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Archive for December, 2009

The past decade (2000-2009) has been one with many important events in world history, some of which has indirectly influenced upon my life.  As a young man looking back, it’s incredible to think of these event and I think of Daniel in the Bible, of how Daniel as a young man has lived through some of the important events in world history.  As a Christian, I believe in the providence of God in World History.  Here’s some of my reflection of events that has shaped this decade.

1.) September 11th, 2001

How many Americans can forget that day seeing it on TV and the nonstop news that fateful Tuesday.  I was just a recent high school graduate, going to community college.  I woke up that morning and saw the news.  Immediately I suspected Osama Bin Laden.  I have just learned about Osama Bin Laden a few years prior to the twin embassy bombing, that he will probably be the 21st century’s new terror threat– a prediction too far accurate.  I drove to school listening to the radio and heard the broadcaster cry–the tower has collapsed.  I thought the guy was joking but when I got to school and no one was in class but all over the TV in the cafeteria…I knew it was real.

A month prior to 9-11, I was sworn in with the Marines, and my departure to boot camp was going to be the following summer.  I had doubts whether or not this was the right step in my life, and whether it was God’s will that I enlist with the Marines.  I was nervous that I would have regrets.  9-11 sealed the deal and from that day forth there was no question that I was going to be a Marine.

2.) War in Iraq


The war started on my best friend’s birthday- March 20th, 2003.  I was 19, turn 20.  For weeks when I was in Iraq, I couldn’t believe I was in Iraq.  The toughest time wasn’t when I was in Iraq, but those days and night before I even got to Kuwait.  On the eve of the war, being in the states was hard– I thought about dying, injuries, miseries and chemical attacks often.  It was so surreal then to think of what might happen–meanwhile people in Civilian land was worried about things as trivial as not wanting to take finals as their biggest stress.

Looking back, there was very little in Iraq.  But when you were there at that time, you thought of it as a big deal in 2003.  I know that out of all my friends in the Marines and the Army, they have been through so much more than I have.  God protected me and blessed me much.  I enjoyed going out on patrols or convoy operations alot when I was there–it felt like you were doing something incredible.  But my biggest joy at the end of the day, was spending time with other Marines and Navy Corpsmen, going through Bible studies…and evangelizing to the Iraqis who asked questions about the Bible.

3.) John Kerry belittle troops at my Alma Matter, Pasadena City College

My sister was there when he gave this speech, and was surprised that he said that.  The ironic part was that I went to Pasadena City College, I worked hard academically and did go to Iraq.  When he gave this speech, I have already transferred from PCC to UCLA, majoring in Political Science.

4.) Social Networking Phenomenon (Xanga)

Who would have thought in the 90s that there would be fast speed internet and the phenomon of blogging and social network online?  Having been on Facebook and wordpress, I still have to say some of the most memorable experience was on Xanga.  It was part of real life… the friends made, lives changed, gospel shared, spiritual encouragement, apologetics debates, learning theology and people coming to Christ, and it goes on: suicide attempts being stopped, meeting with missionaries and those deployed in a war zone, being asked to preach because of being on xanga… then there is the mobilization of support and condolences to those who have lost a loved one in Iraq…it was an incredible experience.  To this day, some of the most faithful prayer warriors in my life are those whom I have befriend on Xanga first.

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CLICK HERE FOR PART IV

When it comes to apologetics, there are areas of disagreements among Christians as to the best method in defending the faith.  Taking advantage of these disagreements between Presuppositionalists and non-Presuppositionalists, an atheist lodges an objection towards Presuppositional Apologetics by challenging whether or not Presuppositionalism can account for Christian disagreement:

“Presups claim knowledge from God by revelation, but have not accounted for disagreements among Christians. Presups claim that the presup position itself is a revelation from God, but it seems God has not given this revelation to Christians like X and Y (Editorial note: Actual names removed). A presup might claim that God gives different revelations to different Christians, but this seems to further undermine their position.”

