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Classical Apologetics
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Classical Apologetics #55288
Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:20 AM
Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:20 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 3,554
Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline OP
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I was hoping you could give me your opinion on the following.
Recently I became aware of how little I really know about Classical Apologetcs, which a lot of good Reformed theologians have also held over the years. With that in mind, I thought I would try to understand their position better before even commenting about it.
In that search I asked a few of them to give their understanding of why they believe in Classical Apologetics, as opposed to Presuppositional Apologetics.
Here is one answer I received:
"I think the main point in Classical Apologetics is that the existence of God is proven from reason alone, apart from Scripture or special revelation. As Jonathan Edwards writes, "Nothing is more certain than that there must be an unmade and unlimited being." For Edwards there is no thought that does not lead to God. In His sermon on the inspired Scriptures Edwards writes, "reason is to determine that there is a God, and the Scripture is His Word." This is often times referred to as the "primacy of the intellect."
“Primacy of intellect" means that we must think about God before we can actually know him. The knowledge of God is not illogical. If there was ever a time when there was nothing, there would still be nothing. The law of causality states that all effects must have a cause, however God is not an "effect," he is the cause of all things, he is the Alpha and Omega, therefore only God has aseity or being in and of Himself. The proof for the existence of God is proven by the absurdity of the alternative or "nothing," ex nihilo nihil fit, which means "out of nothing comes nothing"

Van Til abandons neutral, or autonomous reasoning, claiming that one must presuppose God. However, when challenged, even Van Til went to the Teleological argument for the existence of God. John Frame writes, "But how can we defend the logical move from “intelligible universe” to “theistic universe?” Van Til rarely articulated his reason for that move; he seemed to think it was self-evident. But in effect, he reverted at this point to apologetics of a more traditional type. Apologists have often noted that we could not know the world at all unless it had been designed for knowledge. If the world were nothing but matter, motion, time, and chance, we would have no reason to think that the ideas in our heads told us anything about the real world. Only if a person had designed the world to be known, and the human mind to know it, could knowledge be possible. So Van Til at this point reverted to a traditional teleological argument. He never admitted doing this, and he could not have admitted it, because he thought the traditional teleological (like the other traditional arguments) were autonomous and neutral."

If Van Til’s transcendental approach is to succeed, however, it must abandon the assumption that traditional arguments are necessarily autonomous and welcome the assistance of such arguments to complete the transcendental argument. The traditional arguments are in fact necessary to establish the existence of God as a transcendental conclusion. And there is no reason to assume, as Van Til does, that anyone who uses an argument from design or causality is presupposing a nontheistic epistemology. On the contrary, people who use these traditional arguments show precisely that without God the data of our experience suggesting order and causality are unintelligible.

What, then, does transcendental argument add to the apologist’s arsenal, beyond the traditional arguments? First, it presents a goal for apologetics. The goal of the apologist is not only to show that God exists, but also who he is: that he is the source of all meaning and intelligibility in the universe."
https://frame-poythress.org/transcendental-arguments/

This admission by Frame brings the two schools of thought much closer. However, Frame would still argue that the transcendental argument presupposes the existence of God, whatever that means. It's not that the fallen man does not see the light of God's revelation, it's that he sees it and hates the light, as W.G.T Shedd put it, "the approbation of the goodness is not the love of it." So the denial of God is like the little girl slapping her father as she is sitting in his lap.

Re: Classical Apologetics [Re: Tom] #55289
Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:01 AM
Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:01 AM
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Posts: 13,536
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Presuppositional Apologetics is a strictly Christian/biblical methodology from which one argues FROM the truth for the truth. That's about as brief but succinct summary I can make. As Bahnsen rightly argued, everyone begins with a presupposition and when someone tries to defend that presupposition they have to borrow from the Christian/biblical view since it is the only view which is based upon God and Him creating all things and holding all things together, i.e., there is perfect order in all things including man's God-given intellect. In short, one cannot offer a logical argument of any kind for anything unless the Christian/biblical presupposition is true. grin


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Re: Classical Apologetics [Re: Pilgrim] #55290
Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:43 PM
Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:43 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
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Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Tom Offline OP
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Pilgrim

I probably should not be studying heady things like this, because I have been suffering headaches lately.
I suspect because of that, I am missing something that might seem obvious to you.
The person said the following:
Quote
Van Til abandons neutral, or autonomous reasoning, claiming that one must presuppose God. However, when challenged, even Van Til went to the Teleological argument for the existence of God. John Frame writes, "But how can we defend the logical move from “intelligible universe” to “theistic universe?” Van Til rarely articulated his reason for that move; he seemed to think it was self-evident. But in effect, he reverted at this point to apologetics of a more traditional type. Apologists have often noted that we could not know the world at all unless it had been designed for knowledge. If the world were nothing but matter, motion, time, and chance, we would have no reason to think that the ideas in our heads told us anything about the real world. Only if a person had designed the world to be known, and the human mind to know it, could knowledge be possible. So Van Til at this point reverted to a traditional teleological argument. He never admitted doing this, and he could not have admitted it, because he thought the traditional teleological (like the other traditional arguments) were autonomous and neutral."


I am trying to understand how your response, answers this. Thanks for your patience.

Tom

Re: Classical Apologetics [Re: Tom] #55291
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 AM
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:29 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,536
NH, USA
Pilgrim Offline

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Pilgrim  Offline

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Posts: 13,536
NH, USA
I don't believe that Van Til "abandoned neutral, or autonomous reasoning". Why? because to abandon something, one must presuppose that the something exists. Personally, and I'm going to assume that it is the same with Van Til, I reject the very notion that there is such a thing as "neutral or autonomous reasoning." Why? because I believe in the noetic effects of the Fall; every facet of man was corrupted. The very nature was changed and its corruption dominates the intellect, affections and will. Thus, there is no "neutrality" but rather a perverse inclination to hate God and even deny His very existence.

As for the idea that Van Til "went to the Teleological argument", the author once again is presupposing that Van Til's argument was inherently indefensible and thus left presuppositionalism and argued from a Classical/Evidential position. Again, personally, I do not see that to be true at all. Presuppositionalism does NOT reject "proofs" but rather it rejects the idea that so-called "evidence" PROVE the existence of God. Rather since God IS, one would expect to find "proofs". The Teleological argument is based upon the presupposition that God IS and that God's special revelation reveals the very nature of God and how all things were created by Him and how they all exist in logical harmony by His divine providence (Col. 1:12-17). And it is by the creation that all men are held accountable to worship God because His existence is not only visibly observable, but God has embedded into the very nature of man, whom He created in His own image, the truth that He exists and He is omnipotent (Rom. 1:18ff).

The knowledge of God is therefore to be presupposed because a) it is inherently known to all men due to the fact that this knowledge is part of there very being, and b) it is revealed in the very creation itself, both of which are corrupted by the Fall and thus c) God has inerrantly revealed the truth in His special revelation; the divinely inspired Scriptures. Thus NO MAN is without excuse for not presupposing the existence and nature of God.


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