Presuppostionalism "Eventually bogs down?"

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by TomVols, Aug 19, 2019.

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  1. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    One frequent critique I've heard about presuppositionalism is that it invariably leads to a debate about the Bible. That is, once you lay your cards on the table about Biblically-based presuppositions, the attack on the truthfulness of the Bible begins and bogs down there.

    See this attack often? What would the Presuppositionalist say in response to this attack?
     
  2. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    There is not always something to say. People reject to the truth and the nature of scripture. People can attack anything from natural law to the Bible. A conversation can end up bogging down anywhere. It’s a mistake to ever think there is a verbal elixir that will cause Christianity to be accepted. If someone rejects the word of God, he is bogged down indeed. That’s the issue. He doesn’t have eyes to see. We can rest in the confidence that His word doesn’t return void.
     
  3. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    Let me clarify. I'm not necessarily talking about the arguments used with the one who doubts/questions the Bible's veracity. I'm talking about the critique of presuppositionalism. Is this a fair critique, and what would the presuppositionalist say to the evidentialist, for instance, who makes this critique?
     
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Strictly speaking, the Clarkian would say that it comes down to the axiom of Scripture. The Van Tillian will say it comes down to the covenantal God.

    I have problems with presuppositionalism, but I don't really use this argument against it.
     
  5. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    Elaborate a bit, please
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Clarkian: Unless you presuppose the Protestant Canon and the axioms derived from it, you can't know anything.

    Van Tillian: Unless you presuppose the self-contained Triune God you can't account for unity and particularity.
     
  7. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    That's where I thought you were going, but just wanted to make sure.

    Truth be told, couldn't the same "bogged down" argument be made against presupposing the existence of God? Truthfully, I see this as a strength of presuppositionalism. All of us come to the table with presuppositions. We are just honest about it or at least quicker to lay our cards on the table perhaps.
     
  8. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Or anything else
     
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I'm not sure I understand the question? How would it be bogged down? I guess some examples would do.
     
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

  11. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    Whether theodicy, God's existence, the resurrection, Christianity being the only true religion, the instance the Bible is appealed to or introduced into the argument, the critic immediately can fire away: "Whoa.....you're citing the Bible as proof of ________? You can't trust the Bible! It's (pick your argument against Scripture- myth, errant, human, one book among many, etc.) and now the discussion about Christianity being true turns into a debate about the veracity of Scripture.

    So posits the critic. Does that help? Or do I need to go Peter Kreeft and have a dialogue :)
     
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Keep in mind pressupossitonalism is a method of apologetics firstly. When we say we need to presuppose Christian theism we mean the biblical doctrines. The only reason to quote scripture, methodologically, is if our doctrines are challenged (or for evangelistic purposes).
    We don't set aside our faith as if there's some neutral space we all can agree on.
     
  13. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Also we must use the bible (doctrines) to correct misinformation about the bible.
     
  14. TomVols

    TomVols Puritan Board Freshman

    This is precisely where many cry foul. “Circular reasoning” at best or the trail goes down bibliology and stays there. So say the critics. I’m not agreeing mind you. I’m just discussing with fellow presuppositionalists.
     
  15. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    It's not a chess match. What are your own presuppositions?

    The Bible is truth and the Holy Spirit will illuminate it to bring about new life. Speak with confidence. Is the person truly inquiring about the veracity of scripture? Show its self-attestation, its consistency across time, space, and genre , and the respect that has been accorded it across many academic fields even among non-belivers.

    If the person shows interest but doubts, ask him how he evaluates something to be true. Keep asking questions: no other philosophical system can be self-consistent. Know that and speak accordingly. (Another presupposition :) )

    If a person just wants to argue, why cast pearls before swine? You may not get the last word in, but maybe you've planted seeds.

    This might be way watered down from Dr. Van Til and his mid-century approximaters, but it reflects time engaging folks across many settings from academic to the hiking trail.
     
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah well circular reasoning was a bad choice of words for Van Til. On this side of Postmodernism the sort worldview and pressupossinal analysis that he was referring to would not be viewed as circular reasoning. Perhaps it was his time in history that caused him to label it that way. Had he developed his views 50 years later he might have had better "lingo" to describe what he meant.
    Frame does a good job of defending him here. As well Bahnsen describes "circulatory" as another name for consistency. I think Van Til referred to the kind of C.R. you're referring to as "viscous C.R."
    Your second point, I don't think it is "bibliology" to use Van Til's method. And why would you get stuck there? I don't understand that? So "Mr. Kreeft" let's dialogue away! I think you mean to say is it's like Fundamentalists arguing that just throw their favorite verses at each other that "prove" their point while ignoring verses that are problematic for them, is that kind of what your talking about?
     
