Legitimate use of Classical and Evidential apologetics within Van Tillian presuppositionalism?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Me Died Blue, Jan 17, 2006.

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  1. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    John, I don't know what church you are talking about.

    I think without any further true discussion on the actual subject at hand, I will bow out. I am interested in discussing the "legitimate use of classical and evidential apologetics within Van Tillian presuppositionalism."
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Who are sound men? Not even the Westminster Assembly dared to rule anything based on "the teachings of sound men". Sure, they cited them in other works, such as Jus Divinum, but only so as to lend support in that godly men throughout history are in agreement, not so as to make it authoritative. If the men of WA relied on their own reasoning for any of the Confession, then it is suspect; but it is accepted in the churches because they relied on Scripture alone, and not on their reasonings.

    But more to your question. Yes, that which is specifically taught in the Confessions is the limit of what may be preached. There is enough in there for any preacher's lifetime of preaching. And yes, it indeed does rule against preachers making their own "good and necessary inferences" on their own. The church is not governed by any one man, but by a plurality of rulers all governed by the Word. So it is even less so that Biblical doctrine is determined by one man, but must be recognized by a plurality of elders, again governed by the Word. Nothing more may be added.

    But no, this does not curtail the preachers mandate. He has many ways to express the teachings of the Bible to specific circumstances, according to the needs of his ministry among people. It is not wrong, for example, to stress the need for missions, even to a particular place. This is in line with, as direct application of, what the Bible teaches, and of what the Confessions recognize. And yes, an apologetic necessity is sometimes in place. And this is not in contravention of the limits of office.

    There are indeed times when a good Presuppositional presentation is required. This is in complete accordance with the Bible's teaching. There are times as well when the classic arguments could avail, or the Biblical understanding of the evidences be presented. This too is not prohibited.

    What I am talking about is that men, without Biblical, necessary, or ecclesiastical sanction have ruled that Presuppositionalism and Presuppositionalism alone is prerequisite to understanding anything at all, most of all Scripture, but nor excluding creation. I agree that one must have his ducks in a row to think straight, but I don't agree that Presuppositionalists alone have a corner on the market. That is plain enough, since they have no compunction at all about using the pulpit to propagate their opinons without first appealing to the church and to Scripture, and being subject to them. They do this on their own authority, but not on any real authority. Such things used to be scandalous, outrageous, but now are everyday.

    So much so, in fact, that it is possible to define a new RPW for ordained men, namely that what is not forbidden may be commanded. For men such as I who dissent from having Presuppositionalism imposed there is the old RPW, that what is not commanded is forbidden. Therefore if a minister believes that Presuppositionalism is Biblical, I have no choice. I have to tell my children that he is preaching the Word, and therefore must be respected and believed. If I don't then he may drive my children from me, and it will be all my fault for failing as a father. In fact, I may be excommunicated for dissenting, for believing that he ought only to preach the Word and not his opinions. This is because the old RPW applies to me: I may not reject the minister's commands, which include his opinions imposed upon me; while a new RPW applies to him, that he may commend and command what is not forbidden, what he on his own authority deems good and necessary.

    If you're asking me if ministers may freely expand on the Confessions on their own reasoning, then I say: No, they may not. That undermines what the Confessions stand for. What is the use of systemizing the teachings of Scripture if every man is free to add to it his own surmisings and opinions? His office is an office of agency of the Spirit, not a direct authority. Thus there are limits to his authority. He may only wield authority on behalf of Christ, not on his own. Supreme and magisterial authority belong to God through Christ alone, not to men. What is delegated to men is to rule according to Christ's authority. It is what is called "improperly ecclesiastical and spiritual" because it is only objectively ecclesiastical and spiritual. That is, that which is surely known through the Word is its rule, nothing more. Therefore men adding their surmisings, that is, their opinions in addition to the Word, is repugnant to that office.
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That's all you had to say, for this is what the thread is about.
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This presumes that Presuppositionalism is the de facto orthodoxy, calling into question the legitimacy, if any, of classical or evidential apologetic arguments. What I am saying is that Presuppositionalism is in no place to make such a request. The question must first be if Presuppositionalism is legitimate enough for any legitimate use of classical or evidential arguments to be added to it. If you are really interested in this topic then this should be your prime concern.

