What is pre-suppositionalism? What is presuppositional apologetics?

The Messianic Drew has a post up where he explains seven reasons, and I’ll add a still more important reason below.

His introduction:

While most Christians will agree that there is a need to defend the faith, many will not realize that there is a debate regarding methodologies. This paper will address the various apologetics methods, and then analyze before critiquing the relatively new method of presuppositionalism. While this method has a lot to offer from a practical apologetics standpoint, it cannot be held rationally as a worldview. This paper will give seven reasons why this is the case.

Before addressing presuppositionalism, an introduction to other apologetic methodologies is in order. The main form of apologetics used historically is called Classical Apologetics. Under this method, the apologist gives arguments for the existence of God, and then proceeds to develop Christian evidences for the Christian worldview. Arguments like the moral argument, and other reason-based argumentation tend to dominate this method.

If classical apologetics is a two-step method, evidentialism is a one-step method. The evidentialist will usually forego rationalistic argumentation and will simply bring out evidences for the Christian worldview. The method of Gary Habermas is an example of evidentialism.

Those methods as well as presuppositionalism are the main methods of apologetics. There are others as well, such as fideism, which tells people to just believe without argument. Polemical apologetics seeks to attack other worldviews. There are cumulative case methods of apologetics, where two worldviews face off for which one better answers life’s deepest questions. There is also eclectic apologetics, which seeks to borrow methods from other schools of apologetics depending on the need.

This brings the discussion to presuppositionalism, which seeks to examine the underlying assumptions of any worldview. In short, presuppositionalism states that one’s foundational views are the only truly relevant factor in discussing worldviews. The founder of modern presuppositionalism is Cornelius van Til.

Here are his 7 points:

  1. Presuppositionalism is circular reasoning
  2. Presuppositionalism minimizes common grace
  3. Presuppositionalism confuses ontological priority with epistemic priority
  4. Presuppositionalism presupposes a highly controversial theory of knowledge
  5. Presuppositionalism often forgets that Christianity is, at least in principle, falsifiable
  6. Van Til’s apologetic might not even be Christian, but may be merely theistic
  7. Presuppositionalism faces the problem of incommensurability

And here is #6 in detail:

John Johnson gives a devastating critique as to why Van Til’s system is wholly inadequate when addressing other faiths, such as Islam. Van Til argues from Romans 1:18-21 that non-Christians suppress the truth, and that a presuppositional technique is necessary. However, this section of the Bible deals with knowledge of God, but not theological issues about the Trinity, Jesus, salvation by grace through faith alone, etc. [12] Instead, it only says that unbelievers are without excuse for denying monotheism. Paul reinforces this in Acts 17, when he talks about the statue to an unknown God. Paul deals with the Athenians on their own ground.

A more practical example is what I call Artscroll Judaism. This is a fundamentalist sect of Orthodox Judaism, with its own think tanks which can give you an answer to anything. Anyone who is willing to take the leap into the system will find it every bit as coherent as one would find the Reformed Christian view.

John Warwick Montgomery gives a fable about a conversation between two presuppositionalists from two different religions: the Shadok religion, and the Gibi religion.

Shadok: You will never discover the truth, for instead of subordinating yourself to revelational truth (The Shadok Bible) you sinfully insist on maintaining the autonomy of your fallen intellect.

Gibi: Quite the contrary. [He repeats the same assertion substituting the Gibi Bible for the Shadok Bible.] And I say this not on the basis of my sinful ego but because I have been elected by the Gibi God.

Shadok: Wrong again! [He repeats the exact same claim, substituting Shadok Election for Gibi Election.] Moreover, the sovereign election of which I am the unworthy recipient has been the very work of God the Shadok Holy Spirit. And all of this is clearly taught in the self-validating Scripture of our people, which, I should not have to reiterate, derives from the true God and not from sinful, alledgedly autonomous man.

Gibi: How dare you invert everything. [He laboriously repeats the preceding argument, substituting Gibi election, the Gibi Holy Spirit, and the Gibi Bible.]

Shadok: Absurd! This is the inevitable result of your colored glasses.

Gibi: It is you who have the glasses cemented to your face. Mine have been transparent through sovereign grace and Gibi election, as proclaimed by the Gibi God’s word.

Shadok: Your religion is but the inevitable byproduct of sin—a tragic effort at self-justification through idolatry. Let’s see what the Shadok God really says about his word.

