Presuppositional Calvinists can’t do apologetics

By Ken Niemann

The following is a brief case as to why Presuppositional Calvinists should not be doing Apologetics at all. (Apologetics is the reasoned defense of a faith much like that which a lawyer would make in a courtroom. The word comes from Peter 3:15.)

First consider the Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) for Calvinism; people need regeneration (by God) and conversion before they can have faith (see John Murray: Redemption Accomplished and Applied):

1) Effectual Calling
2) Regeneration
3) Conversion
4) Faith
5) Repententance
6) Justification
7) Adoption
8)Sanctification
9) Perseverance
10) Glorification

In this view, a person cannot believe or have faith until they are converted. With the “T” in TULIP standing for total depravity, there is no cognitive aspect to salvation. God does ALL the work.

Additionally, the presuppositionalist holds that one must have faith before he can reason. He must completely buy into the entire Christian faith before he can adequately reason about God. For example, John Frame in 5 Views on Apologetics gives the order as:

God->Faith->Reason

Thus, for the Presuppositional Calvinist, we are saved before we can have faith and before we can reason we must have faith. Hence the order is:

Salvation-> Faith -> Reason.

A person, then, cannot reason until they are already converted! This forces the question “why offer the unbeliever any arguments at all when he must be already saved before he can reason?” Arguments for God’s truth should have no role in salvation because the unbeliever cannot reason until he’s already saved. One could give the unbeliever grandma’s cookie recipe rather than reason with him and get the same results!

Hence if the Presuppositional Calvinist is to be consistent, it would be wrong for him to do apologetics at all. That is, John MacArthur and others holding this view are completely wasting their time making any sort of reasoned case for Christianity.

The Molinist position, however, avoids this dilemma:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/scholarly-articles/divine-omniscience

Craig’s writing will probably not make sense until one reads his book “The Only Wise God” where he presents a case for Molinism in plain language.

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