Can Presuppositionalists account for Christian disagreements and surmount the objections raised?  Let’s look more closely at what has been presented:

1.) First off, it’s probably best to tackle this particular atheist’s last sentence first.  He stated that, “A presup might claim that God gives different revelations to different Christians, but this seems to further undermine their position.”  For context, the atheist has stated earlier in the second sentence that “Presups claim that the presup position itself is a revelation from God“, so when he mentioned that a Presuppositionalist might claim that “God gives different revelations to different Christians“, he’s talking about God revealing Presuppositionalism as proper apologetics while to another Christian God has revealed otherwise (that is, “Presuppositionalism is not a proper God-glorifying apologetics”).  To clear up the matter, Presuppositionalist’s do not hold to a position that God might reveal contradictory revelations concerning proper apologetics methodology to two different Christians.  In light of the fact that a necessary presupposition of this objection has wrongly presupposes that Presuppositionalism believes God has presented contradictory revelations to different Christians, this objection does not stand.

2.) A closer look at the second sentence demonstrates that this atheist does not know the nature of how “Presups claim knowledge from God by revelation” (from the first sentence).  In his second sentence, he stated the following: “Presups claim that the presup position itself is a revelation from God, but it seems God has not given this revelation to Christians like X and Y (Editorial note: Actual names removed)“.  In what ways is “the presup position itself is a revelation from God“?  Presuppositionalists believes that Presuppositionalism is a system of apologetic derived from God’s special revelation, namely the Bible.  It seems that the objector does not understand that Presuppositionalism is arrived at on the basis of God’s revelation from Scripture rather than revelation by the means of some kind of individualized personal esoteric experience allegedly from God.  Somehow the atheist mistakenly thought that Presuppositionalism is revealed to Christians through some kind of miraculous encounter in a vision, etc (which would explain why he gave the objection that he did gave in sentence three).   Due to the atheist’s misunderstanding of the nature of the revelation which Presuppositionalism is based upon, he states that “it seems God has not given this revelation to Christians like X and Y.”  However, since the basis for Presuppositionalism is from God’s revelation found in the Scriptures, the atheist cannot say that “God has not given this revelation to Christians like X and Y.”  God has given His Word, the Bible, to Christians.  The Bible does have something to say about the task, the parameters and method of apologetics.

3.) Having dealt with the difficulties raised by this atheist in his second and third sentences, the main force of his objection is found in the first sentence: “Presups claim knowledge from God by revelation, but have not accounted for disagreements among Christians.”  Obviously, the objector does not think that Presuppositionalism can not account for disagreements among Christians concerning apologetics methodology (Presuppositionalism or non-Presuppositionalism).  However, Presuppositionalism can account for why Christian disagreement exists (including in the spheres of Christian apologetics).  Asking whether or not one can “account” for something (in this case, the phenomenon of Christian disagreements) is in its very nature an internal critique.  That is, seeing if one’s worldview can “account” for something is really asking if that person can rationally explain the existence of the thing or event in question within the person’s own worldview.   In light of Presuppositionalism’s understanding of man’s sin, the effect of man’s sin and man’s finiteness, the existence of Christian disagreement does make sense in the Presuppositionalist’s perspective.  It not only make sense, it is expected to happen if Presuppositionalism’s understanding of those three areas are true.  Presuppositionalism believes the Bible when it says that everyone is sinful (Romans 3:23), which means also that everyone in his sinful nature rebel against God and what God’s Word says (cf. Genesis 3).  The consequence of man’s sin has affected every aspect of man, including his will, emotions, will and mind.  The noetic effect of sin include man suppressing the truth of God in his mind and will (Romans 1:18ff.).  While a Christian no longer sins the same way as a non-Christian (reigning sin), a Christian does have remaining sin where he can violate what God says.  Thus, because a Christian is not perfect and ranges in various degrees of thinking Biblically, it should not be a surprise to find that some Christians could even sin by not obeying fully the Biblical parameter of apologetics.  Depending on where the Christian is in the process of sanctification, the less he is sanctified in thinking Biblically, the more likely the possibility he disagrees with what the Word says, and the more likely that one would find him disagreeing with Christians who are more consistent with Scripture’s principle for apologetics.  The effect of sin has also impacted man’s noetic abilities, where one can also think irrationality, be mistaken in his reasoning, and assume bad presuppositions that are not biblical.  Hence, the effect of sin also lead one to expect Christians to make mistakes on their reasoning of apologetics methodology.  Afterall, man is not God, for man’s knowledge is finite and limited.  He might not capture all the truth fully.  These three aspects (man’s sin, effect of sin, and finiteness) are Christian truths that even non-presuppositionalists would hold to, but for some reason non-presuppositionalists would not accept the logical conclusion of these truths when it comes to the application of apologetics.  Presuppositionalism can account for Christian disagreements, including disagreements on apologetics.

