About TheSire

I'm a Christian, Trinitarian, rational scientific anti-realist, Baptist, Van Tilian, Covenant theology, Inerrancy, Cartesian dualist, Classical theist, Protestant, Reformed, and a particularist. I think often my friends have better views of me and my position than warranted and I thank them all for giving me a place to share them. My influences are Steve Hays, Dr. James Anderson, Dr. Greg Welty, Dr. Vern Poythress, Dr. John Frame, R. C. Dozier, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Ronald W. Di Giacomo, R. C. Sproul, Dr. James White, Dr. Paul Helm, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, Paul Manata, Turretinfan, Milton Friedman, James A. Gibson, and others. " You're one of the most intricate thinkers I know so if you believe something I would like to understand why and be challenged to think about it." Tyler Vela

The Law and the New Testament

Image result for The Mosaic Law

It is often discussed whether the Law has any moral authority for Christians. The debate is amongst those that view the covenant’s differently and so they view the issue of continuity and discontinuity differently as well. We have passages with debatable meanings about the use of the Law in our time period. I think it will be helpful for me to go through some of the prooftexts from both sides in order to give an explanation of what I think the New Testament is really advocating. Let’s start with helpful distinctions that allow us to make sense out of these things:

Intrinsic goods: These are deeds that are done because they are good in and of themselves.

Instrumental goods: These are acts done to achieve some other good.
Typology: The study of OT types as anticipating NT persons or occurrences (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 10:2; Heb. 6:19–7:28; 1 Pet. 3:21). Types are An example or figure. In biblical interpretation, a type is a person or event that foreshadows or symbolizes another (Rom. 5:14). For example, the book of Hebrews shows Melchizedek as a type of Christ (Heb. 6:19–7:28).

The Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial distinctions have been discussed recently and I think it is helpful to quote something that helped me:

The threefold distinction is valid as a beginning point (not an endpoint–the ceremonial law continues to apply typologically, 2 Cor 6:17). Nearly everyone believes that it is inappropriate to offer animal sacrifice. So they believe in the ceremonial law that is now obsolete with respect to its direct observance. Nearly everyone believes that “you shall not steal” expresses a permanent moral principle based on the character of God. So they believe in the moral law. Nearly everyone believes that the Ten Commandments are literarily and theologically distinguished from casuistic law and instructions about ceremonies.  So the people who say there are no distinctions end up making distinctions anyway.  The positive take-away is that there are these three things, but also that it is not always easy to see what is a permanent moral principle and what is temporary, typologically crafted ceremony and what is judicial instruction appropriate only for Israel as a holy nation. Nor is it right to exclude the possibility that sometimes typologically a single law may have multiple implications–for ceremonies, for moral principles, and for judicial procedures. But granted that the lines of distinction are not precisely drawn everywhere, the distinctions are valid.

Matthew 5:17-20

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

It is forgotten that the audience of this letter would have been an early Jewish-Christian community. These readers have an interpretive background and would have an interpretive grid for understanding the letter. These Jewish Christians probably are lower or Middle-class citizens. The classical interpretation is that Jesus is correcting the people’s understanding of the Old Testament that was corrupted by the Pharisaical traditions. It may not explicitly say that these are Pharisaical traditions, but that ignores what the audience of the sermon on the mount would’ve thought those meant. The other important thing to realize that Jesus in Matthew 5 is communicating with Jews. Take for example what we know about the Pharisees:

By and large, the Pharisees had three major characteristics. First, they represented primarily the middle and lower classes. Second, and perhaps as a consequence of their social status, they were really not Hellenized and seem to have remained primarily Near Eastern in culture. To be sure, they may have adopted Greek words or intellectual approaches, but they viewed as authoritative only what they regarded as the ancient traditions of Israel. Third, they accepted what they termed the “tradition of the Fathers,” nonbiblical laws and customs said to have been passed down through the generations. These teachings supplemented the written Torah and were a part of what the rabbis would later call the oral law. They are said to have been extremely scrupulous in observing the law and to have been expert in its interpretation.
– Lawrence Schiffman “From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple Judaism” (pg. 105)

It would have only naturally followed for these Jews that Jesus would be referring to the Pharisees use of the Old Testament. The audience is made up of Jews still under the Mosaic Covenant and thus are obligated to keep its statutes. The passage lack any reference to the New Covenant. It is good to distinguish the receivers of the narrative and the perspective of those in the narrative.

The chapter opens up with using Moses typology. Moses goes up a mountain and gives his people the Law and this is similar to Jesus that goes up into a hilly terrain and speaks to the issue of the Law.

These parallels between Matt. 5 and Mount Sinai do not seem to be merely accidental. Remember that Matt. 5 is placed immediately after the events in Matt. 1-4 that introduce the themes of fulfillment and the parallels with Israel’s experience of deliverance and testing in the wilderness. Since Matt. 1-4 has already prepared us to expect parallels, we can say with some confidence that Matt. 5 is indeed to be understood as picturing a kind of new giving of the law from a new Mount Sinai. At Mount Sinai the voice of God spoke directly from heaven, and further revelations were mediated through Moses. In Matt. 5 the revelation comes through the voice of Jesus who is both God and the final Moses.

Vern S. Poythress. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses (Kindle Locations 4533-4538). Kindle Edition.

That leaves room to speculate upon the typologies emphasis because it isn’t conclusive. Some think that the typology is to reflect that Jesus is a “New Moses” in order to give a “New Law” and that goes on to be the Laws of the New Covenant. Some think that the Typology is to reflect that Jesus is able to “fulfill” the Law of Moses. Some think that we forget that one mountain isn’t the only one with which Moses is attributed. So, some wonder where the typology really is in reference to whether to the foothills of Horeb or the foothills of Nebo? Some think the beatitudes are referring back to the beatitudes of Moses in Deut 33:1-19(statement of covenantal renewal). The typology won’t be enough in and of itself to show the meaning of the passage.

