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In Pursuit of an Orthodox Christian Epistemology

A Conversation with Carl F. H. Henry

Jonathan Mutinda Waita

Everybody is confronted by three fundamental questions, which are of great interest to philosophy and theology: The metaphysical—"What is reality?", the epistemological—"How do we know what we think we know?", and the ethical—"How should we, therefore, live in light of what we know about reality?" Of these three, the epistemological question is of greatest importance, owing to its concern with the justification of knowledge, on the basis of which we can attempt to respond to the rest. This book is motivated by the realization that although everybody attempts to respond to these questions, not everybody provides a valid answer to the questions. In consultation with Carl F. H. Henry, who was a trailblazer for evangelical orthodoxy, this book attempts to provide valid and sound answers to these epistemological and metaphysical questions for millions of Christians, whose answers to these questions continue to be ridiculed by liberals and secularists. This book operates with a realization that since our surest Christian knowledge about the nature and works of God emanates from God’s self-disclosure rather than our human discovery, the Bible, as God’s special revelation occupies an important place in true Christian epistemology. A corollary to the centrality of the Bible to the Christian epistemology is the epistemic sufficiency of human language and reason. This book defines Christian epistemological orthodoxy against such heterodox systems as Kantian phenomenology, Barthian Neoorthodoxy, Ayerian Logical Positivism, and Whiteheadian Process Thought and their respective trajectories. The book is a must-read for philosophy, theology, and apologetic courses.

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Amyraldianism: This theological term refers to the understanding of election in relationship to the creation and the fall, as suggested by Moses Amyraut. According to Amyraut, this is how we can understand the election in relation to creation and fall: (1) the decree to create, (2), the decree to permit the fall by self-determination, (3) the decree to provide salvation for all, (4) the decree to apply salvation to some.

Analogia Entis: This Latin phrase means the “analogy of being.” It is the basis of natural theology as it views the relatedness between God and the human race as the key to man’s knowledge of God. Henry has blamed Process Thought’s epistemological disregard of the Bible on analogia entis.

Anthropocentric Theology: An anthropocentric theology is a man-centered theology. It seeks first the potential or actual benefits to the human being, rather than the will of God.

Apologetics: The term “apologetics” is a forensic term meaning “defense.” In ancient Greece, the court proceeding comprised of two major functions—viz., the prosecution and defense. The prosecution would present kategoria (the charges), and the accused party would respond with apologia (the defense). Christian←177 | 178→ apologetics is, therefore, the branch of Christian theology, which utilizes biblical, rational, and scientific tools to defend the Christian faith from its critics.

Apophatic Theology: The root of the word “apophatic” is the Greek word apophēmi “to deny.” It is, therefore, a negative theology, which utilizes via...

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