October 9, 2005

Discerning Truth's Unity

No one truth is rightly held till it is clearly conceived and stated, and no single truth is adequately comprehended till it is viewed in harmonious relations to all the other truths of the system of which Christ is the center.
A. A. Hodge, The New Dictionary of Thoughts, 688.


Anonymous said...


How do you know when you have attained this harmony? Sounds very Baconian to me. :-)

Tony Byrne said...

Hi David,

I read the A. A. Hodge quote as teaching that we can have a better grasp of a particular truth when it properly seen in relation to other truths (not that we don't know a particular truth at all unless we perceive the coherence). I read a quote once that said, "knowledge gained casts a light beyond it's own immediate boundary." I take Hodge's quote as referencing this type of idea.

Since you are also a dualist on the design of Christ's death, you think it is a paradigm that has the most explanatory power when investigating the whole of scriptural teaching. God has given you additional illumination on the issue of common grace for example. If you did not understand God's will properly, your view of common grace would be warped. I don't think it would be entirely false, but it wouldn't have a clear focus.

Putting scriptural truths side by side seems to sharpen our focus and add depth of insight. This does not give us a kind of Cartesian certainty (modernism) in what we believe, but we can know that we are believing what is most reasonable after a thorough investigation of historical systems or interpretations.

I am not familiar enough with A. A. Hodge's epistemology to say that he would agree with what I am saying, but I read the quote in the way I explained above. I don't see a modernist way of thinking from what Hodge said in the quote as it is.

I read another quote that said, "he who teaches is twice taught." Hodge mentions our ability to articulate a truth ("and stated") as a means of refinement in our knowledge. I think that is a valid point as well.