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1999 TGF Bible Conference

Pauline Apologetics: The Defense of the One Faith

Session I
Introduction to Pauline Apologetics
Phillip W. Dennis

§0. Abstract: This session will present the groundwork for the remaining sessions. It will discuss what constitutes apologetics and briefly outline the different schools of apologetics which have been employed by Christian theologies. The apologetic method to be discussed in detail will be the presuppositional method. Though presuppositionalism has been mainly used by those of a "covenantalist" persuasion, it will be shown in later sessions that a consistent presuppositional approach must be used to defend the One Faith of Paul's gospel.

In this session we will also give a "whirlwind" overview of how a defense of the One faith always uses a consistent appeal to Biblical authority, and how this appeal becomes more and more focused as the assault on Paul's gospel proceeds from the generic unbelief of rank atheism, through theistic non-Christian false religions (Judaism, Islam), so called "Christian" sects and cults (Roman Catholicism), and finally inconsistent evangelical Protestantism (armininanism on one hand and covenantalism on the other).

I. Outline of Session:

A. Introduction

  1. What is apologetics?
  2. Schools of apologetics (classical/evidentialism vs.presuppositional)

B. Overview of elements of Biblical based Christian philosophy

  1. Christian Metaphysics
  2. Christian Epistemology
  3. Christian Ethics

C. Apologetic approach

  1. Myth of Neutrality
  2. Transcendental arguments. Non-Pauline theologies are false because of the "impossibility of the contrary" i.e. what must be false cannot be true (WMBFCBT)
  3. Interdependence of entire doctrinal framework

D. The Downward spiral of unbelief.

  1. Refutation of Covenantalism (eschatologically bankrupt, hermeneutical error)
  2. Refutation of Scoffieldian Dispensationalism
  3. Refutation of Evangelical Arminianism (soteriologically bankrupt but based on hermeneutical bankruptcy)
  4. Refutation of Roman Catholicism (an issue of authority of Scripture, among others)
  5. Refutation of Judaism
  6. Refutation of Islam
  7. Refutation of atheism (bankrupt in all three philosophical areas) [More details on this in Session V]

E. Figures: Introduction to Pauline Apologetics

II. Introduction

A. What is apologetics?

1. In Greek usage, the noun apologia (Strong's #627) was a defense in court to answer accusations brought against the accused. In the KJV it appears 8x and is rendered defense (3x), answer (3x), answer for (one's) self (1x), clearing of (one's) self (1x). General meaning is: 1) verbal defense, speech in defense 2) a reasoned statement or argument. So, an "apology" is not an expression of sorrow for a fault. When Socrates wrote his Apology, he was not saying that he was "sorry" for his "crimes." Rather, he was presenting his defense. Therefore, apologetics involves the defense of the entire truth of Christianity. It gives answers to the objections of unbelievers to the truth of God.

2. Pauline apologetics. The theme of this conference is not just a generic defense of Christianity ­ i.e. Christian theism against atheism, but it is a comprehensive defense of the truth of God which includes the dispensational and sovereign soteriological aspects of Christianity. In particular, we are to defend the One Faith of Eph. 4:5, which comprises all of the seven ones of Eph. 4:4-6. Pauline apologetics, by necessity, includes a defense of the doctrine of the hope of the Body plus a defense of the hopes of the Gentile and Jewish elects. Pauline apologetics, at its core, includes the defense of Paul's gospel against "intramural" attacks by covenantal 5-point Calvinists, and also a defense against all inconsistent strains of evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism to other non-Christian religions and finally to rank atheism.

3. Van Til characterized apologetics as:
"Apologetics is the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life."1

To sharpen the discussion we will rephrase this to:
"Pauline apologetics is the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life and anti-Pauline theologies."

4. Verses central to Pauline apologetics:

a. Rom. 16:25-26; Eph. 3:9; Rom. 2:16.

b. Point: Our apologetic and our proclamation of truth for today needs to be self-consciously focused on bringing to light what is the dispensation of the Mystery, i.e. Paul's gospel.

B. Schools of apologetics

1. Apologetic methodology is commonly of two types:

a. Evidentialism (also called "Classical" apologetics) an essentially Arminian approach, which is why it is remarkable that some Calvinists (notably, Sproul, Lindsley and Gerstner) use that method.

b. Presuppositionalism. This is the Biblical method for defense of the One Faith. This conference will discuss the presuppositional approach to apologetics within the context of defending the Pauline gospel.

c. The perceived difference between these two apologetic methods should not hinge on the mere verbal distinction of the terms.

