<Note: By being interviewed here on Veritas Domain, readers must understand that Dr. George Zemek does not necessarily endorse or have any association with the conviction of this blog, the opinions of individual contributors of this blog nor an endorsement or association of any other external links and resources provided here on Veritas Domain.>
In yesterday’s post, we shared an important doctoral dissertation defending Van Til’s apologetics exegetically by George Zemek. Dr. Zemek has been kind enough to answer briefly some of the questions we have for him. He holds an MDiv, ThM and ThD all from Grace Theological Seminary. Currently he is the academic dean at The Expositor’s Seminary, which webpage has the following biographical information about him:
Dr. Zemek is the Academic Dean of The Expositors Seminary. In 1975, he began his teaching career in the Greek department at Grace College. During that period he also served as a part-time instructor in the Homiletics department of the seminary. From 1977 to 1988, Dr. Zemek was a full-time professor of biblical languages, theology, and apologetics, serving also as Grace Seminary’s Director of Doctoral Studies from 1985-1988. Beginning in 1988, he taught the biblical languages, apologetic methodology, and theology, for six years at The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. In 1994, Dr. Zemek became the founding Pastor-Teacher and professor, respectively, of Grace Bible Church and The Ministry Training Center in Brandon, Florida. From 2000 – 2009 he served as the Dean of The Ministry Training Center at The Bible Church of Little Rock in Arkansas, where he also served as an elder and Pastor to Seniors and Shut-ins. Beginning in the fall of 2009 he moved to the Jupiter campus of the seminary to serve full-time as Academic Dean, Professor, and Scholar-in-Residence of The Expositors Seminary. He and his wife Judy have been married for over 40 years and currently reside in Jupiter.
The following questions are in bold, with Dr. Zemek’s answer in normal font.
1.) Describe your current ministry to the Lord.
I am currently serving as Academic Dean and Resident Scholar at The Expositors Seminary on the hub campus of Grace Immanuel Bible Church where I also minister as one of the elders.
2.) How did you first became acquainted with Presuppositional apologetics? Who was your big influence?
As background, I need to briefly give you a bit of data pertaining to your questions 2 and 6. Probably my greatest prompter of interest in presuppositionalism was Dr. John C. Whitcomb, Jr. in a Grace Seminary course on Evidences and Apologetics.
3.) I believe that your dissertation should be known by the greater community of believers who practice Presuppositional apologetics, especially in harnessing exegetical support for this school of apologetics. What led you to write your doctoral dissertation on Presuppositional apologetics?
We read quite a few of Van Til’s works which I enjoyed but found them to be a bit too philosophical. So I started to think about the best way to “defend” presuppositionalism and came to the conclusion that it was to rely exclusively on the self-authenticating, all sufficient Word as wielded by the Spirit who gave it and supernaturally effectuates it.
4.) How many years have you been teaching apologetics and theology?
I also taught my course in “Christian Apologetical Methodology” at Grace Seminary until 1988, then at The Master’s Seminary from 1988-1994, at ministry training centers in two churches from 1994-2007, and now at The Expositors Seminary. In answer to your question, I’ve been teaching theology for nearly 40 years and apologetical methodology a good share of that time also.
5.) Some see Presuppositional apologetics as being the apologetics method of Covenantal theology only, give it’s root. Do you think Presuppositional apologetics is compatible with Calvinistic Dispensationalism, and if so, explain.
It may seem historically and traditionally shocking, but I don’t see any necessary connection between Covenantal theologies and Dispensational theologies with respectively presuppositionalist or verificationalist methodologies. For example, consider Sproule, Gerstner, and Lindsey’s Classical Apologetics and my review of it in the Grace Theological Journal, 7:1 (Spring 1986). They jump track with their Reformed theological heritage when it comes to apologetical methodology.
To me what constitutes an exegetical theological presuppositionalist is one who consistently applies the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace to his apologetical methodology; hence, my dissertation, Exegetical and Theological Bases for a Consistently Presuppostitional Approach to Apologetics; and two of my books, A Biblical Theology of the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace: Exegetical Considerations of Key Anthropological, Hamartiological and Soteriological Terms and Motifs, and Doing God’s Business God’s Way: A Biblical Theology of Ministry.
6.) Did others at Grace Theological Seminary at one time taught or subscribed to Presuppositional apologetics?
Years before I wrote my dissertation Charles Horne had written one at Grace Seminary that also defended presuppositionalism; however, he took a different tack.
7.) For those who wish to make a contribution towards advancing Presuppositionalism, what would you like to see a thesis written on?
I don’t think it’s possible to over-emphasize the noetic effects of sin on man’s inability to process spiritual realities (e.g., Rom 1:28; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 4:17-18; etc). Also, the last word has not been written on the perspicuity of general revelation (Rom 1:20) yet in view of the impossibility of it becoming salvific because of the characteristic and habitual suppression of it by mankind (Rom 1:18). In another area, the significance of the Testimonium Spiritus Sancti Internumalong with the Reformation Solas screams against those who would detour when it comes to apologetical methodology. This truth is the only means of overcoming the probability plague of all verificationalist systems (their arguments can never rise to the level of certitude).
Before I forget, I want to apprise you of a recently released volume from the pen of a former student, Biblical Apologetics, by Clifford McManis—it’s a must read!