    No, Jacob, this is not off topic. I am not a Presuppositionalist, so it is fair to call the question, the one that is begged by the propositions. Presuppositionalism must first show its legitimacy before it can call into question the legitimacy of other aplogetic views. That means, of necessity, that it must divorce itself from the abuses perpetrated in its name. It must stop judging and accusing men on no other grounds than its own opinions.

    It is not authoritative until God says so. And God did not say so. So don't pretend that it is authoritative.
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Then, pray tell, how may one divorce oneself from the abuses, whatever they are?
  6. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    You may have said before, but how exactly is this different than the baptism debate. Either Paedo is correct or Credo is correct. One who holds to the wrong one is in sin and unorthodox. The wrong side is putting their opinion into the mouth of God.

    Next, calling a group's integrity into question is far beyond what one should be doing here. If you wish to call someone's position wrong and therefore they are in sin, then go right ahead, but going further is completely uncalled for.
  7. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I mentioned Mark Rushdoony's speach which Chris posted a while ago. This speach espouses a Reconstructionism ( unlike your own ) which names as its fundamental bases both Presuppositionalism and Postmillennialism. This is not only an ideology but one that purports itself as more fundamentally Christian in perspective than the Reformedness of the the Reformed churches. It even imposes itself upon theology by proclaiming its hybrid result, namely Dominion Theology. That is, texts in the Bible are to be interpreted according to their dominion-oriented thrust.
    But the point is that both Postmillennialism and Presuppositionalism were raised to a level of being normative for interpreting Scripture, a man-made grid to put overtop of Scripture which results in a new theology.
    This ideology has never been the ideology of the church. Never. It has been, as the Westminster Presbyters put so well, "superadded". This is clearly an abuse.

    Another abuse is the fact of some churches within the federations of Reformed churches defining themselves as Reconstructionist churches. They have more than just Reformed theology, they also have Reconstructionism. And if they believe this to be the truer expression of Reformed theology, they have done so on their own authority, not the churches' rule under Christ's authority. This, as Ligon Duncan proves, depends on adoption of Presuppositionalism. This is clearly an abuse.

    How often has it been that the insinuation, if not direct accusation, from the Presuppositionalist that classical arguments and evidential arguments are unfaithful to Scripture? Again, on whose authority? This is an abuse. Men lording it over men; men claiming superiority over others; men accusing others on spurious grounds.

    There are others. But why do we need to go beyond what Jeff said. He believes that Presuppositionalism was the apologetic of Jesus and Paul. Where did he get that notion from? Someone is teaching this stuff. Is this not an abuse? Have you ever heard of anything like this before? If you have, you can be sure is came from churches that were later judged as having left the straight an narrow.

    Jacob, it disturbs me more and more, as I delve into these things concerning my appeal before GA this coming summer, how far we have wandered from the ecclesiology of the Westminster Assembly. Questions such as the one this thread poses only add to the concern. Do we really believe that Presuppositionalism has gained to the level of being a mark of orthodoxy, as the question implies? If so, then I will surely welcome being told that I have no part in the church anymore. I will certainly be looking for a real orthodox church, one which does not add men's doctrines to the Word.

    For if Presuppositionalism were really the apologetic of Jesus and Paul, then clearly the churches would not have approved the Classical and Evidential approaches. According to Presuppositionalism they are mutually exclusive to Presuppositionalism. Therefore to rule Presuppositionalism as Christ's and Paul's apologetic is to rule the others as unacceptable at the same time. No church has done that. So that leaves that this has been determined by men, not by God; men working on their own authority; or worse, usurping authority that does not belong to them.
  8. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I have to disagree with you there. Baptism is a sacrament, sign and seal of the COG. Apologetics is philosophy applied to the knowledge of God. Big difference.

    And Plantinga does a great job of being presuppositional while still giving value to the classical arguments as far as they can go. esp the ontological.

    [Edited on 1-20-2006 by Saiph]
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    What he meant was that Baptism, either way, isn't stated as clearly as both sides would like. Apologetics the same way: we don't see the words presup, but like baptism, we should not shy away from the subject. Of course, I have strong opinions on this subject.
  10. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    The last paragraph is my point: calling the integrity of classicalists and evidentialists into question goes beyond the scope. That is what the original question implies, though.

