Intro to Warranted Charismatic Belief

I typed these around May.   Never got around to finishing the argument for time reasons.   Still, maybe these notes will flesh out some stuff.

With proper acknowledgment to Alvin Plantinga on the title.  In reading modern Protestant criticisms of “kingdom power” (or continuationism) and ironically Eastern Orthodox criticisms of Protestantism’s sola scriptura, I have seen a strange alliance: both sides operate with a similar understanding of Sola Scriptura.   This understanding goes as follows:

(~1) The Bible is the only source of theological knowledge.

Traditionally, however, Protestantism has taught:

(1) The Bible is the final authority/source of knowledge.

In this essay I plan to show why (~1) is self-destructive for Protestants and advance a claim of “Warranted Charismatic Belief” (WChaB) that will allow a belief in Sola Scriptura immune to TradCathOx Defeaters.  If WChaB obtains, Protestants will have to abandon their typical arguments against Jesus’s Kingdom Power.


I.  What is Warrant?

I.1 Problem of Criterion

I.2. Degrees of warrant

II.  Inadequate understandings of Sola Scriptura

III. Defeaters to (~1)

IV. A Way Forward

I.  Warrant.

Do you know? Do you know that you know?  Do you know that you know that you know?  What is the criterion of knowledge? Knowledge is typically defined as “justified, true belief” (k=JTB). It’s a helpful definition.  I know something if I believe it to be true and have proper reasons for believing it to be true.  Developments in epistemology about 50 years ago cast some doubt upon that definition.  Those are Gettier Problems.  I don’t think they full refuted k=JTB. They did show some difficulties, though, and it allowed thinkers to use the concept of “warrant” to explore new avenues of justification.

What is warrant?  According to Plantinga,

To have warrant, a belief must also be such that the purpose of the module of the epistemic faculties producing the belief is to produce true beliefs. Finally, the design plan of the faculties in question must be a good one; that is, that there be a substantial objective probability that a belief of that sort produced under those conditions is true (Plantinga 395).

Warrant differs from justification (and k=JTB) because the knower is not obligated to satisfy “duties of belief.” Such duties mean I am obligated to believe according to the evidence or to give reasons to satisfy some criterion of duty.  I believe these approaches are fraught with danger.

I. 1 Problem of Criterion

In short, I am not obligated to keep on giving justifications for my beliefs (which in turn will force me to give justifications for my justifications, and on to infinity).  Will this satisfy the atheist?  Probably not.  But it should force the theist, particularly the Orthodox and Reformed theist to take notice.  Here is how it is relevant to the Charismatic debate.  After “TRs” go on about how the miraculous has ceased, I tell them that God has given me “words of knowledge.”   Their first response is along the lines of Luke Skywalker,

Then they will ask, “Well how do you know it was from God?”  This is known as the problem of criterion.  On one level it needs to be answered (and I can provide an answer) but more importantly, it is not a sufficient enough objection to overturn my position.  Here’s how.  If I am to know how I know something, I must have both an object of knowledge (p, word of wisdom in this case) and a criterion to validate p (we will call q.).  I must also have something else: r, the fact that p satisfies q.

But this raises a problem.  One can now ask “How do you know q and r?”  What justifies my choosing this as a criterion?  I must now satisfy the conditions with q’ and r’.   But that isn’t good enough.  How do I know q’ and r’?  I must now satisfy those new conditions with q” and r”.

But to point towards an answer: I had asked God a question (which was kind of personal and doesn’t concern you) and immediately, before I had a chance to reflect on anything, a distinct proposition was in my head.  The proposition glorified God, attacked Satan’s kingdom, and furthered my trust in Jesus. If that isn’t a sufficient criterion, nothing is.

I.2 Degrees of Warrant

Not all beliefs are equally powerful, and it is here where the apologetic against TradCathOx begins.  I can hold one belief stronger than I hold another.  For example, the testimonium Spiritus sancti internum is a stronger control-belief than my take on historic premillennialism.  Further, God’s speech-act is a stronger belief than the canon of Scripture.

II.  Inadequate Understandings of Sola Scriptura

(And here is where my notes leave off.  At this point I will attack some recent Reformed understandings of Sola Scriptura that tend to equate the Bible with Knowledge.  Not surprisingly, Orthodox and Roman Catholics have a field day).


Plantinga, Alvin.  “Precis of Warrant: The Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function.”  Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. LV, No.2, June 1995.


2 comments on “Intro to Warranted Charismatic Belief

  1. Bruno says:

    Is there any chance we’ll see a continuation on item II?


Comments are closed.