Presuppositional question

Status
Not open for further replies.

SolaSaint

Puritan Board Sophomore
After listening to James White today on the Dividing Line I now have a newer and greater respect for Presuppositional Apologetics. I now see it a little clearer in opposition to evidential apologetics methods which I hold to. My question is what is the best reference material for someone at a besic level. I hear Van Til is a hard read, is there materials that a novice can grasp? Thanks and God Bless.
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Well, I just posted some notes on the first chapter from Greg Bahnsen's Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended at my blog yesterday. I have found the book, thus far, very easy to read and understand. I don't know if it will get more complicated/technical in later chapters, but you may want to take a look at the notes I posted and if you like what you see, buy the book.

Here are my notes: The Ruling Elder: Notes on Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended by Greg Bahnsen: Chapter 1

Here is a link to the book for sale: Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended :: General Apologetics :: Apologetics :: Monergism Books :: Reformed Books - Discount Prices - Free Shipping
 

SolaSaint

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks Seth, I had heard Bahsen was an easier read than Van Til, just wanted to confirm it and see if there is any other good sources.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth [Paperback]
Jr. Richard L. Pratt

This book is an excellent introduction to the subject. It was originally written for high school students.
 

MarquezsDg

Puritan Board Freshman
maybe you guys can help me understand something. I also saw Dr White video. I have a question and maybe i just dont understand Presupp fully yet. In his debate with Silveman (Is the NT evil) You can clearly see the presupp approach in that debate but in his debate with Dr. Erhman didnt he use evidence in that debate when he gave his defense? is there a time where its good to use a presupp aproach and a time to use an evidence approach?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
maybe you guys can help me understand something. I also saw Dr White video. I have a question and maybe i just dont understand Presupp fully yet. In his debate with Silveman (Is the NT evil) You can clearly see the presupp approach in that debate but in his debate with Dr. Erhman didnt he use evidence in that debate when he gave his defense? is there a time where its good to use a presupp aproach and a time to use an evidence approach?
Yes it is all about keeping in perspective. You can provide all the evidence in the world to prove that the bible is accurate to the original writings but that doesn't by itself prove that it is the Word of God. The use of evidence is a must you just have to know its limitations.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say that a presuppositional approach would still use 'evidence'. It would simply use that evidence within the context of addressing the presuppositions of the unbeliever. For instance, Ehrman said in his debate with Dan Wallace last October that he would only consider evidence for the New Testament to be 'good evidence' if we were to find 10 manuscript copies of the gospel of Mark dated to within 10 days of the original. You can see that he is demanding a level of evidence that could only exist in a world that had photocopiers. Of course, even if such evidence existed it would not prove that scripture was the infallible and inspired word of God.

A presuppositionalist would gladly point out the fact that the New Testament has more manuscript copies that are dated closer to the originals that any other work of antiquity (probably more than any work until the invention of the printing press). He would also point out that Ehrman is inconsistent with his standards (seeing as how he does not discard nearly all history of Western Civilization). So it is important to get to the bottom of the unbeliever's worldview, and show how his presuppositions have forced to him to be inconsistent in his interpretation of reality.

---------- Post added at 11:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:42 AM ----------

For those who are interested in hearing Dr. James White discuss presuppositionalism, here is the video (I highly recommend it): Today on the Dividing Line: Apologetic Methodology
 

Apologist4Him

Puritan Board Freshman
Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth [Paperback]
Jr. Richard L. Pratt

This book is an excellent introduction to the subject. It was originally written for high school students.
I second the Richard Pratt book, also recommend listening to Greg Bahnsen: Covenant Media Foundation - CD Sets I HIGHLY recommend Westminster Theological Seminary's media center: Westminster Theological Seminary - Media Center (sign up is easy and free for access to download any and all of the lectures available there) Most if not all of Van Til's recorded lectures are available for free there, also among the presuppositional apologist on the speaker list is: Scott Oliphant, William Edgar, Greg Bahnsen, and John Frame. However, I should note that CMF does have by far the best selection of Bahsen lectures available (for purchase). I highly recommend Scott Oliphant's free lectures on apologetics avaiable at WTS media center. He really does a great job of explaining Van Tillian presuppositinalism.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Though some Van Til may be tough slogging, his Christian Apologetics is not, and I would recommend starting there. From there check out Bahnsen's, Van Til's Apologetics: Readings & Analysis, or Always Ready -- which, too, is a simple guide.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
To understand Van Til, you need to understand the dogmatic framework he was working his apologetic out of. I believe many today jump to the philosophical ideas of apologetics without a grounding in the foundational ideas that the Reformed have historically held about the nature of Revelation and how many possesses knowledge of God and the created order.

