The Three Most Important Questions of Human Existence (Biblical Epistemology, Pt. 2)

Three questions supersede all others in terms of importance and significance. These questions confront each and every member of humanity. Why are these questions of the utmost importance? Because answers to these questions are of an eternal significance. S. Lewis Johnson declares: “There are three important questions that one must answer. Is there a God? That’s a question that has to do with the existence of God. Then the second question follows naturally after that one. Has he spoken? And that is a question that has to do with divine revelation. And the third question is how do we know? Now that is a question that deals with epistemology.”[1] As stated in the preceding quote, the first question pertains to the existence of God: “Is there a God?” The second question, predicated upon an affirmation of the first, is: “Has God spoken?” The third question, which logically springs from the second, is: “How do we know that God has spoken?”[2] This last question, as stated above, touches upon epistemology. The word epistemology is a composite of two Greek words: (1) ἐπίσταμαι (epistamai) meaning to understand, know, or be acquainted with;[3] and λόγος (logos) meaning (in this particular sense) subject, matter, thing, instruction, or teaching.[4] Simply put, epistemology is the study of knowledge or, put another way, how we come to know what we know.

Notes:

[1]S. Lewis Johnson, “How Do We Know Spiritual Truth?” (Sermon transcript for Basic Bible Doctrine series at Believer’s Chapel, Dallas, TX, 2008); accessed November 5, 2014; available from http://sljinstitute.net/; Page 3.

[2]In his work The Justification of Knowledge, Robert Reymond, as cited by Michael J. Kruger, describes the third question (“How do I know that what I believe is true?” as stated by Reymond) as the “fundamental question of apologetics.” Although I do agree with Reymond’s assessment, I would modify it in the following manner: the third question is the fundamental question of a sound biblical epistemology, which in turn forms the indispensable framework of a truly Protestant apologetic. Robert L. Reymond, The Justification of Knowledge, cited in Michael J. Kruger, “The Sufficiency of Scripture,” 12/1 (Spring 2001): 69.

[3]Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, ed. Frederick William Danker, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich [BAGD], 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 380.

[4]BAGD, 598-601.

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