Archive for February, 2009



In an earlier essay, I made some observation of the weakness of a typical Christian objection towards Presuppositional Apologetics.[1] In this essay, I will likewise do the same with an atheist ranting against Presuppositional Apologetics. If the typical Christian ranting against Presuppositional Apologetics is really bad, then the atheist case is even worst. No arguments are constructed in a vacuum, and when the atheist grounds his objections on the basis of atheism, it simply compounds the problem further

In response to a Presuppositional critique of atheism by Dr. Jason Lisle, where Lisle argues that atheism is irrational[2], and an atheist wrote:

“The sheer absurdity of the argument astonishes.”

What exactly is the “sheer absurdity” of the Presuppositionalist’s argument which “astonishes” him? The atheist goes on to say,

“In the early age of human scientific thought, it was supposed that through simply thinking things through logically, truths could be deduced about the universe without empirical evidence.

The ancients could prove things geometrically through scientific reasoning without seeing actual squares or triangles; consequently, they imagined they could lay back and arrive to perfect truth without ever conducting a single experiment or observing a single phenomenon — a priori reasoning, mere armchair ratiocination.

Back then, to assert the existence of a deity required no physical evidence, no observed proof, nothing in support of any kind other than clever philosophical suppositions.

He then closes his ranting with this jab to the Presuppositionalist:

That was over two thousand years ago.


Cheap shots are easy, but critical observations are worth far more. The following are some observations:

1.) To begin with, his entire ranting did not interacted with the argument that Lisle presented. The atheist failed to deal neither with the Presuppositionalist’s premises nor with the structure of the Presuppositionalist’s argument.

2.) Having failed to interact with the actual Presuppositionalist’s argument itself, the atheist instead substituted that with a discussion of an underlying issue: the issue of what would constitute legitimate proofs. In other words, the thrust of the atheist objection is actually epistemological in nature. Since this is the case, his epistemology (theory of knowledge) must be subject to criticism as well.

3.) The atheist has a disdain for how “truths could be deduced about the universe without empirical evidence.” It is apparent that the atheist does not like non-empirical epistemology when he speaks of them in a derogatory way as “mere armchair ratiocination” and as offering “nothing in support of any kind other than clever philosophical suppositions.” In essence, the atheist is an empiricist in his epistemology.

4.) His assertions combine with his epistemology brings more problems upon him. As an empiricist, can he offer empirical proofs to his claim that “In the early age of human scientific thought, it was supposed that through simply thinking things through logically, truths could be deduced about the universe without empirical evidence”? For a person who is so big on empirical proofs, he fails to usher any empirical evidence but talk in generalities.

5.) His historical claim of what the ancients “thought” is also self-contradictory. The atheist asserted that “The ancients could prove things geometrically through scientific reasoning without seeing actual squares or triangles; consequently, they imagined they could lay back and arrive to perfect truth without ever conducting a single experiment or observing a single phenomenon.” One has to wonder if the guy even knows what science is. Since science is empirical in nature in its study of the physical world, any scientific endeavor is by definition empirical. Thus, scientific reasoning is heavily empirical. Yet, how can the atheist assert that “the ancients could prove things geometrically through scientific reasoning” but they supposedly did so “without ever conducting a single experiment or observing a single phenomenon”? This is a contradictory and meaningless statement.

6.) The above observation is good evidence refuting his denial that “through simply thinking things through logically, truths could be deduced about the universe without empirical evidence.” By the power of sanctified reasoning of the atheist’s self-contradictory statement one can deduce something “about the universe without empirical evidence”, namely that this atheist claim (made in this universe) is irrational! One must reject this atheist’s epistemology, and his irrational rejection of non-empirical logical deduction

7.) As an empiricist, has the atheist seen, taste, touch, smell or heard with his own ears that the ancients “imagined they could lay back and arrive to perfect truth without ever conducting a single experiment or observing a single phenomenon — a priori reasoning, mere armchair ratiocination”? How does he know empirically that the ancients “imagined” this, when “imagination” and thought is not physical in its essence, thereby ultimately not verifiable through empirical sensation?

8.) Continuing with the above observation, a possible defense the atheist could put up is that he empirically knows what the ancients believe based upon ancient record. If written ancient record would satisfy the atheist’s criteria of empirical evidence, then if he is to be consistent with his epistemology he would allow the Bible as an “empirical” data, and cannot rule that the Christians lack empirical evidence per se.

