The Ultimate Blow to Seeker-Sensitive Worship

I just came across this quotation in my research for Sunday’s Romans sermon. It is from Sproul’s recent expository commentary on Romans, and it has to be the final nail in the coffin of seeker-sensitive worship. He says,


It is foolish to structure worship for unbelievers who are seeking after God when the Bible tells us there aren’t any seekers. It manifests a failure to understand the things of God. If we understood the things of God, we would know that there is no such thing as unconverted seekers. Thomas Aquinas was asked on one occasion why there seem to be non-Christians who are searching for God, when the Bible says no one seeks after God in an unconverted state.


Aquinas replied that we see people all around us who are feverishly seeking for purpose in their lives, pursuing happiness, and looking for relief from guilt to silence the pangs of conscience. We see people searching for the things that we know can be found only in Christ, but we make the gratuitous assumption that because they are seeking the benefits of God, they must therefore be seeking God. That is the very dilemma of fallen creatures: we want the things that only God can give us, but we do not want him. We want peace but not the Prince of Peace. We want purpose but not the sovereign purposes decreed by God. We want meaning found in ourselves but not in his rule over us. We see desperate people, and we assume they are seeking for God, but they are not seeking for God. I know that because God says so. No one seeks after God (pp. 89-90).

He is commenting on Romans 3:11, which says, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”

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27 Comments

  1. Paige Britton said,

    November 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I respect Sproul’s orthodoxy here (as elsewhere) — but I am puzzled: doesn’t evidentialism, or the classical apologetic strategy promoted by Ligonier folks, presuppose the seeking of God by those who are without him?

  2. Missouri Pilgrim said,

    November 13, 2010 at 12:33 am

    Far be it for me to attempt to speak for Dr. Sproul, but I think he, as well as most Reformed theology folks, would affirm that classical apologetic (which includes the proclamation of the gospel) is a MEANS through which the Holy Spirit implements regeneration. It is only the regenerate heart that seeks God.

  3. rcjr said,

    November 13, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Paige,
    Not in the least. Why would you say so? Would any defense of the faith presuppose the seeking of God by those who are without him? How, for instance, would Bahnsen’s transcendental argument differ from Aquinas’ cosmological argument, in terms of how they understand the nature of the unbeliever? And for the record, and though it always seems a pedantic distinction to our presuppositional friends, the classical approach is rather distinct from the evidential, a deeper distinction I would argue than that which separates Van Til from Clark.

  4. Paige Britton said,

    November 13, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Thanks, RC Jr! My thinking is yet fuzzy on these distinctions. I wouldn’t have thought the classical approach would be working with an unbiblical anthropology, but was suddenly puzzled as to whether reasoning one’s way toward God (if this is a fair way to describe the classical apologetic approach) counts as “seeking God.” Question asked in ignorance, that’s all. :)

    pb

  5. November 13, 2010 at 8:52 am

    RCJr,

    The classical approach makes no claim that logic is intelligible apart from the God of creation and providence as revealed in Scripture. Logic is treated as neutral ground in other words. That is not the case with the Westminster presuppositional approach.

    Yes, there is a vast difference between the classical and evidentialist approach to apologetics and I would agree, the differences there are much greater than those between CVT and GHC.

    Best,

    Ron

  6. November 13, 2010 at 9:29 am

    “Would any defense of the faith presuppose the seeking of God by those who are without him?

    RCJr,

    The Arminian presupposes that dead men can seek God. As you appreciate though, we’re talking about methodology and not the way in which methodology is implemented by non-Calvinists. Just the same, how do you suppose that an evidentialist approach to apologetics (even in the hands of a Calvinist) can avoid the implication that all unconverted man needs is more evidence in order to bend the knee to that which only Scripture reveals, Christ’s Lordship? If more evidence is sufficient to convert, which the evidentialist approach implies, then dead men can seek after God. Now a Calvinistic evidentialist may like to say that during the apologetic discourse the Holy Spirit may convert the sinner. I agree. But the conversion of a sinner is not due to the evidentialist conclusion that Jesus probably has risen. A sinner can be converted in spite of an approach that does not argue for the absolute authority of God’s word and the absolute truth of what that word contains. In other words, the converted sinner believes – even knows, the truth. He is not believing what might (or might not be) true.

