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Entries in Greg Bahnsen (6)


Memories of Eve

I liked this, from Always Ready.  Bahnsen talks about how abandoning our presuppositions as to who has ultimate authority began with Adam and Eve:

The moment one abandons his sure footing in the presupposed word of God his apologetic becomes unfaithful and precarious.  A vivid confrontation of that fact can be taken from the account of man's fall into sin according to Genesis 3.  Even in the garden man was responsible to submit without question to God's revelation given by special word to him.  Satan's strategy then (as now) was to work toward undermining man's presuppositional submission to this authoritative word from God.  He began by calling the word into question (v.1) and then contrdicting it openly (v.4).  The epistemological situation was thrown into upheaval when Eve began thinking that she could have a meaningful and proper understanding of reality apart from God's revelation.  In that case she was free to examine what God had to say and autonomously determine its truth over against the conflicting hypothesis of Satan.  She suspended thinking God's thoughts after Him in order to become the prime authority in the world of thought.  Specifically, she abandoned loyalty to her Creator so as to make herself His equal (v.5), determining good and evil for herself.  She took her stand as a "neutral" judge over God's hypothesis, thereby exalting her "autonomous" reason over God's epistemological necessary word.  By thus usupring the epistemic prerogatives, of the Lord, she plunged the human race into the lawlessness we see ever about is in thought and behavior.

I think we all tend to do what Eve did, even as Christians. How often do we suspend thinking God's thoughts after Him, and begin to become the arbiters of truth?  Just because we are redeemed does not mean we think pure thoughts all of the time.  We daily need to know the Word so that we do think God's thought after Him. Those occasions when we take control of things can be very subtle.


Necessary conditions for apologetic success

From Greg Bahnsen's book Always Ready:

God must give us the success in our apologetic endeavors.  Thus we must "walk in wisdom toward them on the outside" (Col. 4:5), not argue from foolish presuppositions of unbelief but according to the presupposed authority and truth of God's wise revelation in the gospel.  When we do this we will know how to answer every man (v.6), looking to God in continuing prayer that He might grant apologetical success by opening a door for the word (vv. 2-3).  The corrupt communication which characterizes humanistic thought (cf. Matt. 7:17-18) must not proceed from our mouths, but rather good works which represent the mind of God (cf. Matt. 19:17) and can minister grace to our hearers (Eph. 4:29).  As Paul, our speech must not be with enticing words of human wisdom but with the powerful proof (demonstration) of the Spirit (I Cor. 2:4), knowing that the faith of our opponents must stand in the power of God and not the wisdom of men (v.5).  Such faith is unto understanding.  Consequently, the apologist must work from the presupposed word of Christ, be in constant prayer, and look to God for the door to be opened to the word (cf. Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Cor 2:12) and for the granting of wisdom, genuine knowledge, and the enlightenment (cf. Eph. 1:16-17).


The point of contact

Greg Bahnsen has established that because God is the creator of all, all belongs to him.  Because all belongs to him, either we live for him or we don't.  Likewise with our intellects, we either think consistent with the reality that we are dependent upon God for all knowledge, or we think we are only dependent upon ourselves for knowledge and understanding.

That does not mean there is no point of contact or commonality with a professed unbeliever.  The point of commonality is that we are God's creations, and we live in God's created world.  Our common ground begins withe creation.

Bahnsen says:

For there is something of great significance in common between the believer and unbeliever; they are both, irrespective of their saved and lost conditions, both the creaturely image of God.  While the unregenerate needs to be renewed with respect to it, the image of God remains his.  Men cannot cease being man, and to be man is to be God's image.  Man is the finite replica of God, being like Him in every respect that is appropriate for the creature to resemble his Creator.  Hereby no man can escape the face of God, for God's image is carried along with man wherever he goes - even into Hades.  Therefore, the believer can find point of contact in his discussions with unbelievers deep down inside them.  Creation establishes forever that no man is beyond the touch of God's revelation; men have been created with the capacity to understand recognized their Maker's voice.

This reality that we are all creations of God is actually quite crucial.   This is where compassion begins; we recognize that those who are dead in their sins are still God's creatures.  This is where "equality" among men and women begins, with our origins.  Men and women aren't equal because it is legislated, or because it is "fair."  It is because we are creatures of God.  

It is not always easy to relate to an unbeliever.  Over the weekend, I saw enough on Twitter from the entertainment industry to make me really loathe human beings.  Yes, they mock God, perpetuate idolatry and exalt ugliness.  But they bear the image of God.  The only difference between them and me is that I have had the truth revealed to me, and have received the grace and forgiveness of God.


God's common ground

In his book Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen frequently reminds the reader that neutrality is not possible when it comes to how we know and understand things.  Because God is the Creator of everything, everything must serve Him.  As he says:

There is not a square inch of the world, not a split second of time, that is not dependent upon, controlled by, and suservient to God.  Hence man is commanded to do everything he does to God's glory (I Cor. 10:13); our bodies are required to be living sacrifices in God's service (Rom. 12:1).

Even if a person does not acknowledge this control, it still exists.  This means that neturality is impossible; we are either using our lives for God or we are not.  This neutrality actually helps us to relate to those who do not profess a belief in Christ.  How?  Because we all relate to one another on the same level:  as creations of God.  Our common ground is God's ground:

All men have in common the world created by God, controlled by God, and constantly revealing God.  In this case any area of life or any fact can be used as a point of contact.  The denial of neutrality secures, rather than destroys, commonality.

So, do we need to contrive areas of commonality?  By Bahnsen's reasoning, no. 


Bold humility

That is what is necessary for the Christian scholar, according to Always Ready, by Greg Bahnsen.  In discussing what is required for presuppositional epistemology, Bahnsen says we need two attitudes:

Both attitudes are inherent in the very position.  First, the presuppositionalist must be bold, for knowledge is impossible aside from presupposing God's truth.  Second, he must be humble, for the reason why he prespposes God's truth (and the only way any man can come to such a presupposition) resides in the grace of God alone.  The fear of the Lord is foundational to wisdom, and hence the wise must be humble.  The Christian scholar, then, must evidence a humble boldness in his confrontation in the world of thought.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, burying up the opportunity.  Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one (Col. 4:5-6)