9.) Yet, how does he know these historical records are reliable, that the writers were telling the truth of their actual thoughts and “imagination” rather than simply telling lies? In other words, what justification (specifically, empirical justification) does this atheist have that there is a correspondence between what people write and their actual thoughts or “imagination”? Remember that whatever reason he has to justify the correspondence can not be “a priori reasoning,” which this atheist sees nothing more as “mere armchair ratiocination.” However he attempts to justify this thesis would require more than empirical proofs but with “clever philosophical suppositions.”

10.) Again, how can he empirically know what the ancients thought when he was not around in the ancients “without ever conducting a single experiment or observing a single phenomenon”? The atheist is the very thing he despises: he assumes things yet “required no physical evidence, no observed proof, nothing in support of any kind other than clever philosophical suppositions.”


The atheist ranting ended with the secular humanist altar call: “Evolve”. But the reasoning he displayed against Presuppositional Apologetics is not good. In fact, they are pathetic. I am not questioning his reasoning skills so much as his ethical relationship to the GOD He denies but the Bible says he knows about (Romans 1:18). How low and irrational will this atheist go to reject God which Presuppositional Apologetics is arguing for? The atheist needs to repent, and be right with God ethically, which will save his soul from God’s eternal wrath towards sin and redeem his rational life as well.

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Here’s the Shepherd’s Conference Seminar Schedule

For those of you guys who don’t know, I think The Shepherd’s Conference is the best conference to invite your pastor to….

Here’s a link to their website: http://www.shepherdsfellowship.org/SC/Default.aspx

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Time Session Title Teacher
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM Ask Our Elders
An interactive forum on practical ministry issues
Rob Iverson
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM From Moses to Malachi
How to preach the Old Testament
Irv Busenitz
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM How Firm a Foundation
A philosophy of ministry built upon the text of scripture
Tom Patton
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM Preaching with Purity
Consecrating your heart as you prepare for the pulpit
Rick Holland
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM Restoration Hardware
Understanding the goal of church discipline
Bill Shannon
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM What is an Evangelical?
Examining the ever-changing definition
Phil Johnson
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM Why Are We Losing Our Youth?
And what you church can do to prevent it
Austin Duncan

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time Session Title Teacher
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM A Multitude of Counselors
How to train lay leadership to assist you in biblical counseling
John Street
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Making Waves without Sinking the Ship
How biblical leadership both creates and resolves conflict
Rob Iverson
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Missional Madness
Reclaiming the Great Commission in your local church
Jesse Johnson
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Preaching with Precision
Studying the passage with accuracy and care
Bill Barrick
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
Striving for a balanced approach to music in worship
Clayton Erb
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Servants, Not Spectators
Motivating and mobilizing members into the work of the ministry
Brent Small
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM The Gospel According to James
Keys to preaching this life-transforming letter
Will Varner
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM When Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Cultivating your church’s passion for its missionaries
John Glass

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time Session Title Teacher
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM A Family for the Fatherless
Living out the gospel through adoption and mercy ministry
Mark Tatlock
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM A New Kind of Fool
Assessing the New Atheism from a biblical perspective
Nathan Busenitz
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Authentic or Counterfeit?
What the Bible teaches about faith healing
Richard Mayhue
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Enseñando la Palabra de Dios con Eficacia
Principios básicos de comunicación y enseñanza bíblica (In Spanish)
Henry Tolopilo
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Families in the Fishbowl
What every pastor and elder needs to know about raising his kids
Chris Hamilton
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Preaching with Purpose
Crafting an effective sermon that stays faithful to the text
Tom Pennington
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Throw Out Your Fleece
A guide to biblical decision making
Jon Rourke

Friday, March 06, 2009

Time Session Title Teacher
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM An Army of One
The call to cultivate unity in your local church
Kurt Gebhards
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Even Unto the Least of These
Ministering effectively to those with Autism, Downs Syndrome, and other special needs
Rick McLean
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM How to Save the Planet
Developing a biblical model for world missions
Kevin Edwards
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Just the FAQs
Answering the common ministry questions that we have received over the years
Rick Holland
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM O Worship the King
Igniting a passion for corporate worship in your church
Andy Snider
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Preaching with Passion
Proclaiming the sermon with clarity and conviction
Alex Montoya
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM The Gospel According to Muhammad
Addressing the fallacies of Islam
Bill Barrick

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In  Worldnet Daily, “Financial Fix? Abolish the Fed, says congressman; Paul: Constitution Requires coin based on gold, silver” writes that Ron Paul advocates several changes, among them the removal of the Federal Reserve Board. Though I have not come to any decision myself, I’m not sure if giving control to Congress would fare any better. 

