The Apologetical Value of the Self-Witness of Scripture -- By: James M. Grier, Jr.

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 01:1 (Spring 1980)
Article: The Apologetical Value of the Self-Witness of Scripture
Author: James M. Grier, Jr.


The Apologetical Value
of the Self-Witness of Scripture

James M. Grier, Jr.

I. Introduction

Philosophy traditionally has handled the analysis of the origin of knowledge by making authority one of the four possible sources of knowledge. Two sources of knowledge have been viewed as secondary sources: authority and intuition-mysticism. Two sources of knowledge have been viewed as primary: empiricism-experience and rationalism-thinking. The epistemological value of authority has been to corroborate the primary sources of knowledge.

This de facto analysis of knowledge has lulled our critical faculties to sleep by causing us to accept the idea that there are three sources of knowledge that are independent of any dogmatic-authoritative assumptions. Knowledge has to be gained by the use of man’s sensory, rational, or intuitive powers with their correlative tests for truth of correspondence, coherence, and self-evidence. All authorities must be scrutinized by these cognitive capacities of man while the empirical-rational-intuitive sources are seen as non-authoritative. The problem of knowledge has been given an answer by the defintion of sources.

Reflection reveals that the empirical, rational, and mystical sources of knowledge are based on non-demonstrable assumptions and are as dogmatic and authoritarian as authority. This is simply to assert that every epistemological system begins with non-demonstrable assumptions. These assumptions constitute a very real commitment to authority, although it is obscured by the use of language and by definition.

Man has faced the question of cognitive authority from Eden until the present. Adam sought epistemological independence from God in order to decide for himself whose word was true and thus authoritative. Satan, speaking through the serpent, asserted that the eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would not result in death but rather would yield an increment of knowledge and

an expanded vista of perception. God, on the other hand, asserted that eating would bring certain death. Adam faced the problem of conflicting truth claims. To determine which claim was the true and dependable guide for conduct, Adam established a third authority. He weighed the converging and diverging evidence for each hypothesis and thus became the final authority and standard for truth.

How should Adam have responded to this epistemological-ethical test? Is it possible to identify the words of God by a standard external to those words? The purpose of this article is to explore the apologetical value of the self-referential words of God.

II. The Credibility of Revelation

A. T...
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