He never taught that Christianity can be found by human reasoning. This does not prevent distorting John Locke to distort those who read him. John Locke never taught what Thomas Campbell is accused of teaching about the three levels of Campbellian Hermeneutics. He simply warned those who rise above "humility" to add to the Word, that their logic should be beyond reproach or they must be inspired.
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The answer might even seem intuitive: It means that our faculty of reason allows for an accurate interpretation and understanding of the Word.
Indeed, Locke wrote that man can understand Revelation by his reason and thereby affirm Christianity as true. The reasoning for this claim is as follows: If reason is the gatekeeper and ultimate arbiter of truth, then it would mean that it is reason, not Christianity, which has the last word in determining what is true or not. Put brusquely, reason—and not faith itself—is what validates faith.
An initial reception of The Reasonableness purported that Locke was placing reason over revelation, stamping a mark of Socinianism on the book because Socinians were known for practicing a form of biblical theology that relied on reason over tradition to interpret revelation.
Locke might have arrived at similar conclusions to Socinians because he used an epistemological method that set aside traditions and instead applied an empirical method to determine the sense and authority of Scripture, but he was inclined to this approach due to his reasoning as an empiricist, not a Socinian.
In so doing, Locke eschewed accusations of Deism and responded to a common controversy in the s that discussed the dissenting positions towards Scripture coming from Nonconformists, also known by their derogatory label as Arminians. And so, the definition of reason for a Latitudinarian, contained a contradiction that was noticed by theologians of the time: Reason was both the divine moral law as well as the means through which men could interpret it. Instead, Locke wanted to prove that Christianity is accessible to all through Scripture, which is interpreted through our reason.
Locke also considered reason to be the vital agent that reconciled the two sources of moral authority in the lives of men: Natural law and revelation. A primary theme that runs throughout The Reasonableness is his belief that men who attempt to understand natural law and morality through their faculty of reason alone often fail at their task. It never from unquestionable Principles, by clear deductions, made out an entire Body of the Law of Nature.
And he that collect all the Moral Rules of the Philosophers, and compare them with those contained in the New Testament, will find them to come short of the Morality delivered by our Saviour.
But if Locke says that man cannot know natural law by reason alone, then why is it that reason alone can explain Revelation? On the other hand, by virtue of its noble action that seeks to understand established truth, reason is also aided by something. That something is Christianity, which according to Locke can and ought to supplement our reason in order for it to be fully formed.
Reason is not a singular, homogenous, and intransigent faculty of judgement. This response, then, reveals another facet of why Christianity is reasonable: Christianity perfects our reason by working with it and enhancing it. Upon this foundation, and upon this only, Morality stands firm, and may deny all competition.
This element is a practical point that Locke makes because he explains that Revelation helps to direct men to be more moral, which leads them to live as better citizens. Locke admitted that it is difficult to know how much authority to allocate to the interpretation of Scripture, the authority of the church, and the illumination by the Holy Spirit. His focus, instead, was on the benefits that come from the Christian faith, as the best guarantor for living a moral and fulfilling life.
Cragg, Gerald R. Locke, John, and Alexander Campbell Fraser ed. Locke, John, and Nuovo, Victor ed. Notes 1. John Locke and Victor Nuovo ed. Locke, Vindications, p. John Locke, and John C. Higgins-Biddle ed. Locke, The Reasonableness, p. Locke, The Reasonableness, pp. Rivers, Reason, Grace and Sentiment, p.
Locke, Vindications of the Reasonableness of Christianity, p.
The Reasonableness of Christianity
The answer might even seem intuitive: It means that our faculty of reason allows for an accurate interpretation and understanding of the Word. Indeed, Locke wrote that man can understand Revelation by his reason and thereby affirm Christianity as true. The reasoning for this claim is as follows: If reason is the gatekeeper and ultimate arbiter of truth, then it would mean that it is reason, not Christianity, which has the last word in determining what is true or not. Put brusquely, reason—and not faith itself—is what validates faith. An initial reception of The Reasonableness purported that Locke was placing reason over revelation, stamping a mark of Socinianism on the book because Socinians were known for practicing a form of biblical theology that relied on reason over tradition to interpret revelation.
John Locke on “The Reasonableness of Christianity”
And if you are a man or a John Locke was the Father of British Empiricist Philosophy - the philosophy of down-to-earth, ordinary, everyday simple observation and experiment. It is a wonderful book, especially in our Age of Widespread Confusion. It will untie your knots and give you peace of mind and may just lead you to the peaceful end of your own personal Odyssey. It is an old book, though, so be forewarned. But you know, so many preachers have a hidden agenda. Not so Locke.
Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge-street, Lond,on. The little satisfaction and consistency that is to be found, in most of the systems of divinity I have met with, made me betake myself to the sole reading of the scriptures to which they all appeal for the understanding the Christian Religion. What from thence, by an attentive and unbiassed search, I have received, Reader, I here deliver to thee. If by this my labour thou receivest any light, or confirmation in the truth, join with me in thanks to the Father of lights, for his condescension to our understandings. If upon a fair and unprejudiced examination, thou findest I have mistaken the sense and tenour of the Gospel, I beseech thee, as a true Christian, in the spirit of the Gospel, which is that of charity, and in the words of sobriety, set me right, in the doctrine of salvation. To understand, therefore, what we are restored to by Jesus Christ, we must consider what the scriptures show we lost by Adam. And, indeed, both sides will be suspected to have trespassed this way, against the written word of God, by any one, who does but take it to be a collection of writings, designed by God, for the instruction of the illiterate bulk of mankind, in the way to salvation; and therefore, generally, and in necessary points, to be understood in the plain direct meaning of the words and phrases: such as they may be supposed to have had in the mouths of the speakers, who used them according to the language of that time and country wherein they lived; without such learned, artificial, and forced senses of them, as are sought out, and put upon them, in most of the systems of divinity, according to the notions that each one has been bred up in.
Online Library of Liberty
Bruno was a learned man of broad philosophical interests. He evidently liked to stir things up. And he may even have been somewhat mad. His challenging cosmology was more Copernican than Ptolemaic—and he could disturb the faithful by speculating about such things as the infinitude of the universe. It was obvious by the middle of the seventeenth century that a new intellectual and social era had opened, with the beginnings of what we know as the Enlightenment grounded in the modern scientific enterprise.