Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Apologetics: This Is Where I Am Right Now

When I was in middle school, my mom worked as the office manager for an organization called American Vision. While there, her boss (Gary Demar) gave my dad some Greg Bahnsen cassette tapes on apologetics to borrow. Dad and I would listen to the tapes while he drove me to and from school. That was my first real introduction to apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith).

Later, when I was in high school, I read and benefitted from books on apologetics like Mere Christianity and More Than a Carpenter. Then, when I was in college, while I was taking a class on Augustine and Aquinas, I studied the classical proofs for God's existence. Through all this, I realized that there were differences in the way people were presenting apologetics, but I didn't fully recognize that there were competing schools of thought on how apologetics should be done.

After college, I began to listen to podcasts and debates from James White, who utilizes and advocates for presuppositional apologetics (the same school of thought on apologetics that was put forth by Greg Bahnsen). I agreed with White's presentation on apologetics, especially as I'm a Reformed Baptist. I thought that everyone agreed that presuppositionalism is THE Reformed way to do apologetics.

More recently, I've been reexamining Thomas Aquinas. I work at a classical school (Sayers Classical Academy), and Aquinas has been quite influential on Christian classical thought. Also, I've been listening to James Dolezal on divine simplicity; Dolezal utilizes Aquinas frequently regarding theology proper. This line of thought led me to take another look at Aquinas' classical proofs for the existence of God. I was surprised to learn that some Reformed theologians (most notably, R.C. Sproul), follow Aquinas in advocating for classical apologetics over against presuppositionalism. Sproul has even debated Greg Bahsen on this issue.

What I believe I must affirm from presuppositionalism is the following: in God, we live and move and have our being. All people, fallen in Adam, naturally suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They are morally culpable for this suppression. Since all are guilty of suppressing the truth, then all—on some level—know this truth. This is the case even when a particular sinner in question has no ability to form a proposition concerning the truth that he or she is suppressing.

Given this set of circumstances, there is no middle ground between the believer in Christ and the unbeliever. There is a kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness (Col 1:13); there is no middle kingdom. Within a debate (whether formal or informal), it is impossible for a debater to be neutral. For a Christian apologist, indifference toward Jesus is neither possible nor desirable at any point of the debate. The Christian apologist must stand with Christ, tearing down arguments and opinions that the fallen world tries to set up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:5).

It may be the case that the methods of demonstrating the above considerations are indeed necessarily a posteriori. While both the order of being and—in a fundamental way—the order of knowing would necessarily seem to be prior to the suppositions introduced into any argument, the arguments themselves would proceed from specific premises to specific conclusions, and the conclusions would not usually be identical to their premises. Nor does the FORM of every argument need to begin with the premise, "I believe in God." (Not every presupposition need be a premise; we do not usually begin arguments by re-stating the laws of logic.) Therefore, I do think that there may be a quite legitimate place in apologetics for the classical arguments for God's existence.

As you may be able to tell, I'm still thinking through these issues. I recently finished the Sproul/Gerstner/Lindsley work on Classical Apologetics, and I'm now reading Greg Bahnsen on Van Til's Apologetic. I also recently finished listening to a six-hour lecture from K. Scott Oliphint focused on critiquing Thomas Aquinas. I have a select list of other books that I plan to read on apologetics. I'm posting this here so that if anyone sees my posts here or on Twitter/Facebook regarding apologetics, you can know where I'm coming from.

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