Sye’s target audience is “regular joes”. Folks, I’m a truck driver. I am a “regular Joe”. I’m also the one saying you can’t reduce things to the level he does, and that what Van Til taught, in accordance with the Scriptures, is much more than what Sye is teaching. I have spent a great deal of time explaining this method, the power of it, and the sheer exquisite beauty of it. I have demonstrated it, and all of the other contributors here demonstrate it on a regular basis. What Sye does, unfortunately, is shatter that stained glass window into shards, and use a particularly pointy one to stab his opponents with. Sure, it’s effective – if what you want to do is perforate people. That isn’t, however, what we are called to do.
You cannot reduce something complex to a rote, scripted affair. That script, furthermore, is not remotely useful when it is used to turn every encounter into a carbon copy of the last. That is what Jehovah’s Witnesses do, when they knock at your door. Anyone who has dealt with the Witnesses knows that the first order of business is to get off the script. This isn’t to say that Sye is comparable to a Jehovah’s Witness, but to illustrate what I mean about scripts. Their script is the real barrier to conversation, and to engagement of the actual issues in question. If you aren’t careful, you get so focused on the script that you miss the forest for those trees. The vast majority of the responses to Sye’s script from unbelievers, when you look through their rhetoric, are tips and tricks for escaping his script. The issues he was quite sincerely attempting to point out have been lost, almost entirely, in the resulting scuffle – due to the scripted, rote nature of this method. It is no better to reduce TAG to a formal, scripted affair than it is to use the scripts of the classical arguments. That is almost as big an issue with those arguments as their insistence on anthropocentrism is. I would further argue that the very same anthropocentrism, intentional or not, is the root cause of this reductionism. In an effort to “keep it simple,” he has actually complicated the issue by forcing those who follow it to contort every discussion into one about epistemology. This isn’t to argue that we shouldn’t bring that subject up when it is relevant, but there is a right and a wrong way – or time – to do so.
It is a problem when what he teaches results in an incomplete apologetic, and a stunted conversation. Your defense of the gospel cannot be of less than the Gospel. Our defense of Christianity must be of all of Christianity. We all have a secret desire for some sort of “silver bullet” that is easy, simple, and inexorable. Unfortunately, anything worth doing is worth working for. You can’t make every person a nail, just so you can always use your hammer. We are to both build and defend entire structures, with a wide array of tools and fasteners. To be truly “receptively reconstructive”, we need to both acknowledge the function of, and exercise the function of all the other tools and fasteners we are given in the toolbox. All facts are God’s facts. Not just the facts about epistemology. If I wanted to be popular, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’d be singing Sye’s praises like so many do. Or, I’d be writing stuff to show everyone how easy presup can be – instead of telling them that it is hard work, and takes a lot of effort. The same effort, in the same system, and for the same reasons, that exegesis, systematic theology, and comparative religion require. We study to show ourselves approved – and part of sanctification is growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
If I have one challenge for Sye, it is this: Stop doing what everyone else before you has already done, and graduated from. Atheism is the lowest hanging fruit there is. It is also the most-discussed topic in presuppositional literature. Advance the method. Don’t regress it, and most certainly don’t stagnate it. Make a contribution to the Reformation of apologetics, and do the hard work. Don’t settle for “reformed enough”. Don’t lead your followers into those stagnant waters, either. This has nothing to do with your “popularity.” It has everything to do with telling the truth, because others don’t seem to want to do so. What you teach is a simplistic reduction of presup. Please, don’t drag folks backwards, like a Schaeffer, or a Clark. Stop treating everyone you come into contact with as an epistemological nail. Answer systematically, and theologically. Stop trying to make things simple, and start teaching folks how to do hard things.
A personal admonition, from one brother to another: I appreciate your boldness, but boldness without self-control, self-awareness, accountability and studiousness never ends well. I’m self-taught, in many respects, as well. I was very blessed to be mentored by incredibly gifted and godly men – and was encouraged to remain accountable to others for what I say at all times. Here at CH, we have a board – and all members of that board are equals, and can call any of the others on the carpet. This post was moderated, by me, specifically so that the other contributors could view it, give me feedback, and ensure I wasn’t going off the deep end. All of the contributors here watch what I say on facebook, and elsewhere – and I make a point of pointing out any exchanges I have with anyone to them. I do the same for them. That way, I have others to keep tabs on my behavior – for my safety, and for Christ’s reputation. You seem to be a loose cannon – and you truly require, for your own good, and for the good of Christ’s cause, others to keep you accountable. I am saying this not because I “envy” you, as you implied last evening, but because I want to help you, and I want to help those whom I want to serve. That is something you absolutely must enter into, and without delay. Those who fall, due to indiscretion of speech or behavior, are legion in the history of the church. You are perilously close to such a fate, and solely by means of your own lack of self-control, and your failure to have others watching over you, with you accountable to them. You are a teacher in the church, You are thus held to a higher standard. So am I. As such, I have a special need of others to watch over me, and I for them. You, sir, have failed to meet that standard in your personal conduct, in your teaching, and in your example. This cannot continue, and we both know it. I am seeking to act the part of a Biblical friend. Repent of it, seek redress for it and get others to hold you accountable. Find godly mentors who can teach you more than you know. I don’t need anything from you, or want anything from you, or want anything you have. I want you to grow, and to keep your feet from slipping. Think back on your interactions with those you disagree with; ask yourself whether you were being Christlike, and whether the influence and accountability of others could have reined you in. If you do have others to whom you are accountable, you truly need to select persons who are more willing to correct, and will not relent. You are out of control, brother. Repent, and change your direction. All I want is for you to change, before you are humbled, to the detriment of all those who name His name.