Classical Response -- By: Richard G. Howe

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


Classical Response

Richard G. Howe

I am happy to be able to response to Dr. Scott Oliphint’s important contribution. I should first like to comment on some strengths of his work and then level some criticisms.

Strengths

First, as with most Presuppositionalists with whom I am familiar, I appreciate Oliphint’s commitment to the authority of the Scriptures. In a day where, even among those who would name themselves Evangelical, there is increasing erosion of such commitment, it is encouraging to see formidable thinkers and writers such as Oliphint take a strong and deliberate stand on God’s Word. Second, I appreciate that Oliphint is interested in having his apologetic methodology be consistent with his theology. It is hoped that all of us who do apologetics would be so conscientious in making sure our methods of defending the faith agree with our own theological commitments. Third, Oliphint is to be commended for the clarity of his thinking and writing. The subject of apologetic method, especially as it is found in the debate between the Classical and Presuppositional apologists, is difficult enough without its difficulty being exacerbated by obtuse conversation. Fourth, I appreciate the depth and breadth of Oliphint’s

knowledge in the related matters reflected not only in his contribution here, but also in his very important contributions in his books. Last, everyone appreciates Oliphint’s willingness to dedicate his time and efforts to this project. This conference will be all the richer for his contributions in helping clarify and defend the Presuppositionalist position or, as he would have it, the Covenantal Apologetics position.

Criticisms

At the risk of being somewhat redundant with my original article, I should like to visit some issues that I have with Oliphint’s position. My treatment of these issues comes in no particular order. First, as is evidenced by the opening quotation from Van Til, sometimes there is a confusion of metaphysical considerations with epistemological considerations. While is it certainly true that “man’s mind is derivative,” this is to make a metaphysical point. No doubt, since God is the Creator and Sustainer of the world, the existence of everything other than God is derivative. But to infer from this anything about our knowledge of God’s revelation is to illicitly switch the focus from a relatively uncontroversial (between Classical and Presuppositional apologists) metaphysical point to a much more controversial epistemological point. Talk about God’s revelation is talk about knowledge, not being. This is confirmed by such language as “conscious of itself,” “conscious of its creatureliness...

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