What is Scripturalism?

Scripturalism is the entire worldview that is taught in God’s Word.  The goal of the Scripturalist is to know God by understanding the Scriptures and all that they imply.

Philosophy refers to the study or love of wisdom and knowledge.  The Scriptures teach that knowledge and wisdom are more precious than gold and silver.  We are not interested primarily in understanding men’s philosophies about earthly things.  However, this does not mean that we have nothing to learn from secular philosophers.  In the second chapter of Colossians, Paul presents a caution to accepting the philosophies of men because they are according to human tradition and not according to Christ.  We are interested in focusing our hearts– and the hearts of our readers and listeners– on Christ.  What does that mean and how does philosophy relate?  “In whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).”  Paul points out the foolishness of philosophies based on a human understanding of the world by making the obvious point that we have Christ “in whom the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily” on whom we can base all our thought.  After all, why should we build our thought on human experience when we have access to revealed truth from the Knower of all knowledge in the Scriptures?

Theology is the study of God; in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Therefore, a theologian is a philosopher in a sense.  Apologetics is making a defense of a particular system (worldview) or proposition.  We desire to answer the best arguments against the Christian system as well as challenge apologetic methods which do not present a cogent defense of the truth.  What is the Christian system?  It is presented in its most basic form in the Bible.  It is summarized in the Christian creeds; from the early creeds found in the Scriptures to the Nicene and Athanasian creeds to the Westminster and 1689 London Baptist Confessions.  Is there really a coherent system of truth found in the Scriptures or should we take them as a series of disjointed truths?  The God of the Bible is omniscient; meaning that He knows all truth and is consistent with Himself.  God does not lie, therefore he has not revealed anything to us that is inconsistent with any of His truth.  Therefore yes, the Bible presents a coherent system of truth; although the Bible is not a presentation of everything that God knows (i.e. all truth).  Let us then press on to know the Lord even though we will never know him comprehensively.  Let us learn a Christian view of men and things.

Because we will be discussing much philosophy and apologetics, we think it important to declare our adherence to the Augustinian presuppositionalism of theologians such as John Calvin, Gordon H. Clark, Carl F.H. Henry, and Robert Reymond.  Thus, we want to distinguish our own views with the two other primary schools of Reformed apologetics: Van Tillian Presuppositionalism and the Classicalism of the “Ligonier apologists.” While we think that the members of these two camps are certainly our brothers in Christ, and we have much in common in Apologetics, we dissent from their systems at important points, and we will seek at various times to articulate the various problems we see with each.  These disagreements are not meant to create unnecessary disunity but are meant to sharpen believers’ apologetics so that they will evangelize with the best possible arguments and in the most God-glorifying manner.

In defending our system, there are several pillars of a complete worldview that we will be touching on. They can be broken down as follows:

Epistemology

Epistemology answers the questions:  What is knowledge?  How does man obtain knowledge?  This is a most basic question, and its answer penetrates our entire system of philosophy.  For better or for worse, we define knowledge as justified true belief, or beliefs acquired by a method guaranteed to exclude error.  This definition of knowledge is meant to highlight the infallible nature of knowledge.  Such an infallible knowledge has been largely abandoned by our culture because, infallible knowledge has not yet been shown to be possible.  The great attempts of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Hegel, while important to the history of philosophy, are all generally thought to have failed to support infallible knowledge of anything whatsoever (see the chapter titled “Faith and Reason” in Religion, Reason, and Revelation by Gordon H. Clark).  Therefore, our culture has either embraced skepticism or lowered the standard of knowledge to accommodate false beliefs.  This presents a major platform for the Christian system in which knowledge is possible (we believe) through the revelation of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit.  The sword of the Spirit –the Bible itself– is extremely effective against secular systems in the realm of epistemology for the one who takes time to study it.  We believe that a Biblical epistemology best defines truth as the propositions in God’s mind. So, to possess the truth is to believe, or “assent” to one or more of those propositions.  When we read and understand the propositions in the Word of God, we are thinking the very thoughts of God.  And thus, we can know that the propositions we read– and the propositions that can be deduced from these propositions– are truth.  John Calvin said:  “I call that knowledge not what is innate in man, nor what is by diligence acquired, but what is revealed to us in the Law and the Prophets.” To better understand Scriptural epistemology, read the Epistemology chapter in A Christian View of Men and Things by Gordon H. Clark.  To better understand the history of epistemology, read the summary found in the chapter titled “Faith and Reason” in Religion, Reason, and Revelation by Gordon H. Clark.

