**This post follows in a series according to this outline.

To define the “suppressed binary opposite” is to say that behind whatever someone might be arguing for, there is something that is left unsaid, usually the very idea which the argument being made is trying to protect. So for example, in keeping with the argument of this blog as of late toward a non-foundationist way of seeing the world, there hasn’t been a suppressed binary opposite because I’ve been rather clear about what I’m trying to argue against: foundationalism. But, if I were a foundationalist, the suppressed binary opposite would likely be harder to detect. Foundationalists are, in my mind (because I used to be one), trying to protect a certain view of something. Within Christian apologetics and the practice of theology, usually the desired object of protection is a certain view of God, truth, or morality.

Thus these are at least three of the suppressed binary opposites of foundationalism, at least as far as theology is concerned. Here is how they tend to be argued (or assumed) and a few problems which non-foundationalists try to point out.

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God is generally held to be a logical necessity. The arguments which assumes this tend to reflect on the Big Bang and Creation ex nihilo, and conclude that someThing had to start everything, someOne had to create from nothing (the operative concept being “had to”), and that someOne or someThing is GOD. In addition, it is argued that for there to be a meaning to life, there must be a someOne to give life meaning or purpose.

The problem here can be identified with a simple question: who is God is this case? Christianity tells the story of who God is by telling the story about God’s Son, Jesus Christ–the very Word of God, God’s self-revelation to the world, God-in-the-flesh, the God-man. We receive the story of Jesus Christ through the Church and through the Scriptures (simultaneously – a theological point that I won’t elaborate upon here).

To say that God’s identity is known in the narrative of Jesus Christ might seem quite obvious to most Christians. As it should be. What stands out in this particular conversation however, is the nature of the issue that the God referred to by foundationalists is a God WITHOUT a particular identity. That God is the so-called “God of the philosophers.” (In case you didn’t notice, that God is also an idol.) It is the platonized God, the God of logical necessity, required by reason to justify a story we made up. What is that story? Well, it is one which claims that the world around us was created. Was it? How do you know? Could the cosmos not be an eternally recurring thing as is argued by some astrophysicists? Or could it not be an illusion, as is argued in the East?

The point of those questions is to point up the debatability or contestability of the particular story which says the world was created. What is argued (or assumed) first is that the world was created. But should that be the first point of argument. Do not the Scriptures begin in another way? They proclaim God’s existence, then His subsequent creation of the world. Why start with the world and then demand a God as its creator simply by logical necessity? Such a claim is not, in fact, Christian.

I mentioned above that the story of the world/cosmos is one we made up in which we invoke a God of logical necessity in order to explain its existence. A second feature of that story is the assumption that there must be meaning to life. That begs the question, must there? Who says? Again, the problem is beginning with a certain story about the way things are and then making up a way to justify it.

It may seem a trifle or a mere nuance to argue that we should tell our stories in the right order, but this works out to be vitally important. If we only begin with the features of the world/cosmos we see around, if we only tell a story which works by simply stating propositions (i.e., there is meaning to life, something can’t be created from nothing, etc.), then we end up formulating a sophisticated means of justifying those premises, justifications which may work out to be nothing but great falsities and problematic stories which future generations will have to work hard to undo (see what I did there?). If on the other hand, we simply tell our stories the way they have been given to us–that is, if we simply proclaim the story of the Christian narrative and go on to make sense of the world through the story it tells of the world, we in fact do not have to deal with complicated fabrications like a “God of the philosophers” because we meet the God of Jesus Christ instead.

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Truth is understood to be Absolute, simply because the opposite of Absolute Truth is Relative Truth, and relativism regarding truth is absurd. Thus, truth is Absolute in a self-evident manner, or so it is argued or assumed.

What to do with this…? I’ve written in some of the other posts (as well as noting in personal conversations) that when we deal with truth, we always do so as if whatever we are saying is true REALLY IS TRUE. That’s how we do it. We can’t argue for something being true without this phenomenon (except when we’re doing something different, like pretending, fantasizing, or lying – but that would be SOMETHING different).

