Presuppositional Apologetics at Safeway…

Last night I had a weird, and yet typical, experience.

I was at Safeway, minding my own business and shopping, when at customer service I had a polite and enjoyable conversation with the customer service representative.  In the flow of conversation, she asked me what I did for a living and I told her I was a pastor.  Polite comments were exchanged and I turned to leave, but not before an interesting looking fellow (i.e. think “I belong to a medieval club”) interjected from behind me, rather loudly, with a “so what kind of church do you pastor?”

I stepped to the side to make room for other customers and informed him about Cornerstone.  He came closer and, being clearly aggressive, made his proud announcement that he was a “recovering Catholic” who had “discovered the truth”.

I listened while he told me that he discovered “Richard Dawkins”, who is apparently synonymous with “the truth”.  He then proceeded to start barraging me with a list of questions that “nobody could ever answer”, and then, realizing that my wife and I weren’t going to simply avoid interaction with a polite “I’m glad you’ve found a new religion” (we were heading somewhere), I proceeded to engage him for a little:

I asked him for his reasons as to why he wasn’t a believer.

He commented about all the contradictions in the Bible, so I asked him to list them.  He came up with 6 ‘contradictions’ (most of which were simple “I don’t understand this” comments, like why Jesus has multiple genealogies in the NT) after around 5-7 minutes of questioning.

I asked him whether or not he would bow his knee to Christ if I could provide a reasonable explanation for all his ‘contradictions’ and he was caught off guard, as is fairly typical, and said “well answer them first”.

He figured I was bluffing and pushed me to answer them all, and I pushed back that I wouldn’t waste my time if he wasn’t being honest in giving me all his reasons.

He struggled to come up with more and then could not, so I asked him to pick the ‘hardest’ contradiction, which was the impossibility of the resurrection.  After a short batch of comments, I essentially pointed out to him that “the impossibility of the resurrection” wasn’t a contradiction between passages of the Bible or with reason, and he (as per usual) didn’t have a whole lot of defense for his doubt.

He then addressed the unlikelihood of the Genesis flood, and after a few minutes of trying to actually find a verifiable question in that issue, I then asked him whether or not he was any closer to faith in Christ.  He said “no”, and I then asked him to make sense of that for me (i.e. if these are your reasons and I’ve chopped through 2 of 6, shouldn’t you be 30% closer to Jesus?).

He tried to side-track me with a bunch of the typical questions (i.e. “so you’re saying that if I am not a Christian, I go to hell?”), and I gave him the typical answers (i.e. “no, I don’t believe that at all because the Bible doesn’t teach that.”)

I pressed ahead and explained the situation to him (i.e. he’s so angry at the God he doesn’t believe in that he’s picking theological fights in a Safeway) and talked about sin, the law of God, and the death and resurrection of Christ.  He was fairly caught off guard and was not expecting to have the conversation turn into a confrontation with the gospel, but he strangely asked me my name and where I was a pastor again.

Interesting how arguing about the flood, or the genealogies in Mathew and Luke, or the various “contradictions” in the Bible don’t really get you anywhere except arguing about more “contradictions”.  Punching through the symptoms (justification for unbelief) and getting to the sickness (the rebellious heart) is what we’re supposed to do when we share the gospel; arguing about bible contradictions isn’t actually witnessing.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Armchair Presupper” Unger

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37 thoughts on “Presuppositional Apologetics at Safeway…

  1. Excellent… you pastors have such a great way of moving into talking about things of God with the line “I’m a pastor”. We normal people must work much harder 🙂

    This post is the reason why I like the “Way of the Master” way of sharing the gospel, shoots right to the conscience and around the intellect.

  2. The longer I’ve studied the “condradictions” of the Bible, the more I come to realize exactly what you have written about in this blog. It is fruitless at times to counter the various Atheist “Dogma” because they are not rooted in a curious attitude of inquiry but rather in an attitude of tyranny. Peace be with you. 🙂

  3. What about Matthew 27:9-10 where Jesus mistakenly attributes a quote to Jeremiah that was rather from Zechariah?

    Doesn’t this undercut a belief in an inerrant text?

