Presuppositional apologetics

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Cornelius Van Til is often called the father of presuppositional apologetics.

Presuppositional apologetics is "a branch of Christian apologetics that deals with presuppositions."[1] Presuppositional apologetics is frequently used to rebut atheism (see: Atheism and presuppositional apologetics).

James M. Harrison summarized and explained the purpose of Christian Presuppositional Apologetics when he wrote the following concerning its role in the discipline of Christian apologetics:

That which I will attempt to describe in this article is known as presuppositionalism. It is an apologetic method which has had the most impact in Reformed circles, and is most closely associated with Cornelius Van Til, John Frame, and the late Greg Bahnsen.

I should begin by pointing out that the Presuppositional Apologetic does not discount the use of evidences in apologetic reasoning. It does not use evidences in the traditional manner, however. By the traditional manner, I mean using evidences as an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever's autonomous reasoning. The problem is, of course, that the unbeliever cannot reason autonomously. Without God, there would be no possibility of reason. And so the reality of the matter is that every time the unbeliever attempts to reason, he is borrowing from the Christian worldview. That is, he is being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions. And that is the crucial point. Ultimately the intellectual conflict between believers and unbelievers is a matter of antithetical worldviews. The essence of the Presuppositional Apologetic is the attempt to show that the unbeliever's worldview drives him to subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy. And so the Presuppositional Apologetic calls for the Christian and non-Christian to set side by side their two worldviews and do an internal examination of them both in order to determine whether or not they are consistent even within their own framework. Since God does exist, and since Christianity is true, then any worldview which denies these truths are false and can be demonstrated to be so.[2]

Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein Debate

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the "man atheists fear most" due to Michael Martin's cancellation of their scheduled debate.

In 1985, Christian apologist Dr. Greg Bahnsen and prominent proponent of atheism Gordon Stein had a debate at the University of California, Irvine regarding the positions of atheism and theism. John Frame wrote regarding the debate in which Dr. Bahnsen used the transcendental argument for the existence of God that "In the end, Stein walked and talked like a broken man."[3] The Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate was recorded and transcribed and was dubbed "The Great Debate".[4][5]

Greg Bahnsen and Michael Martin

Dr. Greg Bahnsen became known as the "man atheists fear most".[6] This is because Harvard-educated Dr. Michael Martin was scheduled to debate Bahnsen but pulled out of the debate at the "eleventh hour". A press release at the time said that Dr. Martin offered ruses on why he pulled out and didn't want the scheduled debate recorded but the real reason was that "...Michael Martin is afraid that he will be publicly humiliated just as his friend and fellow atheist, Dr. Gordon Stein, was..." (see: Press release after Michael Martin pulled out of Martin-Bahnsen debate).

Martin later released his transcendental argument for the non-existence of God (TANG) in 1996 which was rebutted by Christian apologists.[7]

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