Acts 17 and Covenantal Apologetics

Re-posted from here – http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/13/answering-objections-to-presuppositionalism.

 

J.R.

March 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM

taco,
Non-presuppositionalists argue that Acts 17 is clearly a classical (specifically Greek) apologetic used by Paul. You’ll need to find another example to make your case. “So Paul, standing in the midst of Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religiou. For as I passed and observed the objects of your worship, I found an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”

Reply
  •  taco
    March 14, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    I would submit that Paul is actually practicing Covenantal apologetics in Acts 17 and I suggest the article linked and Dr. Oliphint’s book “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” for your perusal for the exegesis.

    Reply
    •  J.R.
      March 14, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      I’m already too familiar with Bahnsen- not interested.

      Reply
  •  C.L. Bolt
    March 14, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Eh? Since, “non-presuppositionalists argue that Acts 17 is clearly a classical (specifically Greek) apologetic used by Paul” it follows that presuppositionalists will, “need to find another example” to make their case? Why would that be? Why not say that since presuppositionalists argue that Acts 17 is clearly a presuppositional (specifically Van Tilian) apologetic used by Paul that classicalists will need to find another example to make their case?

    And what is with Paul explicitly quoting from the Old Testament in Acts 17? I didn’t think we could do that since the philosophers he was reasoning with didn’t believe the Bible?!

    Reply
    •  J.R.
      March 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      CL,
      1 – The point is that Act 17 is almost universally regarded as a classical apologetic approach. In fact, most presuppositionalists (other than Bahnsen – the linked to article) avoid Acts 17 because it is so clear in this regard. I have even heard a couple presups argue that Paul “made a mistake” by approaching his appeal that way!!
      My point is that the argument that Acts 17 somehow proves that the Bible validates presuppositionalism is a very, very weak one, if even one at all.

      2 – the only quotations that Paul uses in Acts 17 are from the Greek philosophers.

      Reply
      •  C.L. Bolt
        March 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM

        “CL,
        1 – The point is that Act 17 is almost universally regarded as a classical apologetic approach.”

        You did not answer my question. I asked, “Why not say that since presuppositionalists argue that Acts 17 is clearly a presuppositional (specifically Van Tilian) apologetic used by Paul that classicalists will need to find another example to make their case?” You replied that, “Act 17 is almost universally regarded as a classical apologetic approach.” But that does not answer my question. Acts 17 may be almost universally regarded as a classical apologetic approach by classicalists, but that is rather uninteresting, especially given that Acts 17 is almost universally regarded as a presuppositional apologetic approach by presuppositionalists, and given that this the disagreement at hand. Or to state things more plainly: you are begging the question.

        “In fact, most presuppositionalists (other than Bahnsen – the linked to article) avoid Acts 17 because it is so clear in this regard.”

        That’s strange. Which presuppositionalists are you reading? Not only does Greg Bahnsen addresses Acts 17 in terms of apologetic method in the article you reference, but he does so in his other books as well. Presuppositionalist John Frame works from Acts 17 in a discussion of apologetic method in Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. K. Scott Oliphint discusses it in The Battle Belongs to the Lord. All three men are leading presuppositionalists who studied under Cornelius Van Til and held or hold positions teaching the presuppositional method of apologetics. They are, in other words, authorities on the method, and one would expect to find other presuppositionalists following their example.

        But the list goes on. Another published presuppositionalist, Richard Pratt, scatters references to Acts 17 throughout his book Every Thought Captive. Michael Butler, who studied under Bahnsen, relies heavily upon Acts 17 in a sermon leading up to an explanation of presuppositional apologetics. Lane Tipton, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and authority on presuppositional method in apologetics, wrote an entire article on Acts 17 as it pertains to apologetic method for the book Revelation and Reason. I even picked up Massimo Lorenzini’s book A Reason for the Hope, flipped to his chapter on presuppositional methodology, and lo and behold, he addresses Acts 17 as well! Just for good measure I will mention that so far as I know all eight contributors to the presuppositional website Choosing Hats would agree with Bahnsen’s understanding of the text in Acts 17 as supporting a presuppositional approach to apologetics.

        I’ve provided you with a long list of presuppositionalists who do not avoid Acts 17 as it pertains to apologetic method, but directly address it and see it as supporting their approach. You have not provided a single example of a presuppositionalist who avoids Acts 17, much less established that “most” of them do so. Or to state things more plainly: I call your bluff.

        “I have even heard a couple presups argue that Paul ‘made a mistake’ by approaching his appeal that way!!”

        Really? Who? Give us some names, links, and/or bring them here.

        “My point is that the argument that Acts 17 somehow proves that the Bible validates presuppositionalism is a very, very weak one, if even one at all.”

        Well that is your assertion, but you have not done a very good job of supporting it. In the mean time you have a lot of reading to do. A good place to start is the list of works cited above.

        “2 – the only quotations that Paul uses in Acts 17 are from the Greek philosophers.”

        You may want to read that Bahnsen article (http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa045.htm) and focus especially on the section called “Scriptural Presuppositions.” See also Isaiah 42.5, Deuteronomy 10.14, Psalm 115.16, Psalm 50.8-12, 1 Chronicles 29.14-16, Job 33.4, Zechariah 12.1, Genesis 3.20, Deuteronomy 32.8, and Psalm 74.17 for starters, though there are other passages to consider. See also Frame’s argument that Acts 17 is a continuation of Paul’s earlier dispute.

        And please, for both of our sakes, do not comment on things you have not studied. I am assuming that you are not being dishonest. Either way, your comment concerns me.


5 Comments

JL

Wow, that is incredibly ignorant of the literature by Van Tillians concerning Acts 17 (not to mention Van Til’s short booklet on that text). Like seriously, the guy just need to J.R.
As in just read.

Lou

Chris, are you for real? Copying and pasting the comment thread of someone else’s blog and calling that ‘something’? It comes off very lame and childish, especially since you didn’t really put forth any sort of argument. Not impressed. At all.

JL – does that stand for “just learn”?

RazorsKiss

1) He said it was reposted from… and gave a link.
2) Are you for real?
3) Where did he call it “something”? (You used quotes, after all.)
4) Do you know what an argument is? Inquiring minds want to know.
5) Childish, it seems to me, is coming onto a blog you know nothing about, talking to people you know nothing about, calling them names, making accusations, and basically making a nuisance of yourself for no good reason.

I didn’t see an argument in your comment either. Care to try making one, or are insults all you have going for you?

C.L. Bolt

Um. Okay.

???

JL

Yep, Just learning…


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