What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
What is Presuppositional Apologetics?Presuppositional apologetics is a method of apologetics which places great emphasis upon world-views. Quite simply, a worldview is a view of the world. World-views act as a sort of intellectual pair of sunglasses through which you understand and interpret the world around you. The presuppositional method of apologetics takes very seriously the importance of one’s worldview given that it is through these intellectual shades that all people interpret everything in human experience. Indeed, one’s worldview determines what is and is not possible. In other words, what one deems possible or impossible will very much depend upon how one sees the world. For example, If God does not exist, then miracles are impossible. If God does not exist, then resurrections from the dead 3 days after the occurrence of death does not and cannot happen. Likewise, if God exists, then miracles are possible. If the Bible is true, then the miracles it records are events which actually happened. So possibility and impossibility will very much be affected by how one sees the world.

Since it is true that everyone has a worldview, the presuppositional apologist understands that a direct appeal to “evidence” in favor of Christianity will be met with a rejection by the unbeliever who holds to a worldview quite different than that of the Christian worldview. For example, if the Christian is engaging an atheist, surely, appeals to the miraculous will be met with resistance given that the atheist is committed to a view of the world in which miracles do not happen, or if they do, there is no solid evidence for one to rationally affirm them. Furthermore, if events that very much look like miracles did in fact occur, perhaps there is a rational and naturalistic explanation for them. One’s presuppositions and assumptions prevent them from coming to conclusions that support the various miraculous claims of the Christian. Granted, the Christian has a worldview as well which affects how he interprets human experience and evidence for or against a position. The reality is that all of us have these worldview presuppositions, it is unavoidable. However, the presuppositionalist asks a more fundamental question which often differentiates his method with that of the more “Classical” approach. The presuppositionalist asks: Since we all have world-views, and we all have presuppositions that affect how we interpret everything, which worldview provides the necessary presuppositions that can make sense out of anything at all?

This approach is unique in that instead of arguing endlessly over particular “facts” and “evidence”, it challenges the unbelievers entire worldview system and philosophy of facts. It asks whether the unbelieving outlook on the world can even make sense out of something like a fact or something like the very concept of evidence itself. This is a fundamentally different way of arguing when compared to what is sometimes called the “evidence war” (I.e. who has more evidence?) Rather, the presuppositionalist does apologetics at the level of entire worldview systems and not isolated facts and evidence which can be approached from a worldview neutral perspective. The truth is, no one is neutral. The unbeliever is not neutral and you shouldn’t be. Presuppositional apologetics pushes for arguing in a fashion that is consistent with one’s worldview commitments, and for the Christian that commitment is to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

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