Monday, April 27, 2015

Edward John Carnell

1 comment:

  1. Carnell was misunderstood, underappreciated, and unworthily stigmatized. His humanity is what makes him a Christian example in my eyes.

    He's known for having formulated an abductive form of presuppositionalism which some have labeled Systematic Consistency [or Coherency]. Like George Eldon Ladd, he lived during a time when few would accept him because he was too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals. Carnell suffered from depression and insomnia and he took barbiturates (by doctor's prescription?) to help him sleep. He was found dead (in a hotel, if I recall) from an overdose of barbiturates. The coroner wasn't able to determine whether it was an accidental overdose or whether Carnell committed suicide. Having browsed through Rudolph Nelson's biography years ago, I personally suspect Carnell's death was accidental. And even though many Christians would think Carnell didn't "finish well", I still think he was a genuine Christian who made lasting contributions to the advancement of Christ's Kingdom and who's now in heaven enjoying his reward.

    BTW, the other major forms of presuppositionalism are 1. the authoritarian Revelational Presuppositionalism of Cornelius Van Til; 2. the Axiomatic (or Dogmatic, or Rational or Deductive) Presuppositionalism of Gordon H. Clark; 3. the Practical Presuppositionalism of Francis Schaeffer ; 4. Ronald H. Nash's Abductive Presuppositionalism. Nash thought he was following in the footsteps of Carnell and Schaeffer and that their apologetic methods were also abductive. IMO Carnell made many useful contributions to apologetics, even though I agree with Van Til's criticism of Carnell's method (cf. Van Til's book The Case for Calvinism, and Van Til's festschrift Jerusalem and Athens).