The Bible is Philosophy

A few points about Philosophy and Christianity.

FIRST. Philosophy is about asking and answering Ultimate Questions about reality. If these are ordered in a logical structure, then it is called systematic philosophy, or systematic theology. Peter says that Scripture reveals all the important things relating to life and godliness. What is our starting point for knowledge? This is an important issue of life, for without it we cannot talk about the knowldge of God. What is reality and what are the cause and effects of it? We must use logic, but why is that the case? Is there evil and is there good? Does man need to be saved? (etc.) These are all important questions about life and godliness. And so, to say the Bible is philosophy is to say: the bible reveals answers to all of life’s foundational questions.

I often quote Vincent Cheung or Gordon Clark on this subject, but my experience at college also showed me that even in the secular world, if unreluctant, knows Christianity is a system-of-thinking for all of life. My philosophy book at college was called, “Life’s Foundational Questions,” by Michael Krogman, Ph.D. This is the same as saying “ultimate” questions, as Vincent would  say it.  The text book ended in endorsing a combination of rationalism and empiricism, in what was called a correspondence hybrid. The reason was that rationalism, or that logic is undeniable. However, logic gives no content. Yet, according to the book empiricism gave some content, (the bible denies this of course). It was asserted that an epistemology needed to be without contradiction, which is true. The end result is that an epistemology needs to have content, be without contradiction and account for logic. The issue with this hybrid is that the incurable problems of rationalism and empiricism are now compounded. I say all this, to show how the secular world understands some basic issues of structure about Ultimate Questions and the problems with the systems of thinking the world has come up with. My teacher even agreed Christianity gave answers to all the Foundational Questions he brought up in his philosophy textbook, such as (1) epistemology, (2) metaphysics, (2) logic and (3) ethics.

 

 Apologetics and Vincent Cheung

Doing apologetics is something the Bible tell us to understand and do; and thus, it is a foundational question about life. Early in my reading I found most apologetics to be missing the bible, even if they quoted from it. But then I read Vincent and found it to be a breath of fresh air, because his apologetic was the Bible. [1]

Vincent’s teaching on apologetics is simple; apologetics is a mere adaptation of systematic theology.  That is, Christian apologetics is foundationally Christian doctrine that is applied in a specific way to a particular audience. The Bible rejects empiricism (despite the fact that empiricism is self-refuting by itself), and observations for man to discover truth. The bible says it is the public revelation of God’s truth to the world. And so, apologetics does not start with human first principles. It starts with God’s revelation as way to both attack and defend.

Due to consistency in staying with Scripture as his starting point (particularly by avoiding human starting points) he has been helpful to me in showing the indirect “method” of Christian apologetics. The Christian first principle says only it is true and all others are false.  The bible also says in Romans 1 and 2 that man has God’s truth directly put into their minds by God. And so, if man denies God through words, logic and premises, then they must use the intelligibility God gave them to do it. And so, Paul says in Romans 1 that man cannot give a rational argument for suppressing God’s innate knowledge.  This is like the law of contradiction. Man cannot give a rational argument for suppressing or denying it, without using it. Also, because it is our opponent who denies and not us, then our method to demonstrate the Christian starting point of knowledge avoids begging the question (see page on law of contradiction and Aristotle).

Vincent is often talking about the Christian starting point having 3 main points: (1) it has enough premises to address all the ultimate issues of life, (2) it is non-contradiction, and (3) is self-authenticating. This is not learned  from a study of a history of philosophy but by starting with the Scripture and understanding what it says about itself as a starting point. And because the Scripture is true, it means this is the only way for a first principle to work; and thus, non-Christian epistemologies will fail because they are defective and inadequate in such points.

