Evaluating “The Circular Argument” Against Presuppositionalism

This will be a geeky post. Try to stay focused

Introduction

Recently, I have been writing on topics pertaining to apologetic methodology. My primary purpose is to sharpen our personal thinking in the matters of apologetic exegesis and theology.  I want to make sure we are defending the faith accurately, as well as engaging unbelief effectively.

I approach the subject of apologetics as a presuppositionalist. Like I have previously noted, most Christians who fancy the subject of apologetics operate in the matrix of classical/evidentialist apologetics. That apologetic methodology is the most popular among the average church-going, red state evangelical Christian.

Proponents of the classical approach generally have a disdain toward presuppositionalism. Their blog articles and lectures will often times offer withering critiques, attempting to show how presuppositionalism is “illogical,” or “blind fideism,” or other such terrible descriptors. I personally believe it is important to offer a response to those criticisms, so I wish to demonstrate how my apologetic theology is not only biblical, but also robust.

The Circular Objection

One of the more common objections claims that a presuppositional defense of Scripture is circular.

Consider the following illustration I copied from a pro-classic apologetic blog post:

circularThe picture supposedly illustrates just how illogical a presuppositional defense of Scripture truly is. A presuppositional will claim, for instance, that the Bible is infallible. When asked to prove his assertion, he will respond by saying, “It’s infallible because the Bible is the Word of God.” But when asked “How do you KNOW the Bible is the Word of God?,” he answers by saying, “Because the Bible tells us so!” When asked why he believes the Bible to begin with, he responds by saying, “Because the Bible is infallible!” And so on and so on, around and around.

Underneath the picture at the blog article, the author writes, “This kind of argument is not the kind of “apologia” mentioned in scripture. God always backed Himself up with evidence.”

See what terrible thinkers presuppositionalists truly are? Shake my head. If they give that ridiculous response to their local community college social studies teacher when asked why they reject same-sex marriage, they’ll embarrass Jesus and make Aristotle weep tears of sadness.

Let’s evaluate that objection and offer some comments in response.

— 1. Classical apologists have a bad habit of avoiding biblical authority.

I have always been troubled with how classic apologists will intentionally avoid biblical authority. The inconsistency here is jarring. Christian apologists, who are intending to make a case for the Christian faith, who in point of fact derive their faith from the Bible, ignore its authority when engaging unbelievers. They insist any appeal to Scripture’s authority in a discussion is circular. I truly don’t get that.

Now. Maybe there are some traditional classicists who would object to my concern. They are not dismissing the Bible at all, but are, as the author noted under the picture, wanting to back up their appeals to Scriptural authority with evidence. The Bible, however, is evidence, is it not? It’s an established historical document. Why isn’t that fact good enough? It would be like saying we can’t appeal to the letters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams when discussing the American Revolution without first showing evidence that the two men wrote those letters.

— 2.  In case you don’t know this, pretty much everyone argues in a circle.

That statement may cause my classical detractors to fall face down on a fainting couch, but I believe I’m correct with my assessment. That’s because everyone assumes (or *ahem* presupposes) the truthfulness of some unquestioned, unspoken starting point.

For instance,

logicI affirm the truthfulness of this argument, even though it is circular.

Michael Kruger, in his insightful discussion about the sufficiency of Scripture in apologetics, writes in a footnote about so-called circularity as it pertains to the meter stick,

To deny circularity when it comes to an ultimate authority is to subject oneself to an infinite regress of reasons. If a person holds to a certain view, A , then when A is challenged he appeals to reasons B and C . But, of course, B and C will certainly be challenged as to why they should be accepted, and then the person would have to offer D, E, F, and G as arguments for B and C. And the process goes on and on.

Obviously it has to stop somewhere because an infinite regress of arguments cannot demonstrate the truth of one’s conclusions. Thus, every worldview (and every argument) must have an ultimate, unquestioned, self-authenticating starting point.

