Apologetics: what are the different positions?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by matthew11v25, Apr 9, 2005.

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  1. matthew11v25

    matthew11v25 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am interested (mainly because I am ignorant) to know what are some of the "main" positions on apologetics. If anyone knows of articles, etc, that summarize the different positions. Or can explain them in brief to me, I would be greatful.
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would recommend F. A. Scheaffer's books. He does not spend any time at all on the debates of one view against another, but spends his time on methodologies that address the hearer's concerns. His goal was to seek answers from the Word for the questions raised by serious seekers. He was not interested at all in giving his answer to people who may have questions that aren't particularly addressed by his answers; but rather he sought to hear out the questioners for their concerns, and to seek answers for those particularly. This transcended, in my view, the debates over methodology. And I agree with that.
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Classical Apologetics: Thomas Aquinas, RC Sproul
    Presuppositional Apologetics:
    1.Clarkian: Gordon Clark, John Robbins
    2.VanTillian: Van Til, Bahnsen, Frame
    Evidential Apologetics: J.W. Montgomery
    Fideistic Apologetics: Donald Bloesch, Karl Barth
  4. openairboy

    openairboy Puritan Board Freshman


    This may be what you are looking for. It is an overview of the book "Five Views on Apologetics", so it provides the nuts and bolts.

  5. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I read that review a while back. I found it helpful. I also found as much as I could on the I-net on these various views, and then did a search on various aspects that jumped out at me.

    and Matthew:

    I found that Phil Grootenhuis wished to call his approach Verificationism, a term which I stole from him to indicate the possibility of verifying proofs from nature or reason, as in the Evidential and Classical methods. In fact, Presuppositionalism is also a form of Verificationism, and that almost makes the term useless when used in the contemporary discussions. But, then, that is why I stole it from him, so that it might facilitate a change in the contemporary discussions. I want it to stand for something that is common in all the methodologies. I don't support Grootenhuis's apologetics altogether, as it is difficult to separate his methodology from his agenda. But he does credit Schaeffer with his original concept of verificationism, and that has some merit, I think.

    I would recommend, again, a thinking through this subject not with a mind to these views being antagonistic, but rather complimentary. The antagonism comes from the various misunderstandings, not from the formally correct content of them. One must be careful to keep truth and opinion apart, and not confuse them.

    And that's my opinion. :bigsmile:
  6. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Just as something to note, many Van Tillian authors would disagree with the notion that their apologetic even can be "complemented" with other apologetics - in other words, that if an apologetic supposedly was used in accordance with, say, Classicism or Evidentialism, it would by nature not be Van Tillian presuppositionalism, and that attempting to "blend" it with another apologetic would in fact make it cease to be the same apologetic at all.

    We don't really need to debate here whether that is actually the case or not, and I encourage you to make your own decision on that question as you read from various sources. But I just wanted to note that even the very claim that presuppositionalism as an apologetic can by nature be used with other apologetics is in fact a decided viewpoint itself (and is thus not "apologetically neutral" per se) and one with which many presuppositionalist authors and scholars would disagree.

    Again, Matthew, I wish you a good journey in discovering whether you personally agree with that claim or not.

    A good place to start with the presuppositional mindset in particular would be Dr. Bahnsen's lectures at cmfnow.com - I particularly recommend "Challenge to Unbelief."
  7. openairboy

    openairboy Puritan Board Freshman

    As far as recommendations are concerned, I would highly recommend listening to the Bahnsen/Stein debate. This, I believe, really sums up the presuppositional approach.

    The debate is transcribed here.

    And can be listened to here.

    I would highly recommend getting several commentaries and really studying Romans 1:18+ and how that effects the way you view the issues. This is getting beyond a summary of the views, but I hope it is helpful.


    [Edited on 4-12-2005 by openairboy]
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    And just to show that I am open to people studying other positions, I highly recommend the book, Faith has its Reasons by Boa and Bowman. Although not presups themselves, they do an excellent job in laying it out and then backtrack on themselves at the end of the book. Neverhtless, quite worth getting.
  9. Preach

    Preach Puritan Board Sophomore

    Listen to the Bahnsen/Stein debate from cmfnow.com. See if you don't instinctively sense that this is the apolgetical methodology. Other methods may be used (as long as they are set forth within a Biblical framework). And of course )as I hope you will see) the Vantillian (Bahnsen) methodology is the Biblical method.

