Why not both?

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

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  1. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Chris -

    I am NOT dismissing apologetics. Read my post more carefully. I am NOT referring to any confession of Christ BUT the solid grounding in the Reformed doctrines -- and/or the sound Biblical teachings (as per Romans.) The "will be fine" reference points to trust in the Holy Spirit to do what He promised. I am NOT a "neutralist" ( Bahnsen sets-up a false dilemma, characturizes and attacks all Christians different from him.) I am saying there are Christians who do a true, Godly task of apologetics who don't "fit a mold" as per Bahnsen, Van Til (or whoever else comes along.) Imagine that? God actually equips His people in such a way, that it cannot be packaged for sale (books/tapes, etc.) It must be accomplished through true discipleship.

    Space will not permit...but I am emphasizing "honor" to Christ as taught in Scripture:

    2 Timothy 2:24-26
    And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    1 Corinthians 12:14-31
    For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

    The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

    Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

    And then the Apostle goes onto describe in Chapter 13 L O V E.

    This is the definition of love I point to! Not a vague, subjective thing.


    [Edited on 9-3-2005 by Robin]
  2. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    And for the sake of all who visit the board - ultimately it is not to agree with Van Til because he is a hero or anything. Anyone who wants to be a Van Tillian just wants to be as Biblical in their apologetic as possible. We just think that Van Til has distilled and systematized the Bible apologetically the best.

    In reality, most people that do not follow Van Til haven't read Van Til. That's why I do my best to keep putting quotes from him out there. It would be the height of strawmanism to openly say that Van Til is this or that with quotes staring you in the face. But surprisingly, people do that all the time.

    (Randy - this was a general post - don't take any of this personally.)
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree that the man is delusional. That was the whole point. My argument is that unbelieving man is morally and intellectually insane. He is dead in sins and trespasses.
    The point of the illustration was that men, if desperate, will interpret facts within a framework.

    If an unbeliever came up to you and presented what appeared to be "indestructible proof" against the existence of God, would you accept it or would you brush that fact off since it (rightly) didn't coalesce with your worldview?

    Look at it another way--evidentialism is a purely arminian apologetic. Almost all arminians are evidentialists or classicists. Furthermore, evidentialism requires an appeal to man's autonomous reason. Why not go a step further and appeal to his autonomous will?
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Nobody defines apologetics that way. Again, you are strawmanning it.

    That's not the point. From your posts one gathers that it is okay for you to be devoted to Dr Riddlebarger (a man that I generally have high regard for) but its not okay for me or Paul to have a high regard for Dr Bahnsen (a man not alive to defend himself).

    Furthermore, Van Til didn't establish the Reformation because he probably wasn't alive then. If you read Van Til you will note that he was a militant disciple of Calvin. He applied Calvin's Institutes to apologetics/philosophy and the result was the utter (potential)destruction of paganism.

    I doubt that Paul is doing that, but are you equating agreeing with your teachers in all matters with Confessional Orthodoxy?
  5. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    While that would probably never actually happen with a living man in our world, notice that that is only because nearly everyone in our world maintains that dead people will not bleed, and holds that belief at a very central, fundamental place in their web of beliefs. In other words, I believe that a dead person will not bleed, and I also believe that an Energizer battery lasts longer than a generic brand battery - yet it would be much easier for someone to change my mind on the latter belief than on the former, and that is solely because I believe the former at a more fundamental level than I believe the latter. It might take no more than a couple observations to change my view on the latter, since simple observations are the only reason I even hold that view - but it would take some thorough re-workings of some of my most basic assumptions and understandings to change my view on the former, since those deeper types of convictions are the reasons I hold that view.

    So the dead man analogy is simply trying to illustrate the principle of the varying "centrality" or "fundamentalness" that different beliefs and assumptions of people's can have in their mind. In other words, the person believes that (1) he is dead, and that (2) dead people don't bleed. The combination of those two beliefs logically requires him to also believe that he doesn't bleed; so when he surprisingly is shown that that belief is false, and that he does in fact bleed, it likewise lets him know that one of his two supporting beliefs must be false - so which is it? His answer to that question will reveal which of those beliefs is more foundational and central to his system of beliefs or worldview: If he believes the latter more strongly than he believes the former, he would assume the latter to still be true and say, "Wow, I guess I'm not dead after all." But if, on the other hand, he believes the former at heart more strongly than he believes the latter, he would in fact assume the former to still be true and say, "Wow, I guess dead people do bleed after all."

