Testimony as opposed to rational proof

In his commentary on the Treatise on the Trinity, Gerrigou-Lagrange says that we should not speak of the scriptures proving that God is triune but we should rather speak of the testimony of the scriptures about the triune God. While it would be going too far to say that we should entirely replace talk of proving things with talk of giving the scriptural witness of things, we should at least be sensitive to the reality that the greatest mysteries of the faith – that is, those things that most deserve to be called revealed –  are things for which we more have testimony than proof.

The sharpest difference between rational proof and testimony is in the way they are common to many. Rational proof is common to many in its very principles, being given either to everyone or to those with the right perquisites (what STA calls “self-evident to the wise”) but testimony is common to many only by the testimony given. The principle of the truth of the testimony is hidden from many, who only have access to it through testimony. In reveling himself to the world, the orthodox Christian claim goes, God has chosen to rely on testimony more than rational proof, which is why he has given faith pride of place over knowledge. The value of faith, however, is relative; the absolute preference is for testimony over proof. Why this preference?

The strongest argument one could make for this preference is that is logically necessary, and there can be a decent argument for it- if revelation is most fundamentally the words of a God-man to the world then it is impossible that revelation come except by testimony, since what is seen or known by a God-man, properly and as such, simply cannot be seen or known by a world of non God-men. The desire to do away with testimony altogether is would be the desire that revelation not come through Christ. One can posit all the miracles and wonders that they want – such things can never close the gap that makes the testimony necessary. Given the necessity of testimony, there is even an argument to be made for the limitation of miracles, since miracles are more given in the line of evidence than the line of testimony, and if these two are opposed and the latter is logically necessary, there would be a reason not to do absolutely as many miracles as possible. The one with evidence is even at a certain disadvantage, since there is the danger in evidence taking the place of testimony.



  1. VICTOR SIMON said,

    December 20, 2011 at 11:32 am

    “The desire to do away with testimony altogether is would be the desire that revelation not come through Christ.”

    I think you could delete the last 2 words. Revelation by its nature is given, not taken. Proof is taken from reality by the intellect.

    The desire to reduce all things to rational proof is the desire that there be nothing or no one above us.

  2. George R. said,

    December 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Testimony and miracles seem to me to have a very complementary relationship. I can’t think of any instances of opposition between the two.

  3. Vato said,

    December 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

    So, if God said it in the Bible, it must be true? Nearly what the scriptural-dogmatist insists. In any ordinary, legalistic sense, a report of supernatural events (whether ghosts, or people rising from the dead) which violate the uniformity of experience is…..inadmissible by definition. AS that scoundrel Hume knew . (had you seen a ghost you might think otherwise, but would probably not expect others to believe you). Metaphorical readings of so-called miracles bother the usual RC dogmatist but..in a sense the most plausible interpretation.

    • J said,

      December 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Perezoso, don’t you have family to be with during Christmas?

  4. Not-J said,

    December 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    “Wait, I thought J was Perezoso!”

    It is. The name’s a bit of a joke in this case, which is appropriate since J is as well. Sorry for the added confusion. Unless you like a bit of confusion, in which case, you’re welcome for the Christmas gift. 🙂

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Chastek.

  5. Vato said,

    December 22, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Vato is neither “J” or “Perezoso”, but the mystery stalker-troll is one Byro Bellami, mormon occultiist, ex-con/druggie, wannabe beatnik-disco star, college flunkie (like two semesters or so) and supporter of OWS : here it is. http://new-worlds.org/blog/?p=13350). Note its boot licking. Gives it away every time.

    But you can lie and hustle along with the rest of the blog RC blog-mafiosi, Chastek– or maybe be the first to start telling the truth (and respond to the evidential issue)

  6. PatrickH said,

    December 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I wonder if Vato is djindra. djindra was banned at Feser’s and Vato started showing up here almost the same time. Doesn’t quite write the same way, though he does have the same personal hate for Feser.

    • Brandon said,

      December 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

      I don’t think so. Vato is very definitely J, or someone working in tandem with him; even if it weren’t clear from the consistent absurdity, J’s been on the boring ‘everyone’s a sockpuppet for Bellami’ raving for some months now; he regularly trolls around trying to smear bloggers for little to no reason. And djindra simply never had J’s talent for being always wrong or irrelevant in every single comment.

      • BenYachov said,

        December 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm

        >djindra simply never had J’s talent for being always wrong or irrelevant in every single comment.

        I don’t mean to quibble but I am not so sure about that? djindra was fairly consistent with spouting anti-philosophy crap thought he lacked J’s apparent insanity.

        OTOH you say Toemato I say Tomato etc…

        It may not be important.

        Merry Christmas guy.

  7. thenyssan said,

    December 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I do like that you guys are “RC blog-mafiosi.” I’d take that epithet any day! 😀

  8. 01010101 said,

    December 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    buh bye papist pedos

  9. E.R. Bourne said,

    December 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

    This is actually funny, perhaps a testament to the type of relationship we have all formed at certain websites. I have been reading Brandon, James, and Edward Feser for some time now, and this includes their comments sections.

    I completely agree with Brandon that Vato is J or someone working with him. He has such a distinct style: Sentence fragments, constant references to the Vichy and smearing Catholic thinkers as nietzschean or pseudo-Randians. He constantly references Hume and Kant, and every now and then he tries to curse at people in Spanish. I do not think he could hide this way of writing if he tried. I remember, some years ago, he threatened a commenter, challenging him to a fight and saying that he could bench 400 pounds. Only on the internet could a philosophical discussion descend to such hilarity.

  10. December 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Using my extensive skills in textual analysis, comparative literature, and late-era Kabbalistic symbolism, I find it highly likely that one-oh-one-oh is Vato-vato.

  11. 01010101 said,

    December 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    speaking of evidence, maybe Jimmy Thomas might post the biography of Gerrigou-Lagrange, including those…mysterious passages wherein Mssr G-L, vichyite, praised the nazis (as Maritain, a somewhat authentic catholic, well knew).

  12. 01010101 said,

    December 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I have been reading Brandon, James, and Edward Feser for some time now

    Your kind of guys, eh Byro the wicca-troll—pro Bush, libertarian-capitalist, Randians (at least until they realized Rooody Giuliani sort of “catholicism” might better advance their cause). Yeah, they izz–RA Swinelein and L-Ron fans too most likely. Keep stalkin’, druggie.

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