Chapter 6

What Is Apologetics—and Why Do It?

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The Bible is under attack in today’s age. In fact, the Word of God has been under constant attack since the Garden of Eden, when the serpent, which was influenced by Satan, questioned Eve about God’s command in Genesis 3 (“Has God indeed said . . .”). We call this the “Genesis 3 attack.”

In our day, what is the main Genesis 3 attack? We believe it is the teaching of evolution and millions of years that attacks the historicity of Genesis 1–11, and thus undermines the authority of Scripture. The first step is to recognize these attacks and their consequences, and then understand how to deal with it.

First Chronicles 12:32 states:

Of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. . . .”

Christians need to understand our times so that we can know what the church ought to do.

So what is going on today? There are numerous false claims about the Bible (especially in regard to the historicity of the first 11 chapters of the Bible), even by many professing Christians themselves. Subsequently, we are seeing kids walk away from the faith having no answers for the world.

Statistics reveal that two out of three young people are walking away from the Church, and research clearly shows this is related to doubt and unbelief because of compromising teaching in regard to the first book of the Bible. Sadly, much of the Church does not understand this problem and therefore is not doing what needs to be done to counteract this terrible situation of a generational loss of biblical authority.

So what do we do? Well, God’s Word says:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

It is time for the Church to respond to these attacks that are undermining Scripture and greatly contributing to the loss of the next generation from the Church, and to begin equipping generations to know how to answer the skeptical questions in our modern scientific age. The Church needs to “return fire” on these attacks that have had devastating consequences on the spiritual state of coming generations and the culture. The professional research we initiated shows clearly that the Church needs to be teaching apologetics at every age level (see Already Compromised [Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2011]).

What Is Apologetics and What Is Its Purpose?

The phrase translated “to give a defense” or sometimes “give an answer” in 1 Peter 3:15 comes from the Greek word apologia, which literally means “reasoned defense.” It does not mean to apologize, which is a common misconception among some who are not acquainted with this thrust of Christianity. It means to give a logical defense of the Christian faith.

Apologetics is a branch of Christianity that defends the authority of God’s Word, the character of God, and Christianity as a whole, and also uses the Bible as an offensive “weapon” (e.g., like a sword) against all other worldviews and opposition. Not only do we need to teach general Bible apologetics in this age, but we also need to teach creation apologetics (dealing with the evolution/millions-of-years issues).

Apologetics is an exciting area of study to help strengthen your faith, defend Christianity, and close the mouth of the attacking unbeliever.

Apologetics is an exciting area of study to help strengthen your faith, defend Christianity, and close the mouth of the attacking unbeliever. But please don’t misunderstand. Apologetics is not a tool to make people believe in Christ. The Bible makes it clear that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But apologetics can help answer people’s skeptical questions and be used to point them to God’s Word and the gospel. They can be shown clearly that the history in the Bible is true, that’s why the gospel based in that history is true.

When under attack, there are two primary defenses available to you: defend (answer) and/or disarm (go on the offense). These are essentially the basics of Christian apologetics. Let’s consider an analogy to help you understand. Let’s say there is a crazed person who comes at you with a knife and tries to strike you down. You can defend yourself by blocking or moving out of the way every time the attacker strikes. Or you can disarm your opponent by taking the knife out of his hand.

Now to apply this to our situation concerning a defense of the Christian faith. You can defend by answering the questions, but then you can also disarm their arguments by attacking the very basis of their attacks, pointing out that they have a faulty starting point for their worldview. Of course, all this should be done with meekness and fear (gentleness and respect) as God’s Word instructs us.

It’s important to understand that in Christendom, there are some different types of apologetic approaches—though we would insist not all are correct and therefore it is important to ensure you are using the right one.

