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What Should We Assume And Not Assume About TAG? (Clarifications Within Presuppositional Apologetics)

May 8, 2011

What is TAG? TAG stands for the transcendental argument for God’s existence. It is a form of apologetics under the umbrella of presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositional apologetics examines what a person already supposes or assumes about reality and the world. Just like there can be only one Highlander, so there can only be one worldview which is most consistent with all of reality. Is Christianity it? TAG is a part of presupositional apologetics that shows this to be the case. TAG especially helps show that “naturalistic” atheism can’t be correct because TAG reveals how without God there would be no such thing as thinking or morality. It is a powerful apologetic. It’s usually confusing at first but then begins to make a lot of sense. Thankfully, presupositional apologetics is starting to catch on more in mainstream Christianity.

However, here are some concerns I have with how people use TAG:

(1) Is it sinful to use historical and scientific methods to prove God’s existence like many proponents of TAG claim?

Many people who use TAG, in particular arguing for God’s existence via the laws of logic (LoL), say that evidential apologetics are “sinful” because the apologist is allowing God to be judged via history, science, etc, rather than revealed to be the one who accounts for the LoL in the first place, thus can even argue about his existence.

It’s true we should make atheistic historians and scientists aware that when they argue against God they are also assuming his existence by using what only he can supply, namely, the LoL. It’s like a king giving a soldier a sword, but then the soldier wants to use the sword against the king. That’s the powerful truth of TAG, especially when it comes to the LoL.

But when we say it’s sinful to argue in these other ways for proof of God, we need to be careful when we say this and we need to clarify how it’s sinful. It’s not sinful in and of itself to argue historically or scientifically for God’s existence. It’s not even sinful if we argue in these ways and never even mention TAG (which I don’t know why we wouldn’t do). Just as Augustine said, “all truth is God’s truth”, so we should expect all areas of study to point to God somehow. We wouldn’t just expect God to account for logic and morality, but then have zero traces of evidence historically or scientifically (i.e. fine tuning of the universe).

The problem comes when we use historical and scientific evidences to be the greatest inferences of God that we get into trouble. In light of the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, it is sinful to stand over him as judge. Just because one uses historical apologetics doesn’t mean they are necessarily standing over God as judge, but if one assumes that this is the ultimate basis by which we can infer God, then they are standing over him as judge, and that is sinful. This needs to be greatly clarified when proponents of TAG go around telling people that using historical methods to prove God is sinful. It isn’t always the case.

(2) Will TAG lead us to a Reformed view of God?

Van Til taught that this was the case. I would clarify that TAG makes more sense when we assume certain aspects of a Reformed view of God. As a Calvinist I believe in total depravity (TD) meaning our natural spiritual condition is more likened to a bloated dead body at the bottom of a river, rather than a person just being in trouble going down the river needing to grab a life line. Hence, why the rescuer on the shore would need to command the dead corpse to rise, not merely throw a life line and leave it up to them. The gospel jives with TD because it explains why no matter what you say to try and convince them, people will still suppress the truth and go on their merry way.

When it comes to leaving people without an excuse of God’s existence with TAG, I find that TD helps me understand why they still reject that which is so obvious.

I also find it helpful to show the atheist why reject. That’s right. You can actually tell the atheist that they reject God no matter what because they’re helpless to do otherwise. When an atheist says “if God is all-knowing, why doesn’t he do what he knows he could do to get me to believe?”, the Arminian can’t answer this. The Calvinist can lovingly tell them it’s because of TD. It’s not a matter of them believing that God exists, but having a new heart to love him and no longer be hostile to him. Apart from God granting that to them, they will remain as they are, condemned yet accountable for their lawlessness.

But does the fact that Calvinists can answer in this way, and understand the reality of the spiritual condition of the atheist, mean that TAG is mostly for Calvinists and not Arminians? No, it doesn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve seen fellow Calvinists react out of their superiority truth complexes and act like it’s so. But there’s a big difference between being able to use an apologetic method, and also being able to tell the rejecter why they reject. (Note: I say “rejecter” rather than “unbeliever” because it’s not a matter of believing in God, but a matter of accepting him to be whom he claimed, namely, risen Lord.) The Arminian can still use TAG just as effectively as the Calvinist can. TD isn’t part of TAG from the atheists perspective, but from the apologists perspective. TD isn’t the argument; it’s why many reject the God of the argument.

Surprisingly, many Calvinists who use TAG aren’t always consistent with it in their assumptions either! We’ll touch on this next.

(3) Does TAG leave us without excuse before Yahweh, or leave us without excuse before a similar view of God?

I have seen so many argue for TAG to deduce the Triune God of Scripture. I would argue it absolutely necessitates all of the attributes of the Triune God of Scripture, but just because it necessitates all of God’s attributes, that’s not enough to tell you for certain which “God” it is. You may be thinking “what?!”  But please hear me out. Just because there’s enormous correlation between the revelation of Yahweh and the LoL doesn’t necessarily imply Yahweh. We can say Yahweh would be a pre-condition, or maybe the best option for a pre-condition, but human reasoning can’t guarantee he is the pre-condition. We need the Holy Spirit to know he is the pre-precondition.

