10 Reasons to Reject Scripturalism: A Response – Part 1 of 10

by Luke Miner and Cjay Engel

Scripturalism

Scripturalism is the system of truth that can be deduced from Scripture.  It is entirely deducible from the axiom:

The Bible is the Word of God

The chief modern proponents of this system have been theologians such as Gordon H. Clark and some of those whom he influenced, such as Robert Reymond.  One of the first things that a person notes after having understood the basics of Gordon Clark’s philosophy is it’s simplicity and clarity.  Terms such as love, God, truth, Logos, knowledge, logic, person, being, language, proposition, meaning, philosophy, and theology are clearly and Biblically defined, and Clark then simply draws out the implications.  The beauty of such a procedure is, firstly, that answers to the great philosophical questions of life are easily grasped by a reader willing to do some serious study, and, secondly, that such clarity and simplicity makes Clark’s views easy to attack.  This point should not be overlooked as Clark welcomed debate from anyone who would define his terms and wield them to launch an assault on his views.

About a decade ago, one article was written called 10 Reasons to Reject the Scripturalist Package which was aimed at the philosophy of a man named Vincent Cheung.  The present article is the first of a ten part series aiming to critique these reasons and offer a Scripturalist response. By writing this set of articles, we do not aim to join a battle that is not ours, but we do think that the 10 Reasons article poses some important questions that we would like to address from a Clarkian Scripturalistic perspective while fleshing out some of the important positive points of Scripturalism.  Other relevant articles may be found here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here.

Many of the objections are confused by the lack of a definition of one of the chief terms, namely, “knowledge”.  This produces equivocations and sometimes begs the question.  Therefore, it is essential that a brief definition of knowledge be given.  For the most part, these objections take the form of a reductio ad absurdum argument.  The objector argues from Scripturalist premises and attempts to demonstrates a contradiction.  These objections are the easiest to treat because the terms are well defined within the Scripturalist system because of the scholarly and rigorous work of Dr. Gordon Clark.  Sometimes, however, the objections drift away from this form and use non-Scripturalist premises (i.e. straw men) and, therefore, formally beg the question.

Moreover, some of the objections are similar to the better formulated objections of George Mavrodes which were reproduced and have already been addressed by Gordon Clark in his Festschrift which is now in print and is titled:  Clark and His Critics. First consulting this material will be highly beneficial for the reader, whether or not he agrees with Mavrodes, since the relation of the axiom of Scripturalism to the doctrines of the Westminster Confession, among other related items, is discussed.

Objection 1

The first objection is as follows:

Scripturalism is self-referentially incoherent. The idea that all knowledge is restricted to propositions of Scripture and valid deductions from propositions of Scripture is itself neither a proposition of Scripture nor validly deducible from propositions of Scripture. Therefore, if Scripturalism were true, Scripturalists would have a good reason to reject Scripturalism.

Answer 1

Scripturalism, technically speaking, is not the belief that that all knowledge is restricted to propositions in Scripture and valid deductions from them.  Rather, it is the system of truth that can be deduced from Scripture.  This does away with the precise objection.  However, it will also be shown that the Scripturalist is not inconsistent to affirm that all knowledge is restricted to propositions of Scripture and valid deductions from them.

For purposes of this article, knowledge is defined as justified true belief (JTB).  A belief only counts as knowledge within a system if it is both true, and is deducible from the presuppositions (the axioms) of a system.  In other words, knowledge must always be grounded.  If I claim to know that the Giants will win the world series, whether they win or not, I do not have knowledge if I cannot justify my belief.

The objector has claimed that Scripturalists are inconsistent to claim knowledge is restricted to propositions of Scripture and valid deductions from them.  The objection dissolves when one simply considers the nature that a presupposition– an axiom– has in relation to a system.  In the Scripturalist’s case, the starting point of his acquisition of knowledge is the Bible, which is a remarkably large set of propositions.  Justification of a belief always consists in showing that it follows from the axiom.  Then, it follows by definition that all knowledge is deducible from the Scriptures, which is the axiom.  Then it follows, again by definition, that no knowledge is not deducible from the Scriptures. In other words, there are no beliefs that satisfy the definition which are justified outside the above method.  As in every epistemological system, the Scripturalist position contains within in it the very rubric by which to determine what is knowledge and what is not.

