A Comprehensive Biblical Faith and its Implications

Towards a More Complete Understanding of Biblical Faith and Its Powerful Impact on a Theory of Epistemology with Implications for the Evangelical Philosophical Societyraining

By Ed Payne, M.D.

Faith healing. What started my exploration into “belief” was “faith healing.”  In Chapter 12 of Joni Eareckson-Tada’s book, A Step Further, she recounts the challenge of other Christians to be healed of her paralysis from her neck down by “having enough faith.”  But, she and thousands of others have failed this challenge.  Why?  Jesus said, “Go; your faith has made you well” (Mark 10:52—NASB).  He said, “Your faith?”  If those that He healed then could be healed by their “faith,” why not in the 21st century since Jesus “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In the same way, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea” (Mark 11:23—NASB).  In history, this event has never happened literally. Why not?

biplane stuntMy project is to develop a detailed definition of faith, primarily based upon these passages, but applicable to virtually all Biblical texts.  This definition has the potential to remove the supposed mysteries of faith, giving Christians more specific directions in how to build their faith and how apologetic attempts to bridge between faiths can be understood.  Because of the central place that knowledge has in Biblical faith, this paper also has implications for the Evangelical Philosophical Society.reaching out to God

Caveat.  (1) Here and elsewhere, I equate “faith” and “belief.”  In the New Testament, the noun pisits and verb pisteuo are the only Greek equivalents for these two words.  (2) In English we have the problem that “faith” has no verb form, so “ believe” must be used where the action of faith is needed.  (3) I contend that that any attempts to distinguish between these two words in both common and academic discussions is needlessly confusing, in spite of extensive literature that might want to qualify differences between them.

 Assensus, fiducia, notitia.  Perhaps the most common definition of faith is presented as assensus, fiducia, and notitia.   I have heard many sermons on this definition and read many theologies with their explanations, but I still have been unable to grasp the concept of faith on this basis.  I doubt that others have, as well, as evidenced by my introductory example and many other applications.  In my exploration that follows here, these terms have some application, but they fall woefully short of the details needed to grasp more fully the concept of Biblical faith.

Notitia.  After denouncing notitia, I still want to begin with it, but explaining and expanding its use.  Notitia is basically knowledge, but knowledge has many sources and degrees of certainty.[1]  That the sun will rise tomorrow is highly certain.  Which way the stock market goes on a particular day is not.  That my car was reliable to get me to this conference was highly certain.  That the Interstate would not have a slowdown or stop was less certain.  So, if the knowledge required for faith is not certain, its expectation may not be fulfilled.

light and darknessFive sources of knowledge.  But from where does knowledge come?  In the philosophical tradition, there are four possibilities: faith, reason, acquired, innate, and implanted.  Immediately, I want to reject faith and reason as sources of knowledge, as they are methods of reasoning with knowledge that one already has.  A person is born with the basic knowledge of survival, e.g., crying to get what is needed, learning motor skills, and acquiring empirical or experiential from basic mental skills.  This already-present knowledge thus preconditions the person for all acquiredknowledge.  It is here that faith and reason play their roles.  Faith decides what is and is not trustworthy, and reason evaluates this knowledge, using induction, deduction, and abduction to advance it further.

What about innate and implanted knowledge?  Noam Chomsky, the famous linguist, has taken the strong position in his “generative language” that the ability of humans to learn language is far more innate than learned.[2]  In this concept, he has vitally revived the notion of innate knowledge which had lapsed over time.  Chomsky attributes this innate knowledge to naturalistic causes where Christians would attribute it a supernatural causes, i.e., the God of Scripture.  Thus, there is the (more or less) firm ground for innate knowledge from both secular and Biblical perspectives.

What I have called “implanted” knowledge is perhaps better known generally as mysticism—an acquired knowledge that comes from somewhere outside the person.  But of all the sources of knowledge named, it is the most certain Biblically.  In fact, the very nature of “inspiration,” better “expiration” of Scripture, is the notion of God imparting knowledge to a person for it to be written down.  And, Scripture records God giving specific information directly to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Hannah, Samuel, the Apostles, and many others for them to respond accordingly.

