Is Christianity Unintelligible?

August 27, 2008

Thread started by James – he writes:

In it, I would like to discuss an article I found in Christian Reformed Theology and Apologetic found at http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfiles/antithesis/v1n3/ant_v1n3_unintel.html.

This form of apologetics is part of the religious tradition from which I have emerged. And I find that this apologetic is, of all apologetics, the most persuasive. Specifically, I would like to discuss the following claim:

“For the Christian, the Absolute standard is the personal triune God revealed in Scripture. There is no higher court of appeal by which the Christian evaluates what is rational, ethical, or real. A Biblical outlook simply does not countenance any human standard of rationality to which God must answer. If God is truly Absolute, as he is presented in Scripture, then He stands as the ultimate judge over all issues in logic, ethics, reality, and knowledge. The Christian God is not in the dock being forced to answer to our finite standards. ”
Atheists must howl at this sort of stance, since it appears to beg-the-question against any atheistic claim. Yet the atheist’s howling is naive. If there were some higher standard of “reason” or “conceivability” by which both the atheist and Christian could adjudicate their dispute, then the Christian God would not be Absolute; He would be limited by something outside and above His nature. Yet the Christian does not worship some being subordinate to Platonic Forms or some alleged higher standard of reason or goodness. The Christian God is truly the final court of appeal.

“The atheist also has a final court of appeal. The atheist also bows before an Absolute standard. And just like the Christian, the atheist does not permit anything to correct or evaluate this ultimate standard, for if he did then the standard would obviously not be the final court of appeal.

“The ultimate standard for the non-Christian, in general, and Smith, in particular, is finite human rationality — or the autonomous human mind. Though this Absolute standard is often portrayed as “Reason,” it is, from a Christian standpoint, a distortion of reason. Nevertheless, this non-Christian Absolute functions in much the same manner as the Christian Absolute. Non-Christians even use religious terminology when they refer to this Absolute — ‘bowing before the bar of reason’ or ‘reason is the only guide’ or ‘we cannot dispute reason’ or ‘an offense against reason.’”


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