Schaeffer On Epistemology, pt. 4, a

The last installation of Schaeffer’s positive account of epistemology. While he does an awesome job articulating it, I do find myself wanting a more philosophically technical account. His account is not lacking in the slightest, and even depends on God’s self-revelation in his stating  it. (How worthless would it be to state a Christian account of knowledge using a methodology that is in opposition to the account itself? We can’t substantiate/justify our claims about Christian knowledge with a positivistic, modernist, methodology, or any other for that matter).

(Note: see lovely similarity between Wittgenstein quotes at the bottom and what Schaeffer says in the following.)

In the effort to break it up into readable chunks, I will split this into 3 separate posts. Here is the first:

The Christian Position on Proposition Revelation and its Unity with Creation:

Nature and grace arose as a problem out of the rationalistic, humanistic Renaissance and it has never been solved. It is not that Christianity had a tremendous problems at the Reformation, and that the reformers rwestled with all this and then came up with an answer. No, there simply was no problem of nature and grace to the Reformation, because the Reformation had verbal propositional revelation, and there was no dichotomoy between nature and grace. The historic Christian position had no nature and grace problem because of propositional revelation, and revelation deals with language. (61 – 62)

…Heidegger and Wittgenstein realized that there must be something spoken if we are going to know anything, but they had no one there to speak. It is as simple and as profound as that. Is there anyone there to speak? Or do we, being finite, just gather enought facts, enough particulars, to try to make our own universals? (62)

…We find that there is someone there to speak, and that he has told us about two areas. He has spoken first about himself, not exhausitively but truly; and second he has spoken about history and about the cosmos, not exhausitively but truly. (62)

Is it possible to have intellectual integrity while holding to the position of verbalized, propositional revelation? I would say the answer is this: it is not possible if you hold the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes in closed system. If you do, any idea of revelation becomes nonsense. (62)

The secular anthropologist agree that if we are to determine what is man in contrast to what is non-man, it is not in the area of tool making, but in the are of the verbalizer. If it is a verbalizer, it is man. If it is a non-verbalizer, it is not man. (64)

It is obvious that propositional, verbalized revelation is not possible on the basis of the uniformity of natural causes. But the argument stands or falls upon the question: Is the presuppostition of the uniformity of natural causes really acceptable? (64)

Christianity has a different set of presuppositions . It begins with a God who is there, who is the infinte-personal God, who has made man in his image. He has made man to be the verbalizer in the area of propositions in his horizontal communication to other men. Even secular anthropologists say that somehow or other, they do not know why, man is the verbalizer. You have something different in man. The Bible says, and the Christian position says, “I can tell you why: God is a personal-infinte God.” There has always been communication, before the creation of all else, in the Trinity. And God has made man in his own imgae, and part of making man in his own image is that man is the verbalizer. That stand in the unity of the Christian structure. (65)

If God made us to be communicators on the basis of verbalization, and given the possibility of propositional, factual communication with each other, why should we think he would not communicato us on the basis of verbalization and propositions? In the light of the total Christian structure, it is totally reasonable. Propositional revelation is not even surprising, let alone unthinkable, within the Christian framework. (66)

What we now find is that the answer rests upon language in revelation. Christianity has no nature and grace problem, and the reason for this rests upons language in revelation. The amazing thing is that Heidegger and Wittgenstein, two of the great names in the area of modern epistemology, both understand that the answer would be in the area of language, but they have no one there to speak. (67)

The God who is there made the universe, with things together, in relationships. Indeed, the whole area of science turns upons the fact that he has made a world in which things are made to stand together, that there are relationships between things. (68)

…He made the universe, he made man to live in that universe, and he gives us the Bible, the verbalized, propositional, factual revelation, to tell us what we need to know. In the Bible he not only tells us about morals, which makes possible real morals instead of merely sociological averages, but he give us comprehension to correlate out knowledge. The reason the Christian has no problem of epistemology is exactly the same as the reason why there is for the Christian no problem of nature and grace. The same reasonable God made both things, namely, the known and the knower, the subject and the object, and he put them together. So it is not surprising if there is a correlation between these things. Is that now what you would expect? (69)

The fact is that if we are going to live in this world at all, we must live in it acting on a correlation of ourselves and the thing that is there, even if one has a philosophy that there is no correlation. There is no other way to licei in this world. That is true for everybody, even the most “unrelated man” you have ever seen, the man who says there is no correlation. It does not matter a bit. He lives in this world on the basis of his experience that there is a correlation between the subject and object. he not only lives that way, he has to live that way. There is no other way to live in this world. That is the way the world is made. (70)

