5. The Recovery of Knowledge

kt.jpgMoreland, J. P.

Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power

Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007. Pp. 237. Hardcover. $19.99.

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In chapter five Moreland argues that the Christian faith is rooted in knowledge, and that true faith is never found apart from knowledge.  This entails him first defining what knowledge is, and outlining different kinds of knowledge.  Moreland assures the reader that “knowledge does not require certainty” [p. 121], saying that there are very few things that can be known with certainty (e.g., that I exist, basic principles of math, and fundamental laws of logic).  He goes on to say that you can “know something without knowing that you know it . . . [and] . . . know something without knowing how you know it.” [p. 121-122]

Moreland goes on to offer a brief critique of skepticism by first outlining the “problem of the criterion.”  He says:

We can distinguish two different questions relevant to the human quest for knowledge. First, we can ask, “What is it that we know?”  This is a question about the specific items of knowledge we possess and about the extent or limits of our knowledge. Second, we can ask, “How do we decide in any given case whether or not we have knowledge in that case? What are the criteria for knowledge?” This is a question about our criteria for knowledge. [p. 122-123]

The “problem of the criterion” is that “before we can have an answer to our first question about the extent of our knowledge, we would seem to need an answer to our second question about our criteria for knowledge. Yet before we can have an answer to the second question, we seem to require an answer to our first question.” [p. 123]  Moreland suggests that the three main solutions are (1) skepticism, (2) methodism (not the denomination), and (3) particularism.  The skeptic denies that there is a real solution and thus there is no knowledge.  The methodist starts with an answer to question #2, but this leads to an infinite regress.  The particularist starts with knowing certain things directly, without knowing how they know them, or even that they know them.  Starting with clear instances of knowledge makes it possible to formulate criteria, which in turn helps us to extend our knowledge.  He addresses the charge of question begging from the skeptic by noting that their constant asking of “how do you know” is unsubstantive, and tries to force the particularist to be a methodist.  This all sounds strangely familiar to presuppositional apologetics, and as such, I’m not sure of the weight that I’d place on it at the moment.

Moreland rounds the chapter out by showing the three different kinds of knowledge: (1) knowledge by acquaintance, (2) propositional knowledge, and (3) know-how [p. 126-130].  He also gives the reader three things to ponder about their beliefs: (1) the content of a belief, (2) the strength of a belief, and (3) the centrality of a belief [p. 130-133].  Finally, Moreland suggests three ways to grow in knowledgeable confidence in God and his truth: (1) be ruthless in assessing the precise nature and strength of what you actually believe and develop a specific plan of attack for improvement, (2) take appropriate yearly risks and stretch your faith, and (3) read books about and share stories of God’s miraculous actions in other people’s lives as an encouragement to your own faith [p. 133-137].

I was particularly pleased with #3 on the list of ways to grow in confidence, as I can speak first-hand to the power of a testimony.  Moreland’s presentation of faith in this chapter largely agrees with the conclusions that I have drawn from my personal study.  I am in complete agreement that faith and knowledge/reason are not mutually exclusive concepts, and in fact that faith as presented in Scripture is confidence based on knowledge.


2 thoughts on “5. The Recovery of Knowledge

  1. So what’s the story on Moreland’s conversion to embrace the charismatic/pentecostal views of Scripture? Do you know Nick?

  2. Troy: Sorry, no. Aside from an article in a book that Moreland edited, this is the first book of his that I’ve ever read. I don’t know much at all about him.

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