The Basis Of Authority In The Apologetics Of Edward John Carnell -- By: Rolland D. McCune
CenQ 21:3 (Fall 1978) p. 29
The Basis Of Authority In The Apologetics Of Edward John Carnell
Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Christian Apologetics consists essentially of a defense and a propagation of the Christian faith.1 As such it is a methodology that deals with a message—how to defend and present the Biblical message of salvation from sin. Difference of opinion exists over the correct methodology. There are broadly three basic approaches, one of which will be examined in some detail in this study.
The first method may be called Total Rationalism, represented mainly by Stuart C. Hackett in his book The Resurrection of Theism.2 He presupposes two basic ingredients: first, a mind that is latent with “categories” or a structure of thought by which one comes to experience (categories such as quantity, quality, relation, modality); and second, data upon which this structure of thought can terminate.3 This is basically assuming an epistemology or a method of knowing by which one can proceed from the ground up without having any prior commitment to a system or world view. As such it is closely akin to the methodology of Thomistic (Roman Catholic) philosophy and apologetics which attempts to build a bridge from man to God resting on a purely natural theology. Another leading representative of this method is John Warrick Montgomery.
CenQ 21:3 (Fall 1978) p. 30
The second methodology may be termed Semi Rationalism (or Semi Biblicism). This postulates Biblical Christianity and Theism as a world view but in turn subjects it to analytical testing and verification by one means or another. The presupposition is first drawn by authority from the Bible but is immediately subjected to rational investigation and analysis to determine and verify if truth has been found after all. The conclusion is that the Biblical world view passes this examination with highest honors. The leading proponents of this method are Edward John Carnell, Gordon H. Clark, Bernard Ramm, Clark Pinnock, Francis Schaeffer, Norman Geisler, and Carl F.H. Henry. This is the somewhat official method of the New Evangelicalism.
A third system of apologetics is that of Cornelius Van Til principally, which can be denominated Total Biblicism. In this method the world view of the Bible is not merely hypothetically assumed and later rationally validated, but accepted wholeheartedly by supernaturally-endowed faith. This system also rejects all attempts even to verify the Christian Faith because si...
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