Take the LoL for example. They are abstract (not comprised of “matter”, yet correlate with “matter”, also not entirely based on what is observable, i.e. the concept of “infinity”), absolute (not created, un-changing, exist only in minds, thus, require an eternal mind), universal (they apply to all sentient beings, hence why we can communicate about the same things), and prescriptive (we have a pre-commitment to logic meaning we ought to be rational and not contradict). We can easily say that all of this is accounted for by the God of Scripture since he is eternal, is the prime cause beyond all finite matter, and has an eternal mind.

For logic to work there needs to be a mind (knower) and substance which takes on certain functions, or is relational to something else (the thing known). God is eternally both.

With the LoL being abstract, this ties into them deriving from a “mind” (a knower).

With the LoL being absolute identities (the thing known), this perfectly fits with the criterion of God being one and many (three in one). What something is (the first law, i.e. law of identity) requires a “mind” to know and recognize something’s function. A “function” is possible when there are multiple parts to something. Thus, in God, there is eternally all possible functions since God consists of multiple persons whom can relate to each other in every possible good way. To have the classification of “apple” for example, you first need the function of “food”, which derives from the relationship of something giving life, which God eternally does within the relationships that make up himself.

In addition, the LoL are universal, meaning we all share and understand the same meanings and concepts (hence you reading this), and this is possible since the three persons within the Godhead eternally know and understand each other.

With the LoL being prescriptive, the 3rd law (the law of non-contradiction) has us know that something cannot be what it’s not in every way and at the same time. 3 cannot also be 1,006 in every way and at the same time. It’s not just that this is the way it is, but that we should admit this, otherwise that would be immoral because that would be a lie. It would be dishonest and purposefully dishonest.

Since there is eternal love and selflessness within the relationships of the three persons of the Trinity, then God never lies to himself, thus, eternally does not contradict himself for his own glory. Hence, since we’re created in his image we shouldn’t contradict ourselves either. It would be a lie, and lies fall short of the glory of God, thus are sin (Rom 3:23). Thus, we can’t really separate morality and the LoL as being two ways to argue TAG. They are really connected as one, since we ought not contradict; because otherwise it would be a lie. The law that governs our thinking is not just the law of non-contradiction, but is also the moral law. When we argue for morality, we’re also arguing for the LoL, and when we argue for the LoL, we’re also arguing for morality.

So the Trinity certainly can account for the pre-condition to reality, especially the LoL by which we can even judge reality. But this does not necessarily imply then that the triune God of Scripture is that pre-condition. One could say “maybe it’s another “God” who meets all this criterion. Maybe it’s the Quadrinity, etc”.

What if someone argues in this way? First, when the atheist is forced to talk this way, and many do and have after hearing this powerful apologetic, they have all of a sudden become theists, but now just theists who still deny that Christ is the risen Lord (TD ring a bell?). If the atheist still wants to not become a Christian and hold to the Quadrinity for the sake of consistently accounting for the LoL, then we’d use historical apologetics and show how they’re choosing a “god” with no revelation and history over that of Christianity with tons of revelation and history.

So maybe we could say Yahweh isn’t the only presupposition, but Yahweh is the only revealed presupposition, thus the best presupposition! Before you write me off as a flaming heretic, remember I’m arguing from the standpoint of what human reasoning is limited to show us. Even Greg Bahnsen said in his debate with Gordon Stein, “I believe Christianity provides that [worldview in which transcendental realities make sense] and I just can’t find any other one that competes with it that way”. When it comes to established “religions”, TAG does point only to Christianity. However, when it comes to mere presuppositions, it doesn’t imply Yahweh necessarily. Even if we could show how only the Trinity could be presupposed and not a Quadrinity, this wouldn’t necessarily imply Yahweh (apart from the Holy Spirit’s certainty). In such a case, the shoe would fit, and only one shoe would fit, but that can’t guarantee us it’s the shoe (using human reasoning alone).

Second, the only special revelation of any God who is said to be “eternal” is Scripture. The only other religion in the world that believes in an eternal God, and will outright admit that it’s eternal, is Hinduism with “Brahman”. Yet, Brahman being eternal is only theorized. There is no revelation of Braham anywhere near that of the imminent special revelation of God in Scripture. Of course, the absolute kicker is that Yahweh is the only God ever revealed to eternally be triune, or one and many.

This interestingly shows that Yahweh is not a by-product of human minds, because human minds wouldn’t start with a paradox. Also, it is the doctrine of the Trinity which Francis Schaeffer said is the doctrine that helped convert him from atheism to Christianity in his book ‘He Is There And He Is Not Silent’. He even understood as an atheist the necessity of something like the Trinity.

