Apologetics to the Glory of God

Lutherans, and Muslims, and TAG! Oh My!

On yesterday’s Dividing Line (September 11, 2012) a caller (37 minute mark) asks Dr. White some questions about “apologetic frameworks.” You may find the program here – http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5229. As usual I recommend listening to the program in its entirety, but I want to mention two links related to the aforementioned discussion.

The first link is to a post where I tried to squeeze Martin Luther into a presuppositionalist framework. I don’t actually think he fits into that category, but it was worth a shot. You may find the post here –  https://choosinghats.org/2010/10/happy-reformation-day-from-choosing-hats-2.

The second is the article I believe Dr. White must have been referring to concerning “TAG” and Islam. You may find that one here – https://choosinghats.org/2010/10/tag-and-islam. Just to be clear, it is my opinion that Dr. White uses a fully consistent presuppositional approach in addressing Islam, and I have recommended his work on the topic a number of times. For example, make sure to check out the program in the link above to hear more about Dr. White’s newest book, What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an.

There are other presuppositional resources on their way from various apologists interacting with Islam from a number of different angles, but they will not be out for some time. It is undoubtedly an area which still requires a good bit of work, and I am thankful for those who have taken up the challenge of responding to it.

Hope this helps!

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7 responses to “Lutherans, and Muslims, and TAG! Oh My!”

  1. Paul Baird Avatar

    I think it would be useful to start examining the sociological reasons why people follow the faith paths that they do in your blog. You’ve gone as far as you can, it would seem, ploughing the furrow that you have.

    In terms of Islam, do you think that the views that you and Dr White espouse will turn a single Muslim away from their faith towards Christianity ? Personally I doubt it, although I do think that other arguments might work, albeit in both directions.

    I think that you both under-estaimate what Islam means to it’s adherents – and I’m no fan by the way.

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

      Sure, that’s a good suggestion. Sociological considerations should come to bear on these types of discussions, so maybe I’ll turn to writing about them in the future, but I can’t guarantee when that will be.

      There have been Muslims who turned from Islam to Christianity, and there have been some who have done so in virtue of argumentation akin to the type that Dr. White uses. The main philosophical arguments I use are probably much less practical or persuasive because they are generally abstract and difficult to understand. However, I have found Muslims interested in interacting with them, and so I would have hope that the arguments in question might become a means whereby such Muslims are converted to Christianity.

      But yes Islam means a great deal to its adherents. Many are willing to die for their faith. Naturally speaking, it’s impossible for any Muslim to turn to Christianity, and arguments won’t help. Yet with God, all things are possible.

  2. Svyatoslav Avatar

    I was listening to that dividing line and I wondered if you would respond somehow! Yaya!

  3. Dave Avatar

    I notice that the approach of James White and certain of his cohorts – like Nabeel Qureshi, for example – in addressing Islam focuses on historical and textual issues. On the other hand, other apologists take a more philosophical approach. The concept of the Trinity as a solution to the problem of the One and the Many tends to play an important role in the philosophically-oriented approach.

    Now, I will admit I don’t have a strong grasp of the argument that the Trinity is unavoidable as a solution to the problem of the One and the Many. I really don’t have the necessary background understanding of the problem to make an assessment.

    But I do wonder the implications of progressive revelation on the argument. Did Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses know that God was a Trinity? Was it necessary for them to presuppose that the great I AM is an ontological Trinity, wherein unity and diversity have equal ultimacy, in order to be rationally warranted in their beliefs? Even if we grant that there was SOME notion of plurality within the unity of God in the Old Testament, surely the full understanding of the Trinity – at least as much as is required to make the Van Tillian argument “work” – did not arrive till the coming of the New Covenant.

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


      You raise some great questions. Progressive revelation certainly comes into play in our apologetic arguments. Perhaps Adam did not have as strong of an apologetic as did Noah, Noah did not have as strong of an apologetic as Abraham, Abraham did not have as strong of one as Moses, and Moses did not have as strong of one as you or me. But then again, they did not have as strong of a theology either, because there were things God had not yet revealed to them that He has revealed to us. I suspect that apologists who are alive when Christ Jesus cracks the sky and consummates history will have an even stronger apologetic than we do now. Don’t you?

      I have heard extremely reputable Christian scholars, exegetes, theologians, and the like give completely opposite opinions about how much those in the OT knew about the Trinity. I will choose to keep my hat out of that ring for the time being. Let’s assume that the OT saints you mentioned did not know that God was a Trinity. Perhaps they were not even aware of his plurality. Was it nevertheless necessary for them to presuppose that the great I AM is an ontological Trinity, wherein unity and diversity have equal ultimacy, in order to be rationally warranted in their beliefs?

      Of course. But I think we should make distinctions between, for example, the possibility of God’s knowledge in virtue of His co-ultimate ontological unity and plurality on the one hand and our cognizance of that nature or fully articulated theological description of it on the other. That is, God knows things in virtue of His nature, which is, among other things, one and many, and reveals things to us upon that basis. God’s knowledge precedes our own.

      There are other thoughts to be had regarding this difficulty. For example, the distinction between internal and external warrant might be an important one to make at this juncture as well. What do you think?

  4. PDS Avatar

    Hi Chris,

    Can you explain what you mean by “presuppose” when you say it is “necessary for them to presuppose that the great I AM is an ontological Trinity…in order to be rationally warranted in their beliefs”. Some philosophers – in the past at least – used this term to state the metaphysical preconditions of knowledge, but you seem to be (correct me if I am wrong) using it as a synonym for knowledge.

    You go on to say that we should make distinctions between what I take you to mean God’s knowledge of the metaphysical preconditions of knowledge and our knowledge of God’s nature. You seem to suggest that our knowledge of God isn’t all that important in terms of being rationally warranted in our beliefs because God “reveals things to us”. Am I accurately expressing your view here?

    My question would be as follows: how can we talk about ‘presupposing’ anything if what we need to ‘presuppose’ is not static and can have a range of meanings. In fact, if I were standing next to Moses right now both of us would be rationally warranted in our beliefs even while we have different presuppositions.

    Lastly, can you explain what you mean by internal and external warrant?


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

      To “presuppose” something is, roughly, to assume it “in advance.” The ontological Trinity is a metaphysical precondition of knowledge. I am not sure why you think I am using “presuppose” as a synonym for knowledge.

      What God reveals to us is God, and that is crucial to our being rationally warranted in our beliefs.

      In your hypothetical, Moses and you do not have a different set of presuppositions. You both principally presuppose the Christian worldview, only Moses does not have as much revelation as you do, assuming you are talking about Moses as we know him in the Bible, and not Moses as he currently is in the presence of the Lord.

      So far as I know I am not using the categories of internal and external warrant in any non-traditional sense.

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