    I know this is biased. But try the Bahnsen debate and see what you think.

    "In Christ",
  10. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Buried in the posts which justify only the Presuppositional methodology, and not the others, is the insinuation that those who do not follow the Presuppositional apologetic methodology are lesser in their faith or defence of the Word. I know that some clearly state that this is their own opinion. I'm just pointing out the weakness inherent in making such observations, and which are justifiably the crux of much of the criticism of that particular methodology. No doubt there are some in the other camps that do the same type of thing, and they too are justifiably criticized for that, I believe.

    I'm not saying anything against holding to the Presuppositional methodology. Nor am I saying anything against believing it to be right a methodology. Let me put it this way: as long as Presuppositionalists claim exclusive rights to do apologetics, they will not be able to convince. It is clearly a claim that goes beyond the scope of the matter of discussion, and beyond revelation. It is a positivist assertion, and nothing more; for there is insufficient criteria to establish such a claim. If there were, then the churches would have ruled on it long ago. But the ruling is that the church recognizes various approaches to defending the truth. I am only agreeing with that ruling, no more than that.

    All that can be said is by any one person is that he can see no other sustainable methodology. That observation is a personal one, and not an objective one for all to be subjected to. There are others who are able to see methodologies that are also sustainable in argument or persuasion. And indeed, many other methods, even dubious ones, have been used and have succeeded in persuading. It is, after all, not the argument itself, but the Spirit which uses the arguments to His purposes. In the end, whatever is thought of truly, honourably, justly, purely, righteously, and honestly, whatever is thought in its most excellent form, cannot help but display God's goodness, graciousness, and excellent revelation of Himself in both creation and the Word.

    I believe that in our studies we must remember the limits of the subject matter, and the limits within revelation, and not boast of more than we know.
  11. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    The most invaluable source on the subject I am aware of is a 608 page book entitled "Faith Has It's Reason" by Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr. Another helpful (less helpful) booksis entitled "Five Views of Apologetics" written by various Christian apologists and edited by Steven B. Cowan and Stanley N. Gundry.

    Oh yeah, and here is a link to a helpful chart: CLICK HERE

    To briefly describe the different approaches to apologetics...

    Classical Apologetics = rational apologetics or apologetics which appeal to reason.

    Evidential Apologetics = empirical apologetics or scientific apologetics or apologetics which appeal to "facts". Also worth noting is that evidential apologetics and historical apologetics are closely related.

    Presuppositional Apologetics = worldview or axiom apologetics. Everyone is a presuppositionalist, so I would probably distinguish presuppositional apologetics from...

    Reformed Epistemological Apologetics = properly basic beliefs and the warrant for belief which is certainly compatible with presuppositional apologetics.

    Finally, just a word of advice...don't allow anyone to have you believe that presuppositional apologetics is incompatible or opposed to reason or facts. The most absurd charge reguarding Van Til, was the charge that he was a fideist. Though his apologetics and his preaching were inseperatable, Van Til was far from a fideist (which I do not consider a legitimate SOLE apologetic approach).

    [Edited on 4-13-2005 by Apologist4Him]
  12. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Does Evidential Apologetics teach that man can know theological truths through general revelation and would Presuppositional Apologetics deny this?
  13. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Evidentialists would argue from the basis of high probability, since that is all the theories of science can really rely on. So they would focus on how the miracles could be scientifically possible, how the biblical view of creation (6 natural days) can be scientifically possible, etc. Some presuppositionalists refuse to use this method because the existence of God is not a probability but a certainty beyond any rational doubt. Other Presupps like myself see the value in the more "probable" scientific arguments as supplementing the all out Presupp attack on the unbelieving worldview (because really, we don't know everything that happened in history with certainty). The only problem with the Evidentialist appraoch is that the unbeliever interprets the facts differently. Christians will look at the same evidence that evolutionists look at and come to completely different conclusions. Why? Because their presuppositions are different. Christians are interpreting the facts in light of God's Word. Evolutionists presuppose the Bible is a book of fairy tales and so construct their own fairy tales (i.e. universe is billions of years old, natural selection results in genetic DNA evolution, etc.) to peice together the evidence in a way that pleases them. So the Evidentialist and the evolutionists often end up talking past eachother because of their different perspectives.

