Thursday, September 29, 2005
Addendum to "Blue Like Jazz Review" by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
Whether there is no objective truth at all (an utterly nonsensical assertion), or no objective truth that is knowable (Miller’s view), the consequences are the same. Either way, “truth” must be constructed, not discovered (since discovery of objective truth is deemed impossible). Either way, biblical authority is ruled out. Either way, one must choose to believe in Christ, or not to believe in Christ, on the basis of one’s personal proclivities and not according to the objective truth value of God’s word.
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Of course, the assertion that the Bible is God's word and objectively true cannot be assumed, but must be demonstrated. Which takes us back to the question of whether it is possible to test the Bible's truth claim objectively.
I believe the claim can be tested objectively … but I think the answer is, the Bible is not internally consistent, therefore it is not an infallible guide to truth.
Which forces us to turn to conscience and reason for guidance … or even personal proclivities, though I much prefer conscience and reason.
So if Abraham Kuyper had been a member of the “objective truth is not knowable” chapter of the Christian Pomo club, what would he have said about the Lordship of Christ?
“There is not on constructed community of Christians over which Christ, who is sovereign over all Christians, does not cry ‘Mine!’” ?
Rebecca – thanks for your post I look forward to hearing more from you
I think our definition of "know" is important here. If we mean 100% evidence, then of course we don't "know" anything and in this sence Miller is right. This also makes room for faith. Now that is not to say that we can't believe something to be true based on good reasons. And if that is your definition of know, then you are right.
Just my opinion.
The idea that faith excludes knowledge lies at the root of Christianity's emaciated witness in the contemporary world. Kant thought he was doing us a favor in this back in The Critique of Pure Reason. "I have denied knowledge to make room for faith." He was wrong. The Bible offers us "the knowledge of God," which does not require a blind leap or an emotional experience per se. Knowledge is something like justified true belief. Moreover, one can have knowledge with less than absolute certainty. Contingent truths(anything not a necessary truth) are, in principle, defeasible; but that doesn't rule out knowledge of them. Again, epistemology is central to theology, ethics, apologetics, and everything else. Miller is far too glib about far too important a subject--how we know God in Christ. Take him to the Epistemologist for philosophical therapy.
Though I am not a believer in Christianity, I read Miller's book, and I've tried to closely follow the line of thought here. It occured to me that Miller finds an objective experience of God thru--what he deems--an authentic confrontation of opposite forces. Alcohol, sex, drugs, doubt, skepticism, etc. can exist with-in the same person who also believes or experiences God. Penny's conversion on page 47 is a laughable account which Miller evidently deems to be authentic--more authentic than fundamentalist forces which suppress the opposite side. It occurs to me that Miller is a poet, not a theologian.
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