JONATHAN PHINEHAS SAID:
“I think it would be fairer to say that Robbins believes that all Biblical claims ‘rise to the level of knowledge’ and that because all extra-scriptural knowledge claims have not been verified by a word from God, one must offer justification for them which would be as certain as a word from God.”
That only pushes the question back a step. If Robbins says “no extrascriptural claim counts as knowledge unless it’s verified by Scripture,” that, itself, is an extrascriptural claim.
How does Robbins know that “no extrascriptural claim counts as knowledge unless it’s verified by Scripture,” that, itself, is an extrascriptural claim”? Is his extrascriptural statement about extrascriptural statements a true statement or a merely opinionated statement?
Since his general statement about extrascriptural statements would necessarily apply to his own extrascriptural statement, does his disclaimer about extrascriptural statements self-refuting? Is the disclaimer self-referential? That’s the point.
“Robbins’ would then ask for that justification.”
And I’m asking him to justify his extrascriptural statement about extrascriptural statements.
“IMU, for Robbins, knowledge is defined as justified truth believed, where justification is verification by a word from God.”
i) Did Robbins deduce that definition from Scripture?
ii) How does Robbins know what Scripture says–given his rejection of sense knowledge?
iii) Moreover, how does he know the laws of logic? Not from Scripture. For unless he already had a working knowledge of logic, he could make no sense of Scripture.
But if his knowledge of logic is innate, then that’s a significant form of extrascriptural knowledge.
iv) Likewise, verification is a logical procedure. How could you verify something from Scripture unless you knew the laws of logic?
“So, if a claim is justified as knowledge by virtue of it being a word from God, then any proposition not verified by a word from God must be shown to be just as certain as a word from God in order to be known.”
The statement that “if a claim is justified as knowledge by virtue of it being a word from God, then any proposition not verified by a word from God must be shown to be just as certain as a word from God in order to be known” is, itself, an extrabiblical statement. Is that a true statement, or a merely opinionated statement? And how, in practice, do you distinguish an opinionated statement from an ignorant statement?
“Any proposition which he does not hold axiomatically as being a word from God is opinions unless it can be shown to be as certain as a word from God.”
The statement that “any proposition which he does not hold axiomatically as being a word from God is opinions unless it can be shown to be as certain as a word from God” is an extrascriptural statement. So is that a statement of fact, or bare opinion?
Does an extrascriptural disclaimer disclaim itself?
“This doesn’t mean that extra-Biblical claims are not true. But apart from a word from God he does not claim to know them to be true. This is not to affirm that they are false. ”
That’s an extrascriptural statement about every extrascriptural statement. So is that extrascriptural statement true or false?
“Just because I cannot know that I am a man does not mean that it is not true.”
The question at issue is whether truth can be an object of knowledge.
“Robbin’s holds axiomatically that the propositions of the 66 books of Scripture are divinely inspired and are thus ipso facto epistemically justified. Accordingly, a proposition outside Scripture is not known unless justification can be provided for it which is as certain as a word from God.”
You need to distinguish between statements of Scripture and statements about Scripture. The immediate point at issue is not whether statements of Scripture are true, but whether statements about Scripture are true.
According to Scripturalism, can extrascriptural statements about Scripture ever count as knowledge? That’s the question.
“Again, I think Robbins would want to see such justification.”
How do I justify an extrascriptural statement? Wouldn’t any justification of an extrascriptural statement involve another extrascriptural statement?
I make an extrascriptural statement. To justify that statement, I must make other justificatory statements. My justificatory statements are also extrascriptural statements. Must I then justify my justificatory statements? Where does that process terminate?
“Again, it seems that if justification requires a word from God, anything which does not have verification by a word from God is not known. Robbin’s calls these claims opinions (which can be either true or false).”
And that very statement is, itself, an extrascriptural statement. So what is the epistemic status of your extrascriptural statement about extrascriptural statements?
“Again, it seems that if all Bible is knowledge because it is a word from God, then any other claim must be shown to be just as certain as a word from God. I think that until such justification is provided, Robbins is correct to call all such extra-Scriptural claims opinion or whatever.”
You yourself just made a universal extrascriptural claim about extrascriptural claims. Should we call your claim mere opinion? And how do we distinguish an opinionated claim from an ignorant claim?
You said Robbins is correct. Do you know that he’s correct, or do you opine that he’s correct? Is it even possible for you to know he’s correct given your Scripturalist constraint on what is knowable?
“IMU, Robbins would not argue in this way. By making Scripture axiomatic, the propositions of Scripture become the indubitables and are knowledge by nature of their place in his system.”
The fact that certain propositions are either axiomatic or deducible from axioms doesn’t make them true. That, of itself, doesn’t make them rise to the level of knowledge.
Also, at this point I think we need to introduce a semantic clarification. Statements never rise to the level of knowledge. Knowledge is a state of mind. Statements are either true or false.
You might distinguish between knowledgeable statements and ignorant statements. So, when you say that Scriptural statements count as knowledge. Is that:
i) Shorthand for claiming that Scriptural statements are true?
ii) Or claiming that Scriptural statements are knowable?
I’d add that what is true and what is knowable are two different things. In principle, a falsehood is knowable. It can be known to be false.
For Scripture to “rise to the level of knowledge,” two conditions must be met:
i) It is true
ii) It is knowable
Even if Scripture is true, how can we know Scripture–given the Scripturalist repudiation of sense knowledge?
If we learn what Scripture teaches via the senses, then we can only form opinions about what Scripture says, right?
And, unlike Cheung, I don’t think that Robbins fell back on occasionalism–which has its own set of problems.
“All other proposition which are not Scripture are therefore not known apart from a word from God. This seems consistent to me. And you can call these other propositions whatever you want; Robbins called them opinions.”
Does this mean I should call your extrascriptural statement about extrascriptural statements mere opinion?
“Robbins claims that all Bible is knowledge. That is, there is nothing more certainly known than a word from God and the Bible is a word from God. All other claims to knowledge must be shown to be just as certain as a word from God.”
Once again, we need to distinguish between what the Bible claims, and what Robbins claims. Does an extrascriptural claim about a Bible claim amount to knowledge, opinion, or ignorance?
“I know there is great hostility between the VanTillians and Clarkians.”
I think Clark and Van Til both make some useful contributions to Christian apologetics. And I think both men also made some mistakes.