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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 14, 2011

William Lane Craig, R. C. Sproul, Sr., and Evidentialism

Someone messaged me in FaceBook with the following question.  You can read my response below.

       B.: Hey man, what do you think about William Lane Craig. He argues that objective moralism can not exist without the existence of God.


    Charlie J. Ray

        That's the moral argument for God's existence, B. My own apologetics is not evidentialist. That's William Lane Craig's approach. Craig is an Arminian [Molinist], which presents problems in and of itself. A Reformed man who is an evidentialist is R.C. Sproul, Sr.  Sproul follows the classical arguments for the existence of God: 1) The ontological argument. We can conceive of no higher being than God so we could not even conceive such a being unless He actually exists. 2) The cosmological argument. Everything has a cause. Tracing the chain of cause and effect back to the beginning of time God is the first cause of the universe and all that exists. 3) The teleological argument. The universe and all the creatures in it are so complex that they must have been designed by an intelligent designer. That designer is God.  (See Classical Apologetics,).

        The moral argument is a variation on the ontological argument since it insists that there is a higher being who is the very highest moral being we could conceive. Therefore if we can conceive of these high moral standards, God must exist.

        The other major approach in apologetics is the distinction between presuppositionalism and evidentialism. Cornelius Van Til was the most prominent Reformed theologian who advocated presuppositional apologetics. The problem with Van Til is that he begins with reason, as do the evidentialists, rather than Scripture. Van Til also makes the Creator/creature distinction so absolute that Scripture itself is not God's actual words but rather an analogy of God's thoughts. This comes dangerously close to the neo-orthodox view that the Bible is not God's Word but only "contains" God's Word. R. C. Sproul, Sr., would take the same evidentialist approach as Craig. They use reason to try to persuade people to believe in God and go from there to Christian doctrine like Scripture.

        I am a presuppositionalist. I reject both Van Til's presuppositionalism and Sproul's evidentialism. I follow the apologetics of Gordon H. Clark. Clark's most famous student was Carl F. H. Henry, one of the leading Evangelical theologians of the 20th century. Henry was also a Calvinist. Anyway, Clark called his presuppositionalism Scripturalism. Clark said the only way we can know God is through Holy Scripture, which is God's divine revelation from God to man. The Bible is presupposed to be God's revelation. There is no amount of reason or evidence that could prove this to an unbeliever. The Christian can and does believe the evidences and the reasons for faith. But this is not the beginning point. Anselm said, "Faith seeks understanding." In other words a person has to believe before he or she will accept the evidences for God's existence. The three classical arguments for God's existence (Aquinas) cannot win anyone over who has not already come to a position of faith. The same can be said of Van Til's presuppositional view that begins with God's existence and the trinity and then proceeds to Scripture.

        Clark realized that Scripture is the beginning point because the Scriptures tell us everything we need to know to be saved (2 Timothy 3:15). If they will not believe Moses and the prophets they will not believe even if someone were raised from the dead (Luke 16:28-31). It is through the preaching of the moral law that the elect are convicted of their depravity and their position before God as miserable sinners (Romans 3:20; 7:7; Galatians 3:23-26). It is only through the preaching of the Gospel that elect persons are converted and irresistibly drawn to saving faith (Romans 10:8-11, 14-17; John 6:37-39, 44, 65). Regeneration or the new birth is an act of God on the unbelieving and unconverted elect person. Only after regeneration will they have faith since faith itself is a gift of God (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:8-9). Election precedes the creation of the world and election is particular, not general (Ephesians 1:4, 11; Romans 9:11-13, 17-18).

        Also, for Clark and his student, Carl Henry, Scripture is not merely an analogy of God's Word. Scripture is the very words and thoughts of God given to us on a human level. For example for both God and man 2 + 2 = 4. God understands this on our level just as we understand God's same thoughts on this mathematical truth claim. When we read Scripture we are thinking God's words and thoughts after Him. Scripture is given in logical form which can be understood by even unbelievers even if they refuse to believe it. Scripture makes propositional truth claims that must be assented to and believed for salvation. Christ died for the sins of His elect is a truth claim. It is either true or it is false. It's called the law of non-contradiction. A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time. So if the Bible proclaims that God is one God and three persons (Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 28:19), [we are obligated to believe that truth claim].

        Van Til's error was in confusing the incomprehensibility of God with God's divine revelation to man in Scripture. The two are not the same at all. The verbal plenary view of inspiration presupposes that every word of God in Scripture is fully and completely inspired, not just the parts or concepts with which we agree. There are no contradictions or paradoxes in God's Word. If Scripture were contradictory it would undermine our faith in a God who is absolutely perfect and non-contradictory.

        Sola Scriptura!

        Charlie

(See also:  The Trinity Foundation and the God's Hammer blog).


--
Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

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