Another example: imagine someone asking you whether the meter stick in your house was actually a meter long. How would you demonstrate such a thing? You could take it to your next-door neighbor and compare it to his meter stick and say, “See, it’s a meter.” However, the next question is obvious, “How do we know your neighbor’s meter stick is really a meter?” This process would go on and on infinitely unless there were an ultimate meter stick (which, if I am not mistaken, actually existed at one time and was measured by two fine lines marked on a bar of platinum-iridium alloy). It is this ultimate meter stick that defines a meter. When asked how one knows whether the ultimate meter stick is a meter, the answer is obviously circular: the ultimate meter stick is a meter because it is a meter.

This same thing is true for Scripture. The Bible does not just happen to be true (the meter stick in your house), rather it is the very criterion for truth (the ultimate meter stick) and therefore the final stopping point in intellectual justification.

Just like trusting that your meter stick is really a meter, the simple point is that everyone argues in a circle to some degree. The issue is whether or not that circle is a vicious circle, or one that is self-refuting. In the case of Scripture, I don’t believe that saying the Word of God is infallible, because it is the Word of God, is a vicious, self-refuting circular argument. The reason being is that God’s Word is, well, God’s Word. He is an infallible God and He spoke it, hence it is God’s infallible Word.

— 3. The circular objection as presented in that illustration is a strawman.

Strawman arguments are usually considered illogical the last time I checked, but I digress.

The Christian believes the Bible is God’s Word not because the Bible alone tells us so (though that should be enough), but because God revealed the Bible.  We know that, obviously, from the Bible itself, but Jesus also confirmed the Scriptures as God’s Word, as did the prophets and apostles. Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles are historical, real life people. Jesus was, in fact, the very Son of God sent by the Father. He affirmed  the Word of God without first appealing to outside lines of evidence establishing it as the Word of God. I’m inclined to take Him at His Word alone.

— 4. Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles never proved the Bible’s authority with their audience first.

In all of their preaching and teaching, the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus Christ Himself, proclaimed the Bible as authoritative from the outset. They never proved it’s authority with external evidence, first.

Take for instance Paul’s missionary journeys recorded in the book of Acts. Initially, Paul went to the Jews who were scattered about in the various towns along his missionary journey. However, the Jews rejected the Gospel message and turned him away. In some cases, they persecuted him. Eventually, Paul turned exclusively to the gentiles, who were already inclined to hear his message of salvation. Acts 13:46ff states,

46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
47 “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Note a couple of important points. First, Paul told the Jews that he wanted to speak to them the Word of God first, but since they rejected it, he and his friends were turning to the gentiles. In other words, Paul was taking that “word of God” to the gentiles.

Now a question. How did the gentiles of Asia Minor know what Paul told them was the Word of God? Honestly? How familiar were they with the OT history of Israel? With the prophetic promises of the Messiah? The fulfillment of those prophecies in the person and work of Jesus?  Did Paul have to convince them first with lines of evidence that the Word of God was worthy of their consideration? It certainly doesn’t look that way. In fact, all Paul did was to preach it and they believed it.

Secondly, notice that belief in the authority of the Word of God was a spiritual matter. Verse 48 states that when Paul changed his plans, the gentiles rejoiced, glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. In other words, their acceptance of God’s Word was not due to Paul’s presentation of compelling lines of textual evidence or historical proofs. They were appointed to eternal life and God’s Spirit worked in their hearts to believe.

Now I can hear my objectors saying, “but Paul was giving them the Gospel, not telling them to believe the Bible!” But where exactly is the Gospel message found? Where is it presented? Why in the pages of Scripture of course.

As I close, I don’t want the reader to go away thinking that I reject the idea of presenting evidence to an unbeliever in an apologetic encounter. If you have been following my series, you know I am equally critical of other presuppositionalists who turn apologetic encounters into repetitious slogans and the appeals to the laws of logic and what not. I want to provide non-biblical answers to challenging questions if necessary. When textual evidence or intelligent design style proofs come up to further along the discussion, I will certainly engage that information. There is no special protocol that is violated if a presuppositionalist appeals to evidence when evangelizing.

