I’ve been thinking a lot about post-modernism and the various perspectives on how we come to understand truth. Epistemology is essentially the study of knowledge and asks questions related to how we receive knowledge and how we can be sure that what we think is true actually is. It’s a complex subject, right? Maybe your heads already spinning.
But what I find interesting about some of the conversations that have been going on for the last few years within the post-modern, post-Christian, Emerging Church, or missional movements is related to something that maybe seems so simple, it’s often overlooked. So much time is spent discussing the epistemological assumptions that we make regarding our understanding of truth and morality now that we often overlook how the quest for understanding truth and knowledge as Christians actually needs to be based a lot more on the epistemology of the biblical authors!
I’m not sure if that even makes sense without a lot of background explanation of terms and theories. I’m simply suggesting that we need to seriously engage the epistemological commitments that the biblical authors held to when we’re doing our exegesis. This is helped by understanding the various aspects of their culture. How they understood knowledge, the acquisition of that knowledge, and how they could know that they knew should concern us. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?
As Christians, I think it is best fitting if we only think about how epistemology influences our current day if we’ve considered how epistemology was understood in the ancient world. Did Paul mean what he meant and did he believe it to be true and was he fairly certain of it? And if so, why? Lots of questions, you see.
So it seems kind of foolish, in my opinion, with all the modern debate about epistemology if it can’t start in the world of Scripture. Epistemology is important, very important. It’s complex and is nuanced and needs to be engaged. But some of our assumptions may overlook the obvious: what epistemology did Jesus hold to? Or the apostles?