The Dogmatician: The Source of Truth

The assertion that the religious and moral human being is autonomous is always linked with either deism or pantheism. Deism makes human beings independent of God and the world, teaches the all-sufficiency of reason, and leads to rationalism. Pantheism, on the other hand, teaches that God discloses himself and comes to self-consciousness in human beings and fosters mysticism. Both destroy objective truth, leave reason and feeling, the intellect and the heart, to themselves, and end up in unbelief or superstition. Reason criticizes all revelation to death, and feeling gives the Roman Catholic as much right to picture Mary as the sinless Queen of Heaven as the Protestant to oppose this belief. It is therefore noteworthy that Holy Scripture never refers human beings to themselves as the epistemic source and standard of religious truth. How indeed, could it, since it describes the ‘natural’ man as totally darkened and corrupted by sin in his intellect (Ps. 14:3; Rom. 1:21-23; Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 1:23; 2:14; Eph. 4:23; Gal. 1:6,7; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:8); in his heart (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Jer. 17:9; Ezek. 36:26; Mark 7:21); in his will (John 8:34; Rom. 7:14; 8:7; Eph. 2:3), as well as in his conscience (Jer. 17:9; 1 Cor. 8:7, 10, 12; 10:28; 1 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:15)? For the knowledge of truth Scripture always refers us to objective revelation, to the word and instruction that proceeded from God (Deut. 4:1; Isa. 8:20; John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15; ). And where the objective truth is personally appropriated by us by faith, that faith still is never like a fountain that from itself brings the living water but like a channel that conducts the water to us from another source. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

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