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5.0 out of 5 stars The Justification Of Knowledge, December 30, 2008
This review is from: Faith's Reasons for Believing: An Apologetic Antidote to Mindless Christianity (and Thoughtless Atheism) (Paperback)
These are evidences of which the desire for pure knowledge of will not go away, and progress has not diminished the virtue of them. But progress may have attempted to distort, discolor or even disown the knowledge of them, for many a truth received a makeover and had to be rescued from the ditch of indifference. As 'saving' is the operative word in Christianity, the rescue efforts have faired reasonably well:

'The action of the Holy Spirit in giving faith is not apart from evidence, but along with evidence; and in the first instance consists in preparing the soul for the reception of the evidence.' BB Warfield, Works 9:15 'The true and proper stimulant for the intellect is truth.' WGT Shedd, Homiletics & Pastoral Theology p 113 Robert Reymond adds his particular voice: 'The Christian truth system has been sufficiently extracted from Scripture and articulated.' p 30

Systematic theologian Robert Reymond intends to make sure we know that all of it, the 'historia salutis', is relevant to every age. No small wonder that acceptance of these New Testament power-brokered facts as constituting faith has been the sudden or gradual, yet total, historical area of attack. The act of faith expects nothing less than our intellectual assent to these facts; but emphasizing the will rather than the intellect as the dominant human faculty has been the cause of unnecessary 'mindless Christianity'. Reymond, in contrast, does not hesitate to establish that it is not restricted to Christ's work within the believer (the 'ordo salutis'), but the work of Christ achieved without and for the believer, performed in history, that grounds the Christian religion.

Reymond does indeed raise a salient point, 'The church historian will take care to assure that any false reading of church history to the detriment of the truthfulness of the Christian faith is detected and corrected.' p 23 This would indicate at least a working knowledge of the history of conflict that pertains to the church's responsibility to remove conscientious objectors who have sought to harm her faith. After all, Christianity is an exclusive religion and the apologist must seek to uphold this claim. As a 'presuppositionalist', Reymond identifies with a consistent Reformed line of apologists such as B B Warfield, and cites him often enough. In contrast are three opposing apologetical methods. This quartet may sound strange to the ear at first, but are vital to a correct understanding of the criteria assumed by their respective groups if one wishes to engage with and challenge them successfully.

In chapter two, Reymond moves to justify the Christian faith on the whole as an intellectual discipline. He provides a sort of personal mission statement as an introduction to the necessity of the defense of the 'awesome Reformed faith'. He re-iterates his thought-provoking find of the need for an Archimedean reference point independent of the natural world. This he found ultimately in the meta-narrative, the divine drama of redemption encapsulated and preserved in the whole of Scripture, and therein God's transcendent worldview - from the outside looking in. This situates the received supernatural Word as a divine compass by which the church has fixed her course. To this end, Reymond establishes scriptural precedence of five irrefutable 'pillars' why the apologetic task should remain a worthy intellectual discipline.

In chapter three, Reymond finds sufficient warrant to attend to Scripture's own witness concerning its authenticity and inspiration 'with respect to the Bible's supernatural origin and teaching'. p 69 Echoing the Warfieldian position on 'the final effect was an inerrant autograph or original', Reymond ignores the myriad of sound bites that continue to be publicized by the skeptics and critics, opting instead for the defense of Scripture's claims, thereby allowing Scripture to come to its own aid, as Christ had cause to defend His divine claim to being the long-awaited Messiah, and as Paul extensively defended his claim to being an apostle. This being the case, Professor Reymond exegetes the relevant sections of Scripture in the NT that prove it to be the authoritative Word of God.

Chapter four aims to refute the claim of Catholicism in having collected and approved the canon of the NT. Drawing heavily from Ridderbos and Professor Gaffin, Reymond adds his support to the already growing understanding of the a priori of the Christian faith - that the NT wasn't especially assembled by human initiative and effort, but that the 27 books presented themselves as normative to the church.

Chapter seven looks at 'Faith's Reasons For Believing In Paul's Supernatural Conversion'. Highly commendable is Reymond's scholarly yet entirely honest attempt at attaining a motive for Paul's conversion to Christianity. Four probing questions, pp. 241-242 (that could and should be applied to any candidate aspiring to a position of church authority) answered assertively are reason to believe that the apostle Paul was not in the ministry for the wrong reasons. In the main, Professor Reymond seeks to substantiate the apostle's claims from Scripture, and decisively repudiates those who have fabricated entirely unbiblical accounts of Paul's conversion experience.

The well-structured chapters provide a pivotal and historically conditioned, factual basis necessary for the outcome of apologetics to be to the glory of God and one is hopeful that the work of evangelical scholars will recover a respect for the intellect.
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