Is the presuppositionalist approach to apologetics Biblical?

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Here’s J.W. Wartick’s take from Always Have a Reason blog.

Excerpt:

Cornelius Van Til pioneered the field of “presuppositional apologetics” primarily through his works Christian Apologetics and The Defense of the Faith. His arguments are easily misunderstood as question begging or viciously circular. Herein, I have presented a brief outline and analysis which reveals that while the presuppositional approach may indeed have some logical faults, the overall system has a certain power to it and can be integrated into a total-apologetic system.

[…]The key to understand here is that Van Til does not accept that there is a neutral reason “out there” by which Christians and non-Christians can arbitrate the truth of Christianity; his point is that there is no neutral ground and that one’s presuppositions will determine one’s end point. Again, he writes, “this [apologetic method] implies a refusal to grant that any area or aspect of reality, any fact or any law of nature or of history, can be correctly interpreted except it be seen in the light of the main doctrines of Christianity” (Christian Apologetics, 124).

However, Van Til takes it even further and argues that one must presuppose the truth of Christianity in order to make sense of reality: ” What is the content of this presupposition, then? It is this: “I take what the Bible says about God and his relation to the universe as unquestionably true on its own authority” (The Defense of the Faith, 253); again, “The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything” (Christian Apologetics, 19). Thus, Van Til’s apologetic does not make Christianity the conclusion of an argument; rather, Christianity is the starting presupposition.

The presuppositional approach here cannot be stressed enough. For Van Til, one simply cannot grant to the non-Christian any epistemic point. “We cannot avoid coming to a clear-cut decision with respect to the question as to whose knowledge, man’s or God’s, shall be made the standard of the other. …[O]ne must be determinative and the other subordinate” (The Defense of the Faith 62-63).

What place is had for evidences in Van Til? At some points, he seems to be very skeptical of the use of Christian evidences. In particular, the fact that he argues there is no neutral evaluation grounds between the Christian and non-Christian seems to imply that  there can be no real evaluation of such arguments apart from Christianity. One of Van Til’s most famous illustrations of the use of evidences can be found in The Defense of the Faith pages 332 and following. He uses three persons, Mr. Black (non-Christian), Mr. Grey (Christian non-presuppositionalist), and Mr. White (presuppositional/reformed apologist):

Mr. Grey… says that, of course, the “rational man” has a perfect right to test the credibility of Scripture by logic… by experience… [Mr. Grey then takes Mr. Black a number of places to show him various theistic evidences. Mr. Black responds:] “you first use intellectual argument upon principles that presuppose the justice of my unbelieving position. Then when it it is pointed out to you that such is the case, you turn to witnessing [subjectively].

…At last it dawned upon Mr. White that first to admit that the principles of Mr. Black, the unbeliever, are right and then to seek to win him to the acceptance of the existence of God the Creator… is like first admitting that the United States had historically been a province of the Soviet Union but ought at the same time to be recognized as an independent and all-controlling power… If one reasons for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity on the assumptions that Mr. Black’s principles of explanation are valid, then one must witness on the same assumption [which makes witnessing wholly subjective.] (p. 332-339)

It can be seen here that even evidences for Van Til must be based within a presupposition. There is no way to look at evidences in the abstract. One can either offer them within the presuppositions of Christianity or outside of Christianity. For Van Til, once one has agreed to offer evidences outside of Christianity, one has granted the presuppositions of the non-believer, and therefore is doomed to fail.

This would include using arguments like the cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, arguments from miracles, etc. – including the resurrection. That seems to be Van Til’s view. No evidence allowed – you have to presuppose Christianity is true in order to make sense of the world.

Now, I think we need to make a distinction between using questioning the pre-suppositions of our opponents, as with William Lane’s Craig’s moral argument, Plantinga’s epistemological argument for reason and Menuge’s ontological argument for reason. There are arguments for theism that question the pre-suppositions of an atheist. Certainly, non-theists cannot ground things like morality, free will, consciousness and rationality on atheism. But that’s not what Van Til is saying. He says that an atheist cannot be swayed by evidence unless he first becomes a Christian. I.e. – he is saying that atheist Anthony Flew is lying when he says that evidence caused him to turn to believe in God. On Van Til’s view, that’s impossible.

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.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

32 thoughts on “Is the presuppositionalist approach to apologetics Biblical?”