  1. Presuppositionalism does not ignore evidence. It uses evidences but requires that the presupposed methodology that evaluates what constitutes evidence be critically examined. Evidentialism fails to do this. It assumes (or at least concedes) that the methodology is neutral and can exist "in a vacuum" or be spawned from the "void."
  2. Evidentialism is not presuppositionless! It assumes that the believer and unbeliever can "agree" from the beginning as to what constitutes a valid method for adjudicating truth. Evidentialists "sell the farm" by assuming "reason" can exist apart from God, and then try to use "reason" to argue for "god."

2. Presuppositionalism

a. Some Philosophical Terms and Definitions. Paul does not denigrate philosophy in Col. 2; rather he rebukes deceitful empty philosophy. (Which we will see later all forms of anti-Pauline philosophies are in fact deceitful empty philosophies.) Note when we discuss "philosophy" we will mean "godly philosophy = theology." The following standard categories and terms for areas of philosophical enquiry are:

  1. Metaphysics, in general, is the area of philosophy that discusses what there is.
  2. Epistemology, in general, is the area of philosophy that discusses the nature of knowledge and truth and how man can attain to truth.
  3. Ethics in general is the area of philosophy that discusses what is the standard for and what constitutes morally good and morally evil acts.

b. What are "presuppositions?"

  1. Central or ultimate self-evidencing truths that are taken as non-negotiable and incapable of revision.
  2. A person's presuppositions are not necessarily self-consciously identified, but everyone has them none the less ­ from the man in the street to the Ph.D. philosopher.
  3. presuppositions are not independent , isolated or unconnected beliefs. They are a part of a person's total world-view which is a network of fundamental and influential beliefs about metaphysics, epistemology and ethics.
  4. DEFINITION OF WORLD VIEW: A world view is a network of presuppositions which is not verified by the procedures of natural science, but in terms of which every aspect of man's knowledge and experience is interpreted and interrelated.
  5. Examples of presuppositions:
    • Atheists: Scientific method leads to truth, brute facts plus induction leads to "truth." (So-called "scientific" facts and universal laws). Laws of logic. Chance.
    • Arminian: radical autonomy of man. "Free-will" in salvation.

c. Positively: Recognizes that every world and life view has presuppositions. Hence, presuppositionalism is not the same as just assuming the truth of Christianity (that would be blind faith or irrational fideism). Presuppositionalism is not a tight, vicious circular argument, in which the conclusion is already assumed in the premise. Examples:

  1. "P therefore P"
  2. "The Bible is true because the Bible says it is true."

d. Salient features of (Van Til's) presuppositional approach:2

  1. locating the opponent's crucial presuppositions
  2. criticizing the autonomous attitude that gives rise to the presuppositions
  3. exposing the internal and destructive philosophical tensions (anticipating later sessions, compare the hermeneutical tensions of covenant theology) that attend autonomy
  4. setting forth the only viable alternative ­ Biblical Christianity. And by Biblical we mean truly sola Scriptura! No post Biblical history of the "church" sits in judgment on the correctness of Biblical doctrine.

e. To reiterate Presuppositionalism does not spurn evidence, it uses evidence but challenges the opposing world-view to give an account of what it claims or will accept as evidence. And this account must be intelligible.

f. Preesuppositionalism not irrational fideism. It isn't a method that is "content neutral." Presuppositonalist approach shows that only mid-Acts is consistent total world-view. There can be no presuppositional Muslims, Hindus etc. as some have falsely claimed ­ that claim can only be made by those who completely fail to grasp the content of what presuppostioanalism claims.

3. Evidentialism

a. At bottom, evidentialism resists requiring man (and the atheist opponent) to recognize a self-attesting source of knowledge not subject to man's authority.

b. Evidentialism, assumes that the natural man is alright as far as his methodology and epistemology is concerned. Thus it is intrinsically Arminian. It takes the tact that all we need do is present the unbeliever with some "facts" regarding Christianity and that if the unbeliever is "honest" with the interpretation of the facts, he will see the truth of Christianity.

  1. Typical of this approach is J.W. Montgomery and practically every debate I have attended.
  2. Will give more details in session V.