What needs to be kept in mind is that I am not giving up my commitment to God’s Word as my ultimate authority. I proclaim it as established fact, even though I know the unbeliever will insist on proofs as to why he must believe it. The reason being is because it is the Word of God alone that contains the Gospel which in turn is the power of God unto salvation.

8 Comments
  1. […] 1.) Evaluating “The Circular Argument” Against Presuppositionalism […]

  2. Adam Tucker 2 weeks ago

    Well, you know I have to respond 🙂 I’ll try to keep my comments brief.
    1. This is a straw man. Classical apologetics does not avoid biblical authority, rather, it does immediately punt to biblical authority when talking with someone who does not have reason to think the Bible is authoritative. You could substitute with the Koran virtually everything you’re saying about the Bible regarding appealing to its authority. Would I then be compelled to find the Koran authoritative? Certainly not without good reason. Likewise, classical apologetics makes a case for the reliability of the Bible and the fact that Jesus is God. We can then see we have a historically reliable and accurately transmitted text recording the words of God in flesh. Jesus, who is God, said the OT is the Word of God and He promised the NT. Hence, we now have reason to find the Bible as a whole authoritative. And of course I’d want good reason to think Jefferson and Adams actually wrote the letters attributed to them, otherwise we’d have no reason to trust them. You do this as well. You don’t automatically think some “lost gospel” is authoritative because it claims to record the words of Jesus. But it says it’s Jesus! Why not just believe it?

    2. This is false and is yet another demonstration of presuppositional thinking simply adopting the bad modern philosophy that gave rise to it. Some people may argue in a circle about everything, but that doesn’t need to be the case. The classically understood case, which I think is demonstrable on some level, is that all human knowing begins in sense experience. But the reliability of our senses is not something “assumed” (as if it could actually be denied), nor is it something that needs proving. Rather, it is evident to us. As such, it is a first principle of thought. This is not circular because the reliability of our senses, as an evident first principle of thought, is not an assertion or assumption. Thus, there is no circularity. As much as I like Dr. Kruger, I just think he’s wrong here. Regarding your meter example, it simply doesn’t prove your point. A “meter” is a conventional measurement unit agreed upon by a group of people. There is no actual “meter” to know. There are only conventional “meters” to know. But what the meter points to, namely the actual distance between objective aspects of sensible reality, is real and known. In fact, it is known by everyone or else we wouldn’t have anything to discuss! Hence, referring to the Bible as the “ultimate meter stick” is just confused. Nor can the Bible be the “very criterion for truth.” There would be no Bible without words, and words would be meaningless without referents. Therefore, we must first know truth about sensible reality before we can understand the words and thus have a meaningful Bible. Moreover, such a statement would mean there was no truth to know prior to the Bible which seems quite obviously false. You’re right, however, that it’s not circular to say the Bible is infallible because it’s God’s Word. But that assumes you know God is infallible and that the Bible is actually God’s Word. Those things need to be argued for. Otherwise we’re back to the Koran. “The Koran is infallible because it’s the word of Allah.” Why shouldn’t someone believe that?

    3. I agree for the most part. Of course Jesus could confirm the Bible because of His miracles and fulfilled prophecy.

    4. Context is key. To whom was Paul speaking in your example? He was speaking in the synagogue to people who already held to the authority of the Law and the Prophets (i.e. the OT). So he went through the OT showing that it pointed to Jesus. He appealed to fulfilled prophecy and to the resurrection. He gave them reason to believe Jesus was who He claimed to be. Why weren’t Jesus’ mere words enough for them to believe (or for the people Jesus spoke to to believe)?

