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Posts Tagged ‘Greg Bahnsen’

Pushing the Antithesis

I must say that I am happy to see what seems to be an increase of books published on Presuppositional apologetics over the last few years, though one might ask which one among them would be the best introductory text.  In my opinion I believe this work serves as the best textbook if you are just getting your feet wet through Presuppositional apologetics or are involved in mentoring someone new to biblical worldview apologetics.  I also believe that this work is a lot more systematize than Greg Bahnsen’s more better known Always Ready.  The late Bahnsen was a student of Cornelius Van Til, the father of Presuppositional apologetics.  As with most of Greg Bahnsen’s apologetics work, this was put together after his death by his followers.  Gary DeMar based the book upon a series of lecture Bahnsen delivered to some college students.  DeMar does a good job in the book having great discussion questions after the end of each chapter that is helpful for discipleship.  I appreciate how the answers to the questions are also given in the end of the book.  For my apologetics’ discipleship program I find this feature helpful as a sort of “catechism” review after one is finish with the book.  It is not an easy task to teach Presuppositional apologetics or to think about worldviews for that manner and this book did a good job slowly building up to the Presuppositionalist’s argumentation.  Each chapter features also an exegetical observation section which I find to be important if we are saying our apologetics methodology does have some Scriptural support.  Each chapter also offer further resources for deeper study with some being books and others being articles available on the internet.  I appreciate the quotations of atheists, philosophers and nonbelievers throughout the book making the point that a consistent atheistic or unbelieving worldview often lead to despair and irrationality.  I know that some have faulted Greg Bahnsen for not emphasizing the Trinity in his presentation of Presuppositional apologetics such as in his incredible work, Van Til’s apologetics.  But here in this volume Bahnsen definitely developed more his presentation on the Trinity as the solution to the classic philosophical problem of the One and the Many.  If I have any major criticism of this book it would have to be Gary DeMar’s sources on several occasion comes from Wikipedia perhaps too often than I’m comfortable with.

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GO TO PART 13

Chelsea Clinton at Women Deliver Conference, May 2013

Chelsea Clinton at Women Deliver Conference, May 2013

Point: It’s not easy conveying the two crucial idea of Presuppositional apologetics that (1) a non-Christian worldview end up being self-refuting and (2) the non-Christian actually presupposes something entirely different than what the nonbelievers professes to be their operating worldview, but in their heart they are suppressing the truth they know of the Christian God and worldview.  While all analogies break down, I think the following illustration might help the Reformed Apologist illustrate his or her point.

Picture: Between May 27th-30th, 2013 Chelsea Clintion participated in a liberal “Women Deliver” Conference that took place in Malaysia.

Chelsea apparently made some interesting comment advocating for Planned Parenthood when she lamented of how she wished her great-grandparents would have had “Planned Parenthood Crucial Services” when her grandmother was born.

The relevant part of the video begins at 18:50=

http://new.livestream.com/WomenDeliver/conference2013/videos/19961888

Summary:

  • Notice how she said that she was already on the campaign trail when she was in her mother’s womb,  presupposing her personhood in the womb before birth.
  • Beginning at the twenty minutes mark, Clintion stated that the most influential person outside of her parents was her Grandmother, who “was born to two teenage parents who were not married, people who did not not have accesses to the services that Planned Parenthood so crucially provide…”
  • Clinton is not just simply arguing for the possibility of Planned Parenthood services as an option in the instance of her great-grandparents; it would not make sense that she’s talking about an option that they didn’t use in light of all the tragedy she laments about, but rather she’s implying that her great-grandparents themselves SHOULD HAVE USED those “services” so that the pain and hardship of her grandmother would never happened.

Clinton is too passionate and ideological about her belief in Planned Parenthood’s “services” to probably notice what she is saying.

Think about it.