III. Overview of elements of Biblical based Christian philosophy

A. Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics. No one of these areas can be viewed as prior (logically or otherwise) to the others. They are all involved in each other. Mistake of G.H. Clark in his later fideistic stage, viewed epistemology as logically prior, i.e. epistemology had to be placed on a "firm foundation" before anyone can inquire as to "what there is."

B. Christian metaphysics. God the Creator and creation

1. God

a. Creator
b. Continuing providential control of creation
c. Decrees all things whatsoever come to pass
d. God is the ultimate cause of everything in creation, each event has its particular meaning and purpose because God, the root of all truth, has established it within His overarching plan. There is no ultimate contingency. This metaphysics is in stark contrast to the non-Christian and atheistic philosophies which contain a plurality of equally ultimate gods, men, and things, ruled over by "reified" Chance.
e. Independent of creation

2. Creatures

a. Totally dependent on God
b. Man is created in imago Dei. Creature knowledge possible. God is source of all truth
c. All actions of men have meaning because they are in fact according to God's eternal decrees.

C. Christian Epistemology

1. In the Christian world-view not only is there absolute truth, but man can arrive at that truth. True knowledge is only possible within the Biblical Christian world-view.

2. Source of this truth is God and His revelation. See figures for overview of God's revelation throughout salvation history

a. General revelation. Revelation from God through nature and man available to all men apart from special revelation.

b. Special Revelation. Revelation not knowable unless God communicates it specially.

  • God speaking directly to men through Christ
  • Charismatic gifts
  • Scripture

3. God's revelation is authoritative

4. Idea of Authority

a. in non-Biblical anti-theistic philosophies
b. in "Christian" and inconsistent theologies

5. Doctrine of Scripture

a. What is Scripture? What is the Word of God?

  • Scripture = "Word of God" is not the codices
  • Word of God is the meaning of the words which have been inscripturated in the original autographs
  • That meaning has been transmitted without error in the received codices.

b. Authority of Scripture

  • Scripture is self-attesting.
  • Its meaning is not derived from an authority that is ad extra.

c. Inspiration of Scripture (God-breathed)
d. Inerrancy of Scripture
e. Perspicuity of Scripture
f. Sufficiency of Scripture
g. Necessity of Scripture.

D. Christian Ethics

1. The Christian has the only intelligible and absolute foundation for ethics.
2. God is the standard and authority who establishes the absolutes.

E. Within context of Pauline apologetics we would include

1. Metaphysics which includes the nature of God's elects (three households) + eschatology
2. Epistemology which includes

a. Doctrine of Scripture ­ a unified hermeneutic for all of Scripture
b. NOT two hermeneutics: Hermeneutic A plus hermeneutic B, i.e.

  • "soteriological" hermeneutic that yields a (generic) 5-points of Calvinism
  • "eschatological" hermeneutic that yields amillennialism and other false eschatological views

F. Summary: What "exists" is God the Creator and His creation. God is independent of the creation, and the creation is totally dependent upon God as creator and providential sustainer (Col. 1:17). God is transcendent and immanent. God's knowledge is exhaustive; man as created imago Dei can attain to true knowledge but man's knowledge is always finite and incomplete. These facts constitute a portion of the Creator/creature distinction.

IV. Apologetic approach

A. Central verses

1. Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him
2. Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
3. These are not contradictory, but state two complementary occasions for answering the fool ­ there is no "neutral" method.

a. We answer the fool "not according to his folly" when we presuppose the Christian worldview (in light of the dispensation of the secret) and demonstrate its internal coherence.
b. We answer the fool "according to his folly" when we for the sake of argument show that the fool's worldview leads to the destruction of all knowledge.

B. Myth of Neutrality.

1. Neutrality is impossible. No one as a matter of fact is neutral, that includes Biblical Christianity.

2. To be intellectually fair, the antitheist is bound to establish the (possibility of) his avowed neutrality before he builds upon it.

3. What counts as "reasons" for justifying truth claims are already implicit in a person's worldview. Reasons, methodology and facts are not independent self-authenticating impersonal abstract principles.

C. Challenge the presuppositions of contrary positions at their "root"

1. "Argumentum ad hominem" ­ not to be confused with the "ad hominem fallacy"

a. The ad hominem fallacy is the claim that someone's position is false based on the person himself. Example: "He can't be right because he is a Catholic."

b. The true argumentum ad hominem shows that the opponent's world-view is incoherent. Prov. 26:5: "Answer a fool according to his folly..." Assume the ground of the "fool" to show that his position reduces all of reality to absurdity, that on his presuppositions nothing is provable or true. Biblical support: James 1:8; Matt. 12:25

2. The opponent is usually as Van Til said "epistemological loafers." Their beliefs are merely unwarranted opinions. In the apologetic debate, one of the goals is to expose this fideistic element in the opponent's worldview.

