Tag Archives: Defense

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

Dennis Prager: the feminization of America harms the whole world

My favorite painting:
My favorite painting: “Godspeed” by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900

A while back, I wrote a post that I really enjoyed writing about the movie High Noon. In it, I talked about the conflict between Marshal Will Kane and his new wife. He wanted to stay and protect his home town against outlaws who are coming to kill him and raze the town. His new wife cannot understand why he has to stand and fight, she wants him to run away with her. In the end, she helps him to defeat the outlaws, saving his life.

That post was inspired by something I heard Dennis Prager talking about on his radio show. He was talking about a survey of boys and girls done by the toy company Mattel. Well, I wanted to blog about his comments, so I ended up writing the High Noon post. But then Dina found an article about the Mattel survey on National Review. I think this is one of the wisest and most perceptive articles I have ever read, and it will really help you to understand what has happened in the last 50 years to this country.

Prager writes:

Last week the New York Times published an article, “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels,” that contained three sentences that explain one of the most important phenomena in American life. In discussing the increasing move to do away with gender-specific toys — something the New York Times approves of — the article quoted Tania Missad, the “director of global consumer insights” at one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel:

Mattel’s research showed some differences in what girls and boys wanted in their action figures, Ms. Missad said. “For boys it’s very much about telling a story of the good guy killing the villain. . . . [Girls] would tell us: ‘Why does the good girl have to kill the villain? Can’t they be friends in the end?’”

Prager comments on the part in red:

This difference may be the most important of all the sex differences. Indeed, it can actually shape the future of America and of the world.

Of course, there are women who want evil destroyed — the late Margaret Thatcher, for example. And there are men who oppose confronting evil — the men who lead the modern Democratic party, for example. (One such man is the president of the United States, who has a feminized view of those who do evil — talk to them, but don’t confront them, label them, or fight them.) But these exceptions happen in large numbers under two circumstances: when women get married and when men are feminized.

When women get married, they are often influenced by their husbands with regard to political and moral issues, just as married men are influenced by their wives on a whole host of micro issues. As a result, married women are more likely than single women to prefer to fight villains than to befriend them. Unfortunately, more and more American women are single.

Meanwhile American boys are increasingly raised by single women and taught almost only by female teachers. In addition, they are often taught to be ashamed of their masculine natures and to reject traditional masculine virtues.

As a result of the above two trends, the amount spent on national defense will continue to decline (while the amount spent on welfare will continue to increase), and America will confront the world’s evils less and less. The consequences will be disastrous for millions of people around the globe.

When America retreats from killing bad guys, bad guys kill more innocent people. We are witnessing this right now as a consequence of America’s abandoning Iraq and retreating from the world generally. Islamic State took over more and more territories as America abandoned them. Ironically, therefore, as American foreign policy becomes feminized, more Middle East females are raped.

Whenever I see on a car the liberal bumper sticker “War Is Not the Answer,” I look to see who is driving. In years of looking, I have seen one male driver.

Both women and men have flawed natures. They share human nature, which is deeply flawed, and the sexes have their own particular natures, which are also flawed. That is one reason men need women and women need men. Men need women to soften their intrinsic aggressive nature and to help them control their predatory sexuality; and women need men to, among other things, better understand that evil people and regimes must be fought, not nurtured.

So, there is something in male nature that thinks that it is acceptable to use violence as a last resort in order to defeat evil. Evil might be things like criminals, terrorists… even wolves and bears, if they attacked innocent people.

So what are the solutions?

Here’s what we should do:

  • We should stop paying women money to have children before they are married, so that boys have fathers to raise them who have made a commitment before they got handed free sex.
  • We should rollback no-fault divorce, which leads to fatherless children. People should be less emotional about who they marry, and not think “there’s an escape hatch if I feel unhappy”.
  • We should try to get more male teachers into classrooms, and maybe allow parents to pull boys out of failing schools and put them into all-male schools if they think those work better.
  • We should try to vote for policies that empower law enforcement, national security, and our armed forces to detect, attack and defeat evil. For example, we invest in defense spending, and avoid undermining the morale of police and armed forces with political correctness.

I guess the list could be longer, but that’s a start for the issues that Prager raised.

We need to work against the forces that demean male nature and male roles, and work to promote male nature and male roles.

Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?

Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek
Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor? If a Christian is smart enough to know how to get a degree and how to hold down a job, then that intelligence should also be used to defend God’s reputation when it is called into question. I don’t see how it is possible to claim that you love God, but then not apply your mind to defending him when you apply your mind to other things like education and work.

