Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 2

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A biblical epistemology

The first epistemological statement in the Bible is actually made by the serpent in the Garden: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). Satan prescribes knowledge through contradicting God’s design for knowledge. The fact that Satan chose epistemology as an early battleground underscores the strategic significance of epistemology in God’s design.

In this context Satan challenges Eve to consider a different starting point than God had prescribed, and if she does, Satan promises, Eve will have a better outcome—that her knowledge will be more complete, even to the point of making her godlike. While the actions Satan prescribed did result in particular knowledge (Gen 3:22), it was a distortion of God’s design for knowledge and resulted in tragedy and not blessing. These events invite the reader to inquire as to God’s ideal for human knowledge, and the answer is provided especially in the writings of Solomon, to whom it was granted to be exceedingly wise (1 Kings 3:12). Read more about Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 2

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Augustine

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Detail from Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Botticelli, 1494

Have you met Augustinus Aurelius? If not, you really should. If so, you likely love him or hate him; but either way, you realize he wields considerable influence upon every inhabitant of the Western Hemisphere. The Latin influence upon our languages owes much to him, as does our philosophy of international relations. The Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformers each drew heavily from his writings in their history-altering contentions with one another. To our day, scholars carefully consider his insights on a plethora of philosophical and theological questions that shape our culture and self-understanding. He wrote so deeply and penetratingly that his insights are part of the warp and woof of Western identity.

Augustine, as he came to be known, was born in AD 354 in modern Algeria. His father, Patricius, was a pagan and minor Roman official; his mother, Monica, a devout Christian. Young Augustine was, by all accounts, a very bad boy.

Recognizing their son’s intellectual brilliance, his parents arranged for the finest classical education. Augustine eventually landed in Carthage—the cultural and economic centerpiece of northern Africa. Reared by a father driven to see his son succeed, but disinterested in moral training, young Augustine pursued sensual pleasures with near abandon. “In Carthage,” he wrote, “a cauldron of unholy loves was sizzling and crackling around me.” Glutting his every sexual urge troubled his conscience. Yet he characterized his prayers to his mother’s God during these years as: “Lord, give me continence and chastity, but not now.” Read more about Augustine

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Is There A God?

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(About this series)

CHAPTER II: IS THERE A GOD?

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND

Whether or not there is a supreme personal intelligence, infinite and eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, the Creator, upholder and ruler of the universe, immanent in and yet transcending all things, gracious and merciful, the Father and Redeemer of mankind, is surely the profoundest problem that can agitate the human mind. Lying as it does at the foundation of all man’s religious beliefs—as to responsibility and duty, sin and salvation, immortality and future blessedness, as to the possibility of a revelation, of an incarnation, of a resurrection, as to the value of prayer, the credibility of miracle, the reality of providence,—with the reply given to it are bound up not alone the temporal and eternal happiness of the individual, but also the welfare and progress of the race. Nevertheless, to it have been returned the most varied responses.

The Atheist, for example, asserts that there is no God. The Agnostic professes that he cannot tell whether there is a God or not. The Materialist boasts that he does not need a God, that he can run the universe without one. The (Bible) Fool wishes there was no God. The Christian answers that he cannot do without a God.

I. THE ANSWER OF THE ATHEIST

“There is no God”

In these days it will hardly do to pass by this bold and confident negation by simply saying that the theoretical atheist is an altogether exceptional specimen of humanity, and that Read more about Is There A God?

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Book Review - Warfare in the Old Testament

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I was born in 1981 and the last war on American soil was World War II, which ended in 1945. If you do not count the wars since then in which America has been involved overseas, my lifetime has been war-free. Though both my grandfathers served in the military, neither my father nor I have served in any capacity. Wars and small battles, as real as they are, have been the stuff of TV for me. I have read about them in the paper, heard about them on the radio and I can distinctly remember watching live footage of Desert Storm. Read more about Book Review - Warfare in the Old Testament

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Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

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Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It attempts to answer questions regarding the origin of human knowledge, and considers especially how we can know with certainty. Epistemological answers are basic and necessary building blocks of any philosophy, worldview, or belief system. In fact, of the four major components of philosophy and worldview (epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and socio-political thought), none can be adequately addressed until we answer the question of how we can know.

Regarding metaphysics, for example, we can’t make legitimate assertions about the character of God or the existence of the human soul until we first address how such assertions can be verified or falsified. Further, unless we have a means for validating ethical prescriptions as either worthy or unworthy, we have no warrant for choosing one prescription over another—especially when we encounter apparently competing or conflicting goods. And if we have no mechanism for authentication, then how can we even arrive at a definition of what is good in the first place? Finally, in socio-political thought, on what basis can we choose one system of government over another, or how can we determine whether a law is commendable? Without correct epistemological answers, there is no basis for our understanding or choosing one thing over another. In short, epistemology is really about authority, verifiability, truth, and certainty. Read more about Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

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Power in the Psalms

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What the Psalms do to us

The Psalms teach us to be deeply occupied with our God. They magnify and exalt Him as the Sovereign Creator and Ruler of the universe. What is it to be much occupied with God? It is to treasure His Word, to delight in His worship, to reflect on His glorious attributes, to rehearse His great acts in history, to trust in His care, to glory in His gospel and to anticipate His final victory. The more we are occupied with God, the more strength we find for living.

The Psalms teach us to praise our God and also show us how to praise Him. There are few lessons that we need more. So very often we mumble mechanical praise from hearts that are crowded with unworthy loves and occupied with earthly concerns. The need is for robust praise from hearts that are deeply schooled in the stunning truths of the Sovereign Lord who not only made us but pours from his bounty countless blessings, the chief of which is eternal salvation through his Son. Read more about Power in the Psalms

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Made for More: An Interview with Author Hannah Anderson

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Image of Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image
by Hannah Anderson
Moody Publishers 2014
Paperback 176

Moody Publishers recently released Hannah Anderson’s first book, Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image. Hannah is a familiar presence here at SI, having written articles for us in the past and often sharing her blog writing with us as well. She was happy to take the time to answer a few questions for me about the book, related themes, and writing in general.

Q. When did the idea to write about imago dei come to you and why this eventually become the focus of your project?

A. The vision to write about imago dei came because I saw a lot of young women struggling to make sense of their lives and their Christian experience. They were not rebels, but they were struggling to find fulfillment in roles and family structures alone.

Many women’s discipleship programs are framed entirely around gender. By sheer weight of conversation, these women were being taught that sanctification means becoming a certain type of woman, not being conformed to Christ’s image. The more I explored, the more I realized that (1) We were starting our conversations about calling and identity in Genesis 2 and (2) We were parsing the sum total of human experience through gender. Read more about Made for More: An Interview with Author Hannah Anderson

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