    To use a parallel example than might be more tangible, if I see a piece of red gum that I believe to be cherry flavored, and I also believe that cinnamon is the only red gum that is spicy, suppose I chew the gum and find that it tastes spicy. At that point, there are two possibilities for what I will think: I will either think "Wow, I guess this gum is cinnamon rather than cherry after all," or else I will think, "Wow, I guess some cherry gum can be spicy after all." Notice that which one of those options comes to my mind immediately after chewing the gum is solely dependent on, and thus reveals, which initial assumption of mine (the gum is cherry, or only cinnamon gum is spicy) I believed more strongly, or which one was more "fundamental" in my whole system of thought.

    All in all, those examples simply illustrate the point that people interpret "facts" and and experiences they encounter within the broader scheme of their entire system of thought, which includes all of their past thoughts and experiences. So when a hardened, unregenerate man becomes convinced through some archaeological and manuscript evidence that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, will he conclude, "Wow, I guess Jesus actually was more than an ordinary human being," or will he conclude, "Wow, I guess ordinary human beings actually can rise from the dead"? His belief that ordinary humans can't rise from the dead is a belief he has come to by external observations and experiences, but his belief that Jesus was not God is much more deeply ingrained into his fundamental beliefs and assumptions, since his unregenerate heart prevents him from believing otherwise. That is why archaeological and manuscript evidences are vain defenses without being pre-interpreted within the Christian worldview, since someone who rejects the Christian worldview could and always would change their views on science and history to explain those evidences before they would ever change their views on Jesus to explain those evidences, as illustrated by the unbelieving man I mention above.

    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by Me Died Blue]
  6. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    OK, I think I understand what you're saying now - you're not saying that a love for and knowledge of Christ will necessarily, naturally lead one to biblical apologetics, but you are saying that a properly biblical Reformed systematic theology as a whole will naturally do so. Am I perceiving that correctly? If so, I still have a problem with that, as the example of baptism illustrates. Reformed, Particular Baptists agree with you and myself on so much of the substance of Covenant Theology and the rest of Reformed systematic theology as well, yet you and I both agree that they fail to take those beliefs to their logical, biblical extent on that one point. So why could the same thing not often happen with apologetics? I basically see it as the same thing, since I personally see presuppositional apologetics as being the only theology of defending the faith that logically follows from, and is consistent with, the rest of Reformed theology, yet presuppositionalists such as myself believe some are in error by their rejection of that doctrine even though they agree with us on the rest of Reformed systematic theology, just as you and I both believe some are in error by their rejection of paedobaptism even though they agree with us on the rest of Reformed systematic theology.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I think St Anselm is the perfect example. He wasn't a full presuppositionalist, obviously. However, he did ask the right questions and was on the road to the right epistemology, even if he wasn't fully consistent. He and many others can be read with much profit. Same with St Augustine.

    *This is not an endorsement of the Ontological Argument.
  8. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Unbelief, mathematics, and anti-thesis -
    Just read through this and thought it would be a valuable addition to our conversation -
    Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, pg. 414-15

  9. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    I think that the baiting and name calling will stop now. As a matter of fact, I am sure of it -- yep, my delete button still works.

    Paul, remember to be more gentle. Not everyone is a wrestlin' gumba. And listen to Randy (about gentleness, not evidentialism)

    Robin, this is a forum about apologetical methods. It is for discussing the merits of such. That is what it is for. It is perfectly appropriate to go back and forth about what is the proper or best method. It is actually inappropriate to try and hijack a thread here and say it is unimportant; just like it would be to say that a point of theology did not matter in the theology forum.

    This is a good example of audience analysis. If a Christian was having a discussion with an unbeliever using Evidentialism, I would not stop an dbop him over the head. But I might afterwards, and in private discuss the merits of such with him. We all want to get to the same place. We all have our hot buttons and our pet theologies and teachers (me included). Anyone who has been on this board for more than a month knows BOTH Paul's and Robin's. (Yep).

    Let's get back to the regularly scheduled programming.
  10. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    :up: Good job Chris

    As I stated elsewhere. I do not believe facts exist on their own. Just as we can not exist on our own. He holds all things together. They are not neutral. All facts point back to God somehow.

    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  11. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Randy....I agree that the best Biblical apologetics is a mix of both. (I don't know if it can be distilled and packaged for consumption in the "how to" books.) But I think Scripture portrays both presupp and evidential apologetics. We just need to remember that this is what they were teaching and defending:

    Acts 3:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as The Christ.

    Some insightful questions include, what kind of apologetics was Peter using? see:

    Acts 2:14-41
    Acts 3:22

    What style was Stephen's apologetic? Acts 6:14-7:53

    Paul's many apologetics: proving Jesus was the Christ Acts 9:22;
    speaking to and disputing with Hellenists, Acts 9:29; Acts 17; his appeal to eyewitness accounts 1 Cor. 15:3-8. Etc.

    There are repeated statements of "explaining and proving" throughout.