Berkhof wrote an Introductory Work to his Systematic theology that forms a prologemena of his his work. The following are helpful excerpts that will explain Van Til's writings much better than those who attempt to only cast his thought into a philosophical framework:


The Principia of Dogmatics

I. Principia in General

A. Principia in Non-Theological Sciences

1. Definition of ‘Principium.’ In a discussion of principia it is naturally of the greatest importance to know exactly what the term denotes. ‘Principium’ is a term that is widely used in science and philosophy. It is the Latin rendering of the Greek word arche, beginning, a term which Aristotle used to denote the primary source of all being, actuality, or knowledge. The English word ‘principle’ is derived from it, and corresponds with it in meaning, especially when it denotes a source or cause from which a thing proceeds. The term first principle is an even closer approximation to it. After giving several meanings of the word arche, Aristotle says: “What is common to all first principles, is that they are the primary source from which anything is, becomes, or is known.” Eisler in his Handwoerterbuch der Philosophie gives the following definition: “Prinzip ist also sowohl das, woraus ein Seiendes hervorgegangen ist oder was den Dingen zugrunde liegt (Realprinzip, Seinsprinzip), als das, warauf sich das Denken und Erkennen notwendig stuetzt (Denkprinzip, Erkenntnisprinzip, Idealprinzip formaler unde materialer Art), als auch ein oberster Gesichtspunkt, eine Norm des Handelns (praktisches Prinzip).” The statement of Fleming in Krauth-Fleming’s Vocabulary of the philosophical Sciences is in perfect agreement with this: “The word is applied equally to thought and to being; and hence principles have been divided into those of being and those of knowledge, or principia essendi and principia cognoscendi.… Principia essendi may also be principia cognoscendi for the fact that things exist is the ground or reason of their being known. But the converse does not hold; for the existence of things is in no way dependent on our knowledge of them.” In ancient philosophy principia essendi, and in modern philosophy principia cognoscendi, receive the greater amount of attention. There is on the one hand a remarkable similarity between the principia that apply in the non-theological sciences and those that are pertinent to theology; but on the other hand there is also a difference that should not be disregarded. The former bear a natural and therefore general character. They are given with creation itself, are as such adapted to man as man, and have a controlling influence in all non-theological sciences.

2. Principia of the Non-Theological Sciences. These are the following three:

a. God is the principium essendi. God is the source and fountain of all our knowledge. He possesses an archetypal knowledge of all created things, embracing all the ideas that are expressed in the works of His creation. This knowledge of God is quite different from that of man. While we derive our knowledge from the objects we perceive, He knows them in virtue of the fact that He has from eternity determined their being and form. While we attain to a scientific insight into things and relations only by a laborious process of discursive thought, He has an immediate knowledge of all things, and knows them not only in their relations but also in their very essence. And even so our knowledge is imperfect, while His knowledge is all-comprehensive and perfect in every way. We are only partly conscious of what we know, while He is always perfectly conscious of all His knowledge. The fulness of the divine knowledge is the inexhaustible source of all our knowledge, and therefore God is the principium essendi of all scientific knowledge. Naturally, Pantheism with its impersonal and unconscious Absolute cannot admit this, for a God, who has no knowledge Himself, can never be the principle or source of our knowledge. In fact, all absolute Idealism would seem to involve a denial of this principle, since it makes man an autonomous source of knowledge. The origin of knowledge is sought in the subject; the human mind is no more a mere instrument, but is regarded as a real fons or source.