From this source of implanted knowledge comes what I consider to be a major key to understanding faith.  When Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole,” He means that the very notion of certain healing was given to the person.  If I am correct, one can readily see the problem of trying to “stir up one’s faith” in order to be healed.  One cannot “stir up” knowledge that must come from God Himself.  —- But, let us move on to other particulars.

The Hermeneutical Circle.  Perhaps one of the most important contributions to modern epistemology from the postmoderns is the “hermeneutical circle.”  As one studies Scripture, theology, and experiences God in his life, the knowledge of God and the certainty of faith grows.  This empirical knowledge then influences one’s interpretation of Scripture, and the circle continues throughout one’s lifetime.  This “circle” is the central mechanism of faith—knowledge of Scripture and experience both increasing one’s faith!

Expectation: general and specific.  Lacking from almost all discussion of faith is a particular expectation.  The person with the implanted knowledge expected to be healed by Jesus.  When we have faith that “God works all things together for the good” (Romans 8:28), we interpret “all things” that happen to us in that way.  When we pray for anything in faith, we have an expectation of how God should act.  We don’t have faith for just any kind of afterlife, but heaven itself.

But there is both a general and particular aspect of faith that is still a problem for the believer.  We have faith in Romans 8:28, but when a loved one dies unnaturally and unexpectedly, our faith may be challenged and even abandoned.  We have faith that “God will provide” for his own, but for some that may be a meager income and others a considerable fortune.   We have faith that we will go to heaven, but we do not know when!

Let us note these two particulars of faith: the implanted knowledge and the specific expectation.  Both have caused serious problems for Christians over the centuries.  God has given us His Special Revelation as the primary, if not, exclusive source of notitia or knowledge for faith.  But all these promises are general in nature—we put our own particular expectations on these promises and when they are not met, we may be severely challenged.  Should we not teach the general nature of these expectations of faith so that God’s Providence is more readily accepted?

Definition: After this discussion, I now introduce a definition of faith or belief, as “a necessarily pragmatic gift in which the will to act is based upon knowledge with an expected result, always with some uncertainty of outcome, as determined by Reality or Providence.” —– Re-read. —–The content of knowledge for a Christian is primarily, and dependently, that of Biblical truth. Fiducia, assensus, and notitia do not explain these particulars which become important for the exercise and experience of faith, as we have seen.

Faith is not the action itself, but the “will to act.”  If the action does not occur, then faith was not present—only the simple knowledge of what ought to be done.  This idea corresponds to the person who says, “I believe that I ought to … pray more, help others more, read my Bible more, etc., but I do not.”  Well, by my definition that person does not truly believe these things, else he would act.

We should understand that when we act in faith, we have a particular expectation, when God has made a more general promise.  We pray for healing, but God’s Providence or Reality may be that we are not to be healed.  We pray for financial resources, but they may not be as plentiful as we had hoped.  We pray for our children’s welfare, but they may have more trials in life than we would have desired.  This disjunction between faith in general expectations and Reality brings in some uncertainty, even for Biblical faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Gift is another dimension of faith.  Here, Paul is speaking of saving faith, but all faith is a gift because of the uncertainty of knowledge that we have been discussing.  Faith is the only means by which to act without certain knowledge.  It has a necessarily pragmatic and heuristic dimension.

Divided line and JTB: The attempt to “justify true belief” (JTB) derailed epistemology and has never righted itself again.  JTB can be traced back to several of Plato’s dialogues.  He recognized the problem of knowledge, as illustrated in his Republic by The Divided Line—how do opinion (doxa) and belief (pistis) become understanding (dianoia) and knowledge (episteme)?  Thus, his attempt to “justify true belief.”  We have already looked at this same issue in the varieties of uncertainty in knowledge.  Plato wanted to get beyond this uncertainty to episteme or aletheia (truth).

Plato’s and others great mistake was trying to get beyond belief to some epistemological absolute certainty.  All knowledge is based upon belief: beliefs about the self, about the world, about others, etc.  And, as we have seen, faith is the methodological gift for taking action without truth or certainty.  If we define knowledge, as simply the activity of the mind, then we can begin to assess its various degrees of certainty or reliability.  If we want to strive for the highest level of knowledge, then the term should be “truth.”  The problem with justification is that classical foundationalism is dead, that is, there is no universal standard by which to “justify” knowledge.  Then, there are all the vagaries of “tests of truth”—correspondence, coherence, pragmatism, etc.— that is even less agreed upon.  Relative to Plato’s Divided Line,  the “belief” of Scripture moves over dianoia directly to episteme.  That is, belief in the propositions of Scripture are knowledge or truth.