    You say, “In fact, all Paul did was to preach it and they believed it.” But we have very little recorded as to what Paul said in this particular meeting. We know he presented his case on at least two sabbaths, meaning there was at least a week he was there interacting with people (a very short time compared to many of his other missionary stops). But all we have recorded is him doing apologetics by showing how the OT points to Jesus, appealing to the resurrection, and seeing Gentiles who were apparently attending the synagogue believing him. That’s far from “he just preached it.”

    I’m not getting into the Calvinism debate here and what verse 48 means. So we’ll table that for now.

    In saying all of the above, I’m not giving up my commitment to God’s Word as authoritative either. In fact, I’m more confident than ever in its authority. But what does that mean? It’s the authority for faith and practice. We can’t know the Gospel without it. We can’t know certain things about God without it. Etc. But it’s not the “authority” on brain surgery, or auto repair, or plumbing. And my giving reasons to believe the Bible is authoritative does no more to undermine it’s authority than my giving reasons to believe a certain doctor is the authority on brain surgery. I don’t know anything about brain surgery, he’s the authority. But I can have good reasons to trust in his authority. Likewise, I can have good reasons for believing the Bible is authoritative without being the authority myself understanding that we are not attempting to prove or argue for things we can only know via special revelation (the Gospel, the incarnation, the Trinity, etc.). Rather, we are arguing that the document that claims to have this special revelation is indeed trustworthy and from God.

  3. Profile photo of Fredman Author
    Fredman 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments, Adam. I’ll respond in turn. Hope folks reading will benefit.

    Snippets from point 1.

    – Classical apologetics does not avoid biblical authority, rather, it does immediately punt to biblical authority when talking with someone who does not have reason to think the Bible is authoritative.-

    I know you meant, “doesn’t immediately punt.” That is one of my major trouble spots with classicists, because the goal of apologetics and evangelism is NOT to give men reasons to believe, but that they would believe and come to a saving knowledge of Christ. That can only be accomplished by the power of the Word of God proclaimed (1 Cor. 2, Romans 10). That is why I immediately appeal to biblical authority regardless if the person cares to acknowledge it’s authority or not.

    – You could substitute with the Koran virtually everything you’re saying about the Bible regarding appealing to its authority. Would I then be compelled to find the Koran authoritative?-

    Yes. A Muslim could. In fact, I have encountered a few who do. It was actually refreshing to engage them. The one important distinction between the Muslim and the Christian when each appeals to his separate authority, however, is that the Muslim is not depending upon his proclamation of the Quran as promising to bring saving faith to the unbeliever.

    Additionally, I do find that the majority of Muslims I have engaged often take a classical, accumulative case approach to proving the validity of their religion. In fact, it is almost uncanny to the way I have seen classicists appeal to outside lines of evidence. My first real pro-Islamic book I read was Maurice Bucaille’s book on the Bible and the Quran and the evidences that support the Quran’s veracity. He was the Muslim’s version of Josh McDowell at the time.

    – And of course I’d want good reason to think Jefferson and Adams actually wrote the letters attributed to them, otherwise we’d have no reason to trust them.-

    Do you have any doubt as to the veracity of the Jefferson/Adams letters in the national archives in Washington DC? Or do you doubt what the authorities tell us about them? The same with the meter stick. Do you have any reason to doubt your meter stick is really a meter?

    Snippets from point 2.

    -The classically understood case, which I think is demonstrable on some level, is that all human knowing begins in sense experience. But the reliability of our senses is not something “assumed” (as if it could actually be denied), nor is it something that needs proving. Rather, it is evident to us.-

    So in other words, it is evidently assumed? Seriously? What I see you saying here is that our sense experience is not something assumed, but is evident, which is something you have to assume.

    I believe our sense experience is generally reliable because human beings were created by God to utilize their senses because they live in God’s world. He made us this way. I get that because it is revealed to us in Scripture.

