committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs







A Summary of Positions

Evidentialism Presuppositionalism Reformed
Starting Point Reason, especially the classical theistic proofs:
Empirical data, especially the resurrection:
Negatively, the inconsistency of alternatives; positively, the scriptures as necessary for even the unbeliever's rationality:
Belief in God, like other beliefs (including belief in the existence of others, the reliability of the senses, etc.), is "properly basic." That is, one is warranted in believing in God because the "sense of God" is present in everyone.
Main Emphasis Sound reason will lead to the truth Sound investigation will lead to the truth Acceptance of the authority of scripture will lead to the truth Proper function (viz., of one's sense of God) will lead to the truth
The chief goal of apologetics To establish the reasonableness of theism To establish the reasonableness of Christianity To establish the sovereignty of God over human autonomy To expose the captivity of demands for evidence as unwitting capitulations to modernity
The chief philosophical influences Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas:
Aristotle, Bacon, Locke, Butler, Scottish "common sense realism" (Thomas Reid), B.B. Warfield and "Old Princeton":
Hegel, Bradley, and British "absolute Idealist" thought, Kuyper, Van Til:
Anselm, Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, contemporary critics of "classical foundationalism" (e.g., A. Plantinga, N. Wolterstorff, W. Alston):
drawn from
Philosophy History/Science Scripture Philosophy
Typical criticisms by rival schools Too deductivistically rationalistic (says the "inductivist" evidentialist); too naive about the sinfulness of the fallen mind and heart, sacrificing God's sovereignty by trying to preserve Enlightenment autonomy (says the presuppositionalist); too committed to classical foundationalism (says the "Reformed epistemologist") Too optimistic about the power of the senses, since observation is never neutral and the presuppositions which select, organize, and judge relevant data are never suspended so that one could appeal to a "zero point" of unbiased reflection; can only provide probabilistic arguments, while faith requires certainty Too pessimistic about the efficacy of common grace in providing shared convictions about rationality, sense-experience, and the innate sense of God; confusing apologetics (a pre-evangelistic activity of clearing away objections) with evangelism (sharing the gospel), presuppositionalism tends to deny the value of arguments and is founded on circular reasoning Sense of the divine is insufficient as it is neither an argument for Christianity (says the evidentialist), nor for the scriptures ( says the presuppositionalist)
Points of agreement among all four schools
  1. Arguments are useful, but are not themselves salvific

  2. There is common ground of some sort between believers and unbelievers, but not neutral ground

  3. Sin has so darkened the mind and heart that we all, by nature, suppress the truth

  4. There is a place for reason, evidences, and scripture in apologetics

  5. Only by the proclamation of Christ in the Gospel does one actually come to faith

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