    I have stated what is fact; and I have stated the position of the Reformed ecclesiology truly, according to the Westminster's own rulings and documents. Jus Divinum is considered the authoritative argumentation of the Assembly, though they did not put all their arguements into the Confessional framework. So I have it right from the horse's mouth, so to speak. And I personally know that such audacious things are being done in the name of Christ. I am in the very middle of it. There is no question about it. And if it is done here, then certainly it is done elsewhere. For surely there are other churches proclaiming the same doctrines, reputing themselves as Reconstructionist churches, where Presuppositionalism plays a prerequisite part.

    And it is not the Classicalist or the Evidentialist that is making waves on the discussion boards, proclaiming themselves to be the only authoritative answer to the calumnies thrown at the church and her members. They only claim to have answers, not as having the only answers. Nor do you see these other apologetic methodologies resulting in new ideologies that depend on them, forcing them to be imbibed before one can understand Scripture. They have always been held in submission and subservience to revealed truth in creation and Scripture. Where men have transgressed these bounds their faults have been found, and will continue to be found by sincere, godly, and pious men.

    In relation to the baptism debate, yes I agree that the two are mutually exclusive. And I agree that one view must be faulty. Someone is wrong. The fact that we have not been able to convince each other, though there are godly men on both sides who duly respect the sole authority of the Word, displays the weakness of men, not of the Word. I believe that the credo's are wrong here, and demonstrably so. However, as plain as it is to me, it is not plain to others. It may be that God has not allowed them to see; but it may also yet be that God has not allowed me to see. This is a sore to the unity of the church.

    But it is also true that we as paedo's have many faults in our view of baptism that would go unchecked were it not for God's providential hand in providing for us godly men who differ with us on a Scriptural level. This may add more to the true unity, if not organizational, than the disunity it imparts.

    These separate churches must preach these doctrines from the pulpit. Though one is surely wrong, it is yet about a fundamental aspect of the church, namely the administration of the Word through sacrament. This must be preached so as to maintain the unity of the means of grace.

    This is wholly different than apologetic methodologies. It is not even necessary to hold to any one particular methodology to be a faithful member of the church, much less be expert at any one of them. It is not essential. To be a defender of the faith, a particular calling of the offices of the church, one must be proficient with the teachings of Scripture, the relationship of the two revelations in unity, and the meanings of the offences against the faith. But there is no demand for any particular methodology. None whatsoever, except that it be faithful to God's truth. On this point no church has ever ruled that one methodology, to the exclusion of all others, is the authoritative methodology, save that one must not claim to know what he does not know.

    As you can see, this is far different than the differences on baptism. Men are not usurping authority that does not belong to them in order to proclaim their church's rulings on baptism. The churches have ruled, and not the elders whom the churches send preach it. On the other hand, no churches have ruled, no churches have sent, and yet men are using their office and the pulpit to proclaim their particular apologetic methodolgy. In the former case they may be wrong, but it is still on the churches' authority; while in the latter case the churches cannot be blamed for men doing so, but only that they did not protect the offices from it, according to what they did rule by adopting the Westminster rulings on ecclesiology.

    No one has sent them, but they sent themselves. This is no small obstacle to them. It is a serious thing for them to consider. Especially if they are Theonomists, the kind that believe that they must re-establish the OT judicial code. For there it clearly states that men who usurp the offices, saying what God did not tell them to say, claiming to be sent when God did not send them, are to be stoned. It is not necessary to be a Theonomist to be a Presuppositionalist, but it is necessary to be a Presuppositionalist to be a Theonomist; it is their platform, what they stand on, as Ligon Duncan has shown. So this is a serious problem.

    All I am saying is that a Presuppositionalist has to stand up and put a limit on it. It has gone too far, and for it to regain integrity it must recognize the limits and abide by them. Proclaiming it on men's authority does nothing to convince me. Follow proper procedure, follow the church's ruling, be scrupulous, and be above reproach, and then we may talk about whether the classical or evidential arguments avail anything.
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I can answer this, but not now. You won't like it, though.

    I will soften my position: Other branches of apologeitcs are not sinful, but they are also compromised in effeciency.

    Functionally, you come down to the position of "You can't even talk about presuppositionalism positively until you prove it is the biblical positon." Then someone will argue for the value of presuppsitional apologetics. Then you backtrack, with all due respect, and say that the Confession doesn't speak on it, so you shan't either.

    So it looks like this: You have to prove to me presuppositonalism is valid before you can pontificate it.

