Why not both?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by PuritanCovenanter, Sep 1, 2005.

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  1. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    R. Martin:

    I want to get in on it too, but haven't had time to read through all the posts. Keep your seat belt on. Or, take it off for a while 'til I get around to all this heavy reading. I'm with you on the the original question; I've been asking that for a while.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    i am back in jackson miss. I just got electricity but have highly irregular internet access. i don't want yall to think i have bailed you.

  3. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Watch out for those dropped posts!:p
  4. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    You have a point. But I meant if the Christian is first, grounded in the Faith, obedient to honoring Christ FIRST, the so-called "method" will be fine....because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Jesus told the disciples to not worry about what they would say....neither should we "worry". Rather, pursuade men because we "fear God." Skill in this can only come from deep understanding of the fear of God and His mercies.

    There are no athiests, btw. There is no such animal.

    I could be wrong...and don't wish to be presumptuous...but all the fussing over methods and "heroes" of so-called successful apologetics appears like so much idolatry; fear of Satan's tactics; hyper-concern of how so and so does such and such. All this breeds the sins the Corinthian church suffered (1 Cor. 1.)

    A short anecdote: ...after graduating from college, having studied with many significant master apologists,...I discovered something interesting....God began to reform my thinking (which didn't go well in the Arminian college, btw.) I gradually began to depend upon the Bible's "method" of apologetics rather than the celebrity apologists.

    True Biblical apologetics is a natural outgrowth of a solid footing in sound doctrine (the Reformed creeds; confessions; Berkof is quite helpful.) All this should come from proper equipping from one's local church - as per NT models. This surprised me and pulled me away from methods. I have opportunity to engage many opponents (no need to go find them) as the Lord leads (using the Evengellyfish term) and am able to have that "'answer, to anyone who asks..."

    As Calvin attests, apologetics as an organic/humane element of the Christian life: meaning, opportunities naturally arise from the mundane and regular parts of life. I think true, God-honoring apologetics happens this way --- because it is God-ordained, in a sense. Of course, a call to the ministry is different. This applies to church order. Meanwhile, I (a lowly lay-person) do "pre-evangelism" engaging any sort of contrary worldview...as need be. I am not tied to any one teacher, having my own thoughts about culture and truth. (What a relief!) But, gratefully, I'm under the authority of my pastor and elders. Their theological protection and support means so much to me!

    I am more concerned about my own proclivity to pride and conceit. Humility is more important than the thrill of victory in battle. Honoring Christ will always reveal humility. An attitude toward opponents should avoid all "sons of thunder" traits. Negligence and sin ignore this first responsibility to the Lord; as He was humble, so should we be. The NT is clear.

    Last points, I am awed at the privilege to represent Christ to those who hate Him. I am not driven by anger, worry or fear of man. I do get amazed at times....mostly, because it seems that someone more qualified should get the gigs. I walk, cautiously, (and I hope) caringly in feeble and inept attempts to honor God in these moments. As for opponents: my heart is heavy with grief, sadness and sometimes great horror at the state of their souls. They are not targets or trophies to prove my great knowledge or prowess (which I have none.) I must trust Christ that whatever my contribution, it will be in accord with His ordinations.

    God help me.

    As to the quip about posting a debate...I think such events boastful, leaning towards pride. I have no problem corresponding with an opponent; but I oppose most so-called debates because they border on "Christian voyerism." It also breeds disunity in the Church due to idolatry (1 Cor. 1.)

    Unbelievers are people, made in God's image. They are not "apologetics fodder." in my opinion

    At least, this is the way I see things, so far....



    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by Robin]
  5. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I fully agree with the observation that we persuade men because we fear God and that skill in that comes only from that understanding and fear, as I'm sure all the other presuppositionalists here would as well. But I have a problem with saying that that skill and a biblical understanding of apologetics "will be fine" automatically if we simply love Christ and strive to honor Him. I say that because there are Arminians who truly love Christ and strive to honor Him, yet have a faulty understanding of a significant aspect of His work - not because they don't love Him or aren't striving to honor Him, but because they are misreading Scripture and failing to be consistent in their systematic theology. Likewise, it is equally possible to love Christ and be genuinely focused on Him and striving to honor Him, yet have a faulty understanding of biblical apologetics for the same reason.

