Veridicalism Versus Presuppositionalism: A Review Article -- By: Gordon H. Clark

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 24:2 (Jun 1981)
Article: Veridicalism Versus Presuppositionalism: A Review Article
Author: Gordon H. Clark

Veridicalism Versus Presuppositionalism: A Review

Gordon H. Clark*

Crucial Questions in Apologetics. By Mark Hanna. Baker, 1981, 139 pp., $5.95.

Professor Hanna’s ambitious aim is to construct an apologetic method, named Veridicalism, to avoid “the stalemate between Presuppositionism [sic] and Verificationism.” Or, one might say, between fideism and empiricism; or, again, between apriorism and the tabula rasa theory. Of course, these terms need some definition. Yet the first three-quarters of the book is sparse in definition. One must read almost a hundred pages before finding out what some important terminology means and then go back and read the whole again. There are two definitions given near the beginning, but sometimes a later definition is substantially different from the earlier one.

One of these terms thus ambiguous is “fideism” or “presuppositionism.” The two words seem always to be synonymous, and since the author aims to present a theory that is neither fideistic nor verificationistic, neither Calvinistic nor Arminian, the term “fideism” should be restricted to a single, well-defined meaning throughout the book. But this is not the case.

Preparing for a definition, the author begins by asserting that fideism destroys the possibility of truth and knowledge (p. 17), so that “every view, irrespective of its absurdities, is on the same epistemological footing with every other view” (p. 18). On the same page he asks, “Can one be a fideist and avoid such a consequence?”

Properly speaking, this is a description rather than a definition. In actuality it is a conclusion that should be drawn only after valid arguments have been given to support it. Yet it reveals some important characteristics that the author thinks he sees in the nature of fideism. But if so one must ask, “Are there any fideists loose in the neighborhood?” Does anyone claim to hold a view that his description fits? In what books may we find his description accepted and defended? Maybe there are such people, but who are they and what reasons do they offer in favor of this position?

Barth and Brunner may be two satisfactory examples. But are these two theologians presuppositionalists? Or, to make the question clearer, are there two sorts of fideism—one that fits Hanna’s description and claims that no theory is better than any other, and a second type of fideism that denies an equal epistemological basis to absurdities? Can there not be a presupposition that insists on the difference between truth and falsity? I could mention two names in support of this contention. Now the author has several good pages defending fixed truth and the necessity of logic. Indeed, ...

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