Archive for July 30th, 2013


Finally got around to finishing the Unbelievable show on Presuppositional apologetics with the dialogue between Presuppositionalist K. Scott Oliphint and apologist Kurt Jaros.

There’s already a lot of responses from Presuppositionalists to Kurt’s objection so there’s no need for me to beat a dead horse.

Instead I want to give my thoughts concerning Oliphint’s presentation.

Before I do so, I want to say that I am not trying to sound like a Back Row Baptist, or an Armchair Quarterback: You know, the type of guy who turns out to be a pesky, hyper-critical guy who watches a boxing match and have everything bad to say about everyone’s ability and talk all big putting down others yet the same guy couldn’t even fight.  I also realize the limitations of a radio debate that restricted Oliphint: you can’t be in control of the time to unpack everything you want to say, you don’t know and can’t control the host and his desire for the direction of the conversation, etc.  So with that I must begin with my appreciation and admiration of Dr. Oliphint for articulating to a broader audience Presuppositional apologetics (what he prefer to call Covenantal apologetics).  I wish the following would encourage all of us who are Presuppositional (myself included) to better communicate what we believe and our method.

There were times listening to the debate that I felt the two were talking pass each other; other times I felt Oliphint could have pressed Jaros more.  The following are in no particular order:

1.) When Jaros dismissed Oliphint’s Reformed interpretation of Romans 1 (that all unbelievers suppress the truth) it might have been helpful for Oliphint to press Jaros with the question:  “Can you provide an exegetical justification (that is, from the text itself) that ‘only some nonbelievers’ suppress the truth and some non-believers don’t suppress the truth at all?”

2.) It might appear to be rather annoying, but I think there’s a place to respond to the charge that Presuppositionalists are circular with the question “How do you know that?” to any truth claims given by Jaros.  That way you show that eventually one gets to a bed rock point where one says “Just because it’s true,” or something to that effect and show how everyone has axiomatic starting point that control everything else we believe, even if someone else think it’s “circular.”

3.) It might be helpful to ask Jaros how much Presuppositionalists he might have read and more specifically authors and titles.  I wonder if this might explain Jaros’ misrepresentation of Presuppositionalism.

4.) I think Dr. Oliphint could have employed the Presuppositionalists theme of the impossibility of neutrality throughout different points in the conversation to his favor, and in particular why Presuppositionalist begin with the truth of the Christian worldview at the outset of a debate!

5.) There was a moment in the discussion when Jaros mentioned that Presuppositionalists have to “borrow” from the other school of apologetics.  I loved how Jaros used a VanTillian motif against Oliphint!  Oliphint could have turned that around and talked about the very tools other school of apologetics employ such as historical argumentation, application of the laws of logic, etc actually require Christianity to be true in order for them to be intelligible.  Presuppositionalists sees the very methods of proving things are themselves “evidence” for God.  Non-Presuppositionalists then uses the very tools that Presuppositionalists argue transcendentally for God which also makes those tools meaningful and intelligible; thus, if we were to play the “borrowing” game, Non-Presuppositionalists must “borrow” from Presuppositionalism.  Wouldn’t it be nice to call this the Transcendental Argument for Presuppositionalism (TAP)?

6.) Several times Jaros made a point to say that nonbelievers do reason.  Presuppositionalists do believe nonbelievers can reason, but they would contend that nonbelievers can’t account for reason, and the nature of reasoning.  Oliphint could have made the observation of Jaros’ double standard of allowing nonbelievers to just presuppose reasoning “works” within their unbelieving worldview while critical of Presuppositionalists who believe reasoning “works” only within the Christian worldview.

Perhaps Oliphint did those things that I mentioned and I missed it in my listening; or perhaps there were other things that one might add that Oliphint could have done.  Still I’m grateful the debate.

Any thoughts?

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