b. The world as God’s creation is the principium cognoscendi externum. Instead of “the world as God’s creation” we might also say “God’s revelation in nature.” Of His archetypal knowledge God has conveyed an ectypal knowledge to man in the works of His hands, a knowledge adapted to the finite human consciousness. This ectypal knowledge is but a faint reproduction of the archetypal knowledge found in God. It is on the one hand real and true knowledge, because it is an imprint, a reproduction, though in temporal and therefore limited forms, of the knowledge of God. On the other hand it is, just because it is ectypal, no complete knowledge, and since sin put its stamp on creation, no perfectly clear nor absolutely true knowledge. God conveyed this knowledge to man by employing the Logos, the Word, as the agent of creation. The idea that finds expression in the world is out of the Logos. Thus the whole world is an embodiment of the thoughts of God or, as Bavinck puts it, “a book in which He has written with large and small letters, and therefore not a writing-book in which we, as the Idealists think, must fill in the words.” God’s beautiful creation, replete with divine wisdom, is the principium cognoscendi externum of all non-theologial sciences. It is the external means, by which the knowledge that flows from God is conveyed to man. This view of the matter is, of course absolutely opposed to the principle of Idealism, that the thinking man creates and construes his own world: not only the form of the world of thought (Kant), but also its material and contents (Fichte), and even the world of being (Hegel).

c. Human reason is the principium cognoscendi internum. The objective revelation of God would be of no avail, if there were no subjective receptivity for it, a correspondence between subject and object. Dr. Bavinck correctly says: “Science always consists in a logical relation between subject and object.” It is only when the subject is adapted to the object that science can result. And God has also provided for this. The same Logos that reveals the wisdom of God in the world is also the true light, “which lighteth every man coming into the world.” Human reason with its capacity for knowledge is the fruit of the Logos, enables man to discover the divine wisdom in the world round about him, and is therefore the principium cognoscendi internum of science. By means of it man appropriates the truth revealed in creation. It is not satisfied with an aphoristic knowledge of details, but seeks to understand the unity of all things. In a world of phenomena which are many and varied, it goes in quest of that which is general, necessary, and eternal,—the underlying fundamental idea. It desires to understand the cause, the essential being, and the final purpose of things. And in its intellectual activity the human mind is never purely passive, or even merely receptive, but always more or less active. It brings with it certain general and necessary truths, which are of fundamental significance for science and cannot be derived from experience. This thought is denied by Empiricism in two different ways: (1) by regarding the human spirit as a tabula rasa and denying the existence of general and necessary truths; and (2) by emphasizing analytical experience rather than synthetic reason. Dr. Bavinck points out that it ended in Materialism. Says he: “First the thought-content, then the faculty, and finally also the substance of the spirit is derived from the material world.”

B. Principia in Religion or Theology

Religion and theology are closely related to each other. They are both effects of the same cause, that is, of the facts respecting God in His relation to the universe. Religion is the effect which these facts produce in the sphere of the individual and collective life of man, while theology is the effect which they produce in the sphere of systematic thought. The principia of the one are also the principia of the other. These principia are not of a natural and general, but of a spiritual and special character. They do not belong to the realm of creation as such, but to the sphere of redemption. Notwithstanding this fact, however, they are also of inestimable value for the Christian pursuit of scientific knowledge in general.

1. God is the Principium Essendi. This is equivalent to saying that all our knowledge of God has its origin in God Himself. God possesses a complete and in every way perfect knowledge of Himself. He knows Himself in the absolute sense of the word, not only as He is related to His creatures, nor merely in His diversified activities and their controlling motives, but also in the unfathomable depths of His essential Being. His self-consciousness is perfect and infinite; there is no sub-conscious life in Him, no subliminal region of unconscious mentality. And of that absolute, perfectly conscious self-knowledge of God, the knowledge which man has of the divine Being is but a faint and creaturely copy or imprint. All human knowledge of God is derived from Him, Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:10 f. And because there can be no knowledge of God in man apart from self-consciousness in God, Pantheism spells death for all theology. It is impossible to deduce a conscious creature from an unconscious God, a creature that knows God from a God that does not know Himself. We can find the principium of our theology only in a personal God, perfect in self-consciousness, as He freely, consciously, and truly reveals Himself.

