An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 19 – Religions that share our authority.

By C.L. Bolt

Our most recent discussion will lead more careful thinkers to question what we should say about religious positions that also claim faith as a starting point for knowledge. First it should be said that most religious varieties of the non-Christian worldview are excluded from the discussion. Most religious views of the world are reducible to atheism. It is extremely rare to find versions of the non-Christian worldview which claim a personal revelation from God. Those who profess belief in some god-like entity who has not revealed itself to humanity have no way of knowing that their god-like entity exists. A transcendent but not immanent being is neither personal nor knowable and an immanent but not transcendent being is neither absolute nor knowable. If God is not knowable apart from revelation then the position which tries to claim God but not revelation is inconsistent. If God is not knowable apart from revelation then the non-Christian position which tries to claim the revelation of the Christian worldview is inconsistent. Thus an internal critique is formed and our argumentation is shown to be driven by a claim concerning the impossibility of the contrary. An inconsistent worldview cannot be the precondition for intelligibility. More will be said about this in a much later part of this introduction.

Some non-Christian understandings of the world are much more similar to the Christian worldview than atheism. Some varieties of the non-Christian worldview are so much like the Christian worldview that they actually admit to borrowing from the Christian worldview. These varieties of the non-Christian worldview may state that faith is their starting point and place their faith in the Bible like the Christian does. When the Bible is claimed as the starting point by an unbelieving system of thought, how might we begin to answer that system?

There are many examples of non-Christians who claim that the Bible is the Word of God. Two popular examples are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Many Christians are unaware that Muslims also claim that the Bible is the word of their god Allah. Additionally, there are modern-day Jews who accept large portions of our Scripture as revelation from their god. Finally, someone might try to make up some other non-Christian religion that is so much like Christianity that it appears impossible to show how it cannot also be considered the precondition of intelligibility.

It should not surprise us at all that insofar as a variation of the non-Christian worldview is consistent with the Christian worldview it is in theory able to account for some features of intelligibility. In one sense, faith as a starting point for knowledge may not be a major stumbling block for these religious groups. Where variations of the non-Christian worldview deviate from the Christian worldview they fail to account for intelligibility and this is still perfectly consistent with our method. In order to provide a clear answer to the concern about non-atheistic non-Christian worldview variations we need to momentarily set aside our philosophical concerns. Our focus needs to be on the presuppositionalism that drives our argumentation.

If some religious variation of the non-Christian worldview claims to accept the authority of the Christian Scriptures then there is no need to argue from anything other than the text of Scripture itself. Issues of canon, translation, transmission, history, and other evidences may be brought to bear upon the discussion taking place as well since it involves a parroted Christian frame work upon which the aforementioned issues are to be understood according to the religious position in question. There is nothing involved in this procedure which is not already a part of the covenantal apologetic method. The unbeliever is called to be consistent with his or her own ultimate authority which just so happens to rightfully belong to Christians. But notice something; the aforementioned illustrations (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) are inconsistent with Christian theism. Such inconsistency is a finding of internal critique and fits nicely into our argument.

We will return to this topic to address it more fully in future parts of this introduction. For now it is sufficient to remember that one need not attempt to answer positions philosophically when they are explicitly borrowing from the Christian worldview and admit to doing as much by claiming to place their faith in the Bible. The Bible can be used to refute these views. This is not to say that the more philosophical approach cannot be used on these positions; it can be, however they claim to get around our question about the starting point of knowledge by sharing our starting point. Where this breaks down is when they actually then reject that starting point in their various flawed interpretations of and additions to the text, etc. Christian heresies claim to accept the same starting point for knowledge as Christians do and can be refuted from that starting point, but they also reject the starting point for knowledge that Christians have when the Christian heresies deviate from Scripture. So there is a problem with the starting point of Christian heresies as they are divided between the Christian and non-Christian starting point of knowledge.

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Steven S.

Additionally, there are modern-day Jews who accept large portions of our Scripture as revelation from their god.

But what about the many modern-day Jews who do not?

Or are you referring here to the Torah, in which case calling it “our Scripture” is rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

Indeed, I have looked through what I thought would be the relevant sections of this text, and failed to find any mention of why the Jewish G-d is not sufficient, thus breaking the uniqueness condition of the proofs given (i.e. the exclusivity of the Christian worldview vs. All Others.)

C.L. Bolt

Modern day Jews who do not accept any portions of Scripture as revelation from God fall into a different category from the one this part of the series addresses and since the Torah is a part of Christian Scripture it is not presumptuous to refer to it as such.

Steven S.

Ah, I see the distinction you’re drawing now. Thank you.

However, I do not see an addressing of my third point there; or are you arguing that the Jewish worldview is somehow subsumed within the Christian worldview?

C.L. Bolt

My argument concerning a Judaism that is faithful to the Torah would follow theological lines rather than philosophical ones for the most part. I do not think it satisfies the preconditions of intelligibility, but for reasons that are not immediately apparent, and for reasons that I did not intend to spell out in this general introduction.

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