Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Legitimacy of Paradox as a Theological Model - Part 13

Pastor Richard Ostella of Westminster Reformed Church in Plymouth, Michigan has graciously granted permission to re-publish his March 2009 ETS paper on theological paradox here at THEOparadox. To understand these thoughts in context, please begin with part 1.

2) The model elevates divine authority in biblical study 

 It helpfully accents the place of reason in relation to revelation. The model stresses the  ministerial versus the magisterial use of reason in which the reasoning self consciously submits to the authority of God’s word37 acknowledging that what God has said is true precisely at those places where he cannot discern how revealed threads of truth cohere.38

Pastor Ostella's Footnotes
37 Reason functions in a ministerial place as the handmaiden of theology. We must use good reasoning skills in learning Scripture. But reason does not rule over Scripture. This is consciously set forth in the quest of truth from the start. The title of Oliphint’s book speaks volumes in this connection: Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology (P&R Publishing, 2006). 
38 This is the failure of Craig/Mooreland in their attempt to find a more logically coherent relation between the deity and humanity of Christ (Philosophical Foundations For a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: IVP, 2003), 606-613. They press unity of the divine person against Christ’s true humanity. One divine person with two distinct natures for them yields a revived Appolinarianism in which they lose the full humanity of Christ. They distort church doctrine on the true humanity of Christ by logical inferences from His unipersonality. Granted, they affirm both the humanity and deity of Christ, but the formulation fails to do justice to these paradoxical threads of truth because it draws logical entailments from one thread that deny/distort the other. Accordingly, they adopt a version of Appolinarianism in which the Logos (the eternal person, God the Son) did not have a fully human nature except by the union of His person with the animal nature of a human body. Jesus did not have two wills or a dual consciousness. That they feel leads logically to two persons. Their solution is a subliminal and a waking consciousness in the person of Christ. Thus the divine nature becomes subliminal (a variation on, but not an improvement on, kenotic theories that lose sight of His divine immutability). Moreover, the human nature that He took to Himself in the incarnation is incomplete being completed by the Logos. Thus, while affirming the orthodox view of two complete natures and one person they lose both the immutability of the divine nature and the completeness of the human nature. Why? It is because of what they see as contradiction in the historic view of a single person who is both fully God and fully man. In reply, if we stick with Scripture and affirm that Jesus is a single person and that He is fully God unchanging and fully human, then though some may claim contradiction in one way or another (cf. the battles underlying the historic creeds), the orthodox and reformed reply is that since Scripture teaches each of these truths clearly (without forcing contexts) and that God has no contradiction in His thoughts or revelation, then the idea of contradiction is only a matter of appearance and not actuality. God knows how these things fit together in truth and with no inconsistency. Layman and scholar can both discern the failure by this distortion and can reasonably conclude that something is seriously wrong with the formulation even if they lack philosophical finesse.  

PART 14 - Click Here

1 comment:

  1. Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. -Wikipedia


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