    Ron

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 13, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I found this article by Paul Helm to be fruitful: http://www.reformation21.org/counterpoints/paul-helmthe-derailing-of-apologeticshow.php

  8. November 13, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Re: post 4. What is in bold has been added. It’s what I should have stated before. Sorry for any confusion! :)

    RCJr,

    The classical approach makes no claim that logic is unintelligible apart from the God of creation and providence as revealed in Scripture. Logic is treated as neutral ground in other words. That is not the case with the Westminster presuppositional approach.

    Yes, there is a vast difference between the classical and evidentialist approach to apologetics and I would agree, the differences there are much greater than those between CVT and GHC.

    Best,

    Ron

  9. November 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

    [...] The Ultimate Blow to Seeker-Sensitive Worship He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [...]

  10. Paige Britton said,

    November 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Oh! I had just figured out the first sentence of #4 (or so I thought) and thought it very profound. :)

    Okay, interesting. So Arminian apologetics = evidentialist, but classical apologetics = Calvinist (or at least compatible with), though the impression I was coming away with is pretty much what you said, Ron, the implication being “that all unconverted man needs is more evidence in order to bend the knee to that which only Scripture reveals, Christ’s Lordship.”

    Here is where I am not able to judge fairly, though, because I simply haven’t read the primary sources on the Ligonier / classical apologetics side yet. So my intuitive thought was to connect the reasoning approach with “seeking” — but as RC Jr. was quick to pick up, that implies a deficient (Arminian) anthropology on their part, which is hardly in keeping with Sproul’s orthodoxy. What I don’t know yet is the alternate explanation that fits the pieces (anthropological and apologetic) together in the Ligonier model.

  11. Paige Britton said,

    November 13, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thanks for Helm’s article, Jeff! I’m glad to have had Jesus and Paul and Peter as apologetics tutors first, because the “-isms” of all the “-ists” are stiff going.

  12. November 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Paige,

    I’m not quite clear on all you’re driving at, but I would not say that Classical Apologetics is inherently Calvinistic, at least not they way the common three arguments have been classically formulated. Take the classical argument for causality. The argument aims to prove that without God as the first cause, we wouldn’t know how the world came into existence. The world would be “unintelligible” to us – as to its cause. A transcendental argument would aim to show that causality itself is unintelligible given a non-revelational epistemology. The same can be said of the teleological and ontological arguments. They all can be formulated transcendentally but they are typically not done that way by classical apologists. In fact, if one is employing classical apologetics classically, he will not argue for a transcendental conclusion. To conclude that God is the transcendent first cause of the universe is not the same thing as concluding that God’s existence is transcendentally necessary. That difference is too often missed but I think it is profoundly significant.

    I’m not sure I care to go much further with this. Frankly, I’ve grown weary of debating apologetics, especially when there is so much need to actually “do” apologetics.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  13. michael said,

    November 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    For me, the ultimate blow is found in these verses and that one lone word “alone”:::>

    Deu 33:26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.
    Deu 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, Destroy.
    Deu 33:28 So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew.
    Deu 33:29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”

    By the Hand of God, “alone”, we who were dead in trespasses and sins were made alive in Christ so that those, the Holy Christian Church, might live “content and alone” separated from this world through Him!

    This in no way exempts us from opening our mouths because He opened not His mouth when He went to the slaughter, “alone” to redeem to Himself a people zealous of good deeds!

    Here, consider, the closed mouth and the open one:

    Act 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.
    Act 8:27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship
    Act 8:28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
    Act 8:29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
    Act 8:30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
    Act 8:31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
    Act 8:32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.
    Act 8:33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
    Act 8:34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”
    Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

    Obedience to the Faith, anyone?

    Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
    Rom 1:6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

    and

    Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
    Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–
    Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

    Some people theorize about it. Some people write about it. Some people just do it and end up having the most fun in this world and the next one coming, too! :)

  14. Jerry Bridge said,

    November 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I found this article by Paul Helm to be fruitful:

    Thanks, Jeff, for this article.

    Bahnsen once said in a lecture that “every presuppositionalist uses evidences and every evidentialist has presuppositions.”

  15. November 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Jerry, whatever that intention of the statement was, we mustn’t make it out to mean that Bahnsen thought that the two apologetical systems were dependent upon each other, as is often implied when people borrow the phrase. I’m not suggesting you were doing that, as I have no idea what you believe he might have meant by such a statement.

