Evidentialism vs. Presuppositionalism
The Critical Issue of Self-Deception

A necessary component of a comprehensive Christian worldview is apologetics. Apologetics is by and large philosophical and, therefore, can be frustrating at times. Be that as it may, it cannot be ignored for people act according to the way they think, whether they realize it or not. Accordingly, a sound system of defending the Christian faith must be worked out philosophically before it can be implemented practically.

It is important to make a distinction between apologetics and evangelism while acknowledging that there is some crossover between the two disciplines. Evangelism primarily deals with the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the vehicle by which faith comes alive within an individual and salvation by grace is transmitted. Apologetics primarily deals with defending the Christian view of reality and knowledge as the one and only valid way of knowing truth.

In an evangelistic situation, some apologetical information may be necessary during the proclamation of the gospel. In many situations, however, there is little or none required.

In an apologetical situation, while the gospel should be laid out before the audience if at all possible, the issue is not if one should believe or not but to assert and prove that the Christian system of belief and knowledge is preeminent of all others AND therefore should be adopted in practice even in spite of a prevailing societal rebellion against such a system.

Accordingly, apologetics IS NOT simply a tool of evangelism - nor is evangelism a tool of apologetics. Each is a discipline of their own.

This is important to remember when studying the differing methods of apologetics. And thus we come to the crux of this study: Apologetic Methodologies.

There are two basic apologetical methodologies: Evidentialism and Presuppositionalism. Both camps are represented by very smart and credible theologians and their followers are very adamant and passionate towards their view.

Evidentialism is represented by the likes of John W. Montgomery, Norman Geisler, John Gerstner and R. C. Sproul. No small cloud of witness at all.

Presuppositionalism is represented by Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, RJ Rushdoony, Gary North, and the host of Chalcedon scholars. Likewise, a formable group.

There are far more written essays and books positing one position against the other than one can reasonably sort through. Yet, it is an exercise that one must work through if one is to have a complete Christian worldview. Not that you have to analyze every paper out there, but you should be searching for the best of the best and working through those.

However, as a proponent of presuppositionalism, I believe that there is one concept that must be understood before you can even begin to grasp the tenants of presuppositionalism whether you are arguing for or against the method: Self-deception.

Accordingly, I highly recommend Greg Bahnsen's essay,The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics as a pre-requisite study in presuppositionalism.

One of the great talents of Dr. Bahnsen was his ability to take the difficult and often abstract ideas of Dr. Van Til, explain it, and draw some application to the idea. This essay isn't light reading, but it's digestible if you stay with it and I think you will find the ideas presented very intriguing.



Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01