Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview

presuppositions

It is the Bible alone that speaks of such a God. And the Bible speaks of his absolute authority. This God always speaks with authority. This God of the Bible, who speaks authoritatively through his Word, is the presupposition of the intelligibility of human experience. He is recognized in the Reformed Faith as the final reference point for all human predication. In this respect the Reformed Faith really stands squarely opposed to all forms of non-Christian thinking. Non-Christian thinking takes man as the final reference point in predication. It places man where the Reformed Faith recognizes God.

The two positions are therefore basically opposed to each other on all scores. The question is not simply as to which one is in accord with fact and logic. The question is rather in terms of which presupposition fact and logic have meaning at all. On which position is there any intelligible application of logic to fact at all? The question therefore concerns the philosophy of fact and the philosophy of logic. Any argument between them that does not go back to the question of presuppositions begs the question. The Christian position seeks to make human experience intelligible in terms of the presupposition of God; the non-Christian position seeks to make human experience intelligible in terms of man who is conceived of as ultimate. On this basic matter we have seen how the Roman Catholic tries to straddle the fence by trying to interpret part of human experience in terms of man and part in terms of God. And the Fundamentalistic position makes a similar attempt with the same fatal results. There is therefore no orthodox position except the Reformed Faith that is really able to challenge Dewey or Plato.

Van Til, C. (1979). Essays on Christian Education. The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, ch. 5.

The “great debate” today, as always, is between a-theism and theism, not just theism in general, but biblical theism. It is a finite version of the cosmic battle between God and Satan. And this is how the atheist will argue his case.

Biblical Theist: We cannot have a meaningful discussion until there is an agreement between us on two issues. In order to clarify the groundwork, here’s my question. On the principle(s) of atheism, What is truth, and how will you know that whatever answer is given is the correct answer?

Atheist: Atheism has no principles. It is just a disbelief in God or gods because there is insufficient evidence.

BT: So is that a principle of atheism that there must be sufficient evidence before I’ll believe in God?

A: Well, how do you answer the question?

If you follow the logic of the discussion, you will see that the original question is designed to push the atheist to the logic of his own conclusions. Great questions, and atheists cannot answer them on the principles of atheism. And because they cannot answer them, they have to find a way to avoid giving an answer. So they ask you a question.

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What a night! From 9:00 pm until midnight, a handful of Christians in the Queen Street Mall presenting the great truths of Christianity.

And there to meet with them, week after week, a group of “friends” from the opposite side of the theistic fence who have come to heckle and question and throw curve balls at the speaker. I say friends, because before the preaching again, those on both sides are shaking hands, greeting one another, a friendly “hello” before the battle begins.

And what a superb job the preacher does on this occasion. He challenges them with the Scriptures, and they respond, “it’s not true.” One was heard to say, “Well, if you believe the Bible why don’t you obey all its commands.” Ouch! Still another, “I can’t believe in a God who punishes people.”

The young preacher, knowing his presuppositional apologetics, replied along the lines, that you too have a god. “You just substitute the God of Scripture with some other god, yourself.” Which, of course is true, but once he said it, I knew he had a problem to overcome. And unfortunately he did not overcome it by the end of the night.

Meanwhile, Joel, my friend who invited me to the event, and I began a personal discussion with one of the antagonists. Eventually I had the chance to ask a question, “What are the preconditions necessary for rationalism and logic? Or, if we put that another way, what are the necessary preconditions in order to make a universal truth statement?”

Now I had to explain what a universal truth statement was, but eventually he got the idea. It’s an absolute truth, one that is true now and for all time, past and present — and future.

Well, he said, you need people to talk, and have the ability to communicate. I agreed. But eventually we got to the key issue. It is this: A universal truth statement requires certainty, absolute certainty. It cannot be a hypothesis. It cannot be a guess. It cannot be a ‘in my considered opinion.’ To be absolute it needs to be . . . well, absolute.

So I convince this young guy, about 30, a couple of kids, some kind of medical “scientist,” somewhat well-educated, to agree with me that a universal statement requires absolute certainty, and that means it requires all knowledge, omniscience. He’s sharp.

“Well, since no one knows everything, we cannot make universal truth statements.”

There was a short pause . . . “That was a universal truth statement, wasn’t it!”

 

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