D. Present the true Biblical position from within its own presuppositions, thus, showing that it is the only consistent world-view. Prov. 26:4; 2 Cor. 10:5.

E. All world-views are "circular" arguments, but not all circles are meaningful or intelligible.

F. To quote Bahnsen: "All chains of argumentation trace back to and depend upon starting points which are taken to be self evidencing. Thus, circularity in debate will be unavoidable. However, not all circles are intelligible or valid."

G. The total, consistent Biblical world-view encompasses all of reality within its circle in a rational and intelligible manner. All other world-views either exclude truth from its purview, lead to some form of scepticism or irrationally accept, by blind faith, a plurality of equally ultimate irreducible things/principles. (No solution to the many-and-the-one problem.)

H. Transcendental arguments. Non-Pauline theologies are false because of the "impossibility of the contrary" i.e. what must be false cannot be true. (WMBFCBT)

1. Reduce the opponent's position to one of:

a. Absurdity
b. Irrationality/subjectivism

2. It is called "transcendental" because it asks what are the necessary pre-conditions for knowledge and truth. It transcends, go beyond, the mere examination of so-called un-interpreted "facts" to the encompassing questions of how one obtains truth. It critically examines the methodology by which one purports to examine, evaluate and justify so called facts. It requires an account of and warrant for the methodology. As Christians we also say that our transcendental argument is not merely an abstract principle (which itself would require a warrant for belief) but that God himself is the transcendent and ultimate foundation of this transcendental argument.

3. We will give some examples of this later in the "thumb-nail" refutation sketches.

4. Mid-Acts dispensationalism is true because of impossibility of the contrary. Only Mid-Acts provides an intelligible and thorough going consistent theology that maintains the authority of Scripture. It alone articulates a consistent hermeneutic which is immune to all outside attacks.

a. Mid-Acts is only coherent eschatology. For example, can't make a straight line fit three non-collinear points. Unless there are three distinct households with three distinct hopes then the Bible is incoherent as false. There are verses that unambiguously state that some the elect reside eternally on earth -- and further there is eternal ethnic and administrative distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Paul says the subjects of his gospel reside eternally in the third heaven. Only solution is three distinct households. Another "smoking gun" is the different relations of the Body, Jews and Gentiles to the elect angels. Details DS7.

b. Logical equivalence of 5-points and Mid-Acts dispensationalism.

I. Interdependence of entire doctrinal framework

1. Soteriology
2. Eschatology
3. Anthropology, etc.
4. Note: soteriology and eschatology go together: Col. 1:23; Eph. 1:17-19.

V. The Downward spiral of unbelief and "thumb-nail" presuppositional rebuttals. No warranties as to "strategic" value of these arguments. We must however not confuse the cogency of an argument with the effect of the argument. The cogency and proper articulation of the arguments is our responsibility, the result is the work of the Holy Spirit.


1. Every world view rests upon a presupposed epistemology and metaphysics. No one comes into the discussion without presuppositions. The question is what presuppositions are intelligible, coherent and provide an all encompassing rational world view.

2. Every position has an implicit appeal to an authority, be it a person, institution, or a methodology.

3. This implicit authority (usually taken on blind "faith") acts as an "a priori" filter that judges as to what will be accepted as proof or evidence.

4. The presuppositional defense of Paul's gospel, the revelation of the Mystery, consists of

a. Positively: The articulation of the Biblical revelation that generates the Mid-Acts dispensational theology.

b. Exposing for critical investigation the implicit "authority" of the opposing position

c. Exposing the internal incoherence and self-destructive presuppositions of all world-views that oppose the dispensation of the Mystery. Internal critique of opposing world-view. Prov. 26:5.

d. In the following thumb-nail outlines of refutations, the doctrine of the seven ones can be implicitly employed versus all opposing views except perhaps the atheists.

