Notes from Greg Bahnsen’s lecture, Seminary Apologetics: The Greatness of Divine Wisdom.
Apologetics must be exercised upon the infallible authority of the words of Christ in Scripture. The Christian must not take a neutral respect with his faith to win unbelievers. A Christian apologetic must be developed according to the wisdom of Christ.
A presuppositional apologetic is the only truly faithful method of defending the faith. The other schools of thought in many cases are not really living up to their non-presuppositional method. They are actually more presuppositional than they recognize. Evidentialists claim that we must set aside our pre-commitments and challenge the unbeliever that if you reason about the evidences properly you will come to the truth. Why is it that those who teach those approach leave the debate remaining Christians? This suggests that they haven’t really set aside their Christian commitments. You would expect that if they really did set aside their Christian commitments just to argue neutrally, when an unbeliever has a better argument the Christian would become a non-Christian. You actually do interpret the evidences in a Christian manner and hope that the unbeliever will as well to lead to your conclusion that Christianity is true.
Everybody grants some of their beliefs a privileged status, and a Christian should let God’s Word govern those beliefs. God’s Word requires no corroboration and it carries its own evidence inherently. If our apologetic is to be distinctly Christian, it must be presuppositional in character and method. Non-presuppositional apologetics says we should not be distinctly Christian at the beginning of our method but only in our conclusion. They say we should start with the world and its way of thinking and end with God and his way of thinking. If non-Christian thinking is true to its own starting point, standards and method, where is nothing Christian thinking going to end up? With non-Christian conclusions.
Natural theology and the traditional proofs of God’s existence want to move from logical and empirical grounds to God. The natural theologians who do this want to exclude the revelational principle. This principle says that only God is adequate to define and disclose himself. Natural theology says that we can come to know God by way of unaided reason without God condescending to show himself. The exclusion of the revelational principle means that there is an endorsement of apostate philosophy of some sort. The knowledge of God must be rooted in his self-disclose. God’s revelation in nature and man’s constitution is suppressed in unrighteousness. Faith must start with the clear, authoritative, self-attesting, special revelation of God in Scripture, which is coordinated with the Holy Spirit’s testimony to the regenerated heart. Many people think that people don’t believe in an argument for Scripture’s holy authority but only believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. But what we actually believe is that there is a coordination between God’s own testimony of himself in Scripture (self-attestation) and the inward work of the Holy Spirit. These are not the same thing. We believe that God’s self-attestation and the argument that displays and applies that self-attestation is adequate proof of God’s Word regardless of whether people believe it or not. There is a difference between proof and persuasion. Proof goes on the self-attesting side and persuasion goes on the Holy Spirit’s working in the heart side. If the Holy Spirit does not illumine the unbeliever’s mind, they will not accept the proof, but acceptance of the proof is not the standard of whether the proof proves the point. The Bible offers an adequate proof of its own authority, which is tied up with the self-attestation of God. This is objective and has nothing to do with response. The Holy Spirit’s work has everything to do with whether that proof will become persuasive.