Michael Polanyi was a world famous physical chemist, a contemporary and colleague of Albert Einstein, who in mid-career was given a chair in philosophy to develop an epistemology of science.  While his “personal knowledge” was developed within and directed towards the natural sciences, it has considerable application to basic epistemology.  I cannot detail his method here, but merely note his writings for the following reasons.  (1) He may have the most detailed, practical, and understandable paradigm for epistemology to be found anywhere.  (2) He has destroyed any claim to truth for the natural sciences, especially the “soft” sciences of sociology and psychology. (3) He grounds knowledge in personal and community agreement as faith, tradition, and authority—bringing religious knowledge onto a level, if not elevated, playing field—an essential step since the Enlightenment Project attempted to destroy these sources of knowledge and values.  The Polanyi Society, periodicals, and books continue his insights.

Generic faith.  I have encountered a number of theologians and philosophers who have grasped this broader application of faith.  Abraham Kuyper called it “generic” faith, and so shall I, as that name is as good as any and has a universal “feel” to it.  On my website, I have quotes by Kuyper, Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Jacques Ellul, Edward Carnell, John Warwick Montgomery, Alvin Plantinga, Merold Westphal, Christian Smith, and many others who understood and wrote about this “generic” concept.  Scientists who have written about his subject include Paul Davies, Thomas Kuhn, Terry Eagleton, Karl Popper, Percy Bridgman, and Charles Sanders Peirce.

What is this generic faith?  As I mentioned earlier, I had faith in my car, in my knowledge of maps, in predictable events, and probably dozens of other uncertainties to get to Wake Forest.  Was it certain?  Absolutely not.  There is likely not a person in this room who has not had “faith” to travel somewhere, and something challenged, hindered, or prevented the “expected” outcome—that is, Reality or Providence.  I go to bed with the faith that my alarm clock will wake me.  However, the electricity may go off; I may have set the clock incorrectly; I may have forgotten to turn it on.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of application of faith daily.  If we had to be certain, that is, to know the truth of the situation, we could never get even get out of bed!

With these examples, I hope to remove the mysterious nature of faith.  Its method of action is no mystery at all, unless one wonders at how we came to trust the process and to act upon it.  And, here I posit that it is the gift of God because of the Fall so that we may operate in this fallen world with its uncertainties.

Caveat—Bible as truth…what is truth?  One challenge to my idea that all knowledge is based upon belief would be the truth-claim of the Bible.  But everyone on earth does not recognize the Bible as truth, so it is not a universal truth for everyone.  Further, the Bible is accepted on faith, so its applicable truth is dependent upon my personal belief and the community that believes it.  The whole worldview is one that rests upon faith.

How can we then know, if it is true?  My answer may surprise you—because the Bible makes claims on the basis of the law of noncontradiction and the testimony of the Holy Spirit.   Jesus Christ shatters the myth of more than one way to be saved with “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by me.”  That statement leads to an examination of who He is, and of course, that leads to the whole study of the Bible which in turn leads to its being inerrant and infallible.  The two most fundamental beliefs then are Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior, and the Bible as the record and instruction of his truth.  There is also the hermeneutical circle in which beliefs are validated with increasing knowledge, as I have already covered.

Synonyms of belief.  Let me clarify the concept of belief with synonyms of belief to demonstrate how prevalent and necessary it is to all our thinking and actions.  From a thesaurus, we find: acceptance, acquiescence, article of faith, assent, assurance, assuredness, axiom, canon, certainty, certitude, concept, confidence, conviction, courage, credence, credibility, credit, credo, creed, dependence, doctrine, dogma, mind’s eye, faith, feeling, fundamental, hubris, idea, intuition, judgment, knowledge, law, maxim, mind, opinion, orthodoxy, persuasion,  precept, presupposition, principle, reliance, religion, religious belief, security, self-assurance, self-confidence, self-importance, self-reliance, sentiment, sureness, surety, system of beliefs, teaching, tenet, theology, tradition, trust, trustworthiness, and viewpoint.