The main types (each with an ever-so-brief definition) are:

  • Classical: essentially, this method assumes that rational thought is the absolute standard regarding philosophical debates. Evidence is used in conjunction with the argument—though it is important to understand all evidence is interpreted (i.e., rational thoughts first to point to the Bible’s truthfulness).1
  • Evidential: essentially assumes that rational thought is the absolute standard and that when people see evidence (as in miracles in the Bible, or historical evidence and scientific evidence), they will come to the right conclusion (i.e., evidence first to point to the Bible’s truthfulness).2 This method really assumes people are “neutral”—which is against what the Bible clearly states about the nature of man (there is none righteous, and none seeks after God, etc.).
  • Presuppositional: Van Tillian; God and His Word are the absolute standards of morality, logic, uniformity in nature, dignity, etc. The Bible is the only basis for a worldview that makes knowledge possible. All other worldviews must borrow from the Bible to make sense of the world (i.e., Bible first and final to look at all things.)3

Other popular semi-presuppositional methods:

  • Clarkian: The best worldview is the most logical and Christianity is the most consistent in its logic. So Christianity appears to be the best.4
  • Shaeferian: The best worldview will give the best answers to life. Christianity gives the best answers to life. So Christianity appears to be the best.5
  • Carnellian: The best worldview is the most coherent. Christianity is the most coherent via the internal text. So Christianity appears to be the best.6

Others (cumulative case, reformed epistemology, fideism, etc.)7

The above was not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it helps give an idea of the different styles that are used to defend the Christian faith. Naturally, some work better than others.

The Answers in Genesis position has been in the vein of presuppositional apologetics. We use the Bible as our absolute authority in every area to build a worldview so we have the right basis to have the ability to then correctly understand the world (the evidence) around us. This is the overall style of apologetics used in our apologetics resources.

Apologetics in the Bible

The Bible commands that we give a reasoned defense of the faith in 1 Peter 3:15. Peter also makes it clear this is to be done by first setting apart Christ as Lord in your heart and to do this with gentleness and respect.

Far too often Christians obtain a few answers and they think they are then ready to “force” those answers on to people so they can beat their opponent. Instead, this should be done with gentleness and respect. We need to show the same grace, mercy, and love that the Lord showed to us. This is why apologetics should always be used in conjunction with the Gospel (Matthew 28:18–20); in other words, don’t do apologetics for the sake of doing apologetics to try to win an argument, but do it for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But consider other pertinent passages also:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:5–6; ESV).
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself (1 Timothy 6:3–5).

Furthermore, discernment must be used when discussing the things of God. Many apologists get caught up debating one person (who refuses to be corrected) over the course of years. The Bible speaks on this subject:

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being selfcondemned (Titus 3:9–11).
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces (Matthew 7:6).
And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them (Luke 9:5).

If people are not willing to learn and really shows no sign of being challenged and willing to consider they could be wrong, do not continue wasting time with them (on the account of their hard hearts). You may find much more fruitful evangelism with others who are willing to listen. Some may think that the Bible commands us to give an answer back to these those people who are arguing against the Christian faith repeatedly (for years even) because of 1 Peter 3:15. But take note of the careful wording: “always be prepared to make a defense” (ESV).

First Peter 3:15 doesn’t say to always give an answer, but always “be prepared to give an answer.” There are, in fact, times to refrain. For example, when people fail to listen (even professing Christians who refuse to listen) (2 Peter 2:3), when you can discern that they obviously do not want to be instructed (Proverbs 1:7), or when their purpose is to be divisive (Romans 16:17), then it is time to move on.

Practical Apologetics

There are several things the apologist should strive for when defending the faith. The first is to present the Christian worldview from the starting point of the Bible (Mark 16:15; Proverbs 26:4). This would include but not be limited to:

  1. Creation week was a period of six ordinary 24-hour days. How can one stand on the authority of Scripture and then question the history in the Bible? If Genesis is not true, then why is the rest of the Bible true?
  2. Man was made in the image of God. Man is not just the product of random chemical reactions over million of years. Therefore, man is not just an animal; human life has value (the most common worldview today is secular humanism with its foundation in man’s beliefs of evolution, millions of years, and that you are just an animal with no value).
  3. God created a perfect world where there was no death. Man’s sin brought death and corrupted this perfect world. The Bible describes death as an “enemy.” The Fall of mankind explains death and suffering in the world and the need for a Savior and the need for a new heavens and new earth.
  4. The Flood that accounts for most of the rock layers that contain fossils; and also that God does judge sin, but also sends a means of salvation (i.e., the ark). The righteous judge is also a God who is merciful.
  5. The Tower of Babel, which helps us understand why we speak different languages and why we all look a little different, even though we are one race, all sinners, and all in need of a Savior.
  6. Moses and the Law, which gives more detail as to what sin is as it reigned from the time of Adam. Also relate how Christ fulfilled the law and offers grace.
  7. Christ and His work on the Cross when God became a man to die and pay the penalty for our sin and offer the free gift of salvation to those who believe in Jesus Christ and His Resurrection.
  8. New heavens and new earth to fulfill what God has promised. (Christians look forward to this, when there will be a time with no more death and suffering.)

