Friday, February 27, 2009

"A twinge of irony"

“You might remember that a few days ago I linked to Steve Hays’ post in which he mocked Perry Robinson’s post about Reformed anthropology being Pelagian in its core. I concluded that post saying: “Of course the substance of Perry’s post wasn’t addressed, but then again I don’t know if Hays is up to such a task (I honestly don’t know since I know next to nothing about the man).” Apparently Mr. Hays is up to the task because he has responded to the substance of Perry’s post today. This bit from the beginning of Steve’s post stood out”:

I was making a point about Robinson’s apologetic method. So often he uses the following tactic to “disprove” Calvinism:
i) Compare and contrast Reformed theology with Orthodox theology.
ii) Arrive at the conclusion that Reformed theology is different than Orthodox theology.
iii) Case closed!
Of course, that begs the question of why Orthodox theology should supply the standard of comparison. He almost never tries to prove his theological criterion. He takes that as a given. And the few times I’ve seen him try to prove his theological criterion, he did so in a way that took for granted his Orthodox ecclesiology. I have yet to see him offer a defense of his theological criterion that doesn’t assume what he needs to prove. And most of the time he doesn’t even try.

“Sounds remarkably like Perry employs a presuppositional apologetic! I might be wrong about this (please correct me if I am), but I think I read once upon a time that Steve Hays was a presuppositionalist (or maybe it was Paul Manata, they both write for Triablogue). If this is the case then the above statement has more than a twinge of irony. In any event, give it a read as I’m sure it will exercise your mind.”

It’s obvious that Nick hasn’t done any direct reading on Van Tilian apologetics (e.g. Frame, Byron, Bahnsen, Anderson).

He appears to be inferring the nature of presuppositionalism from the word “presuppose.” So he seems to think a presuppositional apologist simply takes his own position for granted. Needless to say, that’s a caricature of Van Tilian apologetics.

i) It would be more accurate to say that, according to Van Tilian apologetics, the unbeliever is taking certain truths for granted that only make sense within a Christian worldview. The unbeliever is a closet presuppositionalist. And the job of a Van Tilian apologist is to make the unbeliever aware of his tacit, theistic presuppositions.

ii) And a Van Tilian apologist doesn’t simply take his own position for granted, and leave it at that. On the one hand he tries to disprove the unbeliever’s worldview by exposing its residual and irreducible commitment to certain theistic truths.

On the other hand, he tries to prove his own position by process of elimination.

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