  1. I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been recently struggling to understand the presuppositional avenue to apologetics and how it interacts with evidential apologetics. I’ve started listening to Dr. James White and he is a hardcore to the bone presuppositionalist and often tries to argue against WLC’s evidential apologetics. I’m much more in favor of the evidential approach; but I do, however, understand there are many things we presuppose in order to do that. On the other hand, even the presuppositionalists will give evidence as to why you should approach that way. I love Dr. James White and his textual criticisms, and church history. I don’t like some other aspects of his way of thinking, but I can still listen to him and try and understand all that he teaches. I find that even atheists presuppose there are no miracles, and there’s no evidence for God’s existence. Neil Shenvi has written about the Preemptive Argument

    Premise 1. If E is evidence for God’s existence, then there is some evidence for God’s existence
    Premise 2. But there is no evidence for God’s existence
    Conclusion. Therefore, E is not evidence for God’s existence

    This to me is a presuppositional and why it’s hard to argue with anti-theists who will never accept any argument, or evidence. I would also not say that this is a bias. They aren’t so much refusing to believe something, they are already convinced in their minds and reject conclusions based on the evidence not being “good enough”. Ravi Zacharias tells of Bertrand Russel being asked is he is wrong what will he say to God? Bertrand’s response was, “Not enough evidence.”

    I’d love to hear more back and forth about these apologetic positions because I’m of the mind that both are useful. For the people more convinced by evidence we need to provide evidence; however, when we come across non-christians who presume positions and conclusions we should also point those out and argue against them.

    Lastly, I think we also need to understand Turek and Wallace’s (at least I’ve heard this from them the most) four types of people. The first being people who believe and will never be convinced otherwise. Second, people who believe but can find reasons to disbelieve. Third, people who disbelieve but can be convinced. Fourth, people who will never believe given all the evidences and arguments. I think of Huxley

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves… For myself, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” — Aldous Huxley in Ends and Means, 1937

    Also Thomas Nagal
    “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.” — Thomas Nagal in The Last Word, 1997

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    1. Dr. James White:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/03/james-whites-bogus-doctorate-degree.html

      It’s not hard for me to argue evidence with atheists, because I have real earned degrees in the sciences. What I have found with presuppositionalists is that they are committed to a philosophical presupposition of theistic determinism, and it causes them to be unable to accept the plain meaning of the Bible with respect to free will, personal responsibility, evidence, etc. They literally read passages of the Bible like John 3:16 and they invent words that aren’t there in order to hold to the theistic determinism.

      WLC has an article about the implications of their presupposition of theistic determinism here:
      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-vs-calvinism

      I’m fine with Calvinist evidentialists, though. If you think that God regenerates people when evidence is presented to them, that’s nearly indistinguishable from my view, practically speaking.

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      1. Another problem is that Vantillians assume there hermeneutic is correct. This boxes you into YEC. I have seen smart scientists go YEC because of their commitment to presup. I think a much broader presup of a God that underwrites truth avoids this. I am in no way denying Christion particulars.

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        1. Yes. I think the reverse is also true, e.g. – “I’m a YEC because that’s the pious interpretation of the Bible, and anyone else is a dirty compromiser. Wow, all of mainstream science denies YEC. I know, I know: I’ll just explain the complete denial of everything YEC by mainstream scientists, including evangelical pro-ID people like Stephen C. Meyer as “compromise” caused by presuppositions!!! Hey! I noticed that without science and history knowledge, my evangelism ability stinks. Maybe it’s not that I’m ignorant. Maybe it’s that other people have bad presuppositions!”

          In listening to the recent WLC podcast:
          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-debate-on-apologetic-methodology-part-one

          The presuppositionalist guy literally said that WLC can use evidence because he is smart, but that’s too hard for presuppositionalists. If you are failing at use of evidence because you have mail order degrees that give you no exposure to the use of scientific and historical evidence, then presuppositionalism is very tempting as an explanation of 1) why you suck at evangelism and 2) why your kids are apostates (see Matt Slick of CARM).

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          1. Most people are intuitive evidentialists. The atheists I run into tend to be presups without knowing it. After they deny all my evidence (because of their presups!) I will the go presup on them, usually in the form of a transcendental argument (you cant think at all without God).

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          2. Boooo! The presupposition of metaphysical naturalism is easily falsified by mainstream science. Leave the religious presuppositions to the atheists, we don’t need to resort to faith here.

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          3. Yes, but after I do all the WLC stuff for naught, and I am reasonably proficient at it, I end the conversation with something like Plantinga’s evolutionary naturalism, which functions as a transcendental argument.: what are the preconditions for rationality?