      • Why would I just jump to the conclusion that “since I don’t understand, the only other option is that Matthew must have made a mistake?”

        I’d suggest that there’s an easy and simply answer:

        ‘Jeremiah’ is shorthand for “the prophets” (2nd of the 3 divisions of the Tanakh – Law, Prophets & Writings) in a like fashion unto when Jesus quotes “Moses” several times when he’s actually quoting different books of the law.

        Jeremiah is the first book of the prophets and was used as a shorthand reference for the entire collection of the prophets. This is a loose form of citation from a time before “chapter and verse”.

        You may not like the answer, but it’s a perfectly reasonable answer.

        Does that bring you even one micron closer to believing in the message of the inerrant text of scripture; the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ of Nazareth who died in the place of sinners and was resurrected by God as a vindication of the truthfulness of his claims about himself?

  4. Seriously, I keep hearing the same one liner’s from “skeptics” like incorrect quotes and illogical doctrinal inconsistancies between “Old” and “New” testaments. The problem is that they think too much like “Christians”. 🙂

  5. Why does it have to be all or nothing? I’m a Christian, but I’m fully willing to believe that Matthew made a mistake in his overzealous quoting.

    The message of the Gospels is still about the resurrection of Christ, even if the text is errant, even if the Bible is fully of contradictions (which it is), even there are plenty of texts that need to be rethought in light of a modern world.

    • Anonymous. you asked:

      “Why does it have to be all or nothing?”

      Because the Bible claims to be divine in origin, en toto. 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

      Now my turn to ask a question:

      Did my answer swerve you, at all, from your committment to scriptural errancy?

  6. Not even a little bit- it’s based on a premise that seems little more than verbal juggling to explain away what are clear contradictions (this reminds me a lot of Lee Strobel’s dexterous ‘explanation’ of the various Gospel accounts of the resurrection that has more people coming and going and coming again from the tomb that the site resembles Grand Central Station).

    And a handful of verses about ‘scripture’ being ‘God breathed’ does not mean the Bible claims to be divine in origin en toto, particularly when the canon wouldn’t even be formed for several hundred years and what we now call ‘scripture’ were just letters from Christian leaders to members of far flung churches.

    As a final note, the Bible claims a lot of things, including support for slavery, wife beating, and genocide. We update our understandings of scripture in light of a modern world- that’s an honest hermenuetic.

    • “Not even a little bit”

      Yeah. I didn’t think so. You have a presupposition of error that you believe (by faith) which assumes contradictions that you have yet to discover…but you have faith that you’ll find them someday. Your faith is evident from your next paragraph…

      “And a handful of verses about ‘scripture’ being ‘God breathed’ does not mean the Bible claims to be divine in origin en toto, particularly when the canon wouldn’t even be formed for several hundred years…”

      In order to find a problem you have to go to a strange alternate universe where the canon of scripture was “formed” several hundred years after the writing of scripture.

      The canon of scripture was established by the recognition of the inspired writings, not the arbitrary selection of them. The canon was in existence the minute the last book of the Bible was written, though the entirety of the inspired writings were not assembled until sometime afterwards.

      You’re arguing against a history that you’ve made up and a theology that isn’t taught in the scriptures.

  7. Interesting: “the Bible claims a lot of things, including support for slavery, wife beating, and genocide.” On what basis do you make this outstanding claim?

    The bible neither supports, nor rejects slavery. It simply discusses it as a reality.

    The Bible most certainly does not condone violence toward women, but rather seeks to protect them.

    Genocide? Hardly. On occasion it deacribes the Divine justice of God in destroying sinful cultures. But that is a very different issue from supporting Genocide. In fact each nation that engages in such a practice, such as Assyria, or Babylon where punished specifically for it by God. (See the book of Amos.)

    May God patiently grant that you come to your anonymous senses and listen to his gracious word which is able to save you.

  8. To paraphrase Bonhoeffer, “To not speak is to speak, and to not act is to act.” If you think the Bible can simply ‘discuss slavery as a reality’ but not tacitly support what is obviously a moral nightmare, then you’re kidding yourself. The Bible supports slavery, but that’s understandable given the context it was composed in- slavery was a given in the ancient world. But ask a slave owner from the 1700s if the Bible supported slavery, and they’d whole heartedly say yes.

