In the Christian view of human knowledge, subjectivity and objectivity are not irreconcilably opposed to each other. God created we who know. God created how we know. God created what we know, yet ultimately what we know is the uncreated Triune God.
It would seem obvious, but nonetheless it must be stated—all human knowledge is theological. Why? Because God is the creator and redeemer who reveals himself in all his creation. The Triune God is both the creator of humans—those who know—and the objects and concepts they know. The personal or subjective element in knowledge is unavoidably united to and seen in the objective element of knowledge. In the Christian view of human knowledge, subjectivity and objectivity are not irreconcilably opposed to each other. God created we who know. God created how we know. God created what we know, yet ultimately what we know is the uncreated Triune God.
Among the many implications that follow from these points is the following from B. B. Warfield in “The Idea of Systematic Theology” in his Collected Works, vol. 9: “All science [by this he meant all knowledge, not merely the physical sciences] without God is mutilated science, and no account of a single branch of knowledge can ever be complete until it is pushed back to find its completion and ground in him” (70). Quoting approvingly E. B. Pusey, Warfield affirmed, “All things must speak of God, refer to God, or they are atheistic. History, without God, is a chaos without design, or end or aim . . . Metaphysics, without God, would make man his own temporary god to be resolved, after his brief hour here, into the nothingness out of which he proceeded.” (CW 9:70-71).
Warfield continued: “It is thus as true of sciences as it of creatures, that in Him they all live and move and have their being. The sciences of Him and His relations is the necessary ground of all science. All speculation takes us back to Him; all inquiry presupposes Him; and every phase of science consciously or unconsciously rests at every step on the science that makes Him known. Theology, thus, as the science which treats of God lies at the root of all sciences. . . . It is only in theology, therefore, that the other sciences find their completion.”
If we are looking for one of the chief reasons why so many allegedly Christian institutions of higher education decline into philosophically naturalistic thinking while maintaining an outward allegiance to Christianity we perhaps need look no further than this point—the vast majority of their teachers have never learned a faithfully Christian view of their subject. They are simply poor systematic theologians. They were trained as scholars in institutions that are in profound rebellion against Christ and his kingdom. Their thinking has been shaped in anti-Christian ways despite their self-conscious intent otherwise. Their sincerity was not, and still is not, a sufficient defense against receiving a view of their subject that is, in fundamental and pervasive ways, antagonistic to biblical thinking. For them their subject is not theology; they think they have to relate it to theology. But their subject is theology. As it turns out, they don’t know with whom they are dealing, because they don’t know how they are dealing with him.
David P. Smith is a minister in the Associate Presbyterian Church and serves as the pastor of Covenant Fellowship ARP Church in Greensboro, NC. This article appeared on The Confessional ARP and is used with permission.