Presuppositionalism Explained


    As the diagrams in the spread of views section suggested, there are two general and somewhat systematic ways Christian apologists have defended their faith in the academic marketplace of ideas.  What I want to discuss here is one of those two general systematic ways, that of presuppositional apologetics in order to clarify how it is being used in this context.

    The term “presuppositional apologetics” is being used as a broad general category to characterize apologists (and those systems of apologetics they produce) who hold that the foundations of one’s beliefs are starting points or foundations which cannot be argued to because, simply, there is nothing more properly foundational than they. 

    Under this broad category of presuppositional apologetics there are a few useful things to highlight.  One, is that not all presuppositionalists agree on what particular beliefs should be included as properly held presuppositions--some hold it includes belief that God exists, others hold that and the presupposition that the Bible is God’s word and therefore true, etc.; two, not all presuppositionalists agree as to what constitutes the proper grounds for their holding the presuppositions they do; and three, not all presuppositional apologists would prefer to be called presuppositionalists since it is a general name which covers a multitude of sins.

    Being that this is the case, we should be careful not to conflate the various forms into a single way of thinking about presuppositional apologetics.  What they hold in common is that some beliefs cannot be justified by appealing to other propositional arguments--they are basic beliefs--to which, for various reasons, they believe they are entitled to properly hold.

    And finally, in a similar way to the evidentialists there are some presuppositionalists who like to in various ways play both side of the fence on their stance.   Whether that is proper to do so and in what circumstances that might be justified is a subject to be covered in these resources and readings.

Ladybug in Neighbor’s Yard
Photo: Jim Cook