but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
For better or for worse the Protestant apologist is committed to the doctrine of Scripture as the infallibly inspired final revelation of God to man. This being the case, he is committed to the defense of Christian theism as a unit. For him theism is not really theism unless it is Christian theism.
In the last few days there has been a theme to the conversations I’ve had in the Choosing Hats chat channel, the questions that we’ve been discussing all seem to lead back to the same point. These conversations have been with those who consider themselves evidentialist as well as those who consider themselves presuppositionalist.
The question that we have been stuck on recently is this: Once I’ve done an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview, how does TAG show that Christian theism is the precondition of intelligibility?
The answer to the question is not a complex one, in fact it may seem overly simple, however it requires that the apologist himself continue to think presuppositionally when he makes his argument and this can often be a struggle.
When we do an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview we are not most fundamentally seeking to undermine his confidence in the reliability of the senses, his experience, the laws of logic or moral and ethical absolutes. Rather, we are seeking to show that on the ground which he currently stands (rejection and denial of the Christian God) he is unable to account for those things which he relies upon to make sense of the world. We are showing the unbeliever that there is a disconnect between what he says he believes about the world and the way he actually thinks. We don’t do this as an end in itself though, this is only half of the presuppositional ‘two-step’.
Christian theism, as a unit, must be affirmed for the apologist to present a coherent and intelligible worldview, otherwise he is committing the same error as the unbeliever. When he performs the internal critique, yes, there is a sense in which he is accepting the unbeliever’s presuppositions for the sake of argument, but he must not forget his own commitments and he must remain faithful to them for his presentation to be effective in its goal.
When the apologist argues for Christian theism his goal is most fundamentally to glorify God and to present the gospel of his Christ to the unbeliever, leaving the unbeliever without excuse for his rejection of this God.
When he departs from the presuppositional commitments of Christian theism he has ceased presenting Christ as he has revealed himself in scripture and has ceased to leave the unbeliever without excuse by failing to sanctify Christ as Lord in his heart as Peter tells him to do.
If the apologist does not practice what he preaches, especially in the midst of apologetic encounters then he also has no ground on which to make claims about the truth of Christianity. If the apologist must, in his heart and mind, give up Christianity in order to make a ‘convincing’ case for Christianity then he has not done what scripture commands.
So, the apologist must not only be able to critique the unbelieving worldview but he must also be committed to and familiar with his own Christian presuppositions so that he is able to make a defense when the atheist brings objections. This is why we at Choosing Hats press those interested in pursuing apologetics to be familiar with systematic theology. If you do not know the theology to which you hold, or if that theology is itself inconsistent with itself or scripture, how can you expect to make a defense which leave the unbeliever without excuse?
Returning to the question posed at the beginning of this post: Once I’ve done an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview, how does TAG show that Christian theism is the precondition of intelligibility?
The answer is this, by remaining faithful to your presuppositional commitments you are able to not only undermine the unbelieving worldview, but also show how Christian theism is the only viable option by using Christian theism as a unit to answer any and all objections that the unbeliever might make against it.
If you plan to pursue apologetics, even as a hobby on the Internet, we implore you, get very familiar with Christian theism as a unit, and not as a hodge podge of unrelated doctrines. We offer a reading list above that provides links to many free systematics that the contributors on the site have found helpful, check one of them out and spend some time in it and in scripture. If you’ve got questions, submit them on the site, or visit our chat channel, we’re very happy to point you to more resources.