This argument proceeded strictly from the definition of Scripturalism, which is the system of Truth derived from the Scriptures.  This fact should satisfy any further objection that we did not quote Bible verses.  It also might be objected that revelation comes from other sources than the Scriptures.  For example, the Israelites received revelation from Moses before the Scriptures existed.  To this, the reply is that if we lived in an age of prophets, our epistemology would have to be adjusted. In this day, the Spirit reveals truth to the believer through the Scriptures.  The physical book is just the way God has chosen to carry out his will to reveal truth to believers.  It might also be objected that our definition of knowledge is not deducible from the axiom and it was used in the proof above.  This objection depends on a theory of language which makes meaning depend upon language.  Rather, we use words to express express meaning.  For this article, we used the word “knowledge” to mean justified true belief.  We don’t always use the word that way.  The word “knowledge” is just black marks on paper.  Any arbitrary word would suffice to complete the proof.  Our system aims to defend true justified belief, and the word “knowledge” is chosen to represent this meaning.

It might also be objected that the proof above is circular.  This objection would depend on a misunderstanding of the original objection.  Remember that the objector asserted that the Scripturalist is incoherent upon his own principles.  Therefore, it is permissible and logically necessary that any answer depend on Scripturalist principles.

In conclusion, Scripturalism is not technically the belief that all knowledge is limited to the contents of divine revelation.  It is the system that is deducible from Scripture. It has one axiom from which it follows that knowledge means what is true, believed, and deducible from the axiom.  Scripturalists are not inconsistent to believe this.  Rather, Scripturalism requires this belief by its very definition.

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  • Jacques

    “it is the system of truth”

    Where in Scripture is “system” defined/explained and where does it say that it is such?

    #1. “knowledge is justified true belief”

    #2. “knowledge must always be grounded.”

    #3. “A belief only counts as knowledge within a system if it is both true, and is deducible from the presuppositions (the axioms) of a system.”

    #4. “Justification of a belief always consists in showing that it follows from the axiom.”

    None of the above propositions are found in or deducible from Scripture – assuming they are true, how are they *justified* on a Scripturalist understanding?

    Thanks for your help,

    • Thanks for the comment Jacques.

      I think the main thing that you are taking issue with is the way we define our terms. If we didn’t give you some definitions, you wouldn’t know what we were talking about. We addressed a similar objection in the post above. We said:

      “This argument proceeded strictly from the definition of Scripturalism, which is the system of Truth derived from the Scriptures. This fact should satisfy any further objection that we did not quote Bible verses.”

      We define “system” as a coherent set of true propositions. Do you think the Scriptures contain a set of coherent propositions or do you believe that they are incoherent and irrational? Whatever you believe, just understand that by saying that Scripture is a system, we mean that it contains a set of coherent propositions.

      We define knowledge as justified true belief. You don’t have to define it that way. If you’d prefer another word, ginosko perhaps, that’s ok.

      How are these definitions “justified”? Again, you don’t justify definitions. You state your definitions and use them to justify propositions. We use language to express meaning. Meaning is not dependent on language.

      Don’t get hung up on our terms. Understand the meaning and let us know if something isn’t clearly defined. I doubt that the word “knowledge” even existed 4000 years ago.

      • Jacques

        I appreciate the reply,

        so let me ask, do you believe that the definition [Knowledge is JTB] is true?

        If so, then how is that belief justified on Scripturalist terms [viz, “Justification of a belief always consists in showing that it follows from the axiom.”]?

        Thanks,

        • Do I believe that the proposition: “Knowledge is JTB” is objectively true? No.

          Some people define knowledge as warranted belief. Others just define knowledge as beliefs about reality. You and I can use terms however we like as long as we tell each other how we are using them. Fair enough?

          • Jacques

            Thanks, let me rephrase my question for you,
            do you believe that Knowledge is JTB?

          • No.

            Let me ask you a related question. Can you please define the term “rose” for me?

          • Jacques

            Thanks – I see where you are coming from* – so let me rephrase again and ask,

            What is the Scripturalist justification for the beliefs,

            #1. “knowledge is justified true belief”

            #2. “knowledge must always be grounded.”

            #3. “A belief only counts as knowledge within a system if it is both true, and is deducible from the presuppositions (the axioms) of a system.”