Ron Paul argues that even the current Federal Chairman, Bernanke admitted in a speechthat the Federal Reserve was responsible for the Great Depression. Though I have not finished reading it, I believe the critical point was that monetary policy caused the Great Depression. However, this does not mean that only the Federal Reserve can make bad monetary decisions.

For me, the underlying issue becomes who can control monterary policy better. Ron Paul argues that because the Constitution gives Congress the power coin and control the value of currency, not a centralist-private bank interested in their own income. Although I have not looked into the constitutionality of this, based on Congress current track record with the economic stimulus package, I’ll continue to be quite skeptical that Congress could do any better.

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In the Wall Street Journal article, “U.S. eyes Large Stake in Citi: Taxpayers could own up to 40% of Bank’s Common Stocks: Diluting Value of Shares,” CitiGroup has been talking to the  U.S. government about increasing the government’s ownership of Citigroup’s stock to as much as 40%. Since last Fall, the Treasuary Department has put $25 billion into CitiGroup on three seperate instances, in the form of preferred shares and warrants, a type of security issued by a corporation giving the holder the right to purchase a certain amount of common stock at a stated price.

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The Shepherd’s Conference is coming soon!

Here is the schedule for 2009:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Time Event
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Conference Registration
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM General Session 1 – John MacArthur
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM Seminar Session
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM Break
3:15 PM – 4:30 PM General Session 2 – Tom Pennington
4:30 PM – 7:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM – 9:30 PM General Session 3 – John MacArthur

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time Event
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM General Session 4 – Rick Holland
10:15 AM – 10:45 AM Break
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM General Session 5 – John MacArthur
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Seminar Session
3:15 PM – 3:45 PM Break
3:45 PM – 5:00 PM Seminar Session
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM General Session 6 – Al Mohler

Friday, March 06, 2009

Time Event
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM General Session 7 – Phil Johnson
10:15 AM – 10:45 AM Break
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM Seminar Session
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM General Session 8 – Steve Lawson
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM General Session 9 – John MacArthur

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Time Event
9:00 AM – 9:00 PM Local Attractions & Activities

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Time Event
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM The Lord’s Day at Grace Community Church
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Vesper Communion Service

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In the liberal Western world we live in today, you would think that almost every freedom of speech and assembly is protected,

But the hypocrisy knows no limit…the double standards!

Those who speak about the danger of Radical Islam is not allowed to travel because their speech is hateful, but the freedom of threatening demonstration of radical Islam is looked the other way

Throwing a shoe at an American President is praised but those who throw a shoe against the flag of Hamas would receive physical threats and then get attacked at San Francisco State University!

So attacking cowardly British Cops in an anti-Israel conflict demonstration is met with no reprecussion, but to practice the first admendment of passing out anti-abortion literature would result in police arrest despite later having no charges pressed…

This is the West…anything of Christianity is typically opposed and concession towards Radical Islam is giving way…

Is this signs of things to come? If so, let us keep evangelizing!

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aasiya-hassanOrchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband — an influential member of the local Muslim community — reported her death to police Thursday.

Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder.

Muzzammil Hassan, right, founder of Bridges TV, is charged with murder in the beheading of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, left, in Orchard Park.

Btw, Muzzammil Hassan is the founder of Bridges TV. The purpose of Bridges TV is to potray Muslims and Islam in a positive light after 9/11. I guess they are not reporting this.

Daniel Pipes gives a good commentary on the whole event.

Here’s a link to all the commentaries on Quranic and Hadith verses on murdering, violence and terrorism.

Books on Islam,

islam-1 islam-21 islam-3

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hoehner The Lord called Dr. Hoehner home.

Dallas Theological Seminary gave a tribute to him.

