"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bavinck on Christ as Word of God

"He [Christ] is the Logos in an utterly unique sense, revealer and revelation alike. In him, all revelations of God, all words of God, in nature and history, in creation and re-creation, under the Old and New Testaments, have their ground, their unity and center. He is the sun; the particular words of God are its rays. The word of God in nature, in Israel, in the New Testament, in Scripture may not for a moment be detached or thought about apart from Him. God’s revelation exists only because He is the Logos. He is the principium cognoscendi [the principle of knowing], in the general sense of all knowledge, in the special sense, as logos ensarkos [the word infleshed], of all knowledge of God, of religion and theology."

-Herman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics Volume 1. pg 402.


Andrew said...

I love his writing on Christ as the word which therefore proves Scripture's supremacy and Protestantism, but how do you deal with the Canon Issue? I'm sure as a Dallas Seminary grad you've had tons of classes on it, if you are so inclined, please let me know about the issue of the canon of scripture.

Jared Nelson said...

I take it that you are referencing the Catholic apologetic argument that a Protestant cannot be epistemologically certain when speaking of how the canon was finalized and how is the canon authoritative. (?)

Do we Protestants have a problem with the canon? I know the argument: Protestants don't recognize an infallible church, therefore how do you trust a fallible church to deliver an infallible list of infallible books to you?

I don't know with certainty. I trust the church was largely and substantively correct in regards to the canon, Trinitarianism and many other issues. Why? The same circular logic: it conforms with Scripture. That's really my basis of judging, my norming norm that cannot be normed. I don't believe I've been given another criteria. Yet, I believe I can accept the early church as an authority lesser than Scripture. I can trust their close proximity in time to the writing of the Scriptures to know that they were written by apostles.

"Certainty," as I understand its use in the modern world, however, is not my criteria of judgment. Now I will give you perhaps too revealing of an answer, for when two opposing sides speak, they both tend to speak as if they have definitively settled the answer in their own mind with certainty:

On the underlying issue of certainty: You know, I've spent some time with Van Til and have been surprised at the similarity of Van Til and many Catholic apologists. Both use an appeal to a certainty of knowledge, the Catholic appeals to the magisterium and the Van Tillian to written revelation in Scripture. I think neither the Van Tillian or the Catholic is being entirely intellectually honest. At least, both are based on a modernist idea of certainty I do not affirm.

There is a latitudinarian attitude about a great many things in the Catholic Church. Thomism versus Molinism, etc. If 4 different positions on a particular issue are acceptable, where is certainty?

In Protestantism, even with a confessional statement there is a diversity of opinion in certain areas that cannot be avoided. I just preached on Rev 21:5. Who is speaking? I said Christ, others say the Father. If I get to heaven and God said: "Actually that was the Father, not the Son." I would not be incredulous. Where is the certainty?

I'm not certain on many things, but I can hold a position with a measure of certainty. Certainty can be the emperor's clothes of theology. There are certain things I can attach a measure of certainty, by which I mean I will stake my life on them. Most of those things have to do with Christ.

To the canon, I have a degree of certainty, that is even dogmatic, because I believe in faith that God directed pious men in witnessing to and confirming the word written in those 27 books of the New Testament. But I have no iron-clad proof. It seems with modernist ideas of certainty, I could really couldn't trust much of written history, for an event cannot be reproduced and tested in the lab. This is why I believe history is being neglected today is that it is not repeatable and everyone has such a skepticism of primary sources, we are barely certain of anything.

Jared Nelson said...

I will not use modernist standards to judge the Bible. I have no independent documents apart from the Scriptures that prove the resurrection either. I have no independent witness to the deity of Christ than these documents either. I will not play by the modern world's rules.

So what am I saying? I'm not a disciple of Kierkengaard, but I do not believe certainty and faith are on friendly terms.

Indeed, I do not believe certainty and humanity are on friendly terms. If I play Descartes game, I do not end up with "Cogito ergo sum." I end up with no modernist certainty about anything. I end where Modernism ends up, with a suicide of knowledge and certainty.

But the world screams out for more meaning than Nihilism. I end up where Lewis ended up, not necessarily seeing Christianity, but like the Sun, knowing that by Christianity...no by Christ, I see everything else. Could it be that the better world illuminated by him is an illusion? As much as any crazy fantasy could be reality. But I can't believe that. I'm not capable. I believe Christ is certain, but I cannot believe Christ is certain by modernist techniques and arguments about canon from either side.

Modern Apologetics in Protestantism and Catholicism are deeply lacking, in my opinion. Epistemological arguments are becoming white noise to me because they start with a bad premise in Modernist thinking. Perhaps that's my problem. I'm too non-Modern.