Review of Christian Philosophy Made Easy by W. Gary Crampton and Richard Bacon

Christian Philosophy Made Easy, The Basics for Developing a Christian Worldview by W. Gary Crampton and Richard Bacon, Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2010, 106 pp.

The second half of this volume reprints essays of Gordon H. Clark, John W. Robbins, and W. Gary Crampton found elsewhere. Thus it is the first half of the book that should receive the most attention. While much of the philosophy here merely reflects and summarizes the views published by the Trinity Foundation in previous places, I was benefitted by a number of insightful points of the authors.

Along with Gordon Clark (Three Types of Religious Philosophy, p. 131) and John Robbins (in many places), Crampton and Bacon argue that “all inductive arguments are formal logical fallacies.” (p. 12)

I found particularly interesting the comment on page 14 that 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 gives a Biblical refutation of empiricism and rationalism while supporting revelation. The authors comment on the verse: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard [empiricism], nor have entered into the heart [mind] of man [pure rationalism] the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” I had seen this passage as anti-empirical, but had failed to note the anti-rationalism part. I’m thankful to the authors for pointing out both the anti-empiricism and anti-rationalism in the passage. And probably no Biblical passage more aptly summarizes the difference between secular and Christian epistemology with the latter explained with the phrase “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”

Regarding a definition of knowledge, Crampton and Bacon have it that knowledge is “justified true belief.” (p. 18)

They also have a good paragraph on the coherence theory of knowledge over the correspondence theory of knowledge. They write, “Christian philosophy holds to the coherence theory of truth, rather than the correspondence theory of truth. That is, the coherence theory of truth avers that whenever a person knows the truth, he knows that which exists in the mind of God, he does not have a mere representation of the truth (as in the correspondence theory of truth); a representation of the truth is not the truth.” (p. 18)

There is an argument, however, that seems Van Tillian to me and quite incomplete. They write, “Only Christian philosophy can adequately answer ‘the one and the many’ question. And the answer lies in the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity.” (p. 19) They explain, “God is ‘one’ in essence yet three (‘many’) distinct persons. He is the eternal ‘One and Many.’ As sovereign God, He created all of the many things in the universe, and He gives them a unified structure. The universe then, is the temporal ‘one and many.’ Thus, the particular things of the universe act in accordance with the universe dictates of God (Psalm 147:15-18). There is order in the universe because there is a sovereign God who created a providentially controls it.” But, I don’t understand how this is supposed to solve the problem of the one and the many. The authors go on to Augustine who seems to say something slightly different than they just contended. “Augustine asserted that the one and many problem finds its solution in that the particulars of this world have their archetypes in the mind of God. Augustine called these archetypes the ‘eternal reasons.’ God’s eternal reasons are the architectural plans from which he created the world. The world is patterned after the divine propositions of the triune God. Therefore, there is unity amongst diversity.” (p. 20) I don’t see how the “therefore” follows. Is the solution in the Trinity as original contended, or in the relation between archetypes and the created world? And what exactly is the solution? Richard Bacon is my very intelligent friend, and so maybe he can help me out here. Certainly their answer in this book is not “made easy” enough for me.

One more point I’d like to note is that I fully agree with the authors when they contend that Clark’s God and Evil: The Problem Solved is “the best book ever written on the subject of theodicy.” (p. 34n)

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About douglasdouma

I am a husband to beautiful wife, an ordained minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery, and founder of Sola - Appalachian Christian Retreat (www.discoversola.com). In addition to blogging at this site I am the author of The Presbyterian Philosopher - The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark (Wipf&Stock, 2017) and compiling editor of Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark (Trinity Foundation, 2017). I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering (University of Michigan), a master's in business administration (Wake Forest University) and a master of divinity (Sangre de Cristo Seminary). I'm an avid hiker, having completed a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian trail in 2013 and the first 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016.
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5 Responses to Review of Christian Philosophy Made Easy by W. Gary Crampton and Richard Bacon

  1. anarchristian says:

    If you’ve addressed the following issue elsewhere, please tell me. It’s one I wrote to John Robbins about in the late ’80s. (I only recall not being impressed with his answer.)

    In Matthew 16:1-2, Jesus tells his adversaries that “When evening comes, you say, ‘The weather will be fair, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but not the signs of the times!” Of course, the matter at hand was their hypocrisy, not epistemology, but one might be forgiven for deducing from what our Lord said that they did indeed have reliable empirical, inductive knowledge. They would have only added to their woe had they retorted, “But, Rabbi, knowest Thou not that induction is a fallacy?” Virtually every person in Scripture inducts. Not exclusively, but reliably.

    If the verses of Scripture are episteme, and if some of them teach that one knows (not infallibly, but reliably) what the weather will be from the color of the sky, then perhaps the scope of episteme ought to be extended to include such knowledge.

    Induction is the default mode of inference for most persons in the Bible — not to mention most of us — most of the time. And that would seem to undermine, with dialectical irony, a certain Scriptural deductivism.

    What have I missed?

    • douglasdouma says:

      Is Jesus saying that they know things from the appearance of the sky, or only that they think they know such things?

      Regardless, I’d think he is using “know” in a colloquial, non-technical way. The appearance of the sky does not give sufficient justification for knowing what the whether is to be. Surely even the darkest clouds can at times pass by without dropping rain on one’s location.

  2. anarchristian says:

    Yes, Jesus acquiesced in that non-technical sense, and since He’s without sin, we should consider the significance of His tacit assent. Induction is fallible, but it’s not a systematic source of ignorance. When He said “you know,” He didn’t mean “but you really don’t know.” Matthew 16:1-2, which is apodictically true, implies that induction is a source of knowledge.

  3. anarchristian says:

    Probably, but so was He, if I’m right. We can use one word in related but not identical senses. (Let’s not forget the sense in Genesis 4:1.) Later in Matthew Jesus tells his disciples (not adversaries) “when ye shall see . . . [then] know . . . .” (24:32-33) These verses conclude a long discourse about what they will see and hear (in answer to questions about the sign of His coming). Nothing about deduction from axioms, as important as that logical operation is in human affairs.

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