    – This is not circular because the reliability of our senses, as an evident first principle of thought, is not an assertion or assumption.-

    Of course it is an assumed assertion, thus it is circular. I call it an unquestioned presupposition. You start with the unquestioned commitment to the reliability of our senses as an evident first principle of thought. Like this,

    Our senses are reliable, because
    They are an evident first principle, because
    Our senses are reliable, etc.

    – But what the meter points to, namely the actual distance between objective aspects of sensible reality, is real and known.-

    But you are still begging the question. How do you know it is real and known? It could be off by several centimeters. We are confident something is a meter, because there is an ultimate standard of a meter upon which all other meter sticks are based.

    – Nor can the Bible be the “very criterion for truth.”-

    Really? Look up the word Truth in Logos (or Biblehub, or where ever). The Bible seems rather confident that it is truth and that God’s Word is tied to His character which is truth, Exodus 34:6, 2 Samuel 2:6, 7:28, Psalm 19:9, 25:5, 40:11, 43:3, 86:15, 119:42, 119:51, 119:160, John 17:17, 2 Timothy 2:15, etc. Those are just a smattering of passages that speak of God and His Word being the criterion for truth. The reason we can know anything is true, is because God has declared that what we know to be true is directly tied to him and his character. We live in his world. He has made the world to function according to logic, absolute morality, absolute truth, etc, because of who He is.

    – There would be no Bible without words, and words would be meaningless without referents. Therefore, we must first know truth about sensible reality before we can understand the words and thus have a meaningful Bible.-

    I would agree. That is why God created men at the outset with that ability. The historic-grammatical hermeneutic is hard-wired into humanity. God has communicable attributes. He wants to communicate and interact with His creation, especially men. And so God has created men with the ability to communicate with words, and referents, etc., because He wants them to worship Him. The fact that God reveals Himself means He has created men so they can and will understand that revelation, which is expressed in words and referents and written communication.

    – Moreover, such a statement would mean there was no truth to know prior to the Bible which seems quite obviously false.-

    The reason anyone could know truth (depending on how you are defining “truth”) has to do with the fact, as I have already stated, that men live and function in God’s World. The Bible is revelation of God to His people. But in that, He has told us how reality, to borrow your term, functions according to the way in which He created it. I would expect men to know true things, like the laws of logic, because those absolute truths derive from God’s character.

    – But that assumes you know God is infallible and that the Bible is actually God’s Word. –

    Yes. Because God has revealed Himself to us and told us that the Bible is His word.

    Seeing that you were in general agreement on point 3, I’ll move to snippets under point 4

    – To whom was Paul speaking in your example?-

    If you read my article carefully, I pointed out how Paul initially went to the Jews first, as was his custom. However, they rejected him and so he moved to the gentiles. His missionary focus from that point onward was to gentile unbelievers; rank pagans, who had no background as to who Jesus was, nor his redemptive and messianic ministry. Yet, when Paul proclaimed Him to them, they believed. He didn’t first present to them something like Gary Habramas’s lines of evidence for Christ’s bodily resurrection, or Lee Strobel’s, Case for Christ. Paul preached to the gentiles Christ crucified for sinners and His resurrection from the dead. Any “apologetics” instruction came after (i.e., post-conversion). They were already saved, trusting Christ for their salvation and members of their local church when they started hearing proofs for the person and work of Christ. Paul’s epistles were a combination of encouraging greetings, along with doctrinal and apologetic instruction.

    – I’m not getting into the Calvinism debate here and what verse 48 means. So we’ll table that for now.-

    Calvinism? Where did I mention Calvinism?

    – It’s the authority for faith and practice. We can’t know the Gospel without it. We can’t know certain things about God without it. Etc. But it’s not the “authority” on brain surgery, or auto repair, or plumbing.-

    That’s a rather odd distinction. You make it seem like there is a category of “truth” for faith and practice and a separate category for “truth” for everyday, run of the mill disciplines. As if they exist in the same realm, but never overlap. You also seem to suggest that one truth independently existed before the other.