Some that I have personally added are:  faith, religion, way of life, chosen path, “ground motive” (Dooyeweerd), meaning, purpose, explanation of ultimates, metaphysics, metanarrative, cosmology, “what is,” reality, worldview, state of affairs, systematic ethics, philosophy of religion, meta-anyting, individualism, ultimate concern, ultimate reality, ideology, all “-isms” (such as, idealism, materialism, naturalism, communism, scientism, atheism, fascism, spiritualism, physicalism, and capitalism to name only a few!), purpose of life, meaning of life, the whole list of “-ologies” and “-osophies” (such as, theology, philosophy, cosmology, ideology, to name only a few!), reason, Reason (Hegel’s Begriff), worldview, philosophical outlook, first causes, God or god, fundamental reality (Durant), ontology (Titus), origins, a priorism, truth (correspondence, coherence, pragmatic), all formed religions (Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, etc.), and pluralism.

The concept of belief is inherent in language and discussion of any matters of fact or relation of ideas (Hume), or extension of space or ideas (Descartes).  Further, inherent in our discussion this point, there is a wide range of beliefs from virtually irrational conjecture to willingness to place one’s life on the line or even one’s eternity.

While classical foundationalism has failed, foundationalism as basic belief to one’s person and community of faith is necessary and inescapable.  Everyone operates by both generic and religious faith—and they overlap in a necessary and profound way.  They are an authority.  When one is converted to Christianity, one spends the rest of his or her life trying to transfer that authority to the Scriptures and dies without having been completely successful.  Personal belief is inescapably the methodology of every person’s epistemology.

General implications of this definition.  (1) The nature of argumentation.  The false separation of faith and reason continues to haunt us.  If there are “peoples of faith,” there are “peoples of reason.”  Now, in the marketplace of ideas and the public square, which opinions are the more likely to be persuasive?  Obviously, peoples of reason—so any argument by peoples of faith is lost from the beginning.  Politically, “progressives” are the peoples of reason, and they have been getting their way since the Enlightenment.  Why?  Simply because of the misunderstanding that all knowledge is based upon belief—reason is only a method by which to evaluate and extend that belief.

The only hope of atheists and agnostics to compete in epistemology is through knowledge from  natural science.  But the philosophers of science, especially Polanyi, have destroyed in no uncertain propositions that natural science is based as much upon belief, as any other knowledge.  Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, and all the other popular anti-Christians could be profoundly silenced, if their opinions are shown to be “beliefs” not truth.   The same can be said for all other sources of ethics and politics.  There is no more important agenda for the modern hope of freedom.

(2) Natural science.  Christians can readily see that they have nothing to fear from science.  (3)  Removal of mystery. They can understand that the method of faith is not mysterious and develop the challenge of studying the concrete realities of their faith in Scripture and its application to their worldview.  Belief is not some mysterious element within, but an action with identifiable and concrete parts.  For the Christian, faith becomes centered on Scripture in what God teaches about who we are and what we are to do.

(4) The nature of proof.  All peoples can come to understand that the nature of “proof” is relevant to personal belief systems, and one cannot convince another of his argument without “conversion” from one system of faith to another.

EPS implications.  (1) Our statement of belief is in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, yet in a review of the last five issues of Philosophia Christi, there is an extreme paucity of Biblical references, terms, or exegesis.  Further, there is an announcement to make a form of natural theology  the theme of an entire future issue—a theme based upon the ideas of a Catholic theologian, Richard Swinburne.  In Colossians 2:3, Paul said, “In (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  In I Corinthians, Chapters 1 and 2, in a lengthy discussion, he called the wisdom of the world “foolishness.”  How is it that we have spent the large majority of our scholarship in our journal in “foolishness” rather than “treasures of wisdom and knowledge?”  This challenge is not to make the “encyclopedic fallacy” that Scripture gives us knowledge about everything, but the great error of the past few decades of Christians in philosophy has been to work in Athens rather than Jerusalem.  God has given us His Special Revelation—the most concrete form of knowledge known to man, and we relegate it to a minor role in our philosophic discussion?

