10 Comments

Patrick Hsu

I went to a Presuppositional Apologetics conference last year and some of the speakers there were graduates from Master’s Seminary. I wondered why they didn’t present any arguments for Christianity. Their approach was just to present the Gospel and let God’s Word defend itself.

RazorsKiss

Interesting, thanks. Anecdotal, I know, but still of interest.

JL

Hey brother Patrick and RazorKiss,
I’m an alumni of TMS, I do think that TMS does hold to a Van Tillian apologetics. I’ve interested in Van Tillian apologetics long before my first day at the seminary. By the way, can you tell me more info about the conference you attended (name of it) and also who were the men that spoke from TMS? =)
Incidentally, I do enjoy Chris Bolt’s belief as stated in his review (though I need to read McManis’s book first to agree with his review of the book itself) about TMS being very exegetically driven, and the importance of exegesis while not repudiating philosophy. If I’m understanding Bolt correctly, I think both are important, although the last two years I’ve focused more on exegetical support for Presuppositionalism’s tactics, which is the subject of my ThM. thesis. I do plan to work on sharpening the philosophical aspect of Presuppositionalism after this, to keep things in the balance.

Fred

Patrick,
Can you name the conference and the folks who were the speakers? Being an alumni of TMS I can tell you we are presuppositional in our approach. I would also define one of the basic tenets of “presuppositionalism” as “presenting the Gospel and letting God’s Word defend itself. ” I understand all the nuances of presuppositionalism as an entire system, but ultimately, our goal as Christians is the salvation of the lost. The Gospel alone is the only sufficient means for that goal.

Fred

RazorsKiss

All the nuances, eh? Doing better than I am. Even Bahnsen said he didn’t have all the nuances down yet. I definitely wouldn’t say that one of the basic tenets is letting God’s Word defend itself, nor would I say that one of the basic tenets is to “present the Gospel”, as Van Til said numerous times that 1) We defend *from* the Bible, not “let the Bible defend itself” – God uses means, so we do not let the Bible “fend for itself” 2) That evangelism is the flip side of apologetics, not that they are both on the same face of the coin. Ultimately, likewise, our goal is not “the salvation of the lost” – it is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. See question 2 of Keach’s catechism, or Question 1 of the Westminster (Shorter or Longer).

Patrick Hsu

The Conference is called, “Mid-Atlantic Bible Fellowship” conference. I’d like to make a clarification, not all of TMS did not present a Van Tilian approach to apologetics since I wasn’t able to attend all of the break-out sessions. I apologize for making that hasty generalization. However, in Session 3: The Defense of the Bible as the Word of God by Mike Abendroth advocated simply to preach the Gospel and let God’s Word defend itself.

http://graceadvancema.org/site/audiodownloads.asp?sec_id=140005881

Fred

Maybe it will help to define what you mean by “Van Tillian?” If by Van Tillian, you mean to say they don’t drink the Reformed covenant theology bath water, then yes, we are not “Van Tillian” in that sense. I realize there are some who are absolutely insistent one must – at least – affirm covenant theology to really, really be consistent in apologetics and certainly be a proper “Van Tillian.” I just say, “Whatever.”

If, however, you mean to say we are “Van Tillian” in that we practice biblical presuppositionalism, then yes, we are “Van Tillian” in that sense. Again, see my comments about the proper use of the Gospel as an apologetic defense. With what you present here, I see no “contradiction” with presuppositionalism. I’ll check out those messages.

Resequitur

Hey Fred,

Yes, I think that was the way Patrick was defining “Van Tillian”.

When we think about doing apologetics, we are concerned with presenting it as a unit, as you noted in an earlier comment. An entire system. Van Til was pretty insistent on this point, as he saw Reformed theology (I’m using Reformed interchangeably with covenant here) as the most consistent expression of what the Scripture teaches.

I can understand why you would express disagreement on this point. However Van Til is drinking from the covenant theology bathwater, as well as I, and most of the contributors here. It’s the basis from which we launch our apologetic, and I agree with Dr. Oliphint’s push for a name change with his coinage of “Covenant apologetics”, as well as Dr. Van Til’s insistence (following B.B. Warfield) that “The Reformed Faith is Christianity come to it’s own”. I know you would disagree with this, but consider it a challenge to seriously consider what we are saying. Not to say that you haven’t (seeing that I don’t know you all too well).

Blessings!

Fred

By all the nuances, I mean to say I recognize that Van Til, or for any presuppositionalist worth his salt, that we defend an entire system, not just specific points. IOW, when you defend the faith, you defend the entire Christian faith so that the Resurrection, or the reliability of the Scriptures, or whatever, is defended from an entire worldview.

That being said, I understand “defend “from” the Bible” and “let the Bible defend itself” as being one in the same, so I don’t see some worrisome problems. If you wish to make a distinction, I guess that is your prerogative. As for evangelism and apologetics being the flip-side of the coin, I probably agree with you. That is, when I evangelize I consider myself as doing apologetics. Pretty much all the Thomists I run into divide evangelism and apologetics into two separate categories, apologetics being understood as “pre-evangelism.” I don’t see any such categories in Scripture.

As for your last point, it is very pious to say you do apologetics to the glory of God. I applaud your endeavors and say amen, but when we make a defense of the faith and give a reason for the hope that is with in us, our hope is due only in part to the fact that we have been made right with our creator through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Thus, the primary thrust of our apologetics is to bring men to an understanding of the Gospel. Certainly that glorifies God, but the salvation of men’s souls is our ultimate aim. God’s regenerating Spirit obviously having the final work in the matter.

BTW, appreciated Chris’s review of the book, so pass along my thanks. I have it on the list to pick up. It wasn’t nearly as pedantic and whiny as Robinson’s. If McManis accomplishes those handful of complaints where Robinson says he supposedly “derails,” then I will say his book is a welcome addition to basic apologetics for normal people. Also, I think Chris is a bit too soft on ivory tower philosophers. I personally think they do need to be assailed in the manner he says McManis lays out. I take that as a difference in tactic I suppose.

JL

For the record I think Jason M. (forgotten his last name), a former TMS student who finished at Southern, Jay Wegter, Fred Butler (who commented above) has shown that there is a stream of TMS men who does apply Van Tillian apologetics. I’m sure more can be added to this list.


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