  17. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    First I think Van Till would love your "watered down" version. Yeah good practical advice. I remember seeing that guy, Sye Bennington, I think, debate people in the most rude and unbecoming of Christians way. Why not remember these are human beings!
    I remember one of my great failures as an Apologist, if I can claim such a thing, was 20 years ago (wow I feel so old saying that). This girl was raped at some time and wanted to know "why would God let that happen to her?" I went into my explanation about God not being responsible for evil and yada yada. I felt great and proud intellectually, but looking back I shouldn't have done that. I should have hugged her and said "I'm sorry that happened to you." Sometimes, often, love is the best apologetics. I still remember the pain in her eyes today every time I converse with an unbeliever. I failed her but I learned my lesson. I can be hard at times but only when necessary. I think Van Til would approve.
     
  18. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    Sure, suaviter en modo, but if you're not also fortiter en re, you're not doing Reformed apologetics according to CVT.
     
  19. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Insulting people is not right. Plus I have no idea what those Latin? Phrases mean.
     
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Oh an uninsulting manner of what needs to be done?
     
  21. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Is that Aramaic? I appreciate the lesson but don't see the relevance to this topic? I am probably ignorant so please forgive.
     
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Also why can't Reformed apologetics be done with love? Unless I misunderstand you.
     
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's why I appreciate Dallas Willard's Allure of Gentleness. It doesn't really address the typical method arguments. It shows how you can do apologetics and be a kind person in the process.
     
  24. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    Presuppositionalism, as all apologetics, is a method for us to use to give a reasonable defense of the faith. It is not to convert people, only the gospel can do that. As an apologetic, it is to pinpoint one's source of self-delusion, their suppression of the truth. Once that is identified, then go on to dismantle it as an absurd position.
    As an example, postmodernist thoughts and beliefs are very easy to identify and expose as absurd. Ultimately, proving that they don't really believe what they are saying can be attained by exposing the reality that postmodernism taken to its logical conclusions leads one to nihilism. If their postmodernism is true, then what's the use? Why fight, protest, organize, seek justice, etc.? Why not jump from the nearest bridge, since nothing really matters? They seek these things because under the layers of delusion they are vested with a moral nature by a Creator God who is the very source of the things they desire.
    Again, presuppositionalism is a tool to use to get to the crux of the issue, it is not an end in itself. Once we get to the source, we then present the truth. No apologetic or work of evangelism is a silver bullet. It may (and mostly does) take time. We may never get to see the end result as the Spirit of God has the final say. Our role is to defend the faith and share the gospel.
     
  25. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Amen. I'm trying to correct pressupossitonialists image of guys like Sye and be gentle and caring.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  26. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm guessing you're referring to Sye Ten Bruggencate. He's been accused of oversimplifying but a continuous jerk he is not. If you've listened to interviews and talks he's given in the past couple of years he regrets some his earlier emphases. I've heard him say he doesn't want presuppositionalists to replace 6 hours of evidences with 6 hours of epistemology.
     
  27. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm sorry...CVT often used the expression suaviter en modo, fortiter en re: gentle in manner, strong in word.

    I don't know what any of this has to do with "presuppositionalism eventually breaks down," as it were. It really has nothing to do with apologetics, mods.

    Is the argument, "presupp doesn't work because some presuppers have been jerks"?
     
  28. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I hope to read it soon, too. But, I must say, with the history of titles such as "Christianity and Liberalism" (Machen) and "Christianity and Barthianism" (Van Til)—titles which themselves are meant to make a provocative statement—a title like "Christianity and Van Tillianism" frankly doesn't give me much hope for a charitable article.
     
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    So it breaks down because you think it amounts to "the bible says it therefore its true"?
     
  30. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have just finished reading the article. There is nothing uncharitable about it - at least not that I could see. The essay is a fair-minded critique, which no reasonable person should find offensive - even if they disagree with some of the author's conclusions. The title is probably meant to be click-bait.
     
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