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Apologetics Lessons 02

Apologetics Lessons 02

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Pre-suppositions and Classification
Christian Apologetics
 By Bishop Danilo O. Bantilan, Th.D
Apologetics is a multi-faceted discipline. There are several approaches that mayBe used; and there are disagreements among apologists as to what methods areThe best. Some are quite critical of other approaches for a variety of reasons.Here I will give a brief overview of the some of the major approaches, using theClassification system of 
 Five Views on Apologetics
, edited by Steven B. Cowan. IRecommend a reading of this book for a good overview of various methods. (IDisagree with the authors about some specific matters, but the book presents aBroad perspective on apologetic method.)In a general sense, three of the methods can fall under a classification of Evidentialism. This means that they are focused more upon the use of evidencesTo make the case, and they generally agree on the relationship between faith andReason. You might notice that these methods are often eclectic; they cross-over.These are given simply as a starting point for understanding the issues involved.
The Classical Method
starts with natural theology in order to establish theism asThe proper worldview. Only after theism is established through natural theologyDo they move to historical evidences to show the truth of Jesus. In other words,They first want to show that theism is true, and then demonstrate that the biblical viewIs the best view of theism (a two-step approach)? Examples of arguments from Natural theology includes the
 Kalam Cosmological Argument 
(i.e., first cause).Sometimes it is argued that this two-step approach is necessary as a foundationFor arguing historical evidences. The idea is that, without a theistic base, oneCould not show historically that miracles occurred.
The Evidentialist Method
. If the classical method is seen as a two-stepApproach, this method is a one-step approach. Those who hold to this wouldDisagree with the classical approach in the area of historical evidences. They do Not think that one must begin with natural theology. They see miracles asHistorical, which, in turn are demonstrative of God and His activity in the world? InOther words, miracles can be used as one sort of evidence for the existence of God. By this method, they believe that they can demonstrate both the existenceOf God and the truth of biblical theism all in one step. If, for example, theResurrection of Jesus is historically valid, and then it would show that there is a God,And that Jesus is true, all in one step. Those who hold to this would not Necessarily deny the value of natural theology; they just don’t see it as the Necessary first step that classical apologists do.
The Cumulative Case Method
argues that the case for Christianity is not a strictFormal argument (such as in natural theology or historical evidences), but is,Instead, informal, like a lawyer would present a brief. The biblical view is the bestExplanation of all of the data taken together. In other words, it does not seek toRely upon one or two major arguments, but instead takes all of the evidence as aWhole unit, and says that biblical theism best explains it all. The strength of thisWould be that even if one or two particulars can be explained away by skeptics(e.g., the problem of evil), they must explain all of the evidence taken together.All the elements of the argument stand or fall together, so that one need not relyOn one strict argument. This approach will utilize the arguments from naturalTheology and historical evidences, but is more concerned with everything takenTogether.1
The Presupposition Method
. Presuppositionalism parts with the evidentialistMethods above, generally rejecting traditional proofs for God’s existence. In thisView, believers and unbelievers do not have enough common ground betweenEach other to allow the evidentialists to accomplish their goals. Due to sin, mindsHave become so corrupt that believers and unbelievers will not agree on theFundamentals needed for evidentialists to establish their position. Thus, one mustPresuppose Christianity as the beginning point in apologetics. All meaning andThought presupposes the existence of the God of Scripture. Presupposition listsTry to demonstrate that unbelievers cannot argue, think, or live properly withoutFirst presupposing the biblical God. Only biblical theism can make sense of theWorld. Proof for this position is not seen as necessary. It is simply presupposed.My problem with this is two-fold: 1) it inherently begs the question (assumes what Needs proof), and 2) it contains some other assumptions which I reject. However,There is truth to the fact that we all have presuppositions from which we argue. IHope to go into this more later.These are the four major methods that have fought for supremacy. Another "Method" is now on the track, known as
reformed epistemology
. This holds thatIt is perfectly reasonable to believe many things without evidence. Belief in GodDoes not require the support of evidence or argument in order for it to be rational.Advocates would argue that God has given us an awareness of Himself that canBe awakened in many ways (e.g., a sense of awe at nature). In this way, peopleCan be taken with belief in God, not argued into belief.Personal remarks. A short overview such as this can hardly do justice to the positions described. This is meant as introductory, and interested readers areencouraged to read the more detailed explanations and defenses of these positions from their own proponents. The book mentioned at the beginning is aGood starting point. I find myself agreeing with all of them at some points, andDisagreeing with them (sometimes strongly) at other points. I do not think thatOne must be pigeonholed into a particular classification to be an effectiveApologist. I lean toward the evidentialist positions. I make use of natural theology,But do not think it is a necessary first step in all cases. I utilize the historicalEvidences (e.g., for the resurrection), and do think that the miraculous can beEstablished on historical grounds, which, in turn, argues for God. But I also find aCumulative case helpful; and in one sense every evidentialist makes such a case.I believe that these methods are all useful depending on the circumstances. I tryTo start where people are (e.g., Paul in Acts 17 at Athens), and I will try to useValid arguments that address a person where he/she needs to be addressed.
