Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 2
Presupposition and Classification In Apologetics
People who oppose the Christian faith often do not disclose their presuppositions since they know that revealing the bases for the radical beliefs will make their arguments vulnerable. Thus the best approach for rebutting radical beliefs is to know the major presuppositions of different groups in advance enabling the apologist to frame suitable leading questions to expose the assumptions of the opponents. With this in mind some of the major presuppositions of orthodox Christian faith and of prominent opposing views are listed below.
Major Pre-suppositions Of Some Groups Prominent Today
1-FUNDAMENTALISTS (Theological Conservatives): There are many varieties of Fundamentalist such as Islamic, Judean, Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian. However, throughout this lesson when we refer to Fundamentalist, we will be referring to Christian Fundamentalist only. Christian Fundamentalists are Christians who are devoted to the fundamentals of the Bible. Brethren, Fundamental Baptists, Independent Baptists, Presbyterians, Fundamental Lutherans, and many Independents are among such groups. Fundamental (conservative) Christian presuppositions are:
Sola Scriptura: The Bible alone is the Holy Spirit-inspired word of God, and is the source of all revelation, doctrine, and authority. Human experience or traditions have no authority in the above matters.
Sola Gratia: Grace alone is the basis of salvation. Grace is unmerited favor from God. No man however saintly can obtain salvation through his own meritorious works.
Sola Fide: Faith is the only means through which one can attain the free gift of justification. Faith is a non-meritorious activity. Meritorious human works play no part in receiving the gift of justification.
Solus Christus: Christ is the only Saviour and the only mediator between God and man. There is no other Saviour or mediator.
According to the stand of fundamentalist Christianity, anyone denying any of the above tenets is a heretic. Church Fathers, Protestant Reformers, and the Fathers of the Brethren Assemblies hold all of the above tenets. The writers of Calvin Research Group Textbooks are unashamedly committed to the above fundamentals. No theological compromise is permitted. The actual presuppositions of the writers include additional points, and are mentioned at the end of this chapter.
Fundamentalists are also known by the titles CONSERVATIVES or ORTHODOX. ORTHODOX is used here in a theological sense, rather than as a denominational title such as Eastern Orthodox .
2-EVANGELICALS: The word Evangelical was actually a synonym for Fundamentalist. Today “evangelical” implies a more liberal view. In the original sense, and Evangelical is a doctrinally conservative Christians who believes all the doctrines in the ancient Nicene Creed, which stresses the centrality of the resurrection, and the belief that salvation is through Jesus, alone. This is emphasized by the need for a definite, adult commitment or conversion to faith in Christ. Evangelicals stress both doctrinal absolutes and vigorous efforts to win others to belief. They believe in the four presuppositions above, but may be more flexible and loose in applying them.
Exactly how loose and flexible depends upon their commitment and what type of doctrinal absolutes that define their commitments. There are two primary groups of Evangelicals one being the Conservative Evangelists that are defined by specific doctrines and the Born Again Christians which are defined by personal, often vague, spiritual experiences and feelings.
Conservative Evangelicals are noted for their faith in their lives and believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians. They believe that Satan exists; believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.
While the Born again Christians believing that because they have made a personal commitment, confessed their sins, and accepted Jesus Christ as savior that they will go to heaven. Because they are generally upbeat about their beliefs they are always eager to have other join in their in their faith. It is with the Born again Christian evangelicals that most problems lie, in that they tend to be far more liberal in acceptance of abortions and/or gay relationships.
Keep in mind that many of those confessing to be Born-again-Christians are in fact Conservative however, they have started miss using the phrase “Born-again” as a title.
3-NEO EVANGELICALS: By the middle nineteen fifties even the looser variety of Evangelicals wanted the label “evangelical”, but were not willing to accept the accuracy and reliability of Biblical narratives. Further, they were not willing to believe in the Biblical record of creation, the flood of Noah, and miracles. The term Neo (New) Evangelicals was used to identify this group. Many seminaries worldwide labeled ‘Evangelical’ are actually Neo Evangelical in theology, as is obvious from their stand on evolution, creation and normative revelation.
Neo-evangelical are theologically radical and would be defined as one who has taken a “lower view” of Scripture, has developed a more open, inclusivistic spirit toward liberalism, and has become ecumenical in evangelism efforts.
Neo Evangelical presuppositions are:
• A complete toleration toward, questionable views of Scripture which has inevitability led to the toleration of a wide diversity of theological viewpoints so much so that they tend to believe of a probability of being saved without Christ. Neo Evangelical presuppositions are:
A Somewhat Fallible Bible
Probable Theistic Evolution
Probability Of Salvation Without An Explicit Knowledge Of Christ
Doubt About The Veracity Of Miracles Recorded In The Bible
Other things to note are:
• They deny that the Scripture is complete through their attempts to Christianize pagan ideas and systems founded upon personal beliefs and/or influences such as psychology/psychiatry, numerology, astrology, personality theory, etc
• Over time in their desire to gain intellectual acceptability there has been a marked subservience to scientism, which has led to a friendly attitude toward scientism almost to the point of placing rationalistic (not ‘rational’) scholarship and scientism in the seat of final authority. This has led many of them to doubt the miracles recorded in the Bible.
• Neo-evangelicals view the gospel as the social gospel, which has two points individual and social, thereby neglecting New Testament priorities. This means that the gospel tends to become watered down to make it acceptable to the world.
• They prefer the kind of cooperative evangelism which emphasizes the unity of the church in preference to truth and doctrinal purity, and try to align with groups that have been traditionally subversive of Bible truth such as Roman Catholics.
• They criticize Christian Fundamentalist on issues related to their doctrinal emphasis and claim that this emphasis has caused neglect of the social application of Christianity to the world. They tend to call for preaching only a “positive message,” as often expressed by the statement, “God called me to win souls, not to criticize others.”
• They have a tendency toward finding justifiable reasons for condoning and using that, which evolves from carnality, sensuality, secularism, and worldliness especially in regards to music, theatrics, emotionalistic and psychological manipulations, promotionalism, and general appearance.
• Desire to mix their Christian views and politics as one through Christian Activism.
• Unbiblical views regarding God’s role for women.
• Because of their weak views on Scripture they have a tendency to shift from objective Biblical doctrine to subjective experience which allows for the possible validity of apostolic sign-gifts for our own day (prophecy, tongues, miracles of healing through special persons, etc.).
Other Lessons In Course 02 Lessons
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 1
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 2
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 3
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 4
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 5
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 6
- Christian Apologetics Free Course 02, Lesson 7