God, Revelation & Authority Vol. 1, Chapter 19

Posted: February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Carl Henry continues his analysis of philosophical transcendent apriorism by turning from Plato and Anselm to Renee Descartes.  Whereas Plato argued that we all previously existed in the presence of the divine and that our faded memories were apriori devices while Anselm argued that it was the very idea of God, Descartes turns to autonomous reason.  The divorce from the divine would prove to be a harsh one.

Descartes did believe that reason led to the idea of God but he didn’t clearly show how.  The result was that divine revelation was minimized if not altogether dismissed by subsequent philosophers.   In the end, Descartes placed human beings at the center as the only the thing that could be proven to exist and pushed god to the periphery where His existence became a philosophical problem.

Following Descartes, Spinoza pushed apriori pantheism and Leibniz tried to bridge the true arguing that all knowledge arises from an interplay between reason and sense experience.  Kant then dismissed the idea of perfect, true and absolute knowledge as a pipe dream.  John Locke (the philosopher, not the character from Lost) then argued against innate knowledge in favor of the mind as a blank slate filled in over years by sense experience.  David Hume then sauntered on the scene preaching the gospel of empiricism and on and on and on.  Henry calls this the “progressive imprisonment of reason” for the dismissal of the possibility of divine revelation has unduly narrowed its scope.

Henry is argues that to start with reason or sense experience or anything other than divine revelation is to falter right out of the gate.  As we now see from our elevated view of post-enlightenment history, the grand proposal to free thought from the anchor of divine revelation has not succeeded and it never will.  God has revealed Himself in Scripture and He has graciously granted us reason to recognize this revelation.  Any other approach is doomed to failure.

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