    The Bible contains numerous narratives that support violence against women, and which have been used as ‘texts of terror’ to support violence against women. When Lot offers up his daughters for an angry crowd to rape, and if later praised for his virtue, that’s support for violence against women. I agree that a Christian outlook should abhor violence against women, but that’s our modern sensibility brushing up bruskly against those texts.

    Finally, if a culture describes killing completely every “man and women, child and infant, oxen and sheep, camel and donkey”, and wants to call it ‘divine’, that’s still genocide. Was that God’s will? Of course not. But to someone say “Well, it was a sinful culture, so it’s okay that they murdered the babies and the children, and the sheep” (the sheep!?!?), is morally absurd.

    The point is that a Biblical morality is a product of Biblical times. We’ve changed, and our morality has shifted (I’m not saying it’s somehow ‘progressed’, but it’s different). The broader point is that the Bible contains numerous problem texts that we have to rethink in light of a contemporary world. That doesn’t leave a lot of space for inerrancy.

    • 1. “slavery was a given in the ancient world. But ask a slave owner from the 1700s if the Bible supported slavery, and they’d whole heartedly say yes.”

      Well, the slavery in the 1700’s wasn’t remotely akin to the slavery in the ancient near east. You’re highly confused as to what the vast differences were between the slave trade of the enlightenment era and the institution of slavery in the ancient near east and your parallelism of them shows a thorough confusion on the nature of slavery in the Bible.

      2. “The Bible contains numerous narratives that support violence against women, and which have been used as ‘texts of terror’ to support violence against women. When Lot offers up his daughters for an angry crowd to rape, and if later praised for his virtue, that’s support for violence against women. ”

      Really?

      WHO has used Genesis 19 as a text to support violence against women?

      You’re just making things up again.

      Name me one person in history who has taken that clear and obvious historical narrative as some sort of prescription for how one is supposed to treat women.

      Name one if you can.

      Just one.

      Give me a reference from some sort of serious Christian commentator (not some moronic blogger or atheist hack) who has actually put something that idiotic in print.

      3. “Finally, if a culture describes killing completely every “man and women, child and infant, oxen and sheep, camel and donkey”, and wants to call it ‘divine’, that’s still genocide. Was that God’s will? Of course not. ”

      Okay. What WAS God’s will in that scenario if it wasn’t the actual command he gave?

      What passage are you referencing too?

      It’s funny how you types don’t like referencing sources lest you get drawn into actually having to cash the exegetical checks your mouth writes.

      4. “The point is that a Biblical morality is a product of Biblical times. We’ve changed, and our morality has shifted (I’m not saying it’s somehow ‘progressed’, but it’s different). The broader point is that the Bible contains numerous problem texts that we have to rethink in light of a contemporary world.”

      So is morality objective or subjective?

      Is morality just a social convention?

      5. Here’s ONE question for you.

      Can you define inerrancy in the proper theological sense?

  9. As for Biblical support:
    “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.” Exodus 21

    • Anonamouns,
      I know you cannot appreciate the Jewish view on Exodus 21, but I suggest you read some Jewish commentaries regarding this passage. The problem is that your so focused on multiple issues that you loose sight of understanding each “issue” in it’s fuller historical and cultural significance.

      Do yourself a favor and let go of the need to be “logical” according to a Western Greek mindset, and start understanding that Greek logic is not the only filter through which all religion is to be judged and understood.

    • At the expense of breaking my own rules, I actually beat the Exodus 21 horse to death here. Feel free to follow the interaction (starting on page 2) to its end. The interaction is basically between Rich Latta and myself.

      Exodus 21 was given to me as Rich’s “hardest bible contradiction ever” and it didn’t survive much scrutiny.

  10. There’s a lot coming at me here, so I’m only going to try to bite off a few ‘juicy morsals’ at a time. Mea culpa, but space is limited.