Nevertheless, if one is going to be a Fristian, and presuppose a Quaddrinity for the sake of having a consistent out look on things, we’d then have to argue against the Quadrinity, not by using presuppositional apologetics or TAG, however! This shows the limitations of presuppositionalism and TAG as well.

However, if one really believes in the Quadrinity (or jokingly says they do), then that’s fine. We want people to come to this point! If they admit this much then at least they’re being intellectually honest about the truths of “God”, just not the truths of Christ who is God. They have realized that naturalism, atheism, and all other false religions of the world are precluded. This person is either very close to being saved, or are heaping up greater judgment on themselves in rejecting Yahweh who is right in front of them.

Now getting back to the main point, just because Yahweh, and only Yahweh, is specially revealed to fit all of the criterion needed for the LoL and morality, doesn’t absolutely mean that TAG proves Yahweh. Just because Yahweh accounts for all the needed pieces of the puzzle, doesn’t absolutely mean that Yahweh is the puzzle piece, if you will. It only goes so far as to show he is an option, or the best option.

Scirpturally speaking, what ultimately shows that it’s Yahweh is the personal Spirit of Yahweh, the Holy Spirit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again until I die, “we can’t know anything for certain unless that which is certain makes itself known to us”. You’ll say, how do you know that for certain? I don’t, but I believe it for good reason.

Two things: First, since we don’t have exhaustive knowledge about anything, that fact alone all the more should make me believe my statement above is true. We don’t even know for certain that we don’t know anything for certain. Nor do we know that. Nor that, nor that, etc. We’re potentially caught in an infinite regress of questioning about everything. We’re only left with inferences with our finite limited rationality since we can’t know things exhaustively – as only God can. Since only God can know things exhaustively, this brings us to the second point.

The Holy Spirit will lead us into Truth (John 16:13). There’s a difference between God revealing his word to be true to us by his Spirit, and us inferring things to be true. Human reasoning alone is limited and can’t discover absolute truth about anything left to itself. There’s a direct correlation between God absolutely knowing he is the Truth, and making us aware that he is the Truth. We need to keep preaching the gospel to sinners, not belabor TAG over and over. Some apologists could talk to a blown up doll about TAG until the air deflated out of it, but never mention the gospel.

The Calvinist shouldn’t have a problem admitting this since they believe in TD and realize that God must change someone’s heart so they can embrace the Truth, even when TAG gives us the enormous inference and gets one extremely close to Yahweh. Inference isn’t supposed to ultimately leave sinners without excuse before Yahweh. The gospel is. The gospel message is what ultimately convicts men before Yahweh. Perhaps if more proponents of TAG understood this, they’d preach the gospel more than TAG. The gospel wins over TAG in what saves a person. And the gospel wins over TAG in what keeps a person saved.

Use TAG and use it well, but don’t worship it or worship yourself for knowing it. TAG leaves people without excuse in that naturalism, atheism, and all established religions of the world must be false, except Christianity. Contrary to the opinion of many advocates of TAG, the rejecter still has the autonomy to reject Christianity, because they can still presuppose what Christianity offers, while not being a Christian. Hence, all the more why TAG isn’t the sin-less apologetic, as it is so often purported. The gospel makes men deal with Jesus Christ the Lord (Boss) personally, not TAG. TAG becomes sinful when we idolize it, and emphasize it more than Christ. Do you daydream about how powerful TAG is more than you daydream about how powerful Christ is? I hope not. Do you find more confidence in TAG than you do in the person of Christ? Do you talk about TAG more than you talk about Christ?

(4) Isn’t it less effective to say that we can’t absolutely know that Yahweh accounts for the LoL (with finite human reasoning)?

I believe it’s more effective, because when we act like we can, which a lot of apologists are out there doing, it shows atheists that we’re inconsistent and jumping the gun. I think it’s more powerful to be consistent and not jump to un-warranted conclusions. Also, everyone in the world is in the same ultimate predicament of not being able to know anything absolutely (with limited human reasoning alone, or apart from God’s assistance). So since we’re all in this ultimate predicament, what we can still do is try to be the most consistent and ask if Yahweh makes the most sense of reality. What you’ll find is that you can still sleep great at night because Yahweh is the only revealed eternal Triune God, thus, the only revealed pre-condition for all of reality. That’s still saying a lot. We really have no greater inference!

Lastly, we don’t need to know for certain that Yahweh is the pre-condition for all of reality (with finite human reasoning alone). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). What we need to do when we use TAG is not only leave the rejecter seeing how utterly inconsistent they are in denying God, but that the Bible says the reason they reject the obvious is because they need to be saved from their sins. After revealing their inconsistency it’s a great time to tell them to believe and repent. Their inconsistency is a sign of them suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18-20), and that is not only evidence that they are intellectually in error, but that they are hostile towards Christ who is Truth. One way to infer the Bible is true is that its claims about people being anti-Christ are extremely fulfilled in this anti-Christ world!

If the rejecter believes that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord (Boss) and lives for him, then not only will they have the most consistent worldview, but will also be saved from the wrath they deserve for their lawlessness. Then they’ll know they’re right with Christ the risen Lord because of Christ the Sinner’s Savior. Tell them to repent and believe today while they’re still in a time of God’s patience!

