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How to Uncover Basic Flaws and Hidden Lies in Attacks against the Christian Faith
8. Biblical examples of presuppositional apologetics

a) Jesus' use of apologetics

Jesus presupposed the truth of God’s revelation. He took for granted that it was true. He never once put his commitment to God’s word aside, and he often asked questions challenging the presuppositions of any who contradicted it. Here are a few examples:

1. “Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism - where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,' he will ask, ‘Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, ‘Of human origin' - we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don't know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Matthew 21:23-27)

Here Jesus puts his accusers on the horns of a dilemma. Whichever way they answer, it is not going to end well for them, and as we see quite often in the Bible they chose not to talk, preferring ignorance to facing the truth.

Jesus said to them “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?” (Matthew 21:42). You will note that Jesus was talking to chief priests and the elders (see verse 23). These people spent all their time teaching the scriptures and explaining it to the masses; asking them “Have you never read” is not a genuine inquiring question but a condemnation - very insulting to the elders telling them they don’t know the Bible. It’s like asking the head of the philosophy department at Oxford University if he’s ever heard of Plato! Jesus is telling them they don’t even know their own field of studies. But now that the elders had found someone who could understand and make sense of the scriptures better than they could ever do, did this mean they were going to submit? Not at all. The Bible tells us “they were seeking to arrest him” (v46). They were not seeking the truth but were simply interested in hearing their own voice and asserting their supremacy.

2. Jesus used the same method in Matthew 22, when the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trick him by asking him about paying taxes to Caesar, about marriage at the resurrection, about the greatest commandment, and about who the Messiah is. Addressing each and every one of those questions, Jesus didn't go for philosophical arguments, trying to prove his case step by step, but rather he went after the presuppositions of his accusers reducing their schemes to absurdity. Firstly, the Pharisees didn't have a leg to stand on when they talked about taxes, because they were pretending to be religious and loyal to Caesar at the same time, while in fact they are neither; they didn't give God His due nor did they follow Caesar. Jesus did the same thing with the Sadducees, the ones who were responsible for the maintenance of the Temple and presiding over sacrifices. Jesus told them they were wrong and that they knew neither the Bible nor the power of God. Then he gave them the bitter choice of either saying they were wrong when saying: “there is no resurrection”, or admitting that they thought God is the God of the dead. After Jesus silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees came back for more; they were no more successful this time, and finally found out, the hard way, that Jesus isn’t easily trapped: “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:46). You see, they were not interested in the truth, only in repeating their own folly.

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