What is presuppositional apologetics? We spend a lot of time here at Tent Making Christianity talking about making the case for Christianity. We use several different lines of argument to make our case.
The fancy name for what we do is apologetics. This is drawn from the Greek word “apologia” which means “speaking in defense”. It is in essence the discipline of defending Christianity in the marketplace of ideas.
What Are The Different Types Of Apologetics?
There are several different approaches to using apologetics. We here at TMC lean more towards evidential apologetics. We discuss things like the reliability of scripture and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
Another field of apologetic study is classical apologetics. People using this approach will discuss evidences for God based on arguments such as the problem of evil, the nature of God or Kalam cosmological argument.
The third type is presuppositional apologetics. This discipline sees the problem of unbelief as not one of evidence, but one of rejection of God. The view held by presuppositional apologists is that everyone deep down knows that God exists and that the Bible is true. The problem is that people suppress this knowledge, and reject God for emotional rather than evidential reasons.
On their view, it makes no sense to present evidence for God. They presuppose the existence of both God and the reliability of Scripture. They are more interested in figuring out the mental or emotional reason for a person rejecting God.
Is This A Valid Approach?
In my experience, there is some truth to this approach. Very often a person rejecting the evidence for Christianity is not doing so based on the quality or sufficiency of the evidence. There is an emotional reason behind it. This can be true in reverse as well. There are many Christians that simply have an emotional connection to Christianity, and have never looked at whether or not their view is true.
Frank Turek offers up a brilliant question to determine where the person you are talking to is coming from. The question he asks is “If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?”. The answer to this question will tell you a lot about how to proceed in a conversation.
If the person answers “yes”, then they are telling you that they can indeed be swayed by evidence. If they answer “no”, then the problem is not an evidentiary one. If someone refuses to believe something is true when they are convinced of the fact, then the problem is of the heart. At this point, you should stop offering evidence, and find out what the emotional barrier is that’s keeping the person from accepting the evidence you are offering.
Are Presuppositional Apologists Wrong In Their Approach?
As you can see from the above example, I am a firm believer in using all forms of apologetics. Some people may simply not know the evidence for Christianity. Others may have emotional reasons for staying away from the Church or Jesus. A good apologist will be able to meet the person where they are at, and determine what the true barrier is.
One final word of warning here. As we talk about making the case for Jesus and Christianity, we need to remember that we are also reliant on the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life. Even in my own case of conversion, I had no interest in Christianity to begin with. My heart had to be opened for me to accept the message I was being given. We should always remember that God is allowing us to be part of the process of evangelism, but the results are in His hands.
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