    Thus, one cannot simply dismiss apologetical "methods" as being vain to focus on and automatically following from a love of Christ any more than an Arminian can dismiss the doctrines of grace as "unimportant technicalities," saying that proper doctrine will always necessarily follow simply from a true love for Christ. On the contrary, both the true nature of salvation and the biblical nature and means of apologetics must be exegetically and systematically established from Scripture, and just as doing the former constitutes a distinguishing between correct and incorrect "technicalities" on salvation as many Arminians label them, so doing the latter constitutes a distinguishing between correct and incorrect "methods" on apologetics as we are using the term.

    But could not the same thing be presumably claimed about us as Calvinists for fussing over technicalities and pointing to "heroes" of the Reformation? Of course we would answer such claims by saying that our beliefs are fully based on Scripture, as were theirs, and they are simply people who have articulated that position from the Scriptures quite well, and can thus be helpful in explaining and defending that biblical doctrine. Likewise, we say the same thing with regard to presuppositional apologists like Van Til and Bahnsen and their relation to the Bible's authoritative revelation on the true nature and role of apologetics.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Does anyone know of a Chart or page of comparison between the two views? (Simplistic overview) That would be helpful also.

    One of my main stumbling blocks concerning the presup position is that I see presuppositionalism assuming blindly that Man should innately know about God because of what is in himself. Am I misunderstanding this?

    Evidentialism has it's downfall in that facts are still only percieved truth. We all see things through corruption. That is why scientific so called facts are changing daily.

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    We assume, but not blindly.

    Facts changing daily? In other words, facts are only meaningful within an interpretive framework (which is another word for presuppositions).
  8. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry, Jacob but I edited some of my questioning. There still is fact. It doesn't change. Just as the fact that creation will always reveal to man the invisible attributes of God. That comes from God to show man. It is communication from outside of man directed toward man. Do you know of a chart of comparison?

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I never denied there was fact. I just denied that it could exist without meaning/interpretation, etc.
  10. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    That is good. :up:
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Would an evidentialist say fact could exist without meaning and interpretation? I guess I want to know where you guys agree and disagree. A chart is usually good for something like that.

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  12. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    This brings up analogical reasoning within Van Til's thoughts...or archtypal and ectypal...All facts are preinterpreted by God who is the Creator of all 'facts'. There are no facts that are not known by God and imbued with a proper meaning. We are called to think God's thoughts after him. If He calls something evil and we call it good - then our interpretation is wrong - even if we try to 'reason' or appeal to 'facts' to back up our interpretation.

    As for a simple comparison, check this out -
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If the evidentialist says that "the facts speak for themselves" or that "we should interpret the facts without the underlying assumption that presuppositions govern our interpretation (J.W. Montgomery)," then an evidentialist is saying that facts exist without meaning.
  14. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Can you give me an example using the knowledge we have concerning the atom or the knowledge we have concerning the patterns of the stars? i.e. Psalm 19
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Maybe, can you clarify your question? I think I understand but I want to make sure we are on the same page.
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    What kind of facts are the examples telling us. What are the facts saying to us? What are the facts impying? Or maybe it isn't facts but what are these things revealing? For example what is the atom telling us?

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Let me also explain why I use the atom and stars. I have heard a few testimonies (including mine) where the stars played a role in pointing to God. The fact that it is not a chaotic Universe points to design. Physical laws come into play. But they don't point to specific revelation. They point to the invisible attributes of design and if there is design there is a designer. Thus my understanding of 1+1=2.
    Or better yet Y+1=2. I don't know Y.

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Yes this may be true if you pressupose Mohammad was a profit.

    Are you speaking of things as Natural disaster? Even in those things order is found.

    God used an Ass one time. Maybe my conclusion about a designer was falacious because I saw it's witness in the heavens.

    I wasn't sure about this when I was made to acknowledge the fact of design. In fact I questioned this also.

    I didn't consider this. I did know that I was causing pain in life for others by the way I was behaving. I did know I was being restrained by the fact that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do. I was being held to laws of boundary. Divine Soveriegnty wasn't apart of my understanding when I started looking for evidence concerning what I should believe. I did know there where historical facts that needed exploring though. I did read pro and con literature about Christ. He was Historical. So was Allah. I was in the Navy and we had many different cultures involved. I was also introduce to Hinduism. I needed more than pressuppositions.

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Experience also plays a part of my interaction. I was just answering your questions and charges as they presented themselves.

    Example the first statement.

    Originally posted by Paul manata

    maybe Allah designed things? Thus how do you get to the God of the Bible?

    My response, after I corrected the spelling.

    Yes this may be true if you pressupose Mohammad was a profit.