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        2. Thanks to WK, I gone off the YEC trail. While I still deem it possible, I know a lot of others are strict adherents to it and refuse to give it up on Biblical grounds, I have changed my mind. I still don’t understand all of the arguments for YEC but I find the arguments for an OEC much stronger, and much more sensible for talking to non-theists. Although I don’t agree with theistic evolution, I still think God had to have intervened in creation to create specific body plans, and intelligent and moral creatures such as humans. I definitely don’t agree with reformed theology, or calvinism, because I really don’t like their explanation of free will. I think that so much of God’s love has to do with our dignity and choice. If loving God is the highest command, how can you love God if you have no choice? It’s robotic at the least and isn’t true if it’s forced. It’s like emotional kidnapping.

          WK – I’m sure you can find a smorgasbord on how bad/ evil/ heretical/ false teaching/ bad/ etc. on James White. He’s pissed off a lot of people. But I’m sure even you’d find his defense of protestantism convincing from the April 21, 2017 episode of Unbelievable. I think he did a fine job and he’s debated John Crossan and Bart Ehrman. I’m not full in on his teaching but I also like to venture out and hear his opinions. I’m even willing to dismiss him when he reaches too far.

          Also, I don’t have much theological training so somebody without a degree doesn’t scare me off. All I’ve learned is from years of listening to smarter people but if I can understand the better half of what WLC is saying I think I could hang in a college course, let alone understand what Alvin Plantinga talks about. I wish I had the money for all their books…

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          1. I love the debates that James White does with Roman Catholics. But I have no patience for his questionable mail-order degrees, his insults against superior Christian scholars with earned degrees, and the cult-like attitudes of his followers, who respond to criticisms of their presup ideology with arrogant clowning and insults. (This was my experience trying to engage them on Twitter).

            Having said that, I think that evidentialist YECs are splendid, and evidentialist Calvinists are great, too. I love Greg Koukl and J. Warner Wallace, for example.

            I agree with you on theistic evolution. It’s false because of the evidence.

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    1. Like I said, the Pauline letters are more highly regarded than the gospels, except maybe Mark. This is because historians like early, eyewitness sources that pass tests like enemy attestation, criterion of embarrassment, etc. Basically, historians like Mark and the Pauline letters because they are good history, by ordinary historical criteria. The Q passages of Matthew and Luke are also seen as early and authentic.

      Regarding the canonization, you don’t need to care what the Church council says. Just look at the early church fathers writing in 1st and 2nd century, and see what books they quote. Those are the authoritative ones, the same ones that were canonized. Books like the Gospel of Thomas are rejected because they are 1) later 2) written in places far from the actual events, etc.

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  2. I was converted out of scientific materialism by prophetic miracle. Immediately I joined a church with a VanTillian pastor whose day job a teaching philosophy. He has since modified his approach to allow the use of evidence and has written a grand synthesis. You might enjoy THE APOLOGETICS OF THE EVANGELICAL RENAISSANCE by Max Sotak PhD.(not an easy read). On a practical level, I think Francis Schaeffer comes close with his metaphysical, epistemological and moral necessity.

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  3. Professor Richard Howe has written an excellent paper called “Some Brief Critical Thoughts on Presuppositionalism”:

    http://www.richardghowe.com/index_htm_files/SomeBriefCriticalThoughtsonPresuppositionalism.pdf

    I first got interested in the debate between Presuppositional and Classical Apologetics about a year ago. Like Clyfnix I had been listening to James White who made the rather bold assertion that Presuppositional Apologetics is the only Apologetic method that is both Scriptural and honors God. Doing some further research I found Sye Ten Bruggencate who went so far as to say that other apologetic methods are downright sinful. As a believer who had used the Classical method for several years I take this accusation very seriously and so I spent a great deal of time researching the method. I read Van Til, Bahnsen and anyone else I could find willing to defend the method. I became convinced of several things:

    1. Presuppositional Apologetics is high on assertion and low on argument. Their writings are full of bold assertions that they seem to think are obviously true but frankly are not.

    2. Presuppositional Apologetics confuses epistemology with ontology. Just because God is the ontological foundation of everything that exists does not mean that the unbeliever must accept this truth epistemologically in order to have true knowledge about things (I.e. One can have true knowledge about science even if he is completely ignorant of Christianity).

    3. It is impossible to debate with Presuppositionalists. No matter how carefully you try to represent their views and then refute them, they will respond by accusing you of not understanding their views, quoting several Scriptures that they believe support their position (although not defending this), and then call you to repent for engaging in sinful apologetic methods.

    Bottom line, I respect Presuppositionalists for being so fervent in their desire to honor God with their Apologetics, but I do not believe God is honored with bad arguments.

