Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen. Quotes
This is a book by Gary De Mar that summarizes the presuppositional apologetic approach of Bahnsen. It’s a good introduction and overview of the apologetic task, and gives one a solid grounding on how to employ the apologetic technique. It also gives plenty of quotes from unbelievers showing the futility and irrationality of unbelief–no one can consistently live out an unbelieving worldview.
De Mar, in summarizing Bahnsen’s approach says that Bahnsen “called his students to “push the antithesis,” that is to force the unbeliever to live consistently with his rationalistic and materialistic presuppostions that underlie and seemingly support his worldview. It’s this push that exposes the in inherent faultlines in naturalistic worldviews that being with teh supposed sovereignty of the creature rather than the Creator, which is the essence of the antithesis.” (xv). “When pushed to be consistent with the operating assumptions of their worldview, naturalists soon learn that matter-only presuppositions don’t work and lead to nihilism.” (xvi)
“Depravity gives a distorted and destructive orientation to the sinner’s mental functions.” (28)
“A worldview is a network of presuppositions (which are not verified by the procedures of natural science) regarding reality (metaphysics), knowing (epistemology), and conduct (ethics) in terms of which every element of human experience is related and interpreted” (42-3)
“There is no way to account for reason in the non-Christian system.” (66)
“When engaging in worldview apologetics, an important feature of your challenge will be to demonstrate the internal contradictions in the unbeliever’s worldveiw. Consequently, presuppositional apologetics always engages in an “internal critique” of the unbeliever’s worldview to show its inherent, destructive self-contradiction…the unbelieving worldview is schizophrenic, and necessarily so: It has to presuppose the real world implications of the biblical worldview in order to rationally operate in life. But it denies the reality of the God, Who alone can account for those worldview presuppositions.” (88)
“The Christian worldview does not simply differ with the unbelieiving worldview at some points, but absolutely conflicts with it across the board on all points. The unbelievers’ “epistemology is informed by their ethical hostility to God,’ as Van Til said… Therefore, Presuppositional Apologetics requires that you recognize the antithesis between Christianity and all variations of the non-Christian worldview, whether religious or secular” (96).
“the unbeliever lives on borrowed capital; that is, he knows the truth deep down and even secretly assumes it, but he has no right to believe it on his own presuppositions–he must borrow from the Christian worldview.” (103)
“When arguing presuppositionally for the existence of God, you must press the antithesis between your own worldview and the unbeliever’s. You must show him that only on the basis of your Christian worldview can anyone make sense of reality, logic, and morality, and that the unbeliever himself must, therefore, operate on the principles of the Christian system even when he doesn’t realize it.” (104)
“It is your duty as a Christian apologist to show the unbeliever that even in his denying God he is actually presupposing him.” (105)
“The proper approach to apologetics is by means of worldview analysis. Consequently you must know the Scriptures.” (110)
The Two-Step Procedure: “Positively, you must present the truth and, negatively, you must warn of folly.” (142)
“you will be showing the unbeliever that on his own autonomous presuppositions he cannot justify reality, knowledge, logic, morality, value, meaning, purpose–or anything. You want to show him the outcome of his worldview when his principles are fully folowed out... You must show the unbeliever where his presuppositions lead: to epistemological futility.” (144-5)
“You are challenging the unbeliever in one form or another to answer the question as to which worldview makes human experience intelligible…What we shall have to do then is to try to reduce our opponent’s position to an absurdity. Nothing less will do. Without God, man is completely lost in every respect, epistemologically as well as morally and religiously…It is not a direct argument dealing with individual facts, but an indirect one dealing with the nature of facts.” (146)
What is good? “Good is that which reflects [God’s] own internal character and, therefore, is that which is revealed objectively to us in His Word, particularly in his Holy law.” (181).
“The laws of logic are not laws of thought, but presuppositions of (coherent) thinking” (202)
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