This is excellent. It is being consistent to the proclamation, “the Scripture is my starting point for knowledge.” Many might say this, but in reality it is empty words. I sometimes quote Gordon Clark, because on some topics he is good at explaining things. He claims to be a Christian dogmatist or deductionalist of the scripture; however, he also claims to be a cessationist. The WCF, which Clark was so quick to defend, says that truth is what the Scriptures says or what is “deduced,” from it. However, cessationism is not revealed in the scripture, nor is there any way to logically “deduce” this doctrine from the Bible. In this, when they say,” I adhere to the slogan of, “sola scriptura,”” it really is just a slogan to them and nothing more.  James gives us an illustration of such people. He tells us they are people who look in the mirror, but forget what the look like soon after walking away.

Since the scripture is our doctrine, our philosophy, our devotional, our doxology and our apologetic, then being consistent to it as our first principle is of the highest priority.

This first quote is from an email correspondence I had with Vincent about the difference between the Scripture as our epistemology and the illustration that our first principle is like the law of contradiction, in that one must use it to deny it.  I would recommend his  foundation books to get this full context for this, but quote below gives a nice quick summary of it, which has been a help to me.

“As for Clark, he is correct that there is no proof for a first principle of a system, not because you cannot argue in favor of it, but because “proof” carries a specific meaning, and it does not apply to a first principle. So it cannot be argued for with “proof” or “demonstration.” Here he seems to use the word “justification” in a more general sense, as in “warrant” or to “argue for.” We use the argument that the law of noncontradiction is necessary because it is unavoidable, because one needs to assume it even to deny it, as an illustration of what we claim about the Christian faith as a first principle to all thinking, that we need to assume God or Scripture even in the process of denying God or Scripture. Although this is like the transcendental argument of Van Til (we do not need to say that it is a unique insight), Clark has been more effective in demonstrating the strategy, as in his, “The Christian View of Men and Things.”

However, the transcendental “argument” in the context of apologetics is more like a strategy than an argument or a proof. This is because the argument in itself can at best show the necessity of bits and pieces of the Christian faith each time it is used on specific items. But we mean to say that the whole God (not just particular properties, and not just to the extent shown to be necessary) and the whole Scripture (not just a verse here or there) are necessary at all times, and that the whole first principle is ONE, not subject to division and selective affirmation. This does not come from the transcendental argument itself — the argument itself does not yield this conclusion — but it is already assumed as we employ the transcendental strategy. For this reason, the transcendental approach is more like an illustration for what we mean when we say that the whole Christian faith is necessary, just like the law of noncontradiction is an illustration to what we mean when we say that we can “justify” a first principle, but we cannot offer a “proof” or “demonstration” for it.

We believe that the Christian faith is true, that it is the foundation for all thinking and necessary for all thinking, not because of a proof or demonstration, not because of a transcendental argument or many transcendental arguments, and not even because it seems to be necessary, but we believe that the Christian faith is true and necessary because it is God’s revelation. This is what we should say if the Christian faith is indeed God’s revelation. So since God is one, his revelation is one, and not subject to division and selective judgment (one cannot affirm one part and discard another). This is the basis for affirming the whole thing at one time and at the beginning. The transcendental approach can only illustrate the necessity of a part of it at a time, but to say that we need to take up the whole thing because we have illustrated the necessity of a part comes from this other consideration, that we accept any of it and all of it in the first place, because it is God’s revelation. Therefore, the foundation of Christian apologetics is not the transcendental approach (indirect or negative), but biblical dogmatism or rationalism (direct and positive).
[Via a personal Email correspondence.]

Vincent has put his own argument as such,

 If Christianity (the Bible) is true, and  this same Christianity declares that all non-Christian claims are false, then all non-Christian claims are false by logical necessity.

Now, to eliminate all non-Christian claims and worldviews by logical necessity would
demand that your positive demonstration be correct by logical necessity. Supposing that we have such an apologetic, the situation would be thus:

1. Christianity is true by logical necessity.
2. Christianity excludes all non-Christian views.
3. Therefore, all non-Christian views are false by logical necessity.

