Experience for Epistemology & Jonathan Edwards

 

QUESTOshea Davis, you worked with Yale University Archives on, Jonathan Edward sermons about Christology & published a book, “The Kingdom of Son of His Love.” Then you published a book dealing Edwards essay, “The Divine Decrees,” and how Edwards Decree’s were in the broad sense supralapsarian—therefore do you not believe J. Edwards when it comes to cessationism?

ANS. On this “issue,” (not overall) of, “faith and blessings/miracles,” Jonathan Edwards was a spiritual fruit-cake and intellectually shrimp—and as a theologian on this issue he was a flaming hypocrite and a two-faced liar. This is not name calling but a description of reality about him.

This is a good point to teach and remind my readers that even good theologians betray their faith of God and their church, even at a fundamental levels. Jonathan Edwards was fantastic as a preacher—particularly about issues of God’s sovereignty and Christology. In fact, his sermons on Christology might be the best I have ever seen, ever. They were good—among other things—for the simple reason Jonathan stayed true to his proclamation of, “Scripture alone,” as the infallible and revealed mind of God to the church. He was truly God centered on this topics. When it came to, who is saved or not, Edwards did not rely on an alien epistemologies such as human empiricism, human superstitions and human observations/feelings; rather, He did so on what the Scripture says. His sermon, “a Supernatural Light Imparted Immediately to the Soul,” is a good example of this. Or, “The Three fold work of the Holy Ghoust,” from John 16 is another good example.

But regarding cessationism Edwards, being affected by the “Enlightenment,” (the strength of the human mind in observation and reasoning) more than he probably realized—instead of giving a deductive answer from Scripture alone—goes at great lengths to give an argument based off what he observed from his experiences. In this, Edwards betrays the Scripture as his only First Principle of knowledge—he becomes a spiritual liar and hypocrite. His observations and his experience were added to make Christianity a dual epistemology. But it gets worse, for it also denies the sovereignty of God, because it also makes a dual metaphysics through naturalism. It creates theistic Dualism. Empiricism is just atheism at the presuppositional level. Therefore, a Christian who is basing truth off their observation and their experience commits a detestable mistake—it hybrids God with atheism. This blasphemy is so horrible I feel dirty just writing it. A Christian who does this is a spiritual loser for putting together God and atheism; and they are hypocrite to the Scripture as God’s revelation being as our only Epistemology.

I reject atheism and so I reject Edwards’ argument for cessationism.

This goes to show that keeping the Scripture as our First Principle for Knowledge is an issue even theological historical giants have a hard time being consistent with. The Catholics hybrid Scripture and the Pope and empiricism for a Triple epistemology. The Reformed do a triple hybrid of Scripture, empiricism and the WCF. The charismatics make a Triple hybrid with Scripture, emotions and revivals as an epistemology. Overall, I see many Christians—does not matter the denomination—make their emotions/intuitions/traditions equal with Scripture.

Sometimes it is a subtle heart battle for Christian epistemology. Take for example the moments that one becomes “afraid,” (for whatever reason). The number one command in the N.T. is, “do not fear.” When dealing with the fear of wanting to keep the marriage bed faithful in the midst of a wicked generation, the preacher of Hebrews quotes what God said to Joshua and moralized it for his audience, “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus tells Peter–after he will betray him 3 times because Satan wants to destroy him, “Do not let your heart be troubled! Believe in God and Believe in Me.” The Psalmist cries out in moments of being afraid, “The LORD is my help, who can be against me.”

Ask yourself what do you do in those moments? Think about it? When you are suddenly hit with fear pounding in your chest where does your mind go to first? Do you say to yourself, “well the last few times I’ve been in this I have been ok, so I should be ok now.” If this is you, then you are thinking practically like an atheist. You are making YOUR empiricism, YOUR observations and YOUR emotions a dual epistemology with Scripture;  or even worse, they are superior to Scripture. You say, “sola scriptura,” or “Christ alone,” or “God centered this,” but it is only words to you. Jesus is a non-metaphysical, hermetical game. His is a mere slogan. “…Theologically, he is a heuristic principle. Spiritually, he is a psychological crutch. He does not really do anything. He is decoration. He produces actual effects only in hidden providence, where we cannot tell the difference anyway. What is this? It is fake religion. It portrays itself as God-centered, but it is phony and shallow. It is plastic faith.”[1]

A Christian mind that is mature in thinking about reality through God’s revelation, will say in moments of fear, “The LORD is my help, who can be against me,” and “cheer up soul, Jesus has defeated the world,” and “if Jesus is for me who can be against me,” and Jesus tells me that “whatever I ask in faith I will receive it, so that my joy might be full so that the Father will receive glory in Jesus’ name.”

If your First Principle of Knowledge is Scripture, then I encourage you make sure it is truly so. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17.

 

————Endnotes————-

[1] Vincent Cheung.  Faith Override.