What kind of apologetics?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Peairtach, Apr 22, 2011.

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  1. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    What kind of apologetics did the Apostles, Prophets, other biblical writers and our Lord espouse and use?



    Classical Apologetics?

    Reformed Epistemology?


    Or a combination thereof?
  2. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Depends on who I am talking to. So... combination.
  3. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Very good, Andrew, but I'm more interested in what kind of apologetics was used by the biblical apologists.
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Ah, it would be helpful if I read the entire OP. :)

    I couldn't say they used Classical Apologetics as it wasn't really invented yet...

    Evidentialism we see 1 Cor. 15 and other places. Presuppositional Apologetics, certainly we see that throughout Acts. I'm not much help, I am just posting apparently to have more posts... :)
  5. Douglas P.

    Douglas P. Puritan Board Freshman

    Trinitarian-Covenantal a.k.a. Van Tillian presuppositionalism

    c.f. Mark 12:24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?"
  6. Curt

    Curt Puritan Board Graduate

  7. T.A.G.

    T.A.G. Puritan Board Freshman

    In Acts 17 Paul uses Presupp, you could also say that Isaiah uses it as well in Isaiah 40s
  8. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    I think the biblical examples of apologetics are presuppositional like Van til.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I don't disagree, but is it all presuppositional? What about what I mentioned above 1 Cor. 15 when Paul is showing the evidence of the eyewitness of Christ post-resurrection?
  10. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    Good point. I don't know.
  11. Reformed Thomist

    Reformed Thomist Puritan Board Sophomore

    We do find natural theology in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, etc., however, arguments which classical apologists still rely upon.
  12. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Thanks then for the correction Nathan...I guess I was thinking only of Aquinas and company.
  13. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    It's anachronistic to apply any of those labels to the arguments we find in the Bible. Scripture presents itself as a word from the outside that can either be accepted or rejected and must be either approached from an attitude of faith or of offense. Sometimes I wonder whether Biblical apologetics is Kierkegaardian, presenting arguments in order to show the stark contrast: we may either accept or reject the revelation of God.

    I tend to think that most forms of apologetics can find some Biblical support. What I don't think is Biblical is "God-of-the-gaps"-type argumentation where we take some unknown in the natural world and say "God did it." That's just laziness and too often leads to embarassment for Christians.
  14. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it's safe to say probability apologetics have no Scriptural basis. The writers of Scripture come from a certainty of faith position, an absolute certainty, not waiving to and fro. So the question becomes, which apologetic method can we subscribe to and rightfully claim absolute certainty?
  15. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Any one of them. We're reasoning from a perspective of faith seeking understanding---faith is a given here for us. What we are attempting to do is to show the unbeliever that this faith is as rational as his.
  16. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    Would you mind to elaborate? I have to disagree, though I would say that in the broad sense specifically within Christian Apologetics, there are places for faith and reason, for rational argumentation, for evidences, etc, and used rightly, they should be guided by and under the umbrella of a Biblical Presuppositionalism. I should note, I'm not referring to rational apologetics in the classical sense, nor evidences in the evidential apologetics sense as they are commonly understood.

    The unbeliever does not have a rational faith, so ours is not as rational, it is the ONLY truly rational position. We should not take the burden of proof at the outset in defense to try and prove our faith is rational....and we should not assume the unbeliever has a rational faith, what they have is a misplaced faith and that should be our concern. What do we prove if we show the unbeliever our faith is as rational as his or hers? That we're smart?!? Vanity of vanities!
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    The question is why archaeology, classical proofs, etc cannot be used? If Christianity is correct, then all of these sorts of arguments actually do presuppose it.

    Would you be rational in believing if you were not regenerate?

    That there is a clear choice: either Christ is the Son of God who was raised on the third day, or He is not. And that believing affirmatively is a rational position, perhaps even the rational position. At that point, either God will remove the scales from their eyes or He will harden their heart. The thing that we must see, though, is that we cannot prove God, at least not in the sense of convincing someone---only the Holy Spirit convinces and convicts.
  18. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that those arguments do presuppose Christianity, however they do not prove Christianity. The moral argument for example, when argued in the classical sense, at best proves a higher moral law giver, as an isolated argument, it is far from proving the supreme moral law giver is the God of Christianity. The same argument can be used by people of other religions. The same applies to other ontological, teleological, scientific arguments, archaeology, etc. How can Christians using these arguments expect non-Christians to be converted by them?