Many times when we present a Christian worldview to the unbeliever, it involves clearing up misconceptions about Christian theism. A few examples are:

  1. God is one God who is triune (three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit), not three separate “gods.”
  2. Christianity should be based on the Bible, not the words of fallible humans—even if they are Christians (who often fail to live up to the standards in the Bible).
  3. God created the world perfect, not the way it is today. It has been subjected to death and decay due to man’s sin (Genesis 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 3; Romans 8). Death and suffering are a result of sin, and God stepped into history as Jesus Christ the God-man, to die in our place and save us from sin and death.

Second when defending the faith, in a sin-cursed and broken world, it is good to understand the way an unbeliever thinks. This is important to be able to refute their false worldviews because of their wrong starting point (starting with man’s word instead of God’s Word) (Ephesians 4:17–18; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2:14; 3:19; Colossians 2:8; Romans 1:18–28; and so on). We need to know as much as possible about the other person’s professed worldview so that we can kindly refute it when the time comes.

Third, the Christian apologist should do an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview (Proverbs 26:5; 2 Timothy 2:25). Point out where they are being arbitrary, inconsistent, where their worldview’s ultimate conclusion leads (e.g., reduced to absurdity), and even cases where they borrow from the Bible.8

Lastly, in our apologetics we must strive to continually point people to God’s Word and present the gospel. Many times this can be done when presenting the Christian worldview. But make sure the gospel is “front and center” in apologetics, as the gospel of Jesus Christ is of utmost importance.

Presuppositional Apologetics (Van Til)9: What Is It?

Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics places God and His Word, the Bible, as the absolute authority in every area. God, who knows all things, has stated in the Bible that all other worldviews are wrong, so by extension all other worldviews have inconsistencies and must borrow from the Bible to make any sense of the world, whether they realize it or not.

Christian theism is not arbitrary, it is consistent, and has the preconditions of intelligibility (preconditions to make knowledge possible; e.g., we are made in the image of a logical and all-knowing God). Other worldviews are arbitrary, inconsistent, and lack the preconditions that make knowledge possible. So presuppositional apologists do an internal critique of the unbelievers’ worldview to show where it is arbitrary, inconsistent, and where they lack the preconditions necessary for knowledge.

Presuppositional apologetics is a well-known method by which apologists “go on the offensive” to confront false worldviews (hopefully in a nice way, of course). In other words, an apologist makes adherents of other worldviews, like secular humanism, atheism, Hinduism, Islam, cults, and the like, try to defend their worldviews so they can show the problems within their professed view. And in all this, point out clearly where these other religions borrow from the Bible to make sense of the world.

Right and wrong exist because we have an absolute authority, the God of the Bible, who defines what is right and wrong in the Bible.

For example, when the Creation Museum opened in May of 2007, the atheists protesting the opening hired a plane to fly above the museum with a banner quoting “Thou shalt not lie.” The atheists have no reason not to lie in their own worldview, so they had to borrow from the Christian worldview to make this statement.10 Interestingly, these atheists who say there is no right and wrong were arguing that the Creation Museum was teaching something wrong (Bible history). Right and wrong exist because we have an absolute authority, the God of the Bible, who defines what is right and wrong in the Bible. These atheists didn’t have a foundation to determine right and wrong—only their subjective opinion!

Atheists who argue that we are just animals are almost always wearing clothes. Do animals wear clothes? No. So instead of making a consistent argument that we are only animals, atheists are instead confirming a literal Genesis 3 where we wear clothes due to sin and shame! God gave Adam and Eve clothes after sin. This works with many other things: Why do we have a seven-day week—the Bible. Why does logic and reason exist—the Bible. Why does knowledge exist—the Bible. Why is marriage defined as a man and a woman—the Bible.

This list can go on for hours! But in an unbeliever’s worldview, they lack the very foundational basis for such things.

