Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The second characteristic of the modern age to which Dr. D. A. Carson alludes is that epistemological certainty is both desirable and attainable. In modernism, there is an abiding sense that human beings can and ought to have access to objective truth. The various philosophic structures that modern man has developed are founded on this assumption, that there is objective truth that we can arrive at purely by human reasoning. In the video series, How Should We Then Live, Francis Schaeffer illustrates this by drawing a circle in the sand that is crossed out and replaced by another circle that is crossed out and replaced by another circle, on and on. There are two problems that we should be aware of concerning this issue. First, it is a mistake to start and proceed purely by human reason, unaided by written revelation from the Infinite, Personal Creator. It is not that human reasoning is bad or wrong in and of itself, nor that truth is unattainable; it is simply that without the fixed reference that God, in His love and wisdom provides, man wanders astray too easily. This leads to the second problem which relates to a response that arose due to the failure of arriving at an agreed upon “circle”. Philosophers concluded that reason would not lead us to absolute truth and therefore “abandoned” reason as the pathway to enlightenment. I put abandoned in quotations because man never truly abandoned reason since reason was involved in determining what unreasonable approach we would try next. The aforementioned step produced a wide variety of manifestations both pragmatically and philosophically. This step, as well, contributed to the gradual undoing of the modern age and the rise of the postmodern age. Schaeffer, in the teaching referred to above, speaks of this in terms of The Age of Non Reason and the Age of Fragmentation. In my next entry I will consider the role that foundationalism played in the modern age.

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB)

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