Sacrificing the Gospel on the Altar of Unbiblical Apologetics

Often so-called objections to the presuppositionalist methodology are downright frightening. Take the article “Always Ready to Give an Answer” written by Caleb Colley.

Under the section on presuppositionalism, Caleb writes the following:

“While the presuppositionalist is right that worldview is important, the presuppositional approach is in conflict with Paul’s prescription of the cosmological argument”

Um…I am sorry?

“the presuppositional approach is in conflict with Paul’s prescription of the cosmological argument”

Now I do not know about other people, but I am left wondering how people prior to Paul came to know that God exists without Paul being alive to present them with the cosmological argument. There are plenty of other questions that come to mind, like why Paul would prescribe a proof that does not prove the existence of God but rather some vague notion of a “First Cause” or “Unmoved Mover”, why Paul would prescribe a proof that is full of problems that keep it from reaching its conclusion anyway, and where Paul ever presents this proof to begin with.

Caleb writes that Paul prescribed this argument “in Romans 1:19-20” and then quotes the passage:

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Okay, let me read that again.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Do you see anything there that is even remotely similar to the cosmological argument? Is there any talk of a First Cause or Unmoved Mover? The passage does show that the world was created and that things have been made, but this is far from an instance of the cosmological argument. Let us be honest, the passage says nothing at all about the cosmological argument. It is never named, never written out as a syllogism, and never alluded to. The cosmological argument is never even described in this passage, much less prescribed. Presuppositionalism cannot be in conflict with Paul’s prescription of the cosmological argument, because Paul never prescribes it. The author has apparently deceived himself into thinking that there is something in the text which is not actually there, holding fast to a syllogistic puzzle invented and used by Aristotelians, Roman Catholics, and Muslims along with other non-Christian groups. What the text does describe is a universal knowledge of God that is plain and clear because it is given by God, but this sounds like the claim of presuppositionalists!

Caleb writes, “God does not expect us to presuppose that His revelation is true”. Caleb cannot know what God does and does not expect of us if Caleb does not presuppose that the revelation of God is true. God never makes a statement in Scripture to the effect of Him not expecting us to presuppose that His revelation is true. The opposite is the case, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1.7) Any argument from Scripture that Caleb gives us concerning what God does and does not expect is going to require us to take God at His Word just like God always desires we do.

“He wants us to examine the evidence”

Again, Caleb cannot know what God wants and does not want without appealing to the Word of God. There are numerous problems with the underlying assumptions of this statement, but I will not be going into them here.

“People will be lost, not because they failed to make a presupposition, but because they failed to reason from the revealed order to the One who revealed it.”

People will not be lost because they failed to make a presupposition. Whoever said such a thing? I do not know what Caleb is arguing against here, but it is not presuppositionalism. If Caleb understood what he is writing about (and frankly, he does not), he would know that the presuppositionalist claim is in direct opposition to his misrepresentation. No one fails to make the presupposition that God exists. Further, no one is in a place to question the Word of God because there is no higher authority than God! This misrepresentation is bad, but not nearly as bad as what comes next.

Caleb preaches another gospel:

“People will be lost…because they failed to reason from the revealed order to the One who revealed it.”

No Caleb, people are lost because people are sinners. People do not become lost, people are lost. People will not “be lost” on judgment day “because they failed to reason from the revealed order to the One who revealed it” either, but rather because they are unrepentant sinners. In answer to the lost person’s question, “How might I be saved?” Caleb must answer, “[R]eason from the revealed order to the One who revealed it”. Caleb writes that “People will be lost” if they fail to do so. The gospel of Caleb, which is no gospel, is not good news at all. Rather, his gospel calls for a works righteousness of the intellect. To be consistent Caleb must believe that the reason he is saved while others are not is because he has reasoned better than they have. Presenting the actual Gospel contained in Scripture is not an option Caleb is able to take, for he claims that “God does not expect us to presuppose that His revelation is true”.

The remainder of what Caleb writes is in harmony with his anathematized gospel. (Galatians 1.8) He writes, “A presuppositionalist once told me that the unbeliever has a ‘heart problem’”. It appears that, though it is biblical, Caleb is skeptical of the claim that the unbeliever as a heart problem. Not only does Caleb put the phrase in quotes, he finishes his sentence, “A presuppositionalist once told me that the unbeliever has a ‘heart problem’, rather than intellectual difficulty, that keeps him from obeying Christ” (emphasis mine). Now I would posit that the unbeliever has both a heart problem and intellectual difficulties because both are taught throughout Scripture, but I believe that Caleb is trying to say something much different than I am when I use these phrases. When Caleb writes that “the unbeliever…[has]…intellectual difficulty” I see no reason to read this as meaning anything other than what he has already proposed, that “People will be lost…because they failed to reason…”. He is setting “intellectual difficulties” in opposition to a problem of the heart.

“This presuppositionalist explained that the unbeliever was unable to develop faith rationally because, having a ‘sinful nature,’ he was unwilling to presuppose that Christianity is valid.”

Caleb might actually go beyond the Thomist conception of man here, denying not just the fallen nature of reason, but quite possibly the sinful nature of man, as Caleb puts the term in quotation marks! More of Caleb’s unbiblical anthropology becomes apparent when he writes, “I admitted that some are prejudiced against Christianity”. Some unbelievers are prejudiced against Christianity? Try all. One is either for Christ or against Him.

“I admitted that some are prejudiced against Christianity, but then asked whether it was at least possible that an unbeliever wants to obey Christ, but has an intellectual objection to the existence of God, such as the problem of evil.”

Notice again the unbiblical anthropology which proposes the possibility that there are unbelievers running about who want to
obey Christ but cannot. He then assumes that the Problem of Evil is an intellectual objection to the existence of God without showing the inconsistency in stating that God exists as well as evil. The Bible clearly shows that this is the case and I have been unable to find any inconsistency with it. Where then is the intellectual objection?

Caleb has shown us the kind of horrible errors unbiblical approaches to apologetics will lead us toward when more consistently practiced.

Colley, Caleb. “Ready Always to Give an Answer”. Apologetics Press : Scripturally Speaking. http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240172. Accessed September 25, 2009.


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