September 18, 2007

Determinism Conclusion

I went through all that trouble for two reasons.

First, to point out that this debate isn’t regulated to the realm of Seminary students. Einstein has probably had more influence on me being a Calvinist then Calvin. Theology is important, but I believe it on the same level as Science and Philosophy, that they all belong under the authority of Scripture.

Second, to show that within all fields of human study where you find them running into Determinism you find them running into paradox. I don’t hide behind the banner of things that are unknowable very often because it is a slippery slope; but I do hold that there are very specific thing to which human do not have the capacity to understand or reconcile with logic. This happens to be one of them. Unless you are comfortable holding a paradox in your mind, you will fall to one side or the other, between man’s perspective and God’s perspective. But believe me that I will not fault you for trying to disprove me on this.

Finally I can move on to other things like the fact that Prince Caspian has put out a movie poster:


Joshua said...

I would argue that theology is logically prior to all other disciplines of study.

Why? Well, you said it yourself, that Scripture has primary authority. I think that the proper definition of theology is the study of God and His purposes as he has revealed them to us in His Word.

I'll admit to being a Scripturalist. By that I mean that all knowledge must presuppose a foundation for its superstructure, and because the universality of logic, the order and regularity of nature, and the trustworthiness of all rationality depend upon not simply theism, but Christian theism.

Even something as simple as concluding that my eyes are reading the words I am typing depends upon a theoretical validation of my sense of sight and my ability to know, use, and process language. The theoretical validation for all knowledge in the first and foremost formulation is God's own character, His being, His mind.

Practically speaking, although an atheist scientist can be helpful to society, his knowledge depends upon God Himself, which means that any considerations of that scientists (or any other) remove an important prior engagement by neglecting theological considerations as I have defined them above.

As for paradox, I agree that there are many questions that cannot be answered this side of glory, and may not be answered even there. However, I think that God's Sovereignty and human responsibility do not represent such a paradox. Divine authorship encompasses moral responsibility, but God's will is not conflated with human willing, nor does it negate it, or infringe upon its un-coerced desires. The world may neglect the veracity of distinguishing primary causation from secondary causation, but the Bible speaks plainly of both without self-contradiction.

Jacob Haynes said...

Josh feel free to correct me if I start verging into heretical teritory.

I make a distinction between Scripture and Theology. Theology is the interpretation of Scripture; Scripture plus reason, traditions, history, etc. We may use Scripture to back up the five points of Calvinism but nowhere within the cannon does it lay out those five points. We add reasoning in. I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing but that it has less authority than pure Scripture.

A secular scientist or artist does not have to incorporate an indwelling of the Holy Spirit on a personal level in order to relay the truths of this world because they themselves are products of the hand of God and are observing products of the hand of God. Of course they also are rebelling from God so we have to take that into account but so is every Christian to some extent. By your logic, Christians will always make better _______, but they don’t.

I agree with your last paragraph but would say that you are describing a paradox.
“God's will is not conflated with human willing, nor does it negate it, or infringe upon its un-coerced desires.” I would say this is a paradox, a situation in which two things exists though logic would necessitate that only one exists. I do not equate paradox with contradiction. Contradiction places logic higher than existence.

ninepoundhammer said...

Jacob--that is an IMPORTANT distinction you pointed out: the difference between paradox and contradiction. This is especially important when discussing certain aspects of Scripture.

Obviously, the fact that God's eternal decree/ Providence does not violate man's will provides such an example. Also, the Trinity--the Bible says that God is one, in three distinct persons. It does not say that God is one person AND three persons. The first is a paradox, the latter a contradiction.

I finally had to humble myself to accepting what I call the Josie Wales corollary: 'A man's got to know his limitations.' Predestination AND Accountability? I can't understand the relationship--but the Bible speaks to both. I believe the Bible to be true, so I accept it although I can't understand it.

Adam said...

I think I would agree with Joshua that Scripture has to be our foundational authority as well as our starting point.

I'd also agree that Christians aren't the only ones capable of expressing truth. That truth though is always expressed from within a worldview. The "secular" worldview, in and of itself, is irrational and incapable of explaining the world or even truth itself. When a non-Christian is saying something true (something in line with God's self-revelation in Scripture) he is doing so inconsistently with his secular worldview. He must "borrow" the Christian worldview to make sense of the world.

So any truth we get from psychology, philosophy, science etc. ultimately leads us back to the authority of Scripture. As Joshua said, only Christian theism gives us the preconditions for making sense of the world (universal laws of logic, uniformity of nature etc.) and thus psychology, philosophy, science etc.

Jacob Haynes said...


Thanks for the comment. I guess what I was trying to unearth was the position of Theology. Should Theology be regarded as important as Scripture and if not where does it fall in regards to other methods for discovering/expressing truth? Can you even separate Scripture from Theology? Should I attempt to build a zipline on property that isn’t mine? These are the questions that keep me up at night, especially the last one.