    These are only a few references; Jesus' apologetical approach is fascinating, also.

    Do we think we have people holding to worldviews new or different than the early church? Sure, things are in "new packages"....but I don't think there is an opposition that is new or unique.


  12. JKLeoPCA

    JKLeoPCA Puritan Board Freshman

    The only apologetic that is effectual 100% of the time is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

    Other then that I just try to keep my foot out of my mouth, and keep notes about what's been agreed upon in the debate thus far. I dont know that I would call anything I've tried before an exact method, although I'm sure i've used bits and pieces of what all has been discussed so far.

    Peace and Grace


    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by JKLeoPCA]
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's what presuppositionalists have always been saying about evidence.
  14. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    :up: Good job Chris

    As I stated elsewhere. I do not believe facts exist on their own. Just as we can not exist on our own. He holds all things together. They are not neutral. All facts point back to God somehow.

    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by puritancovenanter] [/quote]

    That's what presuppositionalists have always been saying about evidence. [/quote]


    (You've got a better head than I for this)....I'm curious....

    Examine the content of Stephen's speech (Acts 7), what is his apologetic-style, in your opinion? Compared to Paul's speech (Acts 17)? I'm wondering what your take is on the quality of these two approaches? (Plus, do you think there are parallel applications for us?)


  15. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    Stephen's speech was not a general apologetic. It was a very specific covenant lawsuit ( רִיב ) against the covenant breaking people of Israel. It is muhc more like a declamation of the prophets than an apologetic encounter. It was not meant to convince or evangelize, but bear testimony.
  16. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks, Fred. What about the use of this passage for the Jew today? It's probably a touchy issue...but, isn't this somehow an "evidential" type reference in pointing to perhaps some reasons for Israel's conflicts today? Is there a tie-in?

  17. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    For two excellent expositions on Acts 17:

    Van Til - Paul At Athens (10 pgs.) Attached as a html page to this post.
    Greg Bahnsen The Encounter of Jerusalem with Athens (23 pgs.)

    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by crhoades]
  18. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Again, we don't have a problem with evidences. I have a problem with evidences that are being seen as neutral. Paul did not give the ontological/cosmological/teleological argument on Mars Hill. He took the unbelieving worldview, assumed its premises for the "sake of argument," and showed it to be absurd in light of the Triune God.

    You had a long time ago your distaste for Bill Craig's methodology in theology (under which I would include apologetics). You get annoyed when he ends his apologetic with an arminian appeal. I agree with you. That is why I find it odd that many Reformed people accept a purely arminian approach to man's reason.
  19. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    I think that Stephen's speech has some relevance for use with Jews today. But I don't think that it is either "Evidential" or "Presuppositional." Why? Because it does not consist of attacking a non-theistic worldview (after all, the Pharisees thought that they were doing God's work by killing Stephen), and it does not consist of providing "proofs" for Christianity either.

    It is basically an indictment of the hard hearts of the Jews, for all that they have done. It is pretty unique - I take its main purpose as to show the taking of the Kingdom from the Jews to the Gentiles.
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    my u2u is down. what is the email i can reach you on right now?
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree, while on one hand i want to say it is purely presup, I don't see it. Of course, I don't see it as purely evidential either.
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    emailed you
  23. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Acts 17 & 26 and the apologetic enterprise in relation to theology, evangelism, philosohpy

    From Van Til's Apologetic - Greg Bahnsen pgs.53-54

    This is not at all true, however, to the New Testament witness. When
    we examine the speeches in Acts or the discourses in the epistles, it
    is extremely difficult to offer any objective line of demarcation between
    theology, apologetics, and evangelism.
    The apostles simply did
    not work in terms of a strict separation between these things. Where,
    for instance, in the Areopagus address of Acts 17 does Paul leave
    apologetics and begin evangelizing? For that matter, precisely where
    was he doing theology, and where apologetics? Such questions are futile,
    for they rest on muddled conceptions. The reason we cannot
    draw strict lines between the theology, apologetics, and evangelism
    of the Areopagus address is that in all three of these tasks Paul equally
    presupposed the authority of the word of God and was working in
    them all to apply it (whether positively stating the truth, defending
    the truth, or appealing to people to be changed by the truth).
    40 The
    same thing is true of Paul's apologia recorded in Acts 26. We find testimony
    (his background and conversion, vv. 4-5, 16). We find theological
    commitment to the foundational authority of Scripture (vv.
    6-7, 22, 27) and the lordship of Christ (vv. 13-15, 19). We find philosophical
    consideration given to the issue of what is possible and credible,
    distinguishing truth from madness (vv. 8, 25). We find apologetical
    claims to historical evidence (v. 26). We find evangelistic appeal
    for a changed heart and mind through faith and repentance (vv. 18,
    20). Here again it would be unnatural to dissect Paul's discourse into
    rigid categories of theology, philosophy, apologetics, and evangelism.
    All of these concerns run together.

