02 May 2013

Review: How to Answer the Fool: A Presuppositional Defense of the Faith, with Sye ten Bruggencate

by Dan Phillips

CrownRights graciously allowed me to see an advance copy of Sye ten Varfenklavemann's new training vid on apologetics, titled How to Answer the Fool: A Presuppositional Defense of the Faith.

Known to himself, his parents, and everyone except me as Sye ten Bruggencate (— whatever), the intrepid Canadian has well-earned the admiration of folks like Fred Butler, who introduced me to him, and myself, for his in-your-face approach to applied presuppositional apologetics. He's known for his wonderful web page, Proof that God Exists, and for the many videos of his encounters and debates with unbelievers. Sye has a bit of a separated-at-birth thing going with actor Terry O'Quinn ("John Locke," ironically enough, on the TV show Lost), and hardly ever says "eh" or "soe-ree."

Summary: in the span of about 80 minutes, this video does well what I think is most-needed today and I would commend it, even if only for that alone. It models an approach to apologetics that is both distinctly Christian in intent, and thus fittingly unapologetic. Its weaknesses are outweighed by its value and strengths.

What is good. The video is a well-done interweaving of Sye teaching a class on apologetics, Sye doing apologetics in various hostile environments, and contrasting clips and books from better-known Christian evidentialists such as Geisler and McDowell and Strobel and Lennox and Turek (not Turk) and others. It also features helpful on-screen definitions of key terms.

Sye does a wonderful job of explaining how the fear of the Lord really and truly and comprehensively is the beginning of knowledge (developed at great length textually elsewhere), and why therefore a Christian must start with God and not with doubt. I've never ever seen anyone do a better job of opening up why the unbeliever has neither the right nor standing to position himself as judge over God and His truth, and how we mustn't join him in that stance. We must not sell out the indispensable, authoritative, foundational nature of God's truth in a goodhearted but wrongheaded attempt to persuade the unbeliever that he really ought to see his way clear to give God a chance.

Sye also does at least a very effective introductory job of dismantling evidentialism and showing its inadequacy. He does this by many interwoven slices of evidentialists assuring unbelievers that they're not even talking about the Christian God or the Bible, that they just want to put out some evidence and allow the unbeliever to sit as judge over the evidence. In this way, Sye shows that his critiques are not merely theoretical.

Sye has a few well-crafted and well-honed-by-constant-use ways of reducing unbelievers to fuming, sputtering, enraged impotence, and he illustrates many of them in this video. When an unbeliever informs Sye that he can't claim to know absolute truth, Sye asks him if anything can be known with certainty. When the unbeliever replies that nothing can be known with certainty, Sye asks him whether he knows that with certainty. Often they say "Yes" — and then show that dazed, Coyote-ish "What just hit me?" look.

We are shown Sye doing this on campuses and talk-shows. Among the things I admire about Sye is that he apparently is absolutely fearless, and will go absolutely anywhere to talk to absolutely anyone; a quality I also admire about Doug Wilson, though the latter is in a different league of the same general organization.

And Sye's no dainty nuancer. I doubt you'll see this video promoted on the big RPB sites; if you do, think, "Ironic!" For instance: one talk-show host reveals himself as a professor of bilious bloviation, substituting sesquipedalianism for cogent thought, as if the utterance of one obscure word is a death-blow. After a while, this poor soul burbles "I love Jesus."

"No, you don't!" Sye shoots back, indignantly.

Can you imagine {Bible scholar} or {theologian} or {big blogger} doing this? Nor can I.

Often, Sye takes a phrase and simply repeats it until he's kicked off a show or his hearer walk away in a rage. He explains what (I think) he's doing here thus: this is his "big weapon." His opponents want him to set it down and play the game by their rules. He refuses to set it down. As Sye sees it, they just want him to concede that they have the right to adjudicate God's truth (without demonstrating how they have that right), and he won't do it. He calls them on it. He asks for their ID, and when they refuse to show it (because they can't), he refuses to play nice and go on.

I think this is right, though I'm about to say it's incomplete. Too many evangelicals wobble out of misplaced charity. They land a philosophical death-blow, but when the God-hater sniff's "I'm not bovvered," they shrug in agreement and move on as if nothing's happened. Sye's no shrugger, and he's not out primarily to make friends. He's out to vindicate God's truth and announce God's terms for surrender. This is a needed corrective in a wishy-washy, apologetic (in the wrong sense), scared-of-our-shadows day such as ours.

I can easily see a church using this as a training video —  though I would follow up with...

What could be better. Let me put it too simply, then unfold and illustrate.