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The issue with reading this passage in the light of discontinuity is that the chapter and context seem to be set towards continuity. The first verse set abolishment as something against what the author means by saying fulfilled. But most discontinuity readings seem to entail that fulfillment is just abolishment. The meaning of the verse has been debated. Dr. Greg Bahnsen thought pleroo meant to “establish” or “confirm” and thought it should be rendered that way. But that is implausible based on Matthews usage of pleroo:

One major alternative is to interpret “fulfill” as meaning simply “confirm” and nothing more. In such a case it would imply maintaining the law in place, but would not imply any sense of advance or transformation of the law. But there are major objections to this alternative.
1. The Greek word πληρόω does not normally have the sense “confirm.” 8 Though the theological idea of fulfillment implies confirmation, it is richer than mere confirmation. Induction from other instances where the New Testament speaks of fulfilling the Scriptures indicates that the bringing to realization of forward-pointing aspects of Old Testament revelation is in view. 9
2. Literal confirmation of the law, in the sense that every letter of the law still requires the same form of obedience as in Old Testament times, is in tension with what the rest of the New Testament and Matthew as well indicates about changes in the observance of the law (Matt. 5:33-37).10
3. It is difficult under this view to explain why the text uses the Greek word πληρόω (“fulfill”) rather than the words βεβαιόω or ἵστημι (“establish, confirm”), since the latter words would be less confusing.11 The use of πληρόω with the sense “confirm” would be all the more confusing because elsewhere Matthew repeatedly uses this same word πλψρόω as a significant keyword to state his theme that Jesus fulfills the whole Old Testament.12
4. The meaning “fulfill” is more compatible with the One major alternative is to interpret “fulfill” as meaning simply “confirm” and nothing more. In such a case it would imply maintaining the law in place, but would not imply any sense of advance or transformation of the law. But there are major objections to this alternative. 1. The Greek word πληρόω does not normally have the sense “confirm.” 8 Though the theological idea of fulfillment implies confirmation, it is richer than mere confirmation. Induction from other instances where the New Testament speaks of fulfilling the Scriptures indicates that the bringing to realization of forward-pointing aspects of Old Testament revelation is in view. 9 2. Literal confirmation of the law, in the sense that every letter of the law still requires the same form of obedience as in Old Testament times, is in tension with what the rest of the New Testament and Matthew as well indicates about changes in the observance of the law (Matt. 5:33-37).10 3. It is difficult under this view to explain why the text uses the Greek word πληρόω (“fulfill”) rather than the words βεβαιόω or ἵστημι (“establish, confirm”), since the latter words would be less confusing.11 The use of πληρόω with the sense “confirm” would be all the more confusing because elsewhere Matthew repeatedly uses this same word πλψρόω as a significant key word to state his theme that Jesus fulfills the whole Old Testament.12 4. The meaning “fulfill” is more compatible with the breadth of Matthew’s teaching on fulfillment in the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven involves dramatic, spectacular advance over Old Testament religion, as well as building in harmony with it.

Vern S. Poythress. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses

Most commentators think that the meaning of pleroo is that the Law and Prophets are eschatologically fulfilled. This is the position of most commentators from the way the word is used in Matthean usage and in the LXX. This is to say that the Law and the Prophets are pointed, was completed, and find their culmination in Christ. Dr. Dale Allison (Sermon on the Mount, 59.) explains this as:

Matthew usually uses the verb in question (“ fulfill”) with reference to prophetic fulfillment (1: 22; 4: 14; 12: 17; etc.) and because our sentence refers not just to the Law but also to the Prophets. So Jesus’ new teaching brings to realization that which the Torah prophesied. And that realization does not set the Law and Prophets aside. Fulfillment rather confirms the Torah’s truth.

This is taken even farther by commentator D. A. Carson. He argues that Jesus’ ethical teachings fulfill the OT law by his teachings. Carson believes we are no longer under the law since John, but that it has some continuing authority. Dr. Greg Welty critiques Dr. Carson on his interpretation:

Thus, it appears that Carson’s proposed meaning for pleroo in Mt 5:17, vital to his subsequent interpretation of the antitheses, is without parallel to any other usage of pleroo in the NT (including Matthew’s)! Exegetically, the notion that laws pleroo laws appears to be a total innovation on Carson’s part, for the very concept is foreign to the NT. If, with respect to Carson’s argument for the basic eschatological sense of pleroo, “the lack of background for pleroo (‘fulfill’) as far as it applies to Scripture requires cautious induction from the NT evidence,” then surely Carson should have been equally cautious with respect to his extension of that eschatological meaning to include ethical teaching, given the total lack of Scriptural evidence supporting that extension! Indeed, I reject Carson’s extension of the meaning of pleroo for the same reason I accept Carson’s argument for the basic eschatological meaning of pleroo: the quality and amount of the NT evidence. … In rounding off his exposition of v. 17, Carson makes a number of confusing applications of his view of the pleroo of v. 17, which I want to briefly consider. First, he says that, “As in Luke 16:16-17, Jesus is not announcing the termination of the OT’s relevance and authority (else Luke 16:17 would be incomprehensible), but that ‘the period during which men were related to God under its terms ceased with John’ (Moo, ‘Jesus,’ p. 1); and the nature of its valid continuity is established only with reference to Jesus and the kingdom.”
It’s hard (for me at least) to know what Carson thinks here. On the one hand he assures us that “Jesus is not announcing the termination of the OT’s relevance and authority.” But on the other hand he says (following Moo) that “the period during which men were related to God under its terms ceased with John.” I find it difficult to understand how the authority can continue when men are no longer “under its terms.” How does it possess authority apart from the continuing relevance of at least some of its terms? Isn’t being under something’s terms precisely what we mean by being under its authority?

Eschatological Fulfilment and the Confirmation of Mosaic Law (A Response to D. A. Carson and Fred Zaspel on Matthew 5:17-48)- Dr. Greg Welty

It is important to remember that Jesus is speaking to OT Jews and that the common charge of the Jews was antinomianism. So, it would be a bit odd if Jesus concedes the charge here.

Other Jewish people consequently charged the early Christians with antinomianism (cf. Justin Dial. 10; b. Shab. 31a; Ex. Rab. 47:1); thus Jesus’ words in 5:17-20 would provide reassurance to Jewish Christians locked in polemic with synagogue leaders. Many commentators note here that Jesus comes not to abolish the law, but to expound its true sense, to fulfill its spirit. …
Matthew declares that nothing will pass from the law ” until all is accomplished ” (5:18), meaning until the consummation of the kingdom, when heaven and earth pass away (24:34-35; cf. Jer 31:35-37; Ps-Philo 11:5; Sib. Or. 3:570-72). The idea that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the ” goal of the world, ” thus allowing the law to be set aside as fulfilled,55 violates the whole thrust of the passage (Mohrlang 1984: 8); Overman 1996: 77 rightly calls ” such hermeneutical gymnastics … excessive .. . tortured ” and ” contrived. ” And though the passage fits Matthew’s Jewish Christian theology quite well, it is clearly dominical teaching; though perhaps limiting its force for his Gentile audience by other means, Luke preserves the saying intact (Lk 16:17; Vermes 1993: 19).

Craig S. Keener. A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Kindle Locations 5452-5480). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

The other argument is to say that the Old Testament didn’t focus on the heart, but rather focuses on the external actions. That this one of the distinctive to the New covenant compared to the Old. Notice the proponent who objects to my reading this as a correcting of Pharisaic traditions of the OT law as eisegesis read the New Covenant into the passage. The other issue is the Old Testament did deal with the heart( Deut. 6:6, 10:16, 30:6-14, Lev 26:41, 1 Sam. 15:22, Ps. 37:31, 40:8, 119:11, Jer 4:4, 9:24-25, 31:33, Ezk 36:26-27, 44:7) and not merely external actions.

