What is the best way to explain the existence of God to a non-Christian? Is there one "best" way? The philosophical rubble from Kant's Pyrrhic victory over Aquinas has left Christians split over how apologetics should proceed. In this lecture, R.C. discusses the various options and identifies himself as a classical apologeticist.
1. To demonstrate the impact of Kantianism on modern apologetics.
2. To discuss the differences between evidentialist, classical, and presuppositional apologetics.
3. To demonstrate that logically, one must start with oneself in the quest to understand God's existence.
QUOTATIONS & THOUGHTS
God is more truly imagined than expressed, and He exists more truly than is imagined.
We trust not because "a" god exists, but because "this" God exists. (C.S. Lewis)
Men and women who refuse to acknowledge God's existence do so, in the final analysis, because it is contrary to their manner of living. (R.C. Sproul)
I. The results of Kant's critique of the arguments for the existence of God were:
a. The church was confused.
b. Individuals were fideistic.
c. Illustration: Is there anyone else up there who can help me?
d. "I believe Christianity because it is absurd."
e. Empirical appeals to history and moral certitude (evidentialists). Note:
R.C. is not an evidentialist, but is classical. This view holds that there is not merely a high degree of likelihood that God exists, but compelling proof.
II. Presuppositionalism: Another Reformed view of apologetics
a) The book Classical Apologetics contains a critique of this viewpoint
b) Dr. Cornelius VanTil, who taught at Westminster Theological Seminary, was native Dutch, and this is one reason why there are so many interpretations of his work.
c) Presuppositionalism: In order to arrive at the conclusion that God exists, one must start with the premise that God exists. Without a foundation for reason, there can be no reason.
i. Objection: This is a classic fallacy of circular reasoning. The conclusion appears in the premise.
ii. Response: All reasoning moves in a circular fashion. Its start, middle and end relate to each other in a sense.
iii. Objection: This is the fallacy of equivocation. Circular reasoning has been redefined in midstream.
iv. Response: Greg Bahsen clarifies by saying that VanTil was saying that to assume rationality is in fact irrational without God's existence. You must assume the ground of reasoning before you affirm reason itself.
v. Second main objection: Nobody starts with God unless you are God.
Self-consciousness is where we start, not God-awareness.
vi. Response: You are capitulating to secular ideas, specifically Enlightenment ideas.
vii. Objection: This is not a deification of self, but self-consciousness.
Augustine said that as soon as one knows that one exists, then you can know that you are not God. This ends in humility, not autonomy.
viii. Presuppositionalists and classicists think the other is giving too much away to the world. Both agree that the construction of the idea of God is critical to the Christian life.
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