Chapter – 1Presuppositions of Christian Apologetics
Similar to the foundations upon which buildings are built, presuppositions are the startingtruths upon which different fields of knowledge and investigations are built.In any field, whether science or theology, presuppositions are the basic and starting assumptionsupon which the rest of the subject is built. At times presuppositions are axiomatic (self proven) innature. No proof is needed for establishing axiomatic presuppositions. For example, if two rods Aand B are equal in length to rod C, then A and B would be equal to each other also. However, inmost cases these assumptions or presuppositions are so elementary and so basic that more elementaryor more basic truths cannot be found for proving or disproving the suppositions. Therefore,arguments at this level should be addressed with great caution. Opposing presuppositions must be
 Author: Doy Moyer  Published on: May 15, 2000
analyzed, tested, or shown to be false to prove or disprove their veracity. Some presuppositions donot readily lend themselves to proof while other presuppositions, while other presuppositions may beeasily analyzed when more information becomes available. In such cases analysis will yield fruitfulresults. For example, in the early stages of computer programming people thought that puremathematical computation could produce "artificial intelligence". After about half a century of working with computers every computer expert today knows that this presupposition was totallywrong. Many presuppositions will have to be tested in an indirect way through the "ConsistencyTest". Consistency tests are possible only after the subject is developed to a reasonable degree. Oncea subject has been developed, presuppositions and the observed facts can be tested for congruency.Since the observed facts are established truths, any presuppositions conflicting with these facts arerejected. This is a powerful method for discrediting false philosophies that underlie many branchesof science. One good example of the Consistency Test can be used to test the Theory of Evolution.Among the many presuppositions that are foundational to evolution, the role played by chance phenomena is the most important assumption. A "chance event" is an action that is completelyrandom or unplanned. According to the chance-presupposition of Evolution, randomness and blindchance must produce a net INCREASE in the order and complexity seen in the Universe (whenmatter and energy interact with each other).At the time when the Theory Of Evolution gained initial popularity, theoretical or experimental data to evaluate the chance-presupposition was nonexistent.Consequently the Theory of Evolution continued under the false belief that the assumption wasscientifically true. "Chance" became so important for Evolution that even creative powers wereattributed to randomness and blind chance. However, the study of chance phenomena has grownrapidly in the last century and has now provided reliable data with which to evaluate the "chance"assumption. In the light of irrefutable evidence, today the presupposition about blind chance andevolution can be shown to be a gross error.Developments in the Theory of Probability, Information Sciences, Computer Technology,Thermodynamics and the study of biological mutations have shown conclusively that the net resultof randomness and blind chance is DECREASE and DESTRUCTION of order and NOT the other way round. This is a serious blow to the false theory of evolution. Analysis of presuppositions in thelight of empirical observations furnishes a powerful tool to the Christian Apologist. One can powerfully refute false presuppositions using the "Consistency Test". The analysis of presuppositionscan help the apologist in another way. By using a set of accepted or established presuppositions theapologist can show why the opposing school of thought is in error. Just by establishing the fact thatopposing positions are based upon a different set of presuppositions is sufficient in many cases torefute opposing positions. Radical Christian scholars portraying themselves as Bible believing peoplecan be refuted effectively by using accepted or established presuppositions. Non conservativeChristians come in many shades of thought -- from neo evangelicals to complete radicals. All differ from conservatives (fundamentalists) in interpretation of miracles, creation, and canonicity. Nonconservative Christians try to impress upon Bible believing Christians that miracles in the Bible werenot real, the Genesis creation account is only a non literal story, and that there is nothing unique withthe canon of the Bible.Since radical Christians use the same vocabulary as conservative Christians, many BibleBelieving believers do not recognize that conclusions reached by radical Christians are NOT basedon research, but arise out of false presuppositions of randomness and blind chance. RadicalChristians are mentally preconditioned by the presuppositions they hold and speak AGAINST theBible when the presuppositions are not supported. They cannot be convinced against their will. Theyare not seekers of truth but proponents of bias. To refute arguments at a surface level is a losing battle. When false presuppositions are uncovered, the battle changes pace. As long as one does notexpose the radical presuppositions held by non-fundamentalists, the battle remains one sided.Opposition to the Bible is claimed on the basis of scientific investigations. When shown that thearguments brought against the Bible stem not from research but from "starting assumptions", thesituation changes. For example, when a radical Christian denies the inspiration and infallibility of thescriptures, when he advocates evolution in place of creation, and when he tries to "demytholyze"supernatural events recorded in the scriptures, he claims research and science as reason for thisattack. This is clear deception. As long as the apologist focuses on conclusions, exposing the fallacy3

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