Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What is Apologetics? Pt. 3

by Hiram R. Diaz III 

§ I. The Impossibility 
of Epistemological Neutrality1

The particular apologetical methodology which we have been discussing has been called presuppositionalism by some thinkers because it does not argue to the Christian faith, it argues from the presupposition that the Christian faith is true. We presuppose the truth of the Christian religion, we do not argue to it from the basis of some neutral starting point. This is because epistemological neutrality does not exist. According to Scripture, we are either for Christ or against him;2 therefore, either one’s mind is in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, or it is not. And if one’s mind is not in submission to the Lordship of Christ, then it is in opposition to Christ. 

Paul the apostle repeats this truth when he declares that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.”3 In context, Paul is speaking to fallen man’s inability to love and serve God, and this includes his ability to love and serve God with his mind. How this plays out in epistemological contexts is clear – if the law of God written on a man’s heart4 binds him to accept the truth about who God is, for this indeed pleasing to God, then the fallen man cannot do this. Instead, he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness.5 Fallen man is always at the center of all of his reasoning. Be it empirical research or mathematical calculation, there is no difference. Consequently, fallen man’s construction of criteria for what does or does not constitute evidence for the truth of any proposition is geared toward this end, namely his own self-satisfaction in opposition to his Creator. 

What is more, we must recognize that if there is a proper means of evaluating evidence, and there is, then that proper means of evaluating evidence has its origins in God himself. This means that whenever we reason correctly, we are reasoning according to that standard which God has determined we ought to follow. It, therefore, likewise means that when we do not reason correctly, we are not reasoning according to that standard which God has determined we ought to follow. And so the unbeliever’s reasoning, if it is sound, is built upon the truth (e.g. the laws of logic, mathematics, and so on), whereas his unsound reasoning is built upon his sinful desire to glorify himself, not God. 

If there are universal standards for the evaluation of proposed evidences in favor of some spiritual matter, in other words, those standards are necessarily there because God has placed them there. The laws of logic, for example, do not exist apart from the Logic of God, Christ Jesus who sustains the universe in existence by the Word of his power. Knowledge is always revealed by God, even the knowledge that A is A, or that If A is B, and B is C, therefore, A is C. This is why the unbeliever’s opposition to the Christian faith is riddled with logical fallacies and contradictions – for he is trying to use God’s own revealed knowledge against God’s revealed knowledge. 

Thus, we reason from the truth of the Scriptures, because all human reasoning argues from a foundation, a starting point. What is more, all human reasoning argue from the revealed knowledge of God present in all men’s minds (e.g the laws of logic). When the unbeliever claims to have reasoned from that very foundation given by God for our acquisition of knowledge, and upon that basis have come to the conclusion that Christianity is false, therefore, we challenge his claim by asking him about his own epistemological foundation, demonstrating its inherent instability due to the fact that it is attempting to use God’s revealed knowledge in one area of life (i.e. non-spiritual matters) against God’s revealed knowledge in another area of life (viz. spiritual matters). 

There is no neutral starting point. One is either reasoning under the dominion of sin and death, or one is reasoning under the Lordship of Christ.