Sunday, September 23, 2007

Knapton Responds to Frazer:

Richard Knapton responds to Gregg Frazer's response to him. Knapton's response seems confused. I won't tackle all of it, just one misunderstanding that he is trying to posit.

I've highlighted the relevant parts of his post to which I respond:

Ah yes, deism and natural religion. At the turn of the 18th-century a small group of thinkers, including the Earl of Shaftsbury, began writing about how natural philosophy (science) could be used to investigate the nature and workings of God. This was coined natural religion. Their approach was to replace Christianity with natural religion. It pretty much petered out around the middle of the 18th-century. It’s demise was helped out in no small measure by the writings of Joseph Butler and David Hume. Hume attacked the idea of using rational or empirical methods (science) to investigate religion.

[...]

Theistic rationalism is a term for which there is no conceptual correspondence in the time period Dr Fraser is writing. Along with the demise of deistic rationalism was rationalism itself. The empiricist (Locke, Berkely, Hume) had shown that truth cannot be discovered on the basis of reason alone. Information must first be established based on experiment and observation prior to the use of reason. The concept of theistic rationalism, which is supposed to have risen out of the ashes of deistic rationalism, has simply no foundation. Rationalism had lost out to empiricism.

[...]

This use of the term ‘reason’ is a bit sloppy. Let’s bring some rigor to the subject. I obtained my definition of reason from “A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names” Reason: The intellectual ability to apprehend [understand] the truth cognitively, either immediately in intuition, or by means of a process of inference. Inference: The relationship that holds between the premises and the conclusion of a logical argument, or the process of drawing a conclusion from premises that support it deductively or inductively.

Thus reason is a process by which truth is revealed. Revelation is an event by which truth is revealed. You can oppose an event to another event. Or, you can oppose a process by another process. But you cannot oppose a processes to an event. They are not the same type of thing. Not can a process determine what is legitimate. Reasoning requires a first principle which can only be accepted as true. It cannot be rationally determined. Since reasoning is a dialectical process, one begins with a first principle and a comparison happens between it and opposing ideas with a view to resolving the opposition. What is critical here is first principles. With any process the quality of what goes in determines the quality of what comes out (garbage in – garbage out). Dr Fraser, on the other hand, seems to want to use the term as a magic wand by which whatever you touch truth is revealed.

[...]

1 Deism and natural religion died out around the middle of 18th century. Natural religion was a spent force.

[...]

3. “Theistic rationalism”, as a concept, doesn’t seem to exist in the second half of the 18th century. Also, it is not likely that “theistic rationalism” rose from the ashes of “deistic rationalism.”

4. Reason is not a magic wand that whatever it touches turns to the truth.


Knapton's major factual premises are, as an historical matter, wrong. Hume, an atheist, may well have "attacked the idea of using rational or empirical methods (science) to investigate religion." But the fact is Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and many other notable founders as well as many divines and philosophers of the age believed that man's reason discovers substantive truth including, and importantly religious truths. [Hume, in fact, attacked other ideas which America's founders held central, for instance Locke's notion of the state of nature, which was one of the most central tenets of America's founding thought].

Reason may well be a "process" and indeed, our modern minds may believe, after Hume, that reason needs first facts from which to proceed and can discover no substantive moral, religious or philosophical truths of its own. But America's key founders believed Nature (with a capital "N"), not the Bible, was the substance from which man's reason discovers moral, philosophical, and religious truth. Indeed, by looking to Nature, man's reason could discover substantive truth wholly UNAIDED by scripture. The Deists argued that the none of the Bible was inspired and man, using reason, could look to nature ONLY. Orthodox Christians believed that God primarily revealed Himself through scripture, and that whatever truths reason discovers on its own, revelation trumps reason. The theistic rationalists like Adams, Franklin, Jefferson and others believed God primarily revealed Himself through Nature, only partially inspired the Bible and as such reason was the ultimate arbiter for discovering substantive truth, including what is legitimate revelation from God.

There may well be epistemological "problems" with this theology. And indeed, I know that Dr. Frazer, as an orthodox evangelical Christian, doesn't personally agree with it. Let's not forget that first and foremost we are trying to determine what Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams believed, not whether they were right. Indeed, if one proceeds with a religious belief that, for instance, because America's founding was divinely inspired, the key founders had to have been real Christians and right on theological matters, one's understanding of the matter is likely to be clouded, especially if the facts don't neatly line up with one's preexisting beliefs.

