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Biblical Apologetic Methodology by Dr. Myron Houghton (conclusion)

A final passage and then Dr. Myron concludes:

(6) 2 Corinthians 4:3–6.  In these verses there is both a problem and a solution. (a) The problem is that the gospel is hidden to those who are perishing (v. 3).  No doubt Paul has in mind the Judaizers against whom he writes in chapter 3. (“Hidden” in 4:3 is a verbal form of the same word used in 3:15 and 16 translated “veil”; thus, NKJV translates “hidden” as “veiled” in 4:3.) The gospel is hidden from these people for two reasons: the god of this age (the devil) has blinded their minds, and they themselves are characterized as unbelieving (v. 4). (b) The solution to this problem requires both human and divine activity: the human activity required is our preaching of Christ Jesus the Lord (v. 5) while the divine activity required is God’s creative command to cause the light to shine in the hearts of the unbelievers (v. 6).

CONCLUSION

In his article “Paradigm Shifting and the Apologetics Debate,” Robert M. Price is critical of both the evidentialist and the presuppositionalist apologetic. He criticizes the evidentialist view in the following manner: “Acquaintance with the literature of evidentialist apologetics makes it clear that their religious faith is more certain than is allowed by their common-ground approach with its inherent provisionality. . . . Along the same lines, it is clear from a reading of much evidentialist literature that facts have been amassed to buttress beliefs already held on other grounds, and by willpower. A subtle shifting of ground occurs. The apologist’s faith causes him to deem ‘best’ the reading of the data most in accord with his beliefs, even if it must be harmonized. But he proceeds to offer this reading to the non-believer as if it were the best reading of the facts in and of themselves [the author’s emphasis]. . . . The upshot of all this is that the evidentialist apologetic with its common ground approach finally backfires. A really inductive approach to this-worldly evidence can lead one only to this-worldly (i.e., non-revealed) religion.” [1. Robert M. Price, “Paradigm Shifting and the Apologetics Debate,” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (June 1980) pp. 121, 122.]

Price is also critical of the presuppositionalist apologetic. In his article he says, “The presuppositionalist apologetic is consistent but not at all compelling, since the immunity from doubt that it wins for those inside the circle of faith simultaneously cancels its attraction to those outside. It can look neither more or less plausible since there is no standard with which it may be compared. And the same approach is amenable to every sect.” [2. ibid., p. 122.]

I believe Price’s criticism of the presuppositional apologetic method can be answered. First of all, false religious groups may ask a prospective convert to accept its teaching in blind faith. However, that is not what presuppositionalist Christian apologists are asking their listeners to do. When the gospel is clearly presented, if God’s Spirit does not produce conviction of sin and faith in Christ by means of the self-authenticating word of God, then the listener is under no obligation to respond favorably to the gospel message. Second, the gospel’s “attraction to those outside” is cancelled only if God’s Spirit does not move in a listener’s heart, and that is not a problem for the apologist! Third and finally, a truly consistent Christian faith does not permit anything to be an authority over the Bible. This is not circular reasoning because proof for the Bible’s divine authority comes, not from its own claims but from its own self-authenticating power as God’s Spirit moves in the hearer’s heart.  Nor is this mysticism because this subjective working of God’s Spirit is connected to the objective message of the gospel as it is found in God’s Word.

Thanks to Dr. Myron for providing the paper. What questions do you have as you finish this?

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