5. When is the apologetics task complete? We have stepped outside the circle of apologetic concern when the opponent either

a. abandons rationality and no longer gives sensible answers (irrationality, vicious circular arguments, question-begging) or

b. when his argument becomes indifferent to reasons, i.e. when he descends to subjectivism.

c. Thus we see again that the presuppositional position does rely on:

d. Finally, apologetics cannot make the opponent admit the absurdity of his view.

e. Atheist Quentin Smith describes hismystical irraional ad relgious atheism in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, William Lane Craig [Arminian evidentialist] and Quentin Smith [atheist], Oxford, pp. 216-7:

  • "We can forget about ourselves for a moment and open ourselves up to the startling impingement of reality itself. We can let ourselves become profoundly astonished by the fact that this universe exists at all. It is arguably a truth of the 'metaphysics of feeling' that this fact is indeed 'stupefying' and is most fully appreciated in such experiences as the one evoked in the following passage: [This world] exists nonnecessarily, improbably, and causelessly. It exists for absolutely no reason at all. It is inexplicably and stunning actual ... The impact of this captivated realization upon me is overwhelming. I am completely stunned. I take a few dazed steps in the dark meadow, and fall among the flowers. I lie stupefied, whirling without comprehension in this world through numberless worlds other than this one."
  • B. Refutation of Covenantalism (eschatologically bankrupt, hermeneutical error)

    1. Authority: claims to be sola Scriptura. But this is abandoned in varying degrees. Especially when covenantalists encounter any form of dispensationalism. Usual question is "What is your historical pedigree?"

    2. Dualistic hermeneutic.

    a. Literal for historical and soteriological passages.

    b. "Spiritual," "Allegorical," "New Testament," "Apostles'" heremeneutic for eschatology.

    c. Question: What independent self-evidencing method is imported to deduce when a passage is merely soteriological or merely eschatological?

    3. Reductio ad absurdum. Show logical equivalence of Calvinism and Mid-Acts dispensationalism.

    C. Refutation of Scofieldian Dispensationalism

    1. Authority: Oddly this is the most self-consciously sola Scriptura in attitude and methodology of the anti-Pauline camps. But of course, its content is terrible. Wrong view comes from importing its Arminian notions into key texts.

    2. Defense of Mid-Acts will be mainly a hermeneutical/exegetical battle

    3. Reductio ad absurdum: Security of believers and continuity of hopes impy that Peter can't have an eternal earthly hope and an eternal hope in the third heaven. (How long will they halt between two opinions?)

    D. Refutation of Evangelical Arminianism (soteriologically bankrupt but based on hermeneutical bankruptcy).

    1. Ultimate authority is "common sense." This has far reaching implications.

    a. Presupposition is philosophical notion of radical free-will of man. "Responsibility implies ability." Man is autonomous in salvation.

    b. Authority of Scripture is thus under-mined. Scripture is interpreted according to a "self-evidencing" external philosophical "truth."

    2. Reductio ad absurdum: Arminians hold to an incoherent dualism: Determinism plus Indeterminism.

    a. God is partly sovereign ­ determines some things, does not determine man's salvation. The end conclusion though is that man is autonomous everywhere. Same presuppositions as the atheist.

    b. God does not determine all things whatsoever comes to pass.

    c. These leads to incoherence.

    d. Naturalism/supernaturalism.

    3. Refutations of Arminianism are consistent appeals to texts of Scripture. Many texts. Details in Session III.

    E. Refutation of Roman Catholicism (issue of authority of Scripture among others)

    1. Authority: Roman Catholic is inconsistent on revelation. Not sola scriptura. Scripture is not authoritative but receives its authority only through authority of RC church (magisterium). Tradition is also authoritative.

    2. Internal Critique. This is an inconsistent mix. RC claims to be authoritative, but there is no fixed truth. The RC magisterium claims to be channel through which God protects the truth and "unity" of the "church," but this is self-refuting. The RC church has divergent views on interpretations of the Bible, plus they don't claim to have interpretations for all of Scripture. This is inconsistent with its claim that they have guarded the truth. RC epistemology is ultimately relativist and subjective because the magisterium is relative and subjective. A typical RC claim that "protestantism" (where everyone does his own thing with the scriptures) is relativist actually back fires and refutes the RC in the strongest manner. (Put somewhat simplistically, the RC magisterium states of itself, we never err. Yet they do.)

    3. More details in Session IV.

    F. Refutation of Judaism

    1. Jewish authority is tradition.

    2. Scripture is secondary ­ Scripture speaks authoritatively only through tradition. Talmudism.

    3. Refutations:

    a. Ad hominem, reduction ad absurdum, "answer the fool according to his folly..."