    We should say, therefore, that apologetics is not separate from, or
    preparatory to, systematic theology or evangelistic proclamation. It
    partakes of both, developing the truth about God and offering witness
    to it. Like them both, it does not strive to act independently of
    God's word and authority. Apologetics works to develop a method of

    40. Cf. Greg L. Bahnsen, "The Encounter of Jerusalem with Athens," Ashland Theological
    Bulletin 13 (1980): 4-40, now published in Always Ready: Directions for Defending
    the Faith (Texarkana, Ark.: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996).


    gospel presentation that is consistent with the full teaching of Scripture
    and anticipates the personal needs of the unbeliever.
    To answer
    the objections of the unbeliever, the apologist needs to understand
    issues about truth, knowledge, interpretation of experience, philosophical
    worldview, etc., better than the unbeliever himself; the apologist
    must know the unbeliever and his world better than he himself
    does. When apologetical theory sets forth principles for responding
    to the unbeliever's attacks, then, these principles will touch on philosophical
    questions such as those in epistemology (the theory of knowledge)"”
    in which case apologetics obviously entails philosophical considerations,
    just as much as it entails theological and evangelistic ones.
    Moreover, the specific kind of epistemological position taken by the
    apologist must be derived from the word of God, even as his theological
    and evangelistic positions and practices are, lest the manner
    in which he defends the faith prove inconsistent with (or philosophically
    undermine) the message he is defending.

    It could be said that Van Til has labored to rid our thinking about
    apologetics, theology, philosophy, and evangelism of misleading dichotomies
    between them"”polarizations that serve to overlook the
    ethically qualified character of man's every intellectual ability and
    effort. There are to be no other gods before the face of the Lord
    (according to the first commandment, Ex. 20:3), no other authorities
    over our thinking that detract from submission to the revealed
    word of God. The Lord's claim upon us, even upon our thinking and
    reasoning, is absolute and unchallengeable"”just because He is the
    Lord (Rom. 3:4; 9:20; 11:33-34). Therefore, "take heed lest there
    shall be anyone who robs you by means of his philosophy, even vain
    deceit, which is after the tradition of men, after the rudimentary principles
    of the world, and not after Christ" (Col. 2:8). In that light, we
    must not artificially separate positive statement (theology) from its
    defense (apologetics), or separate the appeal for mental change
    (evangelism) from the intellectual reason for such change (apologetics)
    , or separate general reflection upon conceptual foundations
    (philosophy) from the particular content of Christian concepts (theology,
    Van Til rejects each of these dichotomies in
    order that our thinking and scholarship will not be divided into two
    phases, the first being autonomous and religiously neutral, and the
    second being submissive to Christ and biblically faithful. For Van Til,
    like Augustine, reason is not the platform (precondition) for faith,
    but vice versa.

    [Edited on 9-4-2005 by crhoades]
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Speaking of Spiderwebs...

    Presuppositionalists approve of the use of evidences, yet we see them as connected via a "spiderweb" or network of beliefs. So, even if you attack "one" line of evidential testimony that the pagan holds dear, he can always revert to another line of defense. However, if you destroy the very foundation of his beliefs (taking out the middle of the spiderweb), he has nothing left to turn and must admit that his worldview is absurd.

    Therefore, presuppositionalists love evidence. Using it this way it can effectively destroy the unbeliever's worldview.
  25. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Francis Schaeffer calls this "taking the roof off."

  26. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    J - I'm tracking you...and agree...and still wonder, what is meant by "neutral" evidences - by this, do you mean disconnected from God's truth?

    Plus, what do you mean specifically about Reformed folk accepting the Arminian approach...you mean "evidential" references? Forgive my blockheadedness, what Reformed persons do that? (I'm think I use a blend of both P & E.)


  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I will temporarily use evidentialism synonymously with classical apologetics: J Gerstner, RC Sproul, Art Lindsley, BB Warfield, etc.

    Also, Dr Rosenblatt is an evidentialist.

    I agree with you on the Fran Schaeffer reference. Schaeffer asked the right questions and used the right terminology, but he drew the antithesis in the wrong places. I like him a lot, still.
  28. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Let me ask a question. Does Presup Position mean we try to give an apologetic based upon the unbellievers presuppositions, or are we giving an apologetic based upon our presupposition, or are we doing both?
  29. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I try to find our anothers Presuppositions first and address issues from there. It isn't real hard to break through most persons defences when you do this.
  30. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    I would presuppose that it has become evident that this is a classically long thread.......
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