(5) Correlations And Causation

Just because there’s supposed similarities between something and God doesn’t necessarily imply that God is the cause of it. Correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation. Just saying that there is a correlation between the LoL (being immaterial) and God’s being (being immaterial) doesn’t necessarily imply that God is the cause of all that is immaterial. 1. We could/should argue that God is a “better” cause, however, and 2. I believe we CAN show how God is the best cause, it’s just something we need to be willing flesh out if it comes down to it. We need to be prepared to do some leg work and show why God only accounts for this correlation, thus is the cause of it.

The same would go for when people argue that the LoL are absolute and immutable, God is absolute and immutable, thus it’s said the LoL must then come from God. There are similarities between the two that are worth noting, but just simply stating similarities doesn’t necessarily imply causation. Nevertheless, I agree we can and should emphasize the correlation between the LoL and God’s nature.

However, I’ve found that at times it will also be important to demonstrate that for the law of identity to exist in a mind there needs to be an eternal “knower” and “the thing known”. The LoL presuppose both, and God accounts for both. Simply speaking, the LoL are absolute and require a mind. Thus, because they are absolute, they can only ultimately come from an eternal mind. We don’t say something is absolute and immutable because it became that way. It always was the case, before our minds were even formed with the capacity to acknowledge it yet. Since the LoL are absolute and abstract, an eternal mind accounts for them, namely, God’s “knower”.

But God also eternally knows himself, hence, the “thing known”. Within God exists the three eternal and distinct persons of the Trinity, thus exists all possible good relationships and functions. Thus, God knows all possible relationships between things and functions, namely, “the thing known”. Even knowing what a puddle is is possible due to the eternal relationship between the God-head. So the next time you see a puddle, give God glory.

NOW PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS

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22 comments

  1. “Man does not need to know exhaustively in order to know truly and certainly. When on the created level of existence man thinks God’s thoughts after him, that is, when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge.” (Christian Apologetics, Cornelius Van Til, 77)

    Note: Exhaustive knowledge is not necessary – only sufficient knowledge. However, this sufficient knowledge does grant certainty – and the only grounds for certainty.


    • Hey Razorskiss!


  2. RazorKiss,

    I agree. Van Til says above it’s “the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge” in the context of “the created level”. That would agree with what I’ve gone over in my thread in that we can posit Yahweh to be the best pre-condition. This does not mean he then is the only pre-condition, however (using human reasoning alone).

    It depends on what you mean by “necessary”. Exhaustive knowledge is necessary to know for certain (from God’s level). TAG cannot give that kind of certainty. Exhaustive knowledge is not necessary to have the best option revealed, which TAG reveals along with historical evidences!


  3. Why would we use human reasoning alone? You can’t have any certainty about anything whatsoever using human reasoning alone. That’s one of the keystones of Van Til’s work – the denial of autonomy on each and every level whatsoever.

    It’s not “best”, it’s “only”. It is only, because God is *necessarily* the only provider of intelligibility whatsoever, period, as the *only* creator, ordainer, and sustainer of all things.

    What have you read from Van Til, Cameron? I’m suspecting there are some puzzle pieces of the methodology you’re missing. I’ve been teaching covenantal apologetics for a while now – and the entire point Van Til was trying to make is that 1) Reformed Christianity, as a unit, and in its entirety, is the sole precondition for intelligibility for *everything whatsoever* and 2) That without this sole precondition (in principle) you can’t have any knowledge, let alone certainty for your knowledge, of anything whatsoever.

    There is never, ever, any room for “human reasoning alone” – that is autonomy, and the opposite of Christianity. Per TAG, and per our presuppositional commitment, the opposite of Christianity is impossible. What have you read of Van Til? If you have anything by him, I can point out some good sections that might be helpful to you.


  4. “It is only, because God is *necessarily* the only provider of intelligibility whatsoever, period, as the *only* creator, ordainer, and sustainer of all things.”

    I think you’re missing my point. Even using TAG one can try to sit over God as judge. With TAG we can only use human reasoning to greatly infer Yahweh to be the pre-condition. It doesn’t absolutely prove Yahweh is. The Holy Spirit helps us go beyond our limited human reasoning to know it is Yahweh.

    “Why would we use human reasoning alone? You can’t have any certainty about anything whatsoever using human reasoning alone. That’s one of the keystones of Van Til’s work – the denial of autonomy on each and every level whatsoever.”

    Again, using human reasoning alone, you can’t know it’s Yahweh. It might be a “God” who has the same attributes. That’s why my additional point is that TAG isn’t an absolute proof, thus no different than evidential apologetics on this level. Human reasoning alone can’s show you that Yahweh is the only option, but is probably the best option.