The key is (1) – the rest are easy and automatic. And to attain (1), you will have to read my works on apologetics and learn how to apply the method. I recommend reading Ultimate Questions, Presuppositional Confrontations, and Apologetics in Conversation, among others. Then, this forces your opponent to interact with the Christian’s positive construction, rather than allowing him to evade the force of your presentation just by throwing mere possibilities at you – since you have destroyed those possibilities, not by specific refutations, but by logical necessity.
(Captive To Reason. 2009. 44)

 

IF (P) and (Q), then (R). If an empiricist wants to challenge this by their empricsm and observations, then they would be begging the question unless they prove the Christian first principle is false to begin with, and that their empiricism is true to begin with.  But this is the very thing we are arguing about. Once at this level Christian easily wins.

This is one aspect that is particularly missing for a study of philosophy: a self-authentication epistemology. Rationalism attempts this, but never takes a foot forward, because it has no content: not even content for its own logic.

The history of philosophy, (becasse man does have God’s innate knowledge and logic in them-despite their attempt to suppress it), is nothing more than a long progression of  dumb men saying about another dumb man, this point of their ultimate question is wrong. Their suppression is just lose enough for some to know something is wrong. The result is much words and books with next to nothing in any good content. Yet, systematic doctrine gives all the foundational questions. As a first principle of knowledge the bible teaches it has content for all of life, is not contradictory, it is self-authenticating, and excludes all others. This means the bible is our apologetic itself as much as it is our doctrine and doxology.

 

Systematic Theology vs. Systematic Philosophy

See my page, “Definitions,” under my “About Me,” for more.

The word THEOLOGY refers to the study of God. When used in a broader sense, it can include all the other doctrines revealed in Scripture. God is the supreme being who has created and now controls all that exists, and theology seeks to understand and articulate in a systematic manner information revealed to us by him. Thus theology is concerned with ultimate reality. Since it is the study of the ultimate, nothing is more important. And because it is a study of the ultimate, it defines and governs every other area of thought and life. Therefore, as long as God is the ultimate being or reality, theological reflection is the ultimate human activity. – Vincent Cheung. Systematic Theology. 2010. pg.4.

However, I see preachers and theologians mix up simple concepts such as command(axiology/ethics) and decree(causality/ontology). They don’t get the Bible or foundation questions it appears. This is the very issue Martin Luther raised against Erasmus, who was a very educated teacher. The takeaway from this is that it matters very little how educated you are if you cannot do the basics of systematic theology. It is like a martial artist who never mastered the basics, but moved on to learn the advance moves. When the competition came, he was surprised to find that a 1 year student is able to beat him in a match.

I will show the parallels for preaching and philosophy. (This is a from my book: The Undefeatable Worldview. )

Systematic Doctrineor- Ultimate Questions Systematic Philosophyor – Ultimate Questions
 

1.      Scripture / God’ self-Revelation.

 2.      God’s absolute and direct Sovereignty over all things. (What IS this)

3.      Creation of man. The story of the two groups of mankind as God’s elect children and of reprobation.

4.      Jesus as the Logos, man  in the Logos image.

5.      The command to subdue the earth, for pragmatic helpfulness, and not for finding truth.

6.      Man’s sin, and then salvation by Jesus. (i.e. Soteriology, Theology).  This is essentially a SUB-category of Metaphysics.

 Conclusion: (Ought to Do)
7.      Undefiled Religion is faith in God, loving your neighbor as oneself and taking care of widows. (God’s Commands)

 

 

.

1.    Epistemology. / First Principle of knowledge.

2.  Ontology / Metaphysics.   (i.e. Causality & Existence) (What “IS” this)

3.   Anthropology
.

4.  Logic (Deductive). Intelligibility. Innate knowledge. Language.

5. Logic (Inductive).   Scientific method.

6.  Theology / IF or How man needs salvation or improvement

 

Conclusion: (Ought to Do)
7.  Axiology. Ethics. Morals.

Ethics are a Conclusion

SECOND (A).

