Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Crampton cramps

With his permission, I’m posting an email from Dr. Michael Sudduth:


>First, Cornelius Van Til, who is often thought of as a staunch presuppositionalist (461), is not a >presuppositionalist. Why? Because he believes that there are proofs for the existence of God. As >cited by Dr. Bahnsen, Dr. Van Til writes: “I do not reject ‘the theistic proofs’ but merely insist on >formulating them in such a way as not to compromise the doctrines of Scripture…. There is a >natural theology that is legitimate” (613); and “When the proofs are thus formulated [i.e., on a >Christian basis] they have absolute probative force” (615). This is true, we are told, of the >“ontological proof,” the “cosmological proof,” and the “teleological proof” (621). Dr. Bahnsen, in >summarizing his teacher’s position, states: “Van Til did not sweepingly and indiscriminately discard >theistic proofs. He affirmed quite boldly that the argument for the existence of God, when properly >construed, is indeed objectively valid” (622).


This is the same argument Robbins presents in his lectures. Robbins brings this one up in at least two of the lectures in which he discusses presuppositionalism. As I think Steve and Aquascum pointed out, the criticism is entirely lame. Here's the better formulation. Clark was a presuppositionalist. Clark rejected theistic proofs. Therefore, presuppositionalism rejects theistic proofs. :-)

>Whereas “the traditional method proposes to show only that the truth of Christianity is ‘highly >probable,’” the presuppositional method intends to show that Christianity is “infallible and >certain” (545).

But of course this isn't the only alleged difference. Crampton fails to note that it is structurally an argument to the necessity of Christian theism to account for the conditions presupposed by the traditional proofs (e.g., causation, efficacy of human reasoning).

>Understandably, then, Dr. Bahnsen is openly critical of Gordon Clark, who denies the validity of the >theistic proofs altogether (671

Yes, and Clark also accuses the arguments of being circular. So given Clark's strict definition of validity, which is it? Are the arguments circular and thus necessarily valid? Or are they invalid and non-circular? I'll chew up Clark in my book and spit him out like an old piece of chewing gum.

>Dr. Clark, he writes, is a “dogmatist,” who believes that the Bible is to be our indemonstrable, >axiomatic starting point.

For what? The Bible was also Van Til's starting point. Crampton apparently ignores the ambiguity of "starting point."

>Amazingly, Dr. Bahnsen also criticizes Dr. Clark because, even though “Clark did endorse rational >discussion with the unbeliever and criticism of the unbeliever’s theory of knowledge, ethical stand, >etc.,…[Dr. Clark averred that] the only ‘reason’ (cause) for an unbeliever choosing the Bible over the >Koran is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit” (466n). Query: From a Reformed and Biblical >standpoint, what other “reason” or “cause” could there be?

Like I told you guys earlier, this is how scripturalists respond to the query, "so what reason do you have for accepting Scripturalism." They decide its best to equivocate on the word "reason." Pure intellectual high jinx.



  1. When will Dr. Sudduth's book be coming out?

  2. Steve,

    The book will hopefully be submitted to Cornell University Press in the fall.