Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, July 13, 2007

    Presuppositional Apologetics - the foundation of Christian Skepticism

    I found this and wanted to share it - from Cornelius van Til's "My Credo"

    My understanding of the relationship between Christian and non-Christian, philosophically speaking.

    1. Both have presuppositions about the nature of reality:

    a. The Christian presupposes the triune God and his redemptive plan for the universe as set forth once for all in Scripture.

    b. The non-Christian presupposes a dialectic between "chance" and "regularity," the former accounting for the origin of matter and life, the latter accounting for the current success of the scientific enterprise.

    2. Neither can, as finite beings, by means of logic as such, say what reality must be or cannot be.

    a. The Christian, therefore, attempts to understand his world through the observation and logical ordering of facts in self-conscious subjection to the plan of the self attesting Christ of Scripture.

    b. The non-Christian, while attempting an enterprise similar to the Christian's, attempts nevertheless to use "logic" to destroy the Christian position. On the one hand, appealing to the non- rationality of "matter," he says that the chance- character of "facts" is conclusive evidence against the Christian position. Then, on the other hand, he maintains like Parmenides that the Christian story cannot possibly be true. Man must be autonomous, "logic" must be legislative as to the field of "possibility" and possibility must be above God.

    3. Both claim that their position is "in accordance with the facts."

    a. The Christian claims this because he interprets the facts and his experience in the light of the revelation of the self-attesting Christ in Scripture. Both the uniformity and the diversity of facts have at their foundation the all-embracing plan of God.

    b. The non-Christian claims this because he interprets the facts and his experience in the light of the autonomy of human personality, the ultimate "givenness" of the world and the amenability of matter to mind. There can be no fact that denies man's autonomy or attests to the world's and man's divine origin.

    4. Both claim that their position is "rational."

    a. The Christian does so by claiming not only that his position is self-consistent but that he can explain both the seemingly "inexplicable" amenability of fact to logic and the necessity and usefulness of rationality itself in terms of Scripture.

    b. The non-Christian may or may not make this same claim. If he does, the Christian maintains that he cannot make it good. If the non-Christian attempts to account for the amenability of fact to logic in terms of the ultimate rationality of the cosmos, then he will be crippled when it comes to explaining the "evolution" of men and things. If he attempts to do so in terms of pure "chance" and ultimate "irrationality" as being the well out of which both rational man and a rationally amenable world sprang, then we shall point out that such an explanation is in fact no explanation at all and that it destroys predication.

    1 comment:

    August said...

    JD, that Van Til was correct is not debatable. One can just view the ongoing discussion at my blog to verify what he says here.

    For us as Christians, given this tension between believer and unbeliever, the key is then what common ground we may find to start the evangelization process. It is clear that we cannot find it in any common understanding of empirical fact, nor by appealing to a common view of the transcendent. In fact, I would venture that this type of tension is even valid between the Arminian, Romanist and Reformed.

    It is only when one sees apologetics as inextricably tied to the Gospel that one may propose some entry point with the unbeliever. And that is something that we too often forget in the heat of battle.

    Thanks for posting this.