            #4. “Justification of a belief always consists in showing that it follows from the axiom.”

            *I can define a rose as
            a rose is X,
            but I can also believe that
            a rose is X
            – nothing precludes me from believing a rose is X even if it’s defined that way as well.

          • Hey Jacques,

            Let me respectfully suggest that you are not understanding what I’m saying. Otherwise, you would not have asked me to justify #1.

            The word “knowledge” is an arbitrary sign to which we’ve assigned the meaning “justified true belief.” We could have used a different word, perhaps “wiedza”, and nothing changes. Perhaps I need to explain it a different way. Go ahead and define rose for me if you wouldn’t mind.

          • Jacques

            What then is the Scripturalist justification for the belief in “justified true belief”? And the others of course.
            Thanks,

          • Hey Jacques, I’m afraid only one side is listening to the other here. If you’d like to respond my answers above, feel free. If not, it’s been good chatting with you. Thanks.

          • Jacques

            I’m sorry –

            A rose is justified true belief.

            So, what then is the Scripturalist justification for believing in “justified true belief”? Please don’t reply that no one can believe in JTB, for you say above that you mean to defend JTB – and that defending, I take it, is defending its’ plausibility -its’ possibility of being true – and a truth is something that can be believed, and a belief is open for justification (to defend say against that the belief is accidental for instance).
            Thanks,

          • Jacques

            And if ok with you
            please provide the Scripturalist justification for #2-#4

            Thanks

          • C.Jay Engel

            Hi Jacques. It is very clear here that you are misunderstanding Luke’s points. We do not believe that it is true that knowledge is JTB. The reason for this is because words (such as “knowledge”) are arbitrary sounds and symbols that we are choosing to represent an idea. Whenever we have an idea, we attach it to a word for the sake of communication. We want to defend Justified True Belief. What word should we arbitrarily choose to represent that idea? We choose the word knowledge. We can either choose any word we want (or make up a word) as long as the people conversing agree that, for the sake of the conversation, that word is going to represent the idea being communicated in language.

            If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.

            If you want to use the syllables “rose” to represent TJB, we can work with that too. So therefore, we have “rose” that Christ died for our sins.

            Also, we don’t “believe” in True Justified Belief” because only propositions can be believed. And TJB is an idea, not a proposition. When you ask “what then is the Scripturalist justification for believing in “justified true belief”?” we don’t understand what you are saying because we never say we “believe” in TJB.

            The answers to all your questions are definitional and tautological. It is because we *define* knowledge and axiom and belief and justification in the way that we do, that we can use them as we do above. It is a system that depends on itself, as all systems do.

          • Jacques

            OK thanks, I will desist if you can please show the Scripturalist justification for simply this,

            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”

            That’s certainly a proposition (an entailment actually correct?) which you believe.
            Thanks for your patience,

          • C.Jay Engel

            We haven’t even had the chance to venture in to the methodology of Scripturalism. Again, that proposition is merely tautological. Arbitrary means that something is done on a personal whim; justification means that it is proven based on logical necessity from the starting point. Thus, something that is done on a personal whim is by definition not logically necessary from an axiom.

            Every system includes a conglomeration of definitions and words (signs and syllables) that are agreed upon before further knowledge is discovered, because otherwise communication would be impossible. If I were to use Kant’s division here (merely as a useful tool), I would say that the above proposition is “analytic apriori” that is, definitionally true. Like saying that “All bachelor’s are unmarried.” Where JTB comes in is in trying to discover true propositions that are true “synthetic apriori.” That is, those propositions that are not true simply by definition.

          • Jacques

            So I now see that the belief
            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”
            is not a JTB on Scripturalist terms (by #4 above) – so, by #3 above it cannot be known.

            Something that cannot be known cannot be part of the system of knowledge – the system deducible from Scriptures. Hence, by definition, it cannot be a *Scripturalist* belief.
            Funny: you told me you were out to defend JTB, but in reality you are defending non-Scripturalist beliefs as if they were JTBs.

          • C.Jay Engel

            At this point Jacques you are just trolling. We have been patient in explaining things to you and answering your questions. Again and again we have explained to you that the conventional nature of words and definitions mean they are not JTB. We have also explained again and again that definitions attached to chosen words are neither objectively true nor deducible from an axiom. If you don’t yet understand what we are communicating, it is difficult to proceed.