Interestingly, Dr. Hoehner believe that Matthew had written his Gospel first, that Mark used Matthew in composing his gospel, and that Luke relied on both Matthew and Mark in writing his gospel – according to a former student of his.

I believe his contribution to the Gospels (in the above area) would make it more interesting especially with the other New Testament faculty members. But he never did write on it.

I have benefitted from his Ephesians commentary, a must have.


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Norman Geisler has an entry on Cornelius Van Til in his 'Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics"
This is a critique by Greg Welty
Here's an outline of Geisler's eight-page entry on 'Cornelius Van Til':

Biographical Details

[I. Philosophy of Apologetics]

	[I.A. 'Traditional' Apologetics]

	[I.B. Christian and Non-Christian Together]

	[I.C. A Consistently Apologetic Method]

[II. Revelational Presuppositionalism]

	[II.A Rejection of Classical Apologetics]

	[II.B Van Til's Apologetic Method]

		[II.B.1 The method of implication]

		[II.B.2 Reasoning by presupposition]

		[II.B.3 Indirect method]

		[II.B.4 External and internal method]

		[II.B.5 Transcendental]

		[II.B.6 The reductio ad absurdum method]

[III. Key Concepts]

	[III.A God's Sovereignty]

	[III.B Common Ground]

	[III.C Brute Facts]

	[III.D Human Depravity]

	[III.E Analogy and Paradox]

[IV. Evaluation]

	[IV.A Positive Contributions]

	[IV.B Negatives in Van Til's Apologetics]

[V. Sources]


Now, Geisler has a definite gift for organising and presenting historical
evidences for the Christian faith, for analysing the concept of miracle,
and for exposing the internal weaknesses of alternatives to Christianity.
He is also one of the few evangelicals to appreciate the work of Thomas
Aquinas. And perhaps, in the end, this encyclopedia will prove its strength
in precisely that way. For that the church should be thankful for the
recent production of this volume.

However, Geisler's entry on 'Cornelius Van Til' only stops short of being
pure, unadulterated horror. Here are my comments on some of the sections
I've outlined above. Keep in mind that while the entire entry is eight
pages long, most of the 'sections' are only one or two paragraphs at most...

... except for 'Negatives in Van Til's Apologetics,' which runs on for four
pages straight!


Biographical details

Here Geisler informs us about 'two undated works.' One is _Why I Believe in
God_, but Geisler never gets around to telling us about the other work! The
sentence ends abruptly; poor editing, at the very least :)

	[II.B Van Til's Apologetic Method]

		[II.B.4 External and internal method]

Geisler's article relies heavily upon Frame's _Cornelius Van Til: An
Analysis of His Thought_ (CVT:AAT) in its positive exposition of VT's
views. Unfortunately, Geisler often quotes Frame's *summaries* of VT's
method, and then explicitly *attributes them to* VT! Case in point is this
section: 'Van Til's apologetic method is both external and internal. He
argues: ...', and what immediately follows is an extended quote, not from
VT, but from Frame's exposition of VT. Now, while I believe the Frame quote
is a good summary of VT's strategy, it is very misleading for Geisler to
quote Frame *as* VT. It happens again and again.

[IV. Evaluation]

	[IV.A Positive Contributions]

Here there are some surprising defences of VT from misunderstanding:

'Van Til defended the formal laws of logic in principle and practice. He
believed the laws of logic were the same for both the Creator and
creatures. However, formally because of sin they are not understood or
applied in the same way. He was not an irrationalist.'

'There are certainly rationally necessary preconditions for meaning, and
they do, as Van Til argued, demand that we posit the existence of a
theistic God.' [we'll pass over for the time being the redundancy of
'theistic God' :) ]

'Often overlooked by nonpresuppositionalists is the practical value of a
presuppositional approach. Non-Christians do implicitly (and even
unconsciously) presuppose the basic principles of a theistic worldview in
order to make sense out of the world. Pointing this out debunks their world
view and invites them to consider the positive value of the Christian
worldview. No doubt Schaeffer's effectiveness in doing this is a result of
his study under Van Til.'

	[IV.B Negatives in Van Til's Apologetics]

Here Geisler admits that many criticisms of VT are based upon
misunderstanding. Geisler also follows many of Frame's criticisms of VT's
methodology, as Frame laid these out in CVT:AAT. These include the points
that all apologetic argument must not fit one pattern, that transcendental
argument may be supplemented by more traditional argument, the difference
between transcendental goal vs. transcendental conclusion, issues
concerning probability vs. certainty, and the identification of VT's
extreme antithetical formulations of the noetic effects of sin.