    (proceeds to argue for presuppositionalism)

    Well, you can't argue for it because the Confession doesn't speak on it.

    Ultimately, you shift standards in teh debate and make it a "darned if you do, darned if you don't" approach. I am bowing out, since we are no longer addressing Chris's claim.
  12. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I haven't been up on Plantinga for a while, but it is a good point that the different approaches do not have to be mutually exclusive, especially when they deal in different areas. I have said one time that Presuppositionalism is Classicalism applied to the predispositions of men's minds, their own. Classicalism deals with predispositions beyond that, not of men's own. And Evidentialism deals with the facts in spite of men's predispositions. So they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
  13. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think you misunderstand, Jacob. What I am saying is that things such as what Anthony and Jeff were saying is far too bold, as is the original question. This seriously calls Presuppositionalism into question, simply because no Presuppositionalist sees it, though it is clear enough. I am not saying that you cannot talk about or defend your position. It would be dumb not to, if you really believe it, as I'm sure you do. Just do so with understanding, that's all. Know the limits, and abide with them.

    I am not saying you can't argue it because the Confessions don't speak on it. I am saying that men may not use their God-given offices for it, because they have no leave, no permission to do so. You are not an office-bearer, and it is your opinion. It may even be that it is your opinion that it is exclusive. That's fine. Put it out for discussion as such. Nothing wrong with that. But first disentangle yourself from those who have brought your views into disrepute by claiming to be sent by God to proclaim it, which is what using the pulpit and the offices is saying. They have to keep the office pure, and the pulpit pure, free from men's infiltration and influence. And you must keep your view free from it as well. Therefore, if you truly believe in it, then distance yourself from these pretenders. For no church has sent them to proclaim Presuppositionalism as Jesus' and Paul's apologetic; no authority has sent them to proclaim it as orthodoxy.
  14. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    John, I agree with you, and so does John Frame. I just finished Plantinga's book "God And Other Minds". It is a very good read, and goes through all of the classical arguments and reveals where they need better definitions at certain levels. He also deals with the problem of evil and the analogy of other minds. The last half was a bit more obtuse for my amateur mind, but it brings up very interesting questions. I plan on working through all of his writings. This one was first published in 1967, so his thoughts might have changed by now.

    [Edited on 1-20-2006 by Saiph]
  15. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    "amateur"? Interesting. I need to read that book. :D
  16. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    I am not saying the stakes are as high. I am only comparing the "someone has it wrong" aspect.

    Plantinga is a great philosopher, eventhough I disagree vehemently with him on certain issues. If he would be more presuppositional, he would be much better.

  17. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Have I been too bold? - I hope so. But have I contradicted myself - I don't think I have. If you can show me a clear contradiction, I'd really appreciate it, because one of my goals in life is to remove all contradictory beliefs.

    The issue of who's pushing Presuppositionalism, and if the have the authority, is interesting, but a bit of a straw man, and maybe an unintended red-herring. So I'd like to get back to the different kinds of apologetics.

    There are different ways of looking at proof. And again it seems that many here are satisfied with calling it proof when there is an abundance of evidence to make the case. If that is all that is required, then the Theory of Evolution has been proven. There is certainly plenty of evidence for ToE, one might say it's overwhelming evidence. And that being the case, then we can not say ToE is unproven.

    But if we consider proof only in the deductive sense, as a necessary inference, a conclusion that is true because it can not possible be false, then ToE is unproven, but is a matter of scientific opinion. It's bad science, but that is the standard of natural science today - convincing (subjective) evidence.

    But I will always use proof to be deductive. This is the sense being used by the classical arguments for the existence of God. This is the kind of proof used for the Teleological, Ontological, and Transcendental arguments. It is Aquinas's "first mover" argument, and Anslem's "the being than whom nothing greater can be conceived". And let me add that in these arguments, we do not need exhaustive knowledge to prove them. All that is needed to prove deductively is true premises, and valid forms of of inference. You can prove a deductive conclusion is true with only one true premise - and no exhaustive knowledge is needed.

    What I think is folly and fallacy, is any deductive argument for the existence of anything - especially an undefined "God". I think that any argument for the existence of something, must presuppose the thing exists for it to work, and it is thereby a circular argument and a logical fallacy.

    The most basic form of a propositions includes two terms (a logical subject, and a logical predicate) joined by the copula "is" or "are". And this copula means "exists as". Existence is assumed whenever you state any true proposition. So arguing for the existence of anything is circular because the premise assumes that it exists. X is Y assumes X exists in some manner or form, and that is the predicate we need to state.

    The question then is not "does God exist" but rather "what God exists". That is, we should be asking if the statement "God is X" is true (where X is some predicate phrase that defines "God"). The statement "God exists" is nonsensical. It means nothing more than "God is" and it is an incomplete thought, a sentence fragment, not a complete proposition. We can not prove God exists because the question is incomplete and unanswerable as stated.

    What does this have to do with presuppositionalism? Well the Christian presupposition is "the Bible is the Word of God", and from this presuppositions, we have our definition of God. The Bible defines for us who God is.
  18. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Since we do not have/ nor will ever have exhaustive knowledge, the best you will be able to do is to call some of your "contradictions" only apparent contradictions or antimonies.

    Let us do just that.

    Well it is not quite that simple. ;)

    It seems that your argument reduces to, "I and many others have defined proof X, and if you do not do the same, I will yell and scream and have a fit." Alrighty.

    There is a not an abundance of evidence, there is no evidence for the other side. But on top of that there is no way of gaining any evidence.

    The theory of evolution destroys the possibility of knowledge, therefore to engage in conversation or debate, assumes the falsity of the proposition of evolution.

    There is zero evidence for evolution. So I do not understand your point.

    You are not trying to make an argument that you can deal with evolution and those with other definitions of proof cannot, therefore you are correct, are you?

    Who said evolution was convincing at any level?

    You do understand that (according to your own terms) all you have done is shift the uncertainty from the process of going from premises to the the conclusion, to the premises themselves. Unless you can "convince" that your premises have to be true, what exactly have you gained?

    You have to have exhaustive knowledge in order for them to be useful.

    Next, true premises are the thing in question. So unless you can prove that, what the reason to be so confident?

    You must know that there are different degrees of circularity and that Van Tillians have no problem with certain degrees but do with others. So all you are doing now is dogmatically asserting that you don't agree with them. So I can just dogmatically assert that I do not agree with you and we are even?

    No disagreement there. Hence we spend the time arguing for our worldview being the only one to make knowledge possible. You just seem to not like the argument, which is fine.

    There is more to God (of the Bible), than can be proven transcendentally. For some things, we just need the Bible to tell us and we could not know them any other way. I do not see this as a problem, perhaps you could explain your objection more?

    No, the Christian presupp is that the Bible and Natural Revelation are the Words of God. Clarkians tend to short change that. Not denying that Special revelation is critically important for saving and other knowledge, to deny natural revelation is foolhardy.
  19. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There is a huge difference in how we are using the terms. And this is leading us into different ways of understanding. But more importantly, there is a great gulf between how we understand the limits of men's opinions.

    In my way of understanding, Presuppositionalism is adiaphora, indifferent. The Church agrees, for she has not ruled it as necessary. And she has ruled the other two as of equal standing, as not heretical, as permissible views, and as not transgressing the Confessional covenant of Biblical teaching. The three are of equal standing, and only as permissible views, opinions. If it were plainly a Scriptural truth then surely the church would have seen it by now, and would have ruled it as necessary doctrine because the Bible clearly teaches it. But she has not done so. It is adiaphora, indifferent.

    Now, the difference between a permissible opinion and a clear teaching is that the latter must be imposed, the former may not be imposed. The fact that it does not transgress Biblical teaching means that you may hold to that opinion without fear of contradicting the Bible's teaching. But that does not mean that this opinion is what the Bible teaches.

    Even the most militant Presuppositionalist that I know of has agreed with me, when I cornered him. He admitted that it is adiaphora. The problem is, he also said that is was a platform, a prerequisite, to his views which he believed he had a right to preach, because he believed them to be Biblical. That is, then, he also held Presuppositionalism as necessary. That's what "prerequisite" entails, necessity. And preaching it entails God's sanction. But whether it is God's opinion has not been established, because the Church has ruled, and the Presuppositionalist has agreed, that it is adiaphora.

    Do you see the contradiction? No, it is not your contradiction. It is his. Yet he sees no contradiction. This sets up the situation that I described above, where one thing is God's message in one church, and its mutually exclusive opposite is God's message in another church. In one church Presuppositionalism is God's necessary gospel because a man believes it, though not on church authority, but on his own; and in another church Presuppositionalism is adiaphora, because the church does not mandate it. They cannot both be true. Do you see that only that which God commands may be taught as God's commands? Nothing more? Men cannot add to is just because they believe it to be so. Men do not have that authority. They may only impose as true what God has commanded. This is a strict rule in the churches and always has been.

    Now here is your contradiction. You have made Presuppositionalism superior to all others. Exclusive even. But no church has ever ruled that this is what the Bible demands. That has never been done. You are doing this on your own authority. Bear with me, I'm getting to it. If you may do that, then what actual respect do you have for true authority? If you willingly by-pass the Bible-ordained means by which the Spirit rules, namely the Church, and make doctrine on your own or on men's say-so, but not the church's, then you really have no ground at all to say anything is true. Here is the contradiction: you say Presuppositionalism is true, and yet undermine any contact with certifying it. You're going around the way to prove it, not through it. You think all you need is to convince yourself that this is what the Bible says, and that's enough. Not even Calvin dared to do that, and yet you think it is enough.

    Do you see where I'm coming from? I'm no expert on apologetics or philosophy. But when you step on the church, that's another matter. And I am told, authoritatively so, that Presuppositionalism is adiaphora, indifferent. It is not necessary. And as long as the church holds to that, no man may shake that. No one may. No one may come to me and make it a necessity for anything for me. When they do, then they have by-passed the very Spirit they claim to cite for proof. For the Spirit does not and will not tell you to circumvent His ordained means of ruling the church.

    The church may be wrong. That has happened in the past. But only the true church may correct that, not men. Men may dissent from a church that has gone wrong, but just forming groups on their own and calling that church is not the right way to go about it. Church does not rest on men's authority. So how much less doctrine. All authority is Christ's, no one else's. He delegates it to men ordained for His purpose. They are not ordained to preach whatever they want to, but only what they are commanded, for it is Christ's gospel, not men's.

    Take this as an axiom, Anthony, and remember it well:

    The preacher is commanded what he may preach, by Christ, through the church. He is not free to preach whatever he himself reasons to come out of Scripture. That is not his office. This has never been given him to do. He must submit his notions to the ruling body of the church so that they may test it to see if it is of God, necessitated by Scripture and sound reason. He shouldn't trust himself. Let him submit it to the Church, and then let the Church sustain him, and then send him.

    I'm saying this so that you know the limits of holding to speculative points of view, ideas that do not have the sanction of the Church as doctrine. So when you make claims for Presuppositionalism that go beyond the Church's authority, then I know that you do not really know what you are claiming. If you by-pass the historic Church, saying something to be true that has never been established as true, making it more than speculation, more than opinion when that has never been ruled to be so, then you are showing that you do not know the limits of theology sufficiently to know the claims you are making that bear on theology. You may believe it yourself, but also respect those who are convinced otherwise. Know your own fallibility, and reap what you can from those that God has gifted with other convictions, convictions which the Church also allows.

    This is why we rejected the teachings of the Romanist church. They too were making things doctrinal precepts that could not be unquestionably sustained by Scripture. They did so on their own authority, as men. When finally the Romanist church adopted them, at the Council of Trent, then it became that church's sin as well, for they cited tradition and the rulings of men as their authority, not Scripture. Therefore they ruled themselves as apostate, and the break was made solid, necessary, and permanent.

    There are a number of contradictions in your previous post which you asked me to address. But I wanted to make this clear first. For it seems to me that you have a mistaken impression of what may and may not be imposed from Scripture. It is one thing to hold to that opinion, that Presuppositionalism is superior to the other methodologies, but it is quite another to suppose that it is anything more than your opinion or the opinion of men. And it is also quite another to cast aspersions on other people who do not agree with you, as if you had some authority backing you up. All the kings horses and all the kings men ( in other words, all the best Christian minds put together ) is not authority. Only the Word is authority. And the churches have ruled according to that Word: Presuppositionalism is, at best, adiaphora. Don't try to trump the historic Church.

    How is this on topic? If Presuppositionalism does not boast itself to be more than it rightfully is, then there are a number of key areas where the other two methodologies can compliment it. And vice versa as well: the others may also not boast too much, and may be of great assistance to Presuppositionalism. They are all three helpful to us to make understood that what the Bible teaches is true, true even for the unbeliever.

