Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Can I Know for Sure?

How Can I Know for Sure?
by David B. Garner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always enjoy the chance to read new additions to the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series from P&R and Westminster Seminary Press.  These booklets have proven to be succinct, clear, and immensely helpful, and the new volume follows suit.

How Can I Know For Sure by David Garner covers the area of how we can know what is true, what is real.  Garner does well in showing why philosophy falls short without disparaging philosophy itself.  He engages religion in the same way, showing again its inherent limitations in the acquisition of ultimate truth without unnecessarily disparaging either.

“The pervasive weakness in philosophy and religion is that they tender merely human proposals.  They operate in vicious circularity, because the answers all come from us.  Even the confluence of the most brilliant human minds lacks the resources to deliver definitive answers to the harassing questions of our souls.”

Garner argues that we are in desperate need of divine revelation, not just because of the deficiencies of human efforts at ultimate truth, but because of why human approaches are so perpetually limited.

“The answers to our ultimate questions will never come from us because they cannot come from us.  We are both finite and fallen.  We are dependent and depraved.  We are small and sinful.  We are creature and corrupted.  Self-sufficiency wholly fails to address matters of ultimate importance before the creator God to whom we are wholly accountable.  In the vicious circle of our stubbornness, we are left devoid of hope before God, barring his intervention.  If there is to be an answer, it must come from God exercising mercy.  For there to be any hope at all, he must act and speak to us savingly.  And though under no obligation, he has done precisely this.”

Garner then uses the rest of the work to argue for the Scriptures, as God’s revelation to man, as the source of ultimate truth, and covers quite a bit of territory, especially given the length of this work.  He covers the self-authenticating nature of Scripture, the need for illumination from the Spirit, the evidence of historical belief but the inherent limitations of that evidence, the reason that holding to the testimony of Scripture as it relates to Scripture is not negatively circular, and more.

This is a work worth investing an hour or two in and growing in your confidence of the word.  Also, this would couple nicely with Kevin DeYoung’s new work, The Word of the Lord.  While both deal with the Scriptures, the overlap seems to be minimal and I feel each would help the reader to appreciate the other work.

I received a review copy of this book from P&R Publishing.

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