Foundational Bases for Worldviews

Here is a checklist to look for problems in the unbeliever’s worldview11:

  1. Is it arbitrary—mere opinions, relativism, mere conjectures (perhaps prejudicial)—biases that have no ultimate basis?
  2. Is it inconsistent (fallacies, behavior doesn’t match what one professes, their presuppositions do not mesh together)?
  3. Violations of preconditions for knowledge (any ultimate basis for logic, uniformity in the universe, morality, and so on)?
  4. Will this view be reduced to absurdity (a form of inconsistency when taken to its ultimate conclusion)?

Some may argue that non-Christians don’t believe the Bible to be true and yet they can do logic, insist on a view of morality, do excellent scientific research that builds outstanding technology, and so on. But they miss the point then. The issue isn’t that they can do it, but they don’t have a basis to do it. They must borrow from the Bible to actually make sense of it. In other words, the Bible has to be true, whether they acknowledge it or not, just to make sense of things.

Shortcomings of Other Presuppositional Views

There have been several “presuppositional” methods proposed over the years outside of the Van Tillian method.12 Many of these people have contributed some excellent material to the debate and mesh well with Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics in many areas. But there are some overarching flaws that reduce the potency of their overall thrust such as:

  • Clarkian: Gordon Clark essentially says that the best worldview is the most logical, and Christianity is the most consistent in its logic. So Christianity appears to be the best.
  • Schaefferian: Francis Schaeffer essentially says that the best worldview will give the best answers to life. Christianity gives the best answers to life. So Christianity appears to be the best.
  • Carnellian: Edward J. Carnell essentially says that the best worldview is the most coherent. Christianity is the most coherent via the internal text. So, Christianity appears to be the best.

Of course, there are other variations (e.g., Nash), but we cannot be exhaustive in this short chapter.13

Clark’s view (one of the more popular) is in essence similar to the evidential/classical methods. Even though he made some great presuppositional arguments in certain places, his overall viewpoint falls short of the typical presuppositional viewpoint. In other words, Clark really moved to a position that man’s autonomous reasoning (man apart from God) should be used as the absolute starting point, over God’s Word.

Carnell actually began with Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics and then moved to a form that was based on autonomous human reason looking at coherency. Schaeffer’s ultimate apologetic does something similar as well, by ultimately appealing to man’s authority over God’s Word.

The problem with each of these is by what standard is “best” to be determined—autonomous human reason or God’s Word?

But even so, the problem with each of these is by what standard is “best” to be determined—autonomous human reason or God’s Word? By moving away from God’s Word as the absolute standard, these other methods really move away from true presuppositional apologetics. Such faulty “supposedly presuppositional” views still fall short. They actually fail because they still need to stand on the preconditions of intelligibility in regard to the Bible’s absolute standard, just to make their case.14

Hence, each of these other methods are still inherently adopting a Van Tillian basis and and fail to properly connect it. Christian theism based on the Bible as the absolute truth, is the precondition that must be borrowed for knowledge to even be possible.

Each of these other views ultimately rely on fallible human logic as the absolute standard—instead of God, who is the ultimate standard.15 Furthermore, each of their propositions are pseudo (false) presuppositional views as these views consequentially can’t really allow one to know the Bible is true or be certain that God even exists—or be certain of one’s own salvation. For these other views, in essence, their position is that this is the “best possible worldview right now,” “likely the most coherent so far,” and “gives the best possible answers right now,” but could still be wrong.

Essentially, each of these other alleged presuppositional views are forced into a position that biblical matters are likely true or likely the best, but we can never know it 100 percent for sure. Interestingly, the Bible says we can know numerous things, for example:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him (1 John 2:5).
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).

Neutrality vs. Common Ground

Have you ever had anyone ask you to “leave the Bible out of it” when you are discussing a subject? Perhaps they say something like, “Let’s discuss this, but since I don’t trust the Bible, you are going to have to use better sources, so we can meet on neutral ground.”

This is a subtle tact to try to get you to throw out the Bible and have a “civilized” discussion about a topic, without all that supposed “religious stuff ”—in other words, to be supposedly “neutral.” But there is actually no neutral position. The Bible makes it clear than man’s heart is evil and we are either for Christ or against (Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9).