Sye seems to focus on utterly destroying the unbeliever and his worldview, period. Winning the unbeliever to a God-centered worldview (conversion) does not seem to be the priority.

You see very little appeal, very little bridge-building, very little outreach. Paul's concern that he might win as many as possible (1 Cor. 9:19-22) isn't at the fore.

Here's what I mean: it is as if Paul told the men at the Areopagus, "I saw an altar to an unknown god, and I am here to tell you that your worldview is hollow and bankrupt, and besides, you already know the unknown god, you just suppress that knowledge." But that isn't quite what the apostle did, is it? He took the altar to the unknown god as his "in," and used that confession of ignorance to proclaim the true and living God and, in the process of this positive proclamation and call to repentant faith, systematically demolished their bankrupt and apostate worldview.

I am saying that I think that everything Sye does is correct, true, and needed. I just think more needs to be done and modeled

This has long been my observation about presuppositional apologetics. In a way, presuppositional apologetics often is like that kind of "testimony" that we all object to: 40 minutes of lurid detail about what a wretched sinner I was, stealing drug money from toddlers and shooting heroin into my eyeballs, followed by 3 minutes about how Jesus saved me, He's great, yay Jesus, let's close in prayer. So, presuppositionalism tends to be 40 absolutely devastating and wonderful and solid-gold minutes about how bankrupt the autonomous worldview is, then "you really need to repent and cry out to the Lord because only He is true, which HEL-LO you know already anyway, so goodbye."

For instance: by all means, do what Sye does. Challenge the unbeliever. Listen (Sye generally does that very well). Interact. Do a round or two of "Do you know that? How do you know that?"

But then, instead of repeating that until the person walks off in a gnarled bird's-nest, stop, and say something like
Look, friend. Let me explain what is happening, and why. You have taken on yourself an impossible task. You can't live without knowing something, yet you aren't able to know anything the way you're going about it. Your final court of appeal is you, and you just aren't all that. I'm not, either. No man is! You would have to know everything, and understand everything you know — and you just don't. No man does. Right? But you keep doing that because you've convinced yourself that that's all there is. 
So let me ask you this: if it were possible truly to know true truth, would you be interested? Would you want to?
And deal with that response. If he says "Yes," preach Christ as Lord. If he says "No," say "Look, I understand. I was in that exact same place. We all really want to be our own gods. But I have already shown you — you don't have the résumé for it. None of us does. It's a doomed endeavor."And so on.

Or this:
Assuming that God is who He says He is in the Bible, to what higher authority do you think He should appeal, to get you to believe Him? He created facts, He created evidence, He rules history... these are small, petty things. What is the higher authority to which He should appeal?
Or a hundred other ways.

So, he tells this puffed-up "I love Jesus" doubletalker, "No, you don't!" We cheer, because we're starved to see anyone speaking edgily and with conviction. But would a better response have been, "You do? Can you love Jesus without believing anything He taught or submitting to His commands?", or "Describe this 'Jesus' you love"?

And so, rather than broken-recording one phrase until the person we're trying to win is utterly exasperated, alternate with "I would love to discuss that, but how can we do that when you won't deal with the elephant in the room?", or "How can we talk about truth when you don't have a way to know truth, and won't deal with that?", or "Is it fair to keep saying to me, 'This game has no rules except the ones I make up — but just play anyway, blast it'?"

There is, after all, something to the warning against winning an argument and losing a person.

Look, believe me: I am not saying this because I think I could do better than Sye. I do not. I admire Sye. I've learned from him. But as I watch him, again and again I get the feeling that he "counts coup" when a believer goes away in a rage. I think of Samuel Johnson saying "Well, we had a good talk," and Boswell replying "Yes, Sir, you tossed and gored several persons." He has won the argument, and lost the man. I think we should aim at both. That's an element which I wish I could see modeled more clearly in Sye's encounters with unbelievers.

If evidentialism goes too far in flattering the sinner (and it does), presuppositionists often go too far in flattening the sinner, without pointing robustly and thoroughly and patiently to Christ with equal thoroughness and conviction. Which takes more than 40 minutes of demo work followed by "So repent and call on Christ. Goodbye!" We must tear down, yes; but we do so in order that we might build up.

Imagine if the book of Romans ended at 3:20!

What you get: you get someone clearly explaining and showing why and how Christian apologetics must be different and distinct, must be unapologetic apologetics, and must aim at the demolition of the autonomous worldview. You also get illustration of this in process. It's an excellent and needed start, and with the reservations noted above, I do commend it.

Dan Phillips's signature


56 comments:

Michael Coughlin said...

Excellent review. I haven't watched the entire movie yet, but I'm really looking forward to it!

