Our discussion on the boundaries of the definition of “scholarship” (here) has morphed into a discussion about epistemology. We began by asking if scholarship could say anything to the subject of the historicity of the resurrection since most scholars have very strict rules regarding objectivity. Now we have moved to how one can know that the gospel is true if there is no way to objectively “prove” the resurrection, or the authority of the Apostle Paul, or the authority of the Scriptures, and so forth.

James McGrath has asked the following:

“It may be that historical study cannot provide any evidence for accepting any one individual in the past’s claim to divine revelation or religious experience over any other. But surely that is something we need to take seriously in our thinking about Christianity in our own time. It may be that the appropriate way to discuss religions is to compare texts with texts, and share our own personal experiences that have changed our lives. But there too, if we find that others have had an experience comparable to ours in the context of another tradition, would that not potentially be a good reason to acknowledge a breadth in God’s workings and to view that other tradition in a way that is at least somewhat positive? If not, why not?”

In what sense can we as Christians expect people to hear and obey the gospel? What makes our experience lining up with the words of the New Testament any different than someone whose experience lines up with the words of the Qur’an? Does experience matter when determining the truth?

In part this is why I am a Calvinist. I am not a Calvinist because I believe in strict determinism, but because I think that in some sense it is impossible to “prove” the gospel unless the Holy Spirit is already at work. I am not sure what the basis is for the election of believers by God though I do not think it is arbitrary. Nevertheless, I do not think it is simply a matter of taking the evidence to court and that we must in the end have been faithful to what our rationality would allow. I would appreciate hearing the opinions of some others, especially those of the Arminian pursuasion.