(2)  Other religions.  The EPS needs to stop its flirtation with truth in other religions, as it did in Philosophia Christi, Volume 11, Number 2, entitled “Religious Diversity: A Dialogue.” Nowhere in the Scriptures does God call us to “dialogue” with other religions—He calls for us to proclaim.  The explicit statement of belief by EPS precludes all other claims to truth.  One wonders what is happening when our journal espouses “dialogue” on the one hand and J. P. Moreland, one of the most prominent Christian philosophers today, makes accusations of “bibliolatry” and “over-commitment” to Scripture.  I will take my stand that the far greater problem in both the EPS and larger evangelical community is an “under-commitment” to Scripture.  I trust that my paper today is one small example to move beyond that lack of commitment.  Why are we content to “grope” along with pagans, to work in darkness, when we have the “mind of Christ?”

Without doubt, Alvin Plantinga started a revolution in Christian philosophy, but he made a major mistake, as many pioneers do.  He failed to ground “Christian” scholarship in the Scriptures.  That is, anyone who calls himself a Christian is considered to be doing “Christian” philosophy.  However, the large majority of Christians in the West do not believe in Biblical inerrancy, and therefore are not orthodox by historical standards.  Philosophical scholarship that is not directly coherent with Biblical propositions is not “Christian” in the sense just stated.  Lest anyone accuse me of insight by hindsight, I started my work in medical ethics about the same time that Plantinga wrote his famous paper, but I took a Biblical route, not a “Christian” one.

Last year, at this same meeting I presented a paper that examined five areas where Christians have distanced themselves from Scripture: (1) classical theism, (2) blurring of Roman Catholic-Protestant distinctions, (3) the necessity of regeneration in epistemology and ethics, (4) philosophy of religion as philosophy of Christianity, and (5) “Christian” vs. Biblical scholarship.  Other areas that I did not have time to develop include: the relationship of theology to philosophy; the scientific method as a fallacy of induction (especially in psychology and the other “soft” sciences); the false disjunction of faith and reason; the Bible as the basic for ethics; the overemphasis on apologetics, and the nature of belief which I have discussed here.  I challenge us to live and work coherently with our statement of belief.

Conclusion

I have expanded the definition of faith to reveal its particularities.  This definition explains many of the frustrations and heartaches that Christians experience by not understanding faith in this detail.  The central importance of the operation of faith is Biblical knowledge.  In apologetics, all arguments are based upon faith, as are ethics and politics in the public square—all persons are peoples of faith.  Finally, it behooves the EPS to move to more Biblically explicit scholarship wherein are “all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

*****

Addenda

**The following are notes that could have been included in this paper, or are pertinent to the ideas presented above.  They are “notes,” not meant to be detailed or complete in thought.

Work of Christian philosophers, “light and darkness”:  to bring all the questions of 2500 years of philosophy and find their correlations and answers in the Scriptures, as Paul did on Mars Hill (Acts 17).

From my 2011 paper:  “If I am right, what are we to do?  The Evangelical Philosophical Society needs to limit its focus to a truly Biblical approach—one based upon Kuyper’s two-fold starting point with more definition, as defined by Moroney and others.  Our doctrinal affirmation already declares an epistemology that is fully adequate to accomplish that goal.  If philosophy is to serve theology, then the latter provides the presuppositions for the former.  Currently, the evidence is that this situation is not the case, as I have presented.  Personally, I believe that the only truth that we will ever know this side of heaven is that which God has revealed in Scripture.  Further, God has promised fruit from the diligent application of Scripture; He has not made any promises concerning extra-Biblical knowledge.  I am not saying that the Bible is the encyclopedia of everything technical, or even academic, but we must be certain that its depth and breadth are fully explored and that it is the controlling ethical concern in every endeavor.”  (From my 2011 paper, “Quo Vadis”)

Mini-beliefs.  Discussions of properly basic beliefs at least imply that there are only a few beliefs, but I contend that they are almost limitless.  Each person has beliefs about electricity, human nature, medicine, education, cars, books, philosophers, child raising, the golf swing, running, etc., etc.  These beliefs are not all related or necessarily controlled by one central properly basic belief nor controlling belief.  My belief about the golf swing has nothing to do with my Christian beliefs, or my beliefs about cars, running, etc.  Sure, there are overlaps and interrelated concepts, but one basic or controlling belief—not really!