          • Jacques

            So the belief that

            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”

            is not a JTB on Scripturalist terms (by #4 above) correct?

            (Not trolling, I just want to get your clear answer to this on record. I don’t want to assume or put words in your mouth – so please answer the question Thanks)

          • Jacques

            Not sure my last reply made it so,my question is this:
            is the belief that
            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”

            a JTB on Scripturalist terms (#3 above)?
            Thanks

          • Jacques

            May I ask you if the belief
            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”

            is a JTB on Scripturalist terms?
            Thanks

          • C.Jay Engel

            This is my last attempt to answer as I have multiple times above. No, it is not JTB because JTB are Scriptural propositions and propositions deduced from Scripture according to our system. Rather, it is a definitional tautology. This really shouldn’t be difficult. I am done with this conversation, but hope to see you around. Have a great day.

          • Jacques

            Thanks
            – it follows from *your* definition of Scripturalism as “the system that is deducible from Scripture”, that the belief in question is not a Scripturalist belief at all.
            Thanks

          • C.Jay Engel

            Exactly. That’s what we mean when we say it is not a Justified true belief. It’s not objectively true. It’s just a definitional tautology.

          • Jacques

            it is not a Scripturalist belief at all -correct?

          • Jacques

            So the belief is not a Scripturalist belief at all correct? I just -again – want to be sure I am not putting words in your mouth,
            Thanks

          • C.Jay Engel

            The problem is that you are using vague language now. It is not justified true belief because it is not derived from Scripturalist methodology. It is not an objective truth in the same way that “that triangle as three sides” is not an objective truth found in Scripture. It is merely a statement based off definition.

            When you ask whether it is a “Scripturalist belief” I assume you are trying to trap me between saying “yes” (which implies that I contradict my own rigid methodology) and “no” (which means I believe things that are not found in Scripture). –Of course, I believe many things that aren’t found in scripture. I just don’t consider them Justified True Belief.

          • Jacques

            “If something is arbitrary, it does not have to be justified.”

            is neither definitional nor tautological. Actually it is a synthetic belief (entailment) since, among other things, “does not have to be” is normative not descriptive, and ‘arbitrary’ is descriptive. In other words, this belief goes beyond the mere definition of arbitrary. Clark reminded you of the fallacy of trying to get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’* – not only have you committed that fallacy, but by your own words, synthetic is when JTB comes in – but you’ve already admitted that this belief is not JTB.

            *just because I cannot keep the law does not mean I don’t have to keep the law.

          • C.Jay Engel

            Jacques, we have sufficiently answered your question and at this point it is futile to respond. Bringing in ethics (“ought”) has nothing to do with this conversation. If you interpret the proposition that you are freaking out about as being an “ought” statement, there is really nothing more I can do, since we are talking past each other to such profound lengths that I am truly at a loss as to what is going on in your mind. I look forward to your future comments on our coming posts in this series.

          • Jacques

            Thanks,

            but I wasn’t veering into ethics (I merely took a ready example from that subject): you’re the one who introduced analytic and synthetic into the discussion – and your belief is fair game (n’est ce pas?) The issue with your belief is the addition of something non-definitional to the definition of arbitrary -in this case a normative idea to a descriptive definition (is-ought). And with that non-definitional addition of the normative to the descriptive, your belief is synthetic. How do you possibly get “does not have to be justified” from “is a personal whim” – note the “does not have to be” and “is” – There is a huge difference between
            “If a belief is arbitrary then that belief is not justified”
            and
            “If a belief is arbitrary then that belief does not have to be justified”
            No matter how you slice it, the belief is synthetic. And that’s where “JTB comes in” except in this case it doesn’t by your own admission. Let me put it this way: what are the consequences for your “system” if the crux of it is a non-JTB synthetic belief?

            Thanks,

          • C.Jay Engel

            Let me change my statement to help you better understand what I am driving at (I can’t believe I actually have to do this over something so insignificant). “If something is arbitrary it cannot be justified.” Is that better? Clearly this was my meaning. Can we be done with this yet? I tried to ignore your comments but they just kept coming. You are making this humongous issue over nothing. Literally nothing. You final question is beyond ridiculous.

