The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics: Part 13.9a

Review and Critque:

"Why use Apologetics for Evangelism?"
Responses by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati
http://creation.com/why-use-apologetics-for-evangelism

Part 1 of 2

[Key: direct quotes from author.]

The article preface:

“A creationist inquirer plays devil’s advocate and asks why we bother with apologetics, or defending the faith, at all, whether presuppositionalist or evidentialist. Dr Jonathan Sarfati responds, pointing out the biblical commands to defend the faith, as well as examples in Scripture. And we show examples of many people coming to faith in Christ after honest questions were answered. Conversely, refusal to answer honest questions helps feed the sceptical claim that Christians really have no answers.”

The article is (apparently) the full text of the questions and/or issues raised by “K.R.” to the Creation.com site, and answered inline by Dr. Sarfati.

[In this review, I am not necessarily taking K.R.’s “side” (though there is at a few points an overlap between what I maintain on this site with some of K.R.'s statements); I review his questions and Dr. Sarfati’s responses as they occur from the context of my series on evangelistic apologetics.]

To set the stage, I have established these biblical facts thoroughly on my site:

  • The lost person’s natural state is one of spiritual death (Eph 2.1,5; Col 2.13) and the complete inability to understand any spiritual truth (1 Cor 2.14).
  • The election of grace and the gifting of “the birth from above” by the Holy Spirit logically precede any faith and repentance by the lost.
  • The biblical definition of apologetics is, in fact, the “defense of the faith”, but only from the attacks and distortions by false teachers and apostles (the latter in the days of the true apostles) of those within the local assembly specifically and the Christian community generally.
  • There is no room in the biblical definition of apologetics to be any type of “defense of the faith” within the lost community generally. (As I’ve stated in many places on my site, there are venues for this type of activity, but the biblical definition of apologetics does not include those venues. If an apologist attempts to make his/her case from the Bible, then the type of apologetics that is aimed at engaging the lost in evangelism is contrary to the Bible.)
  • The frequent inclusion of 1 Pet 3.15 is “to give an account for the hope that is in you …”. It is usually misquoted to read “to give reasons for our faith …” (as it is below and as you’ll see highlighted).
    [In the context of what is typically presented as apologetics, I’ve only seen one time where this verse was not misquoted.]
  • The also frequent inclusion of 2 Cor 10.4-5 always (so far as I’ve reviewed on many sites) ignores the context that Paul was dealing with the problem of false teachers and apostles within the Corinthian assembly. That context is likewise ignored also by Dr. Sarfati in his response below.

 


Exchange 1:

K.R.
 “Hello. I am a creationist and I want to play devil’s advocate for a moment in hopes that I can get some clearer answers to two questions I have, which I do not believe have been addressed on your site, or at least not very clearly.

The way that we defend the faith is far better than the way many people don’t!

Firstly, presuppositions are obviously key in understanding the evolution/creation controversy, but consistently the writers at this site make the mistake of leaving questions obviously unanswered, mainly this one: If an evolutionist can only interpret the data as evidence for creationism if he starts with a biblical presupposition, how is presenting evidence for creationism, which is one of the main purposes of this site, useful at all?”

Dr.S
Why should it be either-or rather than both-and? God ordains the means as well as the end. While no one can understand the things of God without the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14), the Holy Spirit uses a variety of means to draw people to Christ, including arguments. Thus it is perfectly reasonable for us to present evidence that is hard to interpret correctly under the materialistic presupposition while it makes perfect sense under the biblical axioms.

And the site has proven usefulness in that many people have been drawn to (or returned to) Christ through the arguments used, e.g. ‘Sonia’, ‘Joel Galvin’ and ‘Lita’, and for that matter another geologist who was in the same position but now wants to learn to defend the truth of Genesis to help others. So I would argue that the way that we defend the faith is far better than the way many people don’t!

Regarding Exchange 1:
If we approach this from the context of evangelism (something justified given the title of this article), then K.R.’s question appears to assume that a witness to the lost evolutionist must start with the “evolution/creation controversy”; that is, beginning with and staying with the Bible would be less than useful. Moreover, K.R. maintains, it is essentially useless to force the evolutionist into an only-Bible framework.

