Joshua Butcher has written an ‘open letter’ to Choosing Hats in regard to my recent posts concerning whether or not the Transcendental Argument for God is a deductive argument. Below is his letter in its entirety followed by my response.
To the men of choosing hats,
I have interacted with Ron in various ways and under different demeanors. I have more than once been on the opposing end of an argument with him, and I have more often found his arguments quite sound and lucid.
Not only has he provided the context you deny, but he has provided actual deductive arguments, which you could easily interact with, should you choose, or were you capable. Quite frankly, whether or not you are convinced has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Ron has provided arguments. He has. Repeatedly. With charity.
The fact that he assumed that Chris had not read the relevant material was actually a charitable assumption. If it is true that those of you at choosing hats have read all the pertinent material, including all of Ron’s posts on the subject of TAG, then there is little left to conclude other than you are a band of foolish men who have been so blinded by stupidity or arrogance that only the grace of God could illumine what is plain to so many others.
I would encourage you to cease your pointless interaction, repent of your falsehoods against Ron, and submit yourselves to the sound guidance of godly ministers, rather than waste your efforts in what are fruitless endeavors, given your current state.
May God be merciful to you as you consider the pleas of those here who have your best interest in mind, though you seem to have abandoned it.
You recently posted an ‘open letter’ “To the men of choosing hats” on a blog post written by Mr. Di Giacomo which may be found here. In that letter you request a number of actions from those who contribute to Choosing Hats. Apart from one short comment from Brian Knapp on one of my posts and a small number of comments from RazorsKiss on Mr. Di Giacomo’s blog I (Chris Bolt) have been the sole contributor to the blog in posts concerning whether or not TAG is deductive. Since it is the case that I am responsible for the posts which have apparently caused you some concern and since I take your charges and requests quite seriously (especially given your strong words) I will offer a response to your letter.
You write that you have interacted with Ron and have often found his arguments to be sound and lucid. When I began responding to Ron I wrote, “I do not know Mr. Di Giacomo but have only heard good things about him.” I will add your statement to the list. I also find some of Mr. Di Giacomo’s arguments to be as you describe them.
You write that Mr. Di Giacomo has provided context that I deny. I am not quite sure what you are referring to. If you are referring to the context of the email discussion I had with a friend prior to my email being forwarded to Mr. Di Giacomo then no; he has not provided this context. If you are referring to the context of our entire discussion then no; he has not provided this context either. He does not need to do so as he is posting on and managing his own blog the way that he desires.
If you are referring to the context of the Van Til and Bahnsen quotes then no; apart from a few comments about the context of the Van Til quote Mr. Di Giacomo has not provided anymore relevant portions of context for the quotes. It is completely true that my being convinced or not has no bearing upon whether or not Mr. Di Giacomo has provided arguments. If I have stated somewhere that he has not provided arguments then please direct me to that statement or statements so that I can review what I have written and correct it.
You write that Mr. Di Giacomo has “provided actual deductive arguments, which you could easily interact with, should you choose, or were you capable.” I have chosen to interact with those arguments whenever they have been presented in the context of the discussion which includes the following posts:
I have not in any of my posts stated that Mr. Di Giacomo is being uncharitable and I have attempted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
You mention that Mr. Di Giacomo assumed that I have not read relevant material. I did not attribute this assumption to Mr. Di Giacomo. That portion of my post is as follows:
Hopefully what Mr. Di Giacomo writes next is a general statement which may or may not apply to me rather than a statement about me in particular. The latter would be extremely presumptuous on the part of Mr. Di Giacomo given that so far as I know he does not have knowledge of what I have and have not read.
“Even a careless reading of Van Til and Bahnsen bears this out, but one must first read the authors and not just read about them. And reading the authors would require reading past page 9 in Van Til, at least up through page 10! (Many perceived problems regarding Gordon H. Clark would also vanish if one would only simply go to the original source, rather than choosing sides in a partisan manner.)”
For the record I have read both Van Til and Bahnsen and have attempted to do so carefully rather than carelessly. Again, I have read the authors and have not just read about them. My reading also includes material beyond page 9 and 10 of Survey of Christian Epistemology. I have read the book in its entirety. None of this is anything to boast about (although reading Bahnsen’s Analysis in its entirety might be something to be considered worth celebrating). While I am writing ‘tongue-in-cheek’ it is nevertheless true that I have read what I would consider a substantial amount of Van Til and Bahnsen. Hopefully we are thus able to focus upon the arguments which pertain to the disagreement being discussed.
You state that Mr. Di Giacomo did assume that I had not read the relevant material. I am not sure where you are finding that this is the case. You further state that it was a charitable assumption because, “If it is true that those of you at choosing hats have read all the pertinent material, including all of Ron’s posts on the subject of TAG, then there is little left to conclude other than you are a band of foolish men who have been so blinded by stupidity or arrogance that only the grace of God could illumine what is plain to so many others.” Do you find the language that you used in this statement and the manner in which you used it to be edifying? Is this the way that you might speak to your children or your wife? Why would you choose to use this language in describing brothers you do not even know? If there is some pertinent material that I should know about I would request that you bring it forth immediately given the seriousness of what you state here and given that I have repeatedly asked for such material. Please provide the texts, audio, or video wherein Cornelius Van Til or Greg L. Bahnsen explicitly states that the Transcendental Argument for God is a deductive argument. I have provided texts wherein they explicitly state the opposite and have defended my understanding of those texts rather thoroughly.
