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Gadfly Paraphrase: a Dingy in a Hurricane

21 January 2011 by FX Turk

It is completely backwards to attempt, by discussion or argument, to establish a full-grown faith in Scripture. I admit that if I was arguing with the most clever nay-sayer or atheist, though I am not a very convincing speaker, I probably could get them to step back and stop talking and start listening; it wouldn't be very hard to shut down their overblown claims, as if anything was to be gained by disproving their endless double-talk. But even if we can make a good argument for the word of God, it does not follow that this is how we change men's hearts from doubt to faith toward the Scritpures. Profane men think that religion rests only on opinion, and, therefore, in order that they not hold to foolish opinions, they desire and insist to see a reasonable argument that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired. But here it is: the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason.

God alone is the proper witness to the truth of Scripture, so these words don't have any value to a man's heart until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that these men faithfully delivered the message which God gave them to tell. That's why Isaiah said this:
    “My Spirit that is upon thee,
    and my words which I have put in thy mouth
    shall not depart out of thy mouth,
    nor out of the mouth of thy seed,
    nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed,
    saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” (Isa. 59:21)
It's probably a good conscience that makes us feel uncomfortable because, while those still lost blaspheme God's words, these people don't have a clear proof at hand to silence them -- but we forget that the Spirit is called an down-payment and binding mark to confirm the faith of the godly for this very reason: until God enlightens their minds, they are tossed around by their doubts like a dingy in a hurricane.

-- John Calvin, Institutes I,7.4



"Still, however, it is preposterous to attempt, by discussion, to rear up a full faith in Scripture. True, were I called to contend with the craftiest despisers of God, I trust, though I am not possessed of the highest ability or eloquence, I should not find it difficult to stop their obstreperous mouths; I could, without much ado, put down the boastings which they mutter in corners, were anything to be gained by refuting their cavils."

I recently exchanged "thoughts" with a defender of W.L.Craig's take on Molinism. The approach I took was Scripture first then reason. He thought that was unreasonable.

Anyway, you forced me to look up preposterioriousness. Well shut my ostreperous mouth... I had assumed a meaning, little did I know I was looking at it backwards.

If all we want to do is win the argument, that is one thing, but to change the hearts of men it takes a miracle.

John D. Chitty

Agreed. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ. Period. (Romans 10:17)

Ronda Ray

Nothing like a quote by John Calvin to make your point. Great blog!

Ronda Ray
Author of Prayer Revolution, How God Refined My Connection With Heaven.

John D. Chitty

Seems you've been a little distracted from your Gadfly duties of late... ;-)

FX Turk

John --

thanks for your concern. I am organizing some help to assist me in making this content more regular and interesting. Look for improvements in the frequency of the posts in the near future.

Thomas Louw


This off the post but, what is wrong with WL Craig.
Sure he doesn't use much of scripture in his debates, he turns the "smart" guys way of thinking against them and show them their foolishness.

I sometimes get the impression he doesn't debate to with the purphuse to convince but to show believers and unbelievers that Christains has got answers and that all their double talk is just that.

FX Turk

Dr. Craig is an interesting and compelling theistic philosopher who has been influenced by a lot of people, including Jesus Christ.

I would in fact call him personally a "Christian" in the broad and loose evangelical sense.

His polemics and approaches to apologetics are not essentially biblical. He makes a decent case for theism, but describes a god who is intellectually appealing to people by denigrating things like sovereignty and the noetic effect of sin.

He seems like a nice guy. His podcasted bible studies have a certain flavor to them (I would say they are not for everyone). I'm not sure he's advancing Christianity with his philosophical theism.


W.L. Craig is a fine apologist, mostly. His Molinism, however, is... well... heresy. Calvin's point is as the post indicated, that the most eloquent speech, that is, like Craig's superlative logic and reason has to take a seat in the audience to Scripture. For Craig it is usually that he can find Scriptural support for his arguments, but, like all of us at one time or another, certain prejudices become the presuppostional grid through which everything else is filtered. The individual I was exchanging thoughts with didn't want to answer the basic question of how God knows what he knows, to him, a logical answer was required to fill in what he believed was missing. He resorted to the logic of causal agency when the question wasn't cause but God's prescience. A question which must be answered first. The point of the post is, we are not here merely to win arguments but souls, and logic and reason has to be the servant, and not the master of cerimonies. It is preposterous, that is pre- posteriori, to bring in the creature, i.e., logic and philosophy, to lead the discussion. It is to put what belongs second first. Our beginning point must be Scripture, and logic and reason must be subservient to it. When our logic and reason contradict the clear revelation of Scripture, such as the timelessness of God's knowledge, as it does in Molinism, the avenue to take is not to subjugate Scripture to man's sin-weakened intellect, but to acknowledge the fault is with our thinking. Calvin's first and final appeal was Scripture. WLC's isn't, always.

Thomas Louw

Thanks guys.
So what apologist do you think is doing a better job?
Like your team members.

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