    Cheers,

    Ron

    Other matters not pertaining to anyone in particular…

    Helm states: “There is no more a revealed apologetic system than there is a revealed way of heating church buildings. But there is a revealed Gospel and a revealed way of spreading it. This way of spreading it is, naturally enough, often given to us in the form of biblical examples. But a revealed apologetic? No. Not, at least, as far as I can see.”

    Should Helm embrace an apologetic that argues for an empty tomb based upon alleged “neutral facts” and then reason from the mere chance of an empty tomb to the claim that “Jesus might be God? “ After confirming the unbeliever in his autonomous reasoning and the belief that Jesus might have risen, when are we to smuggle in the authority of Scripture and its explanation of the relevancy of the resurrection and the authority it attributes to Christ? After all, what does the resurrection mean outside of its soteriological context? Would Helm embrace an apologetic that would mislead the unbeliever? Certainly not. I can’t stand the partisanship that surrounds apologetics, so I appreciate Helm’s point on that front. Nothwithstanding, if an apologetic implies things that are false or does not underscore the absolute authority of the Bible, I have little use for it.

    A word or two about evidentialism:

    Induction, the basis for all scientific inference, presupposes the uniformity of nature, which is to say it operates under the principle of the future being like the past; yet the resurrection of Christ from the dead is contra-uniform since it does not comport with past experience. Our experience is that people die and are not raised three days later. Also, we’ve all met plenty of liars and those deceived into embracing false beliefs (even dying for false beliefs!) but we have never observed a single resurrection of the body. Accordingly, the lives and martyrdom of zealots need not lead us to conclude that Christ has risen. Consequently, drawing an inference based upon past experience as it pertains to the question of the empty tomb is not very useful. Evidentialism indeed fails as an apologetic. After all, given only the uniformity of nature coupled with personal experience, a more probable explanation for the empty tomb is a hoax put on by liars rather than a miracle put on by God. The same reasoning applies all the more to the virgin birth I would think.

    The fact of the matter is that we do not come to know that our Savior lives by examining the evidence according to some alleged neutral posture, for the facts do not demand the conclusion that Christ has risen. The facts are indeed consistent with the resurrection but the facts do not speak for themselves let alone lead us to the Christian conclusion, which is no conclusion at all but rather a starting point! God speaks in order that we might interpret the facts aright. The fact of the empty tomb, therefore, is not what leads us to the “conclusion” of the resurrection but rather the empty tomb corroborates what we already know from God, that Christ is resurrected.

    Similarly, we read in Scripture that a man named Saul who once opposed Christ became the chief apologist for the Christian faith. The way in which one will interpret the transformation of Saul to Paul will be consistent with one’s pre-commitment(s). Christians take the fanaticism of the apostle as corroborating what they already know to be true about the resurrection. The fanaticism of the apostle no more “proves” the resurrection of Christ than does the empty tomb. Moreover, neither the empty tomb nor the life of Paul proves the resurrection any more than it can disprove it by proving that a conspiracy to overthrow ancient Judaism took place evidenced by the hoax of the resurrection. The point is simply this. Naturalists will find their explanation for the apostle’s transformation and the empty tomb elsewhere, outside of the Christian resurrection interpretation. Similarly, the way in which one interprets the facts surrounding Joseph Smith will be according to one’s pre-commitment(s). If one is committed to a closed canon, then the claims of Mormonism will be deemed false.

    Of course the tomb is empty, for Christ has risen. Of course the apostle Paul preached the resurrection of Christ with all his heart, soul and strength, for Christ has risen. Of course the Mormon religion is a cult, for Jesus is God and the canon is closed. Do we come to believe these things by evaluating supposed brute particulars in an alleged neutral fashion or are our beliefs already marshaled according to our pre-commitment to God’s word in general and the resurrection in particular? Do the “facts” speak for themselves or has God already exegeted the facts for us?

    The reason one believes that Christ has risen from the grave is because God has revealed the truth of the resurrection. In fact, we don’t just believe God’s word on the matter, we actually know God is telling the truth. Yet, unwittingly, often times Christians do not speak the truth with respect to why they believe in the resurrection. Too often Christians will say that they believe in the resurrection because of such evidence, which if true would reduce one’s confidence in God’s say-so to speculation based upon supposed brute facts that (would) readily lend themselves to suspicion (when God’s word is not presupposed as reliable, true and one’s ultimate authority). Christians need to lay hold of the fact that the “Word of God” is God’s word, and God cannot lie.