    What does it matter what I’ve read of Van Til? I’m not claiming to be challenging his views! You’re arbitrarily telling me how long you’ve studied and haven’t shown me why my reasoning is wrong or why. If you’re going to arbitrarily get an intellectual superiority complex on here about Van Til it wont be tolerated. I can tolerate atheists cussing me out and giving me death threats more than I can tolerate that kind of attitude. Not saying you are but just in case. So far everything you’ve quoted from Van Til, I agree with, along with everything I know he advocated.

    “the opposite of Christianity is impossible.”

    A “Quadrinity” isn’t the opposite of Christianity. It offers everything Christianity does except for special revelation of God, which is where evidential (historical) apologetics would then be needed. But wait, that would be sinful to some. Huh? The very thing that bolsters the supposedly only non-sinful apologetic needs help from a sinful apologetic. Wow.

    “What have you read of Van Til? If you have anything by him, I can point out some good sections that might be helpful to you.”

    Again, I’m not claiming to be challenging Van Til. I don’t know why you’re even bringing him up. So far I’ve found that I agree with him. If you show me where he argues for TAG to be deductive, then I’d disagree with that. But from what you’ve quoted of him so far, I don’t think he believed that.


    • I’m going to try and answer some of your objections here. Not all of them exhaustively, but just some of the main contentions I am seeing. Hopefully I can be of some assistance. =)

      “I think you’re missing my point. Even using TAG one can try to sit over God as judge. With TAG we can only use human reasoning to greatly infer Yahweh to be the pre-condition.”

      1) TAG doesn’t sit over God as judge. The argument starts with the presupposition that Christ is Lord of the universe, and has ordained, created, and pre-interpreted all of the facts for His glory, and that His Word is the only means in which we can know anything as it is. We start with His interpretation in His Word, with the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

      2) I think another issue here is that you are assuming TAG, as Van Til and Bahnsen have meant it, is deductive. It isn’t, it argues what makes inference and deduction intelligible, knowing that only The Triune God of the Scriptures interpretation makes any sense of it.

      “It doesn’t absolutely prove Yahweh is.”

      It is arguing that without the Triune God of the Scriptures, you can’t prove anything at all. Bahnsen would have asked at this point “Where are you standing when you say this?”.

      “The Holy Spirit helps us go beyond our limited human reasoning to know it is Yahweh.”

      I also think that Bahnsen’s proof/persuasion distinction speaks to us here as well. TAG is a proof that starts with the Christian worldview. It takes the Holy Spirit’s Person and work to persuade the unbeliever, via regeneration, to be “convinced” in this case. The problem isn’t the proof, it’s the unbeliever’s heart, and mind.

      “A “Quadrinity” isn’t the opposite of Christianity. It offers everything Christianity does except for special revelation of God, which is where evidential (historical) apologetics would then be needed.”

      A Quadrianity is opposite to Christianity, because it *isn’t* Christianity. Anything that isn’t Christian Theism is opposed to it. This is why a consistent Christian apologetic, is a Reformed apologetic. It is Sola Scriptura in apologetics. This is just to mean that if God has revealed Himself as Triune, then a Quadrianity is impossible, as it is opposed to God’s revelation. So if it is opposed to God’s revelation, it fails, by virtue of it being Non-Christian.

      Hoped this helped a bit, Cameron.

      God bless,

      Res


      • Res,

        “1) TAG doesn’t sit over God as judge. The argument starts with the presupposition that Christ is Lord of the universe, and has ordained, created, and pre-interpreted all of the facts for His glory, and that His Word is the only means in which we can know anything as it is. We start with His interpretation in His Word, with the illumination of the Holy Spirit.”

        Did you read my entire thread or just this one response? I say the same things in my thread. Starting with his Word means your consistent from what is revealed. That doesn’t mean Yahweh is the only option just because he’s revealed. Sorry, but I find I’m repeating myself over and over on here.

        “2) I think another issue here is that you are assuming TAG, as Van Til and Bahnsen have meant it, is deductive. It isn’t, it argues what makes inference and deduction intelligible, knowing that only The Triune God of the Scriptures interpretation makes any sense of it.”

        I never argued Van Til did. I said if he did I’d disagree, but I don’t think he did. I never said Bahnsen did either.

        “It is arguing that without the Triune God of the Scriptures, you can’t prove anything at all. Bahnsen would have asked at this point “Where are you standing when you say this?”.

        I know what TAG argues. Again, read my thread above and my other posts on my blog about it!

        “I also think that Bahnsen’s proof/persuasion distinction speaks to us here as well. TAG is a proof that starts with the Christian worldview. It takes the Holy Spirit’s Person and work to persuade the unbeliever, via regeneration, to be “convinced” in this case. The problem isn’t the proof, it’s the unbeliever’s heart, and mind.”

        This is another topic. I’m arguing it also takes the Holy Spirit to know Yahweh is the pre-condition with certainty. Just because Scripture gives a pre-condition doesn’t imply it is.

        “A Quadrianity is opposite to Christianity, because it *isn’t* Christianity.”

        Also, Yahweh would be opposite the Quadrinity (from human reasoning). That’s not my point. My point is that the criterion to account for the LoL isn’t opposite.