Dr. Sarfati then appeals to 1 Cor 2.14—correctly—to establish the fact that the lost can’t understand the things of God, but then adds—with no biblical support—the logically contradictory statement “the Holy Spirit uses a variety of means to draw people to Christ, including arguments”.

So, on the one hand, the lost can’t understand spiritual truth (correct!) and on the other the Holy Spirit uses the reasoning (arguments) of the apologist (non-sequitur)!

[For a "discipline" that claims as its hallmark intellectualism, rationality and logic, the modern evangelistic apologist is frequently noee of those.]

You'll search in vain to find biblical support for the notion that the Holy Spirit explicitly blesses the word of the apologist who, for whatever reason, fails to use the Lord's word in a witness.

To borrow a modern phrase, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Look at the phrases Dr. Sarfati used to describe the "witness" of the apologist:

  • “perfectly reasonable”
  • “present evidence”
  • “interpret correctly”
  • “makes perfect sense”

These are descriptions of the presumed intellectual abilities of the lost to perceive and obey the spiritual truths of the Bible and truths consistent with a biblical world view—the same lost people who are spiritually incapable of doing so as conceded by Dr. Sarfati! (1 Cor 2.14)

The biblically-compatible facts presented on the Creation.com site do not and cannot become the gospel to the lost!

Dr. Sarfati was correct to appeal to 1 Cor 2.14; why he turns away from that fundamental operating principle (for lack of a better phrase) by then presuming a spiritually-meaningful response by the lost is very troubling, completely indefensible and oxymoronic. Dr. Sarfati argues from the presupposition that the mind of the lost is able to function in a way that the Holy Spirit says it can’t (and which is something he just admitted)!

I have seen some of the work of the Creation.com site in the last few years; it has a place as an apologetic resource for Christians. What I take issue with is that this tacitly becomes the beginning point of a witness to the lost evolutionist and intellectualist (if there is such a term…). There is a huge difference between showing the lost evolutionist the reliability and rationality of the Bible’s record of earth and human history in contrast to the presentation of the true gospel of grace! The former does not necessarily lead to the latter; all too frequently the former effectively replaces the latter and in the process actually degrades the gospel—sometimes to the eternal loss of the lost.

In the last paragraph of the exchange, Dr. Sarfati appeals to the apparent success of the site. We must be extremely careful here: the “success” of an approach does not mean that that approach is valid. If you need examples of so-called “success” in "religious" contexts, look at the spectacular record of the Roman Catholic religion, Islam, and the cults of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Look at the success of the myriad and useless Protestant denominations in the US.

Success does not equal biblical consistency or veracity. (Usually the opposite is the truth of the matter.)

Am I advocating that Creation.com should not answer the intellectual questions of the lost evolutionist whenever and wherever they occur? No, not by any means! Just remember: showing the wonder, interworking, power and beauty of the creation is not the gospel. Remember what the Holy Spirit wrote in Romans:

Rom 1.18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The creation itself is the most powerful apologetic to the lost that has ever been and ever will be. (cf. Psa 19) Yet, the Bible declares that that truth is “suppressed” by the lost (Rom 1.18+), who are therefore justly lregarded as guilty.

If (strong) apologetic evidence inexorably led to the conversion of the lost, then the presence of the creation itself should ensure that no one could possibly remain lost! But that is not the case—the lost remain lost in spite of the evidence that the Lord God Himself provided, and they are completely culpable in their guilt.

So, if some actually and truly were converted because of exposure to your site, be assured that it was because they had first been gifted with “the birth from above”, coincident with the gospel, and not because of your intellectual “defense of the faith” to their spiritually dead mind and spirit.

 


Exchange 2:

K.R.
It seems as though presuppositional apologetics is meaningless if one has to start ‘a priori’ with a presupposition in order to believe the presupposition. This is precisely the question Dr Sarfati left unanswered in the April 8 feedback, making me wander if the submitter really left with any clearer understanding of presuppositions.”

Dr.S
“This is not really fair, because I explained perfectly clearly that the submitter was starting from the wrong presupposition of autonomous human reasoning, so I put him back to the legitimacy of using the biblical propositions as axioms. I have added a couple of small paragraphs linking to previous feedbacks about the presuppositions required for science as well as rational thought, and another one explaining to an agnostic asking whether biblical Christians commit circular reasoning, including the role of axioms, internal consistency and real world application. These show that the biblical presuppositions are not merely an alternative to materialism, but in fact the only ones that provide a coherent worldview. It’s hard to cover everything in one response, and it shouldn’t be necessary to repeat what I’ve already said.”

