The Scriptural Epistemology of Dogmatism
A response to quasi-rationalism
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10). This simple, thrice-repeated truth is the foundation of Scriptural Dogmatism. Throughout Scripture we seem the same epistemology of dogmatism. You can find the phrase "Thus saith the Lord" in over 400 verses in the Old Testament in the Authorized Version. Even in the garden, the question was "hath God said?"
Our epistemology is, consequently, dogmatic and revelational, not quasi-rational. We know the truth because it has been revealed to us by God, and that revelation from God is not open to debate.
When people mocked the resurrection of the dead, and others wanted to debate the issue, what did Paul do? Paul departed from among them (Acts 17:33).
There are legitimate debates, and there debates that can be taken on for the purpose of preaching the gospel. When a Reformed apologist debates a Muslim on the reality of the crucifixion, for example, the Reformed apologist is not leaving the question open. The Bible says Jesus Christ was crucified, and that settles it. Perhaps the Muslim will respond that the Koran says that Jesus (whom I suppose no consistent Muslim would acknowledge as Christ) was not crucified.
Why accept the dogmatic view of Christianity over that of Islam? Why believe the Bible rather than the Koran? Why is God God and not the "allah" of the Koran?
The response is that no one will believe the word of God, nor trust in the Son of God, without God revealing Himself to that person. As Jesus said: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (John 6:44)
It seems that the followers of Van Til stumble at this point in their epistemology stumble. They appear to be unsatisfied with the following epistemology, "I know the truth, because God has revealed it to me."
They appear to want to be able to "prove" God's existence and attributes to an unbeliever. They (at least usually) recognize the futility of appealing to evidence, but appear to believe that they can appeal to reason and the implanted awareness of God that exists in the minds of unbelievers. This is why their position has been referred to above as quasi-rationalism.
But let's stop the critique here, for a moment. There a few a readers out there who are of a Van-Tillian mindset. Let's just ask them:
What is wrong with an epistemology that begins with presuppositions.
God has revealed to me that He is, that He is True, and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
Consequently I know that God is, that what God says is true, and that Scripture is an embodiment of that truth.
Based on Scripture, I know the validity and limits of the natural sciences, social sciences, and the like. I have a standard of absolute truth. I may think that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, but I KNOW that Christ has gone to prepare a place for me in His presence for all eternity. I think that the official just botched his first-down assessment, but I know that Solomon was the son of David. I think that all the dinosaurs are dead, but I know that all things were created by God in the space of six days and very good.
If all the world's scientists were on one side disputing the Resurrection of Christ, the reversal of the sun in Hezekiah's day, the calling down of fire from heaven by the prophet, the Great Flood, and/or the Creation, and I'll I had on the other side was the Word of God, I would believe God rather than all the most learned men in the world.
Now, tell me, Van-Tillian, what is wrong with that dogmatism? Why instead of starting from the point raised above, does Van Til assert that He believes in God because if He did not, all would be chaos? Why do the followers of Van Til appear to believe that we can argue people into accepting that the God who created all things and rules all things by His right arm exists and has the attributes that He has?
Is there any answer? Is there any alternative for Dogmatism? Is quasi-rationalism Scripturally valid?