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    1. Thank you for posting this, and I think that presuppositional arguments are great, as I said. Francis Schaeffer is a great Christian apologist. His student Nancy Pearcey is even better, and she does lean hard on mainstream scientific evience (e.g. ID arguments). Schaeffer seeks to introduce conflicts between presuppositions and evidence, not expect people to assume the Bible is true as “apologetics”. It’s presuppositionalism as an ideology and an example of circular reasoning that is the problem.

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      1. You’re welcome and I completely agree. Plantiga’s evolutionary against naturalism is a great arguement that functions in a Presuppositional manner. I only have a problem with people who insist that Presuppositionalism (the kind that rightly goes by that name as espoused by Van Til and Bahnsen) is the only biblical/God honoring method.

        One more thing that I would add is that in most Presuppositionalists debates I have listened to, the Presuppositionalist attempts to prove that his opponent’s position is internally inconsistent. I think that is effective but that simply showing that an opposing worldview is inconsistent does not by default make Christianity true. Obviously, an inconsistent worldview cannot be true but if a worldview is consistent that does not necessarily make the worldview true. For that you will need evidence as well.

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        1. I love Angus Menuge’s presuppositional argument too! It really works well. The moral argument is a pressuppositional argument. These are things that Schaeffer and Pearcey would use, but Pearcey loves intelligent design, too.

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    2. Yes, thank you CustodisVeritas. I got into apologetics through R.C. Sproul (whom I think is a classical apologist. I haven’t read anything else but I remember my first step into apologetics was reading his book “Defending Your Faith” multiple times because I didn’t understand it, hahaha.) Your post is great, though, especially the epistemological vs. ontological. I see this difference every time an atheist argues against objective morality. I’ll definitely hear it more when I listen to “presups”. I also bookmarked that link for future reading.

      . And I agree WK, he does have rather (more than simply)-committed followers. Like I said, I like some things he says, but I do weigh them against others. I also find his disagreements to anybody who differs with his approach petty and condescending and very disrespectful. Also, molinism seems like the best approach to bridge free will and predestination. For some reason this is such a confusing topic. Thanks for this post!

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      1. I love R.C. Sproul. I used his Classical Apologetics as the text book when I was teaching apologetics in college. It was there that my great annoyance and disagreement with fideism, I mean, with presuppositionalism, began.

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    3. It really is impossible to argue with them – for the exact reasons you cite. And not only that: the vitriol and condescension were unlike anything I had ever seen in a “Christian” community. Winsome they were not. I had my salvation questioned, and White himself, knowing nothing about me, was quick to jump into the debate and make accusations.

      Even if I found their methods useful or pursuasive, this sort of behavior counteracts any possible benefit.

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      1. I engaged with some of the presuppositional on Twitter. I cited examples in the Bible where different people were using evidence. Things like Jesus and his miracles, his resurrection as the “sign of Jonah” offered to unbelievers, etc. The response from the James White followers was mockery and derision. One questioned my salvation right away. And. As for white, his response was to denounce my “unbiblical anthropology”. I have received similar responses in a similar tone from Mormon fideists. I think they have such confidence in their pious decision to not use evidence that they cannot be reasoned with. Not even when you quote the example of Jesus himself to them. Their presuppositional of determinism and denial of free will just rolls over the plain meaning of the text.

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        1. This happens on every topic with White and his followers it seems. I was reminded of another time when White accused WLC of being a heretic for saying that a person does not need to believe every Christian doctrine prior to becoming a Christian – that in fact we needed to come to Christ before we could in faith believe everything else.

          White and company suggested that someone first needs to believe the body of Christine doctrine before becoming a Christian (this, coupled with their views on regeneration, imply that a person must first become a Christian prior to becoming a Christian; a point I don’t think they understood).

          When I defended the idea that a person could easily come to faith in Christ based on Paul’s definition of the Gospel in 1st Corinthians chapter 15 without believing all of the details of Christ’s lineage or that Mary was a virgin prior to His birth, I was told that I wasn’t a Christian. The first comment I ever received from White was one of mockery and derision. A great first impression.

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          1. Me too. One positive thing about white is that he at least debated foreknowledge with Michael Brown, although I don’t think he knew a think about foreknowledge both before and after the debates.

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  4. Hi WK this is my first time commenting. Been a longtime fan of your blog. Van Till did his doctoral thesis in response to the work of German and British idealists. Most notably he critiqued the work of F. H. Bradley but still retained many idealist assumptions.

    It’s complex to go into it here but the ironic thing is that he is actually elevating secular German and British philosophers over the authority of the Bible with such a metaphysic.