    Let’s start out with Lyndon’s claim that slavery in the ancient near East and slavery in the 1700 Americas are radically different, so much so that the underlying premise of that statement is that slavery in the ancient world was an acceptable form of the practice. That is, despite the fact that slavery still involved owning a human being that could be beaten just prior to the point of death, it was somehow moral. Despite the fact that slavery in the near East still involved treating a person as chattel that could be bought and sold, that they didn’t ‘kidnap people’ (but they did take them as ‘plunder’, which sounds a lot like forcing someone to work for you against their will for no money, ie Lev 25; Deut 20) but still purchased them (how nice of them to buy them like some fruit or a sofa at the market), then it’s somehow morally sanctioned. Is this a ‘soft’ form of slavery when compared to their neighbors? Sure, but it’s still morally abhorent. And to say, ‘well, they’re not saying the slaves are actually the slaveowners money, but they’re his source of money’ as somehow justification for beating someone nearly to death, is absurd. Slavery is still slavery, is still the practice of forcing someone against their will (ala the Joseph you mention) to labour for you. To say ‘well, they were good slaveowners, unlike other people in more modern times’ is to condone a barbarism.

    You claim in your later posts with ‘Rich’ that God doesn’t endorse slavery, but instead God just gives regulations for an existing social institution. But to simply place limitations on a morally abhorent practice (yep, still using that term for any instance of someone owning another human being or taking them against their will as ‘plunder’ to forcibly work for them) that is in its very essence wrong is to tacitly (and some wouldn’t even say tacitly) sanction it. If I say, “If you beat your wife to death, you’ll get punished, but if you beat her and she recovers after a few days, it’s cool because she earns money for you”, that’s based on the premise that I can beat my wife, and that my wife is a lesser person than I am. And to toss your hands up and say, “Where does it say in the Bible that people should be socially equal?” is to miss the liberatory message of the Gospels. The Gospels have a lot to say about social equality (and I’ll direct you to Hauerwas’ “Peaceable Kingdom” here, or to Cone’s “Black Theology of Liberation” here for some lengthier (and admittedly more liberal) commentary on that) and a lot to say about treating people as equals (including the Greatest Commandments).

    Now, is my morality ‘transcendental’, traversing time and space? Of course not. It’s deeply socially conditioned. But so is the morality implicit in the Bible. And what was once virtue (owning a lot of slaves) is now vice. But this only entrenches the point I’m trying to make, which is that the Bible is loaded with problematic moral principles (own slaves, sure, just don’t beat them to death- but if you have to beat them, if they bounce back, that’s no problem). Because it’s hard to look at passages like that and think of the Bible as a perfect text. My point is that’s okay! The Bible is a culturally-nuanced text of its time which we have to think about anew in light of our present sensibilities. Where does my morality come from, you ask. Certainly a good deal of it is found in my faith, in the Bible, in my tradition. But a good deal of it is likely leaking in from principles not determined strictly within the pages of the scripture.

    • DO you want dialogue or do you cover your ears and monologue until you’re done?

      The main reason I don’t interact very much with aggressive (practical) atheists like yourself is because they don’t actually want any interaction. They only want an audience for their angry ranting about whatever topic is at hand.

      I answered your questions, now feel free to actually address mine if you can. I asked several clear and obvious questions that you completely ignored.

      I’ll still respond to your diatribe:

      1. Indentured servitude or even owning people isn’t inherently wrong; it’s been the basis of a majority of the world’s economic systems for thousands of years. It wasn’t an inescapable system and it wasn’t worst than the other option most had; starvation or death. The Bible doesn’t speak out about it for one obvious reason; God is more concerned about sin than slavery and they’re not synonymous.

      Also, the Bible never spoke of owning slaves as virtuous; now you’re simply lying about the scripture and I don’t like that one bit.

      2. Speaking of not liking something, the only response you have to the sheer existence of slavery is that you don’t like it for the simple reason that you don’t like it because you don’t like it. You cannot say anything prescriptive about the rightness or wrongness of slavery because you don’t actually have morality based on anything objective.

      3. I don’t prescribe slavery; I also recognize that I would rather choose to be a slave than die.

      4. You said “And to toss your hands up and say, “Where does it say in the Bible that people should be socially equal?” is to miss the liberatory message of the Gospels.”

