“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools“ (Romans 1:20-22)
The Apostle Paul is not engaging in name calling when he contends under inspiration of the Holy Spirit that men who reject God are fools. Paul’s contention is reinforced by the psalmist who states “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”. And if we were still unconvinced that the unregenerate who reject the truth-claims of God Almighty are fools lacking in true wisdom then we need only be reminded that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
There can be no true wisdom apart from the Christian God! Certainly there can be what appears to men to be wisdom, but it is only a wisdom so-called, a worldly false wisdom based upon the conventions of the minds of men which is both defective and corrupt. This utterly corrupted pattern of thinking is attributable to the fall of man. The unregenerate are covenant-breakers who stand in opposition to their Creator and Judge and as such they are sinful and rebellious to the very core of their being. This condition has rightly been labeled as “depravity”.
The concept of depravity is unpalatable and unpopular with today’s “seeker-sensitive” church mentality and it is generally shunned in favor of world-friendly messages of self-esteem and an institutionalized and tawdry “easy-believism”. America’s apostate church-growth heretics have traded the whole counsel of God for the ear tickling man-centered deceptions of Satan. As such these spiritual brothels are leading countless myriads of deceived souls down “the broad way that leads to destruction”. These “blind leaders of the blind” send their congregations home each week praising a God they’ve not known and singing of a heaven they’ll never see.
Why is man depraved? Why is he without hope left to his own devices? Why don’t sinners recognize their Sovereign Creator and Judge? The reason is quite simple, unregenerate man is his own god in his heart. The unredeemed believe that they, in and of themselves, are the final court of appeals and ultimate arbiter of all matters pertaining to life. For you see, by nature man unwaveringly believes that the true ultimate authority – the Supreme Court – by which all truth claims must be adjucated is his own autonomous (and sinful) reasoning powers.
This sad situation can be traced back to the fall of man. After man fell it was evermore his attempt to do without God in every respect. Man sought out his own ideals of truth, goodness and beauty somewhere other than God, either within himself, or in the created order about him. Prior to the fall God had interpreted the universe for man, or one might say man had interpreted the universe under the direction of God, but after the fall man sought to interpret the universe without reference to God; or at least without reference to the One True and Living God, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe.
What then was the result as far as the question of knowledge is concerned on man’s rebellion against God? The result was that man tried to interpret everything with which he came into contact without reference to God. The assumption of all his future interpretation was the self-sufficiency of his own autonomous (and sinful) reasoning ability.
Christians however have been compelled to take our notions with respect to the nature of reality from the Bible. It will be readily conceded that such a notion of reality could be received upon authority only. Such a notion of being – of the nature of reality – as taken by Christians is to be found nowhere except in the Bible. In fact the Bible is taken so seriously that we (Christians) have not any area of known reality by which the revelation that comes to us in the Bible may be compared, or to which it may be referred as a standard. In other words Christians have taken the final standard of truth to be the Bible itself.
Clearly this position will appear as intellectual suicide to most men who study philosophy. The complaint will be heard, “Is it not by the help of man’s own reason that we are to think out the nature of reality and knowledge?” The critic will argue that to accept an interpretation of life upon authority is only permissible if we have looked into the foundations of the authority we accept. But if we must determine the foundations of the authority, we no longer accept the authority on authority! For you see, in the nature of the case God is the final authority. But if, as the critic charges, God’s authority must be authorized or validated by the authority of human reasoning and assessment, then human reasoning and assessment is more authoritative than God Himself – in which case God would not have the final authority, and indeed would no longer be God! The autonomous man who insists that God can only be accepted if His word first gains the approval or agreement of man has determined in advance that God will never be acknowledged as God – the ultimate and final authority. So we see once again that unregenerate man’s complaints about the supposed inadequacy of the arguments for God are not to be understood as anything like valid arguments against God, rather they are merely expressions of his pre-existing bias and unbelief.
The unregenerate philosopher is wont to close certain doors in order that he may hold his untenable positions. For example he may say it is the business of philosophy to ask ”How do we know?” while subtly ignoring the equally important question ”What do we know?” In other words according to our hypothetical philosopher the epistemological question can and must be asked without saying anything with respect to the ontological question.
Is this position tenable? Oh hypothetical, unregenerate philosopher; suppose it’s true, for argument’s sake, that such a being as we describe the Christian God to be does actually exist. Would such a God not have the right to speak to us with authority? Are we not, by saying that the question of knowledge is independent of the question of being, excluding one possible answer to the question of knowledge itself? If the Being of God is what, on the basis of Scripture testimony we have found it to be, it follows that our knowledge will be true knowledge only to the extent that it corresponds to His knowledge. To say that we don’t need to ask about the nature of reality when we ask about the nature of knowledge is not to be neutral but is in effect to exclude the Christian answer to the question of knowledge.
Sin will reveal itself in the field of knowledge in the fact that man makes himself the ultimate court of appeal in the matter of all interpretation. He will refuse to recognize God’s authority. Man has declared his autonomy over and against God. Thus we see in the scheme of things the mind of man must, for all practical purposes, take the place of God in the Christian scheme of things. The only substitute for the Christian scheme of things (that logic and reality meet first of all in the mind and being of God who created and rules the universe according to His plan) is to assert or assume that logic and reality meet originally in the mind of man. The final point of reference in all predication must ultimately rest in some mind, divine or human. It is either the self-contained God of Christianity or the would-
be autonomous man that must be and is assumed as the final reference point in every sentence that man utters.
Of course the entire idea of inscripturated supernatural revelation is not merely foreign to but would be destructive of the idea of autonomy on which modern man builds his thought. If modern man is right in his assumption with respect to his own autonomy then he cannot even for a moment logically consider evidence for the fact of the supernatural in any form as appearing to man. The very idea of God as self contained is meaningless on his principles. The self-sufficiency of God refers to the fact that He needs nothing outside of Himself and is not subject to or determined by anything outside of Himself; that is God is ‘self-contained’. As such, He is the Creator of all things and the determiner of all events and everything depends on Him. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It is therefore logically quite impossible for the natural man, holding as he does to the idea of autonomy, even to consider the “evidence” for the Scripture as the final and absolutely authoritative revelation of the God of Christianity.
Certainly their position allows for sacred books, and even for a superior book. But the one thing it does not allow for is an absolutely authoritative book, one whose authority is beyond challenge and has no qualifications or limits. Unbelievers may see the Bible as enshrining the advanced wisdom of many good men over the ages, and in that sense may see it as bearing some authority, but never an authority that in itself establishes what is true and right, no matter what. This is because such a book claims the existence and knowability of the self-contained God of Christianity. But such a God, and the revelation of such a God in the universe and to man are notions that, as has already been observed, the natural man must reject. So he will naturally reject that which is simply the logical implication of the idea of such a God and such a revelation.
When we deal with the unbelieving consciousness we must think of it as it is according to its corrupted autonomous reasoning. Hence the Christian cannot grant that the unbeliever has any right to judge in matters of theology, or anything else. The Scriptures nowhere appeal to the unregenerate reason as if it were a qualified judge. When Scripture says “Come, let us reason together,” it speaks to the people of God and if it does speak to others it never regards them as equal with God or as competent to judge. The unregenerate man has knowledge of God, that is the revelation of God within him, the sense of deity which he continually seeks to suppress. Scripture does appeal to this sense of deity in man, but it does so and can do so only by denying that man, when acting upon his corrupted autonomous reasoning, has any ability or right to judge what is true or false, right or wrong.