Mini-beliefs are predestined.  There is no other basis on which to explain why all individuals are made up of a unique combination of beliefs.

Method is shaped by belief, as much as “basic beliefs”:  how one shapes his basic or mini-beliefs is as much a product of belief, as the former.  Coherence can only be built within this system.  Perhaps, one could say that every person has his own system—indeed, you have already said that!

Mentalism (Ed: personalism): Stanford—the 2nd form of internalism.  “Mentalism is the thesis that what ultimately justifies any belief is some mental state of the epistemic agent holding that belief.”

Group-think: beliefs are communal.  Groups form around common beliefs: cultures, clubs, guilds, professional organizations, denominations, natural sciences, etc.  … modern science (Polanyi).

Belief and authority.  Belief is always personal, “I believe that ___ “or “I believe in ___.”  We never  get beyond this fact.  While we accept other authorities to varying degrees, especially the Scriptures after regeneration, the self still controls beliefs that lead to actions.  No two people on planet earth agree on all their beliefs.

Tacit beliefs:  “We know more than we can say.”  We cannot even get to our most basic beliefs or know all our mini-beliefs.

Certainty and certitude are one and the same.  Certainty is always held by a person, and this subjectivity makes it certitude.

The “faith.”  The Bible also uses faith as the total system of propositions presented in the Bible, as “the faith”  (Ephesians 4:5, Jude 3).

Romans 14:23   “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”  This verse is a clarion call to have as much certainty as possible about any faith (ethical) issue.  The only way to have this certainty is by sound exegesis of Scripture.

Belief and reason.  The strength of “basic beliefs” is such that one can reason a whole worldview from them.  The Azande Indians are quite capable of reasoning all possible events and outcomes concerning their poison oracle.

James 2:19 Even the demons believe––and tremble!  “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe––and tremble!” James 2:19

This verse is puzzling and fraught with misinterpretations.  But, like many verses in Scripture, paying attention to what the verse actually says is a way to avoid confusion.  There is only one belief in the context: monotheism.  Anything beyond that explicit proposition is speculation and conjecture.  However, it may be helpful to explore the reasons for so much misunderstanding of this simple text.

(1) Belief always leads to action (where the belief affects one’s person).  We see evidence of this connection in v. 17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  The action of saving faith in the Christian sense (about which this context is clear) is the “good work” of clothing and feeding “brothers and sisters” with these needs (v. 15).  (Faith and belief are synonyms. There is only one Greek stem, pist-, for the noun and verb in the New Testament which may be translated according to grammatical and narrative rules, as “faith,” belief,” or “believe.”)  Thus, the specific action of faith here are those two charitable works.

The mechanism of faith is the same whether in saving faith or generic faith (below).  Does the faith of the demon have a “good work?”  Yes, he has a work, but not a good one—he trembles for fear of this God of whom he has understanding.  Faith that has a personal involvement always leads to action.  This passage has demonstrated the actions of Christian believers and of demons.  However, for one to believe that Paris is a great city in France does not affect one  personally (unless one am going there).  So, there is no resulting “action” or work.  (Perhaps, one might postulate that giving the correct answer to a question in school about the geographic location of Paris might be considered an action or “work.”)

But perhaps there is a little more to the demons’ knowledge of God than simple monotheism which alone could be vague and remote, like Paris to a person in America.  They “tremble.” Trembling means fear, and fear is a belief that harm might come in some form.  We know a little of what Satan and other demons might know of God and his plan that might cause this reaction.

Apparently Satan really believed that Job would curse God…. he did not believe in the perseverance of the saints…. Possibly Satan believed the promise he himself made to Eve…. (and) that he might tempt Christ to sin.  If he had believed (the latter action)  impossible, why should he have tried three times?  Therefore there must be a good bit of the Bible that devils do not believe (in the way that Christians do—Ed).   (Gordon Clark, What Is Saving Faith, Trinity Foundation, 2004 edition, p. 153)

This exploration leads to major patterns of ignorance among Christians—both lay and professional theologians and philosophers.  (2) Faith is common and generic in every decision that a person makes every day.  I “believe” that my alarm clock will go off for the time that I set it.  I believe that my car will get me to my destination.  I believe that my candidate will be best in  the office for which he is running.  I believe that my employer will pay me at the end of the month.  For every decision and action, there is a belief.  The process is inescapable.  In this way, as I have demonstrated, demons also believe.