      Where did Jesus say a thing about social liberation or social equality? Feel free to TRY to give me a single passage of scripture that teaches social liberation and social equality.

      You won’t because it’s not there.

      • So you’re not willing to condemn slavery? You’re not willing to say, “Actually, slavery was wrong”. Slavery. Really? You can’t condemn slavery?

        This seems to be a problem, because you’ve painted yourself into a corner of Biblical literalism that won’t let you say something negative about a social practice that’s intrinsically immoral. And to set up the false choice between “I’d rather be a slave than die”, is to posit choice in the first place. That’s the whole point of slavery, though: you don’t get a choice- you’re a slave. It’s forced labor.

        You can chalk this up to general ‘Biblical illiteracy’ on the part of your congregants, but I’m going to recommend you give a ‘I neither endorse or condemn slavery because it’s in the Bible’ sermon next Sunday to the church where you’re a volunteer pastor and see how that goes down. Because I suspect nonsense like this is easy to toss about online for the ten people that read this, but never sees the light of day in the real world.

      • 1. “you’ve painted yourself into a corner of Biblical literalism that won’t let you say something negative about a social practice that’s intrinsically immoral”

        Prove it.

        Give me an actual reason to think that slavery is INTRINSICALLY immoral, regardless of it’s manifestation or regulation.

        2. “You can chalk this up to general ‘Biblical illiteracy’ on the part of your congregants, but I’m going to recommend you give a ‘I neither endorse or condemn slavery because it’s in the Bible’ sermon next Sunday to the church where you’re a volunteer pastor and see how that goes down”

        What are you talking about?

        Why do my congregants even coming up?

        I’m also not a volunteer. Are you just making up “facts”? This seems to be a regular theme with you.

        Are you suggesting I preach on a subject for the benefit of some random aggitator on the internet?

        *eyes roll*

  11. As for the genocide bit, 1 Sam 15: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” (NIV).

    So, I’m of the opinion that God’s not into killing babies. Now, you might say “But where in the Bible does it say that God’s not into killing babies!?!? Huh!? Name me ONE place where God says we shouldn’t kill babies and women and camels in an act of ethnic cleansing!!!” But if I’m going to worship this God, that God can’t want the death of the innocent at the point of a sword during a war of aggression. That God can’t be recommending that people murder babies in an assault to have my praise.

    So where does that leave us with this passage? Well, I’m going to recommend something relatively unoriginal, which is that in justifying a war where they killed babies and women, and infants, and children, and sheep (sheep!?!?), the authors of 1 Samuel wrote in that God gave his divine thumbs up.

  12. Lyndon, I read through your discussion with Rich again, and I just want to get this on the table:
    So, you’re on board with slavery, just as long as people are nice to their slaves by following the Biblical rules? Slavery is no problem, as long as people stick to the guidelines laid out for them in the OT?

    • 1. “So, you’re on board with slavery, just as long as people are nice to their slaves by following the Biblical rules?”

      Yes.

      2. “Slavery is no problem, as long as people stick to the guidelines laid out for them in the OT?”

      Wait. You said “biblical rules” in question 1 and now you’ve switched to “guidelines laid out for them in the OT” in question 2. You cannot change your terms mid question…unless…no it couldn’t be…

      Why would any Christian stick to the guidelines laid out for them in the OT on slavery?

      You do know that Christians aren’t bound by the law but rather are instead partakers of the new covenant, right?

      The New Testament says a whole lot about slavery. Apparently you’ve missed reading the entire New Testament.

      What does Paul say about slavery in 1 Cor. 7:20-23? Eph. 6:5-9? Col. 3:22-4:1? 1 Tim. 6:1-2? Titus 2:9-10? The entire book of Philemon?

      I think you’re more confused about the relationship of the New Testament to the Old than you are on the issue of slavery.

  13. Anonamous,
    In regard to your arguments about slavery, they are flawed because they attribute words to the Biblical text that just are not there. For instance, where in the Bible does it state that beating your slave is a moral thing to do? It does not state that and it does not imply it either. The laws regarding punishment were put into affect as the most fair rules in regard to their time in history. The fact that the owner was punished at all for the death of the slave was over three thousand years ahead of it’s time. This in itself shows how Israel valued the life of every person.