Geisler follows Frame in holding that VT's 'indirect' argument for
Christian theism can be 'stated in a positive form.' Thus, we can construe
VT's indirect argument:

1. If God does not exist, the world is unintelligible. (if ~G, then ~I)
2. God does not exist. (~G)
3. Therefore, the world is unintelligible. (~I)

as convertible to a 'positive' argument:

1. If the world is intelligible, God exists. (if I, then G)
2. The world is intelligible. (I)
3. Therefore, God exists. (G)

However, (in what may be one of my only public criticisms of Frame!), I
believe that in this instance Frame (and therefore Geisler) are wrong, and
that on two counts. First, the 'indirect' argument above still does not
capture the content of a transcendental argument. For starters, it does not
have a modal scope that ranges over all possibilities, but only states that
God *is* an explanation for the intelligibility of the universe. Second,
the two arguments above are *not* convertible into each other. They have
different premises, with different semantic content. The premise that 'the
world is intelligible' is found in the second argument, not the first. The
first argument is a reductio ad absurdum, in the sense that 'God does not
exist' is the premise assumed for the sake of argument, and which then is
shown to lead to the (absurd) conclusion that the universe is
unintelligible. But the second argument is not a reductio ad absurdum in
any sense. If reductio ad absurdums are simply 'convertible' to a direct
argument, one wonders why they have persisted over millennia as a distinct
argument form.

Geisler concludes: 'Van Til's protests to the contrary, he cannot avoid
giving a positive apologetic argument. This being the case, much of Van
Til's steam against classical apologetics evaporates.' I disagree. The
reason why 'much of the steam' evaporates is *not* that transcendental
arguments can be converted into traditional arguments, but that
transcendental arguments are not the *only* kind of apologetic argument
that can be mounted (within the confines of biblical orthodoxy) against the
unbeliever .

Later, Geisler repeats the old canard that: 'The basic difference between
Van Til and Aquinas is that, while they both agree *ontologically* that all
truth depends on God, Van Til fails to fully appreciate that finite man
must ask *epistemologically* how we knows this [sic]. In this he confuses
the order of *being* and the order of *knowing*.'

VT addressed this charge long ago: 'Man's consciousness of self and of
objects presuppose for their intelligibility the self-consciousness of God.
In asserting this we are not thinking of psychological and temporal
priority. We are thinking only of the question as to what is the final
reference point in interpretation' (_Defense of the Faith_, 2nd ed., p. 77).

If, according to Geisler, 'finite man' were to ask *epistemologically* how
he knows that *ontologically* all truth depends on God, VT would have a
ready answer: the transcendental argument from the impossibility of the
contrary. And that is an answer within the realm of *epistemology*, with no
confusion with ontology.

It's too bad that Geisler did not avail himself of Frame's article on the
Ligonier Apologetic, reprinted at the end of AGG. There Frame, in
addressing the same 'order of being confused with order of knowing' charge,
says: 'on Van Til's view, the self is the "proximate," but not the
"ultimate" starting point [IST 203]. What this means, I think, is that it
is the self which makes its decisions both in thought and practical life:
every judgment we make, we make because we, ourselves, think it is right.
But this fact does not entail that the self is its own ultimate criterion
of truth. We are regularly faced with the decision as to whether we should
trust our own unaided judgment, or rely on someone else. There is nothing
odd or strange (let alone logically impossible) about such a question; it
is entirely normal' (AGG 224-225).

Frame goes on to point out that it is the *opponents* of VT who confuse the
ontological with the epistemological. Critics like Geisler and the Ligonier
group focus on the metaphysical/ontological/psychological question of
whether all decisions are decisions of the self. But a 'yes' answer here
(to which VT would agree) does not prejudice the answer to a completely
distinct, epistemological question: *what standard* ought the self to use
in coming to its decisions? VT kept these questions distinct. It is his
opponents who don't seem to be able to tell the difference.

