| Frank Wright, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Years ago the late D. James Kennedy conversed with a young man who aggressively asked: "How do you know the things you believe are true?" Dr. Kennedy smiled and said: "You have asked the Epistemological Question, haven't you?" The young man looked at him blankly.
Epistemology is, of course, the study of knowledge. More specifically, it seeks to answer the question: "How can we know anything?" It deals with the trustworthiness of human knowledge. How do we know the truth we proclaim is true? This remains a fascinating question, especially for those with a mission of proclaiming truth using electronic media.
Arguably an important work on this subject is Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, which rocked the foundations of atheism. With inescapable logic Kant concluded that just because you cannot apprehend God with your five natural senses (let's leave my wife's sixth sense out of this for now) does not disprove the existence of a spiritual realm and a Spiritual Being. In short, Kant showed the Emperor of Atheism has no clothes.
Which brings us back to our question: "How can we know anything?" The answer is really quite simple. There are only two ways you can know anything - rationalism and revelation. You can either figure it out, or it can be revealed to you.
Rationalism argues that you come to know everything through human reason-though rational (and hopefully logical) thought. There are many problems with this - the greatest being the inability of rationalism to deal with spirituality.
Suppose we want to figure out God through rational thought. We sit down like Rodin's Thinker with chin on wrist and elbow on knee and we reason it out. After a time we rise with our conclusion.
Two problems present themselves. First, across the street was another thinker who after similar cranial exertion rose with a conclusion about God at variance with ours. As a rational being we must recognize that this conclusion is as good as ours. Both of our views - even if they be polar opposites - are equally valid. But both also are equally worthless, being rooted in mere speculation.
This leads us to our second problem-a problem of logic. The God of the Universe is infinite; we are finite. A simple axiom of logic is that the finite cannot contain the infinite. Our finite minds cannot fully comprehend One who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.
Spiritual things are not rationally discerned. Jesus asked his followers: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter proclaimed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." After blessing him, Jesus said: "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
The only other way we can know anything is if it is revealed to us. God has revealed Himself to us in three principal ways.
First, through the light of creation. The heavens declare the glory of God. That revelation of God through creation is so clear that the Apostle writing to the church at Rome said we are "without excuse."
Second, God has revealed Himself through the light of conscience. We have a law written on our hearts, testifying to the reality of God every time we break it. Our conscience speaks to us about our guilt, but it speaks even more powerfully about the One whose law we have broken.
Third, God has revealed Himself through the light of Christ. At first we walked in darkness, now we have seen a great light. Jesus authoritatively proclaimed the glory of the Father and the nature of His Kingdom, making clear our duty to God and our fellow man.
How do we know the things we proclaim are true? We know it because the Lord of Glory has revealed them to us:
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophet, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
We proclaim revealed truth - truth revealed to us by One who came from Heaven and testified with first hand knowledge of the Father. He came bringing the answers to life's great questions: Who am I?; Where did I come from?; Where am I going?; Why am I here? And rather than produce a blank expression on our faces, the Epistemological Question fills us with awe and wonder as we realize that God became man to answer it.