The Existence of God

Posted: October 4, 2009 by Daniel in Uncategorized

Here is the gospel talk from 11th Hour, Thursday 1st Oct.
Well done Nathan, a good introduction to the existence of God.
Feel free to post any questions or suggestions here or email me.

Viewing tip: click on the X-arrows for full screen.
Go to Vimeo if you want to download the original Quicktime file (bottom right of the page).
Nathan’s power point is also online.

Comments
  1. milkenunny says:

    I’d like to applaud what I see being attempted here. But I have some hard things to say too. I’m not trying to be cruel here, so please don’t take me wrong. This is important stuff. This is where the rubber meets the road when we interact with people and try to do evangelism.

    The arguments presented here and quite convincing – if you already believe in God. But what if you happen to be what Paul describes in Romans 1:18, someone who is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness? Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute – and I mean that literally.

    Creation. We are bombarded with evolution from every side, through the media, through the educational establishment. If there is such a thing as total depravity, then people are not neutrally weighing the arguments. They are inclined to deceive themselves, and exchange the truth of God for the lie, and worship and serve what is created rather than the creator. (Pardon my paraphrase of Romans 1:25.) Why would a non-Christian think that a few Christians who are obviously biased have it right, and the whole scientific community has it wrong? The argument for creation presented was the design argument, but even if one admits to design in the universe, it only leads to the conclusion that there is one or more designers. Even Richard Dawkins can live with that, so long as the designers were aliens! (See the documentary Expelled to hear him admit that.) “You can’t look at the world and say it just happened” – I’m afraid lots of people do just that every day. They suppress the truth that they see.

    Conscience. “We know that rape, pedophilia and murder are wrong and evil.” Well, perhaps in 2009 Launceston most people would agree. But let’s pick another three heinous crimes. How about abortion, homosexuality and sabbath-breaking. Everyone knows they are wrong and evil, right? Some cultures are fine with rape, pedophilia and murder too. But for the grace of God, ours will be one day too.

    Christ. Those who wish to suppress the truth easily discard the evidence for the resurrection as biased and superstitious.

    God is powerful and can work with His great grace even when we mess up. Just as well. I know I mess up a lot. But there comes a point when we have to get serious. If you argue for God’s existence in this way, you will do fine until someone does a search of the antitheist (God doesn’t believe in athiests, so I don’t either) sites on the net. If you want to be able to evangelise the guy laying bricks on the building site and the university professor, you need some better apologetics. Time for another Supertones quote, this one from “Grounded”.

    And here we stand
    Naked, barehanded, futily prepared
    For the blows to be landed.
    Presuppositions is all you can stand on.
    Can you twist their wrist
    When they lay a hand on?
    Learn how to fight
    From words on a paper.
    Learn from the shoguns,
    Bahnsen and schaeffer.
    Invincible army,
    Holy spirit our general.
    Weapons are formed
    Form most precious of minerals.

    The weapons we need are out there, but we are naked and barehanded when we’re using refuted arguments. But presuppositional apologetics is out there for us to grasp. It’s the most powerful evanglistic tool I know of. It allows you to talk to anyone at any level and not come off looking like a fool. A couple of links:
    The Bahnsen-Stein debate

    http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2006/12/05/greg-bahnsen-vs-gordon-stein-the-great-debate/

    Have a listen to this and stop it after Stein has given his presentation and think about how you would answer him. If you’re like me the first time I heard it, you will have no idea how to answer him. Then listen to what Bahnsen does.

    The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (lots of articles on reformed apologetics)
    http://www.reformed.org/

    Grace and peace to you.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks, Expelled is on my list of things to watch.