Another feature of the passage is that it lacks anything resembling a law code. It is more about social situations instead of being a law code. So, it makes me rather skeptical that that was the focus of the typology previously discussed. It is slightly poetic as it paints many paintings with its words. This I suspect isn’t God giving us a formal law code. As Dr. Dale Allison states in “The Sermon on the Mount. Inspiring the Moral Imagination” (pg. 11)

One must reckon seriously with the fact that the Sermon on the Mount is partly a poetic text. By this is meant that it is, unlike codes of law, dramatic and pictorial. The reader sees a man offering a sacrifice in Jerusalem (5:23), someone in prison (5:25-26), a body without eye and hand (5:29-30), someone being slapped (5:39), sun rising (5:45), the rain falling (5:45), someone praying in a closet (6:6), lilies in a field (6:28), a log in an eye (7:4), wolves in sheep’s clothing (7:15). These images and the comments upon them hardly add up to anything that can be called legislation_ The Sermon does not offer a set of rules-the ruling on divorce is the exception-but rather seeks to instill a moral vision. Litera! (mis)interpretation accordingly leads to absurdities.

The Beatitudes reflect not a break with the Old Testament but rather it seems to bring up Old Testament concepts. Jesus is alluding to the prophets to get his statements:

“Comfort, comfort my people” (Isa 40: 1) is God’s response. These first two beatitudes deliberately allude to the messianic blessing of Isaiah 61: 1– 3 (see Lk 4: 16– 19; cf. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, 134– 35), confirming them as eschatological and messianic. The Messiah comes to bestow “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa 61:3). But these blessings, already realized partially but fully only at the consummation (Rev 7: 17), depend on a Messiah who comes to save his people from their sins (1: 21; cf. 11: 28– 30). Those who claim to experience all its joys without tears mistake the nature of the kingdom.

Carson, D. A.; Carson, D. A.. Matthew (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 6182-6187). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The other connection of us being “peacemakers” is found in the Old Testament as well (Ps. 34:14; 37: 35-38; 120: 1-7; Isa. 52:7, and Prov. 10:10; 12:20). The antithesis reveals Jesus is challenging the authority of the Pharisees. The Pharisees would appeal to the authority of Rabbi’s of the past in order to establish their argument. Jesus states that he says these things on his own accord. Jesus in verse 18 continues to build on his prior statement:

Second, Jesus illustrates the eternality of God’s law with a popular storyline from contemporary Jewish teachers (5:18). Although the prophets had already affirmed the immutability of God’s word (Is 40:8; Zech 1:5-6), Jesus here underlines this point in a graphic, hyperbolic manner (5:18; cf. 24:34-35). Jesus’ ” letter ” (NRSV), ” smallest letter ” (NIV) or ” jot ” (KJV) undoubtedly refers to the Hebrew letter yodh (Manson 1979: 154; Vermes 1993: 19-20n.l 1), which Jewish teachers said would not pass from the law. They said that when Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah, the yodh removed from her name cried out from one generation to another, protesting its removal from Scripture, until finally, when Moses changed Oshea’s name to Joshua, the yodh was returned to Scripture. ” So you see, ” the teachers would say, ” not even this smallest letter can pass from the Bible ” (b. Sanh. 107ab; p. Sanh. 2:6, §2; Gen. Rab. 47:1; Lev. Rab. 19:2; Num. Rab. 18:21; Song Rab. 5:11, §§3-4). Likewise, sages declared that when Solomon threatened to uproot a yodh from the law, God responded that he would uproot a thousand Solomons rather than a word of his law (p. Sanh. 2:6, §2; cf. Ex. Rab. 6:1).54 Jesus makes the same point from this tradition that later rabbis did: even the smallest details of God’s law are essential (cf. Barth 1963: 65). Matthew declares that nothing will pass from the law ” until all is accomplished ” (5:18), meaning until the consummation of the kingdom, when heaven and earth pass away (24:34-35; cf. Jer 31:35-37; Ps-Philo 11:5; Sib. Or. 3:570-72). The idea that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the ” goal of the world, ” thus allowing the law to be set aside as fulfilled,55 violates the whole thrust of the passage

Craig S. Keener. A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Kindle Locations 5464-5475). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

The Isaianic background continues to bolster the case for the continuing authoeity of the Law. Dr. Andrew Fulford has unpacked that in his work:

The Isaianic background to the Sermon noted above provides further support for Welty’s argument. For Isaiah depicts a future for the Law, with two aspects. Firstly in Isa. 21: 1-4:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. The Law shall go forth and discipline the rule the nations. Yet at the same time, in the future, God will not treat some individuals exactly the same as he did in the Mosaic system (Isa. 56: 3-5): Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Fulford, Andrew. Jesus and Pacifism: An Exegetical and Historical Investigation (Davenant Guides Book 1) (Kindle Locations 646-681). The Davenant Press. Kindle Edition.

Romans 6:14-7:1-6

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Most miss the point of Romans 5 plays a significant role in interpreting chapter 6 and 7 because it deals with the issue of Orginal Sin. The issue is that Romans 5 isn’t about Orginal Sin it is about Christ that features a mentioning of Orginal Sin. It is about the accomplishment of Christ, but chapter 6 starts off with a question that follows from what Paul pointed out in the prior chapter that he labored to unpack the previous chapters. In verse 20 Paul states “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”. So, should we sin so more grace can increase? The answer of Paul is “May it never be!”. He goes on to use baptism to show how we are dead to sin and that it has no power over us. These objections come up on the end of Paul explaining the results of his doctrine of justification by faith alone. The Law has no condemning power over the Christian because Christ has done what we couldn’t do because of the weakness of our flesh. Paul then argues the Law isn’t sin but rather “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”(verse 12). In chapter 8 it shows how God has changed us to walk in his statutes.

Ephesians 2:13-15

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

The first issue with reading this as Jesus abolishing the OT law in entirety is that is the very thing he has denied doing in Matthew 5. The contradiction should allow us to reject the understanding of the passage. The other issue is that another interpretation is plausible according to other scholars. The Law here stands for “Jewish boundary markers” or laws that separated the Jews from the Gentiles that gave the Jews(in their minds) ethnic superiority to that of the Gentiles.

τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας (ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin katargēsas), “by invalidating the law of commandments in its ordinances.” While Paul does not specify it here, it is clear that the commandments Christ “invalidated” are those that kept Jew and Gentile apart—the teachings on purity and separation (cf. Col 2:14).416 These particular commandments were tied to Israel’s theocracy and were part of that typological purity legislation that led God to command Israel to exterminate the Canaanites from the holy land in preliminary judgment.417 This whole body of “legislation” or “ordinances,” the referent of δόγμα (dogma) here, was invalidated by Christ as part of his work of new creation.418 ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην (hina tous dyo ktisē en autō eis hena kainon anthrōpon poiōn eirēnēn), “in order that he might create the two in himself into one new human race by making peace.” Christ invalidated the typological separation regulations both by fulfilling them and by removing believers from the law’s condemnation (see Matt 5:17; Rom 8:1; Heb 9:11–14; 10:1–10). The result is a “new man,” i.e., a new human race. Paul could have said, “new people” (καινοὶ ἄνθρωποι, kainoi anthrōpoi; or καινὸς λαός, kainos laos), but the focus here is on a new human race that is unified as “one new man.”419 This “single new man” is the bride of Christ (e.g., 5:23–32; 2 Cor 11:2), created out of both Jews and Gentiles who were formerly dead (vv. 1, 5) and at war with each other (v. 16; cf. Barth, 309–10). The new creation “man” is both corporate and individual as the church as “one person” (εἷς, heis; Gal 3:28) has been created anew in Christ in one body on the cross (again v. 16 and on 4:22–24), while individual believers experience this corporate reality in the church spanning regeneration (above 1:13–14) to resurrection (Phil 3:21) through renewal day by day (2 Cor 4:16) from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18).

Steven M. Baugh. Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Kindle Locations 6303-6324). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

1 Cor. 9:21 and Galatians 6:2

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is teaching about what he does so that people hear the Gospel message. In the ancient world, a slave would accept the religion of his master. Paul isn’t saying that but rather that he does these traditions in order to win people to Christ. It is a metaphor for him willing to subject himself to these people’s cultural thoughts in order to bring them salvation. He adapts to his cultures and context in order to bring them the Gospel. These are in fact practiced in Acts 16:1–3 and 21:20–26. The “Christ’s law” refers not to a new set of demands but rather it refers to the commands of Christ. Even commentators that reject my thoughts on the Law grant that:

He is not bound by the law of Moses but is bound to obey God as one living under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Fee explains, “This does not mean that in Christ a new set of laws has taken the place of the old, although in terms of specifics it would certainly refer to those kinds of ethical demands given, for example, in Rom. 12 and Gal. 5–6.”

Ciampa, R. E., & Rosner, B. S. (2010). The First Letter to the Corinthians (p. 428). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

The idea is rather we aren’t identified with being Jew or Greeks. We aren’t to be divided but our societal structures but we are to be identified as being in Christ. Paul is fine with doing the ceremonies of the Jewish culture. Holding on to their ancestral conditions as long as they don’t cause him to sin. Reformed Christians don’t believe that these laws are able to save. So, perspective is about the Jewish perspective about the law and not that of the reformed Christian. Commentators carry that this is the same thought in Galatians 6:2, for example, Leon Morris said in his commentary (pg. 179):

The law of Christ is an unusual expression(found here only in the New Testament, though cf. Rom. 3:27;8:2; 1 Cor. 9:21). The article with Christ perhaps adds a touch formality, as it directs attention to the messianic function of Jesus. We generally associate grace and forgiveness with Christ, but we must never forget that he demanded wholeheartedness in those who followed him. He called on any who wanted to be his disciples to take up their cross if they would follow him. This is not a law in the sense of part of a legal code, but it points to the necessity for lowly service if we truly be followers of Jesus(cf. the demand for the washing of other people’s feet, Jn. 13:34).

We know that Christ is the Christ of the Old and New Testaments. He gave those Old Testament laws and he showed that they have bearing on how we are to live our lives as well. The two verses about the law of Christ are not going to give us all the moral contents of the Bible in themselves. The simple implication is that we should obey Christ. But God the Son along with the Father and the Spirit is the author of the entire Old Testament. God has ordained all of history to reveal to us his will. Filling the Old Testaments with typological symbols to point us to that which was to come.

If Paul understands the moral core of the law to continue to bind believers under the New Covenant, then how are we to understand such phrases as “the law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:21, Gal 6:2), and “the commandments of God” (1 Cor 7:19)? Rosner sees both such phrases as indications that Paul has indeed replaced the Mosaic law with a “substitute,” namely “the law of Christ/faith/the Spirit” (p.120; cf. p.42). But surely the fact that Paul has retained the term “law” should give us pause. Paul’s point is not that one body of legislation has been replaced with another standard, whether following “Christ’s example” (p.117) or “living under Christ’s lordship” (p.119). Paul’s point is that the law, in its concrete Mosaic form, has undergone redemptive-historical transformation in light of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Ridderbos addresses the point most comprehensively:
[I]f one asks himself what the material content is of the expression ‘bound to the law of Christ’ (1 Cor 9:21), the answer will lie in the fact that Christ suo modo represents the law of God and thus the law of Moses. Not only does Christ by his Spirit bring about a new bond to the law in the hearts of believers, whereby the law retains its force as the expression of the will of God in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33; cf. 2 Cor. 3:3), but Christ also represents the new standard of judgment as to what “has had its day” in the law and what has abiding validity (Col. 2:17). Finally, one should point out the interpretation of the law given by Christ, to which Paul appeals in more than one place (cf. 1 Cor 7:10ff.), which determines the expression of Galatians 6:2 as well … There can thus be no doubt whatever that the category of the law has not been abrogated with Christ’s advent, but rather has been maintained and interpreted in its radical sense (“fulfill”; Matt. 5:17); on the other hand, that the church no longer has to do with the law in any other way that in Christ and thus is ennomos Christou (Paul, p.285).

Dr. Guy Waters – Paul and the Law

Hebrews 7:12

For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

The law has been changed because of the historical redemptive acts of Christ. This is how Christ has affected the Law by becoming of High Preist. The author of the letter to the Hebrews maps out the changes that have occurred because of the acts of Christ.

Next, the priesthood. According to Heb. 7:1-8:6 the Aaronic priesthood by its imperfection showed the need for a new and greater priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. Christ has now become a high “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (5:6). …
Next, the law. Heb. 8:5-13 and 10:15-18 draw a connection between the “new covenant,” enjoyed by Christians, and the Mosaic covenant of Heb. 8:9. The Mosaic covenant includes all the elements just listed above, but prominently among them it includes law. In the new covenant, “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts” (Heb. 8:10). “My laws” in this verse refers back to the laws of the Mosaic covenant, which had been violated by Israel (8:9). The new covenant thus continues the standards of righteousness of the Mosaic covenant. Yet radical transformation is also in view. The first covenant as a whole, with tabernacle, sacrifices, priesthood, land, and law, is “obsolete” and “will soon disappear” (8:13; cf. 7:12, 18-19). Hebrews does not go into detail about what results from this transformation of law. But we see hints of the implications not only in the radical alteration of the total institution of priesthood (7:18-19) but in sacrifices (13:15-16), food regulations (13:9), and promised land (13:14; 11:10, 16; 12:22-29). The transformation does not mean lawlessness, but love (13:1-6) and obedience to authority (13:17). At the heart of obedience is the constancy of Christ’s righteousness and love (13:8).

