[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bock Amok

by HK Flynn

Bob Wilkin has a really excellent podcast on Postmodernism and Evangelicalism. In it, he describes how Darrell Bock (who actually is, despite my goofy title, very reasonable, even if I often disagree with him) has said publicly (but informally, in unprepared remarks), something to the effect of that we may not be able to prove the resurrection but we can show that it is the most plausible event compared to the competing options.

I agree with Bob Wilkin that this is not a wise tact to take the church.

Epistemology—which is the discipline that shows how very wobbly human knowledge is—tends inevitably to be applied selectively to undermine traditional foundations, like NT doctrines, and rarely, if ever, the new doctrines of environmental-religion, and, for that matter, status quo beliefs like philosophic materialism. I think Christians should be very careful not to encourage that pattern by failing to be ultra wary about how they frame ideas related to the NT miracles and promises.

To give you an example, some consider epistemology at its most devious when the issue at hand is something like:
How do I really know I didn't come into being 17 minutes ago? How can I prove that that's not true?
That's a good example of an epistemological concern. And I would add that this example is not devious, but legitimate and even humble, and no disrespect to Dr. Bock, but his comments are the ones that are devious. My point is that even if epistemology sounds like sarcastic nonsense, there's a place for confronting the boundaries of human knowledge, and our ability to prove various things as being either absolutely verifiable or being less than that standard.

I’ve come to the conclusion that passionately believing the Word of God is the only thing that keeps us from being deceived by our senses, which is in concurrence with the epistemological skepticism which I’m (granted) only passing familiar with. If we only tentatively believe God’s promises, as so many seminarians are so conscientious to do, instead of passionately believing them, we remain in constant danger of being forever deceived by what our senses seem to tell us about our life here on Earth, and we still remain poster children naifs epistemologically speaking. Then environmentallism starts making sense to us, and we stop wondering who the antichrist will be, and... and... all is lost! Aaaarrgggghhhh!


  • Epistemology can give one a headache. It is important though.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, July 05, 2006 12:47:00 AM  

  • Nice to hear from you again, Jodie. :)

    In one sense I agree with Dr. Bock's statement. No, we cannot really prove the resurrection. We can, however, believe the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses. I seem to recall the Bible making mention of something about "faith like a child."

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Wednesday, July 05, 2006 4:26:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    Agreed. My husband has been studying philosophy and especially Kant lately. He actually enjoys it very much.

    God bless.


    Hi Angie,

    I enjoyed posting again :) Thanks :)

    Actually though, Angie, I think it is easy to prove the resurrection with historical evidence. You can rule out other options.

    Also, I actually think children tend to be very certain (very non-tentative) of various things. That's the faith that is also certainty and even knowledge. that you may know that you have eternal life

    Do you agree that we can know things the Bible claims? Or just accept them as the most plausible ideas.

    God bless :)


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Wednesday, July 05, 2006 5:55:00 AM  

  • Hi Jodie,
    It is good to see you!
    Thank you for the education on "epistemology." I think you are right - Bock's statement is not the most helpful, but I can see where he is coming from.

    Being sure of the Scripture is a large part of our strength!
    I hope you are having a good summer. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, July 05, 2006 11:16:00 AM  

  • Jodie, my mention of faith like a child was to say that I can believe with certainty that it is true because the Bible tells me so. We can know it. It's not just plausible, it's true!

    As far as proof of the resurrection is concerned, I think that historical accounts (which are really the only evidence that we have) and logic would lead anyone dealing honestly with the subject to the conclusion that Jesus must have risen from the dead. If nothing else it is more plausible than the other explanations offered. I am not sure if I would consider that irrefutable proof, however much I am convinced of it myself. If a better explanation were offered I might believe it, but there is no better explanation because there is no better display of grace, power and love than the one we believe in! If someone asked if I could prove it I would tell them that there were those who saw Him dead and buried and then later saw him alive. There were five hundred witnesses at one time alone post-resurrection. I would give them possible explanations and tell them why those explanations just don't work. Is that proof? Some might call it so and some might not.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Wednesday, July 05, 2006 3:37:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose :-)

    Hope you're having a fun summer as well :)

    Hope your mind isn't wrecked due to my "educating" it!