    (1) Internal Inconsistencies. Based on their alleged submission to tradition argue using traditions that show the ancient Rabbi's were:

    • Trinitarian. Cf. SER, "Doctrine of the Trinity in the Hebrew Scriptures and Ancient Rabbis," 1 Dec. 1989.
    • believed in the suffering Messiah. Cf. A. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Appendix IX.

    (2) Point: Which traditions do they accept and reject? By what objective standard do they accept tradition A over tradition B? The school of Hillel vs the school of Shammai? Point: They have no objective standard. The test of truth is each school's individual subjective preferences. Sort of like the Mormon "burning in the bosom!" Or, "try it you'll like;" or, "Different strokes for different folks."

    (3) See Christ's use of ad hominem arguments contra the reprobate rulers of Israel in the four gospel accounts. Exercise for reader!

    b. Biblical refutation. "Answer not a fool according to his folly..."

    (1) See Christ's use of Scripture contra the reprobate rulers of Israel in the four gospel accounts. Exercise for reader!

    (2) Seventy Weeks of Daniel.

    • Requires hermeneutic. Christ must already have appeared to Israel regardless of so-called dating uncertainties. Issue of 70th week show Israel still has a future.
    • Even Jews recognize that the 70 weeks passage is so strong that some "authorities" have suggested that Jews not read it since they will become confused! (Similar to Roman Catholic prohibitions and their authoritative magisterium). "In recent years they [Jews] seem to be afraid of this prophecy. Many orthodox Jews, like many Christians, consider it too obscure that no interpretation is certain and effective. A famous Rabbi (Simon Luzatto) gave his opinion that a prolonged and thorough going study of this prophecy might result in all Jews becoming Christians, at it was his view that it could not be denied on the basis of Daniel's chronology that the Messiah had already appeared. Whether Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah he dared not say with certainty." 3

    c. More details in Session IV.

    G. Refutation of Islam.

    1. Authorities are Koran, tradition (Hadith), and finally some of Scripture: the Law of Moses (first 5 books of the OT), the Zabur (Psalms of David), the Injil, (the gospel of Jesus). Note immediately, all of Paul is rejected! Islam also claims there are errors in all of the books which they accept, the errors were introduced by Jews and Christians.

    2. The Islamic theology is an inconsistent mix.

    3. Koran claims in came through angel Gabriel, well that's enough for us!

    4. Internal critique shows incoherence and absurdity of Islam

    a. Islam built on portions of Scripture, but Islam contradicts Scripture. Simple examples:

    1. Mary was sister of Aaron
    2. Jesus was not crucified.

    b. Islam counters by saying when there is a contradiction, error is in Scripture not the Koran. Koran was transmitted without error:

    1. They point to textual errors in OT and NT. But the OT and NT surpass all standards of textual integrity of any other document. No variant readings alter the meaning of the text. But there is more:
    2. As to the Muslim claim of no variants in Koran (thereby suggesting its greater reliability) the answer is that this is simply false. There were many variants. In fact the Koran was not completely written down Mohammed's life, but was transmitted orally and written down by many people on papyri, stones, palm-leaves. These were collected later and collated making several collections. Finally in the caliphate of `Uthman (d. 656AD, Third of the Four Partriarchal Caliphs) all of the collections that had variants that disagreed with the copy of the Caliph were destroyed! So there were variant readings in the Koran.

    c. God of Islam is an incoherent, absolute unity, unable to communicate with man 4

    1. Doctrine of Tanzih: Allah is so transcendent that there is no characteristic of Allah that even hints at impermanence, change, reaction, imperfection.
    2. Doctrine of Mukhalafa: The first of these is Allah's attribute of mukhalafa li al-hawadith or "not resembling created things in any way", as Allah says in surat al-Shura, "There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him" (Qur'an 42:11). Can't properly use any categories of human experience to describe Allah. Question: Why do they refer to Allah as a "He?" Allah is so absolutely "other" that not only can he not describe himself in the Koran, he can't even reveal himself in the Koran. I.e. the existence of the Koran as a revelation of Allah is impossible. Allah is an "it;" an absolute unity (plurality is unequivocally denied), nothing can be said about "it." Furthermore, "it" that cannot reveal itself.
    3. These two doctrines make it impossible for Allah to even have communicated the Koran.

    d. Internal inconsistencies in the Koran

    1. Many passages. More details in Session IV.

    e. Muhammed's claim to being a prophet was the "miracle" of the Koran! The "miracle" of the Koran is tautologous miracle.

    f. Summary: when the discussion gets to the point where the opposing world-view is not offering rational discussion, but empty tautologous "reasons" ­ for example, just pray and Allah will reveal the truth, pray for a "burning in the bosom" ­ then the apologetic endeavor is completed. The opponent has ceased giving objections and is relying on irrational fideism.

