Pat Mefford’s initial post on multi-valued logic was directed at the impossibility of the contrary claim found in covenantal/presuppositional apologetics. I responded here. Pat responded here and here.
His main concern now is as follows:
In what way are we thinking God’s thoughts after him when think of this scriptural passage that was at the top of my original post?
“One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.” (Titus 1: 12-13a)
Now I can respect that Paul was rhetorical point in citing Epimenides, he was as Greek as they come. To most Christians (and to most apologists) this isn’t much of an issue, but it is for the Presuppositional/Covenantal apologist. Here we have a proposition embedded in scripture that is both thought of by unregenerate and regenerate minds, both Jew and Gentile, that simultaneously affirms and denies its own truth value.
This proposition exists. It is a contradiction. How does it stand in relation to the Triune God? How is this proposition grounded in Almighty God? How does Chris account for it? Notice that is what was lacking in Chris’ response to me.
According to the text, Cretans are always liars. Taken in the strictest sense it follows that if a person is a Cretan, then that person is a liar. But should the claim be taken this way? Perhaps the statement simply means that virtually every Cretan is a liar, or Cretans in general are liars. If so, then Pat’s concern disappears, because the Cretan who uttered this statement need not have been a liar, and there is no contradiction.
But I think there is a much better common sense response to Pat’s concern. Note that the text does not claim that Cretans always lie. Rather, Cretans are always liars. A liar is a person who lies. Liars are often known for their propensity to lie. Some habitually lie. My mother would say they “lie like a dog.” But very rarely, if ever, does a person do nothing but lie. A liar can still tell the truth. The difficulty is knowing when a liar is telling the truth. But this is not a difficulty with respect to the Cretan’s claim, for the Apostle Paul affirms that his statement is true. There is no contradiction.