I’m making a descriptive argument here. Truth may indeed be Absolute. We tend to operate as if it is. The problem with the above assumption of foundationalism is this: it does not admit that when we speak of truth we are making a claim about truth. Whatever we take to be Absolute Truth is not incontestable (unless of course you think you have perfect knowledge of everything – but why would you be reading this blog?). There may be good or bad reasons for thinking one claim is the truth as opposed to another claim. But our claims to truth are made in faith. There’s no other way about it.

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Morality is God’s Will for how we should live. Get rid of truth or God (which foundationalists are afraid non- or anti-foundationalists are doing), and morality falls apart because morality always needs some sort of foundation–an eternal Law-Giver–so that morals are unquestionable and all are accountable.

This argument is simply naive. There is not room to go very far into the issue here, but the naivety of this argument is shown clearly in the written records of the experience of missionaries to foreign lands where the local people’s don’t live like people in the West – their moral code is simply different. Historical studies also show that morals have changed over time – not necessarily on the continuum of good to bad or vice versa. Morals adjust to social situations. Sociological observations of this sort simply demonstrate that morals differ among peoples and among time periods and that it is ultimately within cultures and communities that morals are established, agreed upon, change, and measures for accountability or transgression are constructed.

How does this line up with biblical morality? First of all, is there such a thing? The obvious answer might seem to be, duh, of course there is. How about the 10 Commandments? What about Natural Law? Regarding the 10 Commandments, where is the perfect interpretation of how to carry them out? Consider how exactly one might honor one’s mother and father…What if someone is orphaned? What if honoring one’s parents means respect and doing what you’re told as a child, yet doing what’s best for your parents (as you understand it) when you’re older, even if it’s not what they want (which might still be honoring and respecting them)? Regarding Natural Law, what exactly is it? Natural Laws are human efforts to use language to describe reality. Who’s to say that gravity, a so-called natural law, won’t someday work differently – might not something fall UP? What about murdering someone? What about lying? These may seem more simple, yet there are complicated questions which surround these issues as well, making the interpretation of how to carry them out difficult to sort through (think end of life issues, think of when an ax-murderer shows up at the door asking for someone whom you know is present).

These questions are enough to compel one to rethink the uncritical adoption of such foundationalist presuppositions about morality.

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The three assumptions are what foundationalists are AFRAID of losing in the challenge presented by non-foundationalism. Because of such fear, there is an effort in their argumentation to protect these presuppositions. In that way, they stand as at least three of the suppressed binary opposites of foundationalism. They often go unspoken. Apologetics will at times deal with these arguments explicitly, but that is the at times simply the role of a particular kind of apologetics. However, more often than not, these assumptions stand behind a Christian foundationalist view of the world – they are the assumptions that we cannot give up because if we were to do so, we would no longer be Christian. My argument is such a position is hopelessly unChristian. They begin outside of the Christian narrative and are smuggled in the backdoor, as if the Christian narrative were talking about these ideas all along.

The significant issue which compels this writer to challenge the assumptions of a God of logical necessity, absolute truth, and absolute morality is simply this: faith. Underneath these assumptions is a distinct inability to prove any of them, and thus, they are maintained only by faith. If that is the case, they might be at the very least, rephrased or reframed so that if they are going to be associated with the story of the Christian faith, they might be articulated in a manner that shows how they distinctly emerge out of it, and thus are more faithfully Christian. At times (and this is more often than not), truth remains a debatable question in some way, as does morality. The question of God, even though we have a distinct revelation of Him in Jesus Christ, is constantly under fire in a self-critical way. Jesus Christ always comes to us through the Word to challenge our understanding of Him as the revelation of God. Thus theology and theologizing go on, indefinitely, until He returns. Such is the way of non-foundationalism.

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