What is Presuppositional Apologetics?


What is Presuppositional Apologetics? Are there any other apologetic methods?


Apologetics is a field of study concerned with the defense of Christianity. The term "apologetic" comes from the Greek word apologia, which means "in defense of." Therefore a person involved in Christian or Bible Apologetics is a defender of Christianity.

There are different apologetic methods. Among the most used are the: (1) Classic method (adherent, William Lane Craig), (2) Evidential method (adherent, Gary R. Habermas), (3) Cumulative Case method (adherent, Paul D. Feinberg), (4) Reformed Epistemological method (adherent, Kelly James Clark), and (5) The Presuppositional method (adherent, John M. Frame). A good book briefly detailing each of these methods is Five Views on Apologetics, general editor, Steven B. Cowan and series editor, Stanley N. Gundry. This is an excellent resource.

So, what is Presuppositional Apologetics? We understand now what apologetics is, but what about a presupposition? A presupposition is an assumption that is taken for granted. The Bible itself begins with the presupposition of God and his existence: "In the beginning GOD" (Gen. 1:1). Just as the Bible does, presuppositional apologetics deals with certain presuppositions. A Christian presuppositionalist presupposes God's existence and argues from that perspective to show the validity of Christian theism (the belief that God exists and is involved in the world). This position also presupposes the truth of the word of God and relies on the validity and power of the gospel to change lives (Rom. 1:16). From the scriptures, we see that the unbeliever is sinful in his mind (Rom. 1:18-32; 3:23, et. al.) and unable to understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14, et. al.). This means that no matter how convincing the evidence or good the logic, an unbeliever cannot come to the faith because his fallen nature will distort how he perceives the truth. The only thing that can ultimately change him is regeneration a gift of God alone (2 Tim. 2:24-26). To this end, the presuppositionalist seeks to change a person's presuppositions to be in conformity with biblical revelation. Adherents to this position have been Cornelius Van Til, Abraham Kuyper, Greg Bahnsen, the aforementioned John Frame, and those here at IIIM, etc. An excellent resource on this issue is Apologetics for the Glory of God (P&R Publishing, 1994) by John Frame.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).