Evidentiary VS Presuppositional Apologetics


The question was posed on a podcast I listen to on which is the more traditionally biblical apologetic method, evidentiary (IE giving evidence for your convictions) or presuppositional method (definition here ).
I’ve tried to flesh this out myself but I must admit that great knowledge of the bible is not one of my strong points so i figured I’d pose the question here and see what responses I get:D


It is a modern day invention of certain Reformed Presbyterians. It finds its genesis in Calvinist philosophers/theologians like Cornelius Van Til and Rousas Rushdoony. It is a fundamentally unsound method in that it ultimately ends in fideism. It does teach one that we all have epistemic presuppositions, but that’s about the end of its usefulness.

Evidentiary apologetics relies upon - well - evidence. Whether it be through the senses or the intellect. It is the classical method of apologetics that the philosophers and theologians of the Catholic Church rely upon. There are devastating critiques out there of presuppositional apologetics. I can direct you to them if you wish.


post em up id love to read em.


If you really want to get the low down on presuppositional apologetics, you need to buy R.C. Sproul’s book Classical Apologetics. If you don’t know who Sproul is, he’s another Reformed Presbyterian who disagrees with the presuppositionalists. Dave Armstrong has some good stuff here:




ya i’ve not read much on it, but the show i listen to (The Narrow Mind with Gene Cook Jr., a reformed Baptist Calvinist, anti-Catholic, and big fan/student of Greg-Bahnsen) has a series going on of the presuppositional method.

I became interested in it because the atheists he invites on from time to time get really tripped up by it, and I couldnt tell whether it was because it was actually a better method or because it was something they just hadn’t come across yet and thought of answers for. Most of them (even the great Michael Shermer) start bumbling their answers once he starts the “internal critique.”

If I had to give my own critique of it, it would be that without any evidence at ALL why would anyone want to believe you in the first place? By itself like you said, fideism seems inevitable, or at best some sort of personal revealed message that you really couldnt proclaim with much success.

Anyways, Thanks for the links:thumbsup:


I am somewhat familiar with Bahnsen’s presuppositional apologetic. Because most people aren’t used to dealing with their presuppositions, they find it difficult to respond when questioned about them. It takes some time and thought to understand why the presuppositions that the Calvinists insist upon are arbitrary, and that in the end they have to rely upon the same presuppositions that all of the rest of us rely upon to justify their additional presuppositions. It actually turns out that they use evidentiary principles to justify their presuppositions. It’s a self-defeating system.


thats what I was trying to say, but you said it better hehe.


You said it just fine. :slight_smile: I was just trying to answer the question of why it seems like people have trouble responding to it. I guess I don’t want to down play that one important lesson of presuppositional apologetics - it does require people to examine their presuppositions. Something that you will find atheists rarely do. That is why it is such an effective method against them.


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