Later, Geisler charges against VT that 'one cannot beg the question and
merely presuppose the theistic God. Presuppositions cannot be arbitrary.'
This completely overlooks, of course, VT's *many* arguments throughout his
published work that the intelligibility of epistemic, scientific, and moral
practices *depend* upon the obtaining of a Christian ontology (as this
ontology is described by Christian presuppositions, that is, biblical
teaching). VT's arguments for this dependence may be inconclusive or lead
only to probable conclusions. But *no one* -- in light of the pervasiveness
of these arguments throughout the VT corpus -- can adequately represent VT
as 'merely presupposing' the 'theistic God,' or being 'arbitrary.'

Geisler writes: 'How does Van Til know the Christian position is true? If
Van Til answered, as he seems to in his writings, "Because it is the only
truly rational view," perhaps Aquinas would reply, "That is what I believe.
Welcome, dear brother, to the bimillennial club of rational theists." '

But this is an insult to Aquinas. If Tom had his wits about him, and had
actually perused VT's works, he would have said, 'I'm glad we make the same
*claim* about the rationality of the Christian position. But it seems that
we are diametrically opposed in our view as to *how* we know the Christian
position is rational.'

VT and Aquinas belong in the same club insofar as they both affirm that the
Christian position is rational. But it is to beg the question against Van
Til (or at least to severely misrepresent him) to claim, *on the basis of*
this common confession, that they *also* agree as to how this confession is
shown to be true.

Later, Geisler claims that: 'A common mistake of Reformed
presuppositionalism is to equate the figure of speeh *dead* with the
concept *annihilated*, a mistake which, fortunately, they do not make when
speaking of the "second death" (Rev. 20:14).' However, Geisler attempts
absolutely no documentation of this 'mistake,' with reference to VT or any
other Reformed author. Instead he just attributes, apparently in general,
'this skewed view of the noetic effects of sin' to any and all

Geisler's arguments against the Reformed exegesis of 1Co 2:14 ('the natural
man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God') amount to special
pleading for the Arminian point of view. The lack of 'understanding' in
question is, according to Geisler, a lack of knowing their truth 'by
experience'! The noetic effects of sin are now reduced to the (trivial)
point that the unbeliever isn't a Christian yet.

Perhaps the worst part of Geisler's critique of VT is the lengthy section
on VT's view of the Trinity. One doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry
when Geisler quotes John Robbins as a relevant authority on this topic.

Geisler's basic fallacy is to argue in the following fashion:

[P1] VT claims that 'God is not simply a unity of persons; he is *a* person.'

[P2] VT 'never clearly differentiates between the two senses of the term

[C] Therefore, VT's formulation 'violates the law of noncontradiction.'

Geisler tries to make the above argument more sophisticated than it sounds,
but in the end this is his basic move/fallacy: because VT didn't *specify*
the different senses of 'person,' therefore there *are* no senses to be

Geisler concludes his section on the Trinity:

'Van Til does not overlook the fact that he has not provided a real
difference in the definition of the term "person" as used of "one person"
and "three persons." He admits that "We may not always be able to show how
two concepts can logically coexist." But unless a difference can be shown,
Van Til has not avoided the charge of contradiction. For one cannot have
both three and only one of the same subject (person).'

Unfortunately, the VT quote in the above paragraph is really Frame's
sentence, not VT, even though Geisler attributes it to VT. But no matter.
For Geisler's conclusion still doesn't follow. The 'charge of
contradiction' will only stick if VT asserted 'one person' and 'three
person' in the same sense, which is precisely what VT denied. The most of
what VT can be accused is apophatic use of terms, which is normal enough
procedure in doing theology. No one should know this Thomistic point better
than Geisler himself.

Later, Geisler claims that VT's view 'leads to skepticism about God, since
there is no point of actual identity between our knowledge and his.' Since
Geisler leans so heavily on Frame's CVT:AAT throughout his article, it
would have been helpful if Geisler had actually interacted with Frame's
extended analysis of the issues involved in the 'Clark Controversy,' which
was about 'identity of content' in VT. (Even Bahnsen says Frame's treatment
is 'one which I highly recommend to readers interested in the matter,'
VT:R&A 225 fn. 147.)

