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How to Uncover Basic Flaws and Hidden Lies in Attacks against the Christian Faith

4. What do we mean by presuppositional apologetics?

A presupposition is an elementary assumption on which any statement, discussion or argument is based. Presuppositions form a wide-ranging, foundational starting point, in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated. As such, presuppositions have the greatest authority in one's thinking, being treated as your least negotiable belief and being granted the highest immunity to revision.

For instance one can easily change their mind about what time of day it is after they find out that their watch is broken, or that it is too fast or too slow; however it will be a much harder (though not impossible) task to convince someone that the two people whom they considered to be their parents all their life are not in fact their parents, and that they are adopted. Now imagine someone telling you that you have no parents; not that the two people you thought to be your parents are not and that you in fact have other two parents, but rather this someone is trying to convince you that you don’t have any parents at all; like Adam, you just came into existence without a mother or father. You are highly unlikely to accept such a claim at all, and showing you some paperwork or book citation won’t help; it goes against your knowledge of biology and how children are born, and to accept it would require a massive shift in your thought.

Much of what we talk about or do comes with presuppositions; sometimes they are spelled out, but most of the time they are quite subtle. For example, the statement “I didn’t break the glass - my sister did!” is based on the presupposition that the glass is broken to begin with. So what kind of presuppositions do Christians have (or should we have)? In Colossians 2:8, Paul tells us not to base our thoughts and actions on the traditions of men and the elementary principles of the world; these he calls “empty deceit.” Instead, we are to take the truth of Christ as our foundation. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians2:8). The elementary principles he refers to are in essence presuppositions. As believers in Christ, we cannot accept the elementary principles of the world as true or as a proper basis for our thoughts and actions. We’ll come back to the importance of this later.

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