    With the resurrection the former days of ignorance are gone (Acts 17:30); so our belief in the truth couldn’t be more justified since our justification comes from the self-attesting Christ of Scripture working in accordance with the internal witness of the Holy Ghost. We do not come to know Jesus lives by drawing inferences from uninterpreted facts in the light of past experiences but rather by believing with maximal warrant the word of truth. Indeed, we have a more sure word of knowledge. (2 Peter 1:19)

    RWD

  16. Paige Britton said,

    November 14, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I remember reading somewhere that the classical arguments for God (as well as the evidentialist arguments for the resurrection) are maybe best used as gracious confirmations to the Christian that what he believes is reasonable (the belief itself having come first, through regeneration and illumination by the Spirit via the Word). I think Paul Helm refers to this use of the approach; I like to think of it as a species of “in-house” apologetics.

    I guess I am still curious to know how a biblical anthropology — i.e., “dead men walking” don’t seek God — would allow one to expect to be able to reason one’s way to God. How do those Calvinists who favor the classical approach reconcile the theological confession of the unbeliever’s inability with what seems a very positive assessment of human ability to “get there” by means of reasonable argument? I have to think Sproul and others have a more nuanced understanding of what they are doing than simply paving the way with “brute facts,” but I don’t know yet how they would put it.

  17. November 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Paige,

    Regarding paragraph one, I think I can agree with what you are saying. The evidence of the empty tomb, for instance, is consistent with our faith and nothing outside of Scripture makes the empty tomb impossibility. There are many other evidences that corroborate our faith, but outsides a worldview that accepts our presuppositions those evidences will be interpreted differently than how we will interpret them. As I think you grasp, even well, the evidence that supposedly “demands a verdict” will (and must) be interpreted through each person’s grid of possibility and truth. Our grid is special revelation. Regarding the classical arguments, yes again, there is purpose, causality and nothing greater than God we can conceive but again given the unbeliever’s presuppositions – causality, purpose and perfection are unintelligible concepts. The unbeliever must borrow from our worldview in order to justify these realities in particular and reality in general. How can the unbeliever bring coherence to his epistemology, metaphysic and ethic?

    As for paragraph 2, I am ill equipped to tell you how apart from Scripture one can justifiy God, let alone any other fact. This is not to say that unbelievers don’t know things. They do. It’s the justification of knowledge that presents a problem for those that do not begin with Scripture.

    Good Lord’s Day!

    Ron

  18. Paige Britton said,

    November 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks, Ron. I think as you do — I’m just expressing curiosity about how the classical-Calvinist apologists explain things. (And there’s plenty of books in the queue on this, I just haven’t gotten there yet.)

  19. rcjr said,

    November 16, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Paige and Ron,
    So sorry. Didn’t mean to do a drive-by. And thank you both for your gracious responses. I hope my original didn’t come across accusatory or defensive. My point, however, I think remains unaddressed, though the questions you ask are good. My question is how the presuppositional view solves this problem. If I present Bahnsen’s transcendental argument to the unbeliever, how am I not implicitly denying total depravity? One step further, and this goes to the pseudo-occassionalism that Ron was suggesting may be how some in my camp would answer the problem, why preach at all? Any time, in any way we call the unbeliever to repent and believe, whether we are giving a cosmological argument (as one could argue Paul did at the Areopagus) or an evidential one (as one could argue Peter did at Pentecost), whether we give the barest, most presuppositonal call to “Repent and believe”, as one could argue Paul does with the Philippian jailor, we are seeking to have human words be a means by which God calls in the elect. In each instance we know that a. only the Holy Spirit gives life and b. we are called to be faithful. In short, we’re all together in this same boat, where we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and seek to obey. We classical guys may in fact have an insufficiently robust understanding of the noetic effects of the fall, though naturally I don’t think so. That we do apologetics in a classical way, however, isn’t sufficient to convict us of the charge. Make sense?

  20. Ron said,

    November 16, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    My question is how the presuppositional view solves this problem. If I present Bahnsen’s transcendental argument to the unbeliever, how am I not implicitly denying total depravity?

