The Immediate Knowledge of God in Twentieth-Century Religious Epistemology
Twentieth-century Dutch Calvinism perpetuated the historic Continental Reformed theology of the natural knowledge of God with its distinction between the naturally implanted knowledge of God and the acquired knowledge of God. John Baillie provided a detailed account of experiential, immediate knowledge of God. Baillie's account of the immediacy of the knowledge of God stands in sharp contrast to what he calls the 'inferential approach' to God the attempt to make the existence of God the conclusion of argument. Baillie's central argument for the claim that the knowledge of God is immediate is based on a purported analogy between belief in God and belief in other minds. When the Christian tradition absorbed Greek philosophical presuppositions, the inferential approach to God became central to the Christian tradition. While it is important not to exaggerate the extent to which ordinary believers acquire such philosophically sophisticated beliefs by way of reflection, neither can a theory of religious epistemology ignore such cases.