04 May 2007

The Resurrection and Apologetics (co-opted)

Las Cruces.Baylor at Luther’s Stein recently posted on the need to use the resurrection in apologetics. In the following discussion, he pointed out that it is incumbent upon the apologist “to address every part of the unbeliever’s worldview” and “to fully present our own,” which includes, if I understand him, a presentation of the resurrection as a demonstration of the validity of Christianity.
Though I still want to hear more about what Baylor and the others think about this, I think we have a measure of agreement on our understanding of the role of evidences. Let me demonstrate what I mean by describing how the resurrection would work in an encounter with unbelief. In a practical setting, I would present the resurrection as a historical vindication of Jesus (both his message and his mission). In other words, I would preach the gospel. If the Spirit works, and the unbeliever repents, no specifically apologetic task is necessary. If the unbeliever rejects the truth, then apologetic dialogue must begin. I need to find out why or on what basis he rejects the Scriptural account. Is he Muslim? Is he atheist? Perhaps he thinks the resurrection is historical, but he doesn't think that means he should stop following the Wiccan way. Whatever the case, I need to figure out what he believes that causes him to reject the clear testimony of Scripture. I also need to highlight the precariousness and futility of his autonomous worldview. I need to show how that rejection conflicts with his own intrinsic-but-suppressed knowledge of God. And I need to point the way to the Christian worldview.
At the end of the discussion, Baylor asked, “Do you believe evidentialist and presuppositionalist apologetics to be mutually exclusive?” In some ways, they have to be. On the evidentialist understanding, the universe of evidence is a neutral arbiter between anti-theism and Christian theism, and either position is a live option. On the presuppositional approach, the universe is distinctly Christian-theistic, and the anti-theistic worldview is futile. In another sense, I don’t mind presenting the distinctly Christian evidence as a starting point for the conversation. The whole universe speaks perspicuously, “God is glorious!” By grace, someone may find it convincing, repent, and join me in trying to interpret the universe Christianly. But if he rejects the evidence, it is due to some point of depravity which keeps him from accepting the authority of self-attesting revelation.

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