        “This is just to mean that if God has revealed Himself as Triune, then a Quadrianity is impossible, as it is opposed to God’s revelation. So if it is opposed to God’s revelation, it fails, by virtue of it being Non-Christian.

        I agree. But that’s only “if” it’s Yahweh’s word. Again, we need to Holy Spirit to give us the certainty that it is. It’s not just that the Holy Spirit persuades us, but also helps us know for certain.

        Hoped this helped a bit

        I really appreciate it but I don’t think you dealt at all with what I’m actually arguing. Sorry. I’m saying that TAG is very powerful to infer that Yahweh is the pre-condition, along with historical evidences. That in itself doesn’t mean he is. The Holy Spirit is needed to show this. Thus, TAG proves theism where there is a God who is one and many, but not necessarily Yahweh. The HS proves it’s Yahweh.


      • Oh hey Resequitur!


  5. Fristianity is not CT. Lots of “worldviews” borrow from the Christian worldview. Even the atheist worldview borrows capital from Christianity but I don’t think that means “TAG” fails. No, RazorsKiss is not arguing TAG is deductive. In fact there are many articles on Choosing Hats that shows the contrary of that. Also, we have several posts regarding the fristianity objection.

    http://www.choosinghats.com/?s=fristianity

    It would be great to have you come visit our chat channel and we could discuss this in more detail. People are usually around in the evenings. Come check us out. We are Theological/Apologetical/Application thereof centric.

    http://www.choosinghats.com/chat/
    If you do not have an IRC client there is a link to a web version here: http://www.facebook.com/choosinghats?sk=app_4949752878


  6. defectivebit,

    I never said RazorsKiss was arguing that TAG is deductive. I said if Van Til believed this then I would disagree with Van Til on that point. But I don’t think Van Til believed that, thus far.

    And I never said that TAG fails because atheists borrow from it. Sorry, but that isn’t even remotely close to what I’ve been saying.

    My point is that atheists are also borrowing from the Quadrinity, thus the assumption that TAG only proves Yahweh is a false assumption and it is an assumption that we need to be aware of for consistency sake, and still be prepared to give a defense. I’m also challenging the idea that evidentialism is sinful and TAG isn’t. This is also an inconsistent assumption floating around out there. I know Bahnsen popularized this thinking, but just like his theocracy, I don’t buy it.

    I’ll check those sites out in the future. Thanks. For now, you can refer them to here. I personally hate chat rooms because there’s always arm chair theology snobs who are the moderators and if you challenge their secondary beliefs, you’re considered a heretic. Screw em.


    • Well, I didn’t know we were “arm chair theology snobs” though I have seen that be true of both chat rooms and blogs and well, people in general. I was just offering it for a dialog on this issue as trying to go point by point on something like this in comment boxes is rather tedious.

      Anyway, feel free to stop by. Many of us there have been studying presuppositional apologetics for some time, a few for a decade or more. Take care and God bless.


      • I never said you were arm chair snobs, but I hope you’re not. Sounds like you’re not so far which is awesome.


      • defectivebit,

        I checked out that site and read some good articles trying to debunk Fristianity. I’m now adding more terms to my vocabulary on this topic, so thanks. However, the interesting thing is that the arguments to debunk Fristianity aren’t using TAG or presup any longer! And that’s been my point all long as well in my thread with the limitations of TAG.

        Also, I don’t follow the arguments about it being inconsistent because of it being hypothetical.

        Note, I agree we can show why Fristianity is stupid, and we can tell the Fristian that they will be under greater judgment for being border line Trinitarian theists, yet rejecting Christ. I even point out problems with Fristianity on my thread above, as I’ve been familiar with it (just not the name) for a few years. If someone advocates Fristianity then that still puts points on our side! It doesn’t undermine TAG in anyway! I don’t know why advocates of TAG get so bent out of shape as though it does. Fristians are admitting borderline Trinitarianism which disproves atheism, naturalism, and all other false religions! We can give them a high five and tell Fristians to advocate presup with us. It’s beautiful. Only will do so in step with the gospel.

        I’m still fully convinced of my position, however, that TAG is proof without excuse of God to be the necessary precondition to reality, not that Yahweh is that God. The gospel holds men accountable to Yahweh, ultimately.

        With the Fristian, we can show them historical evidences for why they are silly to posit a hypothetical over God’s dealings with the Jews and special revelation in Scripture, the very thing many proponents of TAG say is “eeeevil and sinful”.


    • Hi Taco!


  7. Well, I’m one of the three head moderator dudes – and the purpose of the site, and the room, is to teach the method. Shoot, Skype works fine, too.

    In any case, from the answers you’ve provided thus far, I think you would *highly* benefit from some discussion – because there seems to be some fairly major misunderstandings about what Van Til is saying. My point is, in a nutshell, is that your understanding of what the method is (as someone who teaches the method on a fairly regular basis) is not in accordance with what Van Til taught, and with what we teach – on a fairly varied number of points, given your response.