Gibi: I will not listen to your alleged “facts.” Unless you start with the truth, you have no business interpreting facts at all. Let me help you by interpreting facts revelationally.

Shadok: Of course you will not listen to the proper interpretation of facts. Blinded by your sin, you catch each fact as you would a ball—and then you throw it into a bottomless pit.

Gibi: That’s what you do with what I say—a clear proof of your hopeless, pseudo-autonomous condition. May the Gibi God help you.

Shadok: May the Shadok God help you![13]

As Montgomery notes, this encounter is hopeless, since neither side can appeal to neutral facts to solve the dispute. Both sides are reduced to chest-thumping, loud assertion, and empty fideism.

It’s funny but it’s true! This is presuppositionalism in action. It’s arguing without appealing to any facts.

And here is my eighth point from my post on presuppositionalism.

Excerpt:

My view of presuppositional apologetics is that is as a system, it is circular reasoning. It assumes Christianity in order to prove Christianity. But there is an even worse problem with it. It’s not a Biblical way of doing apologetics. It’s man’s way of doing apologetics, not God’s. I think that the best way to understand Van Til’s apologetics is by saying that it really just a sermon disguised as apologetics. The problem is that Van Til’s sermon has no basis in the Bible. Wherever he is getting his view from, it’s not from the Bible. When I look the Bible, I don’t see any Biblical support for the view that pre-suppositional apologetics is the only approved way of defending the faith. Instead, the standard method seems to be evidentialism.

In Romans 1, Paul writes that people can learn about God’s existence from the natural world.

Romans 1:18-23:

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

And in Acts, Peter appeals to eyewitness testimony for the resurrection, and Jesus’ miracles.

Acts 2:22-24, and 36:

22“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

23This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

And finally from the same chapter:

36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Professor Clay Jones of Biola University makes the case that the use of evidence when preaching the gospel was standard operating procedure in the early church. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Intro:

In 1993 I started working for Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law School) which offered an M.A. in Christian apologetics (Craig Hazen was the director). Much of my job was to promote the school and although I had studied Christian apologetics since my sophomore year in high school, I decided I needed to see whether an apologetic witness had strong Biblical precedence.

It does.

As I poured through the Scripture I found that Jesus and the apostles preached the resurrection of Christ as the sign of the truth of Christianity.

What follows are some of the passages which support the resurrection witness.

Here is my favorite verse from his massive list list of verses in favor of the evidential approach to Christian apologetics:

Mat. 12:39-40: A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus is saying that the resurrection was deliberately given as a sign to unbelievers to convince them. (“The Sign of Jonah” = the resurrection)

So, I see that God uses nature and miracles to persuade, which can be assessed using scientific and historical methods. Can anyone find me a clear statement in the Bible that states that only pre-suppositional arguments should be used? I could be wrong, and I am willing to be proven wrong. I think we should use the Biblical method of apologetics, not the fallen man’s method of apologetics.

Presuppositional arguments, like the ontological argument from reason or the epistemological argument from reason are good. Presuppositionalism as a system is not good. It’s good to learn presuppositional arguments, but as part of a quiver of arguments – not in isolation.

By the way, Eric Chabot posted a fascinating discussion between presuppositionalist James White and Richard Howe on this topic, where the point about how presupositionalism cannot prove Christianity in particular came up.

Presuppositionalism is not a Christian methodology. It’s neither Biblical, nor can it be used to prove Christianity. It’s man’s system of apologetics, not God’s.

UPDATE: David Haines posted a couple of criticisms of presuppositionalism here.

UPDATE: A rebuttal to the first of Messianic Drew’s points is here.

28 thoughts on “What is pre-suppositionalism? What is presuppositional apologetics?”

  1. How much do you want to bet that I will be accused of misrepresenting the presuppositionalists, despite having read all the major works on this subject by Van Til, Bahnsen, and Frame?

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    1. Just because one has read all the major works on a subject does not entail that a person could not possibly or plausibly misrepresent the subject.

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      1. I poured a lot of research into this subject, as it was my paper for the Evangelical Philosophical Society, minus the bibliography. I was accused of misrepresenting Thomas Kuhn (by following the “orthodox” interpretation of him), but never of misrepresenting Van Til, Bahnsen, or Frame.