Vern S. Poythress. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses (Kindle Locations 2161-2179). Kindle Edition.

Romans 2:13-15
14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Another Translation from Dr. Colin Kruse:
For when Gentiles who by nature [as Gentiles] do not have the law do what the law requires, these, though not having [the] law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences confirming [what the law says] and their thoughts among themselves accusing or even excusing on the day when God judges men’s secrets according to my gospel through Jesus Christ.

This is a debated passage as to whether it refers to the Pagan Gentiles or Christian Gentiles. I prefer the Christian Gentile interpretation. That Paul is scalding the Jews by showing them how they are not doing the Law but Christian Gentiles have(by being in Christ). Thomas Schreiner defends this interpretation. The phrase “by nature” could modify the statement about the Jews not having the Law as some commentators state:

The γάρ (“for”) of v. 14* indicates an argumentative connection with the foregoing thesis concerning the impartial judgment of God in v. 11*.204 It is significant that Paul refers here to ἔθνη (“Gentiles”) without the article, implying that some but not all Gentiles are in view. The expression τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα (“those that do not have the law”) refers to the absence of the Jewish Torah within the cultural tradition of Gentiles, whereby the word φύσις should be taken as qualifying their identity rather than their behavior.207 It refers to Gentiles whose birthright lacked exposure to the Torah. Yet they do the “deeds of the law,” a claim that in the experience of the Roman audience could only have referred to converted Gentiles.

Jewett, R., & Kotansky, R. D. (2006). Romans: A commentary. (E. J. Epp, Ed.) (pp. 211–218). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

These verses present the interpreter with several problems. First, the NIV’s translation, ‘Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law’, is open to question. What is the significance of ‘by nature’ in this clause? Does it qualify the verb ‘do’, thus yielding a translation like that of the NIV: ‘Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law’. Or does it qualify ‘Gentiles’, thus yielding a translation like ‘Gentiles, who by nature do not have the law, do the things required by the law’. There are good reasons for adopting the latter option, including the fact that when Paul uses ‘by nature’ elsewhere it always qualifies a state of being, never an action, and the fact that in 2:12 he speaks of those ‘who sin apart from the law’ (Gentiles) perishing ‘apart from the law’ and so characterizing the Gentiles as those who do not have the law by virtue of being Gentiles. In 2:14, then, it is better to see ‘by nature’ qualifying what the Gentiles are (those who do not have the law) than what they do (the things required by the law). So Paul’s point is that these Gentiles who, as Gentiles, do not have the privilege of possessing the law nevertheless do what the law requires.

Kruse, C. G. (2012). Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (D. A. Carson, Ed.) (p. 131). Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos.

The other issue discussed is what the referent is for the statement “work of the law is written on their hearts”. Before we move on to that we should look at the text where it says that these gentiles “do what the law requires”. The common idea is that through this innate law of conscience man does some good things(clearly it isn’t about doing the entire law). The issue is the language in Romans 2 doesn’t represent merely some or a few laws but the law comprehensively. As Kruse states:

However, Gathercole rightly points out that while the scope of the phrase ‘the things of’ is general in its NT usage, it is also nearly always inclusive and comprehensive in meaning. Thus, for example, the contrast between ‘the concerns [lit. ‘things’] of God’ and ‘the concerns [lit. ‘things’] of men’ referred to in Matthew 16:23/Mark 8:33 is comprehensive in meaning. Even when a contrast is not implied Paul uses such phrases in a comprehensive way (cf. 14:19; 1 Cor. 13:11; 2 Cor. 11:30). There is, then, nothing to suggest that the meaning of ‘the things required by the law’ is anything but comprehensive here in 2:14, and that it therefore should be understood to denote generally the demands of the Mosaic law.

Kruse, C. G. (2012). Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (D. A. Carson, Ed.) (p. 131). Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos.

The last thing is this ‘work of the law’ that is on the hearts of Gentiles has clear overtone to the promise in the prophets that God would put his Law on the Hearts of his people:

Jeremiah 31:33
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Ezekiel 36:26-27
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Isaiah 51:7
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings.”

Romans 8:3-4
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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The Lahren Challenge

Tomi Lahren recently made some statements on abortion that riled up conservatives. That isn’t surprising as I’ve called her a RINO in the past and when I hear people speak about her. She is a dim-witted blonde struggling to keep up with the politics of today clinging on to the political controversy to stay relevant. She is also an abortionist because she believes women have the right to an abortion. So, are people against Roe vs. Wade because they are religious zealots? Should conservatives dodge using the court as their religious laws?

She, like a lot of conservatives, are always two steps behind their democratic opponents. Do the Democrats care that much about misusing the Supreme Court to achieve their goals? This is why Democrats achieve their ends by jamming their policy through. They don’t care about “Rule of Law”. Secondly, nobody is arguing to create a state church but that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to let our religious views affect our political judgments. Third, why suppose that the Constitution is obligatory but my religious viewpoint isn’t?


Dear Pro-Aborts, Please Stop Pushing Your Religion On Us

The challenge to fake conservatives is to show where the Constitution speaks to the issue of Abortion. Most recognize that search is vain and requires reading feminist delusions back onto the Constitution. But I thought Lahren was all about the Constitution? The point is that we cannot reduce personhood to that of the whim of the state. Do states have the right to declare African Americans aren’t human now? So, this is an issue of the Federal Government. I cannot see how the outlooks can both survive without serious conflict. If the conservatives are right, then the liberals are murderers of children on the level of genocide. If the liberals are right, then conservatives are forcing arbitrary false convictions on the others.

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Parsing Revelational Epistemology

Presuppositionalists tend to state that they hold to something called “Revelational Epistemology”. But what does that mean? What does that entail? In order to answer those questions, we will have to enter into modern philosophical debates to answer them. Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It deals with what constitutes(or what is the content) of our knowledge, the justification of our knowledge, and the structure of our knowledge.

The Content of Knowledge:

This is to ask for what makes up our knowledge? Do we know things because of our senses? Because of our reason? How do we acquire knowledge? The Christian recognizes that we have many different kinds of knowledge. Let’s take the basic categories of Sense perception, introspection, memory, Reason, and Testimony. We know certain things through our senses and our reason. That is only to say that we acquire knowledge through the senses and through our reason but not only through them(reductionism). I’ll be quoting the definitions for these faculties from the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Epistemology.