    As I said, the purpose was to be helpful, as these are fairly common objections we’ve encountered (please note – I did call what you are proposing “objections,” and Van Til responded to them as such in his written work) and perhaps to teach, if you’re willing. I don’t claim to be the expert in all things Van Til; but I think I’ve picked up a fair bit that would be of use to you.


    • RazorKiss,

      You’re assuming that the only method is Van Til’s. Despite what his method was, or anyone’s method was/is, there are many many ways to argue presuppositionally and to argue TAG. I’ve found some ways to be more effective than others. I never claimed to interpret Van Til, but to push for greater consistency in our assumptions about TAG. I think you’re equating TAG with Van Til in a way. I’ve taught classes on it too. I’ve been studying it for about 7 years myself. All to say I’m not all of a sudden learning it.

      I’m not “objecting” to TAG, nor Van Til either! I’m objecting to assumptions about TAG that are inconsistent. If you search through my blog you’ll see me arguing with TAG all over the place! You can’t avoid it on my blog and my interactions with people. Van Til didn’t learn TAG from Van Til. It’s self-explanatory be theorizing it. Anyone can do that. We can even advance Van Til’s insights.


  8. Oh, and just as a side note – “TAG”, as often stated, is all too often divorced from *what* we are to presuppose. The point is not about “TAG” vs “Evidentialism” – it is about a consistently Reformed theology expressed in an apologetic context, as opposed to an inconsistent Reformed theology expressed in an apologetic context.

    As we say around our neck of the woods – “You have to keep the presup in presup.” Look forward to hearing from you – again, the intent is not to criticize, but to help, if you’re willing. The point is not “obscurantist arrogance”, as Bahnsen calls it, but “humble boldness”. That’s the aim, and the goal of what we do. Don’t think you’re “under attack” – think of it as iron sharpening iron.


    • Thanks RazorKiss,

      I appreciate your demeanor. But I don’t think I’m under attack because frankly no one is really seeing what I’m arguing. It’s like beating the wrong dead horse. You telling me that you’re trying to “help if I’m willing” seems odd to me in light of this. Sorry.

      I also don’t think presup is only for Reformed believers. Like I said in my thread above, TD is why many reject the argument. Believing TD isn’t required to use the apologetic. This to me seems to be arrogant on the part of Reformed Christians who act like only they can hold the market on presup.


  9. Well, first off, presuppositionalism (I prefer Covenantal apologetics) is a Reformed apologetic – I teach it as “Sola Scriptura – apologetically formulated.” Sola Scriptura, frankly, does not, and cannot exist in any meaningful fashion apart from Reformed theology. Full period, stop.

    Second, every single aspect of it is precisely drawn from, and tailored to, the Reformed doctrines. The presuppositions we hold to are, in fact, the entire system of Reformed doctrine. So, when you say “I’m not claiming to be challenging his views!” – this may be what you affirm, but in reality, that is exactly what you’re doing. He lays it out in quite a detailed fashion throughout his work; what we presuppose is the Reformed system of doctrine, and ALL the Reformed system of doctrine. In fact, total depravity is a frequent and necessary part of what he argues with.

    What I’m trying to tell you (and I think you, in turn, are missing the point of what *I’m* trying to say) is that the approach you are offering, by virtue of *not* being distinctively Reformed, undercuts the entirety of precisely what the method is supposed to correct, and what is distinctive about it. The approach you are proposing is, interestingly, what we’ve identified in practically every instance of “presuppositionalists” saying that the method is worthless later down the road. A failure to begin with what you set out to prove. A lack of a non-negotiable presuppositional commitment to all of the reformed doctrines, systematically and wholly considered.

    I am aware that this is a common idea for folks to present concerning the method; however, this is precisely what VT, for example, spends half of his keystone work (Defense of the Faith) addressing. I know what you’re arguing. I’m saying that what you are arguing is, frankly, no different in principle from evidentialism, and cedes the ground to the “enemy” at the very start.

    I wasn’t saying that I teach the method to “show off”, by any means – it was to highlight that it isn’t for the sake of debate that I commented. I’ve been around the block a bit, and seen the common “train wrecks” that presuppers tend to get into – and this is primero uno on that list. These are much the same issues that the Van Til list folks ran into, and have since abandoned the entire shebang over – and it was due, chiefly, to theological reasons. The end of the track you’re going down is an abandonment of the method as useless – because what you have adopted, frankly, is not the method at all. It’s similar to that of several critiqued by VT in DotF, and dealt with in a detailed fashion there, and elsewhere. If you really want to stick to the procedure you’re using, it may save you some time to give it up now – because I guarantee you that you’ll be doing so in the near future 🙂

    If you change your mind, we have a fairly large selection of articles on these particular topics, and those in the chat channel are fairly conversant on them. In any case, I would highly recommend revisiting Van Til – because he specifically addresses everything you’ve mentioned save Fristianity; which we address in rather great detail in various places on the site. I’m looking forward to a paper of Brian’s in our journal fairly soon, in fact, on that very subject.

