ability to articulate a justification - he does not lack having a justification. Notwithstanding, we ought not to think that because one can know something apart from being able to articulate a justification that, therefore, giving a justification is superfluous, or that those true beliefs that are not self-consciously justified must be as credible as those that are self-consciously justified. Let's not pretend that the ability to justify a belief is morally irrelevant, or that a robust justification lends no force to a rational defense of a belief.

The article leaps from (a) the premise that people do know things they aren't prepared to justify to (b) the grand implication that offering a robust justification for beliefs is of little use if only we can muddle through without having to give one. In the final analysis, the article begs the question of whether there actually exists an epistemic justification for laws in general and civil laws in particular and whether that justification is available to us, let alone useful for society. So, once again, R2K confounds the ability of societies to function apart from Scripture with the question of whether there is a moral imperative to apply Scripture to society whenever possible. In essence, R2Kers reason in the same fashion we see in the comic above. They have a preconceived conclusion that they'll arrive at any which way they can.

I might as well mention here that the Bahnsen reference employed by Darryl Hart is terribly misapplied. Bahnsen (with Van Til) thought that men know things that they are unwilling, even incapable of justifying. Accordingly, the reference with respect to one being reduced to absurdity does not speak to the question of whether men know how to count, or whether men know there should be degrees of punishment for transgressions. Nor does it pertain to the reasonableness of men holding to such beliefs they aren't prepared to justify. Certainly Bahnsen did not count it foolish for secular governments to dish out harsher punishments for rape than driving five miles over the speed limit. Not at all, for there is nothing contained in Bahnsen's theonomic thesis that would have prevented him from appreciating that societies can and do function apart from any sort of self-conscious epistemic warrant. What Bahnsen deemed foolish was not the implementation of law by unbelievers but rather the mindset that would abandon any hope in the only ultimate justification of such abstract entities. His issue was with the arbitrary and inconsistent manner in which unbelievers oppose themselves in their reasoning. The Bahnsen reference pertains to men not giving an account (an articulated justification) for their counting - it does not imply that men, unaided by Scripture, do not know how to count or aren't justified in their counting.

R2K might be the most unifying movement today within the Reformed tradition. Non-theonomists and theonomists alike oppose R2K. It reminds me of Dwarves and Elves uniting against Orcs.

Free Website Counter

21 comments:

Semper Reformada said...

Ron,

Excellent refutation and very helpful! Thank you.

Reformed Apologist said...

Glad to do it. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Semper Reformada said...

Ron,

Do you have a short primer on this 2K business? I am just learning about it and am shocked it is penetrating the OPC. My old OPC pastor in CO would never have approved! (I'm in a PCA church now in PA).

Thanks.

Reformed Apologist said...

I've written no primer. I hope one is not needed. R2K is in my estimation a bigger no-brainer than Federal Vision. R2K proponents don't argue anything - NOTHING. They at best string together a series of assertions and then draw a grand conclusion that always exceeds the scope of the premises. Their musings have been refuted all over the internet. Your arguments on DGH's site were either not understood or simply ignored.

Semper Reformada said...

Ron,

You are exactly right. I am glad for voices like yours on the internet. I think I will remove myself from the debate as it is utterly unproductive. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

What did you think of the Schopenhauer quote in the comms box?

Reformed Apologist said...

The quick answer is, it's warranted in that the shoe fits. Obviously it doesn't advance Paul's argument, but of course he knew that and what would be the point of arguing more given the apparent truth of the remark. Whether it was appropriate or not to have posted it, I'm really not sure and don't care to ponder the question. Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

Well, I think it was appropriate since Hart is not Paul's cerebral equal nor yours (not by any stretch). I would be happy to say he was your guys equal but then I would have to say that he is a liar and I am not willing to say that. I would rather think him outrightly stupid than willfully stupid if you catch my meaning.

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Don't miss this one from "Lily" who I think is Zrim or Darryl.

http://oldlife.org/2011/10/epistemological-self-consciousness-intellectual-theonomy/#comment-39342

Semper Reformada said...