1. Sense Perception:

Our perceptual faculties are our five senses: sight, touch, hearing, smelling, and tasting. We must distinguish between an experience that can be classified as perceiving that p (for example, seeing that there is coffee in the cup and tasting that it is sweet), which entails that p is true, and a perceptual experience in which it seems to us as though p, but where p might be false. Let us refer to this latter kind of experience as perceptual seemings. The reason for making this distinction lies in the fact that perceptual experience is fallible. The world is not always as it appears to us in our perceptual experiences. We need, therefore, a way of referring to perceptual experiences in which p seems to be the case that allows for the possibility of p being false. That’s the role assigned to perceptual seemings. So some perceptual seemings that p are cases of perceiving that p, others are not. When it looks to you as though there is a cup of coffee on the table and in fact there is, the two states coincide. If, however, you hallucinate that there is a cup on the table, you have perceptual seeming that p without perceiving that p.

The Christian recognizes the use of empirical knowledge in our lives. Many prescriptions of God require empirical knowledge in order to be useful. Some Clarkians don’t get that but suppose I asked you a question. How do you know your wife isn’t a man? It helps to have empirical verification for such things. The Christian has a good grounding for sense perception. I cover that elsewhere:

A start for a philosophy of Christian science: Part 10

2. Reason:

Some beliefs would appear to be justified solely by the use of reason. Justification of that kind is said to be a priori: prior to any kind of experience. A standard way of defining a priori justification goes as follows:
A Priori Justification
S is justified a priori in believing that p if and only if S’s justification for believing that p does not depend on any experience.
Beliefs that are true and justified in this way (and not somehow “gettiered”) would count as instances of a priori knowledge.[50]
What exactly counts as experience? If by ‘experience’ we mean just perceptual experiences, justification deriving from introspective or memorial experiences would count as a priori. For example, I could then know a priori that I’m thirsty, or what I ate for breakfast this morning. While the term ‘a priori’ is sometimes used in this way, the strict use of the term restricts a priori justification to justification derived solely from the use of reason. According to this usage, the word ‘experiences’ in the definition above includes perceptual, introspective, and memorial experiences alike. On this narrower understanding, paradigm examples of what I can know on the basis of a priori justification are conceptual truths (such as “All bachelors are unmarried”), and truths of mathematics, geometry and logic.
Justification and knowledge that is not a priori is called ‘a posteriori’ or ‘empirical’. For example, in the narrow sense of ‘a priori’, whether I’m thirsty or not is something I know empirically (on the basis of introspective experiences), whereas I know a priori that 12 divided by 3 is 4.

God has made our mind and rational faculties to be able to do such abstract thinking. The issue is when you make it ultimate in your worldview as the rationalist did:

The Continental Rationalist

3. Introspection:

Introspection is the capacity to inspect the, metaphorically speaking, “inside” of one’s mind. Through introspection, one knows what mental states one is in: whether one is thirsty, tired, excited, or depressed. Compared with perception, introspection appears to have a special status.

I think it is naively thought that this is an infallible mechanism for truth. That I have a self-awareness that cannot be wrong is naive. Whether it be a person messing with your mind or your own self-deception that is occurring. This faculty is unique because it comes from our first-person viewpoint that we have that no other human could have. Further input on self-deception:

The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics

The Noetic Affects and Effects of Sin and Grace

4. Memory:

Memory is the capacity to retain knowledge acquired in the past. What one remembers, though, need not be a past event. It may be a present fact, such as one’s telephone number, or a future event, such as the date of the next elections. Memory is, of course, fallible. Not every instance of taking oneself to remember that p is an instance of actually remembering that p. We should distinguish, therefore, between remembering that p (which entails the truth of p) and seeming to remember that p (which does not entail the truth of p).

The memory is an important faculty and I hope you don’t forget that. God has made us to remember his words and to apply it to our life.

5. Testimony:

Testimony differs from the sources we considered above because it isn’t distinguished by having its own cognitive faculty. Rather, to acquire knowledge of p through testimony is to come to know that p on the basis of someone’s saying that p. “Saying that p” must be understood broadly, as including ordinary utterances in daily life, postings by bloggers on their web-logs, articles by journalists, delivery of information on television, radio, tapes, books, and other media. So, when you ask the person next to you what time it is, and she tells you, and you thereby come to know what time it is, that’s an example of coming to know something on the basis of testimony. And when you learn by reading the Washington Post that the terrorist attack in Sharm el-Sheikh of July 22, 2005 killed at least 88 people, that, too, is an example of acquiring knowledge on the basis of testimony.

We have knowledge of many issues from testimony. We trust many sources for information we could never acquire. Those often come from Doctors and Scholars. In virtue of their testimony, we may know things like a man murdered another or in various historical studies of the ancient world relies on testimony. This ties into Revelation which itself is a testimony from God.

What is Knowledge?

Knowledge has been clasically defined as Justified True Belief but like everything in philosophy it has been challenged. This definition comes from Plato but it has been challenged by Edmund Gettier. These are called “Gettier cases” in which someone has warrant or justification for a belief, but it turned out that what they had justification was faulty but as a matter of luck it turns out being true. This usually is followed through by multiple examples. Suppose we were on a bench and a white dog was on a hill in the distance and behind this white dog was a sheep. You begin to think that a sheep is on that hill because you saw the dog. So, you seem justified in your belief and it is true. But did you really know that a sheep was on the hill? The easiest way to deal with the Gettier problem is to deny that epistemic luck ever grants sufficient justification for the claim being claimed by the proponent cases of Gettier problem.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Gettier Cases

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Epistemology (What is Knowledge?)

The Gettier Problem

Types of Knowledge:

We often discuss three kinds of knowledge. Those being Propositional Knowledge, Procedural Knowledge (Know-how), and Knowledge by Acquaintance. Propositional knowledge is the knowledge of a truth “I know that Paris is the capital of France”. Procedural “Know-how” knowledge is to know how to do something “I know how to start a fire”. Knowledge by Acquaintance is to know persons or of objects “I know Dave”. Further reading:

Dr. Vern Poythress- Redeeming Philosophy(pg. 205-207)

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Epistemology-Types of Knowledge

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Knowledge How

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy- Knowledge by Acquaintance vs. Description

IEP- Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description

Inferential or Non-inferential:

We purport to know things, but do we have to go through a chain of reasoning to know everything or do we know things immediately? Do we know God through an inferential chain or Non-inferentially? We know things like the sensation of pain though non-inferential means or seeing an object. While we know other things through inferential knowledge. The Revelational Epistemologist knows God non-inferentially. This is stated here:

Knowledge of God

Blank Slate or Innate knowledge:

This idea goes back to John Locke’s idea of the Tabula Rasa. Reformed Christians have taught that knowledge of God is innate. That we have innate categories given by God to understand and organize the facts of this world. The rejection of that notion makes the human mind unable to process knowledge. Steve Hays wrote in an article entitles “Why you can’t use logic to prove God” this:

But that can’t be the basis of knowledge all the way down. You can’t derive a concept of numbers from observing physical objects, for unless you already have numerical concepts to work with, you can’t group physical objects numerically. Numbering objects requires a numerical preconception. You can’t bootstrap logical or mathematical knowledge from sensory perception. You can’t group five apples by number unless you recognize that they comprise five apples, and you’re not going to arrive at that classification by staring at some apples with a blank slate mind. It takes knowledge to learn. It takes some prior knowledge to acquire additional knowledge. An initially empty mind has no frame of reference to evaluate sensory input. The mind of the percipient must have a logical structure which enables it to organize or reorganize sensory input. An inbuilt classification-system.