(3) The process of belief and action is the same for generic belief, as for saving faith.  Now, “saving faith” here includes the act of belief at the moment of conversion and all subsequent acts in sanctification that occur for the rest of one’s life.  There is no mystery to the mechanism of faith.  Once this “how” is understood, the mystery of faith is removed.  This removal is of great importance to Christians.  How can a person have “enough” faith to be healed?  He cannot.  God must give him or her the knowledge that they will be healed, as He did those to whom he said, “Go!  Your faith has made you whole.)  Such special (implanted) knowledge was directly given by God.  The same is true of having “enough” faith “to move mountains.”  He must give that knowledge.

But He has given us the knowledge of His mind for our life.  The object of faith must be the revealing of God’s knowledge to His people in the Scriptures.  This object is the knowledge of faith, or notitia, as academicians like to say.  This knowledge is common to all Christians—it is virtually the only current knowledge for faith.  There is no real need with the detailed revelation in Scripture.  Scripture is the norm—the normal and almost exclusively means by which God makes available and gives knowledge to His people.  Implanted knowledge is miraculous and can by no means be caused by man’s actions, including prayer.

Well, a short verse has opened up a much longer discourse—one that may have brought more questions than answers.  I invite readers to read a current essay that I have written that will explain in much greater detail.  Also, I have book available online, Without Faith It Is Impossible to Please God.  There is no greater understanding needed for modern Christians than to understand Biblical faith!

Knowledge (1) that, (2) how, and (3) by acquaintance.

Bayesianism.  Probability theory that assesses new knowledge that changes the probability of old knowledge.  Seems to have at least as many detractors, as attracters.  See Flew’s dictionary.

Reliabilism:  externalism approach to knowledge where “reliable evidence” is substituted for justified, and the person holding it does not have to be aware of this evidence.

Ramified:  “development or consequence growing out of and sometimes complicating a problem, plan, or statement,” as in ramifications.

Hamann and philosophy of language.  “Like many analytic philosophers, Hamann insists that language is the very criterion of thought and that the philosophy of language should replace epistemology.  Anticipating Freud, he puts his finger on the formative role of the subconscious in our intellectual life.  And, long before Hegel or Wittgenstein, he stresses the cultural and social dimension of rationality.”

Hamann again.  “Language is the perfect hypostatic union of the sensible and the intelligible.”

Christian dualism certain: (1) mind survives death, (2) at the resurrection, we receive a new body, but in regeneration, we receive a “new mind” immediately, (3) creation of Adam: “body” without a mind until it was “breathed” into him, (4) Image of God is the mind, as God has no body.  Etc.

Refutation of physicalism…(1) All empiricism is a fallacy.  (2) Consciousness and self-consciousness is unique in the cosmos—unique to any form of emergence.  The leap from physicalism to “mind” is strained at the least, and virtually impossible, at the most.  (3) The working of the brain, as mind, has never been demonstrated.  (4) Problem of cause and effect.  Science has never proven cause and effect.  “Mind,” then must be postulated as “caused” by brain physiology.  (5) Naturalistic fallacy—the problem of “ought” from an “is.”  With physicalism, we are left without right and wrong.  (6) Physicalism can never rule out supernaturalism because such is beyond “science.”  The “super-natural” is just that—above the means of science.  (7) Only two possibilities for mind: panpsychism and emergence—from Stanford article.  Both theories are beyond the purview of science.  (8)  Simplicity of argument.  (9) Number and sophistication of theistic arguments for the past 30 years.  More so, the strong argument of orthodox Christianity.

***

[1] The Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 21, specifically mentions “knowledge” and “assurance” (certainty), and gives numerous Scripture references to same.  Hebrews 11:1 says that such knowledge of faith is the veryhypostasis, the bedrock  or the ultimate ground of all that is known.

[2] These comments are made in several of his texts.

*This Paper was presented at the 2012 Meeting of the Southeastern Region of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, March 26, 2012

 

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