    • jameskrieg says:

      I personally do not believe many (if any) people are converted through evidential apologetics, because of the reasons above – however that does not mean there is no place for it. What Nathan has done is to put the issues on the table, and I’m sure that this presentation would have led to ongoing conversations and discussions in which the principles of presuppositional apologetics would have been used (I hope!). Because people – albeit fools – profess to be wise, then sometimes we need to find our starting point within the framework of their ‘wisdom’ – ie. if people think that God can be proved or disproved using evidence and reason, then that is where we must start our conversation with them, even if it means eventually coming to the point of helping them to admit that their reasoning is faulty.
      Nathan’s approach was not pure evidential apologetics, as he makes a couple of ‘assumptive’ statements at the start, ie. ‘We can know that God exists by looking to Jesus Christ who is God’. And when he comes to this third ‘C’ he doesn’t prove that Jesus is God, he just states it and the message of the cross.
      It’s a great video – I hope to use it in my evangelism training with students – with your permission, Daniel of course…

      James Krieg

      • Daniel says:

        Sure James, you are welcome to use it as required. That is what its made for and happy to hear people want to use it (takes several hours to edit)

        As you have guessed, there was a time provided for questions (written on paper and handed to Nathan) given after the message.

        Great to hear from you James. I appreciate what you have to say about presuppositions.

    • Alistair Bain says:

      Hey Kim

      No worries. I am totally agreeing with you about the tone thing on email. Maybe I should start using those smiley happy face thingo’s. Thanks again for the book recommendations. You say you were outside Koorong. Are you an Australian? Or has Koorong’s empire stretched beyond the sea?

  2. Alistair Bain says:

    milkenunny. The only Bahnsen I have read was a long forgotten article in which he argued for Theonomy using a hermeneutic that I could never sign up to.

    My worry is that once you say that there is only 1 way to argue apologetically, (and your little ditty seems to suggest this) then the Spirit’s work becomes subject to a presuppositional apologetic.

    You don’t really think that do you.

    Al

    • Daniel says:

      I was not really sure what a presuppositional apologetic was, so i wikid it:

      In Christian theology, presuppositionalism is a school of apologetics that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith and defend it against objections primarily by exposing the perceived flaws of other worldviews while the Bible, as divine revelation, is presupposed. It claims that apart from presuppositions, one could not make sense of any human experience, and there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian.[1] In other words, presuppositionalists claim that a Christian cannot consistently declare his belief in the necessary existence of the God of the Bible and simultaneously argue on the basis of a different set of assumptions that God may not exist and Biblical revelation may not be true. Presuppositionalism is the predominant apologetic of Calvinism and the Reformed churches.[2] Two schools of presuppositionalism exist, based on the different teachings of Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Haddon Clark. Presuppositionalism itself contrasts with classical apologetics and evidential apologetics.

      Presuppositionalists compare their presupposition against other ultimate standards such as reason, empirical experience, and subjective feeling. They do not use the prefix pre- (“before”) to imply priority in time (that is, something that must be supposed in advance), reason to understand it, and emotion to be affected by it; rather, a presupposition in this context is:
      a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition…. This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.[3]

      is that a fair explanation?

      • milkenunny says:

        Yes, Daniel, a surprisingly good explanation for wiki🙂 I’m not trying to give you a course in apologetics – I suggest you study the issue and see what you think. I think it’s Biblical and effective. Just to be clear, Presuppositionalists use evidence, and evidentialists use presuppositions. Evidentialists assume a commonality of worldview between the Christian and the non-Christian, and that therefore simply presenting enough evidence will be convincing. Presuppositionalists argue that if the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, those who will not start their reasoning there will become foolish. I could go into more detail, but really, it’s worth some study time, and picking up a decent book on the subject. I’ve not read, but have had recommended “Every thought captive: a study manual for the defense of Christian truth” By Richard L. Pratt, Jr. I’ve found Bahnsen’s apologetic work excellent, and would recommend “Always Ready” as a good introduction, and “Van Til’s Apologetic” and the ultimate tome on the subject. They can be purchased from cmfnow.com. They’re not often seen in Australia, as there is a lot of bias against Bahnsen because he was a theonomist.