Finally, Geisler argues that, because VT never argues for why the
intelligibility of the world depends upon there being *three* persons in
the Godhead (instead of two or four), *therefore* 'there are fideistic
elements in Van Til's form of presuppositionalism.' If this is all Geisler
can come up with, I suppose we shouldn't fault him too much. This final
charge is quite scaled back compared to the one leveled against VT way back
in Geisler's _Christian Apologetics_ (Baker, 1976), p. 38:

'Therein is the fideistic hitch in his [VT's] whole approach, for it would
appear that the Bible is *assumed* to be true by an act of faith in its
self-vindicating authority in an admittedly circular reasoning process. If
that is the case, the "proofs" of God and historical "facts" of
Christianity would have absolutely no meaning or validity outside the
fideistic acceptance of the presupposition that Christianity is true.'

It seems that in the past 23 years, Geisler has moved from seeing VT as an
unrestricted fideist, to seeing him as having 'fideistic elements' due to
an inability to argue why *three* persons of the Trinity are
transcendentally necessary. We can be thankful that the degree of
misrepresentation has been reduced by at least this much :)

[V. Sources]

Geisler's bibliography for this particular entry is woefully incomplete.
While lack of a reference to Bahnsen's latest VT book (VT:R&A) is
understandable (I'm sure this entry went to press before Bahnsen's book was
printed), lack of a reference to Bahnsen's _Always Ready_ is inexcusable.
The only Bahnsen book referenced is _By This Standard_! Also inexcusable is
lack of reference to Frame's AGG, Pratt's _Every Thought Captive_, and Thom
Notaro's _Van Til and the Use of Evidence_. None of these works even make
it into Geisler's one-page entry on 'Presuppositional Apologetics'! How
John Robbins' scurrilous and incompetent _Cornelius Van Til: The Man and
the Myth_ made it into [V. Sources], while these major works of exposition
and application by Bahnsen, Frame, Pratt, and Notaro did not, is beyond my

To make matters worse, Bahnsen's essay on 'The Reformation of Christian
Apologetics' is explicitly quoted in the text of the 'Cornelius Van Til'
entry, but the volume from which it comes (Gary North's _Foundations of
Christian Scholarship_) is never referenced in [V. Sources] at the end of
the entry! The reader is left with no clue as to where this essay is to be

And in the 'comprehensive' 29-page bibliography at the very end of the
encyclopedia, there are *no* references to any works by Bahnsen, Frame,
North, Notaro, Pratt, etc., even to the few works by Frame and Bahnsen
which *are* referenced in the 'Cornelius Van Til' entry!

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This is the video of the  retrospective of John MacArthur’s forty years anniversary


Rick Holland interviews him…

Fascinating…from MacArthur being in the room hours after Martin Luther King was killed, interaction with Charles Feinburg, etc

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By Jimmy Li

I. Apologia

a. According to Abbot-Smith, ‘apologia’ means “a speech in defense”

b. There is a legal and rational aspect to the term.

c. This is the root word from the Greek for Apologetics, the area in theology that is concerned with the defense of the faith.

II. Some occurrences in the New Testament in light of defending the faith

a. 1 Peter 3:15

i. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

1. This is the ‘Constitution” for Christian apologetics

2. Peter writes these words to a persecuted Church

3. This verse is in the middle of the context of talking about going through persecution (v.14)

a. Yet a Christian is not just only commanded to undergo persecution passively, but they are to be active in their Christian testimony (v.16) and give their “apologia” when asked (v.15).

4. APPLICATION: This is not just apologetics in the classroom but in the face of life and death because the hope of our faith is a life and death affair!

a. This shows the seriousness of apologetics

b. This shows that even with all the pressure, a Christian has to defend the faith with:

i. Gentleness.

ii. Reverence

iii. In a manner that sanctify Christ

b. Philippians 1:7, 17

i. “For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.”

1. This verse is an explanation of why the Apostle Paul can be thankful in remembering the church in Philippi.

2. Paul’s ministry was not only the confirmation but the defense of the gospel.

3. This ministry of defense and confirmation of the gospel is tied with Paul’s imprisionment.

4. This ministry of defense and gospel confirmation resulted in the original audience of the epistle to the Philippians to be saved.

5. APPLICATION: Apologetics should be tied with the work of the gospel.

a. This might bring persecution from the government.

b. This type of apologetics for the Gospel with the right Godly perspective might bring an apologist to praise God for God’s work in the salvation of people (v.3).

ii. “the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;”

1. This is in the context of talking about how some preach Christ out of envy and strife versus those who preach from good will (v.15).