Seeking Neutral Ground Seeking Neutral Ground Seeking Neutral Ground Seeking Neutral Ground

What they are subtly trying to do is to get you to give up the Bible as your ultimate authority (your starting point) and trust theirs (man becomes the authority or starting point on the subject at hand, not God). In other words, they are trying to get you to act like a secularist, and if you do so, you have already lost the debate.

Consider this analogy: You see a person who is sniffing cocaine. As an apologist you want to inform this person of addictive problems associated with this illegal drug (e.g., 1 Corinthians 6:12). And they say, “Listen, we can talk about this, but first you need to sniff this cocaine with me.” Would you do it? Of course not—you don’t give up your morality based on the Bible’s authority and accept theirs, so why give up the Bible’s authority in any other area to trust theirs?16

Be on the lookout for those who propose that there is such a thing as neutrality in the debate. There is no such thing as neutrality:

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad (Matthew 12:30).
Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so (Romans 8:7; NASB).
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).

We don’t want to get caught “giving up the Bible” to meet on supposed neutral ground, otherwise the non-Christians, especially the many secularists today, win! This is because they are getting you to leave the Bible out of the debate and thus debate on the terms of man’s opinions being the ultimate authority (if the Bible is left out, then God is left out, which means man is the ultimate authority by default). In other words, they want you to give up your starting point of God’s Word, and replace it with their starting point of man’s word—so they win!

But there is common ground. The unbeliever will often repeat that it is wrong to lie, murder, and so on. But what are they doing? They are borrowing from the Bible. This is what we need to point out! We do have common ground, but that is because they are borrowing from the Bible. They actually have to use the Christian starting point of God’s Word to discuss such things.

Presuppositions Presuppositions Presuppositions Presuppositions

So apologists need to recognize this and “pull the rug out from underneath” the unbeliever. Then when they realize they have no reliable foundation, we pray God will convict them to step aboard the biblical foundation—to change their starting point (which is a work of the Holy Spirit on their heart—a work of the Word of God that convicts and saves). Actually, in such discussions when they are obviously borrowing from the Christian starting point (the Bible), then when they attack the Bible they are essentially trying to blow themselves up too—whether they realize it or not. Hence, their position is self-refuting.

When we meet on common ground, we need to point out that the unbeliever is actually standing on borrowed ground—God’s ground!

Correct Aspects of Classical and Evidential Apologetics

Many may have already realized the similarities in classical and evidential apologetics. And rightly so! Evidential apologetics is actually a modern outworking of classical apologetics. In fact, many classical apologists appeal to evidential thinking on certain arguments and vice versa. Often, we find classical and evidential apologists accepting positions that actually undermine biblical authority (like belief in an earth that is billions of years old), because they really have such a trust in autonomous human reasoning.

We would be the first to admit that classical and evidential methods would be great in a perfect world . . . but we are not in a perfect world. Let us explain. In a perfect world, everyone would use logic correctly! In a perfect world, everyone would view evidence the correct way. In a sin-cursed and broken world, logic and evidence are not used and viewed correctly because of false worldviews that have resulted due to sin, and thus the fallen state of man and how that affects our thinking.

Consider: We all have the same evidence (we all live in the same universe). We look at the same dinosaur bones, same DNA, same rock layers, same continents, and so on. And yet, the majority of the world’s people are not coming to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is Lord. The evidence concerning Christ is not convincing them—even when we put it right in front of their faces! Evidence, by itself, doesn’t convince people (Luke 16:31; John 6:65; 1 Corinthians 12:3; etc.); even Jesus when He offered His body as proof of the Resurrection did not remain silent but the evidence was presented in conjunction with the authoritative statements of Christ (Luke 24:36–41). Sadly, some still disbelieved (Luke 24:41).

Look now at the basis of the classical method. Everyone has the same logic and reasoning, but not everyone uses it correctly and hence the majority of the world’s people are still not coming to Christ. In a broken world, these theoretical methods simply don’t work the way they should due to human sin and the fact that man’s heart is already biased against God—man is not neutral!

God Himself is the ultimate authority in every area.

The point is, God Himself is the ultimate authority in every area. So God’s Word has to be presupposed before we can even do a debate on logic/reasoning or evidence.