One cannot argue the truth of Christianity on the basis of its ethics; one must defend its ethics on the basis of its theological truth. The ethics is not a premise, but a conclusion. Theology is basic. –Gordon H. Clark, Religion, Reason and Revelation, Trinity Foundation, TN, 2012, p.139

To conclude an ethic (What I ought to do) from ontology is invalid. It is a non-sequitur; it imports information not contained in the premises. Christian ethics is what God commands.  Scripture reveals the metaphysics behind why God commanded such and such, but metaphysics is not a direct conclusion into ethics. To go from an “is” in the premise to an “ought” in the conclusion is invalid.  It would be a categorical error. It would be similar to saying apples and dogs are the same category. Therefore, if a dog barks then so do apples.  Even though God created all people–after Adam–to be born into sin (metaphysics) it would be invalid to conclude that what we ought (ethics) to do sinful actions. What we ought to do is follow God’s commands. His command is to repent and be born again as a new creation in Christ.

 

Ethical doctrines are logically preceded by and dependent on epistemological and metaphysical doctrines, that is, doctrines that closely relate to the first principles of the biblical worldview. These include the necessity of Scripture, the reality of God, the depravity of man, the divinity of Christ, and so on. Continuing with the above example, the authority of the command, “You shall not murder,” is derived from the sovereignty of God, his identity as the Creator, the nature of man as his creation and subordinate, our innate knowledge of the moral law, the reality, authority, and perspicuity of written revelation, and other relevant metaphysical and epistemological doctrines.

Nevertheless, the distinction between doctrines and ethics is merely a practical one, made for the sake of convenience in discussion. In reality, we mean doctrines about the metaphysical aspects of the Christian worldview, or the epistemological aspects, or the ethical aspects, and so on. These doctrines are interrelated, and some are more foundational than others. This means that the doctrines can be logically prioritized, but they are equally authoritative. In other words, the existence of God is more foundational and logically prior to the divine command, “You shall not murder,” but the doctrine of the existence of God and the divine command that forbids murder proceed from the same absolute authority, and are therefore equal in truth and power, compelling agreement and obedience.

It is a common occurrence in religious discussions to evaluate metaphysics on the foundation of ethics, or to use ethics to evaluate metaphysics. The logical priority of metaphysics alerts us as to the error of this approach. This fallacy has influenced the way some Christians present the gospel and challenge unbelievers, and as a result has obscured the rational superiority of the Christian faith. ( Vincent Cheung. Doctrines and Ethics.  Or found in, “Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians.” pg 113)

There rises many logical problems when one tries to get to ethics from non-Christian starting points. Let us use a human starting point to examine one such problem.

The point of this example is that empirical premises contain nothing but statements of empirical facts. They give observational data. They state what is. Hence, nothing but observational data can be put into the conclusion. If the premises state only what is, the conclusion cannot state what ought to be. There is no way of deriving a normative principle form an empirical observation. Gordon Clark,  lecture on Empiricism.

And

Now, for another point. If knowledge is to be based on experience, there is one type of knowledge which as Christians we should be particularly interested in that cannot be so arrived at. And that is normative statements. Statements of ethics particularly, but also of mathematics and logic and so on. No norms, no normative statements can be developed from any experience whatever. The concept of “ought” cannot be deduced from the verb “is.” – Gordon Clark, “A Defense of Christian Presuppositions in the Light of Non-Christian Presuppositions”

And

Brightman’s argument and all forms of so-called scientific ethics are based on a logical oversight. The premises of these theories are always descriptive statements, such as: I like this, or my friends like this. Science is a matter of observation and description, but scientific ethics depends on empirical observation for its premises. And if the premises are descriptive statements, the conclusions cannot be logically anything else than descriptive. Yet for ethics there must be normative conclusions. It will not suffice to say that you, or I, or Brightman likes this. What is required is a statement that you and I and Brightman ought to like this, and that everyone ought to like this, even though as a descriptive fact nobody likes it. The premises of science are always descriptive propositions; the conclusions of ethics must be normative. And it is a logical blunder to insert terms in the conclusion that did not appear in the premises. Any theory of ethics therefore that attempts to support ideals on observation, experience, or scientific method rests on a fallacy. -Gordon Clark. “The Achilles Heel of Humanism.”

