The Blog of Jack Holloway

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Entrapment, or Yet Another Aspect of Reformed Thinking I Cannot Stand

I've been taking an apologetics course, and I have found a new nemesis: reformed apologetics (Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman's term).(1) Reformed apologetics starts with the foundational premise, "Christianity is true and all other worldviews are false." These apologists make no attempt to objectively approach something; they consciously choose to start with this premise, and they want to instill in Christians ultimate confidence and certainty, not even deeming possible the truth of any other worldview. Thus, reformed apologetics merely consists of revealing to everyone else that their worldviews are wrong.

Furthermore, they do not think the human mind can determine what is true, so they reject all attempts to discover truth by rationally analyzing and evaluating reality, especially the Bible. The Bible, they say, is what we should use to analyze everything else; all facts must conform to Scripture's teaching. Scripture itself should not be subjected to critical analysis.

What we have here is a trap. They establish Christianity as their foundation, and then they wall themselves (and others) in so that they cannot get out. The belief system is perfectly sealed, not subject to any doubt or questioning, but immutable and safe from all adaptation.

If significant questioning or concrete evidence is presented against a reformed apologist, he will appeal to mystery, or to the fallen state of human reason. Take for example predestination and free will. Ask a reformed person how an action can be both predestined by God and a free action for which the human is morally responsible; he will either say, "it's a mystery," or "it doesn't make sense because our reason has been tainted by sin."

Do you see how this is a trap? The system is conveniently set up with the all the necessary provisions to dismiss all questioning and all doubt.

First of all, beginning with the presupposition, "Christianity is true and everything else is false," is absolute intellectual dishonesty. This is not the mindset of someone actually concerned about knowing what is true. It is circular reasoning.
All non-Christian worldviews are false.
How do you know they are false?
Because Christianity is true.
How do you know Christianity is true?
Because of the Bible.
How do you know the Bible is true?
Because of the Holy Spirit.
How do you know the Holy Spirit exists?
Because of the Bible.
Or, see two actual examples:
Why should I believe in Jesus?
Cornelius Van Til: Because Jesus is God(2)
Why should I believe in the Bible?
Gordon Clark: Because the Bible is the starting point for all knowledge(3)
(Maybe thinking is just too hard?)

Secondly, responding to all evidence or reasoning against one's beliefs by appealing to mystery, the sinful state of human reason, or some other spin-doctoring, is dangerous. It creates and fuels ignorance, and has no real interest in knowing what actual truth is, but is merely interested in maintaining what one already believes to be true. Except he doesn't acknowledge it as a belief, but embraces it as fact, and rejects everything that suggests otherwise. "This is true. You question it because you're sinful." This attitude is unwise on so many levels.

Such a system of thinking is a step toward insanity. No wonder so many people are leaving the church; they can see this blatant ignorance and will have no part of it. Well, have no part of it! Don't buy into this kind of "reasoning." It is insufficient and often ridiculous. Christian faith should not consist of blind certainty and a refusal to face questions and doubt.

Why would someone willingly put oneself in the cave that Plato spoke of?

Israel as witness knows that if Yahweh is not endlessly criticized and subverted, Yahweh will also become an absolute, absolutizing idol. - Walter Brueggemann

(1) The description of reformed apologetics here comes from, "Reformed Apologetics: God Said It," part 4 of Kenneth Boa and Robert Bowman, Jr., Faith Has its Reasons, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005).
(2) See Ibid., 319.
(3) See Ibid., 317.


  1. "they do not think the human mind can determine what is true"

    Which is funny, because if we can't determine what is true how can we determine the Bible is true?