    I am not saying the Bible is an exhaustive, comprehensive book on every subject in the world. However, it does reveal God our creator and it tells us that the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is the fear of the LORD. Brain surgeons, mechanics, and plumbers exist in the world God created and our world operates according to truth God has established for it. That is why men can do brain surgery because God is the creator of man’s anatomy. Mechanics and plumbers repair cars and toilets based upon a set of logically created parameters that God created for physics and liquid to operate.

    -I can have good reasons for believing the Bible is authoritative without being the authority myself understanding that we are not attempting to prove or argue for things we can only know via special revelation (the Gospel, the incarnation, the Trinity, etc.).-

    The charge of circularity that is leveled against my apologetic methodology insists that I cannot make the claim that the Bible is authoritatively infallible by appealing to the Bible in which that claim of authoritative infallibility is found. However, my claim of authoritative infallibility that I confidently affirm is only revealed via special revelation. Knowing that the special revelation contains the Gospel and other revelatory truths regarding our creator, why would I want to argue for any other so-called authority outside of Scripture, the very source God has promised to bless when we present the faith to sinners?

  4. Profile photo of Fredman Author
    Fredman 2 weeks ago

    BTW, I wanted to post this blogtalk podcast discussion I had with Adam on the topic of apologetic methodology. Those following my series as well as this interaction my benefit from it,

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/truliferadio/2016/02/25/theology-matters-with-the-pellews-a-dialogue-on-apologetic-methodologies

  5. Adam Tucker 6 days ago

    Thanks Fred. My responses below will be short, but please don’t take that as being terse. There’s just too much to which to respond.

    You said, “That is one of my major trouble spots with classicists, because the goal of apologetics and evangelism is NOT to give men reasons to believe, but that they would believe and come to a saving knowledge of Christ. That can only be accomplished by the power of the Word of God proclaimed (1 Cor. 2, Romans 10).”
    – – You’re attacking a straw man yet again. No classical apologist worth his salt would disagree with you regarding the goal of apologetics. But it’s not an either/or proposition. It’s the Holy Spirit working within rational beings using arguments as the occasion upon which He can draw men to Himself. As R.C. Sproul says, the heart cannot accept what the intellect does not judge as true. This is simply how we see evangelism take place all throughout the Scriptures. From Moses to Peter to Paul, turning to God is never called for apart from some knowledge/reason based on the facts of the matter.

    You said, “The one important distinction between the Muslim and the Christian when each appeals to his separate authority, however, is that the Muslim is not depending upon his proclamation of the Quran as promising to bring saving faith to the unbeliever.…Additionally, I do find that the majority of Muslims I have engaged often take a classical, accumulative case approach to proving the validity of their religion.”
    – – These are red herrings and completely and utterly irrelevant to the point I was making.

    You said, “Do you have any doubt as to the veracity of the Jefferson/Adams letters in the national archives in Washington DC? Or do you doubt what the authorities tell us about them?”
    – – Once again, this misses the point. You have reason to consider your sources as authorities. If found an old piece of paper, wrote a note on it, signed Jefferson’s name, and then told you I found a new letter from Jefferson, would you believe me? Why not?

    You said, “So in other words, it is evidently assumed? Seriously? What I see you saying here is that our sense experience is not something assumed, but is evident, which is something you have to assume.”
    – – I’m seeing a trend here. Again, you’ve missed the point. An evident truth is something is something that is immediately known to us. That’s why it’s a first principle of thought. First principles are “first” because there’s nothing more fundamental to know. An assumption, on the other hand, is something that is said to be true for the sake of argument, but could just as reasonably be false. Do you really think that’s what our sense experience is?

