Reviews [#2] -- By: Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 11:2 (Fall 2013)
Article: Reviews [#2]
Author: Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.


Reviews [#2]

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I appreciate the invitation to review these articles by these fine, dedicated, Christian scholars on this important topic. According to the invitation to join in the debate, the issue before us is a proper assessment of the use of presuppositional apologetics within contemporary young-earth creationist literature. Interestingly, for the debate Dr. Scott Oliphint is committed to presuppositionalist apologetics and old earth advocacy; Dr. Richard Howe is a classical apologist, young earth advocate; and Dr. Jason Lisle is a presuppositionalist, young earth advocate. Due to space limitation I must quickly get to my review.

In reading the articles I feel something like Goldilocks in that (1) Oliphint is too soft. He effectively avoids the topic of discussion by limiting it to his last few paragraphs while admitting that “it will be obvious by this point that the notion of a young earth has not factored into our apologetic discussion.” (2) Howe is too hard. Despite these articles being linked to a an open public debate on the matter, Howe continually misses his target audience by referring to demonstratio quia, truth-functional relations, the Incompleteness Theorem, essence/existence distinctions, Material Implication, Cartesian Foundationalism, Aristotelian hylomorphism, and so forth. And he does so while admitting “time and space will not allow a thorough critique” and “time, space, and purpose will not allow for a treatment” of various subjects

that he casts into the debate. (3) Lisle is just right. He gets right to the heart of the matter: he argues that biblical authority is the absolute standard of truth for both Christian apologetics and universal origins.

Oliphint’s article is excellent — as far as it goes (up until his closing observations). Though he is committed to presuppositionalism, which works from a biblical starting-point and establishes the Bible as the absolute standard of truth, his old earth advocacy clashes with his bold affirmation of Scripture. We may see this in two respects.

First, the Genesis 1 record clearly, repeatedly, and emphatically speaks of the creation days as literal days, which should lead Oliphint to affirm six day creation — which entails young earth advocacy (unless he believes God created the earth in six days around 13 billion years ago). Note (1) the word “day” has as its primary meaning a normal day-night cycle; (2) the days are explicitly qualified by “evening and morning”; (3) the appearance of “day” with numerical prefixes (“first,” “second,” etc.) always speaks of a literal day in the Bible; (4) each day appears...

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