Follow us here, in the classical and evidential methods; it is assumed that logic is the absolute standard. But if logic is the absolute standard, then God would not be. Essentially, evidential and classical apologists are (inadvertently) appealing to another absolute standard (system of logic) to claim that God is the absolute standard. Classical and evidential defenders readily appeal to God as the absolute authority (and this is correct), but their method appeals to something else as the absolute authority. By default then, man’s ideas (autonomous human reason) become the authority over God.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! There is a time when an evidential-style method is useful—in fact, very useful. This is when both involved in the debate share the same biblical worldview.

When both debaters have the same biblical worldview, then it is a matter of understanding the evidence, not a debate about worldview. When a debate arises over some scientific evidence or the like, and both are biblical creationists (for example), then the debate can proceed almost identical to an evidential method. The difference is that the Bible is the authority and evidence is a good confirmation of the Bible’s truthfulness. There is more on evidence later in this treatise.

The same sort of situation occurs with the classical method. When both share a common biblical worldview, then the debate is no longer over worldview, but can be carried on from the perspective of a classical style apologetic by making the logical case. The difference is recognizing the place of God and His Word above all—even logic, which is more of a reflection of the way God thinks and upholds.

For example, classical arguments for the existence of God (first cause, design, and so on) are a good confirmation of the transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG)17 that is actually presupposed prior to the classical arguments.18 TAG is actually the natural outworking of presuppositional apologetics.19 But classical arguments, building on the Bible as the absolute authority, are a great confirmation of what we expect.

One needs to recognize that the Bible gives the very basis by which we can do logic and understand knowledge—for we are made in the image of an all-knowing, logical God (Genesis 1:27; Colossians 2:3). Only God knows everything. Therefore, it is only on the basis of what the all knowing God reveals to us we can even begin to construct the right worldview. The Bible also explains why we mess it up—sin (Genesis 3; Romans 5). It is the Bible that enables us to understand that our memory and sense are reliable (e.g., Job 38–41) and the world will be upheld in a certain fashion (e.g., Genesis 8:22). So we have a basis to look at evidence and draw conclusions—but such things are predicated on the truthfulness of the Bible as the ultimate authority.

Uses of Evidence

We commonly encounter the false perception that evidence is not used among presuppositional apologists. This cannot be further from the truth. That is a philosophy nearing “fideism” (when one believes there is no reason to use evidence, arguments, or the Bible, but let God do all the work) . . . essentially faith alone (fides in Latin means faith).

The presuppositionalist uses evidence. It is often done in a slightly different way than evidential or classical apologetics. Some of the uses of evidence are:

  • Confirming a biblical worldview
  • Introduction to worldviews
  • Showing inconsistencies and arbitrariness in false worldviews
  • To show the unbeliever they must use the Bible to properly understand evidence

Let’s look at an example for each of these.

Confirming a Biblical Worldview

Often, we come across evidence that is a great confirmation of the Bible’s truthfulness. One excellent example of that is the Flood of Noah’s day. When we see rock layers all over the world that have fossils in them, this is good confirmation of what we would expect to see as a result of a global flood. We can use this evidence when discussing a Christian worldview with an unbeliever to confirm that God’s Word is the right starting point.

Billions of Dead Things

Introduction to Worldviews

When an unbeliever and biblical Christian engage in discussion, evidence is often used. And this can be good—an apologist can use evidence in regard to origins, for instance, to help the unbeliever realize it is really a worldview debate.

Then point out to the unbeliever that the debate is actually about starting points that build the two different worldviews. The real debate is actually at the starting point level.

Interpreting Evidence Interpreting Evidence

Showing Inconsistencies and Arbitrariness in False Worldviews

This is a very effective use of evidence when evidence simply has no good explanation within the unbeliever’s worldview. For example, the secular humanistic worldview (no God, evolution, and millions of years) teaches that dinosaurs evolved into birds over millions of years.

Recently, they found a group of feathers in rock layers supposed to be at the “dawn” of dinosaurs’ existence!20 The secular response was to say that they look like feathers but they can’t be true feathers because dinosaurs hadn’t evolved into birds yet! Note the utter inconsistency!

To show the unbeliever they must use the Bible to properly understand evidence

Evidence can also be used to share with the unbeliever that the very basis to logically think about fossil feathers (using the example above) in rock layers below dinosaurs is predicated on the Bible’s truthfulness about knowledge, logic, and correct reason. In other words, we can’t even properly understand logic unless the Bible is true. By starting with the Bible, we cannot only make sense of the evidence, but have a basis to do so.

