We open the week with two episodes with a guest, Dr. John M. Frame, who is the J.D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Dr. Frame has published more words in his lifetime than most of us will read in our lifetimes. We get him for two days, and no doubt he is going to hit these out of the park. Thanks for joining us!
Tomorrow I have a question for you on literature, so we’re leading up to that. But first, you have an outstanding book coming out soon: A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, it’s one of the most important books of 2015. In the book, under a section titled “Antithesis in Epistemology,” you write this: “We know God and the world because he has taken the initiative to reveal himself. Otherwise, we could have no knowledge at all.” Riff on this enormous reality. Fundamentally, how is all knowledge tied to God revealing himself?
All God Has Known
First of all, God is somebody who knows himself — the knowledge of the Father and the Son and the Spirit in the holy Trinity for all eternity. And so when God makes a world, he knows that world perfectly well, because this is a world that he has planned. This is a world that he has created. This is a world that he has complete control over, and so he knows everything that there is to know of the world.
Now he creates creatures that are also capable of knowing: he creates angels and he creates human beings. Human beings are capable of knowing God in return. So the Bible says that God created Adam in the image of God, which includes the fact that, just as God knows the world, so, in a smaller sense, Adam knows the world.
But, of course, Adam couldn’t know anything unless God had made him able to know. And so as Adam goes through the world, he looks at the trees, he looks at the ground and the rocks and the sky and everything that there is, and he is always looking at things that God has made. He is looking at things that God has known beforehand. And so Adam’s job is to understand that world.
Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him
Of course, God gave him the responsibility to keep the garden and to guard it and to till it. And for that, of course, Adam needs to gain knowledge of the world. But it is a knowledge that echoes God’s own knowledge. It is a secondary knowledge. It is a knowledge of God’s knowledge, if you will.
So from the very beginning, Adam is working according to God’s revelation. His knowledge is the knowledge that God has permitted him to have, and it is the knowledge of the world that God has made. So we talk about Adam’s thoughts as thinking God’s thoughts after him. So that is the way we all are now.
Of course, the fall has messed us up in that regard, because we suppress the truth as Romans 1:18 says. If we are functioning rightly, our job is to think God’s thoughts after him, to come to know the world in a way that is analogous to God’s own knowledge of the world. And when God repairs our minds and repairs our hearts as part of our redemption in Christ, then we begin again to think God’s thoughts after him. We begin to think, in a smaller way, the great thoughts that God had when he first created the world.