Cjay and I have been discussing where Scripturalism fits within today’s epistemological framework. It can be difficult to sort through modern terminology such as: foundationalism, externalism, internalism, etc. and to understand the subtleties within each. It can also be challenging to correctly fit Scripturism into these categories because they were not as popular during the time of Gordon Clark; the preeminent exponent of Scripturalism. In this post, we seek to provide a brief statement of how Scripturalism’s epistemology compares and contrasts with the ideas affirmed by foundationalism, internalism, and externalism. Hopefully this post will generate good discussion.
The Scripturalist says that one knows a belief if that belief is both true and was acquired by a method guaranteed to exclude error. This means that when the Holy Spirit illumines Scriptural propositions to the believer, these are knowledge. It also means that a proposition arrived at through logical deduction from known Scriptural propositions is also knowledge.
If foundationalism is taken to be the view that knowledge is restricted to beliefs which are self-evident and beliefs deduced from them, the Scripturalist rejects foundationalism. This is because some propositions are gained from the illumination of the Holy Spirit through the reading of the Scripture. As long as it is not argued that these propositions are self-evident, it is easily seen that foundationalism, as stated, conflicts with Scripturalism. If, however, propositions gained by divine illumination are taken to be self-evident, the Scripturalist might be considered a foundationalist.
If externalism with respect to justification is the belief that a person’s belief may still be justified even if he does is not aware of this justification, then the Scripturalist accepts externalism with respect to justification. This is because sometimes the Holy Spirit confirms propositions to the believer while the believer is totally unaware that He has done so. Since this constitutes a justification to which the believer has no access, the Scripturalist must accept externalism.
If internalism with respect to justification is the belief that a person’s belief may not be justified if he is not aware of its justification (e.i. internalism is simply the denial of externalism), the Scripturalist must deny internalism because he accepts externalism for the reasons given above.