Presuppositional Apologetics

CPH LOGO Founded 2005 - 03

Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All

$5.00

Presuppositional apologetics is the apologetic system that defends Christianity from the departure point of certain basic presuppositions. The apologist presupposes the truth of Christianity and then reasons from that point. One basic presupposition is that the non-Christian also has presuppositions that color everything he or she hears about God. Another is that in some fashion the person encountered is, as Augustine said, “doing business” with God and, as Romans 1 puts it so damningly, suppressing knowledge of the truth. It is the apologist’s role to present the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of any worldview opposed to Christ.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Differences from Other Methods. Presuppositional apologetics is opposed to evidentialism and classical apologetics. Presuppositional apologetics differs from classical apologetics in that presuppositional apologetics rejects the validity of traditional proofs for the existence of God. Further, the presuppositional apologist differs with both classical and historical apologetics in its use of historical evidence. The historical apologist, in agreement with the classical apologist, argues in favor of beginning with reason and evidence to demonstrate the truth of Christianity. The presuppositionalist, on the other hand, insists that one must begin with presuppositions or worldviews. The historical apologist believes that the historical facts “speak for themselves.” They are “self-interpreting” in their historical context. The pure presuppositionalist, on the other hand, insists that no facts are self-interpreting, that all facts are interpreted and can be properly understood only within the context of an overall worldview.

Several Kinds of Presuppositionalism. Depending on how one is defined, there are three or four basic kinds of presuppositionalism: (1) revelational presuppositionalism; (2) rational presuppositionalism; and (3) systematic consistency. Some view Francis Schaeffer’s apologetic as an example of a fourth variation that might be called practical presuppositionalism. Each approach differs in the way in which a worldview is judged for truth.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

Revelational Presuppositionalism. According to revelational presuppositionalism, one must begin any rational understanding of truth by presupposing the truth of the Christian faith. One must posit that the Triune God has revealed himself in Holy Scriptures, the divinely authoritative Word of God. Without this presupposition one cannot make any sense out of the universe, life, language, history, or anything else. This kind of argument is sometimes viewed as a transcendental argument, that is, an argument that begins by laying down the necessary conditions under which every other kind of knowledge is possible. These necessary conditions posit that the Triune God has revealed himself in Holy Scriptures.

Rational Presuppositionism. This is the apologetics system of the late Gordon Clark and his noted disciple Carl F. H. Henry. Like other presuppositionalists, the rational presuppositionalist begins with the Trinity revealed in the written Word of God. But the test for whether this is true is simply the law of noncontradiction. That is, one knows that Christianity is true and all opposing systems are false because all of them have internal contradictions and only Christianity is internally consistent. Thus, a rational principle, the law of noncontradiction, is used as the test for truth.

Systematic Consistency. John Carnell and his disciple, Gordon Lewis, developed a presuppositionalism that has two (or three) tests for the truth of the Christian presupposition. Like rational presuppositionalists, they believe a system must be rationally consistent. But in addition, they hold that the system must comprehensively include all the facts. Later in his life Carnell added a third test—existential relevance. The system must meet life’s basic needs. The only system, they believe, that measures up to all three is Christianity. Thus, Christianity is true and all other opposing systems are false.

Practical Presuppositionalism. Francis Schaeffer’s apologetic approach has also been listed by many as presuppositional. If so, it is a practical presuppositionalism. One of its chief features is that all non-Christian systems are unlivable. Only Christian truth is livable. In this sense, it uses unlivability as a test for the falsity of non-Christian systems and livability as a test for the truth of Christianity.

Conclusion. Presuppositional apologetics has been criticized from many quarters. Classical apologetics has challenged its rejection of traditional proofs for the existence of God. Historical apologetics has defended the neutral nature of historical facts. Others have noted the fideistic nature of revelational presuppositionalism and rejected it for this reason. Since each system is critiqued under the article on its chief proponent, attention is directed to the articles on Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, and John Carnell.

Sources

  1. J. Carnell, Introduction to Christian Apologetics
  2. G. H. Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation
  3. G. Lewis, Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims
  4. F. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
  5. C. Van Til, The Defense of the Faith

By Norman L. Geisler

Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 607–608.

NON-CHRISTIAN PUBLISHING HOUSE BOOKS RECOMMENDED

SCROLL THROUGH DIFFERENT CATEGORIES BELOW

BIBLE TRANSLATION AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM

The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2
The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02
The P52 PROJECT 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS
English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II
9781949586121 THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

BIBLICAL STUDIES / INTERPRETATION

How to Interpret the Bible-1
how-to-study-your-bible1
israel against all odds ISRAEL AGAINST ALL ODDS - Vol. II

EARLY CHRISTIANITY

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1
PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS I AM John 8.58

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

The Epistle to the Hebrews
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES APOLOGETICS
AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01
INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation
Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK
REASONING WITH OTHER RELIGIONS
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot
REASONABLE FAITH FEARLESS-1
Satan BLESSED IN SATAN'S WORLD_02 HEROES OF FAITH - ABEL
is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png
DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM
Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS Young Christians
THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

TECHNOLOGY

9798623463753 Machinehead KILLER COMPUTERS
INTO THE VOID

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

Homosexuality and the Christian second coming Cover Why Me_
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. II CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. III
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. IV CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. V MIRACLES
Human Imperfection HUMILITY

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME

PRAYER

Powerful Weapon of Prayer Power Through Prayer How to Pray_Torrey_Half Cover-1

TEENS-YOUTH-ADOLESCENCE-JUVENILE

THERE IS A REBEL IN THE HOUSE thirteen-reasons-to-keep-living_021 Waging War - Heather Freeman
 
Young Christians DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)
Homosexuality and the Christian THE OUTSIDER RENEW YOUR MIND

CHRISTIAN LIVING

GODLY WISDOM SPEAKS Wives_02 HUSBANDS - Love Your Wives
 
WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND (1)-1
ADULTERY 9781949586053 PROMISES OF GODS GUIDANCE
APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person
Abortion Booklet Dying to Kill The Pilgrim’s Progress
WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE WAITING ON GOD WORKING FOR GOD
 
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Let God Use You to Solve Your PROBLEMS THE POWER OF GOD
HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR BAD HABITS-1 GOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS A Dangerous Journey
ARTS, MEDIA, AND CULTURE Christians and Government Christians and Economics

CHRISTIAN COMMENTARIES

CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONALS
40 day devotional (1) Daily Devotional_NT_TM Daily_OT
DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS DEVOTIONAL FOR TRAGEDY
DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)

CHURCH HEALTH, GROWTH, AND HISTORY

LEARN TO DISCERN Deception In the Church FLEECING THE FLOCK_03
The Church Community_02 THE CHURCH CURE Developing Healthy Churches
FIRST TIMOTHY 2.12 EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1

Apocalyptic-Eschatology [End Times]

Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Identifying the AntiChrist second coming Cover
ANGELS AMERICA IN BIBLE PROPHECY_ ezekiel, daniel, & revelation

CHRISTIAN FICTION

Oren Natas_JPEG Sentient-Front Seekers and Deceivers
02 Journey PNG The Rapture

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: