Presupp before Van Til

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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm just thinking out loud here. No one disputes that Van Til and Bahnsen have really clarified and developed an excellent apologetic method in presuppositionalism. But it's new. So I'm wondering, since the truth is always with the church in some form or another, who were some predesessors to Van Til. I don't expect them to be as clear as Van Til obviously but it seems to me that if the method is so sound, the church would have at least encountered it in some primitive form long ago. I know that the idea of arguing an opponents position to absurdity to explain it's irrationality is a method of rhetoric that has been used for ages. Would this method of argument be the predesessor to presupp today? Know any historical authors who did this to defend Christianity?
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Here is Paul using presup at the Areopagus:

Acts 17
24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[2] 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for "'In him we live and move and have our being'
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:3a019cd8c7][i:3a019cd8c7]Originally posted by puritansailor[/i:3a019cd8c7]
I'm just thinking out loud here. No one disputes that Van Til and Bahnsen have really clarified and developed an excellent apologetic method in presuppositionalism. But it's new. So I'm wondering, since the truth is always with the church in some form or another, who were some predesessors to Van Til. I don't expect them to be as clear as Van Til obviously but it seems to me that if the method is so sound, the church would have at least encountered it in some primitive form long ago. I know that the idea of arguing an opponents position to absurdity to explain it's irrationality is a method of rhetoric that has been used for ages. Would this method of argument be the predesessor to presupp today? Know any historical authors who did this to defend Christianity? [/quote:3a019cd8c7]

Don't suppose more than you should Patrick. I still do dispute somethings, only it is not productive to do so in the way of open debate. I'm not going to dispute, for example, whether Van Til or Bahnsen are good expounders of a good apologetic method. That does not mean that I think they are; but it does mean that I won't go into things that are really only secondary at best.

We have been around the block a few times on different methodologies; and I have stated my objections as best I could at the time. I feel I could do it a bit better now that I know some more about the ins and outs of the Presup method. There is still a basic idea in it that I think is fallacious. And I am going to continue to try to get that across, if I may, until something gives, either for me or for those who believe otherwise.

Let this, however, not hinder us from using our talents and gifts to the best of our abilities for each others' benifits, for stirring each other up in love, and find great joy in each other's contribution for the glory of God.

I suppose the easiest way to put my main objection is this way: in knowing the truth we ween to be able to step out of ourselves, to look at it from an objective point of view; and that this not only is possible, but that it is the only way. And we are given the ability to do so by God, both in the certainty of His revelation of Himself in the creation around us, and in His revelation of Himself and His purposes in His Word.

So you can see a distinction here with Presuppositionalism.

Yet I do not, in any way, disparage the character of those on this Board who hold to their Presup views undisturbed by my views. I do not question their faith or sincerity. It has happened elsewhere that I was judged as inferior in faith, in character, and in soundness of theology, based not on criptural knowledge, not on doctrinal knowledge, not on any other thing but that I was not a Presup'ist. That I will outwardly say to be unfaithful, and with such I take umbrage. But I cannot ask someone to believe against his best understanding and his conscience.

So my disputations will take on a different tone, because the fellowship on this Board is in a different tone. I support and dearly love this tone. I will not go outside of it again, if I can help it. For just as much as I love this tone, I love my brothers on this Board too, the very ones who in their disputing with me have helped me immensely to understand myself and that which God is calling us all to understand.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Sorry Patrick, I do dispute the value of the apologetics system of VanTil. One reason I find it less then helpful is the way VanTillians glory in the circular nature of their reasoning.

Having said that let me add what I know about who were presuppositionalists before VanTil came along. Several immediately come to mind.

1. Abraham Kuypers

2. Gerhartus Vos

3. Herman Hoeksema


All three are Dutch not men standing in the Puritan tradition.

Dr. John Pipa makes an interesting arguement in Premise Volume III, Number 3, Dated 29 March 1996 that many puritans started with the assumption that all men possess an innate knowledge of God and are therefore presups rather then evidentialists. Ultimately I think his arguement fails. I think a closer read of most of the men Dr. Pipa sites will show that they held the evidentialist view of natural religion. {Primise is the monthly electronic journal of the Center for the Advancement of Paleo Orthodoxy}

If one is looking for presuppositionalists prior to the emergence of the Kuper/Bavinck tradition perhaps the place to start would be to look closely at the arguements made by some of those that the Thomists deride a fideists.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Ok, please take the fideisn charges to Paul's other thread for debate. I'm simply looking for historical precident of the Presupp type argument, using transcendentals to disprove the world views of unbelievers. Having been studying this for a few months now, though not exhaustively yet, I think there is some great wisdom in this approach. Am I completely sold on it yet? Well, not yet. Which is why I posed the historical question. If it is what it claims to be, then there should have been some history of it in the church though perhaps not as developed as today (i.e like the doctrine of justification). The fact that the church has been dominated by evidential or classic apologetics for a long time makes me proceed cautiously. But I think Van Til's criticism of such approaches ring true not only with the Scriptural view of Scripture and fallen man, but also with my own experience, that there is no such thing as neutral ground in an apologetic encounter. You must assume some type of worldview with set standards in order to understand each other and interact in any meaningful sense. People do this automatically whether they realize it or not. So the question ends up being which worldview do you assume for the encounter? Now if you disagree with the Presupp position, hey that's fine. For the purpose of this thread, Id just like to know more about it's history in the Church at large for my own understanding. We can debate the merits of the system itself in other threads.

John, I'm particularly interested in hearing your objections to the presupp method. Such an interchange I think would be beneficial to all. You have said yourself that there is much truth in the method, but that it was the truth in the method not the method itself which made it effective, or something to that effect. Please elaborate on this as I would like to understand more. From your quote above:
"I suppose the easiest way to put my main objection is this way: in knowing the truth we ween to be able to step out of ourselves, to look at it from an objective point of view; and that this not only is possible, but that it is the only way. And we are given the ability to do so by God, both in the certainty of His revelation of Himself in the creation around us, and in His revelation of Himself and His purposes in His Word. "
It would seem that you have your own method in mind. Could you please explain it some more in a new thread?

[Edited on 5-21-2004 by puritansailor]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:cafda5b072][i:cafda5b072]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:cafda5b072]
[quote:cafda5b072]
For the purpose of this thread, Id just like to know more about it's history in the Church at large for my own understanding.
[/quote:cafda5b072]

was my post(s) helpful, Patrick? I thought I showed a pretty consistant pedigree throughout church history, though not fully developed as you pointed out (but just like CT and TULIP were not). I also love that section i.iv in the confession. I think I could show by quotes that the other methods would call that circular reasoning. I think the confession takes a presup position w/respects to what standard we should submit to when asking *why* should I believe Holy Scripture. What did you think?

-Paul [/quote:cafda5b072]
Oh Paul yes it was helpful. I wasn't discounting your input at all. Just seeking more input (and trying to keep the thread on course) :) That is one benefit of the PB, a multitude of counselors. I'll be looking into the guys you mentioned.
So what do you think of Anselm? In your opinion do you think the seeds of Presupp were in his thoughts?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Chiming in out of turn (as usual)

GPTS' apologetics professor (Dr. Jerry Crick) wrote his ThD dissertation on the presuppositional nature of Anselm's ontological argument. Might be worth a read .... No, I don't know how you could get a copy. You'll have to call/write/email Greenville ([email protected]).
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Paul, how much does Gary North conrtibute to that volume? I'm sure Bahnsen's essay will be fine but I lost all respect for North with the whole Y2K nonsense.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
For me Anselm's approach was simplicity itself. I certainly couldn't say it better. I guess that's the problem, though. I'll get back to this in a moment.

First, though, many of you may like to know what the word "ween" means. Well I do too. But I believe I meant to say, "need"; how I got "ween" out of that I'll never know.

Also, last night I had an answer all made up for Paul, and now for Patrick too. (I'm glad you said what you did, Patrick, because I wasn't sure if that was what you wanted in this thread. ) But I followed my habit of typing it out in the PB box, which always has it's problems with time-outs and saving; and just as I was nearing the end of my proof-reading the hydro cut off, and I lost everything. And I was quite happy with what I had written too. The power was off for only five seconds, but that was enough to warn me not to use the computer anymore in case it happened again (we were having a thunderstorm at the time. )

I had worked on it for quite some time, so when I lost it I also lost my initiative to rewrite it from scratch again. But the ideas are still there, so I'll try again.

