Presuppositional Apologetics

Mark Ward reviews Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion

"As a presuppositionalist (who doesn’t like to ride the label, and who believes in the value of evidence because Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15), I observe that my own tribe’s arguments don’t always get that kind of honing… I don’t seem often to run into people who can really understand what I’m saying when I go presupp on them; it’s all too philosophically demanding." - Mark Ward

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Should ‘Presuppositional’ Apologetics Be Rebranded as ‘Covenant’ Apologetics?

In 2013 K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia published a book which he has called Covenantal Apologetics. I reviewed the book here and recommend it. But I expressed reservations about the writer’s agenda of rebranding Van Til’s apologetic teaching in line with the book’s title. Coming as it does from one of the foremost representatives of Van Til’s presuppositional approach, the thesis deserves attention. As I said in my review, by “Covenantal” Oliphint means the “covenants” of covenant theology.

Now nobody is going to disagree that Van Til often spoke about fallen man as a covenant-breaker. And no one will dispute that by that designation he had in mind the theological covenants of Reformed Covenant Theology. You cannot read Van Til very far before running into statements he makes about “the Reformed apologetic.” For example,

All men are either in covenant with Satan or in covenant with God. (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 4th edition, edited by K. Scott Oliphint, 300)

This is the kind of thing covenant theologians say (or used to say). Van Til did not refer to his approach as “Covenantal Apologetics,” but I think he might not have minded too much. Still, is it right?

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