I know the title of this blogpost is anachronistic when one considers that Alexander Carson lived in the nineteenth-century. However, a couple of quotes caught my attention that have affinity to some of Cornelius Van Til’s thought, in particular his distinction between true knowledge and exhaustive knowledge as well as his affirmation of “apparent contradictions.” Here is what Carson has to say:
“A man may know the meaning of the word chemistry, as accurately as it was known by Sir Humphrey Davy, who may yet know almost nothing on the subject of chemistry” (Carson, “Characteristics of the Style of Scripture as Evidential of Its Inspiration” in Works 3:16). While of course this is not a discussion of man’s knowledge in relation to God’s, as Van Til’s was, it does however speak to the difference between true knowledge and quantity of knowledge. I can know something truly without having to know everything about it.
Speaking of the perspicuity of Scripture, Carson says, “Indeed, the peculiarity in the employment of this attribute of style in Scripture is a most satisfactory evidence of inspiration. The phenomena of Scripture in this respect are curious and apparently contradictory. It is only as they are the production of inspiration that they can be reconciled or accounted for” (ibid). Van Til often used the language of “apparent contradiction” when he spoke of two propositions that, from the human vantage, appeared to be mutually exclusive, but from a divine vantage were perfectly compatible. Here, Carson appeals to the doctrine of inspiration to reconcile what appears to be contradictory phenomena in Scripture.
***UPDATE (Feb. 21, 2011)***
“The things in Scripture that are most offensive to human wisdom are the most easily defended, if Christians would use only Scripture weapons, and refuse to go beyond the bounds of Scripture” (Works 5:326).