Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Is Presuppositionalism Un-Biblical?

Certain forms of "Presuppositional Apologetics", including most of the forms floating around the internet, hold

1. The Bible is the inerrant word of God
2. To take anything extra-Biblical as evidence for God (“evidentialism”) is sinful

The same presuppositionalists are also rather fond of quoting 1 Romans 20 in support of a claim that atheists do, despite their protestations, believe in God every bit as much as the devout:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse
Now, from 1, this is the inerrant word of God. And this inerrant word of God cites extra-Biblical evidence for the existence of God. “(T)he things that are made” are not exhausted by the Bible: we would have a poor creator whose only work was a book. Yet “the things that are made” are presented as reason the non-Christian should or, indeed, does believe in God.

It seems that God is an evidentialist. And that presuppositionalists think He's wrong.



Thomas Larsen said...


My contention, as a Christian presuppositionalist, is that it's impossible for a person to live rationally and consistently with a non-theistic worldview. (You'll notice nothing about the Bible in that statement; that's because I see no reason to think the Christian presuppositionalist must take the inerrancy of the Bible as axiomatic.) Most presuppositionalists wouldn't say that atheists "believe in God every bit as much as the devout"; what led you to that conclusion? I don't hold (2), either; so your claim that presuppositionalism is unbiblical focuses on a very specific kind of presuppositionalism.

My understanding from Romans 1.20-21 is that belief in God is a properly basic belief.

Tony Lloyd said...

I did say "certain forms"!

And, as it's rather silly of course, they tend to be those internet-y variants. Good old Sye Tenbruggencate is a biblical innerantist. And see him make the second point (repeatedly) here: (e.g. at 4: 03 and 11:28)

Now it would be thoroughly unfair to use Sye as representative of honest pre-suppositionalists. But the two claims go back to claims people have got from Van Til (I don't say it's from Van Til, because it may be a mis-interpretation). Consider:

"The starting point of Van Til's system is the triune God who has
infallibly revealed himself in self-attesting Scripture."

"(M)an is
viewed as a rebel against God who nonetheless in his innermost being
still recognizes his Master."