Presuppositional Apologetics and Other World Religions

“Q: …It seems like you need to demonstrate the impossibility of the contrary before allowing number one, the premise and truth of our worldview, and number two, to stipulate from within our worldview that conflicting positions are incorrect. So I’m wondering how you would breakdown, you know, maybe followers of the Koran, or Book of Mormon would also….

GB: Let me just say before I answer that, you’re exactly right. That’s what it comes down to. I know many people don’t like it, but that is what the Bible does. The Bible says, this does provide—you submit to God, and you…what I’m saying, and by the way that submission means you have to submit exclusively to Him—He’s the only one who can provide that for you. Just like Jesus is the only One to provide salvation. If I were to give you a soteriological analogy to this epistemological problem we’re talking about, I know that as a lover of the Lord, you’d have no problem with this. So [______514_____] would say, “Oh, well, yeah, I see how Jesus could be the Savior; in fact, I think He is the Savior, but maybe there are others, too. Maybe the bodhisattvas have something to offer.” We’d say, “No. You have to understand, if He’s your Savior He saves you exclusively. You mustn’t go to the bodhisattva, you must not do, you know, the yoga in a religious sense, and so forth.” That’s all I’m saying epistemologically.

Now you want to know how do you answer then other worldview that make formally similar claims. And…is it all right…can I give a commercial for Mr. Frame…is it all right to tell people…I’ve got lots of tapes and courses of study on that that you can get from the Study Center and the Tape Ministry, that I want to encourage you to get—I’m mainly doing this not because I want to sell them, but because I have to be so brief and I’m sure you’ll want more than I can offer now. What I tell people to do when I teach apologetics is treat these other religions in the very same way you treat philosophical roles—be it Plato, or Sartre, or whatever. Because they come and they have a certain view of reality, they have a certain view of the theory of knowledge, certain view of ethics—and you can do an internal critique of them as well. In the case of the Moslems, Moslem theology excludes the possibility that the Koran could be what it claims to be. Because according to Moslem theology, the law is not affected by any change, and nothing in this world can reflect the unchanging [miracle] of the law. Well if nothing in this world is adequate to do this, then of course human language can’t do that, and it turns out the Koran cannot be what it claims to be. So you can do an internal critique—I’m being very quick about this.

I think you can also—by the way this is what I think is one of the real glories of what Mr. Frame does in his book, and in his syllabus before in teaching that I got from him many years ago, too—is that we have to remember that, uh, the alleged competitors to the Christian worldview are either just versions, straight-out versions of the pagan impersonalism that we deal with with the materialist, and so forth; or they come out to be “aping” Christianity. And that you can, in all the cases that I’m aware of, you can treat all those other worldviews as Christian heresies. How do I argue with a heretic. Well I usually go to the Bible. Since he claims divine revelation is found in the Bible, then I try to use the Bible to show that he’s wrong. And I think that’s the shortcut to that. Now somebody says, “Oh, but wait a minute. The Moslems have the Koran, they don’t have the Bible.” When people say that they only point out they’ve never read the Koran. You obviously would be much better at apologetics with people who believe the Koran if you’ve read their book. Don’t we say that to unbelievers? We say, you’d be in a much better position to decide about the Bible if you’ve read it. So please read it and we’ll discuss this. Anyway, if you’ve read the Koran you know that Mohammed—this was a strategic error, to be sure—but Mohammed repeatedly said that the Jews and the Christians were people of the book. He said that Allah had previously revealed himself in the law of Moses, the Psalms of David, in the gospel of Jesus. And so when I deal with a Moslem who wants to get down—and many times people don’t really want to argue, they just want to chant, you know, their submission to Allah, and condemn you—but if you have somebody who really wanted to study it, I’d go to the Koran and say, “Now according to your own commitments you believe Allah first revealed himself in this book that I follow, right.” The person would say, “Yes.” “And by the way, in the law of Moses, standards for future prophets are given.” And then you just show all the contradictions, and I think you can flesh out the apologetic from that point.

It’s real important that we argue that Christianity is in a league of its own. That there’s a sense in which the Christian religion offers a worldview that no other religion, no other philosophy offers. And from that standpoint we can more persuasively make the point that it’s Christianity or nothing. What else.”

(Bahnsen, Answering Frame’s Critique of Van Til)

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