Anyway, here is some of the evidence that at the very least Adams, Jefferson and Franklin believed God revealed Himself primarily through Nature, only partially inspired the Bible and thus man's reason supersedes revelation as the ultimate determiner of Truth.

To him who believes in the Existence and Attributes physical and moral of a God, there can be no obscurity or perplexity in defining the Law of Nature to be his wise benign and all powerful Will, discovered by Reason.

-- John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, March 19, 1794. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 377, Library of Congress. Seen in James H. Hutson's, "The Founders on Religion," p. 132.


Writing in 1735, Ben Franklin made clear that "natural religion" -- what man discovers through reason -- was in fact the first revelation of God to man. And that revealed religion -- what's written in the Bible -- is secondary and functions to support the findings of reason.

Now that natural Religion, or that the Laws of our Nature oblige us to the highest Degrees of Love to God, and in consequence of this Love to our almighty Maker, to pay him all the Homage, Worship and Adoration we are capable of, and to do every thing we know he requires; and that the same Laws oblige us to the Love of Mankind, and in consequence of this Love, as well as of our Love to God, (because he requires these things of us) to do good Offices to, and promote the general Welfare and Happiness of our Fellow-creatures...What Hemphill means by the first Revelation which God made to us by the Light of Nature, is the Knowledge, and our Obligations to the Practice of the Laws of Morality, which are discoverable by the Light of Nature; or by reflecting upon the human Frame, and considering it's natural Propensities, Instincts, and Principles of Action, and the genuine Tendencies of them.


Notice how Franklin positions scripture as secondary revelation, with "reason" or "the light of nature" as the primary revelation God gave man:

Now, that to promote the Practice of the great Laws of Morality and Virtue both with Respect to God and Man, is the main End and Design of the christian Revelation has been already prov'd from the Revelation itself. And indeed as just now hinted at, it is obvious to the Reason of every thinking Person, that, if God almighty gives a Revelation at all, it must be for this End; nor is the Truth of the christian Revelation, or of any other that ever was made, to be defended upon any other Footing. But quitting these things; if the above Observations be true, then where lies the Absurdity of Hemphill's asserting,

Article I.

That Christianity, [as to it’s most essential and necessary Parts,] is plainly Nothing else, but a second Revelation of God’s Will founded upon the first Revelation, which God made to us by the Light of Nature.


Also note how Franklin terms his beliefs, "Christianity." As Dr. Frazer has noted, what he terms "theistic rationalism" often presented itself under the auspices of "Christianity." But key tenets of such belief system -- that Jesus wasn't God, that God primarily revealed Himself through Nature (discovered by man's reason) and secondarily through a partially inspired Bible, and that other non-Christian religions are valid -- arguably disqualifies it from the label "Christian."

As to the Bible being only partially inspired, Franklin made clear this is what he believed when he said,

that the[re are] several Things in the old Testament impossible to be given by divine Inspiration, such as the Approbation ascrib’d to the Angel of the Lord, of that abominably wicked and detestable Action of Jael the Wife of Heber the Kenite. If the rest of the Book were like that, I should rather suppose it given by Inspiration from another Quarter, and renounce the whole.


Many notable divines preached these principles from the pulpit during the founding era including Jonathan Mayhew, Samuel West, and Ebenezer Gay. I blogged about one of West's sermons, preached in 1776. West notes, by looking solely at Nature, reason discovers substantive God given rules and elevates those discoveries to the same level as the Bible.

Now, whatever right reason requires as necessary to be done is as much the will and law of God as though it were enjoined us by an immediate revelation from heaven, or commanded in the sacred Scriptures.


He then treads dangerously on denying the infallibility of the Bible and elevating reason over revelation:

A revelation, pretending to be from God, that contradicts any part of natural law, ought immediately to be rejected as an imposture; for the Deity cannot make a law contrary to the law of nature without acting contrary to himself,--a thing in the strictest sense impossible, for that which implies contradiction is not an object of the divine power.


Here we actually see West setting up one substantive system of rules -- those discovered from reason -- against another -- those contained in Bible. And he states, in the event of a conflict, reason trumps. This is important because West "discovers" a substantive right to revolt, not from the Bible (because one isn't contained therein) but, following Locke, from "reason" or the natural law.

