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Wednesday
Jun232010

Theological Term of the Week

presuppositional apologetics
An approach to apologetics that starts with the foundational axioms of the existence of God and his divine revelation to us in Scripture, and seeks to show that the Christian faith built on these presuppositions makes sense of life and reality and that any other belief system built on other foundational axioms does not. Also called presuppositionalism or biblical apologetics.

  • From scripture:

    So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And 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, 27 that 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, 28 for

    “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; 

    as even some of your own poets have said,

    “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 

    29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31 ESV)

  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1:
    Of The Holy Scripture

    IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9]

  • From Defending the Faith: An Introduction to Presuppositional Appologetics by Massimo Lorenzini:

    There are traditionally three approaches to faith and reason:

    • The rationalistic apologetic: Thomas Aquinas, “I believe because I understand.”
    • The irrational, fideistic apologetic: Tertullian, “I believe what is absurd.”
    • The presuppositional apologetic: Augustine, “I believe; therefore, I understand.”
    Contrary to rationalism, human reason is not a religiously neutral or independent realm that is philosophically prior to faith. Contrary to irrationalism, human reason need not be a futile and impossible task that is contrary to true faith. Consistent with presuppositionalism, the realm of true faith encompasses all and is prior to all, including logic and science, and only in the context of faith is a rational and orderly world possible.

Learn more:

  1. Wikipedia: Presuppositional Apologetics
  2. GotQuestions.org: What Is Presuppositional Apologetics?
  3. Dr. Brian M. Abshire: Reason, Evidence, and Presuppositional Apologetics
  4. S. Joel Garver: A Primer on Presuppositionalism
  5. Fred ButlerApologetic Methodology in a Nutshell and God Fearing Apologetics
  6. Fred Butler: Starting Points with Evidence
  7. Dr. Greg Bahnson: Presuppositional Procedure
  8. Dr. Greg Bahnson: Van Tillian Apologetics (4 mp3s)
  9. Westminster Theological Seminary: Apologetics Course on iTunes.
  10. Dr. Scott Oliphant: Apologetics and Doctrine of Scripture, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (YouTube videos)

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Reader Comments (4)

This is timely. I just began an audio series by R.C. Sproul about apologetics.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim in ON

I'm definitely a presuppositionalist! (no surprise to you, I'm sure!)

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkim from hiraeth

I think Kim S. and I are listening to the same series. It's funny you posted Acts 17. I've been listening to Sproul, who is not a presuppositionalist, but last night I was listening to John MacArthur preach on these verses, and I noticed that Paul did use a presuppositional approach.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStaci

I'm a presuppositionalist, too. Even before I understood any of the issues I was using presuppositional arguments. Presuppositionalism has the advantage that anyone who has a good grasp of the faith and the willingness to analyze the arguments of others can be an apologist.

June 24, 2010 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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