More Bahnsen on Apologetics

Here Bahnsen continues to defend his presuppositional method on the basis that the non-presuppositional method of apologetics is not only immoral, but in fact attempts to use a lie to defend the truth! He also argues for the foolishness of supposed autonomy in reasoning by the apologist. That would be an adoption of a secular methodology in order to try to defend the truth. So, here is Bahnsen again. He says it better than I.

"Apologists are prohibited from using a non-presuppositional method in defending the faith under the excuse that thereby truth might abound. The obedient Christian does not lay aside the authority of Christ in the realm in order to argue on the basis of autonomous "scholarship." To do so would be to operate with a lie (namely, the Satanic lie that knowledge can be determined apart from God: Gen 3:5; cf. Rom 1:25) in order to defend the truth! The faithful witness to Christ will not behave as an unbeliever (debying Christ's Lordship) in order to make him a believer.

Evil men cannot speak good things (Matt 12:34); the evil treasure of the unbeliever's thought is where his heart is (Matt 6:21; Luke 6:45), from which proceeds evil, deceitful, foolish thoughts (Matt 15:18-19; Rom 1:21; Jer 17:9). Hence his tongue is full of iniquity and an unruly evil (James 3:5-8); with it he uses deadly deceit (Rom 3:13-14). He thinks that he alone is lord over the use of his lips (Ps 12:4), leading him to speak falsehood (v. 2). Obviously then, the apologist must not think and speak after the manner of the unbeliever. Instead his thoughts and words must be rooted in God's Word which is pure and eternally valuable (Ps. 12:6-7). It is this word which alone stops every mouth (Rom 3:19) and leaves men speechless (e.g. Job 40:4). We must guard the apostolic deposit (Scripture) by turning away from the vain claims of pseudo-knowledge (1Tim 6:3-5, 20; cf. 2Tim 2:14-18). Before God and His Word all the world must be silent (Isa 6:5; Dan 10:15; Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13). We, then, must rely upon God and not our own wisdom (Isa 50:4-9); only then will we see apologetic success as He enables us not to be confounded and makes none able to contend with our message (Isa 50:4-9). Therefore, we conclude that the apologist must be transformed by a renewed mind and not fashion his thinking according to the world (Rom 12:2). He must not lie or abandon God's presupposed truth in order to bring acceptance of that truth by evil speakers." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 101-102)

In short, the Christian apologist must not borrow from and think in the same manner as the secular worldview, which is hostile to his own. To do so would be to use a lie to try to defend the truth and presuppose the same exact presuppositions as the unbeliever. Sadly, this method is used more often than not in Christian apologetics.


Bahnsen on Apologists

I've been reading an apologetics book by Greg Bahnsen lately entitled "Always Ready." Of course, Bahnsen was a presuppositionalist in his apologetics (contra W. L. Craig, Ravi Zacharias, R. C. Sproul, et al). I am convinced that the presuppositional method of apologetics is the most God-honoring method of apologetics. While I utterly respect and admire the apologetics of the aforementioned men, I think they leave a lot on the table in some areas, and even concede to worldviews that are hostile to their own in the process. Here is an excerpt from the book. Bahnsen is commenting on apologetic method in general.

"A source of great disappointment to the Christian scholar in the present day is the refusal of many apologists to reckon with certain hard but indisputable facts taught in God's Word. The impression is often given that these men as theologians want to admit what Scripture says about the nature of fallen and the utmost and necessary authority of God's revelation in any field of knowledge; however, as apologists they want to act in oblivion or temporary suppression of these truths. Such duplicity is dishonoring to the Christian's calling.

Saving faith cannot be grounded in human wisdom or seular presuppositions: it must be generated in the power of God (1Co 2:4-5). Accordingly the apologist does not speak the wisdom of this world (which is brought to nothing) but the wisdom of God (1Co 2:6-7). Recognition of Christ as the wisdom of God stems not from presuppositions which deny, ignore, or undermine this fact; instead, such recognition results from the inward work of the Holy Spirit (1Co 2:10) Who alone can enable us to gain a knowledge of the things of God (v. 12). Because only the Spirit of God knows these things (v. 11), the Christian does not speak or rely upon autonomous philosophy, history, or science as the world teaches (v. 13). To follow secular presuppositions incapacitates one from discerning the truth about God (v. 14), for they can be understood only by the enlightenment of the Spirit (vv. 15-16). The pseudo-wisdom of the world, then, is most unsuitable as a foundation or standard for the defender of Christian faith; it cannot improve upon the mind of the Lord (v. 16) but instead leads one inevitably to challenge the truth of God's revelation. Apologetic success is precluded, then, by dependence upon or catering to unauthoritative human foolishness which is unalterably inclined to crucify the Lord of glory rather than bowing before His sovereign demands (cf. v8)." (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pp. 99-100)