West actually has to deal with those parts of scripture which seem to forbid a right to revolt, and he does so like a true cafeteria Christian, explaining away parts of the Bible he finds "inconvenient." On Romans 13, West ends up concluding "that the apostle Paul, instead of being a friend to tyranny and arbitrary government, turns out to be a strong advocate for the just rights of mankind...." Or in other words, Paul really meant we do have a right to revolt against the magistrate, the opposite of what he said. Do keep in mind that the ruler to whom Paul told believers to obey was not some "godly" ruler, but the pagan psychopath Nero. West addresses that point:

I know it is said that the magistrates were, at the time when the apostle wrote, heathens, and that Nero, that monster of tyranny, was then Emperor of Rome; that therefore the apostle, by enjoining submission to the powers that then were, does require unlimited obedience to be yielded to the worst of tyrants. Now, not to insist upon what has been often observed, viz., that this epistle was written most probably about the beginning of Nero's reign, at which time he was a very humane and merciful prince, did everything that was generous and benevolent to the public, and showed every act of mercy and tenderness to particulars, and therefore might at that time justly deserve the character of the minister of God for good to the people,-- I say, waiving this, we will suppose that this epistle was written after that Nero was become a monster of tyranny and wickedness; it will by no means follow from thence that the apostle meant to enjoin unlimited subjection to such an authority, or that he intended to affirm that such a cruel, despotic authority was the ordinance of God. The plain, obvious sense of his words, as we have already seen, forbids such a construction to be put upon them, for they plainly imply a strong abhorrence and disapprobation of such a character, and clearly prove that Nero, so far forth as he was a tyrant, could not be the minister of God, nor have a right to claim submission from the people; so that this ought, perhaps, rather to be viewed as a severe satire upon Nero, than as enjoining any submission to him.


The first point -- the epistle was written during the beginning of Nero's reign when he was "nicer," not towards the end when he was a tyrant -- strikes me as invoking hair splitting context to reach a desired result, not unlike the way some gay Christians and Jews, who claim the Bible really isn't against homosexuality, conclude things like the Bible permits gay men to have oral sex because that is not "lying with a man," or that even if they did "lie with mankind," and commit an "abomination," that term means "ritual impurity," and is more like eating shellfish or the mixing of fabrics.

The second point -- if Paul said this when Nero was indeed acting tyrannical, he must not have meant it! -- shows West's willingness to disregard scripture that disagrees with reason.

Finally, as noted, West, like America's founders and many other pro-revolutionary preachers followed Locke. And Mr. Knapton misunderstands Locke's teachings. Locke did indeed conclude that "reason" discovers substantive truth, including substantive religious truth. Indeed Locke based his entire substantive theory of "the state of nature" (which theory was both wholly extra-biblical, and key to American founding philosophy) on "the law of nature" which Locke equated with reason. In his Two Treatises, Locke informs “The State of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one, and reason...is that law....”

12 comments:

Our Founding Truth said...

Mr. Knapton, good post. Positive liberty banned me for posting the truth. Those people would ban the framers; themselves executing homosexuals for such a wicked, and perverted vice. My post is on his confusion or deception blog. It gives the truth of why we were a Christian nation. The state constitutions are sovereign over the Federal Constitution in matters of Religion; of which all the framers believed. My blog is Our Founding Truth


But America's key founders believed Nature (with a capital "N"), not the Bible, was the substance from which man's reason discovers moral, philosophical, and religious truth.>>

Adams did not believe this perverted doctrine before 1800. Labeling him a rationalist is not accurate, so Jefferson and Franklin are the only framers with this belief.

This is evidenced by the Christian Philosophers understanding that without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, reason is and always will be corrupt; therefore, without "right reason" as the sagacious Hooker says, religious truth cannot be known.

The Ten Commandments can be known from reason; the conscience of man, set in the mind of man; although, salvation can only be known by Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

Jon, this quote does not prove your point. It doesn't say the bible is ONLY partially inspired, or that reason supercedes revelation. The quote ONLY says that through the conscience, man can discover the Law of Nature's will. Through the framers and Christian Philosophers, we know the Law of Nature is the God of Israel, revealed in the Bible. Through revelation is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which is superior, and essential for salvation.

Adams became a rationalist AFTER he left office, showing he is irrelevant to the discussion. Adams believed the Christian religion divine; most likely rejecting the superstition of romanism, with Christianity Divine:

My Religion you know is not exactly conformable to that of the greatest Part of the Christian World. It excludes superstition. But with all the superstition that attends it, I think the Christian the best that is or has been. I would join with those who wish ecclesiastical Tyranny abolished, and the frauds of the Priesthood detested: But in this Country We have little of this. If my feeble Testimony has done any good, rejoice and have my reward.
John Adams to Abigail Adams JAN 28,1799

only partially inspired the Bible and thus man's reason supersedes revelation as the ultimate determiner of Truth.


