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Archive for July 14th, 2010

CLICK HERE FOR PART IV

As mentioned previously in part five of this series, this essay will evaluate another sample of a Christian objection to Presuppositional apologetics:

…it is my opinion that presuppositional apologetics is the leaven that fuels the advancement of Calvinism’s carnal flavor. It’s premise is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth. The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems. He tells us instead “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa 55:11 AV). He tells us again “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Co 1:18-21 AV)
I do not believe presuppositionalism has any ground in scripture.

Summarizing the above, the critic understands Presuppositionalism to be “founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems” (SENTENCE 2).  The critic adds a second proposition that Presuppositionalism focus on this “rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth” (SENTENCE 2).  In light of his understanding of Presuppositionalism, he does not believe that this to be an apologetics methodology that is Biblically warranted (SENTENCE 3 and LAST SENTENCE).  Furthermore, he finds Presuppositionalism to be some sort of Carnal Calvinist’s endeavor (SENTENCE 1).

Let us take a closer look at the objection:

1.) The critic reveals the shallow depth of his understanding of Presuppositional Apologetics when he claimed that Presuppositionalists are not “relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth” (SENTENCE 2).  Proponents of Presuppositionalism believe that Scripture (that is, the Bible, which is God’s Word) is self-evidencing and hence must be relied upon in the task of Christian apologetics. In fact, the Presuppositionalists reliance upon the Scriptures goes so far as to presuppose it to be self-attestingly true before, and during, as well as in the conclusion in apologetics.  Non-presuppositional Christian apologists have even faulted Presuppositionalism for relying on the Word of God to the degree of presupposing God’s special revelation as the necessary foundation for rationality and human experiences.  How this particular critic can then charge that Presuppostionalism does not rely on Scriptural evidencing power and truth of God is rather strange. It is rather ironic, but this kind of criticism against presuppositionalism is used by critics every now and then.

2.) Our critic here is only telling half the story when he claimed that Presuppostionalism is  “founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems” (SENTENCE 2).  It is true that Presuppositionalism engage in refuting other belief systems.  But as stated earlier, Presuppositionalism presupposes the truth of the Scriptures all along, because God has Himself made His Word self-evidencing.  Thus, Presuppositional apologists must depend and trust in God’s power and truth in engaging the nonbeliever, which entails the use of Scripture in apologetics.

3.) There is an important assumption on the part of this particular critic, that commits the logical fallacy of a false dichotomy.  It is evident when he said Presuppositionalism “is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth” (SENTENCE 2), that he constructs a false either/or scenario: Either one (1) dissuade the merits of others belief system, or (2) rely on Scripture.  It is not a given that refuting another worldview is mutually exclusive from relying on Scripture.  The two are not necessarily contradictory.

4.) Our friend assumes more than a false dichotomy, as he goes on to say, “The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 3). Backing up this claim, he goes on to say, “He tells us instead “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (SENTENCE 4).  In SENTENCE 4, the critic cites a Scriptural passage from Isaiah 55:11 in supporting his view that “The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 3).  The subject of Isaiah 55:11 is on the power of God’s Word, which the Presuppositionalist would affirm.  However, the verse is silent on the subject of whether or not a Christian can “argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 3), and hence Isaiah 55:11 can not be used to support the conclusion of SENTENCE 3, especially since refuting unbelief and using Scripture are not mutually exclusive.

5.) The same response above on the critic’s use of Isaiah 55:11 can be given to his use of 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 (SENTENCES 5-11).  1 Corinthians 1:18-21 does not prohibit a Christian apologist engaging in refuting another false belief system, and can not be used as a Scriptural support against refutations since refuting falsehood and the power of God’s Word are not mutually exclusive.

6.) Looking more closely at the 1st Corinthians 1:18-21 cited by the critic (SENTENCE 5-11), one can make the observation that it is not wrong in of itself to “argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 3), since God said in 1 Corinthians 1:18 says that “ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (cited in SENTENCE 6).  God Himself will use His “ability to dissuade the merits” (SENTENCE 2) of those who are intellectually proud in their unbelief.

7.) It is simply wrong to claim that “The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 3), because the LORD through His Word does command Christians to refute falsehood.  How does the Bible describe how believers are to relate to false speculative beliefs? Note 2 Corinthians 10:5, which says “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” To be able to refute theological error is actually a requirement to be an elder, as Titus 1:9 teaches, “so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”  Titus 1:9 also teaches us that those who are servants of God are not only engage in positive constructive activity (“exhort in sound doctrine”) but there is also a negative deconstructive aspect to it as well (“refute those who contradict”).

8.) The critic has stated his belief that Presuppositionalism fuels Calvinists carnal flavor (SENTENCE 1).  As to what those carnal flavor is, he does not spell out precisely but judging from the context he seems to be referring to arguing “against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 2) as a carnal activity.  Since Scripture does allow room for refutation, he cannot label it as “carnal”.

9.) Finally, if arguing “against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 2) is a carnal activity, there is an irony that the critic does not live up to his own standard, and is according to his standard, he is engaging in carnal activity himself.  His entire criticism of Presuppositionalism is arguing “against the merits and beliefs of other systems” (SENTENCE 2), in this case the system of Presuppositionalism.  In light of the fact that his criticism does not have Scriptural support, one can use his own words to describe his activity as trying to “dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth” (SENTENCE 3).  Thus, his own argument is turned back against him.

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