    • The Bible doesn’t say, “Beat your slave”, but it does provide parameters for the legal beating of your slave. It does say, “If your slave dies, that’s trouble, but if he recovers in a few days, that’s no problem because he’s your money.” (I’m obviously paraphrasing Exodus 21) That’s support for beating your slave. It’s not prescriptive, but it is providing a space where someone could morally and legally beat a person to the brink of death and do so because he was considered a piece of property. I’m not sure how else to parse that, but if you can’t see that as tacit support for an immoral action, I don’t know what else to say. It’s like saying “If you beat your wife on Thursdays, that’s trouble, but if you beat her on Wednesdays between 4-5, that’s alright, because she makes money for you.” That’s tacitly supporting beating your wife. Which is immoral.

      Was this regulation ahead of its time? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that it was rightl. If God was creating a ‘showcase nation’ from Israel, if God was showing the world a truly holy people, couldn’t he have said “Ya, that slavery thing was troublesome. Stop doing that.”? Lord knows he told them to stop doing all sorts of things that were common at the time. He couldn’t have thrown slavery onto that list too?

      And I know, I know, you can already here Lyndon loadly intoning, “That’s just your modern sensibilities and union activism imposing your morality onto an ancient nation!!” and then screaming about KJV-only people. But if Biblical morality has any hold, then wouldn’t God have wanted to get it right from the start? Wouldn’t he have wanted people to live a holy life via his holy law from the beginning, not easing into it when the economy shored up and people could stop having slaves to support themselves? Doesn’t the immorality of owning another human being and forcing them to work for you trump the economy?

  14. Anonamous,
    The Lord had it right from the beginning. It is your choice to see the text as opposed to the Lord’s mercy. It sounds like your believing that that every slave owner in the time of Moses agreed that beating their slaves was a moral act if that is so, then your wrong. They did see it as a legal act but not a moral act and those are two different things.

    The higher road of morallity would of course be not to beat your slave but the legal course of action when your slave broke the law would be to punish them. The Torah is prohibiting extreme prunishment which does not line up with the acts perpetuated by the slave.

    Keep in mind that the Torah was not just instruction for righteousness but also instruction to run the nation of Israel. That mean’s that the instructions deal with what is legal and not just what is moral.

    Stop confusing legality with morality.

    No one believes that beating anyone is the road to higher morals, but when your running a nation systems of punishment need to be put into place.

    • Your = possessive (i.e. “That’s your problem”)
      You’re = you are (i.e. “You’re on slippery grounds when God’s legal code is not God’s morality)

      • See rule number 8 under the “rules of engagement”.

        Also, I find it highly entertaining that two people with mis-spelled handles are getting “all up ons” regarding spelling and grammar. Does anyone else find that ironic and funny besides me?

  15. I have neither read the entirety of the above ‘dialogue’, nor do I intend to. I just have a couple questions for you Mennoknight. I too completely accept the prepositional belief forming position, if I am correct in my understanding of it: That one’s epistemic authority will be based on an assumed foundation and then further and exclusively developed from that basis. My questions are not concerning whether or not there are good reasons to accept the theistic position, as I would accept that there indeed are very good reasons for theistic belief, and that religious belief is not unreasonable given the right presuppositions and the consistency with them. I am curious, however, if you think that presuppositions are chosen, arbitrary, or simply given to the belief-former? And a follow up question: If we think that there is a hierarchical set of presuppositions, wherein one’s presupposed world-view is more reasonable than another, is that in itself merely from within our own presupposition? And finally, if the latter question is in the affirmative, then can we ever change or alter our presupposition?

    I ask these questions sincerely and honestly; I am not here in spite or to try and “out intellect” anyone (not that I could anyway given the intellectual firepower that both frequents and writes this blog!). I am just very interested in what you have to say about this. I hope that all is well with you friend.

    • Hey partner, I’ll answer in short and then let you probe in whatever direction you’re thinking.

      I numbered your questions just to help isolate the responses and make things (hopefully) more clear…

      1. Mankind is born with a set of presuppositions. Essentially, these presuppositions encompass a heart-born disbelief in God as he’s revealed himself in both his inscripturated and incarnated word.

