“Sproul Sunday” RC Sproul: Analogical Language Part 1 – Defending Your Faith Part 8

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G.K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been tried and found difficult.” Philosophy has definitely been tried and found wanting, but some of its richest treasures are not lying on the surface. Our study of analogical language is a good opportunity to break a mental sweat for God’s glory and our sanctification.

1. To grow in an understanding of the necessity of analogical language.
2. To become familiar with the historical underpinnings of the modern attacks on language via logical positivism.

God does not expect us to submit our faith to Him without reason, but the very limits of reason make faith a necessity. (Augustine)
Education without religion, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. (C.S. Lewis)

I. The fourth principle that non-theists attack is the analogical use of language. The first three are the law of non-contradiction, causality, and the basic reliability of sense perceptions.

II. The God-Talk Controversy or Theothanatology

a) In the late sixties, philosophers and theologians announced the death of God. The crisis came from the philosophy of logical positivism.
i. The Law of Verification
ii. “Only statements that can be verified empirically can be stated as true.”
iii. Illustration: Gold in Alaska
iv. Analogical Use of Language
b) The law of verification can’t be verified empirically. Thus ended this school of thought. But its assertions remain and should be challenged.

III. Some Christians take pride in the inability of non-theists to disprove their experiences or personal faith in God.

a) But ideas that cannot be disproved can also not be proved. This is “cheating.”
Illustration: Ghosts
b) It is always easier to prove something than to disprove it. Illustration: Gold in Alaska Again
c) Within formal logic (such as the law of non-contradiction), it is not difficult to disprove a point.

IV. How does logical positivism impact us today? And from whence did it come?

a) Statements about God, according to the logical positivists, are merely emotive. Illustration: College Student and Significant Hymns
b) What is behind such a pessimistic approach to God? 19th and 20th century redefinitions of historic Christianity into naturalistic terms.
c) These naturalistic philosophers no longer needed God in their system because they suggested spontaneous generation as the means of creation of the universe.
d) This also entailed a rejection of the supernatural.
e) The theology that prevailed was pantheistic—God exists as part of the universe. This inability to speak about God as separate from His creation provoked the controversy that led to an overreaction—God is wholly other.
f) Rather than being one with nature, God is totally above and beyond nature.
This idea salvages God’s transcendence, but ruins our ability to know God.

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