 

Because our first principle for all knowledge is a body of knowledge given to us from God, which we call the Bible, then by necessity our system for Christianity is deduction. It’s foundation is in the form of systematic-theology (or systematic-philosophy which is the same thing). This gives a particular result; namely that, the biggest ultimate questions of life are first in order and then descend from there: such as epistemology, existence/metaphysics, causality/ontology, logic, anthropology, salvation and finally with ethics/command (etc.).

Where does that leave ethics? Ethics are at the very bottom of this intellectual system, for they are a conclusion of the other more foundational ultimate questions. This is why pitting Christian ethics against a non-Christian ethic, (although our ethics are themselves, superior)–yet, when considered is in the realm of logical debate and argumentation–ethics, are an illogical and inferior way to represent the Christian faith. Ethics do not come from within a vacuum; they are the conclusion of one’s philosophy. To argue them without the above is to beg the question.

 Ethics needs or presupposes the ultimate questions of knowledge, metaphysics, ontology, anthropology, logic, soteriology and etc.. In this sense epistemology is greater, because without it, there is no knowldge of ethics to even discuss. Without a description of reality, then there is no context for ethics. Without anthropology there no need for man to have ethics. Therefore, one’s ethics are true, if the whole philosophy is true.

This is one reason why in the public sphere, Christians have lost the debate in America, because they often make this mistake. Some attempt to make a logical case based off the conclusion and not the foundational elements of the Christian system of thinking. This is an inferior way to argue for the Superiority of God’s Revelation.

 

Second (B)

If you measure truth by some other standard, you must provide justification for it. And if you cannot destroy my right to hold to the biblical framework, then how can you challenge my belief in resurrection? This same intellectual framework that you fail to destroy informs me of the historicity and the significance of Christ’s resurrection. If you cannot destroy my framework, you cannot destroy my belief in resurrection. Many people say that they reject the Bible because it contains myths and fables, and by this they often refer to the miracles recorded in it. But this presupposes without argument that the Bible is false. If the Bible is true, then the miracles are not myths and fables (2 Peter 1:16). Unless you can destroy my first principle, it begs the question for you to reject my first principle by denying my subsidiary claims using your own first principle.
[Vincent Cheung. Presuppositional Confrontations, 2010, pg 67.]

Vincent is using the topic of miracles, but it could be any “subsidiary claim,” the bible makes, including about ethics. The Big Idea, is showing the importance of epistemology.  If the opponent has not justified their starting point of knowledge, then their attempt to do a reductio ad absurdum on Scripture, by denying one of Christianity’s subsidiary claims is unsound, because it begs the question. They have–without justification–slipped in the premise that their first principle is true, and the Christian one as already false. This is the very thing we disagree about to begin with. I know this at the start of the argument. Since subsidiary claims come from one’s first principle of knowledge, then the burden of the argument is about who’s epistemology has justification. Thus, if the scripture is true, then homosexuality is unethical, and miracles have and do occur.  If empiricism and observations produce no knowldge, then it cannot produce any knowledge to be an opponent of Christianity on any term, premise or conclusion.

THIRD. If one chooses to avoid ultimate questions, then that is itself an answer to ultimate questions in that they are not worth considering. This philosophy would be a dogmatic to such a person, and so, they will dogmatically and fundamentally live their lives avoiding ultimate questions because they are not worth considering. Everyone is a fundamentalist and dogmatic, it is just a question of, which it is.

As Vincent Cheung says, “Ultimate questions are unavoidable, and those who have never seriously considered them nevertheless make assumptions about them, and then they derive their positions about various issues based on these assumptions, (Ultimate Questions, 2010 , p.6)

Also, since such a person is using logic, knowledge, existence, and causality and morality to chose to avoid ultimate questions because they are not worth the time, is presupposing the ultimate questions of logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ontology and axiology to chose such a stance. This is intellectually empty and inferior.

