Foundations of Presuppositionalism

“Dave, I’ve never said I could give you 100% proof of Christianity. But I think I’ve given you some very strong evidence – stronger than you have for believing a lot of other things, I’ll bet. But even if those evidences [for Christianity] weren’t that strong, you’d have good reason to commit yourself to Jesus, because the stakes are so high. You have a great deal to lose if you don’t and Christianity is true, and nothing to lose if you don’t and Christianity is false.”

Calvin Beisner (Answers for Atheists…)

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Apostle Paul (Mars Hill)
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Much of what passes today as a Christian apologetic has little to no resemblance to how Scripture confronts the ideologies of the age. The evidences for Christianity that might not be “that strong” can’t be the evidences the twenty seven books of the New Testament present. After all, Scripture is a more sure word of knowledge that is worth our attention, for by the power of the Holy Spirit it alone can cause light to break into dark places “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)

If Genesis 15:17 and Hebrews 6:13 tells us anything it is that only God’s word can authorize God’s word. Unlike an expert witness in a forensic trial, who can God call in to verify his claims?! By the nature of the case, the testimony of Scripture is self-evidencing and not dependent upon the testimony of men or a subjective response. (As Westminster Confession of Faith 1.4 teaches, the Bible ought to believed, obeyed and received because it is the Word of God.)

Although the Bible self-evidences itself as divinely authoritative and infallibly true, those objective considerations can be distinguished from the Holy Spirit’s internal testimony, which bears witness to the Word of God as the Word of God. When a believer subjectively receives the Word of God for what it truly is, he does so on the authority of God speaking therein. That is why the apostle Paul could give thanks to God because the Thessalonians received the Word of God “as what it really is, the word of God.” (My focus here is not on salvation, but in passing it is worth noting that in a technical sense one’s knowledge of the gospel message will depend upon the warrant or justification for her true belief in the gospel message. Does the authoritative basis upon which we believe the gospel message is from God a matter of concern?)

Especially in the context of all men knowing God through creation and in judgement, God’s voice in Christ comes with equal clarity and authority (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18-20; John 5:36-37). If Jesus’ testimony of himself is not sufficient warrant for receiving him on his say-so alone, then Jesus could not truthfully and justly say, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” (John 12:48)

Regarding the fool who has said in his heart there is no God, he must be answered according to his folly lest the apologist aids him in appearing wise in his own eyes (Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 26:5). The goal in answering the fool this way is not so that he might believe God exists, for he already does know God, though he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:-18). The goal is that by showing the foolishness of unbelief the “unbeliever” will be (a) undressed before the world as the fool* he truly is and (b) given no occasion from the faithful apologist to be wise in his own eyes (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). No credibility may be given to the unbeliever’s agnostic claims and vain presuppositions lest we become like him in his foolishness (Proverbs 26:4). Not only must the unbeliever’s foolishness be exposed on its own terms (according to his presuppositions of unbelief), the unbeliever is also to be answered not according to his folly. If his folly is his would-be autonomy, then he is to be answered according to true presuppositions, the presuppositions of the world’s dependence upon God for all things.

Our apologetic is two-step. For argument sake we begin with the presuppositions of unbelief and proceed to expose the particular stripe of unbelief that is before us according to its arbitrariness and inconsistency. Then, for argument sake, we ask the unbeliever to assume the Christian worldview to see whether it makes sense of human experience. We are commanded to give a defense, yet in gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

God willing, in the coming days we will move from the theoretical to a formal proof of God’s existence.

* When the Bible calls man a fool, it is not engaging in ad hominem attack or cruel name calling. Rather, Scripture is referring to the one who conducts his life without regard for God. The fool does not fear God, which leads to corrupt and perverse living (no matter how camouflaged in hypocrisy).

 

2 thoughts on “Foundations of Presuppositionalism

  1. Really good. You have wet my appetite to want to hear more. I like the weight you put on scripture.
    “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. “ 2 Timothy 3:16&17
    We can’t be clever enough to convince an unbeliever of the authenticity of God’s Word, but why? “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14

    Like

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