Regarding Exchange 2:
Scanning the April 8 entry (via its link) referred to by K.R., the questioner there claimed to be a Christian but also professed “no schism between [creation] and evolution”. That questioner also submitted this astonishing challenge to Creation.com:

“I submit a similar challenge: without using any reference to religion or considering anything in the bible, come up with a six day creation.”

This is extraordinary, given that the Bible alone is the authoritative record of what God did in creation. For a “Christian” to make challenge such as:

“Let’s see: prove to me creation without the Bible.”

Really? And that questioner claimed to be a believer? Why would such a “challenge” ever be made?

(Third) Questioner: what could you hope to accomplish from a naturalist perspective, especially given that the lost is utterly unable to understand spiritual truth? (1 Cor 2.14) What person was around to witness and record the event? Science is supposed to include obsservation, right? Where were the scientists who observed the event?

The April 8 questioner’s challenge is nothing short of meaningless babble.

Getting back to this exchange, Dr. Sarfati did an adequate job at summarizing his response to K.R. However, there is still the undercurrent that intellectual exchanges and discussions of “presuppositions” and “autonomous human reasoning” with the lost are still assumed in spite of the truth of 1 Cor 2.14. Presenting the truth of the gospel does not need any of this, and there is no example in the NT of this type of (apologetic) evangelism ever being practiced.

 


Exchange 3:

K.R.
Secondly, how can presuppositional apologetics be used as an evangelism tool when Romans 1 already says quite clearly that man is without excuse and needs only special revelation in order to receive salvation?

Dr.S
It says nothing about refusing to defend the rationality of this special revelation.
Such fideism is an antibiblical position and was never practised by Jesus or His Apostles. See also The ‘Indoctrinator’ for more discussion on the baneful consequences of refusing to defend the faith, and conversely, the boldness in witnessing that can come from skill in apologetics. See also Q&A: Apologetics.

Regarding Exchange 3:
This exchange is particularly enlightening. K.R. argues correctly, as I did here, that Romans 1 shows the utter and inescapable culpability and guilt of lost man because of his active suppression of the (common) revelation of the creation.

K.R. appears to have raised a “hot button issue” with his comment on Romans 1 (“man is without excuse and needs only special revelation …”). My immediate response when I saw the term “fideism” in the response raised in a context like this was to assume that Dr. Sarfati was—surprisingly—rebutting the idea that, somehow, “simple faith” in the Scripture is not enough for the lost (for salvation) and, rather, needs some type of "evidential supplementation".

[Dr. Sarfati’s response was also a classic “argument from silence”; this was disappointing since he offered no evidence for why Romans 1 did not make the point correctly raised by K.R. As we’ll see below, this same point (“unsupported …”, “antibiblical …”)  is made, also unsupported, in other articles on Creation.com.]

My surprise at Dr. Sarfati’s response comes from the truth of texts like these:

Luk 18.4b
However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

Rom 3.22-22
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe;

Rom 4.3 (cf., Rom 4.22; Gal 3.6; Jam 2.23)
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

2 Cor 5.7
for we walk by faith, not by sight

Eph 2.8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Heb 11.6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

So, whether we are talking about the initial entrance of the lost into real, spiritual life by faith or the walk of the believer, faith is fundamental at every level in the true Christian’s life. And, to further make the point by arguing from the greater to the lesser: if faith alone (Rom 4) is adequate for salvation to the sinner—which is possible only by the Lord’s work—then faith in what the Bible teaches concerning creation should be more than adequate!

Now let me be clear here: I have a fundamental respect for those organizations such as Institute for Creation Research who demonstrate that the Bible is the sole authority throughout all time and that true science is always compatible to and in agreement with the Bible (and not the “other way around”!). But, this is entirely different from declaring that these myriad demonstrations of true science should precede my faith or somehow provide “evidence” (please note Dr. Sarfati’s choice of words here as you read the excerpts below) to the lost before he/she is expected to believe the truth of the gospel.

Heb 11.6 still stands in the Word: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him …” is the divinely-stated principle of the only acceptable approach to God.