Back to Anselm. I am inclined to think that he is very much misunderstood in our time. I believe that we are in a pholosophical mindset that obviates his type of thinking. I have tried, but not well enough, to rejuvenate his ideas, as I understand them, but I cannot seem to get past a mental roadblock, an intellectual barrier. It may be my own, but I don't believe that it is. However, I may yet be wrong; I just don't think so at present.

I have written a few chapters of my new look at Anselm's Ontological Argument, but I have not followed up with more chapters, some of which are already written, some still only in idea stage. I've left it off because I think that there is a lot of background work to do first.

What I have observed is that Presup'ism is counter to the Ontological approach; well, what I call the Ontological approach, which may cause some confusion, I admit. Before I can openly and simply state it, I have to overcome some current trends in thinking that I think make it difficult to communicate and to understand what I believe to be quite simple. I think that we can apply Occam's Razor to the disputations, and see how simply beautiful and full the Ontological approach is compared to the Presup approach.

First, though, we, including myself, need to be open to the fact that we do not know near enough to simply write off other views as being less Biblical than the one we hold to. I do see some great value in the Presup position, as it has grown from the earlier stages to what it is today. As it grows, and especially as it itself believes that it has dealt the death-blow to Evidentialism, I begin to see in it what Evidentialism really used to be at one time, and what it ought to have become if it had stayed consistent. Classicism has also suffered from it's own abuses, and I see the Presup's taking it over, sometimes showing shades of being true classicists. When Paul, and other presups, claim that Presup'ism is the true Evidentialism, I won't argue; not because I think they are right, but because I am hopeful of the things that I read and hear from presup's, things that they think is Presup'ism, but is really heading toward good Evidentialism.

In my way of thinking, there certainly cannot be any avoidance of a use of a prsupposition in any discussion. Presuppositions are integral parts of the Evidential and Classical systems. But some have claimed that that attribute makes even Anselm, or Calvin, Presuppers. I cannot agree with that. The use of presuppositions is not the tell-tale ingredient of Presup'ism. I think the root identifier of Presup'ism is that a presupposition is the [i:daf133207e]root[/i:daf133207e] of all understanding, and that is far different.

The second step in Presup'ism is that, in order to understand anything at all one must first presuppose God. And that is entirely backwards: one does, without fail, like it or not, presuppose God, whether one knows it or not, because one does understand something, even if that is that he understands that he does not understand. To understand anything is to presuppose God; presupposing the God Who Is is unavoidable for everyone. So in that sense, everyone unavoidably operates on the same presupposition.

The third step is that one must presuppose the Word before one understands the world and anything in it. I believe that it is put this way, "There are no Brute Facts." And I believe that this too is opposite, though lately, after carefully seeking definitions, I have found that this assertion is coming more and more to mean what it should mean, though it is still a ways away. What I believe is that there is nothing but brute interpreted fact, that there can be no distinction between what Presup's call "brute fact" and what they call "interpreted fact." What they call Brute Fact cannot exist, for it demands, by definition, that it exist outside of God's purposes and pleasure. That simply cannot be. Every fact is what it is because God made it. Thus every fact is brute, and every fact is, in their terms, interpreted. But this requires much more for me to make this clearer for you, for there seems to be inherent misunderstanding in my assertion here of what the Presupper holds to be "brute facts." It really is not so, but I have to leave at this for now.

I believe that the Word was not instituted for the sake of epistemology. I believe that the Word came into existence with the state of Israel as a separate and individual nation, through the leading of Moses. Before that there was no written Word. Yet it is believed that Job lived before that time. But certainly Abraham, and Noah, and Enoch did; and many others did too, many who believed because of the word of those who witnssed God's voice. They were not without knowing. Please do not think that I am leading you down a garden path here, creating a false dilemma. That is not what I mean. I am only restating what it says in Romans 1, that those without the Word, without the law, having only the witness of the creation, have no excuse. That means that the reading and knowledge of the Word is not prerequisite to the knowledge of God. And it seems to me that Presup's aver that it is. They take the self-revealing Christ to be limited to the Word alone, but not in creation.

I agree that the Word is central to understanding well, that those without the Word are prone to error, and that those who reject the Word are already in error, epistemologically. I see Presup'ism saying this too, and I will not fight against that. But all men, with or without the Word, know God's existence. It is in the simplest concoctions of their minds; it is unavoidable. And that is because no fact is brute; or rather every brute fact is interpreted and cannot be otherwise.

I said, as quoted twice above, once by Paul and once by Patrick, that we need to be able to step out of ourselves, to see things objectively. The "things" I refer to are truths, unabashed naked truths as made by God to be what they are, revealing what He intended to reveal. Because God's revelation of Himself in nature, said in the Word to be perspicuous, is sufficient for all to know Him, and to render Him His due, it is not the fault of the poor nature of the revelation that it is not appreciatied by man, for it is not a poor revelation. It is rather a revelation filled with splendour, and rather than be hidden is unavoidably clear for all. So much so that people without the Word, without the law, can apply laws unto themselves, even in their ignorance. And they universally do. That law is still God's law, and none other's. Any principle that man applies is in reality a revelation of God of Himself to the man without the Bible.

So man presupposes truths long before he knows the Word. The basics of epistemology are not in the Word, as much as the refinements of it are found in the Word; but rather the basics of the self-revealing Christ is already in the creation. The creation too is a divine revelation, as much as the Word is, as perspicuous within its scope as the Word is, as condemning of man's sinfulness as the Word is. There is no subjugation of the revelation of God in nature to the revelation of God in the Word; they work together, and are complimentary. They are both glorious in what they reveal, and the one does not disparage against the other. There is no dichotomy, and no contradiction of truths revealed in and by each.

Man's sin, however, renders his mind not inoperable, but anti-revelation. He is predisposed in his nature to hate God in every way that He reveals Himself. Though God is emminently displayed in the things that are made, man hides his mind's eye from it, deceiving himself. There are actually no real presuppositions that are void of God's revelation of Himself, but man likes to believe he has them all the same. The presup's are right, you can trace any thought-form back to the presupposition that requires an acknowledgement of God. But that is the Ontological method; That is what Anselm said.

So it is not that Anselm can be said to be a Presupper at heart; it seems to me to be more true that Presuppers are becoming more Anselmian at heart. I looked for that dissertation by Crick a few years ago, and couldn't find it. But I was glad to hear of it. Also, I have left off trying to critique those who think that Calvin was a Presupper. Let them think so. I hope they read Calvin more and more because of that. And maybe the Presup camp will more and more become like him in thought. They are headed that way, I believe.

Lastly, I would like to add a disclaimer of sorts. I dearly love my presup friends on this Board. They are not at all like those with whom I have had to do in the past. They do not deride and abase those who are not Presuppers. They do not deny the faithfulness of those who cannot accept Presup'ism. They do not say that all those who are not Presuppers are in an epistemological never-never land, suggesting therby that these do not even have the assurance of Christ as their saviour. They are not as prone to overstatment as the ones I've dealt with in the past. The importance of apologetics has its rightful place with the members on this Board. And I can say the things I said without worries of being tossed out of their fellowship in sheer anger, like I have been in other places of implacability. The wonderful thing about these brothers is that they have been of very great benefit to my own thinking and spiritual growth. I have no doubt whatsoever of God's hand in their souls.

Therefore I am humbled by the fact that God is as faithful to them as He is to me, and that He does not show favoritism in this. I am convinced that we are of value to each other, that we can differ in true brotherhood with gifts that God has given each of us for our mutual benefit. I make no claim to being exclusively right; I only stand by what I believe because I believe that the Word of God makes such claims. I only hope to understand what God expects of me, and I don't mean to be lazy in pursuing the course He has given me. My recent illness has given me great opportunity to contemplate things I did not have enough time for before; but I also cannot use my time unwisely to chase after things I ought not to chase after. My brothers on this Board are, in that sense, more a blessing to me than they will likely ever know.

All these things I say in trust to you all. I mean to express myself only in the hopes of mutual benefit, of the hope of being corrected in grace and love, and in the hope that I have been faithful to what God has given me. At no point do I seek or hope for controversy. I'm merely trying to be open.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Paul:
I don't take your question as a slam. In fact it is very thoughtful.

I do say that I allign myself with Anselm. When I say that I am also alligning myself with Augustine, and so also with Calvin. But in the other direction, if I allign myself with Augustine, then I also align myself with Paul the Apostle, since Augustine is the scholar extraordinaire on him. But now it is sounding too boastful. Yet my main allignment is the Belgic Confession, art. II. It is clearly stated there, and seems to be the real classical mindset up until then. So it is a backdrop for Aquinas, for Kant, for Descartes, and also for Van Til. But we seem not to be able to read it in its simplicity anymore. Yet it is nowhere so elegantly and economically put, unless it is in Anselm's Proslogium in a fuller sense.

I don't think of it as strange and new. I think it is the Presupposition behind the presupposition, so to speak. It was always there, and yet maybe always not there at the same time. It is ever old, yet ever new. Or I can say it in Plantingian terms: it is the warrant behind the warrant. In any case, even if you do not agree with me it seems to me that you cannot avoid assuming it. It has always been so. And it is placed right next to the articles on God's attributes and on His Word. It is unmistakeably historical.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks John for your thoughts. I'm at work now so I can't respond yet, but I do have some questions.

Thanks for the links Paul, I shall investigate.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
SO would men like Scotus or Ockham considered to have been Presupps "in the rough" for the manner in which they differed from Aquinus?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:b45357b825][i:b45357b825]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:b45357b825]
John,

Is there any today who hold to your method? You have mentioned that you do not hold to any of the current schools. So should I conclude that what you are really saying is that [i:b45357b825]everyone[/i:b45357b825] in the church today is wrong and that only you follow a correct method? If not can you clarify what you mean by saying that you do not hold to any of the positions today? Thanks.

-Paul [/quote:b45357b825]

Are there others who do not confine themselves to any one methodology? Sure, there must be, for the Belgic Confession is still in vogue.

There is a school of Anselmians as well, Alvin Plantinga being one of them. Thus, instead of being a "warrantist" he is more ontological, only on a philosophical level. In fact, "warrant" is one of his Ontolgical terms.

C. S. Lewis is definitely one. I will end this post with the quote that is on every post of mine. It states eloquently in one sentence what it takes me an entire essay to say.

Is my "method" another exclusive human method? I certainly hope not, for that would defeat it's purpose.

Is it not Classical, or Evidential, or perhaps even Presuppositional? Yes to all three. But it is more than that.

Is it not more like Douglas Groothuis' view, a "verificationist"? Well, yes, but without the liberal accoutrements.

Perhaps a good comparision is in order. If the Bible's meaning of millennium is the true interest of the millennialist, then his goal is not to prove one of the human millennial views that man has come up with, but to prove the Biblical one. It may have traces of each of the views that man has not yet been able to put together, but which they think belong in separate camps. Or it may not be any of the views that man has yet perceived. It may even be one of the views. In any case, he is a fool to confine himself to human institutions instead of a Biblical one; for he actually cuts himself off from his quest if he refuses to acknowledge the truths that are in other views.

In a similar manner, the plainness of the Belgic Confession's statement is inarguably accurate to Scripture's teaching of God's revelation in both Scripture and nature. There are things in modern Evidentialism that miss that point, as well as in Classicism, but most poignantly in Presuppositionalism. In fact, I am not an apologist, but a believer. I see God in all the things around me, and it is irrefutably so. It relies not at all, not one bit, on my presuppositions, but rather my presuppositions rely on the necessity of the truth of God's revelation of Himself in nature and in Scripture; as do all men's, without exception. It is not that men have different presuppositions, but that they believe different lies, that they evade the presuppositions they do hold, whether or not they believe it. I believe that that is what is meant by "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness".

So, whereas Presuppers wish to push objectors into their presuppositions in order to refute their conclusions (which is noble, and true, and right ) I wish to push men out of their presuppostions, their deceptions, into the light of the truth. And that includes myself, for I too yet need to overcome many of my own deceptions in order to understand what is plainly before my eyes to understand. Men's presuppositions hang in mid air, logically, because they are no presuppostions at all, but rather deceptions.

So we are not at opposite ends here, and we need to understand that. Presupper are right to refute men's "presuppositions" for they are not truly presuppositions at all; and we need to drive men out of them so that they come to terms with the truths they have spent their lives running from, for there is grace, not condemnation in the light. We need to confine ourselves not to Presuppostionalism, but to truth itself, to the gospel. When these are confused, so that Presuppositionalism is the norm for truth rather than the authority of the Bible, then there is trouble. Remember, Presuppositionalism is not the norm for every believer.

What makes understanding in matters of the true faith difficult is not the facts, but our hearts. "Brute fact" and "interpreted fact" are meaningless terms, for the problem lies not with the facts, but with the heart's refusal of them. What we lack in our day, even among Christians, is the acknowledgement that there truly is only one true and existant God, and that it is only His attributes that are perspicuously displayed, even for unbelievers to see; why not much more Christians? There is no such thing as a generic god, or any other god. It is not possible that one could prove that [b:b45357b825]a[/b:b45357b825] god exists; but it is equally impossible that [b:b45357b825]the[/b:b45357b825] God's existence remain unproven. For Jehovah God is, and He only is plainly revealed in the things that are made.

It is also not true that the Christ is revealed exclusively in the Scripture. The self-attesting Christ is also revealed in the creation. This revelation is less clear, but yet clear enough. The Christ Himself relied on that witness for His own testimony. Look at the miracles, look at His life, look at His sayings. These are written in Scripture, but are intrinsically part of the natural revelation. It is not just that these things are written of Him, but that they actually happened in space-time history. We believe the Apostles because they saw, heard, and touched. They are eye-witnesses, and we believe their testimony. They reported what they have seen, heard, and touched. It was real. And we believe them. Therefore the way that they believed is not different than the way we ought to believe. It happened in the creation, and is testified in Scripture.

Therefore, everyone who believes, regardless of their particular apologetic methodology, is of the same school as I am. And I am of theirs. Our problem is not to convince each other of our schools of thought, but to be convinced by truth itself.

Claiming for Presuppositionalism what the Scripture does not explicitly, or necessarily from reason, state, is more audacity than it is proper reasoning. Presuppositionalism is a methodology that was conceived of by man, and so is limited in scope and extent. There may be many things right about it, or maybe not, but it still a far cry from being Biblically necessary, as all the churches agree. It is a human institution, not a Biblical one. So my aim is higher than that. Is that so wrong?

Van Til is claimed to be difficult to understand at times. He is reported to have been vague on many things. Yet his teachings on Presuppostionalism come out clear, to the point that he has followers to this day; even followers of his thinking exclulsivley. That forces the assumption that at one time he too stood alone. Perhaps it was his own unwillingness to seem to be standing alone with an entirely new understanding for his age that he appeared to be vague, so as not seem intrusive. He certainly had that quality of care in him. Yet he too at one time held a view that was out of sync with his generation. Yet he is a hero to many today.

And so it is said of every age. It is those who stand apart that are singled out for recogniton, not those who go with the flow. So we ought not to fear being alone, if we are sure that the Scripture is our guide, and not our own egos, our own deceptions.

Again, I do not wish to be contentious. I say this in the perfect expectation of calm and objective discussion. I do not want to hide my sentiments, for how can I be corrected like that? Yet I am convinced that my sentiments are in line with the revelation of God of Himself in both the creation and in the Scripture, and that I have not strayed outside of the Reformed standards. What impedes me in my views is not Scripture, or the Standards of Faith, but the generally accepted conventions of our time. I am constantly prayerful and watchful that I am not self-deceived, but that does not excuse my errors.

Nor do I impose my views on others, or obligate others to the same views. I have tried to be gracious in conversation, and engaged those of other views with respect and dignity. Only last December did I slip away from that determination of mine. And for that I am sorry, still. But I believe what I do, and am grounded by Scripture and the Confessions, and not by my own lusts.

I could have let all this out last December, when it would have been understood even less than it is now. The time is better now than it was then. The tone of contention caused me to seek a better and more respectful method. Since then I have been slowly and respectfully discussing in a manner so as to allow for my beliefs to be brought to light, and to be corrected, so that no one need feel his toes are being stepped on. I am Reformed, and I am a believer; and this post reflects what I believe in the area of apologetics. I do not want to alienated because I am not a Presupper. That has happened before, in church, and I believe that to be a heinous crime against God's children, for there is no Biblical warrant for such exclusiveness. I wish to reserve the right to disagree with the popular trend in Presuppositionalism. My critiques of Evidentialism and Classicism is nothing more than an admission that these too are not perfect. But I do agree much more with them than with Presuppositionalism; and in fact I believe that they too have an inherent presuppositionalism in them, if only they would recognize it, just as there is an Evidentialism and Classicism in Presuppositionalism. To this end I struggle, with you, my friends, that we may be of one mind. I wish to add the truths of the methods together, to get at the true method.