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        1. That’s okay, I’m sure you’re not the only one to misunderstand Presuppositionalism :)

          I’m currently writing a response to your charge of circularity where I’ll point to a case where I think you’ve misrepresented them. In the end, we’ll have to weight the merits of the case you make against the writings and so forth. Can’t just wave off the accusation because you studied it and it made it past some EPS readers.

          By the way, I’m not a hard-line Presuppositionalist. Most Presuppositionalists (e.g., of the Choosing Hats variety) probably wouldn’t even grace me with the name. Usually I don’t care much about these issues. But I do see people frequently criticizing Presuppositionalism who have clearly failed to understand its nuances.

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  2. You’d think that if presuppositionalism was the only way to do apologetics, then you’d find it clearly spelled out in scripture… or at least easier to understand without a secret Van Tillian decoder ring.

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    1. Brian,

      A Jehovah’s Witness could give the same snarky reply to the doctrine of the Trinity. Or a Muslim to the doctrine of the hypostatic Union, etc.

      It doesn’t take a secret decoder ring. Personally I think a lot of people have a hard time understanding presuppositionalism for three primary reasons.

      (1) It goes against the grain of what we are raised and trained to believe regarding some points of intellect. For instance, that we have to be neutral in order to be a good thinker. For instance, that the facts are just “out there” speaking for themselves. And these aren’t just points that people hold to dispassionately. They often hold to them with an air of pride. When the other guy isn’t bowing down to our reason, we tell our selves it’s because he is biased, whereas we are neutral, objective. It’s an insult to powers and pride of our Reason to tell us that it could be tied down to something like presuppositions. Often people read part of presuppositionalism and get hung up on their objections before they’ve given a fair hearing to how presuppositionalism works around those objections. For instance, you hear a preuppositionalist say the method is circular and immediately the reader thinks “avoiding circularity is a cardinal rule of logic!” and all they can do is filter what Van Til or John Frame say about circles through their prior training about independence, objectivity in an evidentialist lense.

      (2) People aren’t used to thinking at the presuppositionial level, so to speak. We are used to thinking at the surface level, examining what’s set before us. Getting a handle of presuppositionalism sort of requires us to go a step deeper and analyze the situation within the context of worldview implications.

      (3) Van Til wasn’t a very clear writer.

      (4) Van Til, while explicating presuppositionalism, attacks Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, Barthianism, etc. Most other presuppositionalists don’t stray far from that. Dr. Scott Oliphint just released a book arguing for presuppositionalism calling it Covenantal Apologetics. That will raise the ire of many dispensationalists. Obviously that turns a lot of people off. Calvinism is something that people feel *very* strongly about. A lot of people don’t just disagree with Calvinism, they hate Calvinism. To them, it turns God into a “moral monster”. This turns people off to presuppositionalism. They come to it with a lot going against it before they’ve even delved into it to understand it. This was one of my biggest hang ups when I first learned about presuppositionalism. I was strongly anti-Calvinist. My apologetics professor in college was teaching us about all the various methods. We had just finished going through presuppositionalism. We were required to read John Frame’s book Apologetics to the Glory of God and Richard Pratt’s book Every Thought Captive. I went up to him after class one day and said “If presuppositions play such a major role in our thinking, how is it that people could ever get beyond their unbelieving presuppositions to accepting Christ?” Basically I was raising the problem of incommensurability that is mentioned above. I illustrated my problem on the whiteboard, drawing a filter (a colored lense) and rays of light. The professor said “Well these guys are Calvinist, so they would probably say God must regenerate the person’s heart. It takes a supernatural act.” I said “Huh, okay.” but in my head I thought “Well so much for that dumb method.” I remember talking to my mom that day and mentioning how ridiculous this “Calvinist apologetic” was. It would take me a few years to get over that. I frequented a local Christian bookstore, always hanging around the theology and apologetics section. I ended up becoming friends with a Calvinist who was the manager of the store. He was presuppositional and after talking about apologetics and hearing my objections he recommended I read Bahnsen’s massive book Van Til’s Apologetic. I did and that’s how I started to become persuaded of the system.