    RCJr.,

    That’s a very fair question and it should be one that every presuppositionalist should want to answer for himself. The Presuppositional approach is two-step. The first is to reduce the unbeliever’s worldview to absurdity in a reductio ad absurdum fashion, which as you know is not peculiar to any one school of apologetics. The impetus for the reductio does not logically imply any sort of laboring with a supposed seeker. The impetus for the reductio is that God would have us rip the mask off the fool who would say there is no God. A reductio, in other words, answers the fool according to his folly (by starting with his presuppositions and taking them to their logical, absurd conclusion). Far from an attempt to be seeker sensitive or to acknowledging a spark of light in man, the aim is to show before God and a watching world the utter foolishness of unbelief. By the reductio it is demonstrated how the unbeliever’s worldview leads to arbitrariness and inconsistency. The second part of the apologetic is peculiar to the presuppositional approach. The apologist shows that to argue against the God of Scripture one must first presuppose that which God’s revelation makes possible. In order for the professing atheist to argue against God, he must borrow that which the Christian worldview can justify – such as logic, truth, induction, ethical absolutes etc. So, neither (a) the demonstration of the arbitrariness and inconsistency of the unbelieving worldview or (b) the need for a revelational epistemology implies in any logical sense a belief that there is any ray of sincerity in the unbeliever. In fact, the opposite is implied. The unbelievers is being shown that he is so depraved that he is lives his life as a walking contradiction who is hoping against hope. The presuppositional approach shows that the unbeliever is so utterly depraved that in his rebellious verbal assualt against God he has to presuppose that which God’s revelation justifies for him, the use of memory, logic, ethics etc. That approach stands in stark contrast to the traditional and evidential approaches.

    First the evidential approach, which is inductive. The apologist does not bother to show the unbeliever that he has no claim on induction, even though the unbeliever does not grant that a sovereign God has provided him with a fruitful connection between his mind and the mind-independent external world from which inductive inferences can be rationally maintained. Rather, the apologist affirms to the unbeliever that he is not a fool at all for denying God’s existence and that his reasoning is quite good and well justified though allegedly autonomous. All that the unbeliever needs is just a bit more evidence – as if the evidence can be interpreted without a fallen bias, a uniquely Arminian notion.

    With respect to the traditional arguments as they’ve been traditionally formulated – aside from the fact that the conclusions exceed the scope of the premises showing them to be embarrassingly fallacious, they implicitly deny the idea that there are no freebies in philosophy. They grant without challenge, for instance, that causality, purpose, being, truth, logic, deduction are all intelligibly justified apart from special revelation. All the unbeliever needs to do is follow the proof and arrive to arrive at God, as if God was not known already apart from the proof. Sadly, the conclusion from the premises don’t even lead to the God (it could be gods) that the unbeliever already knows yet is suppressing in unrighteousness. The proofs, in other words, don’t show the truth of the matter that the unbeliever is lying in his depravity about his relationship with God because it doesn’t show that God must be presupposed in order to formulate arguments against Him. There’s no reductio let alone an argument that to argue against God one must first presuppose God. In other words, there is no hint of the fact that the unbeliever in his rebellion is not only suppressing his a priori knowledge of God, he evidences the suppression of the truth by denying that His revelation provides the justification of the tools he requires in order to argue that this God does not exist. That’s the transcendental challenge – what must be true in order for an experience to be possible? The traditional apologetic implicitly confirms the unbeliever in an unwarranted use of deduction and the intelligibility of causality (even in the face of a worldview that does not afford such intelligibility), while affirming to the unbeliever that his problem is not ethical but intellectual – which is to imply that he is not dead and can seek.

    In short, we’re all together in this same boat, where we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and seek to obey.

    Indeed.

    We classical guys may in fact have an insufficiently robust understanding of the noetic effects of the fall, though naturally I don’t think so.

    My problem is not with what you believe to be the condition of man. My beef is that given a Reformed view of man’s plight, you are not being consistent with your apologetic, not to mention I find the apologetic logically embarrassing aside from the theological implications.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  21. Paige Britton said,

    November 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Hi, RC Jr,

    Thanks for tuning in again! (I took you for busy, not “fly-by”).

