“A Critical Review of Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended”
Mr. David Gunn
Clarks Summit University
In Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the course
TH527 – Studies in Presuppositional Apologetics
In the Division of Apologetics
Andrew Thomas Knight
DMIN Luther Rice Seminary, 2014
MRE West Coast Baptist College, 2010
MBS Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004
BB Pensacola Christian College, 1994
February 18, 2017
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Bahnsen’s Stated Purposes……………..………….……………….. 2
A Positive Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book..……………….…………… 3
A Negative Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book…..……..……..…………… 4
The Final Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book..……………………..………. 5
Final Thoughts on Bahnsen’s Apologetics….……………………….. 5
INITIAL SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY …………………………………… 6
This student will first outline the author’s stated objectives of this book. Secondly, this
student will give some major positive points of this book. Thirdly, several negative points will be
brought to light. Next, a final analysis will be offered up of Bahnsen’s book on presuppositional
apologetics. Then, a few final thoughts will be given relative to Bahnsen’s writing.
Bahnsen’s Stated Purposes
Bahnsen gave several reasons for the purpose of his book. First, he wanted to make the
argument that the purpose of presuppositional apologetics is to bring glory to God. He stated,
“A truly Christian defense of the faith must never fail to exalt Christ as Lord over all, including
argumentation and reasoning. An apologist that builds on any other rock that Christ does not
honor the greatness of divine wisdom; it is foolish and audaciously erected on the ruinous sands
of human authority.” Bahnsen’s concern was that Christ would be honored above all else.
Secondly, Bahnsen argues for the method of presuppositional apologetics. He explained,
“The purpose of this treaties is to exhibit presuppositional apologetics as the only faithful and
sound method of centending for the Christian hope and biblical message. Resting upon the
authority of the living God rather than that of independent human reasoning, the apologist must
presuppose the truth of Scripture and lay siege to all apostate presuppositions.” Bahnsen here
wanted to make sure that his readers knew that the final authority was the basis for his
Thirdly, Bahnsen made his argument for God being the standard of his apologetic when
he stated, “Here we see that the ultimate standard for the Christian must always be the self-
attesting Word of God.” He made the case that nothing or no one could be a higher standard
than the Bible.
Fourthly, Bahnsen made the argument for the existence of God per our ability to reason
and consider logic. He stated, “What the apologist must endeavor to do is to demonstrate that
without Christian presuppositions there is no intelligible use of facts and logic – that human
knowledge and inspiration fail instantly.” Bahnsen made this important argument in his stated
The final purpose stated by Bahnsen was holding to a biblical epistemology. He stated,
”In the following studies I aim to present biblical and epistemological reflections which point us
toward a presuppositional defense of the faith, clarify and defend this apologetic method by
responding to certain popular criticisms of it, and then compare it with a few basic, other kinds
of apologetic strategy which are promoted today.” He wants his apologetic to be one that is of a
A Positive Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book
The author, Greg Bahnsen used chapter two to make a good argument for a biblical
apologetic and the biblical source for which the apologist’ epistemology is drawn from.
Bahnsen stated, “Although a presuppositional approach in apologetics is demanded
epistemologically, the ultimate source of strength for such a method of defending the faith must
come from the self-attested, inspired Word of God itself. We should expect this to be the case for
a biblical presuppositionalist!” Bahnsen referenced a lot of Scripture that was applicable to
apologetics, Proverbs 5:1 “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my
understanding:” This of course is edifying to see more of a biblical mandate for apologetics.
In chapter five Edward Carnell deals with the important subject of possibilism, where
Carnell wrote, “But the truth is that the natural man always attacks the gospel in the name of
autonomous thought—even when one uses a diluted apologetic that embodies autonomous
principles itself!” The argument is well received in that in order to have a credible epistemology
one must believe in the absolute, infallible truth of the Word of God.
A Negative Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book
The negative aspects of this book are similar to much of, the history of Christianity. Or
what this student calls, the history of heresy, which is to say when drilling down to see what
men like Clark and Schaeffer believe relative to their apologetic it seems somewhat dark.
Bahnsen referenced Schaeffer’s apologetic this way, “It is not verified (contrary to Schaeffer),
and that is because it is God’s authoritative, clear (cognitive) Word of truth necessary to all other
intellectual endeavors (contrary to neo-orthodoxy).” This is a disappointing discovery
regarding this legendary apologist, Schaeffer. This condescending attitude toward the authority
of Scripture is apparent with other apologists as Bahnsen discussed, “Thus far we see that the
non-presuppositional apologetics of Clark, Carnell, and Schaeffer is stranded between a logical
fallacy and (for lack of omniscience) skepticism.” The lesson here is would seems to be clear is
that one should have an unshakable belief in the supremacy of Scripture long before one goes
into the business of being an apologist.
The Final Analysis of Bahnsen’s Book
This student enjoyed reading and studying Bahnsen’s book on Presuppositional
Apologetics, and was insightful to numerous apologists and their thought processes. It was clear
that Bahnsen had as a main objective was to glorify the Lord. Next, Bahnsen argued for, in his
book, the common faith. In his final analysis it is ones faith in the Lord. Bahnsen did make the
case throughout his book that in fact the final authority for epistemology is the Word of God.
This student tends to think it would be difficult to make any other argument when contending for
the faith. Bahnsen did argue though out this work that the supremacy of Scripture far outweighs
human logic, and he made the argument that there could be no logic without presuppositional
truth. It would seem as though Bahnsen gave a helpful analysis of several other philosophies of
apologetics, and that he wanted his readers to know that the most faithful approach to apologetics
is one with presuppositions that truth is found in the Bible, though reasoning ought to be wider
rather than a narrow circular reasoning in the advance of the truth.
Final Thoughts on Bahnsen’s Apologetics
The required reading on Bahnsen’s book, Presuppositional Apologetics was a well
written and researched work that offered a fair assessment of these apologists, Clark, Carnell,
and Schaeffer. Bahnsen also offered a good and in depth analysis of several different approaches
to apologetics. He made strong arguments for the supremacy of Scripture, and the significance of
presuppositional apologetics, and some weaknesses of placing logic and reason above the Bible.
INITIAL SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPGY
Bahnsen, Greg L. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2011.