    [Edited on 4-24-2005 by puritansailor]
  14. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can surely sympathize with Patrick concerning that view of Evidentialism. The thrust of if comes from Aquinas, but the modern approach is far too much precisely the way Patrick says it is. But that is not real Evidentialism. At least, if that is what it is I would oppose it too.

    What I take to be the basis for Evidentialism is the fact that there can be no such thing as evidence that leads to the denial of God's existence. Just as if you built a house, and only your hands were in it, then it would not be possible to find evidence that someone else built it. Anything to that effect would be a lie. Evidentialism, in the same way, has to take for granted the authoriship of God in all that exists in creation, all that is provable. It is not just that it presumes or presupposes God's authorship, though it does, but more that there can be no other presumption or presupposition (borrowing terms. )

    Some modern thinkers have erroneously expanded on that by assuming that this is the same as saying that everything proves God's existence. By "prove" they mean a conclusive tie from first to last in the line of reasoning. In so doing they have subjected the inducted to the deducted, and so violated the reasonable flow.

    So if you're looking at the stars at night, and see insurmountable evidence for Evolution, you're not looking at lies, for the stars are stilll saying the same thing they've always said. What you're doing is pasting a lie overtop of the clear voice of creation praising God, and hearing a dissonant sound. The Presuppers are right that you have to presuppose God; they are wrong in thinking that anything else is possible. Unbelievers also interpret things the very same way; but they are much more adamant than we are about superimposing stubbornness and foolishness over that interpretation. If if were possible to not presuppose God or eternity, then we would have no point of contact with them. For when we ask them to look at the stars, what's to keep them from thinking we're telling them to look at gravel or sand? How do they know what we're talking about?

    The fact that they automatically know what we're talking about, even when we talk about God, shows that they are working with the same building blocks of knowledge, but are right away putting up defences to keep from seeing that which they do not want to see. They prefer the lie to the truth, and do their best to suppress it. So they make up fanciful stories, and over time make them more and more believable for the willingly gullible.

    The Evidentialist, however, has also, at times, fallen prey to the secularizing and liberalizing religious flow of our modern era. As these people slowly drift away from their own religious integrity, they also drift from their proper evidential moorings and integrity.

    Let me put it another way. If you were to hide my blue hat in a dark room for a million years, and then someone opened the door to look at it. Assumeing the colour hasn't faded, and the hat is still intact, would the person opening the door see the same thing as the person who closed the door? If there was a difference, what would be the difference: the blue hat? or the persons looking at the blue hat?

    The evidence is the same for everyone. Facts are facts where ever you go. The difference is in the hearts of people, what they want to believe. Two people looking at the same thing, coming up with opposite theories: how can you blame the facts for that? The facts are innocent of betrayal. They didn't do that. It was the heart of the person, who preferred the lie, that betrayed the truth. So it was not the interpretation, but the preference for the lie posing as an interpretation that is to blame for the discrepancy.

    So, to conclude, an Evidentialist may not be perfectly confident of his own thinking, but he is confident of the facts, that they don't lie. He knows it is the heart that lies, not the facts.
  15. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Any of you listened to the White Horse Inn lately. They have done a great show called "Problems with Atheism" and they interview the author of the book "The Hidden Face of God" by Gerald Schroeder. His book was largely responsible for helping Anthony Flew to his new position which is basically a deist. It's very interesting. Then they did a show called "New Developments in Science" where they talk to Dean Overmman author of "A Case Against Accident and Self Organization." Check them out. It sounds like scientists are having a harder and harder time denying God or some kind of intelligence behind things the more and more they learn about the world etc.

    White Horse Inn programs

    [Edited on 4-25-2005 by Augusta]
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