    How so? Once Presuppositionalism has established by its method that some things are necessarily true, such as that God must needs exist, and that the world is understood through the knowledge He gives us, then suddenly all the proofs are of great weight, and all the categories are most fitting to the understanding. Suddenly all the proofs have a greater impact, for they go right to the core of the person's predispositions of the mind, whether voluntary and involuntary. We can address the skeptical, the doubter, or the questioner, because we too are weak as he is, and we too had need of our minds being redeemed; so we can identify with him and help him.
  20. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I think that is a misrepresentation of presuppositionalism. Do we learn language a priori ? How do we learn to read the bible ? First empyrically and rationally, then by supernatural enlightenment by the Spirit.

    Hermonta is correct, to deny natural revelation is foolhardy.
  21. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    The temporal order of learning, and the logical justification of knowledge are not the same. What is your theory of language? Did it evolve, or was it given to us by God. Do you think speaking is necessary before knowledge?

    If we "learn language" before we can know the Bible, and thereby the Gospel, then what is the state of the feeble minded and infants?

    But when I say the the presupposition is Scripture, I mean that only by taking Scripture (God propositional verbal revelation) as the axiom of our worldview can we have justified true belief. Empirical based knowledge is, at best, opinion. It is subjective and unverifiable.

    I suppose I need to add a disclaimer to my posts. I am not an elder, nor an representative of the PCA. These are my opinions, and I am expressing them on this forum because believe it is a good way to examine my beliefs. I do believe I am allowed to say what I believe is biblical in this forum even if it does not agree in detail with the specific doctrines of the PCA or the WCF.

    But I also believe the elders should teach what they believe is most biblical - and as long as it agrees with the WCF - and as long as it is not a question of the Gospel and the salvation of the elect- even if it is not "official" church doctrine. If an elder believes his beliefs contradict the WCF, then he should resign his office and consider finding a church that he agrees with. But this is my opinion, is subject to change without prior notice to the reader. :)
  22. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior


    I'm not sure where all this is coming from, but I think you are reading more into my posts then I intended. I am not a pastor, I'm not questioning anyone's faith, I'm just giving my arguments for the presuppositional position - my opinion.

    I worry that you have so stressed the "historical church" to the point of making it the sole authority of what is truth. I might error in similar ways regarding the WCF. But it should always be stressed (and I'm sure you agree) that Scripture is the only authority of truth for man - not the WCF, not Calvin, not "the church".

    But since I am not a pastor, nor am I presenting myself as any kind of authority, but am merely debating and discussion apologetical methods, I think your comments were a bit overboard.
  23. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    A presupposition is the logical a priori justification for knowledge. I think both Clark and Van Til would agree.
  24. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Anthony, I am not sure how you view knowledge at this point.
    An infant or feeble minded person cannot know the bible without learning to read and being able to articulate thoughts into language. And the only path to that is through empyrical and rational excercise. We all "know" God innately, but but we do not know innately what He granted only by special revelation. I am arguing that natural revelation is knowledge enough to condemn all men. Special revelation is necessary for salvation.

    And as far as the salvific state of the infant or feeble minded, I do not presume to understand. But I am not willing to change my philosophy of knowledge so that I can rationally include them. If they are elect, God can certainly elect them in spite of their ignorance.

    [Edited on 1-20-2006 by Saiph]
  25. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    It might help if you consider that the physical brain is not where knowledge is found. Our souls have knowledge. When we die, our bodies return to dust, but we still have knowledge, and we will still join Christ.

    So I think the brain just gets in the way of our souls. Infants can and do have knowledge, they can have saving faith (knowledge of the truth of Christ) even if they are not aware or conscious of this. And so too does unregenerate man know that God exists, even if he swears he does not.

    I do not think everything we know comes via sound and sight, that really what we know is innate, and we come aware of it as were read or hear the Word, and as it is made manifest within our minds (not brains) by the Spirit. When Scripture says we have the mind of Christ, this is not a metaphor. It is that God has enlightened our minds to the truth, given us both knowledge and understanding according to his will. We justify the things we believe, to be knowledge, by Scripture.

    I'm not being as clear as I'd like, but I hope I am not being completely confusing.