To him who believes in the Existence and Attributes physical and moral of a God, there can be no obscurity or perplexity in defining the Law of Nature to be his wise benign and all powerful Will, discovered by Reason.

-- John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, March 19, 1794. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 377, Library of Congress. Seen in James H. Hutson's, "The Founders on Religion," p. 132.

Our Founding Truth said...

West notes, by looking solely at Nature, reason discovers substantive God given rules and elevates those discoveries to the same level as the Bible.


Now, whatever right reason requires as necessary to be done is as much the will and law of God as though it were enjoined us by an immediate revelation from heaven, or commanded in the sacred Scriptures.>>

The "right reason" is that person that is born again; the person indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

"lying with a man," or that even if they did "lie with mankind," and commit an "abomination," that term means "ritual impurity," and is more like eating shellfish or the mixing of fabrics.>>

This isn't true at all, I'll get the Greek for you later.

Locke did indeed conclude that "reason" discovers substantive truth, including substantive religious truth.>>

John Locke believed in the New Birth, and "right reason" being a man that is born again by the Spirit of God. Locke says this in his writings in Hundreds of passages!

Jonathan said...

Show me one place where Locke uses the term "born again."

Jonathan said...

Let me note something else about Locke and "born again." Since you seem to appreciate the "importance" of being "born again" to your understanding of "Christianity," Locke, on the other hand, explicated what he thought to be central to Christianity in his book "The Reasonableness of Christianity" (that was the purpose of the book).

Not only does Locke not include the doctrine of being "born again" as central to Christianity, he also says nothing about the Trinity. That's why his Trinitarian Christian critics accused him of being a unitarian heretic after reading the book. Locke's response was to artfully dodge the accusion by simply noting he didn't reject the Trinity in his book, but rather simply didn't mention it at all!

This led Jared Sparks to conclude he was a unitarian. But, at the very least, whatever he was, Locke didn't believe either being "born again" or accepting the Trinity were central doctrines of the Christian faith; that's why he didn't discuss them in "The Reasonableness of Christianity."

Our Founding Truth said...

Locke didn't believe either being "born again" or accepting the Trinity were central doctrines of the Christian faith; that's why he didn't discuss them in "The Reasonableness of Christianity.">>

Locke didn't speak of these things and gives the reasons why in his first and second vindication. Locke believed belief in Jesus as Messiah, encompasses everything needed; that Jesus is Deity, the New Birth, etc. So he wasn't clear on the essentials.

In one way, Locke is correct; he set himself up for criticism by not being clear on the essentials.

"If your lordship had showed me any thing in my book, that contained or implied any opposition in it to any thing revealed in holy writ concerning the Trinity, or any other doctrine contained in the bible, I should have been thereby obliged to your lordship for freeing me from that mistake, and for affording me an opportunity to own to the world that obligation, by publicly retracting my errour."
"A Letter to the Right Rev. Edward ... concerning some passages relating to Mr. Locke's 'Essay on Human Understanding.'"

So, what Locke is guilty of is not disclosing what he meant. The sum of Locke's belief is Jesus as Lord is all you need to be a Christian. The word Locke uses is from Paul in Romans "If you believe in your heart the LORD Jesus, and declare with your mouth that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved"

That word Lord is the same Greek word for divine. They used that word because Jesus called himself God.

"Before Abraham was, I AM."

"Why do you call ME good, there is only one that is good, God" etc.

Being born again and the trinity is therefore included in Locke's belief that Jesus is Messiah.

Jonathan said...

You apparently don't understand the Arian heresy. Many Arians, like Locke, believed Jesus was "Messiah," "Lord," or "Divine," they just didn't believe He was fully God in a Trinity. Rather he was, they argued a divine being created by and subordinate to the father, sort of like a demi-God or angelic being.

So no, in an age where unitarian heretics hid in their closets and believed Jesus was Messiah or Lord, Locke's "Reasonableness" does not "cover" the ground that he believed in the Trinity.

And he couldn't publicly deny the Trinity because had he done so, he could have been executed for heresy.