    I would think I were rational...not that I could give an account for rationality. They are rational insofar as they are created in the image of God, and rationality is an attribute of God. The problem is not that the non-Christian can learn and apply the laws of logic, it is not that they are irrational because they are non-Christians, the problem is the non-Christian cannot properly give an account for their rationality and they suppress the truth (that we are image bearers of God) of how they can be rational.

    If I were unregenerate, I would go with any one of the naturalist theories concerning Christ's resurrection, along with the naturalist theories of the Bible. I agree that salvation is the sole supernatural work of God, and apart from the Holy Spirit raising an unregenerate person from spiritual death to spiritual life, we're spinning our verbal tires. But we're still called to preach the gospel, even if it is foolishness to them that do not believe.
  19. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I was thinking of this. Also Christ appealed to the evidence of the miracles:

    He encouraged Thomas to examine empirical evidence:

    I suppose the presuppositionalist would argue that this is all self-attesting evidence from the Word.

    But if the Apostle was encouraging the Corinthians to check out the accounts of the 500 eyewitnesses - which may not be the case - was that the self-attesting evidence of the Word?

    Any other apologetic examples from Scripture?

    In Ezekiel's prophecy of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 we may have an argument from fulfilled prophecy:

    But I'm sure there are numerous such arguments or points being made in the New Testament. These arguments used in a bare sense are usually believed to be evidential, but presumably presuppositionalists can use them in a different way.

    Maybe its about learning to use evidences in a presuppositional way, though I'd like to see how that's done practically by a capable presuppositional apologist.

    There's a couple of books on this but from having read them years ago I think they were largely theoretical and opaque:



    I may be doing them a disservice and will examine them again, but they may be of use to brighter and more able apologists than I.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Jesus used a little evidentialism.

    Jesus did it more than once actually....

    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    That's not the question: the question is whether an unbeliever, in an unregenerate state, could possibly have rational warrant for believing in Christianity?

    So you would see the offense of the Gospel and be offended---exactly my point. The job of the apologist is to clear away objections and give possible reasons. It is to lead the horse to water, not to make Him drink---only the Spirit can make Him drink.

    Depends---take the ontological argument: would you say that the god of Islam is the greatest of all possible beings? You are right: these things will not convince, but that is not the point.
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    There seems to be a common misunderstanding of Van Til's understanding of the use of evidence. I have seen many, too many, self described Van Tillians say things like "I am a Van Tillian but I believe in the use of evidences tolo", this is a fundemental misunderstanding of Van Til's ideas here. In his intro to presupositional apologetics named Thinking Straight in a Crooked World Gary Demar has a chapter entitled "Putting Reason in Perspective", I think this way of saying things is good for understanding what Van Til meant, so I am going to borrow it for here. So lets entitle this post "Putting Evidences in Perspective". Van Til was not against the use of evidences but only wanted the apologist to put them in perspective. The ressurection is a perfect example.

    All the evidence can prove is that some guy came back to life, thats it. Once we say "see he really was God" we have stretched the evidence too thin, we have now used our presupositions about reality to interpret the evidence. You cannot extrapolate Jesus' divinity from the fact that he rose from the dead. The unbeleiver can legitimatly call that logical leap into question. It works the same for arguing that the New Testament has by far the most surviving Greek copies of any Greek writing, it is number 1 with like 6,000 and The Odessey is 2 with like 400 and something, it only proves that and nothing more. These are both fine uses of evidences but you cannot exagerate what they actually prove. Van Til realized that the real battle was over differing presupositions that we use to interpret the evidences. If you keep things things in perspective than you can use evidences your advantage.

    So his problem with Evidentialism is not its use of evidences but in the fact that it assumes that if Evidentialism cannot prove the christian faith true absolutly than nothing can. If an apologist prefers the use of evidences than fine but don't assume that Evidentialism is the only proper method for apologetics flaws and all. If you keep the presupositional antithesis in mind when you use evidences than you should be able to work out practicaly a method for using them in the right perspective. Often times for me when I destroy my opponents presupositions in an apologetical situation I never have to get into evidences, but I do if I need to. Evidences, like reason, are tools we use in the apologetical situation but every tool has its proper uses and knowing that will make you a better apologist in the long run.

    As far as the OP goes I believe that no particuler method of apologetics is explicitly taught in Scripture, thus making it not a heresy to ascribe to anyone school of thought, but I do believe that Presupositionalism is the best method when you work out the logical consequences of the biblical worldview. Obviously no one to my knowledge explicitly uses the TA in the bible, but they do lay the seeds doctrinally for it being the best use of creaturely reason in defending the faith.
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