  • Here she is saying how wonderful her Grandmother is.  She talks about how she wishes her great-Grandparents could have had the services of Planned Parenthood so that her own grandmother would have never lived.  That is, it’s better off not existing or being murdered than to experience the life she did have.  But if Chelsea had her wish, she wouldn’t have a wonderful grandmother who influenced her.
  • Chelsea presupposes that “Grandmother’s life < Grandmother’s misery.”  Therefore, her great grandparents should have made sure she didn’t existed or should have been been aborted.  Seeing that the misery is that of her grandmother, it seems that the Grandmother herself did not presuppose “Grandmother’s life < Grandmother’s misery;” or at least not for most of her life since she did not commit suicide but instead went on to have kids of her own, even living long enough to be a wonderful Grandmother to Chelsea.  For all the rhetoric of a woman’s right to choose, I wonder what place Chelsea has in her ideology for her own Grandmother’s choice to live.
  • We must not miss the greatest irony of Chelsea’s lament that her Grandparents should have access and use of Planned Parenthood “services”:   If she got her wish, Chelsea herself would not exist!  Chelsea is unknowingly making a death wish (though I don’t wish death upon her but a long life instead; and may I add, eternal life through Christ Jesus) .  Sometimes I like to call self-refuting arguments “suicidal arguments” and it is kind of awkward in this instance.
  • Which lead to our analogy of the Transcendental argument: For Chelsea to even articulate her arguments for Planned Parenthood services, it is foundational (presuppositional) that her great-grandparents didn’t use Planned Parenthood “services.”  Thus every time she speaks or utter any argument for Planned Parenthood “services” she actually presupposes otherwise since for her to even do so depends upon her Great-Grandparents not having such “services.”  Despite her public and passionate plea for Planned Parenthood, ironically not having and not utilizing Planned Parenthood “services” is the precondition for everything else in her life including the ability for her to engage in her life’s cause.

I suppose someone might ask, what does the application of this illustration looks like?

 POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

<After employing Presuppositional apologetics in a conversation >

OPPONENT: I don’t get what you are trying to do.  What’s your point.

CHRISTIAN: I’m trying to show how your worldview is self-refuting and how you need to presuppose the Christian worldview to even justify the tools and argument that you are trying to use against it.  I suppose an illustration would be appropriate.  Did you hear about what Chelsea Clinton recently said in a forum discussion?

OPPONENT: No.

<Give illustration >

CHRISTIAN: What do you think if Clinton got her wish?

OPPONENT: (Laughs) She wouldn’t be here!

CHRISTIAN: True!  If I might add, every time she speaks or utter any argument for Planned Parenthood “services” she actually presupposes otherwise since for her to even do so depends upon her Great-Grandparents not having such “services.”  Despite her public and passionate plea for Planned Parenthood, ironically not having and not utilizing Planned Parenthood “services” is the precondition for everything else in her life including the ability for her to engage in her life’s cause.  In the same way, when you deny God as the ultimate source of your life it doesn’t add up when your ability, action and argument against Him require Him as the foundation for all of it to be intelligible, meaningful and significant.

GO TO PART 15

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design_thinking_lights on

Round up from June 15th-21st.

1.) Real Reality: A Problem for Atheism

2.) Critical Thinking 101 With Robert Batly

3.) Bruggencate, Sye Ten – How To Answer The Fool:A Presuppositional Defense of the Faith

4.) Atheist Monument

5.) Gene Cook Audios: Presuppositional apologetics series based on Bahnsen’s Always Ready

6.) Review: How to Answer the Fool

7.) The Entire Creation Testifies of God

8.) The Nature of Reason

9.) Covenant Apologetics Proposal

10.) Relativists and Universal Human Rights

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greg_bahnsen_defender_of_the_faith_tshirt

Greg Bahnsen was a prolific Christian apologist who has made a tremendous contribution in popularizing Presuppositional Apologetics before his untimely death in 1995.  He is probably Cornelius Van Til’s best known disciple.  Here is an audio lecture on the topic of foreordination and human responsibility found on Youtube.