          • Jacques

            There is a huge difference between

            “If a belief is arbitrary then that belief cannot be justified”
            and
            “If a belief is arbitrary then that belief does not have to be justified”
            one is descriptive the other normative. The difference is just as huge as before. Go back to the example from ethics again:
            If I cannot keep the law does not imply that I do not have to keep the law. If the belief cannot be justified does not imply the belief does not have to be justified – you cannot get “don’t have to” from the “cannot be” anymore than you could’ve gotten it from the “is not”. Anyway the belief remains synthetic. Oh and this question is most certainly not nothing nor ridiculous nor insignificant: you have as the crux of your system a non-JTB synthetic belief. What are the ramifications? You obviously cannot get into your system without it, but you cannot stay in your system with it. Since you mentioned Kant, this is perhaps Scripturalism’s Ding-an-sich?
            Thanks again

          • C.Jay Engel

            No no, you’re not understanding. It’s a ridiculous question because I don’t hold to a non-JTB synthetic belief. So your alleged dilemma has zero relevance. I have no clue what you are talking about.

            Of course there’s a huge difference between those two propositions. I don’t believe that either is JTB and only the first is definitional. I have stated several times now that I meant the first proposition when I stated the second by way of example. But you blew it way out of proportion. It’s like if I said it was “raining cats and dogs” (if you’ve never heard that expression please Google it) and then you made me debate you for two days about whether dogs can fall from a cloud. It’s such a ridiculous conversation and you would be obsessing over something ludicrous.

            This whole conversation is irrelevant and a waste of time. Your comments on this matter will no longer be approved.

          • Jacques

            Dear Mr. Engel –
            I’m sorry that you feel the way you do. I also see that you took down the entire conversation. One final comment (although much more need be said):
            it turns out none of your definitions are arbitrary. Yes it is arbitrary whether I use ‘rose’ or ‘knowledge’ to tag JTB, but none of the meanings are arbitrary since you admitted that they are all chosen “to defend JTB”. It’s obviously your belief (based on a reason) that in order to defend JTB such and such a definition must/ought be chosen. But that just means you ultimately have non-definitional belief/reasons for so choosing. It follows that these non-definitional belief/reasons are both synthetic and non-JTB. No matter how you slice it, your system cannot get on without these non JTB synthetic belief/reasons – but you cannot stay in the system with them. Ding-as-Sich. I appreciate the conversation, Thanks.

          • C.Jay Engel

            First, ding an sich refers to “the thing in itself” and refers to the idea that there is a difference between a proposition and the object toward which that proposition points. So not only do I, being a realist al la Clark, avoid the ding an sich, but you are not even using it correctly. You might want to read up on this in Clark’s response to Nash.

            But anyways, you are really confused right now and it is hard to weed through your statements. At this point I’m simply at a loss as to how to communicate my point to you. Each time I try, you misunderstand and trace a rabbit trail.

            Your most recent comment though indicates that you are bringing up an objection which, as we already stated before, is going to be addressed in a future answer to Aquascum. So please look for that.

            To anticipate though, yes, we are saying that definitions are not JTB because, as we stated again and again, JT propositions are only found in Scripture. The meaning itself, and our thoughts, precedes the reading of the “signs and symbols” in the Bible. This is because we are created in the image of God and our minds are upheld and carried along by His. Or, to use Clark’s summary of Augustine:

            “Augustine solves the problem by insisting that knowledge comes first and the use of signs comes afterward. The pupil must already know the meaning before the teacher’s words can help him. He has this knowledge because of the truth within. When the teacher gives a lesson in geometry, the pupil looks within his own mind, consults the truth there, and judges the teacher’s assertions. The pupil already has the truth and sees the Ideas because Christ the Logos is the Light that lighteth every man.”