Doxastic voluntarism and Doxastic involuntarism:

The issue of Doxastic voluntarism is whether we choose what we believe or not. I think we choose to believe certain things and we don’t choose to believe other things. Suppose that I said, “I believe the Ravens are the best football team”. It doesn’t seem that I couldn’t have chosen the Eagles or some other team. Suppose you hit me with your fist to my face. I don’t get to choose whether I’m in pain or not.

Doxastic Voluntarism

Knowledge as ethical:

Epistemology is an inherently normative area of inquiry. While we think of norms as that directing us to right action. Epistemology has norms that direct us to right thinking. Christianity can account for the normativity it takes to have an epistemology. Dr. James Anderson unpacks these thoughts:

So a third ingredient is needed for knowledge, an ingredient commonly labeled ‘justification’ or ‘warrant’. (For consistency’s sake, I will hereafter use the term ‘warrant’ to refer to this third ingredient.) Contemporary epistemologists have vigorously debated precisely what constitutes ‘warrant’, but fortunately there is no need to take sides in these debates in order to defend the point I want to make here. For there is a common intuition behind all analyses of warrant to the effect that a true belief must be formed or held in the right way, or in an appropriate way, in order to count as knowledge. A warranted belief cannot be formed or held in just any old fashion. There are right or appropriate ways and there are wrong or inappropriate ways. As an example, suppose I come to believe that it is raining outside; suppose further that it is, in fact, raining outside. If this belief is formed on the basis of perception (e.g., I can see and hear the rain through an open window), then the belief is very likely warranted; but if this belief is formed on the basis of a superstitious conviction that it always rains on the days I forget to bring my umbrella, then the belief will not be warranted. The difference is that in the former case the belief is formed in a fitting or appropriate manner, while in the latter case it is not.
Careful reflection on the concept of knowledge in general, and on paradigm cases of knowledge, make it clear that this notion of ‘epistemic rightness’ or ‘epistemic appropriateness’ is an essential feature of knowledge. But observe that this notion is clearly a normative one: it pertains to how beliefs ought to be formed or held (in order to count as knowledge), rather than how beliefs are formed or held. It is not a descriptive notion, but a prescriptive one. It implies that there are epistemic norms which determine (in part) whether or not one’s belief that p is actually knowledge that p.
That the concept of knowledge has an essentially normative aspect, and thus there are such things as epistemic norms (if there is such a thing as knowledge), is a point widely recognised by contemporary epistemologists. For example, Jaegwon Kim writes:
[Epistemic] justification manifestly is normative. If a belief is justified for us, then it is permissible and reasonable, from the epistemic point of view, for us to hold it, and it would be epistemically irresponsible to hold beliefs that contradict it. . . . Epistemology is a normative discipline as much as, and in the same sense as, normative ethics. (Kim, 1988, p. 383, emphasis original)

These ideas are found here:

The Theistic Preconditions of Knowledge: A Thumbnail Sketch

If Knowledge, then God.

Absolute Personality

The Justification of our Knowledge:

The issue of justification is what is a major topic in philosophical circles. Where is the source of justification? What kinds of justification can we have?

Internalism and Externalism:

Here are standard definitions of the terms:

1. Internalism-
Roughly, an internalist is one who holds that the sole factors that justify a belief are “internal” or “cognitively accessible” to the believing agent or subject. These factors are various mental states (experiences, sensations, thoughts, beliefs) to which the agent himself has direct access by simply reflecting on or being aware of his own states of consciousness. Justification is grounded in what is internal to the mind of and directly accessible to the believing subject. They are factors the subject can be aware of by simply reflecting upon himself. For example, Ashley’s having a red sensation confers some justification on the belief that there is a red object in front of her and the red sensation itself is internal to her—it is a state of consciousness to which she has direct access. An externalist is one who denies internalism, that is,who affirms that among the factors that justify a belief are those to which the believing subject does not have or does not need to have cognitive access. For example, an externalist could hold that among the things that justify a belief is the causal process that caused the belief to be formed—light waves reflecting off of objects and interacting with the eyes and optic nerve in the right way—even though this causal process is entirely outside of the subject’s awareness. So far, internalism was defined as the view that the sole justifying factors of a belief are those internal to the subject. And this is, indeed, the standard way of defining internalism. However, it is possible to make a distinction between strong and weak internalism.

James Porter Moreland; William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Kindle Locations 1870-1881). Intervarsity Press – A. Kindle Edition.

An externalist is one who denies internalism, that is, who affirms that among the factors that justify a belief are those to which the believing subject does not have or does not need to have cognitive access. For example, an externalist could hold that among the things that justify a belief is the causal process that caused the belief to be formed—light waves reflecting off of objects and interacting with the eyes and optic nerve in the right way—even though this causal process is entirely outside of the subject’s awareness.

James Porter Moreland; William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Kindle Locations 1875-1879). Intervarsity Press – A. Kindle Edition.

Doxastic vs Nondoxastic theories

Revelational epistemology is contrary to internalism. Man’s mind is not the sole source of the justification for a claim. Jimmy Stephens argued that here:

Internalism and Humanity

The clever opponent objects that the revelational epistemologist can’t escape his own objection to internalism. They presume that how could we know the revelation of God through the corrupt human mind? This is known as the “Bottlenecking objection”. The issue I think is threefold: It assumes that the mind plays a part in the justification that God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility, but the mind only in the externalist scheme that the revelational epistemologist is presenting provides the belief to which God is the sole justifying agent. This is where the second problem arises of not looking at Christianity as Holistic. It doesn’t leave man on his own but all the other things are true in the Christian view that is being left out. The last issue is that the objection would necessitate fallibilism. We will see the problems with that in a moment.

Infallibilism and Fallibilism:

Fallibilism is the epistemological thesis that no belief (theory, view, thesis, and so on) can ever be rationally supported or justified in a conclusive way. The issue with fallibilism is whether fallibilism can ever be rationally supported or justified in a conclusive way. If it can, then it is false. If it can’t, then we have then we have conclusive knowledge that we can’t.