There is another observation to make at this point: the Lord’s terrifying warning in Luke 18.8: Dr. Sarfati: are you not by your declaration that “fideism is antibiblical” contributing to the very decline concerning which the Lord warned?

But, before I get too far, I decided to avoid my assumptions on what Creation.com might mean by the use of the term fideism (notwithstanding the obvious reference to the Latin fides) and therefore performed a google site search:

site:creation.com fideism

There were 10 hits, including this article.

I gleaned the following five which appeared most to directly provide a working definition (including a “formal” definition in the second excerpt). The highlighted sections are discussed below.

http://creation.com/who-has-an-answer
Fideism and anti-intellectualism
Evangelicalism has unfortunately been characterized as anti-intellectual; an accusation which is too often true. This problem stems back to the “Enlightenment”, when many churches reacted to the materialism and anti-God philosophies coming out of the various branches of science by simply retreating from those areas altogether instead of combating them. Today the attitude lingers in some churches that science and advanced theological study are questionable at best and soul-destroying at worst. This attitude causes Christians to rebuff questions about their faith, often telling the questioner to “just have faith,” of course, meaning that the questioner is supposed to leave his brain at the church door. This gives the questioner the impression that there are no answers to his questions. But the sort of blind faith this attitude encourages is not enough for many college students who need a stronger foundation than just warm fuzzy feelings about Jesus if their faith is going to survive their college education.

http://creation.com/faith-and-facts
[The term fideism is defined in the section entitled “Mistaken approaches”. There were four: Evidentialism, Fideism, Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), and Mysticism.]

Fideism. “Fideism is the complete reliance on faith without evidence and/or reason.” Misconstruing Hebrews 11:1, I have heard people say, ‘What has faith got to do with evidence?’ Some are even upset by the idea that there is evidence for our Christian faith (yes, the tomb was empty, for example). They see their faith as diminished if it has evidence to back it up. Some church traditions even see ‘faith’ as something that earns merit with God, and the more difficult it is to believe, the more merit that is earned with God. Of course such a view of faith contradicts the Bible’s teaching that faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2) so that we have no basis for thinking that faith comes from our own efforts. Such unbiblical faith traditions are so widespread that it is no surprise that God-haters often pick up the idea of faith being like Alice in Wonderland seeing how many impossible things she can believe before breakfast. We need to show that only biblical axioms provide a self-consistent worldview with a rational basis for morality and indeed for science itself, while atheism must postulate certain unprovable beliefs that go against observable science, as shown in this reply to an atheist.”

http://creation.com/testing-god-killing-the-creator
“Indeed not. But what Bell Burnell is expressing is fideism (blind faith), which has little to do with biblical faith, which is rational and reasonable, grounded in historical events and observable reality (see Fallacious Faith: Correcting an All-too-Common Misconception). God has given us so much evidence that ‘all men are without excuse’ (Romans 1:20). However, ‘proof’ is different, because that means deducing a conclusion from a more authoritative premise. If we tried to use ‘science’ to prove the Bible, then we would be placing science in authority over the Bible. But the Bible itself is the authoritative word of God, from which we should be deducing things—see Faith and facts. Conversely, science actually works coherently only under premises derived from the biblical framework.”

http://creation.com/schweitzers-dangerous-discovery
“Schweitzer’s stated position is an antibiblical view called fideism, i.e. nothing but blind faith (as well as the discredited NOMA, Non-Overlapping MAgisteria of the late Stephen Jay Gould, an atheist when he was alive). Certainly Romans 1:20 contradicts that fideistic fallacy, as a moment’s reflection will show.”

http://creation.com/clash-over-origins
“Dr Farmer said he does not ‘believe’ in evolution. He defined ‘belief’ as ‘something that no amount of argument can dissuade you from accepting in your heart that it is true’. He seemed to be in this way contrasting religious belief with science. He said, ‘It is because I am a scientist that I do not “believe” in evolution.’

Comment: This is a false contrast, because Christian faith (belief) is not just ‘in your heart’ but is based on evidence. If the evidence were overturned, then Christian faith would be overturned. The apostle Paul makes this point regarding the Resurrection in 1 Cor. 15: if the resurrection of Jesus did not happen then our faith is worthless. Dr Farmer seemed to be advocating fideism, the view that faith is without rational content or support, which is not biblical Christianity. On this topic, see Why use apologetics for evangelism?”