        Speaking of which…. I must say something to Alastair. I’m just wondering how you would feel, Alastair, if someone said something like this about you, “The only Bain I read was a long forgotten article in which he argued for and I didn’t agree.” Would you feel as if you had been treated fairly? Of course not. You would hope that when people argued, it would be on the merits of the case, and not by unrelated personal attacks.

        As regards Bahnsen’s hermeneutics, he was part of the group which drafted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, and if you check it out, I’m sure you’ll find the list of people who “signed on” to that included most of the leaders of the Reformed faith of our day.

        I’m not sure how you can get the idea that the Spirit’s work is limited to presuppositional apologetics. Apologetics is simply the part of evangelism which involves answering objections. This can clear the way for the presentation of the gospel. It’s all up the Him, but it is also our responsibility to be as faithful to His word as we can. Let me just quote a sentence from my original post, “God is powerful and can work with His great grace even when we mess up.”

        Did you really need to ask the question?

        To anyone reading again:

        Having said that, it really isn’t helpful to try to answer objections with things which are not true. Here’s a challenge. Muster you best arguments and go and surf some athiest sites. See how they seem after reading a few of their prepared responses to your arguments. If you’re very brave, head over to chat room of athiests, and see how long it takes to get torn to shreds. Truly, many of the arguments Christians use don’t last very long against an intelligent and articulate non-Christian. Presuppositional apologetics is a more Biblical way to do things. Instead you find yourself saying with Paul, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

        Why not put some time into studying it? It has been of great benefit to me.

        Grace and peace to you.

        Kim

  3. Alistair Bain says:

    Kim.

    I am surprised that you have accused me of making a personal attack against Bahnsen. But if that is what you believe me to have done then I apologise. I did not intend you to receive my words in that way. My reference to a long forgotten article of his was intended to convey the meaning that I read something he wrote a while back, I don’t remember what it was called, but I didn’t agree with his hermeneutic nor with the theonomist position for which he argued and which flowed out of his hermeneutic. I have read nothing of his apologetic writings. But that is not to say that I am not someone who evangelises within a presuppositional framework. I do. Not always though. I am much more of a presuppositionalist than an evidentialist (if they are the right names). And I don’t think that Nathan messed up on the video either. He might not have cleared the way in a manner that you would have preferred. But he didn’t have the benefit of a whole heap of time either. I liked what he did actually.

    As for people writing of me “The only Bain I read was a long forgotten article in which he argued for and I didn’t agree” then I expect that, if I live long enough, there will be many who could say it. I am wrong about things that I am not yet aware of. I will change my mind about things and, as God continues to work within me, I am sure that there will be some things that I have written or will write for which I will need to repent.

    Thanks for taking the time to recommend some readings. I will definitely look into them. My study/reading has mainly been focussed around Ravi Z, James Sire, Os Guinness and, lately, Tim Keller. Philip Jensen from Sydney is also well worth reading.

  4. Alistair Bain says:

    For anyone interested, Tony Payne, Col Marshall and Phillip Jensen did an article in the Briefing in 1990 om apologetics in which, amongst other things, they say that “there’s more than one way ‘to give an answer for the hope that we have'”

    Check it out

    http://matthiasmedia.com.au/briefing/library/1481

    • Daniel says:

      Many thanks Alistair for this great link. It puts it all together quite well. I had a quick skim through it and will have a more detailed read later. I am really starting to get my head around the different apologetic approaches, their purpose and distinctives. I understand that I only have a rudimentry ability to use any of these pre-evangelism tools and improving my skills in them could be of benefit: another thing for my to-do list.

      • Kim Howe says:

        Have you ever read a really good article by a well meaning person explaining how to resolve the problems between Calvinism and Arminianism by taking the best of both worlds? You will hear them say something like, “You need to be a Calvinist on your knees, but and Arminian in the pulpit”. They will tell you that Calvinism over-emphasises the sovereignty of God, and Arminianism over-emphasises the responsibility of man, and what we really need is a synthesis of the two, a sort of Calminianism.