Ron,

I am trying to organize all these Christ/culture viewpoints in my mind. Can you help me? It seems to me like there are at least 4 main viewpoints (in the Reformed camp):

1) Radical 2K
2) Neo-Calvinism
3) Theonomy
4) ? What would the 4th one be? It seems to me like there are many reformed people who would not put themselves into any of the first 3 categories. Is there a 4th alternative?

thanks

Reformed Apologist said...

There are people like John Frame, Nelson Kloosterman, G.I. Williamson, Turretin Fan and many more who would not call themselves theonomists but would argue against R2K as any presuppositional theonomist does. Not sure if that helps though.

Semper Reformada said...

Yes it does. I am currently re-listening to the series of debates hosted by the "Christ the Center" podcast. Darryl Hart, Nelson Kloosterman, Bill Dennison, and Douglas Wilson are the contributors. Very interesting. I have the most affinity with Wilson and the least with Hart. Not surprising, I guess. I think Kloosterman's view of natural law is pretty solid, as far as my understanding goes.

Kyle said...

2K guys don't know how to argue. 2k guys don't know when they're dodging. 2k guys don't know the difference between espousing opinions and offering a defense of them. 2k guys are outright dull in their reasoning if not something much worse.

Anonymous said...

Ron, you wrote: "You say it’s a “no-brainer” that the state must punish crime, but that begs the question of how you *know* which sins are crimes. What is the *authoritative* justification for your personal belief that one transgression worthy of damnation is a crime but another transgression worthy of damnation is not…. by what epistemic Lordship do we know that one sin deserves a civil sanction and another does not?

And someone responded with this:

"How do artists *know* authoritatively which color combinations are beautiful? I guess I don’t share your presupposition that special revelation is necessary to define crime. I didn’t become a Christian until my late twenties, but I don’t think I had any problem grasping which acts were criminal. And most cultures throughout the history of the world have had the same essential understanding of crime, which is why Paul could say that the Gentiles “do instinctively the things of the law.” If authoritative knowledge in art and science does not require special revelation, then why must authoritative knowledge in statecraft?"

What would you say?

Reformed Apologist said...

The quick answer is, note the question begging.

Whether one thinks he knows which color combinations are beautiful has nothing to do with the question of whether we can know (and how we can know) which sins are to be regarded as crimes. That the author thinks he's had no problem "grasping which acts are criminal" is purely autobiographical and although somewhat amusing, it's not at all philosophically relevant. Moreover, that the gentiles obey the law instinctively does not speak to the question of which transgressions (they obey instinctively) are by God's standards to be punished as crimes. (Note again the question begging.)

This quote sums it up pretty well I think: "If authoritative knowledge in art and science does not require special revelation, then why must authoritative knowledge in statecraft?"

Nobody is arguing that statecraft must require authoritative knowledge. Rather, the theonomic argument is built upon the defensible premise that such authoritative teaching has been revealed in Scripture. Accordingly, given that premise, the relevant question is not whether we need such knowledge to function well enough (according to some subjective standard of "well enough") but rather whether there exists revelation on the matter that we are to obey.

Reformed Apologist said...

For interesting reading..

http://oldlife.org/2011/10/epistemological-self-consciousness-intellectual-theonomy/comment-page-12/#comment-39517

Jon said...

Outstanding! But how can we expect to get to first base with a crowd that cannot distinguish theonomy from postmillenialism from reconstructionism. Your employment of the externalism of CVT, though often misunderstood, is spot on.

Cheers Ron

Reformed Apologist said...

Of course we must distinguish the IE debate as it relates to knowledge from that which relates to the justification of knowledge. Regarding the former, coincidences do happen by which people believe true things for rational reasons that are yet frothy had more information been available or even considered.

Anonymous said...

This blog entry shows - again - that the Escondido crowd just ain't that bright. They are incapable of comprehending the position they wish to refute. Obviously they're not doing this intentionally, for who would anounce their ignorance knowingly? I'm convinced that the best theological minds aren't even professors. Many aren't even officers in the church.

Anonymous said...

Hart was so obliterated he no longer permits access to the 600+ comments.

Anonymous said...

"For interesting reading..

http://oldlife.org/2011/10/epistemological-self-consciousness-intellectual-theonomy/comment-page-12/#comment-39517"

Shame David Booth is not more consistent or maybe he is just ignorant...