The existence of God

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by SolaSaint, Sep 16, 2009.

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  1. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi All,

    I believe in the apologetic approach that starts with presenting the evidence for God when confronting an unbeliever. Once that has been established then usually one can plant the seed of salvation much easier. I'm new here and was wondering how the reformed folk in here feel about this approach and which argument you use to show God exists; cosmological, teleological, moral or something else? Thanks for any responses.
     
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    While there is a sense in which an atheist-agnostic should be confronted by the evidence of God's existence, there is also a deeper and more fundamental sense in which he already possesses an ineradicable knowledge of God.
    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.​
    This passage makes it abundantly clear that ALL men--including atheists, agnostics, and worshipers of false Gods--know the One, true, living God.

    And they stifle this knowledge. Or attempt to blind themselves to it. But the attempt only renders them excuseless.

    The purpose for using evidences and arguments, in whatever form, should be unto the demolition of the various mechanisms being used by the God-denier to fool himself into believing his own rationales for denying the facts.

    Men are constituted as revelation-receivers. They absorb revelation like a radio absorbs certain wave-spectra. They receive natural revelation, and they receive Word (special) revelation. Because of the way God created them, they automatically recognize God's Word as God-speaking.

    For this reason, the gospel is the Power of God unto salvation. That Word, when accompanied by the effectual Spirit, grants life and "hearing" to the ears of the understanding. Like Jesus' command carried the power to draw Lazarus out of the tomb.

    Obviously, Holy Spirit is not working the same on all persons. And on some the same Word, that softens another heart, hardens. Persistent acts of resistance to God's Word are steps toward petrification.

    Therefore, there is no ultimate reason why the faithless need to be brought by "steps" to the place needful, so that THEN we can have confidence the Word will be powerful. it is already divinely powerful. Lazarus didn't need to be brought to the door of the tomb, so he could hear Jesus. The Word came to him in his death, and brought him to life.

    Take the unbeliever's objections seriously. Answer them as you are able. But do not be afraid, at the same time, to be speaking to them God's Word, and treating them not as ignorant, but as willfully blind. Even if they do not yet realize their own self-destructive behavior. No one needs to be an "expert" at answering stock objections to be minimally effective, if he knows his Bible.

    And the rest, God will use those with special skills, adept in the use of sophisticated modes, to call some of the elect by those means also. But the means aren't the locus of power and effectiveness.
     
  3. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    Great post brother. Bruce.

    So you feel that the God denying atheist then is further down the path of rejecting God and thus has hardened his heart to the point that to try and point out God to him would be futile on our part? I loved your response that we now need to demolish whatever it is that has fooled him or self justified his unbelief. I guess the proper apologetic would be to get him to see the foolishness of his belief through good questions that would point to his faith in absurdity.

    How do you feel about apologetics, is it more to defend against attacks from the enemies of Christ or to use as an evangelistic tool?
     
  4. dr_parsley

    dr_parsley Puritan Board Freshman

    The existence of God is presuppositional and the unbeliever must be encouraged to understand that they are also using presuppositions, that they have chosen to not believe in God and that they can choose again. This can be implicit or explicit in your presentation of the gospel, but I wouldn't go apologising for God ;)
     
  5. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Without presupposing the existence of the personal and absolute God of the Bible, nothing would be intelligible, and the question ''Is there a God?" could not be asked.

    For an introduction to this type of presuppositional apologetics see e.g.

    [ame=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apologetics-Glory-God-John-Frame/dp/0875522432/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253175288&sr=1-1]Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction: Amazon.co.uk: John M. Frame: Books[/ame]
     
  6. jason d

    jason d Puritan Board Freshman

    What all these above are talking about is commonly call "Presuppositional Apologetics" (thought some dont like that name but I wont get into that). A good place to start is here: Basic Training For Defending The Faith This includes a intro article and a basic class that you can view online. It helped me alot!
     
  7. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Rick, you're going to find mixed opinion on whether or not an argument for the existence of God actually works or is appropriate. I happen to think it can be done--though its rhetorical force depends on the skill of the presenter.

    My main concern is "which God". That is, be sure that you are arguing for the Christian God. This is one reason why I favor a form of the ontological argument.
     
  8. MMasztal

    MMasztal Puritan Board Sophomore

    :ditto:

    Being a fan of Frame, I am also using this book in my 11th/12th grade Apologetics class.
     
  9. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I don't think that anyone is past a known point-of-no-return, anymore than a moralistic, upright, but lost man (whatever his profession) is past help. The latter is only in a very limited sense "closer" to the truth, but he could still be the much more difficult man (humanly speaking) to "reach", because he thinks he has it so together. He even believes in God!

    But Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, "... the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God ahead of you." So, it is very hard, I think, to say that we are clear on where a man stands in relation to God, before the Word comes to bear on him. More important is to observe his reaction to the Word as it confronts him, wherever he happens to be. That is where he is most clearly is or isn't resisting the Spirit of conversion.

    I think questions are one tactic. Any method that "works" to enable someone to see reality clearly is beneficial. If someone is shown the incompatibility of two or more ideas he holds, he must either continue holding them irrationally, or he must let one of them go.

    It is essential incoherence that shows the vulnerability of non-Christian thought. What is amazing (and sad) to see is many atheistic-types openly concede their hopeless irrationality, and yet remain committed to it--because the alternative (to acknowledge God in their thoughts) is less acceptable than incoherence.

    If someone is finally and clearly committed to his position, despite its flaws, he will often resort to the tactic of smearing the other (including your) views. "Mine has problems, but so does yours! Yours is worse." Then, you point out how your view does not land you in fundamental incoherence, it has the benefit of greater explanatory power than his, etc.

