Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Faith the Only Reliable Epistemology: It's Got to Be Faith, pt. 4

Part One     Part Two     Part Three

How do we know?  We know by faith.  Someone might ask and say, "How do I know I drank a glass of orange juice for breakfast?  It isn't by faith.  I know because I saw it, tasted it, swallowed and then ingested it.  No faith was involved."  Someone else could say to that person, "How do you know that you were drinking the glass of orange juice and you are not actually a brain in a vat, living in a simulated world, not really drinking the orange juice?  You don't really know."  Certain conditions must be met for the constitution of knowledge.  Human knowledge is dependent on other knowledge and the buck stops at God, which is why faith still buttresses all knowledge.  Human faculties are unreliable without certain presuppositions that originate from God.  For instance, how can an accident (chance) "know" anything?  It can't, which brings us back to God again.  I could say that God is the only alternative, except that chance is the alternative.  You can't even consider chance without God. Chance doesn't have a chance.

A few hours before I started writing this post, I read Ezra Klein interview Ta-Nehisi Coates at Vox, which was entitled, "Ta-Nehisi Coates: 'I'm a big believer in chaos."  In his introduction, Klein writes:
I spoke with Coates for my podcast this week. The first half of our conversation is political: It’s about Coates’s interviews with Obama, his perspective on American politics, the way his atheism informs his worldview. . . .
I draw your attention to "the way his atheism informs his worldview."  Coates in the same section that he said "I'm a big believer in chaos," also said:
I think religion undergirds a lot of this. This sort of idea that, “At the end of the day, it all works out.” Or maybe, to put it less condescendingly, that, “We’re on the right side of history, and the arc of the moral universe bends to justice.” That’s just something I don’t share. The sense of destiny that “it will,” I just don’t share it. There’s ample evidence it might not. That’s where I come down.
By the way, how can anyone understand chaos without understanding order?  Coates was commenting on a long personal interview he did with President Obama.  He doesn't have even a close to consistent epistemology.  He can't have one with his view of the world.  Like all professing atheists, he borrows a Christian worldview to make his argument.  Coates says:
From an atheist perspective, life is precious — whenever someone dies, it’s the end of their personal universe. The idea we should hand-wave away the deaths that I believe will come as a result of this election — I just can’t do it.
Life expectancy went down in 2015, the first drop since 1993, a year Bill Clinton was president. Let's not hand-wave that away.  But I digress.

Earlier Coates also said, "I find it hard to say that Obama’s optimism was “wrong” in a global or moral way."  He judges morality and by a certain standard from, he says, an "atheist perspective." What I wanted you to observe, however, is how that his epistemology affects him.  President Obama obviously operates on certain assumptions Coates does not.

In part three, I ended by saying that James White denies the knowledge of the exact words and word order of scripture.  What we do "know," like among many other evangelicals, White says is by sight. The words are judged by human reasoning.  When White argues with a Muslim scholar based upon the veracity of scripture, he depends on textual criticism, which is man's observation.  He rejects the authority of scripture for sight.

I guess you can really appreciate James White's arguments against the perfect preservation of scripture if you agree with him.  First, you can't bring that to a debate with a Muslim scholar. Second, he's never heard of you.  Third, he leafs through one of his books, drawing attention to his authorship. Fourth, all of the above said with an unconventional articulation of the sibilant consonants, rolling of his eyes, and then a maniacal mocking grin.  You'll never hear one scriptural argument from James White.

Scripture teaches its own, perfect preservation for every generation of believers.  In history before modernism, believers took their position from scripture.  They knew by faith.

Not believing what God said about His preservation of His Words and, therefore, not knowing both whether we have God's Words or what they are, brings and has brought many harmful consequences.  It begets further faithlessness and denial.  If you don't know what God's Words are, how could you believe them and obey them?

Part five will bring further application.


Craig Kuha said...

Pastor Kent,
Great is your faith! You are a true watchman. Great is your knowledge. Im a ameuter Christian. I have struggled the great struggle of life, and i want to win.
Faith is the substance... Faiths a gift.. Faith is everything! Everything to you because you have it and enjoy it. Do you boast of faith? Do you boast of knowledge? I do not perceive you do.
The main problem with Americans is they don't stand up for what they believe in. The atheist muslims, and gays, etcetera stand up for what they believe in even if it means death,. We should stand up for the Bible and Christ and what we believe in.The unsaved world doesn't have biblical faith. Some Christians don't have much of it. God is meting out the gift of faith as his sovereign will is choosing to. On the otherhand, God has given the whole world the gift of love. Love is how we " know" that we are the children of God. Love is the only recourse we have to display our faith to the world. They don't care about our faith. Adam underestimated his sight, but didn't underestimate Gods love. He walked with God in the cool of the evening. He was given a help meet when he was lonely. He was ashamed when he sinned. And he accepted Gods covering of sin.
There's a possibility that faith can play on our egos. Do you have enough faith to cast out demons. Would you dare challenge the pope of Rome in person? Could you write words that are coveted after more than the Bible?
Let me get to my point. The human heart is a heart of stone. Faith and knowledge is not enough to crack that heart. For by grace are yes saved.. For God so loved the world.. The apostle Paul loved the phillipians with amazing love.
As far as James White goes you owe it to him, to show him your faith.
The devil is to powerful.
Thanks for reading this. I won't be offended if not published. Craig

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Craig,

Faith isn't a work. It isn't anything to boast about. At the same time, faith is how we know what we know.

I do believe that someone might believe and yet not love. This is a person who is not filled with the Spirit. Faith without love is nothing, it's true.

James White influences many with his teaching on the subject of the preservation of scripture, but this is just one area that today we see people reject what God said because they deny faith as a means of knowledge.


Craig Kuha said...

I can accept and love people that don't believe like me. I don't have to agree with them, but I can accept them as people.
(The rich young ruler, Jesus loved him but didn't agree with him. Also the good Samaritan.)
I don't agree with White.Who knows I might not agree with you.However I accept the fact that people are different than me.
White and others that are promoting there doctrines are offended by onlyism. They are not accepting other peoples genuine faith in the Bible. Yes, there are a few bad apples out there, but that's true wherever you go.
The problem is doctrinal, but the bigger problem is a people problem. Listen carefully, what motivates these people is they believe onlyism are unloving people. There you go, the devil is attacking the believers love for his or hers Bible. The devil is attacking our love for eachother.
Let me ask you a question. Is onlyism a sect? You may not be an onlyist, but will you shun a onlyist. That's what White is doing. Maybe he is not saying onlyism is a sect, I don't know , but he is pushing hard in that direction.
Second question. If an onlyist attends your church, and does not disrupt the service or pass out flyers would you cast him out of your church? By the way I've been involved in a horrible church split over this very thing.
If white will admit that onlyism is a sect , than that's grounds for me to say he's not very loving .
I know Im getting off point of faith , but I couldn't help it.