VICTOR REPPERT SAID:
“I have reached the conclusion that there are certain epistemological presuppositions held by Calvinists which have to be responded to if there is to be an effective critique of Calvinism that a Calvinist will take seriously.”
“Calvinists typically begin with a kind of biblical positivism in which the inerrancy of Scripture is not only accepted, but is considered epistemologically fundamental.”
Well, let’s consider the issue at hand, shall we? Such as: Why is there evil in the world? What is God’s will for man? What is the afterlife like?
Now, what would be our best source of information or even our only source of information to answer these questions? Absent divine revelation, how could we begin to answer these questions?
Absent divine revelation, how could we know why God created a world containing evil? Absent divine revelation, how could we know God’s will for man? Absent divine revelation, how could we know what the afterlife is like?
These are questions that involve divine intent. We lack direct access to the mind of God. We can’t read his mind. If we are to know his intentions, he must disclose his intentions.
“The next step is to argue that the primary type of evidence relevant to the interpretation of texts of Scripture is of the grammatico-historical type. So if I say ‘this makes no sense, God could and surely should do it differently’ the primary objection is that the text says God did it that way, so ‘so much the worse for intuition.’ To object as I have done would be to present an a priori argument against Calvinism, not an exegetical argument.”
“The next step is to produce reams of Calvinist exegesis of the relevant passages. This includes arguing that Calvinist texts (Eph. 1, Rom. 9) really do fully support Calvinism, and cannot be interpreted in any other way without doing violence to the meaning of the text. Anti-Calvinist texts I Pet 3:9, John 3:16, James 1:13, 2 Cor 5:15, etc.) can be reconciled with Calvinism without doing violence to the meaning of the text.”
“At the same time I can come up with anti-Calvinist exegetes who say that the Calvinist texts don't support Calvinism, and the Calvinist interpretation of anti-Calvinist text really do undermine Calvinism.”
True. Same is true in debating a Jehovah’s Witness.
“The thing that is hard not to notice is that people like Moo, Schreiner and Carson on the Calvinist side, and Witherington and Hamilton on the Arminian side are all professional exegetes. However, so far as I can tell, none of us over here in the blogosphere is a professional exegete. How do you guys figure out who to trust, besides trusting exactly those people whose ideas support the theology you are already committed to?”
i) What makes you think trust has anything to do with it? Commentators present arguments for their interpretation. They also interact with opposing views. They try to point out the deficiencies of the rival interpretations.
We simply evaluate their respective arguments. A layman can often do that since it’s a question of logic. A man may be an expert in his field, but unless he’s a professional logician, he has no advantage over a layman so far as logical reasoning is concerned.
ii) Moreover, it’s not as if only Reformed exegetes defend interpretations consistent with Calvinism. I can cite non-Calvinists who, on this or that verse, offer an interpretation which is consistent with Calvinism.
“By the way, I do not appreciate how all the points of the post were ignored, except for the one line in the discussion that you thought you could ridicule.”
i) The statement I quoted is a textbook case of special pleading. I think it’s worthwhile to highlight special pleading, especially when a philosophy prof. is the culprit. When you, Reppert, indulge in special pleading, that means you’re losing the argument.
ii) You also mentioned Jn 3:16. I didn’t respond to that in my post because I didn’t wish to blur the focus of my post. However, I did respond to that appeal over at your own blog.
iii) You also said “I think it won't do to deny that God loves every person.” Since that’s an assertion in lieu of an argument, I’m under no obligation to rebut your assertion since you give me no reason to believe it in the first place. . It was deservedly ignored.
iv) You also compare exegesis to scientific inference. Unfortunately, that’s an argument from analogy minus the argument. Unless and until you furnish a supporting argument to show that science and hermeneutics are comparable, this is just another orphaned assertion.
“The purpose of this post was not to engage my arguments, but to discredit me.”
When you make a statement like, "For me, the Calvinist has the burden of proof. Why? I'm not a Calvinist. You've got to show me," that discredits you. It’s especially discreditable on the lips of a philosophy prof.