The only person other than Mr. Di Giacomo who has at this time chosen to interact with the posts I have written is danielj. You are welcome to join him and I will strive to be just as charitable and gracious with you as I have tried to be with him. While I have not read all of Ron’s posts on TAG I have read those which have been written in response to my email and my posts. Since the topic of discussion has been whether or not TAG as Van Til and Bahnsen understood it is deductive and since Mr. Di Giacomo has responded to small portions of my posts I trust that if there is some relevant argument that Mr. Di Giacomo has to offer then he has already brought it forward in his responses or has posted a link to where I might find it. Other than this I can see no evident reason to read all of Mr. Di Giacomo’s posts. I am quite skeptical that Mr. Di Giacomo has read all of mine and even more skeptical that you have read all of mine but it does not matter as the topic of the discussion is whether or not Van Til and Bahnsen thought TAG is deductive.
In the next portion of your letter you “encourage” me or us to take a number of actions. You write, “I would encourage you to cease your pointless interaction, repent of your falsehoods against Ron, and submit yourselves to the sound guidance of godly ministers, rather than waste your efforts in what are fruitless endeavors, given your current state.”
I do not share your opinion that this has been a “pointless interaction”. Mr. Di Giacomo does not appear to share your opinion either. Recall that Mr. Di Giacomo wrote the original post about TAG being deductive wherein he quoted from one of my emails that I had sent to a friend. Since Mr. Di Giacomo has blocked my comments from his blog from the very beginning I have chosen to respond to him at Choosing Hats. Since Choosing Hats was originally designed to teach the presuppositionalist method of apologetics the posts have been anything but pointless as this is a somewhat important topic in the realm of presuppositionalism.
In light of the charges which have been brought against me and Choosing Hats I would consider myself quite justified in responding to those who would bring forth any accusations that I am in violation of God’s law for disagreeing with Mr. Di Giacomo. Do you not agree? Your request that I “cease” from this “pointless interaction” is puzzling in light of your earlier statement which implied that there has not been any interaction. Recall that you wrote, “[Mr. Di Giacomo] has provided actual deductive arguments, which you could easily interact with, should you choose, or were you capable.” Am I interacting or not? Which do you consider the wrong course of action and why? Presuppositionalism and TAG are extremely interesting areas of study for me. I fail to see where I have done something wrong unless one is to believe that anyone disagreeing with or attempting to interact with Mr. Di Giacomo concerning his arguments is by default wrong or doing something wrong.
You ask that I repent of my falsehoods against Ron. I will gladly do so if you present me with those falsehoods. Please quote them for me and provide the links to the posts wherein I make the alleged falsehoods. If you are going to bring these kinds of charges against a brother or brothers and call for repentance then you need to have some evidence of specific sins, chapters, and verses in hand when you do so.
You request that I submit myself to the guidance of godly ministers. It is unclear as to whether or not you are referring to Mr. Di Giacomo here. If you are referring to him then I must make it clear that I have not denied that he is a godly minister or that he should be submitted to. However if you are implying that I should “submit” to Mr. Di Giacomo in the sense that I must agree with him on even such issues as whether or not Bahnsen thought that TAG is a deductive argument then I must inform you that you are terribly mistaken. There are many things that I disagree with many elders on. Many of these elders are in disagreement with one another making it impossible to “submit” to every one in this fashion. Further, I do not find Mr. Di Giacomo’s claim that Van Til and Bahnsen thought that TAG is deductive to be “sound guidance” in any meaningful sense.
If you are not referring to Mr. Di Giacomo then I must say that you are being quite presumptuous in assuming that I am not submitting myself to the sound guidance of godly ministers. What are you referring to? How do you know about it? Do you mean to imply that anyone who does not agree with Mr. Di Giacomo or that anyone who thinks TAG is not deductive must not be submitting to the guidance of godly ministers? I do not mean to imply that you mean something like this which at the moment seems rather incredible to me but I am having difficulty understanding what else you may mean.
You further mention wasted efforts and “fruitless endeavors” given my “current state”. Again your words are vague. What efforts are wasted? What endeavors are “fruitless”? What is my “current state” and how do you know?
In your conclusion you write, “May God be merciful to you as you consider the pleas of those here who have your best interest in mind, though you seem to have abandoned it.” Until you provide something of substance in terms of “pleas” with my “best interest in mind” I have no choice but to dismiss your rather harsh words as unwarranted and misguided at best. It has been my experience in the past that when individuals witness their beliefs or arguments being torn down or the beliefs or arguments of some teacher they follow that they often react by attacking the person arguing against them rather than actually dealing with the arguments being presented. I hope that this is not the case in responses such as the one you have provided. I will remind you that the comment box here is open, I am ready and willing to discuss the text, and I will gladly welcome correction in my understanding of Bahnsen’s presentation of TAG.
In the future please consider more carefully what you write before you write it.