Defending the Faith in an Age of Sameness (Part 2)
At the end of Part 1, we concluded with this question: How can we best defend the faith in this unbelieving age? RECOGNIZING THE PRESUPPOSITIONS OF OUR AGE Certainly there are many ways by which to approach the defense of the faith in our modern age. Yet I hold the opinion that the most effective apologists keenly consider the presuppositions at work in the hearts of their hearers. For those who are unfamiliar with the language of presuppositional apologetics, a moment is in order to clarify the terminology. By the term presupposition is meant simply a belief that precedes others (something that is assumed beforehand). Or to put it another way, a presupposition is an ultimate commitment or belief from which other beliefs are derived. For example, as Christians we presuppose the reality and nature of God. Our ultimate commitment to the nature and character of the biblical God gives birth to all our subsequent beliefs. We hold as our starting point the God who is there. God Himself, and His truth, is back of everything we believe.
THE POWER OF PRESUPPOSITIONS It is important to recognize the powerful role of these presuppositions in the heart of every person. We know from the Bible that the problem all people face is not only a need for information, but rather for a radical change of heart and mind. The fallen mind, left to itself, is riddled with all manner of false presuppositions that hold sway in matters of life, thought, and belief. Therefore, our unbelieving friends are not simply in need of more facts or evidences to finally convince them of the truth. Rather, they need what we needed: a complete undoing of their fallen way of thinking and a repentant shift toward God’s revealed and objective truth. We believe all men and women are made in the image of God. They have hearts and minds which search for meaning in this world. We believe the Fall has infected every faculty of body and soul with the corrupting effects of sin. Therefore, we believe all people need a remedy stronger than facts, talking points, and eloquent arguments. Instead, we believe God normally affects change by uprooting false beliefs and replacing them with truth.
THE SHELTER OF UNBELIEF The erroneous beliefs (false presuppositions) of fallen man serve as a kind of roof over the unbeliever’s head, keeping the real facts of the real world from beating upon him. These false ways of thinking must be dislodged and taken away in order for the truth to find a resting place in his heart. Most profoundly this is achieved by the sovereign and supernatural work of God to break the heart at enmity with Him, and then to regenerate the heart, granting the person the saving gifts of faith and repentance. This is nothing new to us! God is the one who saves. But what I often find is new to Christians is that He uses us as instrumental means of grace to bring others to faith in Christ. God chooses to work His sovereign grace as His people make wise us of the law and the gospel in their defense of the faith. As we reason from the powerful truth of Scripture, like dynamite in a rock quarry, our God is faithful to explode the unbeliever’s presuppositions. As wise Christians generously sow the rich and glorious presuppositions of the gospel, God is faithful to shower His elect with grace to believe. From Scripture and experience this seems to me the normal way God works to draw, convict, and comfort His people through the reasoned biblical defense of the faith. And so it is my belief that a winsome presuppositional method of apologetics is just what we need to follow.
Stay tuned for the next part of this blog series as we continue to build a consistent defense of the faith in this challenging era in history.
To learn more about defending the faith in our challenging era of history: Apologetics to the Glory of God by John Frame Reasons of the Heart: Recovering Christian Persuasion by William Edgar Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith by Greg Bahnsen and Robert Booth Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth By Richard Pratt "Presuppositional Reasoning with False Faiths" by Greg Bahnsen (article)