God, Revelation & Authority Volume 1, Chapter 2

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 A hurried survey of the history of philosophy will illustrate the conflicting convictional frameworks through which Western man has affirmed the meaning and worth of human existence, and will illumine the distinctively Christian understanding of history and life.

Carl F.H. Henry.
The Greek Philosopher Democritis argued that bouncing atoms is all there is to life.  So, there are no eternal morals or truths because everything is relative.
Plato and Aristotle argued against Democritis because they felt that if random, natural processes is all there is than life has no real meaning.  Plato argued that things may be chaotic here but that is only because this world is only a shadow of another world that is perfect and unchanging (don’t feel bad if you feel like you need to go put on a Pink Floyd or Tool album with a dark light in order to get this!). 
This stream of thought, known as philosophical idealism, held sway well into the time of the Roman Empire until it began to slowly crack and disintegrate.  The more idealist philosophers spoke of the unchanging world beyond our eyes from which we derive eternal truth, the more the masses wanted to know about this perfect world.  Yet, the philosophers could not agree and the people began to look elsewhere such as the “mystery religions” of the ancient world, which promised adherents “divine revelation” upon completing membership rites.
Christianity hit this culture like a bomb! 
Plato and Aristotle believed reason alone could lead men and women to the eternal good, right and true but it hadn’t happened.  They also failed to provide an explanation for the ultimate questions of, “where did we come from and where are we going?”  Christianity recognized the fallibility of human reason and answered the ultimate questions in a way that could more easily be trusted–divine revelation.
Yet, thanks to thinkers like Thomas Aquinas and Renee Descartes, the priority of human reason rose to prominence once again.  Humankind ushered in the “modern” era where divine revelation was subjected to fallible human reasoning.  Increasingly, divine revelation was pushed to the periphery and humans grew independent of it.
Thinkers eventually came to disavow divine revelation and then the divine as well.  They taught that we are nothing more than the apex of natural selection.  We have come full circle–nothing but bouncing atoms and look at the world it has created!  Carl Henry may not be wrong that we are left with two decisions–orthodox Christianity or believe nothing at all and live like it!
Now “great thinkers” tell Christians, who believe they possess divine revelation, that their beliefs must meet their criteria of good even though by their own admission they are but “crafty animals.”  What are Christians to do? To proclaim the word of God anew  as THE word of God but I should end this post with Henry’s own words once again:
The task of Christian leadership is to confront modern man with the Christian world-life view as the revealed conceptuality for understanding reality and experience, and to recall reason once again from the vagabondage of irrationalism and the arrogance of autonomy to the service of true faith. That does not imply modern man’s return to the medieval mind. It implies, rather, a reaching for the eternal mind, for the mind of Christ, for the truth of revelation, for the Logos as transcendent source of the orders and structures of being, for the Logos incarnate in Jesus Christ, for the Logos as divine agent in creation, redemption and judgment, for the Logos who stands invisibly but identifiably as the true center of nature history, ethics, philosophy and religion.
We will hit chapter 3 on Monday.  Until then, have a wonderful weekend.  Grace and peace,
Pastor Matt

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