The way he dodged the question clearly indicates he was an Arian heretic to all but folks who have blinders on, which is why a consensus of scholars believe Locke, like Milton, Newton, and Clarke, was Arian.

Our Founding Truth said...

Many Arians, like Locke, believed Jesus was "Messiah," "Lord," or "Divine," they just didn't believe He was fully God in a Trinity.>

There is no substantial evidence to Locke denying the trinity, on the contrary, he affirmed the trinity by his affirmation to Rev. Edward:

"If your lordship had showed me any thing in my book, that contained or implied any opposition in it to any thing revealed in holy writ concerning the Trinity, or any other doctrine contained in the bible, I should have been thereby obliged to your lordship for freeing me from that mistake, and for affording me an opportunity to own to the world that obligation, by publicly retracting my errour."
"A Letter to the Right Rev. Edward ... concerning some passages relating to Mr. Locke's 'Essay on Human Understanding.'"

Like I said earlier, his secrecy in his beliefs caused him great scrutiny which I doubt he welcomed. John Locke was a born again Christian, who believed in the Deity of Jesus.

they just didn't believe He was fully God in a Trinity.>

That quote affirms Locke believed in the Trinity, and there can be no excuse that Jesus was less than equal with the Father; or else nullifying the doctrine.

Locke's "Reasonableness" does not "cover" the ground that he believed in the Trinity.>>

Jon, you didn't read my post. The essentials are included in his proposition, that's what he fought defending the entire time. He brought this heat all on himself.

The scholarly community cannot say Locke meant a different being than what is given in scripture. It says "Lord" meaning equal with God.

If he meant something different, he would have said so, but, he didn't.

And he couldn't publicly deny the Trinity because had he done so, he could have been executed for heresy.>

I don't know about this one either. Did England execute unitarians at this time? I can see catholic countries doing this, but not England.

The way he dodged the question clearly indicates he was an Arian heretic to all but folks who have blinders on, which is why a consensus of scholars believe Locke, like Milton, Newton, and Clarke, was Arian.>

This is an assumption; and incorrect one, as I think I've shown. Again, his lack of explanation warranted this criticism, and no I don't have blinders on. If he would have came out and declared his unitarianism like Newton, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but he didn't.

Jonathan said...

I'm reading the same passage on Locke that you reproduced and I don't see him affirming the Trinity. Rather, he is claiming that his book doesn't DENY the Trinity. And above I explained the reason for the subtle difference.

Newton was not an out unitarian, but a closet one.

Jonathan said...

The scholarly community cannot say Locke meant a different being than what is given in scripture. It says "Lord" meaning equal with God.

No, the Bible uses the term "Lord" many times and it has different meanings. It could simply mean "ruler" like someone who "Lords" over a country, or over land like a "landlord." That's why Arians, of whom there were many in Locke's day, believed Jesus was "Lord" but not fully "God." You don't understand the context and the historial controversy regarding the Arian and Socinian heresy in 17th Century Europe or else you wouldn't be writing things like this.

Our Founding Truth said...

I'm reading the same passage on Locke that you reproduced and I don't see him affirming the Trinity. Rather, he is claiming that his book doesn't DENY the Trinity. And above I explained the reason for the subtle difference.>>

"If your lordship had showed me any thing in my book, that contained or implied any opposition in it to any thing revealed in holy writ concerning the Trinity, or any other doctrine contained in the bible, I should have been thereby obliged to your lordship for freeing me from that mistake, and for affording me an opportunity to own to the world that obligation, by publicly retracting my errour."
"A Letter to the Right Rev. Edward ... concerning some passages relating to Mr. Locke's 'Essay on Human Understanding.'"

This is clear to anyone, the key word is "opposition" The Rev. is accuseing Locke of neglecting the Trinity, and Locke is saying, If I did neglect it, show me my error.

So the Trinity is included in his belief that Jesus is Messiah, which is technically correct. Jon, this is a no-brainer.

This is no arian conspiracy, because he commented on that as well. The difference is the words he used.

Newton was not an out unitarian, but a closet one.>

It doesn't seem he was a closet unitarian.

In 1690 Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) wrote a manuscript on the corruption of the text of the New Testament concerning I John 5:7 and Timothy 3:16. It was entitled, "A Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture."

Newton on I John 5:7

Newton states that this verse appeared for the first time in the third edition of Erasmus's New Testament.
"When they got the Trinity; into his edition they threw by their manuscript, if they had one, as an almanac out of date. And can such shuffling dealings satisfy considering men?....It is rather a danger in religion than an advantage to make it now lean on a broken reed.