2. What is the reason those who preach from goodwill do so?

a. It is out of love

b. It is also that they know that Paul was appointed for the defense of the gospel.

3. APPLICATION: Even in a persecuted church, there can be those who serve God out of a wrong heart; but if you are sincere in the ministry of the defense of the gospel, other believers will know and stir them to share the gospel out of love.

c. Acts 22:1

i. “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.”

1. This is the context of Paul being arrested because the Jews were so upset at him that the caused a riot in Acts 21.

2. Paul speaks to the Jews and begins with the words of verse 1.

3. APPLICATION: It is interesting to note that Paul shares his testimony here.

a. We too should share our testimony

b. We too should share our testimony truthfully without compromise.

c. We should not let fear ruin any opportunity offer a defense of the faith.

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This is all from Steve Hays over at Triablogue

Some Christians object to prolife activism on the grounds that our priority, as Christians, ought to be evangelism rather than social activism.

To that objection I’d just make one small observation: it’s hard to preach the gospel to dead babies.

We’ve had about 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. That’s 50 million men and women we’ll never evangelize. And that’s not counting abortion around the world:


So I really don’t see a tension between saving babies and preaching the gospel.

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 Purchase: Amazon

I’m always surprised at how various theological circles would say they practice expository preaching when how they teach seems to suggest otherwise. Sometimes it seems as if some literatures on expository preaching can serve as just cheerleaders for expository preaching rather than explaining the actual mechanics of expositional sermons. Those who are hungry to learn the “how-to” of theologically sound teaching would find Toward an Exegetical Theology helpful.

Walter Kaiser’s book makes the conscious attempt of bridging the gap between the raw work of exegeting the Word of God with the finished product of preaching the Word of God. As a young Seminarian, one of the thing that I regularly think about is how do I make the transition from the analysis of the biblical languages to the next phase of preaching preparation. A crucial element in that transition process is finding the main proposition of the specific passage, a task that can seem easy to some but daunting to others. Personally, the book on page 152 offer the most helpful advice for me in writing out the main proposition: “Thus, it is imperative that each main point (one per paragraph please, unless the scope of our exegesis and message is only one paragraph) avoid the use of the past tense of the verb (a reporting style) and the use of all proper names (with the understandable exception of God’s names).”

A significant portion of the book is devoted to what the author called the Syntactical-Theological Method. Those who are familiar with the historical-grammatical approach should appreciate Kaiser’s nuance interest with syntax. The book’s Syntactical-Theological Method placed a heavy emphasis that the most important key to understanding a particular text is its structure/syntax. Here in the syntax is an essential bridge from the passage to the sermon: the syntactical structure of the text will also serve as the structure/outline of the homiletical message as well.

The second key element in the Syntactical-Theological Method is what the book called “Antecedent theology.” Kaiser was weary of what can be called the “right truth, wrong text” fallacy, and especially of reading future concepts found in later progressive revelation back into an older text of something that was not there and thus doing injustice to the text by preaching Scriptural passage with a common theme in the same fashion. Furthermore, Kaiser was also concern for those who interpret Scripture by any non-Scriptural “analogy of faith”. If there is a need for theological analysis in our preaching and Christians must abide by the principle of Sola Scriptura, Kaiser’s solution to this dilemma is to preach with an “analogy of faith” based upon previous theology from earlier revelation. Here the reader would see Kaiser has put some thought to the proper relationship of biblical theology and expositional preaching, where biblical theology through antecedent doctrines would inform the preacher’s theological analysis of the text.

Other area in the book that might be helpful is part three of the book where Kaiser discusses various literary forms in the Bible and how to preach from them. Concerning prophecy, Kaiser observed how the conditional nature of prophecy should lead preachers to preach two alternatives of judgment and hope. Since narratives can at times be descriptive rather than prescriptive, this would be a good example of where antecedent theology is needed to inform us of how to properly interpret the text. Concerning poetic literary form, the book shares various syntactical cues that expositors should note in order to focus their preaching on what the text really is focused on.

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Over at Choosing Hats Blog, a Presuppositional Apologetics team blog, Chris Bolt wrote a good entry titled, “Reason is not the answer”

Check it out: http://choosinghats.blogspot.com/2009/02/reason-is-not-answer.html

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