Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Presuppositional Apologetics Alone is Insufficient

gavelWe Christians are expected to give evidence of our faith with good reason. Scripture tells us that we should be prepared to explain to others why we have faith in Jesus Christ:

1Peter3[15] But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Christian faith is not blind, nor is it based upon presupposition. None have been converted by God without the witness of the Holy Spirit. Without having actually experienced the Holy Spirit, none has come to Christ. Christian faith is substanciary and evidentiary:

Hebrews 11[1] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What are we to say then to those who inquire of us? Are we to say that we believe because the Bible says that we must have faith in Him? While that may be true enough, and satisfactory for a relationship with God, by itself it will not provide reason for those who have no experience with God directly to come to Christ. Notice the passage says, “a reason of the hope”.  If we plug this passage into the definition of Christian faith provided by God’s Word, we see that scripture is commanding us to be prepared to give solid (substantive) evidence for the unseen God.

1Peter3[15] But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Hebrews11[1] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If anyone asks you, “What is the reason that you believe in chocolate?” would it be better to simply say that chocolate exists, or to explain to them how you know that chocolate exists?

Jesus himself pointed out that if someone will not believe testimony and witness of earthly things with earthly evidence, nor will they believe testimony of heavenly things as evidence:

John3[11] Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify (martureō) that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness (marturia).[12] If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

martureō; to be a witness, that is, testify (literally or figuratively): - charge, give [evidence], bear record, have (obtain, of) good (honest) report, be well reported of, testify, give (have) testimony, (be, bear, give, obtain) witness.

marturia; evidence given (judicially or generally): - record, report, testimony, witness.

Acts4[20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The fact that Christ himself referred to providing substanive evidence in the form of testimony demonstrates that while presuppositional apologetics is  useful and based upon the truth of God, it is not how we are called to testify for our faith in Him because it provides only an empty claim unless it refers to things which can be substanciated with evidence. In the Christian, such evidence may exist in various forms. Evidence from a Christian’s life could be how God has worked within them to bring about a change in their thinking or behavior. It may also be good works for which the motivation is the gracious good which God has shown unto them, which has caused them wish to do good for others. In relation to God’s creation, one may also provide evidence of God as Creator and Designer by showing scientific evidence that His creation possesses the evidence of His divine genius and power, such as the evidence for the balance of the forces of nature which testify to His design of the universe, or the astonishing complexity and information properties of genetics as evidence of His design of living things. Regardless of what form it takes, testimony is not convincing unless it can be backed up with some type of evidence. Nobody is motivated to change their views on whether or not God exists, or whether or not Jesus Christ is the one true God manifest in the flesh simply because you say he is.

If God were to convict us of sin, would it be only because he has told us that sin makes us guilty, or would it be because he has told us so and the evidence of our infractions is seen in what we have done? Presuppositional apologetics can be used to provide the framework for apologetics and even help someone to see that their nonbelief is based upon their own presuppositions. Beyond that point evidence of some nature is necessary to substantiate the testimony they are given. However, presuppositional apologetics by itself will never convince anyone to find Jesus Christ or change their thinking. It is evidentialism that we are called to employ by scripture to give an account for our faith, not presuppositionalism. It is evidence which convicts us of our sins in this world and in God's courtroom, not an argument that reveals the ignorance of the accused. Presuppositional apologetics fails to meet the requirements set forth in scripture as the appointed method of apologetics. Evidentialism is necessary to make a case. That is why scripture and Jesus Christ both employ evidentialism.

I could of course provide far more passages to make my case, I and I an certain that I am not providing the majority of the best passages which make my case.

John5[39] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify (martureō) of me.

John7[7] The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify (martureō) of it, that the works thereof are evil.

Acts10[42] And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify (diamarturomai) that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

diamarturomai; to attest or protest earnestly, or (by implication) hortatively: - charge, testify (unto), witness.

Acts26[4] My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;[5] Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Eye-witness testimony as evidence is found throughout scripture. Here John uses his witness testimony as evidence that God has sent his Son to save us:

John 4[14] And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

Works is evidence of salvation. Paul told us to be like Christ, and this will be a testimony of evidence to Him that has saved us, here:

Ephesians 4
[14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
[15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
[16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
[18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
[19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
[20] But ye have not so learned Christ;
[21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
[22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
[23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
[24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
[25] Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
[26] Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
[27] Neither give place to the devil.
[28] Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
[29] Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
[30] And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
[31] Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
[32] And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

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