Why I Changed from Classical to Presuppositional Apologetics

Let me begin by saying there are some excellent classical apologists out there (like R.C. Sproul). I appreciate their work and what they do, but I respectfully disagree with their approach to apologetics.

My first interaction with classical apologetics was in 7th grade. My parents gave me Volumes 1-3 of “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. I read all of it cover to cover. It is thicker than any Bible I’ve ever owned. It was incredible to see how the things God made in his world (Science, Philosophy, History, etc.) reflected the Truth found in Scripture.

I interacted with it again at Summit Ministries in Summer 2012. Josh McDowell’s son Sean spoke to us, with the majority of time spent with him pretending to be an atheist and taking questions from all over the classroom. I don’t think it was a fair debate. Instead of being one-on-one, no one got to follow their objection to its conclusion.

In my junior year of college, I went to Texas Tech and interacted with it yet again. First our group was called “Ratio Christi” which basically means “the reason for Christ.” Then we had a group split off called “Evidence-Based Christianity.” This was where things started going downhill. I was very involved in the group, but found that we strayed further and further from the belief that the Bible was the Word of God. I had encouraged having a Statement of Faith upon the beginning of EBC, but since every aspect of “truth” was based on “evidence,” we couldn’t have one, and if we did, it would always be subject to revision upon the discovery of new “evidence.”

I put “truth” and “evidence” in quotes here because these terms weren’t defined. There was no absolute Truth. It was always subject to revision. There was no certainty, no sure hope. These things were rejected by the idea that our reason was king, the ultimate judge of truth. We couldn’t be certain of anything. Science, history, and philosophy were examined “objectively” (based on our own reason) and the Truth of the Bible was put on trial. Jesus was already placed on trial once and condemned in our places. Why would we ever think it’s okay to put the living Jesus, the Word, back on trial?

And what if the “evidence” others examined “objectively” (based on their own reason) pointed in a different direction? There were already plans in the works for “Evidence-Based Skepticism (or Atheism; I can’t remember)” and “Evidence-Based Islam.” One of our co-presidents didn’t even profess his faith on his blog or in his TEDx talk. He thought everyone should follow the “evidence” wherever it led.

Eventually, the leaders of our group started chopping off Genesis from the Bible. First theistic evolutionism took the place of creationism because it was scientifically backed (by their reason). Then the separate creation of man went out the window, followed by the ages of the people recorded in Genesis, followed by even a local flood.

The other co-president said that Jesus did in fact abolish the law even though Jesus said himself he had come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. One group member in a leadership role became a “Christian” universalist and believed the Biblical role of women was not inspired because he saw fit to judge the Bible by his own reason without seeking counsel or reading books from spiritual leaders.

Finally, the group leaders succumbed to the inevitable conclusion of denying the inerrancy of Scripture by their own reason. Since they had already chopped out pieces of the Bible, this should not have come as a surprise for me.

One day, an atheist philosophy professor spoke to us. He was raised in a conservative Christian home. He was taught that the Bible was True. But when he started hearing opposing worldviews, he came to a conclusion which I thought was good. The crown jewel of classical apologetics was the resurrection, which the group correctly believed, if false would render the Bible as worthless. But the atheist professor said, “If any part of the Bible was false, wouldn’t that render the whole thing false?” It occurred to me that what the leaders of our group were doing was something very dangerous that was a bad witness: cherry-picking.

The next year, I offered to be a co-president to the quickly dying group, but thankfully, no one else had time to be a co-president, so the group ended.

I had run into presuppositional apologetics a few times. I was taught some about it in our high school Sunday School class and again as an adult at the same church. I disagreed because classical apologetics was what I was used to, but saw it as a respectable form of apologetics.

Eventually, what had happened sunk in. As I realized the basis for classical apologetics was our reason being king, I knew I could not stick to it. My reason had proven faulty many times in my life. And as I got to know my now-fiancé and saw his devotion to believing what Scripture said, I realized more and more how important it was to have what I knew to be True to be the basis of my evangelism.

I already believed that the Bible was inerrant and that God was the essence of Truth. Presuppositionalism drew out the obvious conclusion of those things by having the Truth of God’s Word as its base. As I’ve learned more about it, Presuppositionalism has made more and more sense. God’s Word is True. I believe that because God saved me. I was not saved by my own reason. Presuppositionalism points out that other people’s beliefs only make sense if the Bible is True.

It is so reassuring having Scripture as the basis of Truth instead of my own, flawed reasoning. As hard as I might try, I can never be objective. If Something is True, I cannot and should not cast it aside for my own reason to judge it. I thank God that I am now a Presuppositionalist.

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