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.