So, noting the efficiency of definition in the second excerpt, and noting that the other four and this article I’m reviewing here were essentially consistent with it, we derive the following aggregate definition:

Fideism is the complete reliance on faith—a “blind faith”—without evidence and/or reason. Such faith is contrary to “real faith”, a faith that finds (an unspecified type of) evidence for its existence.  Fideism is therefore anti-biblical and anti-intellectual.

As I show below, Creation.com and its various authors represented above are wielding a two-edge sword—a sword that comes around and slices them into illogical ribbons at various points in their rather pathetic and careless reasoning and argumentation.

For the record: I also oppose any and all forms of “Christian” anti-intellectualism (an oxymoron if ever there was one!). A favorite passage of my wife is (and it has become a personal favorite as well):

Psa 111.2-3
Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.
Splendid and majestic is His work, and His righteousness endures forever.

We, if we each had a thousand lifetimes, could never exhaust the intricacies, interrelatedness and aggregate wisdom and sheer genius of the Lord’s creation! All true science, engineering, math, physics, etc., will always demonstrate the Lord’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Rom 1.20). And, this is true for both the believer and the lost; the former grow in their maturity and admiration for the Lord while the latter  continue in their self-destructive and morally culpable suppression of truth.

However, I take strong issue with the phrase “blind faith” that is tossed around (as shown above) in these articles on Creation.com. When Don Batten (the author of the third referenced article) uses the term “deduce” [“arrive at (a fact or a conclusion) by reasoning; draw as a logical conclusion.”, google], I think he gets into serious trouble. For example, exactly what was the “logical reasoning” for this stunning text of true faith:

Rom 4.19-21
Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

If Abraham had “reasoned logically”, then he would have taken a contrary path. He had every reason to not believe God! He and his wife were well past the child-bearing years, yet “… he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith …”. Is this not a biblical definition of faith, a faith that is “blind” to the apparently contrary facts that surround the circumstances and experience? What did Abram/Abraham have to work with? Evidence? He had been told that his descendants would inherit the land in which he sojourned, but as yet Sarai could not bear children; so where would the descendants come from?

And remember, there was the approximately 13-year long misstep with Sarah's Egyptian maid Hagar before the son of promise was realized.

The promise of the Land of Canaan was many years into the future (as had been declared). The point is that Abram/Abraham saw really very little of the fulfillment of anything that the Lord promised to him. Contrary to what the Creation.com site tries to present, true believers are just that: they believe in the Word which the Lord God gave and behind which He stands regardless of events or circumstances.

When I came to the Lord Christ in the spring of 1970, even as a budding engineer, math/science geek (the term was unknown then) and having a very high grade point average in high school, it was not my intellect or reason that brought me to Him. No, it was the promise in the Bible that He would forgive my sin and make me alive! And that is exactly what happened after a very faithful, multi-year witness by my Christian Dad! There was not one bit of “evidence” on which I relied for that experience; there was the faith that He was faithful to forgive my sins if I asked in true repentance.

When the devil tempted the Lord Christ, the Lord’s response was one of faith at each point. For example, when tempted to created bread, the Lord simply believed that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” He didn’t seek additional evidence or apply any reason outside that function of the human brain responsible for obedience.

I want also to challenge another statement of Mr. Batten:

“Some are even upset by the idea that there is evidence for our Christian faith (yes, the tomb was empty, for example).”

Ignoring the (possible) straw-man argument, I want to focus on the notable phrase “the tomb was empty”.

[Is it really possible that a true believer is “upset” by the fact of the empty tomb!?!? This statement really appears to be a “corner case” unworthy of its use in this argumentation.]

Yes, the tomb was empty—the Lord actually did rise from the dead as a demonstration that the Father actually applied justification to His people! (Rom 4.25)

What I’m concerned about is the claim that the resurrection of Christ is “evidence” to “back up our Christian faith”. From where, Mr. Batten, does this “evidence” begin—begin with authority, that is. From the early church fathers? From history books? From where?

The answer is simple: the only authoritative source of the documentation of the resurrection of the Lord Christ comes from the Bibleand this source must be accepted by faith before the “evidence” (the record) of the resurrection can be applied! Do you not see this and the fact that your reasoning is circular? You and Dr. Sarfati (and others contributing to Creation.com) decry blind faith:

“Fideism is the complete reliance on faith without evidence and/or reason.”

yet appeal to an example of so-called evidence (the resurrection) that is impossible to achieve without that a priori “blind faith” in the very Bible which it the sole authoritative source of that record!

