I’m going to make some general observations about what’s wrong with Scripturalism.
1.Clarkians like Gerety and Robbins are Hume in sheep’s clothing.
I wouldn’t quite put Clark in the same category. Clark was one of those paradoxical figures, like John Wesley or Billy Graham, who has a capacity to do both great good and great harm.
Unfortunately, Clarkians like Gerety and Robbins reproduce all of his philosophical and theological vices without his compensatory virtues.
2.What’s the duty of a Christian apologist? In my view, a Christian apologist has a twofold duty:
i) Ascertain what the Bible teaches.
ii) Defend what the Bible teaches.
But Clarkians have a very different agenda. When confronted with an enemy of the faith like Hume, a Clarkian’s response is to say, “Okay, David, tell us where we’re allowed to stand. You draw the line. Wherever you choose to draw the line, we’ll move back behind that line. We know our place.”
Instead of challenging, or even questioning, an infidel like Hume, they capitulate. They obsequiously stand wherever he orders them to stand. They allow sworn enemies of the faith to set the boundaries. They then confine themselves to those boundaries, and begin to cultivate chamois interpretations of the Bible.
If an infidel like Hume says memory is unreliable, the Clarkian goes back two paces. If an infidel like Hume says sensory perception is unreliable, the Clarkian goes back two more paces. If an infidel like Hume says testimonial evidence is unreliable, the Clarkian goes back another two paces. If an infidel like Hume says induction is unreliable, the Clarkian goes back two more paces.
Instead of challenging the methods and assumptions of an infidel like Hume, they attack Christians who presume to challenge the methods and assumptions of infidels like Hume. They collaborate with mortal enemies of the faith. They become baptized Quislings for the cause of infidelity. They give cover and credence to the enemies of the gospel.
Instead of defending sources of knowledge which the Bible itself acknowledges, they defend Humean strictures on knowledge. Instead of supporting those who oppose Hume, they support Hume while opposing those who oppose Hume. Instead of defending the Bible against its adversaries, they defend its adversaries, then reinterpret the Bible to fall in line with its new overlords.
Hume in a sheepskin jacket. Hume in sheepskin slippers. Chamois epistemology. Chamois hermeneutics.
3.Instead of beginning with what the Bible says about the importance of memory or sense-knowledge or testimonial evidence, &c., they begin with what the infidel has to say.
This, in turn, then requires them to reinterpret what the Bible says to bring the Bible in line with their extrascriptural and antiscriptural philosophy. And this makes them indistinguishable from standard issue liberals.
They authorize the world dictate what Christians are allowed to believe. They then find creative new ways to interpret the Bible so that it echoes whatever the world allows them to believe.
So, for example, they reinterpret the sensory language of 1 Jn 1:1-3 as metaphorical language. You might as well be reading Mary Baker Eddy. Why not go all the way with a figurative Resurrection?
Indeed, haven’t they already crossed that line? If you interpret Prov 23:7 as a prooftext for idealism, if a man is just a set of propositions, if a man is identical with his own thoughts, then what’s a body? What rose from the dead on Easter morning? What was crucified on Good Friday? You reduce Holy Week to a Berkeleyan allegory. Reduce the nativity to a Berkeley allegory. Berkeleyan monophysitism.
Given their rejection of sense-knowledge, they can’t define a body. And they say you don’t know what you can’t define. So what’s left? Clarkian ontology has no place for the Incarnation or Resurrection. Clarkian epistemology has no place for the Incarnation or Resurrection. It’s just a bunch of ideas. Thinkers thinking thoughts.
A body is a sensory object. So what’s a body to a Clarkian? What does that even mean? What saves them from becoming Berkeleyan monophysites?
4.From the standpoint of pastoral theology, it’s very harmful to the faith of Christians to allow Humean attacks on Biblical epistemology to go unchecked. Indeed, to defend the assailant.
You’re telling Christians to reject sensory evidence, memorial evidence, testimonial evidence, and so on and so forth, then telling them to slam on the brakes as their car hurtles over the cliff. Well, at that point it’s two yards too late for the brakes to do much good. Once the car left terra firm and is presently heading into thin air, applying pressure to the brake pedal will do nothing to halt, or even slow, the irreversible descent.