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    2. I want to add a fifth point I overlooked. My original reply should have said “four” instead of “three”, but it also should have contained this fifth point:

      (5) I think Van Til and Bahnsen were, frankly, wrong about some things. John Frame sometimes makes statements that don’t make sense to me (I mentioned one in my last post on circularity). This causes people to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. And that’s not entirely their fault. Van Til and Bahnsen presented presuppositionalism as an all-or-nothing approach. You couldn’t have a piecemeal apologetic. A lot of presuppositionalists hold to this line. So when someone reads presuppositionalists saying these things and then reads a presuppositionalist making a statement that they take to be wrong they are only taking the presuppositionalist at his own word to reject the entire system. I think that’s unfortunate, but understandable.

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  3. I would reject any distinction between innocuous and vicious circularity. The problem is that ALL circularity is reducible to assertion, and that to resort to assertion is to abandon apologetics for fideism.

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    1. Hi Drew,

      I anticipated this response in my rebuttal. I also suggested why this response is mistaken. I referred to a textbook on informal fallacies that says not all forms of circularity are vicious. I also referred to a book on philosophical reasoning that suggests there may be forms of circularity which are not vicious or unwarranted. I could have added others to the list. For instance, Thomas Kuhn in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which your paper refers to, suggests that not all forms of circularity are vicious.

      Now you may disagree with Walton et. al. Or you may think the circularity involved in presuppositionalism does not fall into the category of non-fallacious circularity discussed by Walton, Baginni etc. But then you would have to make that *argument*, otherwise your own response is little more than assertion and, I guess by your measuring stick, fideism.

      P.S. Tried posting this before but then got a log in request that I think deleted my original comment. Sorry if it shows up twice.

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      1. I have given arguments on my blog as to why all circularity is vicious and why the proposed counterexamples of Walton and company are not actually counterexamples. The Betty and Bruno experiment is not circular. Saying that Betty likes Bruno because Bruno likes Betty is not yet circular. You would then have to add that Bruno likes Betty because Betty likes Bruno, in which case it would be circular, and would fail to explain anything.

        Citing coherence epistemology and language is simply to beg the question. Coherence epistemology IS fallacious, and Richard Swinburne showed us that most words in our vocabulary are not defined exhaustively in terms of other words, but are grounded in our experience.

        Some will try to state that one can have non-vicious circularity in some contexts, such as telling someone who does not know the definition of “suicidal” that “People with suicidal tendencies are insane, because they want to kill themselves.” I would argue that such a statement but reducible to two different statements:
        1. People with suicidal tendencies want to kill themselves
        2. People who want to kill themselves are insane.
        Hence, the argument is not really circular.

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        1. Hi Drew,

          I agree with Walton that the Betty and Bruno example is a form of circularity (and I think he’s in a better position to know than you). This is easy to see if you simply illustrate the relationship drawing some lines connecting Betty and Bruno. One could, of course, add more circularity by saying that Bruno likes betty because Betty likes Bruno, but that doesn’t not explain anything and that doesn’t mean only true circles are ones with added circularity.

          It explains there is a feedback effect going on. It may not explain how the liking started, but it does explains something. And in fact this is a real phenomena that I learned of back in college psych days. People tend to like someone if that person likes them. This can create a feedback situation where maybe Betty is somewhat fond of Bruno and Bruno is somewhat fond of Betty and this circularly spirals into Betty liking Bruno and Bruno liking Betty until they call it love.

          Maybe it’s not a closed circle in the sense you want, but so what? Maybe the presuppositionalist isn’t talking about a closed circle in that sense either. And if you just want to only label circles which are closed in this sense as “circles,” then maybe Frame would just say “Fine, that’s not the circularity I believe in.” You’re just imposing your reading onto them at that point.

          >>Citing coherence epistemology and language is simply to beg the question.

          *How* does it beg the question? In fact when you simply follow this up with an assertion that coherence epistemology “IS” fallacious are you not just begging the question yourself? Julian Baggini and Peter Fosl have written a book on philosophical reasoning. In that book they discuss the issue of circularity and mention that it may not be that all forms of circular reasoning are fallacious. Coherence epistemologists and some philosophers of hermeneutics are cited as examples. How are Baggini and Fosl begging the question? If Swinburne has shown that we don’t have to have a hermeneutical spiral then okay, but that doesn’t show that a hermeneutical spiral is somehow fallacious.