    You may not convince him, but you do shut his mouth, or you open the eyes, and strengthen the faith of bystanders.

    I hope I was clear enough above: apologetics is first of all a tool for defending the faith, and also a means of showing an unbeliever where the deficiencies of his preferred concepts are letting him down. They don't deliver as promised. At best, they are a tool of convenience that provide weak intellectual and moral cover for deeds done in darkness.

    Only a God-initiated moral dissatisfaction (and not strictly an intellectual one either) with that cover will truly lead to repentance and spiritual change of mind.

    Jesus also said to one Scribe who answered him back wisely, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." The point Christ was making was NOT that this man had come quite far in the right direction. Rather, in his blind groping he was in earshot of Jesus; and he had laid hold of some OT truth.

    However, he was not IN the kingdom, and that was the problem. There were many, many people in Jesus day, who sat under his ministry, who "were not far from the kingdom," and drifted off from the entrance, some which doubtless came to actively oppose it. And there were many from far off, coming from the north, south, east and west, to sit down with faithful Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in that kingdom.
     
  10. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    What about the heart of the unbeliever?

    What about the facts

    (1) that the unbeliever already knows that God is- Rom.1

    (2) that he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness- Rom. 1

    (3) that even if you demolish his philosophical foundations he remains at enmity with the one true and living God
     
  11. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm listening right now, pray that God gives me spiritual ears to hear.

    Rick
     
  12. steven-nemes

    steven-nemes Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would not recommend reading any presuppositionalist literature, firstly because it is highly complex and not very easy to go into everyday-conversation with, and secondly because the presuppositional method is just faulty and the arguments are bad.

    I would recommend reading some information on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. There are great resources available on William Lane Craig's website Reasonable Faith: He has many mp3 recordings available there, and you can look at his podcast called "Reasonable Faith" where, upon downloading the whole series (which isn't too many mp3s, actually), you can listen to various interviews of his on many arguments for the existence of God, not just the arguments for Jesus' resurrection.

    Also, you can check out the mp3 lectures available on The Veritas Forum. Their theology is not always great, but their arguments, and so on, are very good. I recommend works by J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga.

    Those would be my recommendations.
     
  13. Webservant

    Webservant Puritan Board Sophomore

    This thread reminds me why I joined this forum to begin with. Excellent question and excellent responses.
     
  14. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    As I stated, the rhetorical force depends on the skill of the presenter. Even then, it still may not convince. Demolishing his philosophical foundations is a secondary goal to defending the faith. Just because my opponent is on shaky ground is no reason to believe that God exists.

    No one will ever be converted by apologetics--if anything, apologetics hardens hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can convert people. Reason is just a kind of brute force used to smash their objections.
     
  15. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    Jason,

    Thank you for guiding me to Bahnsen. I have heard of him I believe through R.C. Sproul, but never have read or heard anything by him. I listened to the first set of videos and have now have a great appreciation for presuppositional apologetics. I'm currently studying apologetics through an online seminary and have heard of this form of apologetics, but I know someone I had respected had refuted this view and therefore I had never looked into it any further. I believe the refutation was of Van Til and that the view of using presuppositions in our apologetic was to really say "we must assume God exists" or simply to take a blind leap of faith, and this I cannot do. This smelled of Fideism! I truly thought from then on this wasn't a logically sound position to take so I basically ignored it. Now after seeing these videos I have a much richer understanding of presuppositional apologetics and must say I was misled to believe falsely, for this isn't Fideism but instead truly the condition of the new man. I loved the part where he expounded on Ephesians 4. This came clear to me as a lightening bolt.

    I also enjoyed where he warned us as Paul did about dabbling into philosophy that is non-Christian. I have been studying apologetics for about 3 years now and recently I have been studying under the materials of Phil Fernandez where he presents various worldviews and philosophies and this stuff does make one question his faith some times. I feel I'm a strong Christian but when we look into the enemies camp, if we are not armed with God's armor it can be troubling at times. So I would say to the new believer, be very careful in trying to understand the worldviews of the non-Christian. I did a paper on the Jesus Seminar and truly was depressed for months and still haven't truly recovered form this still today. I now wonder at the benefit of knowing the oppositions beliefs? I will continue to watch these next 4 video series from Bahnsen and pray for Godly understanding to continue my apologetics calling.

    Again thank you all in here, especially Jason for leading me to this valuable position in apologetics. God bless!!!!!
     
  16. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Do you believe that we don't need to make an argument for God's existence unless the unbeliever asks you to provide evidence for God's existence?
     
  17. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure where your going with this, but I'm game.

    No I don't think we need to make an argument for God for according to Romans 1, for He is evident and they suppress this evidence. The light we reflect from Christ living in us should demonstrate we believe in God's existence in our daily walk, although we don't always succeed at this.
     
  18. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Given that you are thinking through this logically, upon what presuppositions do you base your critique of presuppositional theology as a tool to proclaim the gospel?

    -----Added 9/23/2009 at 01:35:18 EST-----

    That is absolute truth. If someone is not effectually called, they do not have the ability to respond affirmatively to the gospel. If someone is effectually called, not only do they have the ability to respond affirmatively to the gospel, but they will respond affirmatively to the gospel.

    Apologetics (being ready to give an account of the hope that lies within us) gives us the tools to stand firm, encourage those that are elect to stand firm, or even to more thoroughly condemn those that trample under foot so great a salvation. Proclaiming the gospel is by the command of Christ, the effect (which is certain in any case) is the domain of the God in his fore-ordaining whatsoever comes to pass, especially in regard to salvation.
     
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