This article written by former evangelical Christian Dr. Robert M. Price provides a synopsis of the problems of the evidentialist approach. It does seem to become clear however, the path this man took to secular humanism. There is not one mention of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I do not believe that a presuppositional approach cannot use evidence to remove obstacles to plausibility. It seems clear that whether one likes or not, everyone is a presuppositionalist, but it also seems that not all worldviews have the same plausibility so one needs to be an evidentialist to some exent. What are your thoughts?
This is worth a read–because I took so long to type it out… 🙂
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,”
(2Tim 3:13-14 NAS95S)
12 thoughts on “Paradigm Shifting and the Apologetics Debate”
First of all, Matt, get a scanner with text converting software!I appreciate that he recognizes that everyone is really a presuppositionalist. An “evidentialist” argues for the resurrection by showing its overwhelming, plausibility, but when the skeptic asks, “What if the body of Jesus was found?” the evidentialist says it can’t be found. He argues on the basis of evidence but rejects the possibilty of counter-evidence (illustration from Dr. Myron). I think one person once said something like this, “I used to be an evidentialist – until I read Romans 1” (I might add 1 Cor. 1:18-31). What has man done with the evidences directly from God? They suppressed them. Do I really think I could do better? This, of course, does not excuse thoughtlessness in our own faith or in our defense, but I’m certainly not going to convince anyone with 14 proofs for creationism, no matter how obvious it is to me. I’ll leave it there for now…
I have a scanner, but does that text converting stuff really work? The reason I typed it is because I like the idea of having a permanent electronic record.
Did you get the original article from Dr. Myron? I think I’ve read it before and that is the only thing I can think of.I’m still waiting for someone to explain Presuppositionalism in such a way that it isn’t plain fideism or ‘biblicism’ (alls I needs is the bible!). In the article, Price says: “The upshot of all this is that the evidentialist apologetic with its common ground approach to this-worldly evidence can lead one only to this-worldly (i.e. non-revealed) religion.This is true. I like how Sproul explains Aquinas as understanding this, but also understanding that this is necessary. Only a divine and supernatural light will regenerate the heart. Faith is God-given. But that is always through what one (and HOW one) has come to know the world and himself. One can look at language and logic (as they are intimately related) to understand this. Both language and logic are ‘this-worldy’. But both are needed for someone to believe.
Jesse, very astute. Thanks for adding that.
I guess it depends what definition of “this-worldly” are. Isn’t everything a revelation of sorts?
That is exactly Lewis’ point in “Transposition”. That is, to some degree, Augustine’s point in “Christian Teaching” when he speaks of signs. There are things, and there are signs. I just got Lewis’ “An Experiment in Criticism” yesterday. It is fantastic. Instead of doing literary criticism by criticising a book, he talks about how we read them, how we should and sholdn’t read them. All things are to be imitations. Goe created us to be like Him. To reflect His glory. All things tell us about God (and thus, are signs which point to him).I don’t want to ruin it for you. You should read it for yourself. His “Experiment” is really good, and quite short (maybe 150 pages). It was Lewis and Sproul that got me geared up and waiting, thirsting, for someone to tell me more. Then I ran across Dissidens. Ho! Ho!:)
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Matt, I’ve had good luck with scanning/converting typed text. It’s worth a try.Jesse, if this conversation is still going, I’m curious what you mean when you seek a definition of Presuppositionalism that isn’t just fideism or biblicism. Will you explain? I don’t think presuppositionalists reject the value of evidences or necessity of logic for believers or even unbelievers. Presuppositionalists are not the KJV-onlyers of the apologetics world. In fact, John Whitcomb, I believe, is a presuppositionalist. Someone who thinks that he can quote John 3:16 til they’re blue-in-the-face to save souls is not a presuppositionalist. Maybe I could say it like this: Evolutionists usually (though not always) become creationits because they become Christians, not Christians because they become creationists.
Part of the problem I have with Presupp. is hit on in the article:”Leaving aside the fact that this is pretty much the same rationale that has led historically to the branding and treatment of religious dissidents as insane”. More clearly: One can never reason his way to certain faith in Christ; he may have certainty only if he begins by defining Christ (the Logos) as the ground of reason. Then by definition faith in Christ is not only “a reasonable option,” it becomes the only rational option. The evidentialist approach is unsatisfactory at least partially because it makes the Christ-Logos posterior rather than anterior to the reasoning process. “If presuppositionalism is true, than only a leap of faith (fideism) totally apart from logic or reasoning is the only way to true faith. If the arminian evidentialist way is true then regeneration is not necessary. Neither one works. I referred to “biblicism” because a certain good doctor (who shall remain nameless because last time I mentioned his book he took me to the woodshed in some emails) considered the term a good description of Presuppositionalism in his book that wasn’t all about apologetics but contained a few chapters about it near the end. 🙂 I think ‘biblicism’ is a good description. It boggles my mind that such moderate Calvinists as we have here locally would embrace such near hyper-calvinism in their apologetics. It seems that the whole ‘biblicist’ culture that fundamentalism at-large has made presuppositionalism very appealing. It is almost humorous and quite baffling. Baffling because greater minds than mine see no problem (all of the minds at Faith come to mind!). I had actually decided to not talk about it for awhile until I found some light on the subject! Oh, well. Maybe you can help me understand?You guys mentioned the admission that everyone has their presuppositions. I would agree. We all presuppose reason and the general reliability of our senses. We do that from the day we are born when we cry because we are hungry.The thing I have a problem is the idea that one must actively presuppose Christ in order for things to make sense. I think we passively assume a Creator and a created order. We do this because of our ontological make-up. We are reasoning and sensing beings. What do I think is the proper Apologetics? An emphasis on the necessity of Reason, Sense, and specifically the Imagination in our preaching and spreading of the gospel. We have to realize that it is through these that God works. We also must realize that these alone will never get anyone past a mere head knowledge (and even agreement) of the truth. There has to be a change in the affections. We must love the truth. This comes only through regeneration and is all of God.
Maybe I should go back to school and learn how to write more efficiently!
I’ll try to add thoughts tomorrow…
In light of this discussion, Matt, you might be interested in the testimony of Will’s dad. He gave his testimony in a message on Dec 31 “The Song of the Wanderer” when he filled in for Will at church. It’s on the church website under Family/sermons. He was raised in a Methodist home, denied his faith after attending Ohio State, became an attorney, served in the Peace Corps in Africa, and finally came to Christ after studying the trial of Jesus Christ from a purely legal standpoint. Very interesting. There was quite a bit of evidentialist influence in his conversion.