          To sum up, I think you gave a pretty shallow critique of presuppositionalism and circularity. All you did was say that presuppositionalism is guilty of textbook cases of the fallacy of circularity and presuppositionalists admit this. But textbook cases of circularity are “A is true because B is true and B is true because A is true.” and yet we see the presuppositionalist William Edgar deny that this is what Van Til is promoting in the footnote you half-refer to. So your critique fails. Now if you want to give a more sophisticated critique of circularity in general that argues against the reasonability of any circularity then you can try to do that, but you haven’t so far. If you do do that, I think a responsible critique would also have to address the presuppositionalist argument that everyone has this sort of epistemological circularity. After all, if all you do is show that the sort of circularity being explicated by the presuppositionalist is irrational you might still be putting us all into an irrational boat where the non-presuppositionalist is only the more deceived between the two. And the sort of circularity being explicated by the presuppositionalist is virtually always in the literature connected to the claim that everyone is in the same situation.

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          1. citing that Betty likes Bruno because Bruno likes Betty is not a circular explanation. Perhaps Bruno likes Betty because she is rich, or good-looking, or any of a thousand other reasons. If so, then it’s not a circular explanation. So:

            1.Bruno likes Betty because she is rich
            2. Betty likes Bruno because Bruno likes Betty
            This is a chain of causation, not a circle. Hence, not a counterexample.

            My argument is not begging the question because I gave independent reasons. Circularity will ultimately reduce to assertion. Any argument that puts everyone in the irrational boat is self-refuting, as belief in it would undercut any irrationality that would lead to it. Hence, it cannot be rationally believed.

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          2. I illustrated how it is circular in my response to you on my blog. You complaint is that it isn’t a *closed* a circle if we look at it from Bruno’s perspective. In this regard you’ve not actually dealt with Walton’s example but simply *changed* Walton’s example. My response to that was twofold: (1) Perhaps the presuppositionalist isn’t promoting this sort of closed circularity. (2) Even a closed circle can explain something, though perhaps not what you want it to (and remember the *reason* circles are said to be fallacious is that they don’t explain).

            I asked how your assertion about coherence epistemology is not begging the question. You gave no independent reasons for that. You simply asserted it. Maybe you think coherence epistemology is viciously circular Betty and Bruno, but you haven’t done anything to show that.

            You also haven’t adequately dealt with the presuppositional claim that we are all in the same epistemic situation. Why do you trust your reason? Apparently any reason you offer will presuppose the general reliability of your reason, thus catching you in a kind of circularity. Saying it is self-refuting and, therefore, can’t be believed only begs the question in your own way against the sort of circularity being explicated and leaves the apparent circularity unresolved.

            Again, it seems pointless for you to try to maintain your original accusation, which is that presuppositionalism is guilty of textbook cases of circularity and that presuppositionalists admit this. One doesn’t even have to go my route in order to undercut your objection. They could simply ask you to show where presuppositionalists engage in the sort of circularity you find in textbook cases. I already pointed you to a contemporary and popular piece by presuppositionalist James Anderson (and Greg Welty). You could start by demonstrating where they are guilty of a textbook case of circularity.

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          3. Saying that knowledge is irrational is like saying that you cannot say anything. It is self-referentially incoherent.

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          4. >>Saying that knowledge is irrational is like saying that you cannot say anything. It is self-referentially incoherent.

            Not sure what your point is supposed to be. It’s not impossible that one have a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology. Nor is it impossible that everyone happen to have a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology. Apparently you think presuppositionalists have it. I pointed out that presuppositionalists think everyone is in the same epistemic situation as they are. So either everyone happens to have a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology or else your claim regarding its fallaciousness if false.

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          5. That’s a false dilemma and you know it. It is impossible to rationally affirm that one’s epistemology is self-referentially incoherent. This is because the incoherence of one’s epistemology undercuts the justification every belief in that epistemology, including the belief that one’s epistemology is incoherent.

            This is similar to people’s theories of language and truth. Any worldview that denies absolute and objective meaning or absolute and objective truth is going to be self-refuting, and hence is not worth investigating. In fact, the impossibility of the contrary proves absolute truth and absolute meaning, even if we can give no further account, description, or explanation as to how or why it is the case. The impossibility of the contrary is sufficient.

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          6. >>That’s a false dilemma and you know it.

            I agree it’s a false dilemma, but not for the reasons you mention (assuming what follows in your comment is meant to be an explication of how it’s a false dilemma). My comment should read: “So either everyone happens to have a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology or else your claim regarding its fallaciousness if false or else the presuppositionalist claim that everyone is in the same boat is false.”

            Anyway, this doesn’t significantly change my point, since I already issued the challenge for someone to present a non-circular account of how they know their rational faculties are trustworthy. This challenge is precisely in view of that third option, which I carelessly failed to mention in the original quote which the above modifies.

            >>It is impossible to rationally affirm that one’s epistemology is self-referentially incoherent. This is because the incoherence of one’s epistemology undercuts the justification every belief in that epistemology, including the belief that one’s epistemology is incoherent.

            So all you’re saying is that within the confines of a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology one could not rationally ground the proposition that their epistemology is incoherent. So what? Not sure how you think that provides a rejoinder to anything I said. Nor does the rest of what you say seem to be a relevant rejoinder to anything I said.

            I pointed out that one possibility is that everyone happens to have a self-referrentially incoherent epistemology, they just don’t know it. You seem to be speaking to this point, but I fail to see how it connects.

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  4. John’s critique is far from devastating, in fact I think it was pretty poor. Here is a response to Johnson’s article.

    You said “It’s funny but it’s true! This is presuppositionalism in action. It’s arguing without appealing to any facts.”

    Have you read Tom Natoro’s book on Van Til and evidences. These kinds of comments, yes, makes one wonder if you’ve read anything from a presuppositionalist, no less than Van Til himself..

    Here is a brief comment I made in response to someone saying that if the presuppositionalist uses evidences, he is borrowing from another apologetic method:

    “I almost fell off my chair when I heard Kurt Jaros say that we (those who hold to a covenantal apologetic) are borrowing from other apologetic methodologies, when we use evidences. The covenantal apologetic has always held to the idea that everything in the created universe evidences God’s existence. The issue here, is that each particular evidence has to have a Christian interpretation of the evidence, and not simple some “fact” out there that is uninterpreted. Why? Because God created the heavens, and the earth, the sea and all that in them is (Ex. 20:11). Or, as Scott Oliphint has recently stated it “Reality is what God says it is.” This biblical notion should not be hard for the Christian to understand, but it does point out the fact that apologetics can not be separated from our theology (i.e. if God created all things, and he did, reality is what He says it is). This is the context in which we declare the existence of God and His works in creation and in providence.”

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  5. Presuppositionalism makes the following claims about the Bible and its teachings:

    1) Since the Bible is the word of the Creator and only God, who is all-knowing and cannot lie; it is internally coherent and inerrant.

    2) The Bible and only the Bible can consistently and fully make sense of the world in which we find ourselves, in all of its aspects, whether we consider physics, biology, history, art, design, morality, human behavior, justice, mercy, love, rationality, whatever. No other religion, philosophy, or pattern of thinking can do so.

    These are central to Presuppositionalist thinking. And, in their apologetic/evangelistic encounters, Presuppositionalists seek to demonstrate the truth of these statements.

    Now, when people claim that a presuppositional apologetic will work just as well for any other religion—Islam, Mormonism, Shadokianism, Gibianism, whatever—what they are saying is that you can plug any other religion’s scriptures into the above statements in place of “the Bible” and the claims will be just as valid for those religions.

    That is, the claim that “The Quran is the word of the Creator and is coherent and inerrant” is no more or less valid that claim #1 above.

    And, the Muslim claim that “Only the Quran can make sense of the world around us” is just as reasonable as the Christian’s saying the same of the Bible, as in #2 above.

    To get a bit more specific, the Muslim claim that humans are born good, and later (in some cases) corrupted, makes as much sense of human depravity as the Christian idea of the Fall and Original Sin.

    Likewise, the Muslims view of salvation by “the scales”; that is, paradise as a reward for those whose good deeds outweigh their sinful deeds, is just as internally consistent a view of divine justice and mercy as the Christian theory of atonement by the blood of Christ.

    And, of course the same could be said of the Mormon scriptures and their teachings.

    These things must follow if, as has been claimed here, presuppositionalism can be used used by any religion.

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  6. Very interesting post and dialogue. I will be linking to the posts involved next week in my “Really Recommended Posts.” I tend to think presup is useful as a method, but less so as an espitemology. I would not be as strong in my criticism as Drew was, but think several of his points are correct. However, I also think “The Janitor” gave some needed balance as well.

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