Classical Reply -- By: Richard G. Howe

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 11:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Classical Reply
Author: Richard G. Howe


Classical Reply

Richard G. Howe

I would like to express my deep appreciation to both Drs. Jason Lisle and Scott Oliphint for their participation in this exchange. Their ability and willingness to rigorously engage the issues with the irenic spirit they have is a testimony to their substantial walk with the Lord and their sincere desire to love God with all their minds. It is hoped that my criticisms of each of them have been taken by them in the spirit in which I intended. I would also like to thank Mr. Eric Gustafson and Mrs. Christina Woodside for all the hard work they did in making these exchanges possible. I should first like to make some remarks to each of their responses to me and end with a few concluding points.

Regarding Jason Lisle’s Response To Me

First, Lisle had nothing to say about the distinction between a transcendental argument and a demonstratio quia argument (demonstration from effect to grounding).1 It appears to me that Lisle either does not grant the distinction or does not understand it. I understand well

his stipulation that his method is one predicated upon biblical authority. However, when he argues from some phenomenon (like morality) to the grounding (or cause) of that phenomenon, this type of argumentation is not Presuppositionalism but rather is Classical Apologetics.

Second, Lisle is simply wrong when he says that “the classical apologist appeals to something else as the standard by which the Bible is judged” (emphasis his) (34). As I argued in my article, framing the apologetic task in terms of “ultimate standards” is flawed.

Third, despite his protestations to the contrary, I stand by my criticism that he confuses the ontological aspects of these questions with the epistemological ones.2 My contention is not that I take exception to anyone making such metaphysical points. My contention is that while the Presuppositionalist is condemning the Classical method as unbiblical and proving a god that is not the God of Christianity, he goes on (in principle) to argue exactly as a Classical apologist would argue.

Last, Lisle admits to a point that in other places where I have attributed this position to Presuppositionalistism, I have been accused of misconstruing the view. He says, “Without the entirety of the Scriptures, I could not know that God thinks, is omni–present, unchanging, and sovereign” and that the “laws of logic would be just as unjustified for the creationist as for the evolutionist” (35). This strikes me as manifestly false. Is Li...

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