 

FORTH. Our age is an age (the last few hundred years) of irrationalism. This irrationalism  is the combination of human specuation and superstition (see my definition page.) This irrational human philosophy has infected the church in many negative ways.  People do not argue by deductive arguments from truth; rather, people prove  their points by emotions and ethics, which often come out of a logical viod. They have premises about reality without a self-authenticating, non-contradictory and substantial epistemology. Their starting points are their observations and feelings; this is an endless abyss of skepticism. Their human epistemology does not even give the possibility of knowledge: not any if there is a car, sky or a leaf. Such human starting points inevitably lead to human logic. That is, it leads to invalid, illogical affirming the consequent and non-sequitur logics (i.e. human superstition).

In contrast the Christian philosophy’s starting point is God’s revelation. The Bible is self-authenticating, for Paul tells us that one cannot suppress God’s truth without using it; thus, there is no logical way to refute God’s truth God’s truth is substantial; it describes all of realites important questions.  It’s logic is a valid deduction from these premises. Deduction is the Logos; it is the structure of the Mind of Christ.

“Moderns do not think. They only feel, and that is why they are so much stronger in fiction than in facts; why their novels are so much better than their newspapers.” – G. K. Chesterton.

Sad, but is often true. Christianity is foundationally an intellectual public-system-of-thinking about everything regarding life’s ultimate questions. Thus, a Christianity that feels more than it thinks, is no Christianity. God did not give pictures, or feelings. He did not reveal Himself in animalistic sensations of sight, touch or hearing; rather, God revealed propositions that precisely describe reality as it truly is. In this definition about reality, men are able to find salvation. They find endless power of life in God’s Son.

However, feelings give no subjects or predicates about the world. They give no categories about reality. Feelings give no knowledge, not even knowledge about oneself; rather, one must borrow God’s revealed knowledge in order to understand they have a feeling to start with.

 

FIFTH. I would like to recommend a basic logic book for those who have not read one. “Come let Us Reason,” by Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M Brooks. I have read more logic books and studied it at college level, even First Order Predicate logics. But most arguments are basic, and most mistakes are made at the basic level. Thus, only a basic, but well practiced basic level is need for most thinking.  Norman’s book is good, but I will give this waring, he makes a logical mistake with Divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The correct biblical position is that man is responsible because man is not free but unders God’s control.

In 1 Corinthians 2:4 Paul says that he makes a deductive argument (apodeixis) from Scripture so that the people’s faith is in God and not man. Many might miss this because of the odd translation in verse saying, demonstration in the Spirit. Some wrongly think this is about supernatural demonstrations by power of the Spirit. This word for demonstrate is a philosophy jargon for a rational argument. It is similar to what one is taught in an English Comp class in college (as I was), where there is an Ethos, Pathos and Logos essay.  “A demonstration (apodeixis) is “a deduction that produces knowledge””[1] Even when Paul says man is “without excuse” in Romans 1:20 the word has similar Greek variants in how Airistole used such, in his original work explaining how a logos argument is a syllogism. That is, man is not able to give a sound syllogism or rational argument for why they suppress God’s truth. Paul is referring to the Logos type here. He is saying, by the power of the Spirit, he was able to make a rational/deductive argument from the doctrines of the Scriptures that the Corinthians could not refute. The result is that the Corinthians faith is not in speculative, flowery speech, but in a conclusion from God’s Word they must believe. The contrast, as Vincent will explain, is human speculation and superstition versus Divinely revealed truth and logic. It is between human empty rhetoric versus the Christian philosophy that accurately and precisely describes the world as it truly is. It is not Christianity versus philosophy (i.e. ultimate questions), since the Bible is gives answers to all of life’s ultimate questions, even logic.