CONCLUSION

This essay has shown that Presuppositionalism can account for Christian disagreement, and that the reality of Christian disagreement is not an objection to Presuppositionalism.  Along the way, two other objections depending on the first were looked at also.  Of course, it is one thing to be able to account for Christian disagreement with Presuppositionalism, it’s another thing to see if their objections stands.  This series have already looked at some of the Christians objections offered, and another Christian objection to Presuppositional apologetics will the subject of the next installment in this series.

CLICK HERE FOR PART VI

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CLICK HERE FOR PART III

In the landscape of Christian apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics is not the only school of apologetics.  There are other “house” that’s suppose to provide to Christians a defense of their faith, made up of different materials than the “house” of Presuppositionalism.  Sometimes, when members of another school of apologetics criticize Presuppositionalism, it exposes more of the weak materials of their apologetic (hay and straws, if we are continuing with our analogy) rather than the weakness of the brick house of presuppositionalism.  Consider the following criticism of Presuppositional Apologetics from a self-confessing “evidentialist” :

“The heart of the presuppositionalist system seems to be this: an insistence that “knowledge” has two components. First, the thing itself, and second, a judgment about the thing. We know the fact, and the meaning of the fact. Otherwise it is not knowledge. This definition goes all the way back to Plato.
If we accept this definition, presuppositionalism follows automatically, because a norm that yields judgments is a presupposition. Evidentialists do not accept this definition of knowledge! Evidentialists use the “normal” definition of knowledge, which is everything recorded by the mind. To recall knowledge, I do not need a norm of judgment; all I need is an “association” of an experience with another experience.”

From the first sentence above, it is clear that the person wants to critique an essential rather minor point of Presuppositionalism when he stated: “The heart of the presuppositionalist system seems to be this“.  The essence of Presuppositional Apologetics that he focuses on is Presuppositionalism’s “ insistence that “knowledge” has two components“, namely what he described in the second sentence as “the thing itself” and “a judgment about the thing“.  He then goes on to describe (roughly stated) Presuppositionalism’s epistemology in the following three sentences (sentence three to five).   One can see that the evidentialist’s objection to Presuppositionalism here is epistemological in nature.

His objection, fleshed out in the sixth sentence to the ninth sentence, deserves a closer look:

1.) One of the aspect of Presuppositional Apologetics (though not exclusive to it) is the call for Christians to be conscious of their own and other’s presuppositions.  That includes being conscious of definitions.  Commendably, this particular evidentialist is quite “Presuppositional” when he critiqued Presuppositionalism’s epistemology beginning at the level of definition, specifically the definition of knowledge : “If we accept this definition, presuppositionalism follows automatically, because a norm that yields judgments is a presupposition” (Sentence six).  Of course, he rejects presuppositional apologetics’ definition of knowledge: “Evidentialists do not accept this definition of knowledge! ” (Sentence seven).  The crux of the matter is whether or not knowledge requires norms (what he calls “a judgment about the thing“), and if norms are required, to put it in his own words, “presuppositionalism follows automatically, because a norm that yields judgments is a presupposition” (Sentence six).  Thus, to vindicate Presuppositionalism, the burden of the Presuppositionalist is to establish instances in which norms are required for knowledge.  On the other hand, the other side has to show that norms has nothing to do with the formulation of knowledge.

2.) His rejection of the presuppositionalist’s requirement for knowledge (sentence six) did not just happen in a vacuum.  The reason he rejected the presuppositionalist’s position is because he has his own definition of what knowledge is: “Evidentialists use the “normal” definition of knowledge, which is everything recorded by the mind” (Sentence Eight).  Surely there is a conflict of definitions, yet how do we know (did you catch that?) the correct definition?  This evidentialist believes his definition is correct but reject the presuppositionalist’s definition.    Ironically, by rejecting one definition and embracing another, he is actually presupposing norms.  For one thing, he assume the law of non-contradiction in his reasoning process since both conflicting definition of knowledge cannot be true. Secondly, he assumes that incorrect definitions “ought not” to be accepted while correct definitions “ought” to accepted.  Such obligation betrays the operation of norms in the process of knowledge.  Thirdly, he assume as a rule or norm that an arbitrary definition should not be accepted.   In other words,  knowledge (including knowledge of the proper definition of knowledge) presupposes a normative aspect: In one aspect, this debate is epistemological in nature (how do I know what definition to accept over another?) and yet there is also a normative aspect governing the process of acquiring true knowlege (laws of logic, obligation to accept the truth, etc).  It is ironic to point out in light of the evidentialist’s rejection of norms in knowledge, he would describe his definition as the “normal” definition of knowledge.