    5. More details in Session IV.

    H. Refutation of atheism (bankrupt in all three philosophical areas)

    1. Authorities of the atheist are impersonal universal and eternal principles.

    a. "Scientific" method
    b. "Neutral" investigation: various shades of empiricism
    c. Deduction/logic: various shades of rationalism
    d. Induction
    e. Mathematics

    2. Internal critique.

    a. Atheist uses all of these principles and appeals to them but can give no intelligible argument for their existence.

    b. To paraphrase Greg Bahnsen: "Atheists can count but they can't account for counting."

    c. For the atheist, these principles exist in a vacuum and cannot be accounted for, they are just assumed, taken on faith.

    3. Atheist metaphysics is materialism. Matter + Chance + Time gives rise to individuals. The materialist's religion worships the gods of Chronos (time), Tyche (chance) and Anagke (necessity). Time (Chronos) yields the plurality of the universe spawned by Chance (Tyche) operating via necessity (Anagke).

    a. Atheist can't account for:

    1. eternal universal immaterial laws (logic, etc.) or
    2. consciousness
    3. abstract concepts (mathematics) or
    4. absolute objective ethics.

    b. Atheism can't account for its own "scientific method."

    1. If empiricism is the theory of knowledge, then the view is self-defeating. The scientific method can't be analyzed in a rock, or seen in a test tube.
    2. Atheism can't give an intelligible account of it metaphysics. How can universal laws (unity = the one) arise out sheer chance (a miasma of absolutely independent particulars = the many)

    c. To paraphrase Bahnsen: "The trouble with atheists is that they live by faith."

    d. To quote a leading atheist himself (Bertrand Russell):

    4. More details in Session V.

    VI. Figures: Introduction to Pauline Apologetics


    Figure 1. General and Special Revelation from Adam through Childhood of Body


    Figure 2. Special and General Revelation Today.


    Figure 3. Special and General Revelation Today: The Unregenerate.


    1 Van Til, Christian Apologetics, p.1

    2 Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetics, p.10

    3 Harry Bultema, Commentary on Daniel, Kregel Publications, p. 286

    4 The following information was culled from the internet site From CLEAR ANSWERS to Religious Questions according to the Authorities of the Shafi'ite Rite, by Mubammad b. 'Abdallah al-Jurdani, represents the old standard orthodoxy of the Shafi'ite rite, little affected by modem ideas. The edition from which the translation has been made is that edited and published by the Cairo bookseller Abmad al-Maliji, bearing the imprint: "Fifth edition. Cairo, 1328 A.H." (1910 A.D.). Q.: What are those attributes? A.: They are: existence, primordialness [1], everlastingness, non-phenomenality [2], self-subsistence [3], oneness, power, will, knowledge, life, sensibility [4], speech, and it is not possible that there be attributed to Him the opposites of these. Q.: What are those opposites? A.: They are-non-existence, recentness, ephemeralness, phenomenality [5] need of anything [6], plurality, inability, unwillingness, ignorance, death, insensibility [7], speechlessness.

    [1]. qadim, which means "ancient", i.e. He is eternal in the sense that there never was a time when He was not. The word for "everlastingness" is baqa', which means "abiding", i.e. He is everlasting in the sense that there never will be a time when He will not be. See p. 348. [2]. mukhalafa li'l-hawadith means "differing from things which are phenomena". [3]. qiyam bi nafsihi means "standing up by Himself", i.e. for His subsistence He needs the help of no other. [4]. Lit. "hearing and seeing", i.e. He is able to sense what is going on. [5]. Lit. "likeness to things which are phenomena". [6]. Lit. "need of place and causer". [7] Lit. "deafness and blindness".

    Selected Bibliography on Presuppositional Apologetics

    Bahnsen, Greg L. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. American Vision and Convenant Media Foundation, 1996.

    ------ Van Til's Apologetic: Readings & Analysis. P&R Publishing, 1998.

    Frame, John M. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction. P&R Publishing, 1994.

    ------ Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought. P&R Publishing, 1995.

    Pratt, Richard L., Jr. Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1979.

    Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1955.