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I once read that if your writing is not clear, most likely your thinking is not clear. After some initial confusion on attempting to explain why Scripture rather than logic was my presupposition, I have finally cleared my thoughts and hopefully will give some clear up the confusion.

Presuppositions Defined

Presuppositions are a person’s most basic non-negotiable truth, ultimate authority, and/or ultimate committment in a person’s worldview. Said differently, presuppositions are the guiding truth and standard used to gauge all other truth claims. All other truths will be evaluated through these basic presuppositions.

Thus, if a person (from now on used interchangably with a male pronoun) appeals to another authority and not his claimed “presupposition” then he shows that his “presupposition” was not his most basic, guiding truth. In other words, his presupposition was no longer his presupposition; his ultimate authority had another authority; and his ultimate commitment was no longer ultimate. 

Simply put, the person would be inconsistent.

Take my example of claiming Scripture is my presupposition, if I had conceded that logic is used to verify the truthfulness of Scripture, then I would’ve betrayed my presupposition. By saying yes, logic verifies the truthfulness of Scripture, I would have been inconsistent. If I really believed Scripture is my presupposition, then I wouldn’t be testing Scripture with another authority (logic).

My refusal to acknowledge logic as a standard to test Scripture reveals two things. The first is that my presupposition is still my presupposition— not just my claimed “presupposition”. Put another way, I remained consistent, demonstrating a coherent worldview by continuing to use my presupposition to evaluate all other claims. The second is that the source of my disagreement didn’t come from a clear understanding of logic (at the time; more on logic later) but rather a clear understanding of my presuppositions— Scripture.

My Confusion

During my discussion I kept agreeing that Scripture must be logical. My error was assuming that saying Scripture is logical was the same as admitting Scripture must be tested with logic (Footnote 1).

By agreeing that Scripture is logical, the objection might be raised,  “Doesn’t that mean logic is the ultimate authority?” The  answer is no.

Interpreting Scripture is not the same as testing Scripture.

When a person checks to see whether or not a proposition from the bible is logical, he’s not testing the logic of Scripture, he’s testing his own logic!  The key was consistently applying the inerrancy of Scripture to my incorrect assumption. Because Scripture is truthful, Scripture is inherently logical. By assuming the truthfulness of Scripture beforehand, I no longer was conflicted.

My Presuppositions

The source of my confusion was assuming that testing my interpretation of Scripture is the same as testing the logic of Scripture. God doesn’t automatically give a pat on the back with an invisible hand when you understand Scripture correctly. Instead, he gives us minds to think and logical tests to verify we are interpreting Scripture correctly.

Thus, Scripture’s logic is not in question. Man’s understanding of Scripture is in question. If anything Scripture seems illogical, it is safe to conclude that in reality the person, not Scripture, was illogical. Man can only think logically and truthfully if he aligns his thinking to God’s thinking and follows his thoughts from God’s thoughts (Footnote 2).

By assuming the doctrine of inerrancy, I know beforehand that Scripture is automatically truthful and therefore logical.

In the form of a logical argument, my reasoning might be clearer:

If Scripture is truthful, Scripture is logical.
Scripture is truthful                                    
Therefore Scripture is logical.

My Conclusion

Don’t despair if you are confused and frustrated but especially don’t give in. Be God-fearing and admit you don’t have an answer instead of man-fearing and setting aside your faith and source of all truth.

Putting aside your source of all truth, Christ, even temporarily will make you inconsistent but more importantly hostile to the knowledge of God. Remember, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7).” It’s ok to be confused; it’s not ok to be neutral.


Footnote 1: If you make the mistake of denying Scripture as logical, you validate fideism, a belief that religion is irrational. Don’t fall into this mistake! Christians can admit that Scripture is logical without automatically implying Scripture is not an ultimate authority. So the next time someone asks if Scripture is logical, say yes.

Footnote 2: For a more elaboration see Section 4.5.2 “Man Knows God Analogously to God’s Knowing” Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis by Greg L. Bahnsen pg 257.

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