We believe that God caused beliefs are infallible and that the scriptures give us an infallible warrant. Other beliefs are fallible and could be mistaken. The memory of milk in my fridge is not the same belief that God created the heavens and earth.

The Structure of our Knowledge:

This is about how all our beliefs are interrelated with one another. Some think we start with foundational beliefs and infer to non-foundational beliefs. Some think beliefs are justified if they cohere with a set of beliefs.

Coherentism and Foundationalism:

Are we coherentist or foundationalist? I suppose we are closer to coherentist, but we wouldn’t maintain that a belief is solely justified by it’s relationship to another belief. I also suppose that we don’t start with all beliefs being the same. Some beliefs are of different importance. We have God as our ultimate authority and we have ourselves are proximate starting points.

Van Til and Common Grace

“Start with”


Standford- Epistemology

Coherentism in Epistemology

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Presuppositionalism and Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutics

Recently I was on the atheist brain-cell killing zone of “Friends of The Bible & Beer Consortium”. The group attracts all the village atheist to leave their intelligence behind and set up shop in a Facebook group. The exchange I had was between Randall Theo(a troll) and Ty Wilson. Neither of them has a view of their own and can’t answer basic questions of their own worldview. But in the middle of their profound ignorance they asked a question that pops up from time to time:

TheSire said:
Randall, how do you account for laws of logic, objective moral norms, and induction?

Randall said:
Which one involves a talking snake? dude, it’s Saturday night(he said this on Thursday and Friday. Is Randall in the movie “Groundhogs Day”?). I am out with friends on vacation. Get out of your mothers basement and go have a beer. Have a couple.

Ty Wilson:
What is the source of the apprehension and understanding of revelation? How did you determine this method was a reliable pathway to truth?


Ty conflates all the revelations from God as being the same. Some require us going through historical investigation and others do not. The issue of general revelation wasn’t addressed. That all facts presuppose the existence of God was just passed over to attack the grammatical-historical and the redemptive-historical methods of interpretation. Why suppose those methods are correct in obtaining truth? I don’t know if Ty really understands what he is doubting. Is he saying that we need to understand what someone is saying apart from their own words and historical setting? How does Ty read any text(these words including) without relying on the grammar and historical meaning of the terms? Does Ty receive magic beams of meaning into his head? Ty’s only response to presuppositionalism is to give up communication. The historical-grammatical method of interpretation is necessary for any meaningful conversation. You only know what someone is saying if you know what the words they are using mean(grammar and the historical setting). So, Ty responds that we need to give up communication in order to defeat presuppositionalism. We can just read Ty as saying this “Christianity is true but I’d rather be a sinner.” So, Christians have a solution to this. That God created this world and gives us a book with a historical setting by which we are to understand it. All knowledge is revelation of God and he chose to reveal himself through the means of written communication. God presents a timeline in which we are able to know how to interpret the Bible.

Ty runs into another problem. I asked him if he was a Particularist or a Methodist. He wisely tucked his tail and ran from the question, but it still applies. He proposes a Methodism for his position. But how does he ever know his method is correct apart from particular facts? Bahnsen’s apple orchard covers the issue of having a method of what a good apple is without already knowing something about apples. In Christianity, God provides a method and particular instances of knowledge. So, the Christian needn’t choose.

Other stuff:

A little Presup before Dinner

Presup before Dessert

Knowledge of God

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Moral Anti-realist and Politics

I find that most atheists are antirealist when it comes to morals. They yet spend their lives wasting away to discuss the issue of political systems. They tend to be angry communist-socialist with many strange arguments for it. The issue is they are anti-realist about ethics and think that their political beliefs are better than another. But given the rejection of objective moral norms and obligation no system is “better” than another and nothing obligates you to push their idea. All their arguments are reducible to preference without any fact of the matter. They live an absurd life, In rejecting God and his law they ruin the ground for any political discussion that is possible.

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White vs Williams

This debate that was supposed to be a debate about indulgences turned into a debate about Church Authority and Protestant canon. Peter lives in the modern time where epistemology is done without any regard for metaphysics, but that hasn’t been the narrative throughout history. Williams only challenges to White in this debate was about his way of coming to a knowledge of the canon. James White gave a near externalist account of it where canon causes a positive doxastic attitude towards a proposition. The debate almost reminds you of the problem of the criterion. Do you start with particular examples of knowledge? Or do you start with a method to distinguish knowledge from belief? The debate shows the real debate over the centuries has always been Church Authority.

The Issue of Canon and Sola Scriptura

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Present Sufferings

Isaiah 65:20
“No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,

Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be thought accursed.

This is sometimes thought to be referring to the Millenium reign of Christ. That is at least what Post-mil and Pre-mil proponents advocate. A sort of in-between period between the age and the age to come. The issue with those interpretations is that the text is about the “new heavens and new earth”. That comes after the millennial reign in any model. Looking at the preceding verses:

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
19 “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.

The point in verse 20 is to contrast the things to come with the things of this present time. That is the audiences only source of reference but even that isn’t enough to explain the age to come. In the ancient world, you have no hospitals to take your baby when something goes wrong. That is tough enough on modern parents when something goes wrong and you are powerless to stop it. This would be a time in which the pains that make this world what it is are wiped away.

Throughout this passage Isaiah uses aspects of present life to create impressions of the life that is yet to come. It will be a life totally provided for (13), totally happy (19cd), totally secure (22– 23) and totally at peace (24– 25). Things we have no real capacity to understand can be expressed only through things we know and experience. So it is that in this present order of things death cuts life off before it has well begun or before it has fully matured. But it will not be so then. No infant will fail to enjoy life nor an elderly person come short of total fulfilment. Indeed, one would be but a youth were one to die aged a hundred! This does not imply that death will still be present (contradicting 25: 7– 8) but rather affirms that over the whole of life, as we should now say from infancy to old age, the power of death will be destroyed. He who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed is a possible translation, save that it softens the literal ‘will be accursed’. ‘But the sinner, a hundred years old, will be accursed’ is a more likely rendering (see the RV and RSV), not least because it matches and prepares for the reference to the serpent in verse 25c and also because it provides negative strengthening for the assertion of the Lord’s total delight in the new city (19ab). Of course, there will be no sinners in the new Jerusalem (6– 7, 12, 15c). Once more metaphor is being used, but the reality is that even if, per impossible, a sinner were to escape detection for a century the curse would still search him out and destroy him. Thus verse 20 expresses a double thought: death will have no more power and sin no more presence.

Motyer, J. Alec. The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary (Kindle Locations 15069-15081). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.


Lectures on Revelation

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