In the Systematic Theology course I am teaching at our classical Christian school, COMPASS Community Learning Centres (, I start with an epistemological triad. The question is “how do we know?” In most systematics, two aspects loom large: special revelation (and specifically for us, Scripture) and general revelation. However, prompted by the Triadic framework in which I think and teach, for which a useful shorthand is (at least often), upward-inward-outward, I gave the middle place in the triad to conscience or an intuitive sense. The triad then which answers the question “how do we know?” is 1. Scripture, 2. Conscience, 3. Creation, or as one of the adults in my bible study put it, 1. Canon, 2. Conscience, 3. Creation. Or, perhaps with a slightly different spin, we may say that knowledge is 1. Revelatory, 2. Intuitive, 3. Empirical. It is important to note that in all these triads, and especially with this one, I stress that the first thing (Scripture) is normative and foundational.

Given my thinking on this, it was wonderful to see this triad in Mastricht, Vol 3. The Works of God and the Fall of Man, p366. (  He is speaking here on Special Providence, and full disclosure is that I have not yet looked at his Prolegemena to see whether this triad is used there. But he says , “We should scan the book of nature (Psalm 19:1), of conscience (Rom 2:14-15), and especially also of Scripture (John 5:39), which we should meditate upon day and night (Ps 1:1-2); even princes should continually turn it over (Deut. 17:18-20; Josh. 1:8-9), and rich and poor should learn to obey it (Deut. 5:6-7).”


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