    I wish you well, and may God bless you in your endeavors.


    • RazorKiss,

      “the approach you are offering, by virtue of *not* being distinctively Reformed”

      It depends on what one uses the apologetic for. All apologetics should be used to get at the truth of who God is, thus should all terminate in the truest and fullest revelation of who He is. One can use presup for that endeavor, as VT did, but that does not mean it’s mostly a Reformed apologetic. It just means VT used it that way. Presup leads to the God Scripture, and Scripture actually leads to a Reformed understanding of God. Still anyone can use presup in evangelism without becoming Reformed. And since you’re Reformed you should argree this will be the case since God is sovereign over who will be Reformed anyways!

      “The approach you are proposing is, interestingly, what we’ve identified in practically every instance of “presuppositionalists” saying that the method is worthless later down the road. A failure to begin with what you set out to prove.”

      I’m going to change the name of this thread because now I think it’s misleading. I intended for this thread to show false assmptions about TAG, which in turn should help us argue it more consistently, thus effectively. I haven’t sought to lay out a full blown systematic method in how I use TAG on this thread. And if you’ve read my thread you realize that I advocate that TAG is the most powerful proof. This thread just seeks to offer many clarifications on top of it being the most powerful proof which I believe many overlook.

      I’m saying that what you are arguing is, frankly, no different in principle from evidentialism, and cedes the ground to the “enemy” at the very start.

      Yes and no. TAG forces people to admit God, but not Yahweh. Evidentialism doesn’t do that. This doesn’t give the “enemy” more ground. Atheists are arguing the same things I am raising and we need to be consistent. VT and Bahnsen’s arguments of TAG were’t scritunized near as much as atheists are scritinizing it today, as it is now more popular. Gordan Stein was a jackass in his arguments against the LoL. Nerdy atheists in their 20’s have far better arguments now than he did then. It’s the assumption that Yahweh is the God that is the precondition to reality which is replacing what the gospel is supposed to do, namely, leave people without excuse before Yahweh. I’m not the problem for simply pointing this out.

      I’ve been around the block a bit, and seen the common “train wrecks” that presuppers tend to get into – and this is primero uno on that list.

      I’ve been around the block too, and you still haven’t shown me why this is on the list.

      The end of the track you’re going down is an abandonment of the method as useless – because what you have adopted, frankly, is not the method at all.

      I’ve argued for the full powerfulness of TAG and presup and seen it be effective, while still holding to the clarifications that I do. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      If you really want to stick to the procedure you’re using, it may save you some time to give it up now – because I guarantee you that you’ll be doing so in the near future

      I think you’re not listening to me but filtering what I’m saying with what you think I’m saying. You’re also acting like an overbearing false prophet in making these kinds of absolute statements about me. I think your assumptions are being challenged and you can only pull the “I have experience so just listen to me sonny” card. Do you invest more trust in TAG than the Holy Spirit? I think this is what’s going on with a lot of advocates of TAG.

      Also, it’s interesting that when people argue for why there is no Quadrinity, they’re no longer using TAG or presup! This goes along with my point in my thread about the limitations of TAG. Don’t worship TAG. The Holy Spirit will give you the certainty you need. If someone advocates Fristianity then that still puts points on our side! It doesn’t undermine TAG in anyway! I don’t know why TAG advocates get so bent out of shape over Fristianity. They have no reason to! Fristians are admitting borderline Trinitarianism which disproves atheism, naturalism, and all other false religions! We can give Fristians a high five and tell them to advocate presup with us! It’s beautiful. Only we’ll do so in step with the gospel.

      If you change your mind, we have a fairly large selection of articles on these particular topics, and those in the chat channel are fairly conversant on them. In any case, I would highly recommend revisiting Van Til – because he specifically addresses everything you’ve mentioned save Fristianity; which we address in rather great detail in various places on the site. I’m looking forward to a paper of Brian’s in our journal fairly soon, in fact, on that very subject.

      OK, and yet you fail to deal with what I’ve actually argued. Sorry, but you’re scaring me with this weird behavior. May God bless you as well.


  10. Well, I wouldn’t want to be “scary” and “weird”?

    lol. Have a good one.


    • RazorKiss,

      My point was that you have this great website, which I’ve looked at, yet what’s the problem with agreeing with what I’ve said? No one has shown me that. In light of having a website catered to this very topic, it strikes me as weird and scary that people seem to have a problem agreeing with me. Fristianity is a great place to push the atheist. We’ve won at that point. We don’t need to have TAG do more then that.

      Fristians should be the funnest people to talk to. We can tell them to go around and advocate TAG with us. Only we’ll do so in light of the gospel because we have revelation that we should. On the other hand, I’d say the Fristian is the closest thing to one who denies the Holy Spirit (standing in front of Jesus’ miracles and rejecting him). I think the Fristian might be revealing a greater hardness of their heart. Or maybe they’re really close to being saved. Who knows.



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