Presuppositionalism or Evidentialism? That’s a question about apologetics: should we defend the faith presupposing the existence of God or by use of evidences (e.g. creation, the empty tomb, etc.)? I like Os Guinness’ balanced approach to this question. While talking about the journey from unbelief to faith, Guinness writes this:
“…What should be clear from this description of the journey toward faith is that the answer is not either-or, but both-and and which-when. Both presuppositions and evidences are a key part of our apologetic approach, and the real question is which to focus on and when.”
“Think of the relationship of presuppositions and evidences like this. Before people reach stage one (a person asking serious life and meaning questions), they are closed to God, and their unbelief is a matter of false presuppositions, as St. Paul explained. At that stage a discussion of evidences may sometimes intrigue them, but evidences are rarely likely to make them change their minds. The unbelieving framework of their thinking will eat up all that contradicts it, so that Christian evidences will carry little force at this stage, and they will probably wash off the unbeliever’s mind like water off a duck’s back….”
“Everything changes, however, when people reach stage one and become seekers. For those whom life has raised a question are in the process of breaking with their old presuppositions and searching for better ones. They are not open and the framework of their previous faith no longer works to explain away all else. At stage two (searching for answers) presuppositions are the very nub of the issue for seekers, for what they are looking for is alternative presuppositions to answer their questions. If in their search they were to presuppose that any new faith was true, would it illuminate their world and provide solid answers to their questions?”
“Stage three, by contrast, is all about evidences, and properly so. But when the evidences for the Christian faith – say, the evidence for the reliability of the Gospels or for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus – come into play at this stage, they are no longer ‘bare facts’ or ‘Christian facts’ that could be eaten up within an unbelieving framework. They are now facts that make sense within the framework of the biblical worldview, and they are now considered with an open mind because the seeker now has an open mind. At this stage, Christian evidences serve to support a solid grounding for the seeker to investigate the adequacy and the truth of the Christian faith.”
Great point. Apologetic methods that are biblical, truthful, and reasonable do not conflict, but together contribute to sharing the gospel and explaining the faith!