Presuppositional Response -- By: Jason Lisle

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 11:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Presuppositional Response
Author: Jason Lisle


Presuppositional Response

Jason Lisle

Dr. Richard Howe lists several perceived problems with presuppositional apologetics. He claims (1) that the method collapses into classical apologetics, (2) that it falsely assumes that preconditions of intelligibility are biblical creation principles, (3) that the method conflates ontology with epistemology, (4) that it juxtaposes God’s Word vs. Man’s Words, and (5) that it is inconsistent. Let us examine each of these in turn to see if Howe has accurately represented the presuppositional method, and if so, if his criticisms can be rationally justified.

Does Presuppositionalism Collapse Into Classical Apologetics?

The presuppositional method is characterized by biblical authority. It does not attempt to prove God’s Word from some greater standard because the presuppositionalist asserts that there is no greater standard. The Bible must prove itself (Heb. 6:13). It does this by providing the only worldview in which knowledge is possible. This is a biblical standard because the Bible itself teaches that God alone makes knowledge possible (Prov. 1:7; Col. 2:3, 8). The presuppositionalist does not embrace the standards of the unbeliever (Prov. 26:4), but rather he shows that such standards are absurd on their own terms

(Prov. 26:5). As such, the presuppositional method is fundamentally contrary to classical apologetics. The classical apologist appeals to something else as the standard by which the Bible is judged.

Therefore, presuppositionalism could only collapse into classical apologetics if the apologist abandons biblical authority as his ultimate standard of knowledge. Only if he appeals to some other allegedly greater standard could such a criticism be defended.

Since the biblical worldview alone makes knowledge possible, the critic who claims he knows the Bible is wrong must tacitly rely upon the Bible in order to make his case. I have likened this to a critic of air using air to explain how air does not exist. Howe criticizes this analogy by pointing out that God does not need air to make an argument against air. (Actually God would never argue against air since air does exist, and God is never wrong). But this mischaracterizes my analogy. I was discussing a mortal human using air to argue against air. And people do need air to verbalize any argument at all, just as we need God’s revelation in order to know anything at all. So the analogy seems quite fitting. And it does not deviate from biblical authority bec...

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