This is the response you will usually get when you mention epistemology to your average church folk. Epistemology, that aspect of study posing the question, “How do I know what I know and what is the extent of my knowledge?” is basic to any branch of learning, and therefore most necessary in a study of Christian apologetics.
Though it is basic, it has been a subject ignored by the majority of the Christian community today. Yet a study of epistemology is absolutely essential to all truth claims, whether secular or religious. Why do we affirm what we affirm or deny what we deny? On what basis? By what or whose authority? As the knowledge of truth is without doubt the claim of the Christian, these questions ought not to be ignored. How do I, as a Christian, know God? How do I know Christ rose from the dead? How do I know right from wrong, truth from error? How do I verify my claims of knowledge?
To be sure, every Christian has an epistemology even if he doesn’t know what the word means. The problem with this neglect of study in this area isn’t that the average church-going Christian doesn’t have an epistemology, it’s that he doesn’t have a Christian epistemology.
To our readers who have an unholy avoidance of philosophy please know this: You have a philosophy. The question is whether it is a Biblical philosophy. Oftentimes those who wish to avoid philosophy are the most prone to adopt an erroneous philosophical idea. It is our desire that you reject these ideas and have a thoroughly biblical philosophy (even if you cringe at calling it that).
Over the centuries there have been three main bodies of thought attempting to posit a justification of knowledge: Rationalism, Empiricism, and Revelationalism (There is also the Kantian bled of Empiricism, and Rationalism, which we will be addressed ). It is not within the scope of this article to give a detailed analysis of each position and their variants. Nevertheless a brief description of the three respective groups will follow in this series on epistemology.
– Ben Murch