Sunday, January 10, 2010

David Chytraeus' Proof of Christian Teaching.

David Chytraeus (a contributor to the Formula of Concord) offers the following proofs of the truth of Christian teaching:

"1. The miracles characteristic of God's nature and omnipotence; for instance, the raising of dead people, the holding back of the sun's course, and the like, by which only Christian doctrine has been confirmed;

2. The universal experience of all the devout in their daily calling on God and practice of penitence;

3. Antiquity;

4. The clear and manifest prophecies about very important manners; about the will of God and the coming of Christ; about the course and vicissitudes of governments, all of which occur exactly as they have been foretold;

5. The actual genus of doctrine which reveals matters hidden and unknown to human reason;

6. The remarkable preservation of the Church;

7. The hatred of the devil over against this doctrine;

8. The course of the teachers and restorers of the doctrines which is continued from the very beginning of the Church;

9. The continuous course of the years of the world, a course which has been preserved elsewhere at no time;

10. The entire knowledge of the Law of God;

11. Teaching of marriage and chastity, which teaching also only Christian religion has preserved inviolate;

12. The blood of all martyrs;

13. The punishment of those who blaspheme and persecute;

14. The testimonies of the Scriptures: "You received it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers," 1. Thess. 2; "No prophetic teaching has come by the human will but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," 2 Peter 1, etc."

Chytraeus certainly uses some interesting proofs.  Do you think that these are viable or not?  I'd be interesting in hearing. 

2 comments:

  1. Yes they are viable. 1 and 4 are evidentialists apologetics in the style of John Warwick Montgomery. 2,5,7,14 refer to the self-authenticating character of Christian message which is a sort of experiential or mystical apologetic. 10 and 11 provide a moral arguement for the truth of Christianity. That is God's Law as set forth in Scripture is morally superior to the ethical and moral teachings of other religions and philosophies. 3,6,8,9,12 and thirteen provide a historical apologetic from providence that may not be currently popular has had great effect over many minds in the past. These are all valid arguments. This is not to say our contemporaries would recognise them as such.

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  2. Gregory,

    I think Chytraeus would definitely agree that our contemporaries would not accept the arguments. Doubtless non-Christian within his context won't either. His point is that those who have a rationality unbounded by the Holy Spirit, these are discernible proofs. After all, if our wills are bound to sin, death, the devil and the law, then they are not free to accept apologetic arguments. Apologetics are helpful, but for people who already have faith to think through their faith. Thanks for the response.

    BTW, the only one initially had trouble with was the chastity one. But it makes sense. If humans have such a strong impulse towards sex, won't limiting it to one man, one woman be contrary to human nature and therefore be a proof of it coming via divine revelation? Similarly, humans go other direction and want to be like God and to not have sex at all in order to get closer to him (there are many world religions like this). So, saying that sex is good when it limits itself to one partner for life and that a lack of sex won't make you like God or get you closer to God is truly counter to human nature and therefore proves that the Christian religion is something that only God could have revealed.

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