Dennis Prager: the feminization of America harms the whole world

My favorite painting:
My favorite painting: “Godspeed” by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1900

A few days back, I wrote a post that I really enjoyed writing about the movie High Noon. In it, I talked about the conflict between Marshal Will Kane and his new wife. He wanted to stay and protect his home town against outlaws who are coming to kill him and raze the town. His new wife cannot understand why he has to stand and fight, she wants him to run away with her. In the end, she helps him to defeat the outlaws, saving his life.

That post was inspired by something I heard Dennis Prager talking about on his radio show. He was talking about a survey of boys and girls done by the toy company Mattel. Well, I wanted to blog about his comments, so I ended up writing the High Noon post. But then Dina found an article about the Mattel survey on National Review. I think this is one of the wisest and most perceptive articles I have ever read, and it will really help you to understand what has happened in the last 50 years to this country.

Prager writes:

Last week the New York Times published an article, “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels,” that contained three sentences that explain one of the most important phenomena in American life. In discussing the increasing move to do away with gender-specific toys — something the New York Times approves of — the article quoted Tania Missad, the “director of global consumer insights” at one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel:

Mattel’s research showed some differences in what girls and boys wanted in their action figures, Ms. Missad said. “For boys it’s very much about telling a story of the good guy killing the villain. . . . [Girls] would tell us: ‘Why does the good girl have to kill the villain? Can’t they be friends in the end?’”

Prager comments on the part in red:

This difference may be the most important of all the sex differences. Indeed, it can actually shape the future of America and of the world.

Of course, there are women who want evil destroyed — the late Margaret Thatcher, for example. And there are men who oppose confronting evil — the men who lead the modern Democratic party, for example. (One such man is the president of the United States, who has a feminized view of those who do evil — talk to them, but don’t confront them, label them, or fight them.) But these exceptions happen in large numbers under two circumstances: when women get married and when men are feminized.

When women get married, they are often influenced by their husbands with regard to political and moral issues, just as married men are influenced by their wives on a whole host of micro issues. As a result, married women are more likely than single women to prefer to fight villains than to befriend them. Unfortunately, more and more American women are single.

Meanwhile American boys are increasingly raised by single women and taught almost only by female teachers. In addition, they are often taught to be ashamed of their masculine natures and to reject traditional masculine virtues.

As a result of the above two trends, the amount spent on national defense will continue to decline (while the amount spent on welfare will continue to increase), and America will confront the world’s evils less and less. The consequences will be disastrous for millions of people around the globe.

When America retreats from killing bad guys, bad guys kill more innocent people. We are witnessing this right now as a consequence of America’s abandoning Iraq and retreating from the world generally. Islamic State took over more and more territories as America abandoned them. Ironically, therefore, as American foreign policy becomes feminized, more Middle East females are raped.

Whenever I see on a car the liberal bumper sticker “War Is Not the Answer,” I look to see who is driving. In years of looking, I have seen one male driver.

Both women and men have flawed natures. They share human nature, which is deeply flawed, and the sexes have their own particular natures, which are also flawed. That is one reason men need women and women need men. Men need women to soften their intrinsic aggressive nature and to help them control their predatory sexuality; and women need men to, among other things, better understand that evil people and regimes must be fought, not nurtured.

So, there is something in male nature that thinks that it is acceptable to use violence as a last resort in order to defeat evil. Evil might be things like criminals, terrorists… even wolves and bears, if they attacked innocent people.

So what are the solutions?

Here’s what we should do:

  • We should stop paying women money to have children before they are married, so that boys have fathers to raise them who have made a commitment before they got handed free sex.
  • We should rollback no-fault divorce, which leads to fatherless children. People should be less emotional about who they marry, and not think “there’s an escape hatch if I feel unhappy”.
  • We should try to get more male teachers into classrooms, and maybe allow parents to pull boys out of failing schools and put them into all-male schools if they think those work better.
  • We should try to vote for policies that empower law enforcement, national security, and our armed forces to detect, attack and defeat evil. For example, we invest in defense spending, and avoid undermining the morale of police and armed forces with political correctness.

I guess the list could be longer, but that’s a start for the issues that Prager raised.

We need to work against the forces that demean male nature and male roles, and work to promote male nature and male roles.

Ted Cruz’s panel of foreign policy advisers represent diverse perspectives

Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event
Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event

Well, I sometimes listen to the Hugh Hewitt show, and since foreign policy is his thing, I get to hear pretty much every foreign policy point of view there is. Imagine how surprised I am to find that practically everyone that Hugh has on as a guest is on Cruz’s foreign policy advisory panel.

