Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Theistic Rationalism: Is it a Theological or Historical Term? II

In the comments section of a recent post by Jon Rowe Dr. Gregg Frazer stated the following:

"So, my statement stands irrespective of Tom's claim that unitarians, who worshiped an entirely different god than did Christians, were Christians."

To which I responded:

"I see a lot of Calvinists state this but find it absurd. If they are worshipping the God of Exodus 34:5-7 then that is the God of the Bible. Do you maintain that Jews that had no concept of the Trinity were worshipping a different God? "

This is an interesting theological debate but it is just that: theological. Why does it come up at all in a conversation about the use of the term Theistic Rationalism? I would have to propose because it is a theological and not a historical term. Not to mention one built on a rather extreme view of who is, and is not, worshipping the God of the Bible.


  1. K of I,

    I think TVD, Jon, and I just agree to disagree. But I'm fairly certain Hooker and Wilson disagree as well. First Hooker:

    "The lawe of reason doth somewhat direct men how to honour God as their Creator, but how to glorifie God in such sort as is required, to the end he may be an everlasting Saviour, this we are taught by divine law, which law both ascertayneth the truth and supplyeth unto us the want of that other law. So that in morall actions, divine lawe helpeth exceedingly the law of reason to guide mans life, but in supernaturall it alone guideth." [italics mine](Lawes I.16.5; 1:139.3-10)

    To Hooker, the Scriptures guide reason. If reason checked the bible, every miracle would be thrown out, thus, no foundation for the authority, and anyone could cherry pick whatever they thought authentic, which would compromise everything.

    Wilson said the same thing. Here it is, the entire paragraph in context:

    "In compassion to the imperfection[distinguished from God's perfect revelation] of our internal powers[reason], our all-gracious Creator, Preserver, and Ruler has been pleased to discover and enforce his laws, by a revelation given to us immediately and directly from himself[His bible was uncorrupted]. This revelation is contained in the holy scriptures. The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin, and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually[the bible is immutable].
    On some important subjects, those in particular, which relate to the Deity, to Providence, and to a future state, our natural knowledge is greatly improved, refined, and exalted by that which is revealed. On these subjects, one who has had the advantage of a common education in a christian country, knows more, and with more certainty, than was known by the wisest of the ancient philosophers.
    One superiour advantage the precepts delivered in the sacred oracles clearly possess. They are, of all, the most explicit and the most certain. A publick minister, judging from what he knows of the interests, views, and designs of the state, which he represents, may take his resolutions and measures, in many cases, with confidence and safety; and may presume, with great probability, how the state itself would act. But if, besides this general knowledge, and these presumptions highly probable, he was furnished also with particular instructions for the regulation of his conduct; would he not naturally observe and govern himself by both rules? In cases, where his instructions are clear and positive, there would be an end of all farther deliberation. In other cases, where his instructions are silent, he would supply them by his general knowledge, and by the information, which he could collect from other quarters, concerning the counsels and systems of the commonwealth. Thus it is with regard to reason, conscience, and the holy scriptures. Where the latter give instructions, those instructions are supereminently authentick[superior]. These considerations show, that the scriptures support, confirm, and corroborate, but do not supercede the operations of reason and the moral sense. The information with regard to our duties and obligations, drawn from these different sources, ought not to run in unconnected and diminished channels: it should flow in one united stream, which, by its combined force and just direction, will impel us uniformly and effectually towards our greatest good."
    -Works, Vol. I.

    His point is if the Bible gives instructions, it is supereminently authentick. If the Bible is silent, all we have is our reason to make the decision. The scriptures don't supercede reason because it's the same thing, from the same person; God. If reason supercedes the Scriptures, he contradicts himself and Hooker.

    Our mind is flawed, not the Scriptures.

  2. I will have to read through all this a few times before I comment. I did a post at AC on this that I will copy to here soon. You can go read it there and comment here if you want. This is certainly a complex issue.