One of the largest contributing factors to the recent rise of covenantal apologetics is, oddly enough, the response of its anti-Christian critics.
Just in the last year or two, podcast after atheistic podcast has trumpeted everything from mere disdain for to the utter defeat of presuppositional apologetics. Podcasts that come to mind are Fundamentally Flawed, Skepticule Record, and Reasonable Doubts. There are others. Militant atheists are also mouthy atheists. On the one hand, they want to dismissively scoff at covenantal apologetics, making up some of the worst puns on “presuppositionalism” you have ever heard. On the other hand, they want to make a great show of how cleverly dismissive they are of the aforementioned method. Unfortunately, that approach backfires, for their listeners become more quickly inclined to not only learn of the existence of presuppositional apologetics, but to begin to study it for hours on end, interacting with proponents of the method and returning to their podcast hosts when they get stumped. Meanwhile, those who adhere to a covenantal approach to apologetic method learn it more thoroughly as they think through how to answer their atheistic opponents. Assuming, of course, that there is something to answer. Oftentimes childish name calling constitutes the entirety of the atheists’ “argument” against covenantal apologetics.
Not all anti-apologetics podcasts are so poor. Goodness Over God is one podcast that has had a number of guests on who subscribe to a covenantal method of apologetics. Those guests have been treated fairly and respectfully, no matter how much the hosts of the podcast disagreed with them. Still, such exchanges have only served to spread the popularity of covenantal apologetics, whether those who would not otherwise have heard of it greet the method with loving acceptance or snide hatred.
Podcasts are not the only means that those non-Christians who are critical of covenantal apologetics have used to attack the method and its adherents. The number of blog posts and comments devoted to the subject in the places I routinely visit are simply overwhelming. One blogger has written lengthy diatribes exclusively against presuppositional apologetics for over seven years. Others have routinely mentioned that “this post” would be their “last” on the topic of covenantal apologetics, only to write three more the next day. In short, enemies of covenantal apologetics, more specifically enemies of the faith, and atheists in particular have made no real effort to hide their absolute obsession with covenantal apologetics. Unbelievers and Christians alike have taken note of this recent trend.
Some reputable atheistic scholars have even attempted to take on the task of refuting covenantal apologetic methodology and argumentation. Notable examples include Gene Witmer, Keith Parsons, Theodore Drange and especially Michael Martin. The most popular objections to covenantal apologetic arguments stem primarily from these men. Martin is the author of the infamous “Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God” or “TANG,” which is a simplistic repackaging of the so-called Euthyphro Dilemma and an atheist favorite.
The work of Mitch LeBlanc at the now defunct Urban Philosophy blog deserves a mention here, for he, even more than most other atheist bloggers, devoted a good portion of his time and effort attempting to unravel the intricacies of covenantal apologetic thought. Borrowing heavily from traditional philosophical objections to various tenets in theology proper, as well as from the philosophers mentioned in the paragraph above, LeBlanc sought to clearly formulate what he saw as the best objections to covenantal apologetics and the Transcendental Argument for God in particular. His influence is still felt amongst atheists who are encountering this method of apologetics for the first time.
Whether the anti-covenantal apologetic Catch-22 helps or hurts the non-Christian cause is anyone’s guess, but it has undeniably contributed to general recognition and/or knowledge of the covenantal method of apologetics.
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