        This article is (sadly) the apologetics equivalent. It works fine unless you actually understand what presuppositionalism and evidentialism actually are. They are essentially very much like Calvinism and Arminianism. One recognises the total depravity of man, and the other denies it. Both use evidence (contrary to what the article seems to imply). The difference is that evidentialism assumes that there are common notions by which any reasonable person can weigh the evidence and come to an unbiased conclusion on the basis of the evidence. A reformed apologist may offer the same evidence, but will offer it within the Christian worldview and if the non-Christian uses his faulty worldview to try to escape the evidence, the defects of the non-Christian’s worldview will be pointed out, and the coherence of the Christian worldview shown in contrast. Along the way often particular sins (unbelief and hatred of God for example) come to light which can be gently brought forward, along with a call to repentance and faith.

        Evidentialism sacrifices the Christian worldview on the altar of pretended neutrality. When you make an appeal to common notions, you are denying that there is a distinctive Christian worldview, so you can never appeal to it. Worse still, you give up the fact that All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. (Col 2:3)

        Just as surely as Arminianism is commonly held and wrong, also evidentialism is commonly held and wrong. Don’t take my word for it though, do the study yourselves and come to your own opinion.

        Coming to grips with this has made me able to present the gospel to people in a way I never could before. Be it the guy who accosted me outside Koorong a couple of weeks ago saying, “That’s all bull….” or the University professors and director where my wife used to work. What results is in the hands of God, but when you have met their objections, pointed to some of their sins against God, and called them to repentance and faith, it does give you something to do on your knees later.

        PS To Alastair: Thank you for you gracious response. Your apology is gladly accepted and all is forgiven. I apologise if I misunderstood you, but it is sometimes hard to pick tone in text🙂

        Grace and peace to you.

        Kim

      • Daniel says:

        Ok. I have not yet done lengthy study on Evidential Apologetics (EA), but if appealing to the conscience is within the realms of EA (as Nathan did and you called it EA), isn’t that a highly reformed idea? It is coming from the ground which Scripture puts forward about us being without excuse due to our suppression of the truth that we have knowledge of.

        I do see the importance of apologetics as ‘pre-evangelism’ or ‘re-evangelism’ (overcoming those nagging objections.) It is not the declaration of the gospel, but a way of helping people shift from blindness to sight, in regard to the truth claims of the Bible. I would not go so far to say that evidential is Arminian in its tone and theological consideration of the unregenerate. I think evidential does not necessarily assume Arminian thoughts of man; God is at work in all apologetics and evangelism, because in the end it can never be our skill in expressing the existance of God and then the demands of God, that causes conversion.

      • Kim Howe says:

        Appealing to the conscience is perfectly valid, so long as we remember what the conscience is. It’s a version of what God requires of us which has been damaged by the fall. The conscience needs to be awaked by the Word and the Spirit. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.”

        Without God’s help, the conscience will be adapted to whatever the mind decides is right and wrong. That will be affected by education, friends and society at large – as well as the person’s own depravity. In a Christian society, like we once had, it could be affected in the right direction, but in our time it’s usually the other way. People’s morality become so twisted that they call evil good and good evil.

        Apologetics is not the gospel, if we understand the gospel in the limited sense, of being the message that Jesus came, died for our sins and rose again. It’s very much part of the process of pointing someone to Jesus though, because everyone seems to have some sort of objection that needs to be dealt with.

        I absolutely agree that it is not our skill that brings about conversion. God forbid! God’s grace is what it is all about. It’s our job to be faithful to what God says, since we are his servants, but even our best efforts are mingled with sin. Pride is always there waiting in the wings if you get good at something. There is some degree though, where God seems to withhold blessing when we do things that greatly grieve Him. We need to do the best we can out of love for Him, but it’s done as a service to Him, and when we’ve done speaking there’s still the praying.

        I’ll leave the issue of EA being Arminian for now. Perhaps we could talk about it after you have had some time to study both.

        Grace and peace to you.

        Kim

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