Wow, Vern Poythress has done it again this year! Another free book that he has written that he has made available online for free on PDF! We are thankful for this Christian apologist, theologian and philosopher!
For your copy, click HERE.
Posted in Greg Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics, Religious Neutrality, Van Til, tagged Apologetics, Greg Bahnsen, hermeneutics, inerrancy, logic, omniscience, Presupposition, Van Til on June 4, 2008 | 13 Comments »
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.