The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Value of Presuppositional Apologetics for Pastoral Ministry

By: Thomas F. Booher

Some may believe that a pastor’s inability to defend the faith is an unimportant issue. After all, is not a minister preaching to believers who are already convinced of Christianity? Indeed, he is, and this is precisely why the pastor must have a firm grasp of biblical apologetics. It is the pastor’s job to help equip the saints so that they are always ready “to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). The pastor himself must be well-versed in defending the faith, and he must know how to do it in a biblical manner, so as to teach and model apologetics for the congregation. Defending the faith well comes with benefits for both minster and congregation alike.
            Apologetics gives the minister greater confidence when he preaches the word because he knows that his faith is sure. Indeed, the great value and benefit of presuppositional apologetics is that it plainly shows the impossibility of the Christian faith not to be true. Such assurance not only gives the pastor boldness in the pulpit, but the demonstration of this truth also bolsters the faith of every believer in the pew. This apologetic method also reminds the pastor that he must take his stand for the Christian faith on the very Word of God itself, looking to it as the sole authority of infallible truth. Man’s fallible reason must submit to the revelation of God’s Word and conform to it. Such a view of apologetics keeps before the minister the reformed/biblical understanding of knowledge and epistemology. A person can know something only because God has revealed it and has given men minds to understand the world He has made. Apologetics demonstrates that mankind thinks God’s thoughts after Him, and is not the one coming up with the facts and meaning of anything. Fact and meaning always go together because it is God who determines each. You cannot understand one apart from the other. This coherency in the world on account of the revelation of God helps prevent ministers from sliding away from the authority of Scripture. Indeed, one cannot deny the inerrancy of Scripture without also denying the ability to defend the Christian world and life view. This holds ministers fast to God’s Word, and keeps before them (and their congregation) the supremacy of God over all things, especially how one understands anything that happens or exists in the world.
            Presuppositional apologetics also prohibits the minister from reasoning like an unbeliever with his congregation (or other unbelievers for that matter). He does not build the defense of the faith after a step-by-step, blockhouse approach, but rather presents before believer and unbeliever alike the full-orbed teaching and vision of the Christian faith. The minister presupposes God’s existence as necessary to rational thought itself, and never moves off that ground when engaging in apologetics. This may be more winsome and appealing for the believer, and it will also reveal up front just what it is that the unbeliever must believe and submit to in order to become a Christian. Such clarity and concreteness gets right to the heart of the issue between believer and unbeliever, namely, the yellow-tinted glasses that the unbeliever wears in order to interpret all things so as to suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. This blunt clarity will also help the pastor depict the sharp divide between the believer and unbeliever for his own congregation, so that they can understand the true nature of fallen man better and be even more amazed by God’s saving grace.