    Ron is able to speak out of a much more mature understanding of these things than I can; Bahnsen is yet for me only a footnote. I would want to know (and will eventually try to find out) how his transcendental argument differs from the classical, in its assumptions and theological or theoretical context. That both approaches have a “transcendental” argument does not necessarily mean that they are saying the same thing, or for the same reason, or with the same assumptions about the hearer or the apologist’s task.

    I can better speak to the Scriptural examples you raise — in my limited understanding, the presuppositional approach involves an articulation of worldviews, and so as in the act of preaching this kind of apologetic is very Word-centered. So what you dub Paul’s “cosmological” argument comes from Gen. 1 and following; Peter’s “evidential” argument at Pentecost is founded in Joel; and Paul’s instruction to the Philippian jailer is hardly an out-of-biblical-context statement (“believe in the Lord Jesus“) and is followed close on by full-fledged Bible study (Acts 16:31f).

    If our job is to speak and then pray and wait for the Spirit to work, it seems most powerful to do so by way of the Word first, anyway, since regeneration comes by way of the Spirit and the Word. Stepping away from the Word in apologetic discourse does seem to leave one open to the charge of “not having a robust understanding of the noetic effects of the fall” (which yet seemed to me incongruous with an orthodox theology, as I assume you and your father have).

    pax!
    Paige

  22. November 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    [...] Lane Keister quotes R.C. Sproul quoting Thomas Aquinas: We see people searching for the things that we know can be found only in Christ, but we make the gratuitous assumption that because they are seeking the benefits of God, they must therefore be seeking God. That is the very dilemma of fallen creatures: we want the things that only God can give us, but we do not want him. We want peace but not the Prince of Peace. We want purpose but not the sovereign purposes decreed by God. We want meaning found in ourselves but not in his rule over us. We see desperate people, and we assume they are seeking for God, but they are not seeking for God. I know that because God says so. No one seeks after God [...]

  23. Ron said,

    November 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Yes, that is a wonderful insight wonderfully stated.

    Ron

  24. rcjr said,

    November 19, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Friends,
    It seems that we may be talking past each other. You seem to accept as a given (presupposition, I suppose) the notion that we who take a classical view a. think we can argue someone into the kingdom and b. believe that logic, reliable senses, etc. are “neutral.” We don’t take that view. We know that the lost are lost in their unbelief. And we know that all the prerequisites for knowledge have their source in the God of heaven and earth. The self-same exposing of the lie that drives your assault on the unbelievers’ view (which I am grateful to see you acknowledge we do too, though you guys are utter masters at it) is what drives the more positive approach of the classical view. If we can give a compelling argument we are not arguing anyone in, but are showing that the unbelief of the unbeliever is foolish and a sure sign of his rebellion against the living God. In short, our goals are the same as yours. Our methods are the same as yours. The only difference is the arguments. (And as I always argue, the transcendental argument is a fine, sound, compelling argument, just as good as a cosmological argument. Congrats.)

    Second, that the three “arguments” I listed, Paul, Peter and Peter in jail roughly follow three different perspectives isn’t changed by the fact that they are biblical. That, you see, is my point. Paul argues from the creation. Of course Genesis 1 affirms a creation. Peter argues from fulfilled prophecy. Of course the Bible contains fulfilled prophecy. Peter in jail doesn’t argue at all but proclaims. So we see, right there in our Bibles, all being practiced. It’s as if I argued, as I like to do with my presup friends, that natural law exists, because nature teaches that it is a shame to have long hair, and you object that that’s in the Bible. It is in the Bible, not just the shame part, but the nature teaches it part.

    In any event, this has been fun and good for me to understand your position better, and I pray to show we classical folks don’t have fangs. And it all started in a happy place- all of us agreeing that seeker sensitive worship is rather silly. Thanks for your time.

  25. Paige Britton said,

    November 19, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Thanks again, RC Jr!
    It’s good to hear your side as well, and I look forward to reading more on it.
    pax,
    Paige B.

  26. Ron said,

    November 19, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Dear RC…,

    There is so much I could say, but ‘m happy to let you bow out with the last word but as you can probably sense, I find that your approach to apologetics brings reproach upon the faith.

    I’m more than happy to discuss it with you in confidence, off line.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Ron

  27. rcjr said,

    November 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Maybe some day Ron. God bless.


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