Let me argue from the negative for a moment:

Is the empty tomb evidence for the resurrection of Christ? Yes, in every way.
What
then is the evidence that the record of that event, as recorded in the Bible, is accurate?

By this statement of yours

“However, ‘proof’ is different, because that means deducing a conclusion from a more authoritative premise. If we tried to use ‘science’ to prove the Bible, then we would be placing science in authority over the Bible.

you correctly indicate that any “proof” of the Bible would be to place an artificial and illegimate authority over the Bible. So, what are you going to produce to give that “first cause” credibility to the Scriptures?

You may decry “blind faith”, but you are forced to exercise that same “blind faith” if you accept the resurrection of the Lord Christ—because there is exactly one authoritative record of it, namely the Bible.

It appears to me that what you are doing is playing with words: you essentially require “evidence” but decry “proof”. Do you not see the logical—and semantic—inconsistency and hypocrisy here?

I don’t understand why you picked a fight regarding something that you can’t win, something which your own reasoning—if applied consistently—utterly destroys. You really need to read again and understand:

Heb 11.6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Will “true evidence” and “true proof” be consistent with the Scripture? Yes, always! Does the Lord give us more than ample reasons and examples to believe His word? Yes, absolutely! But you “throw out the baby with the bath water” when you define faith in such a way as to effectively ignore the example of Abram/Abraham in Romans 4. And there are many, many other examples of this principle at work.

The issue here is that you appear to conflate the grace of God (who is not required to “prove” His word, a Word which can never be made void, Isa 55) with what He expects of His people: namely, to accept what it says, does, and commands without question. Our puny human reasoning abilities are far outstripped by the Lord’s grace, glory and genius!

There is one additional point I want to make here with reference to your emphasis on “evidence”: a huge expression of your error is:

“But our presuppositional approach shows that the only presuppositions that make sense of the evidence, and even provide a basis for rationality, volition and morality …”

Therefore, If the Bible taught something that seemed beyond fantasy to the intellect of the Christian, that to “make sense of the evidence” would be impossible; unbelief would therefore be justified (taking your argument to its logical conclusion).

Out of curiosity, wouldn’t I be justified for discounting the account of the sun and moon remaining motionless in the heavens (for about a full day), in Joshua chapter 10, judging it to be an account too extraordinary to believe? What “evidence”—beyond the written Word of God—could be established to “make sense” of it?

I believe that your position here is dangerous—but even more dangerous is your degrading of biblical faith.

 


Exchange 4:

K.R.
Presuppositional apologetics seems only to throw more general revelation at the lost—

Dr.S
This is more like evidentialist apologetics. And it also misconstrues general revelation: this by definition is revelation accessible to all people at all times, so all our new scientific information cannot be general revelation. But our presuppositional approach shows that the only presuppositions that make sense of the evidence, and even provide a basis for rationality, volition and morality, are the propositions of Scripture. Further, we show that any other set of axioms fails to provide a coherent worldview (map of how we look at the world).

Adding “scientific information” to the mix of Romans chapter 1 is irrelevant to a discussion of “general revelation”. Sure, all people don’t have access to the latest “scientific information”, but that isn’t the point—neither did the peoples held guilty in Romans 1.

If “presuppositional apologetics” means that we simply accept what the Bible says without the need for “evidence” or “proof”, then I’m “all in”.

If Creation.com’s flavor of that term essentially requires “evidence” [note how they continue the word game by avoiding the word “proof”], including the premise that such “sensible” evidence “provide[s] a basis for rationality …”, then we have a problem.

Again, the Lord is certainly higher and greater than we are (Isa 55), but Creation.com’s continued mantra about “sense of the evidence, and even provide a basis for rationality, volition and morality …” evidently tend toward elevating the intellectual aspect of mankind as a practical layer (or authority) above Scripture.

When I read the above, I see this:

I’ll believe what the Bible says, as long as the attendant evidence is sensible. Only then may I apply that Scripture into my own system of “rationality, volition and morality”.

This is dangerous; this is an example of that which is actually “anti-biblical” while presenting itself as its opposite. Our adversary regularly uses the same tactic. Is this the tactic that is to be associated with you, Creation.com?

