We Can Know! (Carson)

Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism [15th Anniversary Edition]

The Gagging of God by Don Carson is one of those books I read some years ago that I still think about and appreciate. I’m sure many of you have books like this: you read them, really enjoyed them, and you go back to them from time to time because they were super helpful in your Christian walk. This book – The Gagging of God – is that for me. Here’s a part I recently re-read that I believe is still applicable today even though we’re probably past postmodernism and into post-postmodernism:

…I have tried to show that, whatever the genuine insights that can be gleaned from postmodern epistemology, it is finally unsuccessful in its attempt to deny the existence both of objective truth and human access to it. We may readily concur that human knowing is partial, but not that it is therefore necessarily objectively untrue; that our cultural baggage shapes our perceptions and categories, but not that no one from the culture may transcend these categories; that individuals belong to interpretive communities, but not that the individual in such a community, or even the entire community itself, cannot be reformed by information coming from outside.

In some ways, Christians go farther than postmodernists: we insist on the noetic effects of sin. But on the other hand we insist equally on the power of grace and the work of the Spirit through the heralded word of God to transform our understanding. Above all, because the God who has so graciously disclosed himself knows all things truly and exhaustively, we perceive that it is possible for his image-bearers to enjoy knowledge that is a subset of his. Moreover, we perceive that the strongest arguments of postmodernism in general and of deconstruction in particular are not securely based, and in many instances can be shown to be inconsistent at their core and finally self-destructive.

The entailment of such a stance is that however much we may defend the right of people to articulate their views, we must equally insist that some views are in error….

D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God, p. 348-349.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015