…the Christian view is exactly in line with the experience of every man, but no other system except the Judaeo-Christian one – that which is given in the Old and New Testaments together – tells us why there is a subject-object correlation that one does and must act on. Everybody does act on it, everybody must act on it, but no other system tell you why there is a correlation between the subject and the object. In other words, all men constantly and consistently act as though Christianity is true. (70)

In epistemology, this fellow creature is the object and I am the subject. We are both made by the same reasonable god and hence I can know my fellow creature truly. In ecology, I am to treat it well, according to the way God made it. I am not to exploit it. But it is deeper that this. I am not only to treat it well, but I can know it truly as a fellow creature. (71)

What amazes me is that as I read through Schaeffer and through Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, I feel like I am reading the same book written by the same author. What is sad is that Wittgenstein is so close and yet never knows the Lord (as far as I know). There of course needs to be a little explanation of Wittgenstein’s terminology, but really see if the similarity is apparent at a first pass.

(Language-game: he basically means a frame of reference, a  worldview, but points out an essential component of such, it is inherently language-based, and so conforms to the rules and assumptions of language.)

(He wrote this work before anyone landed on the moon, so he is not being sarcastic or provocative when he says no one has been on the moon.)

106. Suppose some adult had told a child that he had been on the moon. The child tells me the story, and I say it was only a joke, the man hadn’t been on the moon; no one has ever been on the moon; the moon is a long way off and it is impossible to climb up there or fly there. – If now the child insists, saying perhaps there is a way of getting there which I don’t know, etc. what reply could I make to him? What reply could I make to the adults of a tribe who believe that people sometimes go to the moon (perhaps that is how they interpret their dreams), and who indeed grant that there are no ordinary means of climbing up to it or flying there? – But a child will not ordinarily stick to such a belief and will soon be convinced by what we tell him seriously.

107. Isn’t this altogether like the way one can instruct a child to believe in a God, or that none exists, and it will accordingly be able to produce apparently telling grounds for the one or the other?

108. “But is there then no objective truth? Isn’t it true, or false, that someone has been on the moon?” If we are thinking within our system, then it is certain that no one has ever been on the moon. Not merely is nothing of the sort ever seriously reported to us by reasonable people, but our whole system of physics forbids us to believe it. For this demands answers to the questions “How did he overcome the force of gravity?” “How could he live without an atmosphere?” and a thousand others which could not be answered. But suppose that instead of all these answers we met the reply: “We don’t know how one gets to the moon, but those who get there know at once that they are there; and even you can’t explain everything.” We should feel ourselves intellectually very distant from someone who said this.

109. “An empirical proposition can be tested” (we say). But how? and through what?

110. What counts as its test? – “But is this an adequate test? And, if so, must it not be recognizable as such in logic?” – As if giving grounds did not come to an end sometime. But the end is not an ungrounded presupposition: it is an ungrounded way of acting.

148. Why do I not satisfy myself that I have two feet when I want to get up from a chair? There is no why. I simply don’t. This is how I act.

149. My judgments themselves characterize the way I judge, characterize the nature of judgment.

150. How does someone judge which is his right and which his left hand? How do I know that my judgment will agree with someone else’s? How do I know that this colour is blue? If I don’t trust myself here, why should I trust anyone else’s judgment? Is there a why? Must I not begin to trust somewhere? That is to say: somewhere I must begin with not-doubting; and that is not, so to speak, hasty but excusable: it is part of judging.

151. I should like to say: Moore does not know what he asserts he knows, but it stands fast for him, as also for me; regarding it as absolutely solid is part of our method of doubt and enquiry.

558. We say we know that water boils and does not freeze under such-and-such circumstances. Is it conceivable that we are wrong? Wouldn’t a mistake topple all judgment with it?  Moore: what could stand if that were to fall? Might someone discover something that made us say “It was a mistake”?
Whatever may happen in the future, however water may behave in the future, – we know that up to now it has behaved thus in innumerable instances.
This fact is fused into the foundations of our language-game.

559. You must bear in mind that the language-game is so to say something unpredictable. I mean: it is not based on grounds. It is not reasonable (or unreasonable).
It is there – like our life.


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