 


Exchange 5:

K.R.
but the lost already have all of the general revelation they need!

Dr.S
This completely misses the point. General revelation is enough only to condemn man, not to save man. See also Design is not enough! and Caged Lions.

We have to be careful at this point. That which is split (in the source article) into three exchanges is really only a single thought by K.R. He has already maintained

“when Romans 1 already says quite clearly that man is without excuse and needs only special revelation in order to receive salvation …”

so, it is evident that K.R. is not thinking within a context of salvation. Rather, he appears to be attempting to make the point that what Dr. Sarfati is doing is to effectively increase the general revelation to the lost by what K.R. assumes is presuppositional apologetics. From this viewpoint, K.R.’s objection is reasonable and consistent.

Likewise, I think that Dr. Sarfati missed the point K.R. was attempting to make (and the potential mismatch of definitions of presuppositional apologetics). Both distill to the same thing: the lost are—and remain—guilty on the basis of general revelation alone.

 


Exchange 6:

K.R.
Therefore, all that Christians need to do is preach the Gospel, and this is all the Bible commands us to preach (1 Cor. 9:16).

Dr.S
The Bible also commands us to give reasons for our faith (1 Peter 3:15), contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), and demolish arguments opposed to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4–5). Paul disputed in the synagogues (Acts 17:17).

Our approach to defending the faith is consistent with Scripture and it is effective (if it were not effective, the atheists would not spend so much effort opposing us!). I don’t see much evidence of infidels opposing the fideistic approach, which is often little different to existentialism, because it does not challenge the basis of their unbelief.

As you’ve seen in many other sections in my series, I heartily agree with K.R. on this point. When it comes to evangelism, Christians have exactly one commission: go to the lost with the gospel and make disciples. The converse is also true: Christians have no divine charter to approach the lost with evangelistic apologetics, nor are there any examples in the NT of any of the original apostles or disciples doing this.

When it comes to evangelism, evangelistic apologetics is biblically bankrupt and has devolved into "another gospel".

Which brings us to the next point, Dr. Sarfati’s pathetic attempt at a defense for the remarkable heresy (please allow me a bit of sarcasm here!) that Christians were commissioned only to preach the gospel to the lost!

The “proof texts” marshalled by Dr. Sarfati are the same, worn-out-and-used-out-of-context verses unthinkingly and irresponsibly applied by pretty much every evangelistic apologist of our age.

For the record, Dr. Sarfati:

  • 1 Pet 3.15 does not command us to give reasons for our faith (in the context in which you claim); it commands us “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”. There is a huge difference!
  • Jude 3 and 2 Cor 10 (and the context established in the following chapters of 11-13) show clearly that both Jude and Paul spoke within a context of defending the faith from the distortions of false teachers/false apostles who operated within their assemblies. The context of Philippians chapter 1 shows the same thing, along with the requirements for elders in Titus 1.
  • Acts 17.1-4 is yet another example of the “defense of the faith” taking place in a context in which the truth of God is expected to be found: the synagogue. (In concept, it is identical to those situations I just detailed.) What is being defended against the errors of the Jewish teachers? The divinity of Christ—the parallel with the situations in Jude 3, 2 Cor 10, and Philippians 1 is valid.

Dr. Sarfati, you need to return to the Scriptures and carefully examine the context of the verses to which you appeal. There is no example of “apologetics” being done in the broad context of evangelism “in the world”. Your out-of-context use of several biblical texts is appalling.

 


Exchange 7+:

The reasoning presented by Dr. Sarfati in the exchanges 7+ was about the worst I’ve seen in any of the humanistic tripe that I became accustomed to reading while researching this topic. How anyone could even maintain a “straight face” and spew forth the humanistic, and completely anti-biblical distortions within an organization that claims to love and defend the Scripture… It truly beggars the mind of anyone with real respect for and fear of the Word of God!

Part 2 is, perhaps, the best example of the scope and depth to which the modern evangelistic apologist has run afoul of the Scriptures that I've seen to date.

If you love the Scriptures, be warned: you’ll find Dr. Sarfati’s arguments in Part 2 extremely irrresponsible and contradictory to Scripture. The responses found there call into question the credibility of Creation.com, or at the very least Dr. Sarfati's position there.

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