Theology

A Primer on Presuppositional Apologetics

Christian apologetics is the discipline or practice of defending and commending Christianity. Christianity as a worldview competes with a host of other worldviews to accurately represent things as they are. Imagine with me a Christian engaging a non-Christian in apologetics. By what criteria will he judge the arguments? Ah, but here is the kicker: The debate is about the criteria themselves.

How so? When a Christian engages a non-Christian, each makes a claim about ultimate reality—the way things really are. Now the way things really are affects the way people can know things. (Philosophy says that your ontology [philosophy of what is] has implications for your epistemology [philosophy of how we know what is].) The Christian derives his ontology and epistemology from biblical and systematic theology; the non-Christian derives his from somewhere else—if an atheist, perhaps from his own experience filtered through his own reason. The Christian and the non-Christian, because they have different ontologies and epistemologies, hold very different ideas about what is scientifically possible, morally just, or rationally plausible. (For instance, the vicarious atonement is morally repugnant to unbelievers, cf. 1 Cor. 1:18–24.) Worldviews clash over ultimate issues, including what categories best sort data and what criteria best judge arguments. Christianity tells us that even more is at stake—namely, how we may be right with God.

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"The Bible never teaches that the earth moves around the sun..."

Christianity, and fundamentalism within, has embraced, for the most part, a fallacious cosmology...Dr. Thomas Strouse is the Dean and Professor Emeritus at Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary (Newington, CT), a self-proclaimed fundamentalist Baptist seminary. He has written an article arguing that the earth is the center of the universe–he believes the sun rotates around the earth as do all other heavenly bodies. His concluding paragraph of his article is below:

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Shall We Cast Lots?

Pitfalls in the Pursuit of Biblical Patterns


In Scripture, casting lots is routine. Some might even say it’s the normal way to decide a difficult question.

The OT 1 contains 24 references to “cast lots,” “casting lots,” and “the lot fell.” Two of these are in Proverbs where lot-casting is highly recommended.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord (Prov. 16:33).
Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart (Prov. 18:18).

In addition, the Urim and Thummim (probably a form of lot-casting) have a prominent place in Mosaic Law. All in all, the OT is very pro-lot.

The NT seems to be in favor of it as well. The practice is mentioned eight times, and one of those places refers to the selection of an apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1:26).

So if we have frequent favorable references to lot-casting across both Old and New Testaments, do we have a “biblical pattern”? Should we be casting lots in our churches rather than voting? After all, the Bible contains no direct command to vote on anything (some might argue that voting is the brainchild of humanistic philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his ilk).

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"Your Problem Is . . .": A Biblical Approach to Confrontation

Some people in the body of Christ, at least in their own minds, seem to have the gift of confrontation. These are the folks most other Christians try to dodge. However, sometimes they sneak up on one of their brothers or sisters and utter those dreaded works. “May I speak with you for a minute?” Two questions immediately arise in the affronted brother’s mind: (1) What have I done this time? (2) Why is he confronting me when he has problems with … ? Usually, the issues these “gifted” people deal with are frivolous. On top of that, they often have issues they need to deal with themselves.

In spite of its bad connotations, Christian confrontation is commanded in Scripture. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word confront “to cause to face or meet; as, to confront one with the proofs of his wrongdoing.” In spite of Cain’s words, believers are “their brother’s keeper” (Gen. 4:9).

Galatians 6:1 defines Christian confrontation as the practice of Spirit-filled believers going to an erring brother in love and helping him to get right with God. We can use this verse to formulate a biblical model for Christian confrontation. The verse provides qualifications for the confronter, the purpose of confrontation, and the spirit of confrontation.


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Unity Is Fundamental

One of the quickest ways to morph into a “fire-breathing, hard-nosed, black-and-white, reactionary Christian fundamentalist” is to listen to any diatribe that downplays Christian unity. Why? I believe that when one downplays unity, in essence, he diminishes the full orb of the Gospel and attacks the very character of God.Faith in the Gospel becomes the very hinge to a door that allows one to escape the outside, hateful, cold, contentious, racist, dark world and to step into a brand-new environment of musical harmony where love for God and one another envelops us like the summer sun.

Carefully note this. It is not we who have the strength or skill to create unity. The simple word one is repeated seven times and sourced among the three Persons of the Trinity in Ephesians 4:4-6. To imagine that the phrases in these three verses reflect the work of man is nothing short of complete delusion. Unity among men is exclusively the Spirit’s genius.

But we must fiercely protect that which the Holy Spirit produces. We should preserve the unity; and pastors are among the gifts from the “One Lord,” the great Giver (Ps. 68) to the “one body” to be instruments in the “perfecting of the saints… . till we all come in the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:12-13a).

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Rise, Take Up Your Bed, and Walk

Two Views on the Depravity of Man

Our views of election, predestination, and the sovereignty of God in salvation in many ways develop from our beliefs of the depravity of man. What we believe about the true nature of unsaved man ends up shaping much of our other views in soteriology. Even our notions regarding the love and justice of God in election hinge on what we believe an unconverted person is capable (or not capable) of doing. Man’s depravity is all too often dismissed or left for last when, in fact, it ought to be the starting point in the discussion.

The Bible has much to say on the nature of man that in many ways organizes the debate into two groups. Views on effectual or synergistic grace, limited, or unlimited atonement; and conditional or unconditional election naturally develop. Understanding the biblical view of the natural man’s spiritual capabilities goes a long way to clearly drawing the lines of the debate.

We could divide the debate into two camps: what we might call the Augustinian view of man’s depravity and the non-Augustinian view of man’s depravity. The purpose of this article is not to evaluate the views but to describe each of them and the views on God’s sovereignty in salvation that necessarily emerge from them.

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I Saw Visions of God

Discuss this article.

Recently, my wife just ordered another magazine for our family. Interestingly, she doesn’t enjoy reading my Keil-Delitzsch commentary set or the History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff (she must have got burned out by the endless anthology of medical books she deciphered at Boise State); but she will gobble down Christian magazines like World, etc. (and to all the female readership of SI, my wife did tell me she would delightfully interact with you all from time to time if I washed the dishes, watched our four kids, and bought her a personal computer that actually did internet). I confess. I claim no technical wizardry living in the backwoods of Idaho but only stubborn pride in archaic ways. I tell my gorgeous babe, if we weren’t living in the best state of all, Idaho, we would be in Alaska preaching to the moose.

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