    Also consider that empirical and rational are not concepts we can draw readily from Scripture. So we should not assume they are valid off hand. Consider that either might be false - and try to justify how either can work. Empiricism will fail if you examine it carefully. And rationalism lacks any foundation to build on.

    [Edited on 1-20-2006 by Civbert]
  26. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    That sounds almost like Descartes mental substance idea. Have you read Bahnsen's essay on Substantive monism ?

    I disagree with you. The brain and the soul cannot be seperated the way you imply they can.
  27. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Correction, Anthony: empiricism may fail you because you do not apply it correctly, but the empirical evidences do not fail. How can they fail if God created them, and they do give glory to His name, and they do proclaim His handiwork, His providential hand in upholding all things? No it is man that fails, it is his mind that has fallen into depravity. So empiricism fails you because you do not understand it. But empiricism does not fail. You actually have no way to conclude that, because you cannot rely on empirical proofs within your system to verify that. You have no empiricism.

    So of course it fails you. But do not judge other men's abilities or gifts. Some men are redeemed, and are given the mind of Christ, and are not totally depraved in their thinking, and are therefore able to make sense of the empirical evidences. That is what Mark is saying. And that is what this thread is about. Without this the Church could not rule objectively on what the Bible necessarily teaches. Not what men may think follows from Scripture, but what Scripture imposes and only that. Necessity is not capricious, contingent upon men; it is imposition of absolute truth.
  28. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    No, but I'd like to. How was it published? I'll give it a google. :um:
  29. Civbert

    Civbert Puritan Board Junior

    Empiricism fails because it does not work. Empiricism is the theory of knowledge that says knowledge comes from sensory experience alone, without any a priori knowledge. But knowledge is propositional, and senses are a different category, neither true nor false nor universal nor objective. So there are no empirical facts. There is our interpretation of sensation. And the only time that is objective is when it involves language or text. In which case, it is not empirical because you can not read without a priori knowledge.

    God did not create empirical evidence (or facts) because knowledge is really not empirical, in that you do not obtain knowledge through sensory experience. You gain knowledge through language and reason. When you see a mountain or a tree or a bacterium, they don't say anything to you - they do not speak or write or communicate in any way. What you might learn from them is a product of your reasoning from a priori knowledge - and with the enlightenment of the Spirit if you are regenerate.

    There is no such beast as an empirical proof. There are empirical formulas (which have nothing to do with empirical epistemology), and empirical theories which depend on a priori knowledge and rational thought to be formulated - so they are not of empiricism. Empirical proof is a fallacy.

    I am not judging anyone's abilities or gifts. I am trying to explain that empiricism is itself absurd. One can not lean anything from sensory experience alone. Empiricism fails you and me both.

    Indeed, we can make sense of our senses and experiences - because we have the mind of Christ. But that is not empiricism, and it is not rationalism. It is the Spirit that enlightens our minds to the truth which is contrary to the theory of empiricism and rationalism.

    I do not see the connection here. Are you saying reading is empirical? Nope, you must know before you read, the meaning of the words and ideas you will be working with.

    Necessity can not be determined by empiricism, and rationalism has no content to work with. Therefore we have the Scriptures, that give us a foundation, a justification of truth, by which we can know absolute truth.

    Clearly you and I are not using empiricism in the same manner. But when you start adding the enlightenment of the Spirit, or the truth we can learn from the Scriptures, then we are no longer taking about empiricism or rationalism. In effect, you are agreeing with the presuppositionalist who says that man can not make sense of reality without God. I say that man can know God exists because God has instilled knowledge of himself into the minds of all men at conception, and you seem to be saying the man can somehow reasonably infer the existence and nature of God through observation and by his own power of reason.

    As is often the case, the disagreements hinge on definitions - and arguing without understanding each other's definitions is rather pointless. We don't have to agree on definitions, but we should try to understand how we are using the terms differently. Because I think we are substantially in agreement on the effects of sin and the correcting effect of the Spirit on our knowledge and understanding. We differ on the means of gaining knowledge, and maybe on the definition of knowledge. But we are speaking are cross purpose regarding "empiricism" and "proof".

    [Edited on 1-21-2006 by Civbert]
  30. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree. The question is, then, who is using the term properly? I believe I have shown ample reason to show that the Presuppositionalists' views are suspect. I began also to show that I don't have to accept your view of things. I can believe the Bible and the revelation of God in creation without adopting your views.
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