Saturday, August 9, 2008

Evidentally



Pulpit Mag's Nathan Busenitz has given us a testament of evidentiary proofs that the Bible is reliable. Evidentially the Scripture is truth, no doubt. However, all the evidence in the world is not enough to save anyone:

"But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”


Our primary problem is not that we do not have enough evidence. Our problem is that without the Spirit, we are not equipped to receive it. No matter what evidence is presented it is to no avail. Except a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom. Then what evidence, what signs, will save. Jesus said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign and no sign will be given except the resurrection. And who was it that saw that first hand? There was none. Even the disciples did not behold it until after it happened. What then can we present that will ever convince anyone that he has risen? Jesus put it bluntly, "Because you have seen me, you have believed? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Even for Thomas, Jesus says, that faith is not found in this way. Instead, all that we come to know of evidences only affirms but can never confirm the Christian faith. I do agree with Nathan in this: that as believers we are built up in our faith by such things. I disagree, however, with the review's assertion that it is a good method of evangelism. In some ways the evidentialist approach is dangerous and no different that excitations provided by Finney's burlesque evangelism.

The confirmation of the faith is within. Not without. And though we have a testimony to the Word in print and history none of this can excite the conscience to embrace the faith. Simply it is not something that anyone takes upon themselves. As John said, it is not by man's will and Paul would say that these things are spiritually, not carnally (physically) discerned. Did it matter what God did among the children of Israel? No, it did not. If we were today to discover undeniable evidence of the death of Egypt's firstborn and of the first passover, likewise, it would not impress the dead minds of men that are fixed in repressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Contrary to evidentialism, which is just another form of sacramental instrumentalism, the Scripture assigns the remedy to the willful ignorance of the rebellious:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

8 comments:

Ferris E. Plankeye said...

"Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." Psalm 119:49

Where does trust in the Word come from? From the One who causes us to hope in it. We don't scrape up trust in the Word from within ourselves.

Nice post.

Strong Tower said...

I hope that I haven't mislead when quoting the "Kingdom within" passage. The ministry of the Word is so very important, so too what ever evidences the Lord provides, such as what follows regeneration. Nothing is to be discounted, but neither do we place our hope in our understanding, rather it is: "In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths." Amen, it is the One who causes us to hope in His Word.

Dusty McDust said...

I agree about the lack of saving power in evidences and/or in the confidence that can be strengthened in a person as a result of examining them. And I know you didn't exactly downplay the importance of evidence in this post (though it could easily come across that way, to someone not totally zeroed in on your particular angle).

I just feel it's good to mention the obvious here -- that in these modern times (which are only gonna get moderner), it's more important than ever in world history that the "evidence" for a claim coordinates with the claim--such as the claim of Biblical inerrancy. One doesn't have to have any faith whatsoever in order to be nudged by a presentation of dry, non-saving evidence into considering the Bible more reliable than he previously assumed; which, of course, could lead to the faithless person taking the Bible's claims more seriously... and from there you never know. Salvation maybe.

I think it's important that Christians never come across (like, for example, Mormons do) as disdainful of the idea that the evidence for or against their outlandish claims is vital. It really is.

Strong Tower said...

I am contemplating a post based upon what Machen said about the historic Christ and His cross. As he says, it is fact not mere theory and a more peculiar fact; more to the case that it is knowing even as we are known. It is doubtlessly true that evidence must line up with claims such that Thomas's will fall down and proclaim my Lord and My God.

Amen to what you said.

Strong Tower said...

By the way Dusty, my boy and I enjoyed a visit to your comic emporium. Any chance I could borrow them, with full accreditation and attribution, of course.

Dusty McDust said...

Absolutely! Borrow away! That's awesome. (And come back and visit anytime:o)

Gordan Runyan said...

I think BB Warfield once wrote something to the effect that if only we could construct our arguments with the tightest logic, using the best evidences, then we'd see the world converted.

That's just flat wrong.

Like Dusty says, the evidence is important. It is a useful tool. But evidence is not salvific. Evidence doesn't convert anyone. It is not the ground of faith, either, as if you ought to pile the evidence as high as it will go, and then you've got a shorter faith-leap to heaven from atop the pile.

Faith is the horse that pulls the cart of Reason. That order can't be reversed.

Strong Tower said...

Neighmen, I mean, Amen!