I end where I began, with my own signature line, a quote from C.S. Lewis, who was also of the same thought as I:

"In coming to understand anything we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are" C.S Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm afraid, Paul, that you misunderstood me.

I stated what I did because I thought the time was right to be open about it. The fact that you do not understand it is a good reason for you to ask me about it, not to write me off. But I did not expect that the open statement of my views would result in complete agreement. Of course on always has that hope; but I said what I did so that you know that I am not a Presuppositionalist in the sense that you are. I do believe in the evidences, and that makes me generically an Evidentialist; I do believe the Classical ideals, and that makes me generically a Classicist; and I do think that we should address those schemes of men's minds that they think are the foundations and bases of their methodologies which oppose the truth of the gospel, and that makes me generically a Presuppositionalist.

But I do not think that reason is ultimately circular; I do not believe that there is such a thing as "brute facts" unless all facts are to be thought of as "brute" and "interpreted"; I do not believe that presuppositions are necessarly the first order of business for the apologist; and I do not believe that one can alienate the ontological necessity from any apologetic methodology.

Does this put me in a category all by myself? Does this then alienate me from the truth, just because I am not in line with the conventions of men? I disagree with both.

Paul, I am willing to be convinced. You just have not done so. Just as I have not convinced you.

So let us leave off convincing each other. The truth will come out; it has to, for that is it's nature. All we need to do is be subject to it's dictates, not each other's. Let us find a way to open ourselves to the gentle nature of God's truth, not fearing it's end. If you are right, what have you to lose?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Paul:

I know that you agree with some of the things that I believe. You do not question apologetic contributions, do you? I have been of some value, I hope. Nor do you question my faith. I am not seen as some quack; I hope I have impressed myself upon this Board a bit better than that. I maynot be understood, but I am not off the wall either.

I cannot take up the challenge of proving the laws of logic without using them, and you know that. But how do I make you see that the very same criticisms that you direct at others can be directed to you as well, and do so graciously? I am not going to get into it that way; I already said that many times. I am not going to thwart your efforts, Paul. I am in hopes that the readers of this Board are interested in seeing the truth, just as we are; and that we are seen as complimentary to that end, and not opposed. I am trying to avoid doing this confrontationally.

Yes, there are aspects of your reasoning that are consistent with those with which I had to do in the past. The attitude is different, and that makes all the difference, even in the apologetic itself.

I am not going to get into a discussion of what a tree is, nor do I think that I am being disingenuous in doing so. If this is an embarrassmet to me, then let it be so. In the end, I believe, it will come out right.

I intend not to be called out by you, but rather to continue to speak according to my understanding. Perhaps I see things that others do not, or perhaps I am greatly mistaken; but whatever the case may be, I am not threatened by the fact that there are others who hold different views. I used to be, but not anymore. I am rather quite happy for it, because it tests my faith, and purges those things which need purging. I am more concerned about being threatened by my own views, for I am still weak in the flesh and in the mind. I used to think that I had to convince everyone of what I clearly saw, so every other view was a threat. That is no longer so for me. Some views are a threat, but not to the truth: nothing can harm truth. So I do not fear for truth; I fear that men are deceived. No matter what man may say, God is just as clearly displayed in the things that are as He was yesterday, and centuries before.

The reason that I will not engage on Presuppositional grounds is because I think that that is part of the problem in comprehending our differences. I have tried to do so in the past, and it seemed hopeless. There is a quality to such interactions that is frustrating; not in that the arguments are quelled, but that they are frustrated. I felt I had said some things quite plainly, but that they never reached the reader. I too have said many things that have remained unanswered.

So I continue to seek a way that we can communicate these things to each other. I've been through the tree thing a number of times, and have no interest in it unless it is reciprocated. I do not question your sincerety or your intention, I merely question whether the groundwork is in place for our mutual benefit yet. Just as I cannot explain to you, no matter how plainly I say it, how I differ with you, so it seems that you cannot explain to me how you differ with me. I await a time of better opportunity then.

And this too constitutes part of the ongoing discussion.
 
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