    Cheers

    Damien

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  5. I do want to say a few things though. I come from the standpoint that various apologetical approaches can all work together.
    (1) I think that Presupp is sort of a newly birthed apologetic and still developing. I mean that if you go back a little over a 100 years, its not as if you will find some kind of a systematized apologetic written down and presented to the church. In the main it has developed recently and its worth asking why now in God’s providence and not – say even 200 years ago? Quite an interesting question actually. (I personally think it has to do with issues such as the Meaning of Life and the encroach of Religious Pluralism.)
    (2) Reductio: What I like about Presupp is that it has gotten me to take a break from say explaining apparent contradictions ad nauseum or presenting XYZ-styled args for God’s existence and instead for a change, ask some hard questions about the non-Xtn worldview. For a change I am like “Hey wait a minute – all this focus on Christianity’s problems – but what about you guys?” Lets stop talking about God being just or unjust and instead look at your notion of justice, because it is filled with holes. All this talk about evil and suffering and God. Ok. Fine – what then is YOUR explanation for the Pol Pots and Stalins. Its not as if the atheist has a neatly packaged explanation of such.
    (3) Coherency: And there is also the coherency aspect. Presupp has pushed me to see if non-Xtn worldview holds up or not. For a change instead of explaining some gobbledygook about what Jesus’ last words were, why not look and see if the center holds for them. If there is even a center? Is it even livable? How can atheist (Sartre, Sagan) write fiction arguing for an atheological worldview and in the process utilize symbolism, synedoches, metaphors and various other literary devices?
    These can only function coherently within a Xtn worldview. Its like trying to argue for the non-existence of God via the employ of miracles.
    My point simply is that there are certain emphases that one can pick up from the study of Presupp and benefit greatly. I arrived at Presupp by way of studying the Meaning of Life.
    In Him,
    ~ Raj

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    1. I like your comment. I am an evidentialist with a pastor that has been seeking a proper corrective for his original pre sup approach. He has written one highly technical work but his latest is “Framing Francis Schaeffer” (Max Sotak PhD). It combines Frame’s trispectivialism with Schaeffers transcendental (not logical) necessity. This has a better chance with the post modern mind. The main point is you might have a point of contact with an unbeliever but there is no neutral ground.

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    2. Coherency is important but it is not sufficient. If I demonstrate that atheism is incoherent then it follows that atheism cannot be true, but If I demonstrate that Christianity is coherent, it does not follow that Christianity must be true. Coherency is a necessary precondition for truth but it is not a sufficient one. A question I love to ask presuppositionalists is, “If I could demonstrate that the Chronicles of Narnia are internally consistent, would that mean they are historical?”

      The burden of proof is on the presuppositionalist to show that as a matter of principle, it is absolutely impossible for any false worldview to be coherent. So long as we can conceive of even one worldview that is both coherent and false, coherency will not have the force of argument they think it does.

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      1. Thanks. I did not phrase all of that well. What I am trying to say is that Presupp moves us to consider the incoherency of the unbelievers worldview more so than do other apol methods. It has that emphasis.

        We spend way too much time trying to show how Christianity hangs together, but not enough time showing the unbeliever’s own worldview (=WV) flies apart. So for a change forget whether Christianity is coherent. Who cares where Cain’s wife came from? Forget all of that for once and take a look at their WV for a change. |

        For example, you will find Apol articles all over the net trying to respond to the “The Church is filled with hypocrites” charge. Yet what about their hypocrisy? Let for a change forget about our hypocrisy and look at whats on their side of the fence. |

        How can a Vegan keep crying out “Meat is murder. Oh! Those poor cows.” and then turn around and have an abortion? Is this not hypocrisy? Or take for example Free Thought/Humanist groups. How do their lifestyles match up with Humanist Manifestos? Or thrice-divorced Richard Dawkins. He supports SSM? Well. Whats his view of marriage? Certainly he must have some thoughts on the goodness of marriage if he supports SSM? No? Yet, how do his views line up with his 3 divorces? If we analyzed their views on this or that for a change, will we find that they too have a problem with being hypocrites. Yet we spend way in defense of the Xtn WV rather than their problems.

        I think Presupp. has this sort of emphasis that is all too often neglected. It pushes us to look at their problems for a change.

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        1. Coherence needs “meat on the bones” to reach correspondence. This is, to me, the role of the evidentialist. Presuppositionalism implies to use of transcendental arguments: “In order to have X, Y is a necessary precondition. If the non-believer wants knowledge, rationality, mercy, justice or some other good, what are the preconditions for that? We can show Christianity/ theism has transcendental adequacy for these and naturalism/pantheism/Islam do not.

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