Metaphysics

Metaphysics answers questions about the way things are.  Who has free will?  What is space?  What is time?  What is motion?  What is causality?  Is there a God?  Are all things physical, non-physical, ideal, spiritual, mental, etc.?  What is common to all things?  Some define metaphysics as strictly the answers to the question: What exists?  or What is outside the human mind?  These can all be very difficult questions to answer.  Some of them may be nonsensical for various reasons, and the philosophical problems here extend beyond the present summary.  An assertion of Christianity is that knowledge is possible.  Truth is knowable and the objects of knowledge are true propositions.  Therefore, objects can be individuated by their attributes.  This Realistic approach is a departure from the Aristotelian metaphysic which makes unknowable matter the principle of individuation.  To read more about metaphysics, see The Trinity by Gordon H. Clark and The Incarnation by Gordon H. Clark.  It will blow your mind!!

Soteriology

Soteriology answers the questions:  What is salvation?  What must I do to be saved?  Salvation is explained in detail in Romans starting with chapter 3:9 through the rest of the book.  All believers were predestined, called, and justified by God.  The Holy Spirit conforms them into the image of God’s Son by the renewing of their minds.  After death, we are glorified and will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Paul’s answer to the second question, what must I do to be saved?, in Acts 16:31 is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  We are saved through belief alone (belief and faith are the same word in the New Testament) in the God of the Bible.  Solid discussions of biblical soteriology are found in A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert Reymond, Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge and a precise discussion of the nature of saving faith is found in What is Saving Faith? By Gordon H. Clark.

Anthropology

Anthropology answers the question: What is man?  The Scriptures consistently present a unified view of the man without divided distinct faculties.  Man is simply his entire collection of thoughts and beliefs and man resides in a physical body here on earth for purpose of glorifying God. However, the Scriptures also use distinct words such as “heart”, “soul”, “mind”, “spirit”, etc. to refer to specific aspects of the man as well as to denote the whole man.  The common modern distinction between “head” and “heart,” where the heart is the seat of the emotions and the head is the mind, runs counter to the Biblical teaching and produces serious confusion on many issues including the relationship between faith and works and between reason and faith.  For more reading, see Chapter 15 of The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, the first two chapters of Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards, the section called “Interlude on Head and Heart” in What is Saving Faith by Gordon H. Clark, A Biblical Doctrine of Man by Gordon H. Clark, and Trichotomy vs. Dichotomy by Arden Hodgins (audio sermon).

Ethics

Ethics answers the questions: what thoughts and actions of man are morally good, and which are morally bad?  And related: what are man’s duties here on earth?  The Scriptures present us with a holy God who is the very standard of goodness.  It also presents us with a God who has the right to expect his creatures to obey him perfectly.  As such, he has given us commands throughout the Bible that he desires us to follow.  We fail everyday, and our soteriology informs us that our gracious God saves us by faith, not good works.  Nevertheless, we still ought to adhere to the standards that God has given us; this is an act of worship.  Our motivation for good works is our love for God and we love because He first loved us.  Moreover, for those who do not believe, it is this very standard of righteousness by which God justly holds sinners accountable.  As Christians, we adhere to the “divine-command” theory of ethics and hold that non-Christian systems cannot justify any ethical system.  They always face the problem of “who says?”  Only the Christian can say: the Creator says. For more reading, see: The Ethics chapter in A Christian View of Men and Things by Gordon H. Clark, Essays on Ethics and Politics by Gordon H. Clark, and In Defense of the Decalogue by Richard Barcellos.

These are some of the basic ideas represented by our blog.  We aim to help others follow Christ by emphasizing the Scriptures and good teaching that explains and defends them, and also through challenging false ideas.  Please contact us with questions, comments, and criticisms so that we can sharpen each other and better know our great Lord, the God of Truth.