Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Presuppositional Apologetics and the Trinity
11/02/2010 - Colin SmithIf you have been following the blog over the past month, you will have seen Jamin Hubner's series of posts on apologetic methodology and particularly on Presuppositional Apologetics. Hopefully, as a result of Jamin's sterling work, you are all now fully conversant with Presuppositional Apologetics (or the "Transcendental" argument as Van Til preferred to call it) such that you are freely discussing presuppositionalism vs. evidentialism with your neighbors, and you plan to give a copy of Van Til's Christian Apologetics to all your relatives for Christmas. Well done, Jamin!
One aspect of presuppositionalism that Van Til (and those that followed him) was quite insistent on was the fact that when arguing for the existence of God, it is insufficient to simply argue that there is such a thing as a divine being. Most apologists start here, and then have an uphill battle once this premise is assumed to then jump from deism or theism to the Christian God. For Van Til, it was pointless even beginning to discuss God, His existence, His nature, His works, etc. if you are not prepared to argue for the Christian God. In his famous debate against Gordon Stein, Greg Bahnsen in his opening statement made it plain that he was not there to discuss the existence of any other deity--it would be pointless because he would agree with Stein regarding their non-existence. Rather, the point of the argument begins with Christians on the Christian God.
Naturally, one of--if not the--key doctrines of Christian theism is that of the Trinity. It is the doctrine of the Trinity above all other doctrines pertaining to God that sets Christianity apart from other religions. It has often been said, and as far as I can tell this is generally true, that all heretical offsprings of Christianity share a denial or a perversion of this central teaching. For Van Til, however, the Trinity was also important to his apologetic argument. Over the next few blog articles, I plan to sketch what Van Til taught regarding the Trinity (which has often been misunderstood, opening him up to charges of heresy), and how he understood the Trinity to figure into the presuppositional argument for God's existence.
These blog articles are based on a paper I wrote a while back on the subject "Van Til and the Trinity: The Centrality of the Christian View of God in the Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til." If you want to read this paper as a pdf, you can do so by going to the "Papers" section on my website. What will follow in these blogs will not be a simple cut-and-paste of the paper. I will attempt to present the basic arguments in a blog-friendly format. For some people, that's as much as you want or need. For others who want more, read the paper, or check out Jamin's Van Til/Presuppositional Apologetics Reading Recommendations.
PS: If you have been hunting around for my blog articles on the Islamic concept of Predestination (Qadar), you can now find that as a single article in pdf format on my website, along with an overview of the Qur'an.