SYE TEN BRUGGENCATE and the Apologetic Method

Sye Ten Bruggencate

As I become more familiar with different apologists on the internet and watch them on You Tube, I learn what to do and what not to do. Sye Ten Bruggencate teaches me both. Its interesting how Sye really cages in his hosts and virtually stone-walls his dissenters by calling upon them to scale an epistemic wall that is impossible for them to do. His method is to call into question their inadequate epistemology and then demand them to abandon that tool or at least attempt get them to call ‘uncle’. The ‘pin’ is when he refuses to acknowledge their assumptions about ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth’ and demand via a (verbal stone-walling) as I call it; that only when they abandon their own presumptions about knowledge or truth can they be allowed to judge Sye’s claims about Christianity. I believe Sye wants to offer the planking necessary to build a new belief-platform, but I’ve not heard any of his debates get that far.

A couple of things to note:

1. I agree with Sye that the unbelieving mind cannot rightly judge the things of God, God himself or Spiritual things because they cannot know them.

2. I agree with Sye that the unbeliever must use the borrowed tools of Christianity or ‘from a world where an Almighty God exists’ in order to attack Christianity.

3. I agree with Sye that unbelievers have an unbridgeable gap between their assumptions of truth and knowledge and the ‘rightness’ of their criteria using their own personal epistemology based upon human autonomy.

4. I agree with Sye that unbelievers are not honest with themselves, nor have they adequately thought through what he asks them, nor do they fairly permit any other criteria that is not based upon skepticism and human autonomy.

There is no doubt much more we may also agree upon. Nevertheless I do have some things I do not feel is conducive to good apologetics. I think as Sye leads his hosts and debaters into this stone-wall it creates more frustration, and hence a rejection of Sye’s position rather than inviting them to consider it…even when Sye’s reasoning has truly stopped them in their tracks, I just don’t see Jesus leading his people into frustration.

I’ll just get to the point. As I see it, Jesus brings people to the end of themselves by revealing to their minds the truth that they have failed themselves, God and His word. But the gospel invite remains ever so bright and clear without any insinuation that their present state of mind must be re-worked first before they believe.

In short, its not a pre-salvation revamp of epistemology that gets the unbeliever to validate the Christian’s claims. What epistemic-revamp that does occur takes place in the transformed mind subsequent to salvation whereby the new believer can piece together the revelation of God and the world he lives in and begin to make sense of it.

Presuppositionalism is not about demanding the unbeliever to change his mind before he can make judgments. Yes, I understand what Sye is getting at, that folks like AronRa will publicly attempt to beat down Christianity with cat-tails and Sye is trying to show everyone atheism beats upon the anvil of God’s word with daffodil stems. For Sye and every other biblical apologist recognize the atheist attempts are worse than vain, they are ruining their own souls in the process.

It appears to me that the salvation of God comes to us, not because the abstractions of epistemology have been corrected, but because the person himself believes the claims of the person of Christ will forgive, love and accept them. Its personal not abstract reasons that convince. In saying this, I do not in anyway want to suggest God doesn’t have myriads of ways to work on the minds and hearts of people and God can use Sye’s method all he wants and get glory from it. Nevertheless there are things that red-flag in me and appear contradictory to sound evangelism/apologetics.

I don’t see that Sye is accomplishing the goal of evangelism. Apologetics is only a tool in which to conduct evangelism under another method. Though I can cheer on Sye when he stops the arrogant atheist debater…I am saddened the atheist walks away not feeling engaged but stone-walled, not challenged to consider Christ but challenged to re-work his belief-platform without the planks of God’s word to build with.

In all fairness and love towards my brother Sye Ten Bruggencate, I offer this critique for myself first, then for him and any others using his methodology. We as brothers and sisters in Christ are in this battle together, my admonitions are for edification and help.


2 thoughts on “SYE TEN BRUGGENCATE and the Apologetic Method

  1. armchairtheo says:

    Hello Boxing: Thanks for the comments. I consider it ‘borrowing from Christianity’ when atheism (which does not have a coherent epistemology) offers critique of Christianity based upon rules of logic and reason that cannot be owned by atheism. Since atheism askews all theistic creation both material and existential, it cannot answer for logic or math or any thing metaphysical that does not immediately push that subject into relativistic meaning. In short, atheism may decry Christianity or every religion as ‘error’, and conclude its actions to be morally wrong. But, atheism cannot make any of their judgments ‘stick’ because to assert I am in error, or morally wrong you must appeal to a morality or ‘rightness’ that transcends both of us. In short, you must appeal to something outside of nature, otherwise the atheist denunciations of God or religions or religious actions have no more value than liking a coke or pepsi. You cannot have a naturalistic world that ascribes no moral code, then pretend to own one so dogmatic that religions are to be branded, false, cruel, repressive, hindrances to human endeavor etc.

    So, when logic is used to find fault with Christianity, the atheist is appealing to something it has no explanation for. If atheism does attempt to explain it in materialistic framework, you cannot place an absolute upon it; you thereby relegate your logic, reasoning and rationale all merely subjective and they have no more weight than any other opinion…and that’s what it all becomes in the end is opinion, a self-serving interpretation of facts that self-validate the argument.

    As far as uniformitarianism is concerned Christians recognize the consistency of things that God has made. We recognize that a miracle is the intervention of God to effect a person or situation that God has deemed necessary to intervene. All Humean criteria at this point is a philosophy that begs skepticism must sit supreme so that it may classify anything miraculous as automatically false or a disruption of the course of this world. A miracle is a miracle precisely because it defies the natural course of things and secondly it must occur as a result of a personal being transcendent from nature with power above that of nature and wisdom to effect that power rightly.

  2. More and more, I keep seeing Christian apologists insisting that atheists are “borrowing tools of Christianity” (or, more often, “borrowing from the Christian worldview”) in reference to the notion that the world is intelligible and rational. However, this seems to betray an ignorance of the history of that concept– or, worse, an attempt to wrest ownership away from its earliest proponents entirely without acknowledgment.

    Thales, Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurius, and hosts of others all taught that the cosmos follows intelligible laws as early as 600 years before Christianity even existed. And quite often, they taught that this intelligibility was in spite of deity, not due to it. However, I’ve never heard a Christian apologist acknowledge that Christianity is borrowing from a pagan toolkit when discussing our ability to reason.

    Furthermore, the primary tenet of Christianity involves an insistence that the universe does NOT always follow rational laws, and that apparent laws can be arbitrarily overridden at God’s whim. This is the complete opposite of the view which apologists are claiming that atheists borrow from Christians.

    So, what is it, precisely, that you believe atheists must borrow from Christianity in order to posit that the universe acts by intelligible and rational laws?

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