First, when man starts with himself, he ends up with empty speculations; he has premises that are produced by an epistemology that cannot justify knowledge.  Second, when man uses his experience and experiments to find truth, he use must use logical fallacies; and thus, man ends up with superstitions. That is to say, human wisdom or philosophy is categorized by unjustified supectuations and invalid superstitions. In contrast, the Christian philosophy has a self-authenticating epistemology and it uses valid deductions.

And so, because deduction does not have information different from the original premises, it means the conclusion is what the Bible asserts. Paul’s argument is thus, what Scripture asserts. Paul says the Holy Spirit empowered him to make this invincible argument. To be against logic is not only is to be against God’s nature, which is the Logos itself, but against the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians ought to be well practiced in good thinking.

Here is Vincent regarding this same passage.

The sophists did not offer sound reasoning, but their arguments were fallacious and deceptive. Their philosophical discourses were based on dubious human speculation. Thus as Paul defends his apostleship, he writes, “I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way” (2 Corinthians 11:6). The Christian faith is not based on speculative philosophy, but divine revelation, on knowledge taught by God…

Paul deliberately slips into philosophical terms in verse 4, asserting that his preaching was shown true, not by speculative and fallacious arguments, but by the “demonstration” of the Spirit. This is unlike the “manifestation” of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7. The word indicates a logical proof, as in philosophy and geometry, rather than the idea of exhibition. The English translation is appropriate, since “demonstration” denotes a “logical proof in which a certain conclusion is shown to follow from certain premises.” His point is that he insisted on presenting a message that was based on divine revelation instead of one that was based on human speculation.

Bullinger writes, “Here, it denotes the powerful gift of divine wisdom, in contrast with the weakness of human wisdom.” This is the issue at hand. Paul’s preaching differs from the orators both in method and content, but his arguments are nevertheless logical and persuasive. Unlike the fallacious “proof” of the sophists, the apostle provides sound “proof” for his message that is powerful to effect conversion in his hearers.

One part of Vine’s definition on the word “demonstration” is problematic. It says, “a ‘showing’ or demonstrating by argument, [apodeixis] is found in 1 Cor. 2:4, where the apostle speaks of a proof, a ‘showing’ forth or display, by the operation of the Spirit of God in him, as affecting the hearts and lives of his hearers, in contrast to the attempted methods of proof by rhetorical arts and philosophic arguments.”

It is correct that apodeixis means “demonstrating by argument,” and it is true that the “showing forth” is not a visible “manifestation” as in 1 Corinthians 12:7, but it is the operation of the Spirit’s power “as affecting the hearts and lives of his hearers.” It is also true that Paul contrasts his approach against “the attempted methods of proof by rhetorical arts.” In this case, rhetoric indeed denotes, “artificial eloquence; language that is showy and elaborate but largely empty of clear ideas.” Any speech is rhetoric in the sense that it is verbal communication or discourse, and as such Paul engages in it, but unlike the philosophers, his arguments are free from sophism. The definition is acceptable to this point. Paul’s approach differs from those who employed “mere rhetoric,” since he preaches a message with true and coherent content without using fallacious arguments to deceive his hearers into agreeing with him.

However, Vine then contrasts Paul’s speech against “philosophic arguments,” and this can be misleading. If “philosophy” is the “theory or logical analysis of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe,” then Christianity is certainly a philosophy. Scriptural teachings indeed produce a worldview, or “a comprehensive…philosophy or conception of the world and of human life.” Unless Vine means “sophistic” when he says “philosophic,” his contrast between Paul’s demonstrations and “philosophic” arguments is false. That is, Scripture indeed addresses “philosophic” issues, using sound “philosophic” arguments, but unlike human philosophy, these arguments are not fallacious or “sophistic.”

We should contrast Christianity against sophistry, and not against philosophy as such.
[The Proof of the Spirit. 2008. Found in, Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonian. Chapter, 1 Thessalonians 1:5b. Page 24-25. ]

 

———-Endnotes———-

[1] I have this quick section to note the particular areas he is more original on, to which has been a benefit to me.

[2]Smith, Robin, “Aristotle’s Logic”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2019/entries/aristotle-logic/