Presuppositional Apologetics has its share of criticism from nonbelievers. But sometimes the criticism also comes from believers as well. Often the criticism is inaccurate and misrepresents Presuppositionalism.
As a Christian, one ought to strive for excellence even in the area of critical analysis and reasoning, thus giving glory to God through the stewardship of the believer’s God-given mind. As a Presuppositionalist, one is obligated to defend the faith in a fashion that is faithful to the Scriptures, even exposing implicit presuppositions assumed in any objection and then rationally demolishing these false propositions or using these presuppositions to reveal how they self-defeat the coherence of a given worldview. This Christian and Presuppositional critique then, of a Christian rambling objections to Presuppositionalism will attempt to be analytical and conscious in exposing unbiblical and therefore irrational presuppositions.
The most common objections by believers against Presuppositionalism is that it is circular. As one person put it,
My reservations with any version of non-Framian Presuppositionalism are many. I don’t have the time to spell them out here but I would agree with the idea of arguing transcendentally as God being the grounding of our properly-working faculties. Still, the objection remains: isn’t this circular reasoning?
The objector obviously find circular reasoning problematic. At this point, whether or not it is true that non-Framian Presuppositionalism are circular in their reasoning is something he “don’t have the time to spell them out here.” If he did spell out accurately non-Framian Presuppositionalism he will discover that he is making a sweeping generality concerning the various version of Presuppositional apologetics (for instance, Clarkians are more axiomatic than circular in their reasoning, etc). But what is definitely spelled out is that circular reasoning is something this Christian critic find objectionable. This will later come back to haunt him, when he attempt to account for individual sense preception without Scripture.
The same guy also have expressed what is probably the second most common objection to Presuppositionalism: Things can be intelligble apart from Scripture as one’s ultimate foundation simply through some kind of ‘common sense.’
He gives a ready example of how by “common sense”, he can make sense of one aspect of reality (empirical sensation) yet without having to appeal to Scripture:
Suppose there are twenty people in a room looking at the same yellow paper. There are now twenty independent sensations of that yellow paper. Well how do I know which one of those twenty sensations is mine? The fact is that I do know, but that knowledge is not an empirical fact but derives from the perceptual powers of the mind. I just “see” and “know” that my sensation is my own.
And for you Presuppositionalists out there, notice, I have not appealed to Scripture. That “this” sense perception I am currently having is mine is an intuition of the mind that I know through critical common sense. No Scripture needed since God has infused knowledge of himself and the world around us directly into our souls through the image of God.
At first glance, his case might seem plausible. Yet, a closer look suggest otherwise.
1.) In the scenario where “there are twenty people in a room looking at the same yellow paper”, the guy raises the question of “how do I know which one of those twenty sensations is mine?” He is so confident that he has a solution apart from any Scriptural foundation that he asserts “The fact is that I do know” before answering “I just ‘see’ and ‘know’ that my sensation is my own”. But to simply say “”I just ‘see’ and ‘know’ that my sensation is my own” IS circular reasoning. And recall how the guy find circular reasoning objectionable. Can he justify his conclusion without committing circular reasoning?
2.) Though failing to justify the above, it seem ironic that the individual would then write “And for you Presuppositionalists out there, notice, I have not appealed to Scripture”. It’s like the child who says he doesn’t need his father’s help in building his model airplane, but didn’t yet realize that he broke his model plane in the process. While he appeals to the Presuppositionalist visual senses to note that he did not appeal to the Scripture to justify his conclusion, an observant Presuppositionalist should note from point one above how his justification does not make any rational sense within the guy’s own criteria against circular reasoning.
3.) At this point, the particular guy can do either one of two things: (a) Reject his objection towards circular reasoning, in which case his earlier objection to Presuppositionalism expires, or (b) he can take the route to say that although somethings in life are legitimate when they are argued in a circular fashion , in which case Presuppositionalism can then appeal for the same immunity as well.
4.) His closing statement reveal the deeply irrational double minded nature of a Christian objection to presuppositionalism. Read his statement again very closely: “No Scripture needed since God has infused knowledge of himself and the world around us directly into our souls through the image of God.” In the final cap of announcing how Scripture is not needed, it is ironic that in order for him to say that (a) “God has infused knowledge of himself and the world around us directly into our souls” and (b) referencing the image of God, his knowledge of these truths come from the pages of Scripture itself! In otherwords, this statement betray the truth of how really this critic of Presuppositionalism’s heavy emphasis of Scripture is ironically (and fortunately) himself dependent upon Scripture to interpret facts, even though he does not acknowledge this to be so. The reason he knows that “God has infused knowledge of himself and the world around us directly into our souls” rather than say, just only infused in some souls or only his soul is because of what Scripture SAYS. Yet without Scripture the Christian critic can not even know his last statement!
All this is to reach the point that Christians who object to Presuppositionalism ought to think more coherently and clearly of their relationship to God, the Bible and their apologetics. Christians who object to Presuppositonal Apologetics for the reasons given above ought to reconsider. The materials of Greg Bahnsen, and John Frame are great places to start.
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