    You said, “I believe our sense experience is generally reliable because human beings were created by God to utilize their senses because they live in God’s world. He made us this way. I get that because it is revealed to us in Scripture.”
    – – Now you’re confusing categories and and begging the question. You’d have to believe your sense experience is reliable before reading or hearing the Scriptures. Thus, you can’t get that from the Scriptures. Moreover, where is the reliability of our senses “revealed” in Scripture? In actuality, it’s taken as a given all throughout Scripture that our senses are generally reliable. We don’t have to have that “revealed” to us. Please quit dishonoring the amazing creation of God by attempting to sound pious.

    You said,
    “Our senses are reliable, because
    They are an evident first principle, because
    Our senses are reliable, etc.”
    – – Again, more straw men and missing the point, or simply just failing to understand the meaning of terms.

    You said, “But you are still begging the question. How do you know it is real and known? It could be off by several centimeters. We are confident something is a meter, because there is an ultimate standard of a meter upon which all other meter sticks are based.”
    – – And you’re still missing the point. What is this “ultimate standard of a meter” to which you refer? The only thing that actually exists is the real distance between two points that we conventionally call a meter. This conventional measurement is then used to approximate as closely as possible other meter sticks. But there is not actual “meterness” that exists.

    You said, “Really? Look up the word Truth in Logos (or Biblehub, or where ever). The Bible seems rather confident that it is truth and that God’s Word is tied to His character which is truth…”
    – – With all due respect, I wish you would slow down long enough to read what is written before responding. To simply repeat that the Bible is true (a truth to which I obviously agree) is not the same as saying the Bible is “the very criterion for truth.” Is it true that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides? Where is that found in the Bible?

    You said, “We live in his world. He has made the world to function according to logic, absolute morality, absolute truth, etc, because of who He is.”
    – – At last, something on which we can agree! You’ve made a great ontological point here. And because He has created us with a shared human nature, we all have intellects that can be written upon is certain ways such that we can know sensible reality and abstract from that knowledge the laws of logic, reason to morality, reason about the nature of truth, etc. This is true across the board and gives us the common ground upon which we’re able to communicate and reason with one another. But now we’re the realm of epistemology. And epistemologically, we know things prior to knowing God. So your statement is the conclusion of argumentation rather than the starting premise.

    You said, “The reason anyone could know truth (depending on how you are defining “truth”) has to do with the fact, as I have already stated, that men live and function in God’s World.”
    – – You’re yet again confusing ontology and epistemology.

    You said, “Yes. Because God has revealed Himself to us and told us that the Bible is His word.”
    – – And I again agree with your conclusion, but your methodology is question begging.

    You said, “If you read my article carefully, I pointed out how Paul initially went to the Jews first, as was his custom. However, they rejected him and so he moved to the gentiles.…”
    – – I did read your article carefully, and you said, “Now a question. How did the gentiles of Asia Minor know what Paul told them was the Word of God? Honestly?…Secondly, notice that belief in the authority of the Word of God was a spiritual matter. Verse 48 states that when Paul changed his plans, the gentiles rejoiced, glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. In other words, their acceptance of God’s Word was not due to Paul’s presentation of compelling lines of textual evidence or historical proofs.” In the context of the Acts 13 passage you reference, the rejoicing gentiles were those at the synagogue. They already believed in Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit used that as an occasion to draw them to Himself (again, I’m not interested in the finer points reformed theology for this particular issue). As you read the rest of Acts, Paul’s missionary journeys were often accompanied by “signs and wonders.” Why is that? Because they confirmed the message. That is, they gave people a reason to believe that what Paul was saying is true. In Acts 14, when Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, they were mistaken for “gods” because of their signs and wonders. What did Paul do? He didn’t just give them the Gospel. He appealed to their shared human nature, he explained the difference between idols and the one true God, and he pointed to their common experience of sensible reality expecting them to reason from effect to cause and begin to understand the “invisible attributes” of God (Rom. 1:20). We see similar things in Acts 17 and elsewhere, especially in Paul’s defense before Agrippa in Acts 26. He appeals to the historical reality of the resurrection and to fulfilled prophecies, and tells Agrippa he knows these things were “not done in a corner.” In other words, he appealed to reasons for folks to believe what he was saying is true. He met his audience where they were. He was talking to a bunch of atheists, so it’s no surprise we don’t see vast arguments for God’s existence. He was also accompanied by signs and wonders, as I’ve said, so the context is a bit different than our present day.

