The Bible – Our Presupposition

Oil painting of a young John Calvin.
Oil painting of a young John Calvin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following was partly quoted and referenced from John Calvin – full reference below quote. Note: There is no talk of probabilities here. And neither should we.

From John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion

5. Let it therefore be held as fixed, that those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit.73 Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own Judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our Judgment, but we subject our intellect and Judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate. This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge. Hence, God most justly exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he,” (Isa. 43:10).

Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce. I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality. I do not dwell on this subject at present, because we will return to it again: only let us now understand that the only true faith is that which the Spirit of God seals on our hearts. Nay, the modest and teachable reader will find a sufficient reason in the promise contained in Isaiah, that all the children of the renovated Church “shall be taught of the Lord,” (Isaiah 54:13). This singular privilege God bestows on his elect only, whom he separates from the rest of mankind. For what is the beginning of true doctrine but prompt alacrity to hear the Word of God? And God, by the mouth of Moses, thus demands to be heard: “It is not in heavens that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,” (Deut. 30:12, 14). God having been pleased to reserve the treasure of intelligence for his children, no wonder that so much ignorance and stupidity is seen in the generality of mankind. In the generality, I include even those specially chosen, until they are ingrafted into the body of the Church. Isaiah, moreover, while reminding us that the prophetical doctrine would prove incredible not only to strangers, but also to the Jews, who were desirous to be thought of the household of God, subjoins the reason, when he asks, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1). If at any time, then we are troubled at the small number of those who believe, let us, on the other hand, call to mind, that none comprehend the mysteries of God save those to whom it is given.

John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I. VII. 5.

Referenced in a Kindle sample of Greg Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Part One: Presuppositional Apologetics Positively Stated, Chapter 1, God in the Dock, Section: By What Standard.

Well worth reading the sample, and it’s free!

A Great Day in Aberystwyth

Pastor Geoff Thomas

In complete contrast to the ridiculous idea of having a donkey in a service of worship we were treated to the unadulterated Gospel at Alfred Place Baptist Church yesterday. Here Christ and His cross were at the centre, not donkeys, drums, entertainment and all manner of man-centred trivia. It was great to be in Aber and to hear Geoff Thomas again in his own inimitable way.

In the morning we were in Luke 19:45-48 ‘The Cleansing of the Temple’. In the evening it was Romans 8:11 ‘Christ Raised by the Spirit, and we are to be Raised Also’.

His sermons are available on Sermon Audio. Go here for MP3 Alfred Place for links.

I saw Geoff again this afternoon as he passed in his car. To my surprise he pulled over and we chatted for a while about apologetics and I asked about Greg Bahnsen. He did know him, and at one time Geoff had to stand in for him at an apologetics conference.

We continued to chat about apologetics, I thanked him for the Sunday ministry and in typical Geoff fashion he was back in his car and away.

The Problem of Evil – 1

The Problem of Evil has been described as the Achilles Heal of the Christian faith and when discussing Christianity in almost any context this ‘problem’ or difficulty in one form or another is raised as an objection to the Christian faith. I read yesterday morning the best explanation I have read or heard. As  point of interest, the very fact there are several Christian answers to the problem of evil should also indicate to the unbeliever that it’s not the problem they would like to think it is or maybe even hope it is. The reality is there are answers but are not acceptable to the sinner. As Jesus said: they will not come to the light in order that their deeds be exposed – in this case the exposure of their own inescapable bias.

As indicated in a previous comment I am slowly working my way through Greg Bahnsen‘s book (Kindle) Always Ready: Direction for Defending the Faith. The chapter on The Problem of Evil is the longest chapter so far (about halfway) in the book and is so well stated that it’s definitely worth a post. My task now is to try and convey this to you.

The problem is normally stated as follows:

1. God is all-good.
2. God is all-powerful.
3. Evil exists.

If God were both benevolent and Almighty evil would not exist. Evil does exist so Christianity cannot be true. However, Bahnsen adds a fourth premise that God has a purpose – unknown to us –  in the evil we see, feel and hear about.

Here’s Bahnsen from pages 144 & 145:

However the critic here overlooks a perfectly reasonable way to assent to all three of these propositions.

If the Christian presupposes that God is perfectly and completely good—as Scripture requires us to do—then he is committed to evaluating everything within his experience in the light of that presupposition. Accordingly, when the Christian observes evil events or things in the world, he can and should retain consistency with his presupposition about God’s goodness by now inferring that God has a morally good reason for the evil that exists. God certainly must be all-powerful in order to be God; He is not to be thought of as overwhelmed or stymied by evil in the universe. And God is surely good, the Christian will profess—so any evil we find must be compatible with God’s goodness. This is just to say that God has planned evil events for reasons which are morally commendable and good.


To put it another way, the apparent paradox created by the above three propositions is readily resolved by adding this fourth premise to them:

4. God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists.

When all four of these premises are maintained, there is no logical contradiction to be found, not even an apparent one. It is precisely part of the Christian’s walk of faith and growth in sanctification to draw proposition 4 as the conclusion of propositions 1-3.

Best to leave it there for now. But in another post I will track back a little and try to show you how and why Bahnsen gets us there.


Presuppositional Apologetics – Begging the Question

English: Dr. Greg L. BahnsenIf I were to drive in a 6 inch nail it would take me a few blows to do it. Trying to get Presuppositional Apologetics into my brain is very similar and when a concept gets driven home – by many blows – it seems like a good idea to post on it to test my own understanding. This way I have to try to explain it simply to myself and you the reader.

I’ve been listening to Greg Bahnsen (many times) and have recently started reading his ‘Always Ready’ book (Kindle) on defending the faith. So here’s my initial attempt an explanation of how the method used is consistent with the conclusion to be reached. Suppose I seek to prove to you the Lordship of Jesus – because He is Lord. I presuppose His Lordship in order to reach my conclusion – Jesus is Lord. This is sometimes called ‘Begging the Question’ (or petitio principii, “assuming the initial point”). But suppose someone else comes along and seeks to prove there is no such thing as the Christian God. Are they not also ‘Begging the Question’? What is this person to assume at the start of his investigation – there is no such thing as the Christian God. The conclusion – no Christian God. But the Atheist might well then retreat into a ‘neutral’ position and assume Agnosticism. But this is just to try to slide into a place that in the end confesses no more than ignorance – though it would be ‘sold’ as being really smart.

English: Richard Dawkins giving a lecture base...The arch Atheist Richard Dawkins pours scorn on the Christian and yet says he does not know (6.9). Never mind begging the question this is called ‘trying to have your cake and eat it’. Is someone, anyone, going to tell me Richard Dawkins does not already assume what he’s trying to prove – that is, the Christian God is a figment of our imagination. And if it (the Bible) might just be true ( even 0.1 of 7.00) then why go to the trouble of name-calling Christians at almost every opportunity. (I have a theory about why but I’ll share it in another post.)