Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Danger, Aim, and Quandry of Christian Scholarship

I guess you can tell that I think I found a 'home run' book in Right Reason and the Princeton Mind- An Unorthodox Proposal by Paul Kjoss Helseth. This one has pressed deep and has me mulling and 'amen'ing  more than I have in a while. The last such book to grab me in this area was John Frame's classic 'Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (DKG)'

I am growing more convinced that in order to keep a legitimate platform for the gospel in the academies, we must always demonstrate a valid epistemology. We need a cogent, articulate way to justify the norms of knowledge. I especially hope to hammer out a way to teach it to teens where they can confidently express a viable Christianity in the marketplace of ideas.  I am thoroughly convinced that this is where Christianity excels.

Time and time again, I am reminded that no one has ever done Christian scholarship better that the Princetonians who had a golden age of gospel proclamation, missionary zeal, and world class academic accomplishments from 1812-1929.
The latest chapter in "Right Reason" was a defense of B.B. Warfield's apologetic. But once again, I came away gleaning a side fruit of unexpected application.

Helseth does a wonderful job of showing the razor-thin danger zone of the connection and restraints of academic pursuits and the authority of Scripture. In the long run, not even Princeton survived the land-mine filled battlefield (with a lot of blame due to Woodrow Wilson I'm sad to say).

B.B. Warfield is lifted up as a model of academic zeal constrained by orthodox faith.

My favorite quote from this chapter is as follows:
Warfield argued that the believing academic has in his hands the norm of truth in the Word of God. This is the Ariadne clue by means of which he can thread his way through the labyrinths of the world's thought; this is the touchstone by the art of which he may choose the good and refuse the evil. So long as he clings to it he will build up the temple of truth, whence soever he quarries the stones. When he loses hold of it, however, he descends into the arena and takes his hap with other men; and going his own way, it is not strange that he is often found with his back turned to God. (B.B. Warfield- Heresy and Concession)

The reformed idea of all truth is God's truth should propel the Christian to seek out both the general and special revelation of God with eager excitement and passion. It should also make Christians slow to wring hands and despair when contrary views are propagated. The truth has no need to fear or hide from the truth. I believe that science does have a self correcting mechanism if honesty and integrity is enforced. The variable is time.

There is so much more to say about this: but under the authority of Scripture and the illumination of the Holy Spirit- regenerated believers should be the champions of knowledge- knowledge with a purpose- the beautiful and sweet glory of God.

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