Apologetics to the Glory of God

An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 3 – There is no neutrality.

By C.L. Bolt

Presuppositions are held firmly at the very most basic level of thought and are what people use to make decisions regarding evidence. Not only do we all have presuppositions that we approach evidence with, but these presuppositions disallow neutrality. Putting together everything we have learned so far, we see that there are two worldviews, the Christian and the non-Christian, and that within the non-Christian worldview there are variations or manifestations which we label appropriately. All of these manifestations are simply variations on the one theme of the rejection of the Christian worldview. They are all predicated upon the negation of the Christian worldview.

No one is neutral. One either presupposes the Christian worldview or one presupposes its negation at the very most basic level of one’s thought. Since there is no middle ground between the two worldviews as we have already discussed, there is also no neutral ground between these presuppositions. They are “antithetical,” completely contrary to one another. No one can be neutral.

But many people pretend as though they are or can be neutral. Professors will say that the class needs to approach some topic “objectively” and this is usually taken to be almost synonymous with “academically,” but the type of objectivity demanded by these professors is usually of the impossible sort. How can a Christian, who believes that God is the ultimate authority and has revealed His Word to us, think that he or she is in a position to stand as the authoritative judge over God and the truth of His Word? Nonsense! The Christian not only cannot be “objective” in this sense, the Christian also should not be “objective”. Objectivity is often another word used instead of neutrality.

The Christian can still place his or herself upon the presuppositions of his or her opponent (or the contrary of Christianity) – that is, non-Christianity – for the sake of learning or understanding that system better or refuting that position in the context of “for the sake of argument,” but the Christian can never actually adopt that presupposition of non-Christianity if he or she is to remain faithful to the Lord of all.

Jesus Christ is Lord of everything, not just churches and the Bible, but mathematics and science too! One is either committed to Him or not in every thought and word and deed. God commands us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus. It is a war we are in, but our weapons are not of the flesh. They are powerful for the tearing down of strongholds; strongholds the devil has erected in this world and in the minds of men. When Eve pretended to stand as judge over whether or not the Word of God was true, she introduced an element of would-be independence of God into the equation of creation resulting in the Fall. It is sin to not wholeheartedly and immediately receive the Word of God as fully authoritative and true. Thus it is our goal not only in the garden but now in this fallen world too to submit to Christ Jesus as Lord. One is either for Him or against Him, there is no middle ground, and He is to be glorified in everything. We either glorify Him – do all to the glory of God; whether in eating, drinking, performing, arithmetic, philosophy, or apologetics – in each thing we do or we fail to do so and sin. Christ is Lord of all and above all and over all and is to be glorified as such. There is nowhere in this universe that Christ Jesus does not reign as Master and Lord.

So the Christian is not neutral, and neither is the non-Christian. Often non-Christians will want to pretend as though they are neutral. They want to seem like they are being fair and only rejecting the authority of God because they have stood as a fair and reasonable judge over God’s Word, but this is not the truth! Christians on the other hand should know better but sometimes pretend as though they are neutral as well. They should not for all of the reasons listed above and more. There is no neutrality, and the Christian should never fall into the trap of pretending that there is. The Christian should not adopt anti-Christian presuppositions and should not pretend as though there is some third position between Christian and non-Christian presuppositions.

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7 responses to “An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 3 – There is no neutrality.”

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  3. Silas Avatar

    Although I’ve been able to follow so far, I’m having a hard time getting from part 2 (that everyone has presuppositions) to this:

    “They are all predicated upon the negation of the Christian worldview. / No one is neutral. One either presupposes the Christian worldview or one presupposes its negation at the very most basic level of one’s thought.”

    It seems that you are implying that everyone has already presupposed all things, or at least that everyone has already presupposed Christianity to be true or false. That is quite a leap from stating that everyone has presuppositions. There are still people in the world who are ignorant of Christianity. They do not even know that it exists. How can they presuppose something to be false if they are not even aware of its existence? (I am sure that plenty of people have wrestled with a related question: can those who die completely ignorant of Christ be saved? That’s not my question, but it seems like such a question implicitly acknowledge that neutrality is possible.)

    Particularly problematic for me is the idea that non-Christian world views are _predicated_ upon the idea that Christianity is false. To reiterate my question, how can the very foundation of someone’s world view be built with the explicit assertion that Christianity is false if they are actually unaware of its existence?

    To give another example, imagine you receive a Christmas gift, but you do not know from whom it is. It would be wrong for me to assert to you that you presuppose the gift is either a pocket watch or that is not a pocket watch, and to say that you are not allowed to tell me, “I do not know if it is a pocket watch or not yet. I do not have enough information to decide one way or another. It may or may not be a pocket watch. I am neutral and without bias on this matter.”

    So it would seem to me that it must be possible for a person to have no presupposition about something, and if one can be neutral about one thing–anything at all–then why not Christianity or a Christian world view?

    The assertion would be fine if it was that world views fall into two sets: those who believe and those who do not. Those who are ignorant simply do not believe, for example. But the assertion that there are only those who believe and those who oppose (“They are all predicated upon the _negation_ of the Christian worldview.” Emphasis added.) seems to be erroneous.

    I’m just rambling now, but this might illustrate what I am saying better: you can represent believers and unbelievers with one bit in computer programming, but the latter (believing, opposing) actually requires two bits. That means four possibilities:

    1. One does not believe in Christianity AND does not oppose Christianity. (Ignorant people, newborn babies)
    2. One believes in Christianity AND opposes Christianity. (Demons, as per James 2:19)
    3. One believes in Christianity AND does not oppose Christianity. (Christians, I hope!)
    4. One does not believe in Christianity AND opposes Christianity. (Your definition of the non-Christian world view.)

    1. C.L. Bolt Avatar
      C.L. Bolt

      According to Romans 1.18ff no one is ignorant of the existence of the Christian God. So again, no one is neutral.

      If one is not Christian, then one is non-Christian.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Silas Avatar

        Thank you for your reply. I see that Romans 1:18-25 is a critical component of Presuppositionalism, and even just noticed that Wikipedia also claims as much. If you ever clean up these comments, I highly recommend you add a reference to it in this article for future readers.

        Unfortunately, now that I know how you’ve reached your conclusion, it seems to me that Presuppositionalism requires from the outset a very different view on the Bible than what I have. I can find no way to follow your reasoning any further while we differ on our understanding of Paul’s epistle, which is a critical component of your theology.

        By rejecting a neutral starting point, I believe Presuppositionalism cuts itself off from a great deal of critical discussion with non-Presuppositionalist Christians and non-Christians alike. Specific to this case, for example, would be our inability to arrive at the same conclusion regarding Romans. Our presuppositions about the Bible are different, and because they come before all rational discussion, there is no way to reconcile them through rational discussion. If you think I am wrong, I would be interested to hear why.

        1. C.L. Bolt Avatar
          C.L. Bolt

          See Part 10 and 11 for the reference.

          I am interested in hearing how we differ on Paul.

          Presuppositionalists do claim that there is common ground in the sensus divinitatis, imago dei, and God’s created order. So in principle there is room for discussion. The same is true in practice. Or to put it another way, I have had few problems interacting with a variety of non-Christians during my life as a Christian and, more specifically, a presuppositionalist.

          Hope this helps.

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