"In all the vehement universal and lasting controversy about the Trinity in Jerome's time and both before and long enough after it, this text of the "three in heaven" was never once thought of. It is now in everybody’s mouth and accounted the main text for the business and would assuredly have been so too with them, had it been in their books.

No, the Bible uses the term "Lord" many times and it has different meanings. It could simply mean "ruler" like someone who "Lords" over a country, or over land like a "landlord." That's why Arians, of whom there were many in Locke's day, believed Jesus was "Lord" but not fully "God.">>

This is why the Arians were incorrect and it cost them eternal torment. The word for "Lord" is curios. That word always means equal with God, execept in one place, I believe in Acts, where it's referring to "sir"

They are the ones in error.

Our Founding Truth said...

Locke gives the reason why he neglected the Trinity, and New Birth, etc. It was because it was included in his summation "Jesus is the Messiah"

That is clear from his first and second vindication.

Our Founding Truth said...

From Mr. Frazer's post:

I, as an evangelical Christian>

Awesome.

, believe and what the Founders believed. I place revelation above reason and I do not “want to use the term as a magic wand by which whatever you touch truth is revealed.” The Founders used it as a basis for discovering and determining truth. >

This seems to me a weak foundation; the framers should have known this full well, only "right reason" mentioned by the sagacious Hooker, is a more sure way to God's truth, since man's conscience is flawed, adding the lack of the Spirit.

Fifth, regarding the relationship between reason and revelation, Mr. Knapton is quite correct in pointing out that “from the time of Thomas Aquinas Christianity and reason had gone hand in hand.” If Mr. Knapton had read my dissertation, he would have seen that I specifically discussed Aquinas and the emphasis on reason in Christianity.>>

Actually, reason is first mentioned by Paul in Romans 2:14-15.

Jesus did no teaching before being born or as an infant. It ends with the death and burial of Jesus (minus the supernatural/miraculous elements) — Jesus did no teaching after dying or while He was being buried. >

Jefferson was a deceiver, what theory did Jefferson believe happened to Jesus' body?

Adams said of the biblical record of the Fall of man in Genesis that it “is either an allegory, or founded on uncertain tradition, that it is an hypothesis to account for the origin of evil, adopted by Moses, which by no means accounts for the facts.” [Feb. 1814 letter to TJ]>>

Mr. Frazer, this should be irrelevant, since at this time, Adams was not involved in the formation of the United States. At the time of the formation, Adams was a Christian Unitarian, who believed in the miraculous.

But what is Standard Christian thought? Everything that follows after Luther nails up his 95 Theses in 1517? Sola Scriptura? The Bible only? Faith alone saves? There were 1500-odd years of Christianity before that.>>

And what did the REAL born again Christians believe underground? The bible only, yes. Faith alone, yes. Man cannot be saved by the works of the flesh.

When the Evangelist (that would be “St.” Paul, for those who came in late) writes that the natural law is written upon the human heart, this speaks not at all to the Bible, which as we all know wasn’t even the Bible as we know it yet.>

Read Romans 2:14-15. Yes, the bible was put together before the canon, the persecuted believers had these books, and kept them while being hunted down by Romanists. God did, preserve his words.

Standard Christian thought is that God PRIMARILY reveals Himself in Scripture (revelation) and secondarily through nature.>

As a born again believer, I don't think of it with that mindset. Reason is there, and will never contradict revelation; so in essence, you are correct, revelation is superior because man's reason is flawed, scripture is not.

**What is Christian thought? When the Catholic Aquinas was writing, there weren’t even Protestants yet, let alone 57 varieties of ‘em. >

They were the ones getting burned at the stake.

The central tenant of Christianity, the thing that separates Christian from all other religions is the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior of the world.>

The scriptures are clear the Messiah would be God.

The issue of the Trinity was an interdenominational issue among Christians. Their creeds, confessions, and catechisms defined what type of Christian they were. It did not define whether they were Christian or not. Good grief, this is Christianity 101.>>

As a born again Christian, this statement is definitely false. The Trinity is all over the bible, as well as in the writings of the church fathers.
God has made the trinity full proof; denying the trinity is leaving God a biune being, and denying the Holy Spirit as God, which the Bible clearly says:

Acts 5
3But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the HOLY GHOST, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto GOD.