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Friday, February 4, 2011

Greg Bahnsen

He past away in 1995, but he was one of the best presuppositional apologists. A friend of mine has his hand written notes. Below is the famous debate with an atheist that alot of people still talk about.

Play Audio


Vinnie said...

I just wanted to let you know that his last name is spelled Bahnsen. I would like to know what your thoughts are about the apologetics of Greg Bahnsen and how the Orthodox could use incorporate it in their theology. The presuppositional methodology of Bahnsen is particular to the Reformed tradition. Cornelius Van Til is the Father of this approach. I am reformed, but disillusioned right now to its claims. What are your thoughts?

Jnorm said...

Thanks for the correction Vinnie! I am horrible at spelling.

Vinnie said:
"I would like to know what your thoughts are about the apologetics of Greg Bahnsen and how the Orthodox could use incorporate it in their theology."

There are alot of converts that use to be into Presuppositionalism or know about Bahnsen and Van Til. But at this time I don't know if any actually know how to make use of this skill in Orthodoxy. The paradigm is different.

I tend to prefer this style of Presuppositionalism over that of Gordan Clark. The reason is the Incarnation itself. The Incarnation is empirical. God walked among us, died and rose again, ascended and He is still fully God and Fully man right now. When we look at Scripture we see the Apostles Thomas and John making use of their 5 senses in regards to knowledge:

John 20:25
"The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

John 20:27-29
"Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 21:24
This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

1st John 1:1-4
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our"

And so experience based knowledge isn't wrong in and of itself. It has it's place.

But to be honest, I don't know how to make use of it within Orthodox Christianity. I'm sure someone will find a way. It's only a matter of time.

Vinnie said:
"The presuppositional methodology of Bahnsen is particular to the Reformed tradition. Cornelius Van Til is the Father of this approach."

Is the Van Till tradition totally focused on Sola Scriptura like the Gordan Clark tradition? Sometimes the Clarkian tradition seems more like Solo Scriptura to me. They call it Scripturalism.

For us. When it comes to the issue of "Infallible", we wouldn't even look at Scripture as being our starting point or axiom. Our starting point would be God. I know that this might sound like a meaningless cliche, but I literally mean it.

In college this is what kept my faith alive. I was a protestant still back then, but I read an article online by either an Orthodox woman or a Roman Catholic quoting an Orthodox woman. She said something to the affect that her faith wasn't in the Bible but in God. Meaning, her faith in God allowed her to have faith in everything connected to Him.

I once had a friend who lost faith in college because he read a number of liberal/modern commentaries(He later got his faith back). It happened because he put all his eggs in one basket. And that basket was Scripture.

Well, when one puts all their eggs in God, then no one can touch it. They can talk about the Bible all they want and your faith won't be harmed. Why? Because you believe in the Bible because you first believe in God.

Jnorm said...

Vinnie said:
"I am reformed, but disillusioned right now to its claims. What are your thoughts?"

Thoughts about what? About the claims of the Reformed? What are their claims?

Vinnie said...

Thanks for the feedback. I have to say that live is ironic. When trying to help correct the spelling of someone else, I end up making a mistake of my own. I guess pride does come before a fall. Let’s just say I am new to blogging.

The claims within reformed theology I am questioning have to do with Tradition, Liturgy, and Church.
Tradition is viewed with suspicion and always judged by Sola Scriptura. But, as Jaroslav Pelikan wrote, this anti-traditionalism has become its own tradition. Traditions seem more like paradigms which we use to interpret our experience within the church and also critique other traditions. How do we know what is the true tradition? What standard do we use to judge the traditions?
Liturgy within the reformed church moves in three directions. First, the regulative principle (if it is not in scripture it is wrong) is the consistent application of Sola Scriptura to liturgy, but reduces worship to the bare minimum. Second, there is a trend to be culturally relevant and use contemporary worship, but this is too novel to be true liturgy. Last, the federal vision group has a more high-church, covenant renewal worship that has been influence to some degree by Alexander Schmemann. But in the end they all are left wanting.
I am disillusioned by the inability to have unity in the church as a protestant. Particularly with reformed theology there seems to be divisions all the time in the name of doctrinal purity. If you even seem to deny any of the Five Sola’s you are boarding on heresy. The Federal vision is trying to reverse some of that mentality and move towards a Reformed Catholicity. I think this is what Phillip Schaff and John Nevin were trying to do as well. The question of whose tradition, whose catholicity, and whose interpretation is mounting up to explode the reformed paradigm for me.

Jnorm said...


It might be good to contact Holy Transfiguration. They have a priest that knows exactly what you are going through. Infact, the whole parish might know what you are going through. Don't be afraid my friend. You can contact them.

Also don't be afraid to e-mail me in private as well.

Vinnie said...

Thanks for the information. I will email you sometime soon. I know I have an Antiochian Orthodox Church that I can contact in my hometown.

Van Til always started with the ontological Trinity as the ultimate presupposition. We have to assume the Triune God in order to prove anything at all. He alone provides the necessary preconditions that do not make non-sense out of human experience. He tried to show how the One-ness and Three-ness of God answered the problem of the one and the many in philosophy. Therefore having good theology was essential for having a good apologetic. It is a clash of worldviews that Van Til stressed. The naturalist had to be attacked at his most basic beliefs. Even the resurrection to a consistent naturalism would be interpreted through a naturalistic lens. But to he would have to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to reject the Christian worldview. Van Til use to say "Anti-Theism presupposes Theism" and that the unbeliever was like "A child who sat in her father's lap in order to slap him". The infallible source that revealed this worldview was the Scriptures. Bahnsen was one of the best apologists in that camp, but today Douglas Wilson, Vern Poythress, John Frame, Peter Leithart, and Douglas Jones are carrying the torch. Leithart, Jones and Wilson have a newsletter called Credenda/ Agenda that tried to take on Orthodox theology from the Presuppositional perspective. The Orthodox Christian Information Center responded to that issue in full force if you would like to check it out and tell me what you think.

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