Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

When we turn to the relationship between apologetics and evangelism (or "witnessing," as Kuyper termed it), we must again disagree with those who suppose that the unbeliever can intelligibly study and interpret experience while at the same time denying the truth of the Christian worldview. Francis Schaeffer does this by isolating apologetics from evangelism, making apologetics a preliminary or preparatory vestibule for faith—what he calls "pre-evangelism." Schaeffer does not contend that the non-Christian's worldview is philosophically unintelligible, but simply that it is incomplete. It is all right as far as it goes (it has "half the orange"), but it leaves out the supernatural (the "other half of the orange"). In light of this dichotomy between an area of natural understanding (which does not need Christian presuppositions) and an area of supernatural understanding (which calls for the Christian worldview), we can understand how apologetics becomes a first step, with evangelism following as a second. Schaeffer says: "The truth that we let in first is not a dogmatic statement of the truth of Scripture but the truth of the external world and the truth of what man himself is. This is what shows him his need. The Scriptures then show him the nature of his lostness and the answer to it. This, I am convinced, is the true order for our apologetics in the second half of the twentieth century."

This understanding of our procedure assumes that the unbeliever's philosophy can readily interpret both the external world and himself in an intelligible fashion on the basis of its autonomous presuppositions and rejection of biblical authority—understanding them well enough to see his spiritual "need." After this preparatory work of reason has been done, the evangelist can appeal to the unbeliever to repudiate his autonomy and accept the dogmatic truth of the Scriptures, which "answers" his spiritual need. Thus, Schaeffer's outlook suggests that apologetics and evangelism operate intellectually with different standards, goals, and methods—a twofold approach that is true to the traditional Thomistic method.

Greg Bahnsen in Van Til's Apologetic, 52-53.


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