Conclusion

This short chapter on apologetics is merely scratching the surface of the topic. In fact, entire anthologies can be (and have been) written on the brief topics we discussed in this introductory chapter on apologetics. Our hope is that you learn the importance of apologetics in today’s day and age and study the topic and how to answer and “give a defense.”

But remember these key points: do this for sake of the gospel and the authority of the Bible. And do this with gentleness and respect. The unbeliever is not the enemy; it is the false philosophy that has taken them “captive” that is the enemy (2 Timothy 2:24–26; Colossians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 10:4–5). An unbeliever, whether he or she realizes it or not, is made in the image of God, your relative, and is in need of Jesus Christ to be saved.

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? Volume 2

Join a team of biblical scholars and Christian apologists present answers to twenty more relevant debates. Be prepared to give a reason for your faith in God!

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Footnotes

  1. Popular classical apologists are William Lane Craig, Thomas Aquinas, Norm Geisler, R.C. Sproul, and J.P. Moreland.
  2. Popular evidential apologists are B.B. Warfield, William Paley, and John Warwick Montgomery.
  3. Named for Cornelius Van Til who articulated it in modern times, espoused by Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, Michael Butler, and Jason Lisle. Early presuppositional apologetics examples are claimed from the Bible itself, as well as numerous others such as Augustine (in some aspects) and John of Damascus.
  4. Named for Cornelius Van Til who articulated it in modern times, espoused by Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, Michael Butler, and Jason Lisle. Early presuppositional apologetics examples are claimed from the Bible itself, as well as numerous others such as Augustine (in some aspects) and John of Damascus.
  5. Variant developed by Gordon Clark.
  6. Variant developed by Edward J. Carnell.
  7. We simply can’t hit all the methods in this short introduction, so we are going to stick to the most popular views in the treatise.
  8. For more on these topics please consult Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s book Always Ready (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 1996), or Dr. Jason Lisle’s book The Ultimate Proof of Creation (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009).
  9. In this short section, we will merely hit a brief highlight of Van Tillian presuppositionalism. For a more complete treatment, please see: Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, Dr. Greg Bahnsen (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1998).
  10. Atheism has no God who sets what is right and wrong, so there is no ultimate basis not to lie.
  11. Due to the limited space in this chapter these will not be expanded upon. But to know more about this, please consult Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s book Always Ready or Dr. Jason Lisle’s book The Ultimate Proof of Creation.
  12. Some say that they like Van Tillian (or even Bahnsen’s) presuppositional apologetic, but they don’t want to promote it because Van Til had specific denominational views that they do not agree with. Please do not get us wrong; our intent here is not to make people follow all of Van Til’s positions but to understand and make use of the philosophical method outlined in his works in regard to his apologetics method.
  13. To understand these viewpoints and their overarching flaws please consult Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, by Greg L. Bahnsen, Joel McDurmon, editor (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press; Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2009).
  14. Preconditions of intelligibility (knowledge) are the things that need to be in place for knowledge to exist. For example, the Bible gives a precondition for intelligibility where man is made in the image of an all-knowing logical God. Hence, we can relate to logical reasoning about knowledge and knowledge transfer. Also, God being all-knowing is the basis for knowledge to exist, and so on.
  15. The problem here is that logic is elevated above God, whereas in a presuppositional debate, logic is a tool but subservient to God and His Word being the ultimate authority. Logic is possible because God and the Bible are true.
  16. No analogy is perfect, but hopefully this gets the point across.
  17. TAG basically states that any alternative to the biblical theism would make knowledge impossible. In essence, it is the only book that has the preconditions for knowledge/logic (i.e., intelligibility). All other worldviews must borrow from the Bible for the world to make sense. Science, morality, and logic all stem from the Bible being true. So, to reiterate, if the Bible were not true, then knowledge would be impossible. In other words, if the Bible were not true, nothing would make sense—good or bad . . . everything would be meaningless and pointless.
  18. Ken Ham, editor, New Answers Book 3 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2010), p. 263–270.
  19. For a good summary of people’s attempts to refute TAG, please see “The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence” by Michael R. Butler, http://www.butler-harris.org/tag/.
  20. Jeff Hecht, “Eighty Million Years Ahead of Its Time,” New Scientist (March 24, 2012): p. 8.

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