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.


T. Baylor said...


First I would like to compliment the new format of PittSpot -- the white on black gave me dizziness.

Thanks for the response to my questions. I think we largely agree on the role of evidence in apologetics. As I understand the evidentialist and presuppositionalist divide, it would consist in the method of justification for belief -- evidentialists agree to take the burden of proof on themselves on strictly empirical grounds while Presuppositionalists would not limit themselves to empirical grounds alone.

Naturally this doesn't eliminate the role of empirical evidence in apologetics -- clearly Paul's reference to the fact that Jesus was SEEN by 500 at the same time was not mere fideism.

I think what sets the resurrection apart from other historical/empirical positions from which to argue for Christianity is that it, more than Creationism or even more than the Virgin Birth, stands as the primary truth claim of the Christian gospel, and so the central matter of defense against non-Christian worldviews.

Also, glad to hear the Lukenya conference went well. I hope to hear more from you on your plans for the future and the status of your ThM.

Jeremy Pittsley said...

Ah yes--here's a quick overview of the old sitz. We're headed for Kenya, pending approval of ICBC's mission board and the Weavers. I should be finishing my Th. M. next summmer (graduating in May, then summer classes). It looks like I'll be doing the extent of the atonement for my thesis, with Snoeberger and either Dawson or Combs as my readers. I think I'm taking a guided study of the atonement in the theology of Andrew Fuller with Dr. Priest this summer. I'm pretty sure I line up with Fuller's point of view on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Helpful overview. Thanks