    Bock's speaking of "most plasuible" gets him through doors of respect academically, and granted I might use the same understated language in witnessing to an unbeliever, but the church dumping Josh MacDowell's certainty for more post-modern language may be something we regret...

    blessings :-)



    I command that you agree with me!


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, July 06, 2006 10:46:00 AM  

  • (giggles)


    I'm glad you use the word "know" because I think the term might assume something is provable.

    See wiki diagram.

    I still think we can comfortably say the resurrection is proven (even irrefutably), and if people want to use the term "proof" in a special sense, then let them defend that very problematic use. (How can they prove they didn't come into existence 15 minutes ago?)

    God bless!


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, July 06, 2006 10:55:00 AM  

  • Jodie, what do you think of the Reformed Epistemology of Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstoff?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, July 06, 2006 1:58:00 PM  

  • I'm reading Alvin Plantinga's "Warranted Christian Belief" and I love his thinking and clear writing style. I don't understand his views on foundationalism and I'm not familiar with Wolterstoff, though I see he's against classic foundationalism.

    Wiki has a page on Reformed Epistomology. I don't don't see the problem with negative apologetics (defending religious belief against attacks) unless they're also saying positive apologetics (asserting religious beliefs as true) are wrong.

    Any stray comments you have on Reformed Epistemology?...

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, July 07, 2006 8:35:00 AM  

  • The most controversial ideas of Reformed Epistemology is that belief in God may be a Basic Belief, that is a belief that need not be proven.

    The belief that one existed five minutes ago is a basic belief. Ultimately there is no way of proving it, but it can happily be taken for granted.

    Reformed Epistemology people view belief in God as being basic.

    I tend to agree with Plantinga et al.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, July 07, 2006 11:53:00 AM  

  • Hey Jodie,

    It almost seems that you're saying that epistemology is something that some have, but not all, i.e. philosophers use it, but not all people use it or have it. We all have an epistemological framework, the question is, does it allow us to see reality as it is, or not?

    Is the resurrection plausible or provable . . . I would say both. If the resurrection is more plausible, on a continuum of knowledge, than other "competing alternatives", then at that moment of "more" plausibility--in a sense it has been proven (not mathematically of course, but historically).

    In Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Saturday, July 08, 2006 2:36:00 AM  

  • Jodie, how are Bock's comments "devious"? I agree with Bock that we cannot scientifically "prove" the resurrection. But, as you say later, we "believe" the evidence of Scripture. I would even say that Bock "passionately believes" in the resurrection account.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at Saturday, July 08, 2006 12:28:00 PM  

  • Jodie, I plan to write a response to this post over at the Moor, but it will have to wait because I just posted on Did Judas Receive “Free Grace”. I am very interested in the FG answer to this question.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at Sunday, July 09, 2006 6:25:00 PM  

  • I was having more technical disruptions in my Internet connection, which we're still trying to either resolve or switch...

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for your comments on Reformed Epis. The view you described sounds consistent with 'the fool says in his heart' proverb...

    I'll keep reading Plantinga. I'm glad to hear you agree with him. He is a very likable writer!

    God bless :)

    Hi Bobby, thanks for commenting. Maybe I was misconstruing the terms, but I do realize that epistemology has to be pervasive.

    I love what you say here:

    If the resurrection is more plausible, on a continuum of knowledge, than other "competing alternatives", then at that moment of "more" plausibility--in a sense it has been proven (not mathematically of course, but historically).


    God bless!


    Thanks very much for commenting:)

    We disagree I guess...

    Had Bock said "scientifically prove" that would have been fine. But by leaving it at the word "prove" he was using an standard to judge the resurrection that is absurd.

    You say that Bock "passionately believes" the resurrection. How are you defining "belief"?

    Did tThomas not "believe" because he saw the risen Christ with his own eyes?

    I'm dissapointed that you are posting something so ridiculous as that Judas stuff. (Are we really such morons?)

    F/G asserts a very narrow way that leads to life. As you should know by now...


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Tuesday, July 11, 2006 3:51:00 PM  

  • Well, Jodie...I'm a little behind, but I sure agree with you.

    By Blogger Todd, at Saturday, July 22, 2006 3:53:00 PM  

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