          • Jacques

            Thanks for replying –

            I am not confused, my point was clear – my direction ought be clear to you as well – but just in case, surely you don’t deny that your choice of meanings was not arbitrary? I’ve already shown that your
            choice was not arbitrary – we “aim to defend JTB” – that’s not
            arbitrary – that’s a reason. It’s obviously your belief that in order to defend JTB such and such a meaning must/ought be chosen. So that means you have non-arbitrary non justified beliefs.
            Bottom line is that even if it’s true that if a belief is arbitrary then it cannot be justified, it does not follow that if it cannot be justified it’s arbitrary. That would be to render ‘arbitrary’ implausible if not downright ridiculous. You have plenty of nonJTB beliefs that could not be plausibly called arbitrary (I pointed above to the beliefs/reasons you have for selecting the meanings you have chosen to defend JTB for example).
            That just means that this belief,
            “If a belief is arbitrary then the belief cannot be/is not justified”
            is indeed a synthetic entailment -an admitted nonJTB one at that – and obviously not a tautology. Ding-an-Sich.

            And I always took Aquascum’s more generalized point about #1 to be just that: an alleged belief (one that the Scripturalist apparatus hinges on) that ought be JTB is not JTB. In the case he shows it has self-referentiality added as a bonus.
            Thanks

          • C.Jay Engel

            Jacques we have answered your questions enough. If you still don’t understand, I can’t do anything about that. Maybe in the future you will read something on this site, perhaps in our future responses, that helps you understand. Sorry man.

            You should also read up on the Ding-an-Sich so that you know what it refers to. Talk to you later.

      • Max

        “Again, you don’t justify definitions. You state your definitions and
        use them to justify propositions. We use language to express meaning.
        Meaning is not dependent on language.”

        Hey, aren’t definitions also propositions?

  • Ryan

    Have either of you read Aquascum’s other articles? I only ask because his 10
    reasons article – especially reasons 1-6 – are just a summation of them. Since
    those other articles deal with Cheung, not Clark, and Aquascum does, for the
    most part, take Cheung’s premises to their logical conclusions, I wouldn’t say
    he begs the question very often. Of course, you are free to define
    Scripturalism, knowledge, etc. however you like. I’m hoping some degree of
    general agreement will eventually emerge among Scripturalists, though.

    A few recommendations:

    I would avoid blanket statements. That’s what causes Cheung so much trouble, I
    think. For example, “Justification of a belief always consists in showing
    that it follows from the axiom.” Taken with a few other statements in your
    post, you’re essentially agreeing with Cheung that knowledge must satisfy
    internalist and infallibilist constraints to qualify as knowledge.

    There’s no need to cut ourselves off from externalist or fallibilist
    justification if 1) we can still show that it is only through Scripture that we
    can at this time attain internally justified, infallibilist justification and
    2) that it is only in having internally justified, infallibilist justification
    for some of our beliefs that we can defend having any other sort of epistemic
    justification. Furthermore, you say:

    “It might also be objected that our definition of knowledge is not
    deducible from the axiom and it was used in the proof above. This objection
    depends on a theory of language which makes meaning depend upon language.
    Rather, we use words to express express meaning.”

    Okay, but the authors of Scripture also use words to express meaning, and the
    meaning they express when they use the word “knowledge” usually
    refers to something other than internally and infallibly justified belief. So
    given “the Spirit reveals truth to the believer through the
    Scriptures” and “The physical book is just the way God has chosen to
    carry out his will to reveal truth to believers,” shouldn’t we follow suit
    in specifying the sort of knowledge or justification Scripturalism is
    interested in? The fact God uses a physical book to reveal Himself surely
    implies some sort of non-arbitrary connection between language and meaning.

    In short, Aquascum’s objection here only works if we argue with Cheung that
    there is no middle ground between unjustified opinion and knowledge, i.e.
    exclusively internally and infallibly justified belief. In that case,
    Scripturalism would be self-referentially incoherent, given Scripture obviously
    uses knowledge in other epistemic senses.

    • Thanks for the comments Ryan. I think this will be a very beneficial discussion.

      On blanket statements, with “justification”, we just wanted to make clear what we are talking about when we say “justification”. This does not rule out inductions, warrant, etc. as useful ways to form opinions. If this is what you mean by “middle ground”, we do not dispute your point. However, we want to use “justification” to refer to validly deduced conclusions and to exclude induction and other such fallacies. Again, this does not mean we withhold belief in propositions which are not deduced from Scripture. We just don’t call them knowledge or we would need to allow false propositions into the category…making us susceptible to a Gettier explosion of our epistemology.

      We admit that the Bible does not always use the term knowledge in the same way we are using it. We even admit that we ourselves do not always use the term knowledge in the same way it is defined above. In fact, I am sure that most Clarkians would readily agree that both they and the Bible use colloquial language all the time.

