Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The proper use of reason

In his book entitled Reasons [for Faith]: Philosophy in the Service of Theology, author K. Scott
Oliphint discusses the proper use of reason asking "What, then, is the proper use of reason in reference to faith, that is, to the truth given in Christianity?" (22).

His tripartite answer is as follows:
  1. Reason has the task of judging the consistency and coherence of biblical truth. It is also to function as a judge of what is contradictory and also what is not. However, this "does not mean that reason is the final arbiter of what is possible and what is impossible" (22). It also assumes that reason only functions in this capacity when it is renewed and restored by the grace of God.
  2. Reason is always a servant to theology and never a master. "Its proper place with respect to theology is to provide whatever tools might be helpful for theology to carry out its own task. It also means that the law of contradiction, and the use of that law, can never finally determine whether or not a particular doctrine is true. That determination is left to revelation." (23)
  3. Finally, "the law of contradiction's service to theology is not in matters of interpretation per se, but rather in the organization and articulation of our interpretations." (24) As per the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura, interpretation of Scripture is brought by way of other Scriptures.

Oliphint summarizes by reiterating that reason is to judge the consistency of doctrine, that reason is never in a magisterial role over theology, and that reason is to help articulate and organize our interpretations of Scripture. (24)

 Oliphint, K. Scott. Reasons [for Faith]: Philosophy in the Service of Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2006. Print.

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