    In other words you do not get to the God of the Bible through pressuppossitons. They can start off false.
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    That is what I am trying to discover. I am using language and assumption myself so that I can understand what is being said. I told you I was at the elemetary level. It just seemed that you guys are pounding on evidentialism which interpreted itself to me that you were pounding away at evidences for faith.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    What kind of evidences for faith do you consider to be viable? I want to know how you guys use them. You seem to bash McDowell and I think he presents some pretty reasonable stuff.
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If so then my apologies for speaking past one another. We thought that you were equaling evidences for the faith with evidentialism (an enlightenment view for or against the faith). If the evidences are interpreted within a worldview that borrows from the Enlightenment then we will attack it to the hilt.

    However, if the evidences are interpreted within a Christian Theistic worlview, then we will gladly supply more.

    But notice that I am saying that evidences are interpreted within a worldview. In other words, I am precluding the brute factness of evidence.
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Don't brute facts point ultimately to God though? Ultimately if one is honest (or can be honest) all brute facts point ultimately toward God don't they? An unregenerate will never be totally honest because he us so flawed by spiritual death and sin.

    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  24. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    All facts are evidences for God. All facts! Yes I have witnessed to my friend at work using 2+2=4 as an evidence for God and that on a non-Christian worldview he couldn't make sense of it. I have appealed to nature. But I did all of the above not claiming a *neutral* common ground - but rather argued presuppositionally. I never grant an unbeliever logic, morality, empirical evidences without challenging their basis for it. Like Bahnsen argued in his debate with Stein - even showing up for the debate was admitting defeat!
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Doesn't matter which evidences you bring forth. I think they are all good (sort of). The problem with McDowell is that he presents them as though they are neutral. He assumes a Christian worldview when he presents them. Of course, he won't admit that.

    Assume the contrary for a moment. When a naturalist presents evidence "against" the Christian faith, he is presupposing a number of things from the outset: the uniformity of nature, causation, the inductive principle, the universality of morality (something which not all Reformed Christians agree to, sadly)--all of which can not be proven by his standards.

    The problem is not the evidence being presented--they are fine and dandy and I would gladly use them given the right context. The problem is that the unbeliever will intepret them differently (see the dead man bleeding illustration).
  26. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    What do you mean by *brute* facts? Uninterpreted facts? or facts that most people agree on? Facts outside of God?
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I don't believe any fact is necessarily neutral. All of Creation declares the Glory of God. Even unregenerate man.
  28. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    No disagreements from anyone in the peanut gallery...

    From John Frame's - A Van Til Glossary (excellent starting place for all of us to talk the same way...)

    So when you hear myself, Jacob, Chris, Paul etc. argue against brute facts - we are arguing against definition #1 and deny the fact (pardon the pun) that there are *any* non-interpreted facts because God is the pre-conditioner/pre-interpreter in fact he gives meaning to all things. I think you (Randy) would agree with this.

    I really think we are getting caught up in semantics...

    Randy, other than not liking some of the terminology at this point, has their been anything said on any of our parts or postings from Van Til etc. that you would *disagree* with?
  29. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Jacob, Your dead man illustration stinks. The gentleman is not reasonable nor looking at any evidence. He is delusional.

    Chris, In what I have read from your posts I am comfortable with Van Til so far.
  30. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Robin, how would you answer my above questions to you on the nature of apologetics and its relation to Christ and the other theological elements of the faith?

    Why would justification be the only issue that warrants a critique of another believer's view? Baptism does not put the doctrine of justification at risk, and we on this board certainly believe it is biblical to critique each other's views on that issue to get to the biblical truth on the matter. So how is apologetics any different? Now I of course agree that we should do such critiquing in a charitable manner, but that likewise holds true just as much with baptism and even justification.

    And if I may speak for Paul, I don't think he is trying to make it an issue of "skill" any more than a proper understanding of the doctrines of grace would constitute having "skill" at biblical exegesis. Rather, like those doctrines, the real issue in the apologetic debates is to get at what the biblical position is on the nature of truth, how that truth is to be approached in dealing with unbelievers and what the systematic truth of the Bible looks like when properly applied to the realm of defending the faith. In other words, just like justification, providence or baptism, it is an issue of doctrine, not one of skill.

    Again, if I may offer my perception, I think you misunderstood Paul's comments on your pastor and other teachers. I do not believe he was denouncing your respect for them and their views, but was rather pointing out that that respect of yours parallels his respect for the views of Van Til and Bahnsen, thus illustrating that he is not looking to them as some sort of guru any more than you are the teachers of yours that he mentioned. The reason the analogy between Van Til and Calvin works is that neither of them are on the same level as Scripture, and there should be a mutual acknowledgment between all of us here that none of us are following any of them on such a level.
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