3.) Again, one of the factor for why this evidentialist rejected the presuppositionalist’s definition of knowledge  is because he already has decided ahead of time how knowledge should be defined.  In contrast to Presuppositionalism, “Evidentialists use the “normal” definition of knowledge, which is everything recorded by the mind” (Sentence Eight).  This definition of knowledge (knowledge is “everything recorded by the mind”) is an inadequate one.  In order for someone to know something, it also has to be true because it would be incorrect to say you “know” something, when that something (content of knowledge) is false.  In light of this, knowledge as “everything recorded by the mind”(Sentence Eight) fail to account for the fact that “everything recorded by the mind” is not necessarily true.  For instance, what is recorded in the mind at times might be mistakenly accepted to be true when it is not.  Magical shows and optical illusion is such an example.  Also, what is recorded in the mind might at times turn out to be down-right false.  Reading a false scam letter, one records it to one mind of what is read but recording it in the mind does not make something become true.  You can not know it is true or false just on the basis of it being stored into your mind.  The point here is that there is a lot more going on when someone knows something than just “everything recorded by the mind”(Sentence Eight).

4.) Being against norms in the process of knowledge, this person substitute norms with association instead: “To recall knowledge, I do not need a norm of judgment; all I need is an “association” of an experience with another experience” (Sentence Nine).  Yet, “association” of one experience with another is not an adequate substitution for norms in knowledge.  For one thing, there can be false association between experiences.  There are many ways that false associations can be construed: there’s Bandwagon fallacy (wrongly associating the truth of a proposition to it’s popularity), straw man fallacy (wrongly associating a position to be that of an opponent when it is not), casual fallacy (wrong associating two experiences that one is the cause of the other experience and that the other experience is the effect when it is not so), etc.  To recognize logical fallacies that involves fallacious associations is to make “a judgment about the thing” or “things”.   Again, norms of thoughts and reasoning are required in assessing what are relevant and irrelevant associations.

CONCLUSION

With an epistemology contrary to that of Presuppositionalism that is inadequate for proper knowledge, self-refuting in nature and which the arguments against Presuppositionalism’s epistemology ends up presupposing the truth of what it is trying to refute instead, is this opponent’s “house” of apologetics made of suitable material for Christian defense?

CLICK HERE FOR PART V

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Merry Christmas to you all!

Remember that Jesus is the reason for Christmas

A Veritas Domain entry from the past here of a Christmas poem that I think is still relevant about Christmas

I reposted it here:

The Story Of The Birth Of Jesus

Once a cold night in December,

Began a story we all remember,

With angels singing praise,

And nearby Shepherds daze.

That night in a lonely manger,

Could not have been lonelier,

For a young pregnant virgin,

With no room in the inn.

A Holy Child was born,

In a place that’s not adorn,

For the Child was a King,

Salvation He will bring.

A bright star marked the sky,

And Wise Men even came by,

Searching for the mighty One,

God’s Holy Son.

Shepherds who worked at night,

Saw an angel gleaming bright,

As they headed for the manger,

That one night in December.

In that lonely manger,

There lay the Savior,

By the Virgin Mother,

And Joseph besides her.

Of what they witness in the stall,

They praise God for what they saw.

And when they went away that night,

From that manger site,

The Good news got around,

That in a little Judea town,

A little child wrapped warmly,

Was a child of God’s Glory.

This story, now many years old,

And millions of times retold,

Reached many different places,

And all kind of races.

Many have been blessed,

Because of the birth of Jesus.

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The folks over at Reformed Forum has an audio podcast review of the Documentary “Collision”

It can be heard here

The documentary itself covers Presuppositionalist (of the Van Tillian presuasion) Doug Wilson and his interaction with atheist Christopher Hitchens

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The new movie “Avatar” is sure to be the weekend box office hit this weekend, when the count comes in

Russell D. Moore, Dean at Southern Seminary has written his review here

Steve Hays has his short comment here

And Patrick Chan’s review of the movie can be found here

From these guys comment it seems to be an excellent movie in regards to CGI and graphics, but has somewhat of a political subtext.

It it important for Christians to also be aware of philosophical undercurrent not only of what they are reading but also what they are watching in the theatre!

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Fascinating statistics.

HT: JT

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