      You said: “The fact God uses a physical book to reveal Himself surely implies some sort of non-arbitrary connection between language and meaning.” In addition to being a non-sequitur, this is simply a denial of Clark’s theory of language and is therefore irrelevant to the charge of the internal inconsistency of Scripturalism.

      I have read some of Aquascums supporting argumentation in other articles. We’ll have to get to more of them as we go.

      • Ryan

        As I write in my own summary, every kind of knowledge overlaps in some sense: viz. true beliefs. And on some forms of justification – externalism – you don’t even have to show how you truly believe a proposition at all in order to be justified in holding it. So long as the belief is true and was caused by means God designed to be reliable, we would be externally justified in believing the proposition even without having reflected on it, which is not the case on internalist justification. Having justification for a belief needn’t presuppose having shown how we are justified.

        Of course, on *internalist* justification it does. And internalist justification is, I think, an apologetic necessity. I would just flesh out these nuances so you aren’t caught in the same trap Cheung was, which is that it turns out Cheung’s belief in an internalist and infallibilist justificatory constraint is an unjustified opinion on his own grounds.

        “In addition to being a non-sequitur, this is simply a denial of Clark’s theory of language and is therefore irrelevant to the charge of the internal inconsistency of Scripturalism.”

        It’s an adjustment, and a needed one if I am not mistaken, although I am still thinking things through.

        If all [physical] words really were purely arbitrary signs, there would be no point in using them to communicate meaning. If a word could potentially signify an infinite number of meanings – as must be the case if truly arbitrary – then we could never have good reason to think any word corresponds to one meaning in particular. Our own attempts to communicate assume that we are at least in principle able to understand one another through physical coding of mental categories, how much more in the case of Scripture, a physical text the author of language uses to communicate?

        This may not touch on Scripturalism’s internal coherence – again, I’m working this out – but everything you write about in your original post is fair game.

        • Ryan,

          You said: “This may not touch on Scripturalism’s internal coherence – again, I’m working this out – but everything you write about in your original post is fair game.”

          Agreed. We’ll soon be coming out with an article on a scripturalist philosophy of language which will address issues of definitions, arbitrary signs, etc. Though you have probably already taken time to listen to Clark’s 3 lectures on language, to read his book, Language and Theology, and Augustine’s De Magistro, I recommend them to anyone else reading this comment string. I think they provide a solid basis for the denial of your claim above which I labeled a non-sequitur. In fact, Clark’s deconstruction of Wilbur Marshall Urban’s philosophy focuses on this issue much of the time. Since we agree that, on Clark’s principles, we don’t need to “justify” arbitrary definitions, let’s dispute whether or not Clark’s theory of language holds when we come out with the article. I’m interested in your conclusions and objections so feel free to follow up here or send us an email.

          You said: “Having justification for a belief needn’t presuppose having shown how we are justified.”

          Agreed…almost. The Scriptures teach that a man is justified through knowledge given him by the Spirit. He may possess this knowledge yet not be able to verbally justify it. In fact, I think we all know many things we cannot verbally justify. However, if we cannot justify a proposition verbally, only God knows if we really have knowledge of it. So maybe we agree here as well.

          As we are currently discussing on your blog, “internalist” and “infalliblist” knowledge is the only kind this post is concerned with. We should work out good ways to talk about warranted beliefs, induction, etc. but, for purposes of this post, I think you can allow us to use our terms as we define them.

          • Ryan

            We’re on the same page.

          • Praise God! We’ll see how long that’ll last 🙂

  • Steve M

    “The idea that all knowledge is restricted to propositions of Scripture and valid deductions from propositions of Scripture is itself neither a proposition of Scripture nor validly deducible from propositions of Scripture”

    Aquascum has not defined knowledge nor has he completed every possible valid deduction from every possible combination of the various propositions of Scripture. His statement that something “is not deducible from propositions of Scripture” is completely unsupported until he does so. I won’t hold my breath.

    • I think that is a good observation Steve, and the objector’s negligence to define his terms comes back to bite him in objection 2 and in others. Equivocation usually haunts objections which do not define their terms. Our response to objection 2 is going to be coming out soon.

      • Steve M

        Luke
        I look forward to reading it.

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