Tuesday, March 20, 2012


When I was a Calvinist, I had friends who were staunch defenders of Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics and others who were staunch defenders of Clarkian presuppositional apologetics. I've heard fierce debates between them and the experience really turned me off to apologetics. Their arguments sounded nothing like anything found in Scripture, none of their arguments seemed intellectually satisfying to me, and I couldn't figure out how any of their arguments would convince an unbeliever of anything. Both schools seem to presume quite a bit that the unbeliever would not agree to and result in the person arguing for presuppositional apologetics being very proud of himself but not much else.

The fact of the matter is that the Christian is not an abstract list of doctrines. The Christian faith in grounded in history. When I was at Calvin College one of the books I had to read for one of my classes was Risen Indeed by Stephen T. Davis. The book has its problems but it presented me with an apologetic centered on the resurrection of Christ that I had not heard before. The resurrection is really what historic Christianity hinges on. If Christ really did die and rise from the dead we can trust what He said including the imprimatur He places on the rest of the Scriptures. If Christ did not rise from the dead Christianity is a bunch of nonsense.

When disputing with the Jews, the Apostles would argue based on the Old Testament Scriptures because they shared this common source of authority with them. But when arguing with others, they would often appeal other sources. On Mars Hill, Paul even appealed to pagan poets to prove his point. The Apostles would often appeal to the eyewitness accounts. The historical evidence for the empty tomb is very strong. Apologetics does not work faith. Only the Gospel works faith. But apologetics is helpful in removing obstacles to belief. Most people are led to believe that Christian belief is simply the result of some sort of emotional experience and the presuppositional position seems to reinforce this idea. Mormons and Muslims both believe that their religious experiences make their beliefs true. But Christiainity is grounded in actual history, not an emotional experience. Christianity is all about a real Jesus who really died and really rose from the dead. There is no point in any apologetics that isn't centered on the crucified and risen Christ.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thanks for this post on apologetics!