      God, for the ultimate purpose of his own glory, can and does give select hearts a heart-born belief in God as he’s revealed himself in both his inscripturated and incarnated word.

      I can establish the point from the unpacking of any number of relatively straightforward texts of scripture (if you’d like).

      2. Regarding internal consistency of worldviews, I would offer the following. I would suggest that Biblical Christianity is the sole comprehensively consistent worldview. The question then comes up as to why, if Biblical Christianity is the only comprehensively consistent worldview, do colossal intellectuals reject it as inconsistent (let alone idiotic)? The answer provided in the scripture is that those who do not see the truth of Biblical Christianity do not because they cannot; God has granted that they disbelieve because their disbelieving hearts desire to disbelieve and their reason only follows the dictates of their desires.

      You remember years ago when NB came back to visit Caronport looking for an intellectual scrap?

      You weren’t there when Chad and I took him apart in our living room. After 4 hours of pulling out every argument he knew against Biblical Christianity, he conceded that we answered every question and he actually conceded defeat in debate (one of the few times I’ve ever experienced an atheist/agnostic/whatever actually concede defeat). Then he proceeded to simply yell at God (i.e. the ceiling) about the pain in his life, curse God and basically have a spiritual tantrum.

      He could come as far as seeing that his worldview was composed of a series of leaky buckets, but that only made him angry. Once we (honestly, it was mostly Chad) disassembled his entire case against Christianity, he wasn’t a single step closer to Christianity; his disbelieving heart was only revealed for what it was and he left in search of new arguments against Christianity because he had faith that they had to be out there (and he only had to find them). His disbelief preceded his reasoning and that evening made it inescapably apparent.

      3. Can we ever change or alter our presupposition?

      No. Not by any exertion of our own effort.

      Can God grant you belief in himself as he’s revealed himself in both his inscripturated and incarnated word?

      Yes.

      Salvation is a changing of the heart from the condition of spiritual death to spiritual life, which in turn changes the mind (and removes the spiritual limits to the reasoning process).

      People who disbelieve can no more change their heart than a leopard can remove his own spots (Jeremiah 13:23), but God can change a heart (which he has promised to do – Ezekiel 11:14-21 & 36:26-27) and grant repentance and understanding of the truth of the scripture to even the aggressive opponent of Biblical Christianity so that they may “come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:23-26).

  16. Dusto, my two cents: What you basically said was based on questioning all things which never comes to rest in belief in any foundation. If one wants to stay in the logic (head) and never move beyond (with the heart in love) then that is your choice. Peace be with you in your endless pursuit.

  17. It appeared in this post as if you told the atheist at Safeway that not every unsaved person will go to Hell. I looked up your church’s website, and read on your statement of faith that you believe the unsaved will go to Hell, so I’m sure you didn’t mean to say that they will not. But I would still suggest that it’s very important to clarify these things, so that you don’t unintentionally mislead anyone, because it appears from what you wrote that, when the atheist asked if he would go to Hell if he’s not a Christian, you told him that you don’t believe that and that Bible doesn’t teach it. The Bible, however, does clearly teach that the unsaved will spend eternity in Hell. (see Matthew 13:41-42, Luke 13:3,5, John 5:28-29, John 8:24, 2 Peter 2:9, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:15)

    • J.T., sorry for the confusion. I’m guessing we agree on this fully.

      I don’t doubt the existence of hell and the Bible is clear that outside of Christ, an eternity in hell is the inescapable destination every person.

      What I was getting at in the discussion was the fine line where as aggressive atheists often phrase the question in such a way as to suggest that the “not being a Christian” (which in their eyes means “not agreeing with you”) is the causal agent of their eternal suffering; i.e. they basically are suggesting that “if I don’t agree with you, God will send me to hell”.

      If we’re being biblically savy, the causal agent of their eternal suffering is the presence of sin, not the absence of “being a Christian”. Their rebellion against God is what merits their punishment, not their blindly claiming the name of some religious group.

  18. Pingback: The Unger Move of Apologetics? | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

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