PAPER NO. 48
REASON AND THE WORD OF GOD
An Apologetic for Reason
- It is self-evident that we think: we form concepts, judgments and arguments: a word or term expresses a concept; judgments only are either true or false; arguments for a judgment are either sound or unsound.
- It is self-evident that there are laws of thought: the law of identity (a is a); the law of non-contradiction (not both a and not-a in the same respect at the same time); excluded middle (either a or not-a).
Reason in itself is the laws of thought.
Reason in its use is formative, critical, interpretative and constructive.
Reason in us is natural, ontological, transcendental and fundamental.
- Reason as the laws of thought is the test for meaning. If a law of thought is violated there is no logical meaning.
Meaning is more basic than truth; if there is no meaning there can be no truth.
If there is no logical meaning there can be no existential meaning.
- Reason is ontological; it applies to being as well as thought: there are no square-circles; no being from non-being; no uncaused events.
Reason applies to all being, the highest being, God’s being (God is not both eternal and not-eternal in the same respect at the same time).
Reason is an aspect of being and is as eternal as the highest being.
- Reason as the laws of thought is self-attesting; it cannot be questioned but makes questioning possible.
Reason is transcendental and it is therefore authoritative.
- Only reason in itself as the laws of thought is self-attesting.
Nothing else (neither testimony, nor any person, nor common sense, nor intuition, nor empiricism—all knowledge is from sense experience, nor tradition) is self-attesting.
No experience is meaningful without interpretation; and every interpretation must be tested for meaning by reason.
Coherence, by good and necessary consequences, is the test for meaning and is more basic than correspondence (by naïve realism) as the test for truth.
- The Logos is the eternal Word of God who makes God fully known (John 1:1-18).
The Word of God comes to man and into man in several ways (explained throughout the gospel of John). Jesus Christ is the Logos incarnate.
The Holy Spirit is sent by Christ to lead the Church into all truth, through the work of the pastor teachers, in response to challenges, coming to agreement after much discussion, summed up in its Creeds, which is the Historic Christian Faith (John 16:13; Acts 15, Ephesians 4:10-16).
- The life of the Logos is in all men as light. Man is created by God, in his own image, to know God.
The light by which we see/understand the invisible things about God is the light of reason.
The light of reason is in all men as the light of nature (Psalm 8:5; John 1:4; Romans 1:20; Westminster Confession 1:1).
- Reason is the beginning of common ground (the necessary conditions for thought and discourse).
Common ground consists of reason, integrity (as a concern for consistency in thought and life), critical thinking (examining assumptions for meaning), all of which lead to the Principle of Clarity: some things are clear; the basic things are clear; the basic things (about God and man and good and evil) are clear to reason.
If we know what is clear we can show what is clear.
Common ground is not neutral ground. One has to neglect, avoid, resist and deny reason to avoid what is clear about God. The darkness of unbelief cannot withstand the light of reason (John 1:5).
Failure to seek and understand what is clear about God is sin. Sin brings spiritual death—meaninglessness, boredom and guilt without end.
One must repent of sin in coming to Christ, the Word of God incarnate.
- Reason is the self-attesting form of the Word of God in all men.
Man, in himself, is now fallen; he fails to use reason self-critically or fully. This failure is in man, not in reason. Reason in itself is not and cannot be fallen.
Man is restored to the life of reason by regeneration, and sanctified through trials of faith leading to deeper understanding.
By reason, man is to demolish arguments and every pretension which exalts itself against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and silence what opposes the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).