2. The Principium Cognoscendi Externum is God’s Special Revelation. The knowledge which God desires that we should have of Him is conveyed to us by means of the revelation that is now embraced in Scripture. Originally God revealed Himself in creation, but through the blight of sin that original revelation was obscured. Moreover, it was entirely insufficient in the condition of things that obtained after the fall. Only God’s self-revelation in the Bible can now be considered adequate. It only conveys a knowledge of God that is pure, that is, free from error and superstition, and that answers to the spiritual needs of fallen man. Because it has pleased God to embody His special revelation in Scripture for the time being, this, in the words of Bavinck, has the character of a “causa efficiens instrumentalis of theology.” It is now the principium unicum, from which the theologian must derive his theological knowledge. Some are inclined to speak of God’s general revelation as a second source; but this is hardly correct in view of the fact that nature can come into consideration here only as interpreted in the light of Scripture. Kuyper warns against speaking of Scripture, or God’s special revelation, as the fons theologiae, since the word fons has a rather definite meaning in scientific study. It denotes in general a certain object of study which is in itself passive, but which embodies certain ideas, and from which man must, by means of scientific study, extract or elicit knowledge. The use of that word in this connection is apt to give the impression that man must place himself above Scripture, in order to discover or elicit from these the knowledge of God, while as a matter of fact this is not the case. God does not leave it to man to discover the knowledge of Him and of divine things, but actively and explicitly conveys this to man by means of His self-revelation. This same idea was later on also stressed by Schaeder and Barth, namely, that in the study of theology God is never the object of some human subject, but is always Himself the subject. We should bear in mind that the word ‘principium,’ as we use it in theology, has a casual signification, just as the corresponding Hebrew and Greek words do in the Bible, when it speaks of the fear of the Lord as the principle (reshith) of wisdom (Ps. 111:10) or knowledge (Prov. 1:7), and of Christ as the principle (arche) of creation and of the resurrection (Col. 1:18; Rev. 3:14). By means of His self-revelation God communicates the requisite knowledge of Himself and of divine things to man. Man can know God only because and in so far as God actively reveals Himself. And if we do speak of Scripture as the fountain-head of theology, we shall have to remember that it is a living fountain, from which God causes the streams of knowledge to flow, and that we have but to appropriate these. The same point should be borne in mind, when we follow the common custom in speaking of God’s special revelation as the source of theology. Man cannot place himself above his object in theology; he cannot investigate God.

3. The Principium Cognoscendi Internum is Faith. As in the non-theological sciences, so also in theology there must be a principium cognoscendi internum that answers to the principium cognoscendi externum. Scripture sometimes represents regeneration (1 Cor. 2:14), purity of heart (Matt. 5:8), doing the will of God (John 7:17), and the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20) as such. But it most frequently points to faith as the principium internum of the knowledge of God (Rom. 10:17; Gal. 3:3, 5; Heb. 11:1, 3), and this name undoubtedly deserves preference. The self-communication of God aims at conveying the knowledge of God to man, in order that God may receive honor and glory through man. Therefore it may not terminate outside of man, but must continue right on into the mind and heart of man. By faith man accepts the self-revelation of God as divine truth, by faith he appropriates it in an ever increasing measure, and by faith he responds to it as he subjects his thoughts to the thoughts of God. The principium internum, says Bavinck, is sometimes called the verbum internum or even the verbum principale, because it brings the knowledge of God into man, which is after all the aim of all theology and of the whole self-revelation of God. Barth stresses the fact that it is only by faith that the knowledge of God becomes possible. These three principia, while distinct, yet constitute a unity. The Father communicates Himself to His creatures through the Son as the Logos and in the Holy Spirit.[SUP][1][/SUP]


[HR][/HR][SUP][1][/SUP] Berkhof, L. (1932). Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology (91–97). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 

reformedcop

Puritan Board Freshman
Dr. Jason Lisle is another good resource to get your feet wet. [video=youtube;m6gIbNl6ZTM]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6gIbNl6ZTM[/video]
 

Bald_Brother

Puritan Board Freshman
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top