What Exactly Is Presuppositional Apologetics?
What Is Apologetics?
“Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in even if it is only a little.”
— CARM (carm.org)
And, if you’ve read or studied anything about apologetics, you certainly have come across the single most quoted passage dealing with the topic.
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,”
1 Peter 3:15
With the above in mind, let’s move on to a specific branch of apologetics.
“This form of Christian apologetics deals with presuppositions (assumption that is taken for granted). A Christian presuppositionalist presupposes God’s existence and argues from that perspective to show the validity of Christian theism. This position also presupposes the truth of the Christian Scriptures and relies on the validity and power of the gospel to change lives (Rom. 1:16). From the scriptures, we see that the unbeliever is sinful in his mind (Rom. 1:18–32) and unable to understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). This means that no matter how convincing the evidence or good the logic, an unbeliever cannot come to the faith because his fallen nature will distort how he perceives the truth. The only thing that can ultimately change him is regeneration. To this end, the presuppositionalist seeks to change a person’s presuppositions to be in conformity with biblical revelation.”
— CARM (carm.org)
What I find so fascinating about this form of apologetics is it’s inherent simplicity and it’s foundation of the sovereign Trinity. Instead of focusing on the ontological or teleological argument (though these are wonderful points), this way of defending the Christian faith stands explicitly on the reality of the God of the Bible and nothing else. From there, any number of classical apologetic arguments can be used to refute the presuppositions or lack thereof in the worldview of an unbeliever.
Maybe a sample dialogue would be helpful.
Allen: I am an atheist and evolutionist. Prove to me there is a God.
Paul: I do not think I can do that because of your presuppositions.
Allen: Why not?
Paul: Because your presuppositions will not allow you to examine without bias the evidence that I present to you for God’s existence.
Allen: That is because there is no evidence for God’s existence.
Paul: See? There you go. You just confirmed what I was stating.
Allen: How so?
Paul: Your presupposition is that there is no God; therefore, no matter what I might present to you to show His existence, you must interpret it in a manner consistent with your presupposition: namely, that there is no God. If I were to have a video tape of God coming down from heaven, you’d say it was a special effect. If I had a thousand eye-witnesses saying they saw Him, you’d say it was mass-hysteria. If I had Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament, you’d say they were forged, dated incorrectly, or not real prophecies. So, I cannot prove anything to you since your presupposition won’t allow it. It is limited.
Allen: It is not limited.
Paul: Yes, it is. Your presupposition cannot allow you to rightly determine God’s existence from evidence — providing that there were factual proofs of His existence. Don’t you see? If I DID have incontrovertible proof, your presupposition would force you to interpret the facts consistently with your presupposition; and you would not be able to see the proof.
Allen: I see your point, but I am open to being persuaded if you can.
Paul: Then, I must ask you, what kind of evidence would you accept that would prove God’s existence? I must see what your presuppositions are and work either with them or against them.
— CARM (carm.org)
I simply wanted to share this in order to think out loud. I think presuppositional or covenantal (as K. Scott Oliphint calls it) apologetics could be a great way to not only engage an increasingly secular world but it’s also evangelistic in nature.
So, what are your favorite apologetic methods and/or authors? Use the comment section below to begin a dialogue!
Originally published at heinspiredme.com.