This article from NewsMax explains:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz unveiled his national security team, which includes former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy.

[…]Abrams, who served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, praised the senator’s support for Israel, saying that “he has made it clear that he believes a strong Israel is America’s key ally and asset in the Middle East.

“He understands the power relationships in that region and he will put an end to the tensions of the Obama years that have weakened the U.S.-Israel alliance,” Abrams added. “He is very clearly the most pro-Israel candidate in the race today.”

Other members of Cruz’s team include:

  • Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Health and Human Serves and general counsel of the National Security Agency.
  • Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.
  • Retired Army Lt. General William Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
  • Fred Fleitz, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.
  • Randy Fort, who has served in senior intelligence positions in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.
  • Frank Gaffney Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.
  • Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Katharine Gorka, president of the Council on Global Security.
  • Steven Groves, a senior research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Mary Habeck, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Kristofer Harrison, a co-founder of the China Beige Book who once served in the George W. Bush White House.
  • Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain.
  • Michael Ledeen, an author who serves at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
  • Clare Lopez, a vice president at the Center for Security Policy.
  • Robert O’Brien, a partner at the Larson O’Brien LLP law firm in Los Angeles.
  • Michael Pillsbury, who was a Reagan campaign advisor in 1980.
  • Charles Stimson, the senior legal fellow and manager of National Security Law Program at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Daniel Vajdich, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
  • Christian Whiton, a former State Department senior advisor in the Bush administration.

My favorite guys on that panel are Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy, Nile Gardiner, William Boykin and Michael Ledeen. Gaffney is probably the most hawkish of all of them, so I was surprised that Cruz put him in there. I always thought that Cruz was more libertarian on foreign policy than I am. And maybe he is, but he put all my favorite hawkish guys on his panel anyway. I don’t know the specific people they listed from the Heritage Foundation, but it is my favorite think tank, so they have to be good. And I see someone named Mary Habeck from the American Enterprise Institute – my second favorite think tank. My favorite defense analyst from AEI is Mackenzie Eaglen, but they didn’t pick her, oh well.

This article from the radically leftist Bloomberg View notes that Cruz has a whole ton of moderate conservative voices on his foreign policy advisor panel to balance out the hawks that I like so much.

It says:

[…]Cruz’s team includes former officials who reject Gaffney’s broad view that any Muslim who believes in Sharia law by definition believes in a totalitarian and violent ideology at war with America.

“We’re at war with a coalition of radical Islamists and radical secularists. It’s not all one thing, nor is Islam all one thing,” Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official and a Cruz campaign adviser, told me.

Jim Talent, a former Missouri Republican senator who was a key adviser to Romney in 2008 and 2012, is signed up for the Cruz team. So is Mary Habeck, a former staffer on George W. Bush’s national security council, who is an expert on jihadi organizations and has warned against demonizing the entire religion of Islam.

Another Cruz adviser, Elliott Abrams, helped craft Bush’s policy to empower moderate Muslims in the Middle East against radicals. He told me he feels much the same way as Habeck. “It’s now 15 years since 9/11, and I think it’s obvious that Muslim citizens in the U.S. and Muslim leaders abroad have an absolutely critical role to play in fighting jihadis and other Muslim extremists,” Abrams said. “This is partly a battle within Islam that they are going to have fight and win. Alienating these potential allies is the kind of foolish policy that the Obama administration has engaged in when it comes to Arab states that are our allies.”

Victoria Coates, who has been Cruz’s main adviser on national security since he came to the Senate, told me this tension on the policy team “is by design and not an accident.” She added: “Both Frank and Elliott are people I went out of my way to set up meetings with the Senator. He has met with both of them individually for years.”

[…]His new team of national security advisers, in this respect, has something for everyone.

I think this balanced approach matches Cruz’s approach in other areas. He isn’t looking for mediocre people who are loyal to him above all. He has hawkish people in his panel, but he also has respected moderates. I have heard Andrew McCarthy, Michael Ledeen and Jim Talent on Hugh Hewitt’s show many times. Victoria Coates is highly respected by everyone when it comes to foreign policy. The moderate people are the best at putting forward their view, just as Gaffney is the best at putting forward the hawkish view. Cruz’s approach will lead to good discussions, which will lead to smart policies. We certainly can do a lot better than the Obama administration’s “screw up then cover up” approach.

In contrast to Cruz, who does have good advisers on foreign policy, we are hearing this from Trump:

He says: “I’m speaking with myself, I have a very good brain”. That might for for Scrabble or balancing your check book, but we are talking about foreign policy and national security, here.

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