    You said, “That’s a rather odd distinction. You make it seem like there is a category of “truth” for faith and practice and a separate category for “truth” for everyday, run of the mill disciplines. As if they exist in the same realm, but never overlap. You also seem to suggest that one truth independently existed before the other.”
    – – No, I’m saying there are different disciplines the truth of which we know in different ways. If the Bible is not meant to convey the truth of the laws of aerodynamics, then I can’t fault it for not doing so. Likewise, we can’t get the truth of the Gospel outside of the Bible. But that does diminish other areas of knowledge from conveying truth.

    You said, “I am not saying the Bible is an exhaustive, comprehensive book on every subject in the world. However, it does reveal God our creator and it tells us that the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is the fear of the LORD.”
    – – I agree, except the “beginning of knowledge” cannot mean the beginning of all knowledge. I wouldn’t know that unless I read it in the Bible. I wouldn’t know how to read the Bible unless I knew more fundamental truths of grammar, etc. I wouldn’t know more fundamental truths of grammar, etc., or even what a Bible is, unless I knew something about sensible reality. It can’t possibly mean the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge as such.

    You said, “Brain surgeons, mechanics, and plumbers exist in the world God created and our world operates according to truth God has established for it. That is why men can do brain surgery because God is the creator of man’s anatomy. Mechanics and plumbers repair cars and toilets based upon a set of logically created parameters that God created for physics and liquid to operate.”
    – – I agree, and this yet another instance of you confusing epistemology and ontology.

    You said, “The charge of circularity that is leveled against my apologetic methodology insists that I cannot make the claim that the Bible is authoritatively infallible by appealing to the Bible in which that claim of authoritative infallibility is found. However, my claim of authoritative infallibility that I confidently affirm is only revealed via special revelation. Knowing that the special revelation contains the Gospel and other revelatory truths regarding our creator, why would I want to argue for any other so-called authority outside of Scripture, the very source God has promised to bless when we present the faith to sinners?”
    – – And here’s the key to this whole discussion. It’s perfectly fine to appeal to the fact that the Bible in authoritatively infallible because the Bible is the Word of God. I agree. The whole argument for inerrancy is simply:
    1) The Bible is the Word of God
    2) God cannot err
    3) Therefore, the Bible cannot err
    The circularity ensues when the first premise is “supported” by claiming we know the Bible is the Word of God because it says so. No. The Bible records that Jesus said the OT is the Word of God and He promised the NT. We have reason to believe the Bible is accurately copied and translated, and that the biblical writers were telling the truth. We also have reason to believe God exists and cannot lie. We have reason to believe that Jesus claimed to be God, and that He proved to be God via the resurrection. Therefore, since Jesus, who is God, said the Bible is the Word of God, then I have reason to believe it is. But that’s a whole lot different than saying “The Bible says it’s the Word of God.” So does the Koran. So does the Book of Mormon. So does The Book of Miracles, etc., etc. Without a reason to believe these premises you’re left with fideism or skepticism. Neither of which are biblical.

    Admittedly, I’ve taken too long on this already and haven’t proofed everything. So please forgive any typos.

  6. Adam Tucker 4 days ago

    Note: In my paragraph above about Paul and Acts, the next to last sentence should read, “He WASN’T talking to a bunch of atheists…”

    • Profile photo of Fredman Author
      Fredman 4 days ago

      Could you not edit your comment? Wasn’t sure if you had that capability. I can switch it out for you if you want.

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