Steve Drake said...

Dan,
Anyone who is a presuppositionalist today, like Sye, owes a big debt of gratitude to the writings of Cornelius Van Til, Francis Schaeffer and/or Greg Bahnsen. I'm sure Sye is a student of these men. Anyone who wants to see and understand the theoretical underpinnings of this style of apologetics should read Van Til's In Defense of the Faith, Schaeffer's The God Who is There, Escape from Reason, & He is There and He is Not Silent, and/or Bahnsen's Always Ready.

Schaeffer called the approach "taking the roof off". His wife, Edith, once asked him if he wasn't afraid that once he'd "taken the roof off", he wasn't concerned that the unbeliever would be left only with the very viable option of suicide; utter despair about the hopelessness of his condition.

This is a very real concern and is something you address quite well in the second part of your post. Thank you.

rfb said...

I think that "removing the roof" is a biblical model and can be performed with candid and stark affect, to good effect:

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..."

Steve Drake said...

RFB,

I think that "removing the roof" is a biblical model and can be performed with candid and stark affect, to good effect:

Agreed. It should be something that all Christians are practiced in doing.

Frank Turk said...

When the Presups read your review, you are going to e-mail me.

I bet $10.

Marcus Pittman said...

Dan.

Thanks for your review. For the most part I think it was right on.

I was just wondering if you saw the last part of the film, where Sye is sharing the Gospel with Franco on the street?

Here was a promo of the film that was released that shows the conversation with Franco.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKEybs_WV9U

I think its very unfair to say the film didn't reference the need to proclaim the Gospel. It demonstrated an apologetic that is a call to repentance AND the need to be gracious and as Sye says in the film "Don't be a jerk"

Sye even says if you don't give them a place to land, they will crash into another religion.

Michael Coughlin said...

So let me get this straight, just a few comments after I divulge that I haven't watched the entire movie yet, Marcus spoils the ending?

{SMH}

DJP said...

I think that I watched the video more attentively than you seem to have read my review, Marcus. I will reply more fully when I am back at my computer at home.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Sounds good - when can the rest of us watch it?

Michael Coughlin said...

Nash - it is available for immediate download at http://www.answerthefool.com/

Mike Riccardi said...

Outstanding, Dan. Extremely helpful summary and spot-on analysis. I share the very same admiration and love for Sye as I've benefited from his videos and training. And I also noticed the need to focus more explicitly on build up after tearing down.

Thanks so much for your work here. Vintage DJP.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"And Sye's no dainty nuancer. I doubt you'll see this video promoted on the big RPB sites; if you do, think, "Ironic!""

What does RPB stand for?

Frank Turk said...

I'm raising my bet to $30.

threegirldad said...

TUAD,

See here.

Tom Chantry said...

DJP,

Take the bet! (You could always call instead of email!)

repeater75 said...

I will say that I am a huge fan of Sye's particular application of this method and I have greatly benefitted from his way of teaching it. Having said that, I think Dan's points are valid. While I can point (in Sye's defense) to the video on his YouTube channel entitled "Witnessing at Western University: Sye Cries" to show an excellent example of the loving heart behind the guy who uses God's word to demolish lofty philosophers of this world, I think if he could show us more of that side of what he does, it would benefit the students of the method greatly. And particularly because Sye clearly can do that very capably as well. I think it is particularly challenging to do that in a hostile podcast interview and is probably a lot easier to pull off doing street preaching and evangelism, so consider that as well.

Kerry James Allen said...

Now we're presupposing who will win a bet.

<<>>

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks ThreeGirlDad.

RPB = Raised Pinky Blogging.

I tried to guess, and all I could come up with is Reformed Paper Back which didn't make sense.

Has anyone ever seen someone get offended at Raised Pinky Speech? Sometimes even the most gentlest statements offends someone.

Raised Pinky Evangelism. Raised Pinky Preaching. Raised Pinky Apologetics.

Scorched Earth Evangelism. Scorched Earth Preaching. Scorched Earth Apologetics.

Funny thing is, some people have come to a saving faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior from both extreme ends of the spectrum. And some people are completely turned off no matter what approach you take.

Monergism.

P.S. Echo Steve Drake. Homage to CVT, Bahnsen, Schaeffer. And I still highly respect all the evidentialists such as JP Moreland, William Lane Craig, et al.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Dan, I appreciate your understanding that God has ordained ordinary means to declare His gospel, and in that you've given a pros and cons to Sye's style.

Guys like me who love a good argument need posts like this to remind us that we're not exchanging information with computers that process hard information infallibly, but with real people who process information through fallen, emotion-laden filters that are set on a personal agenda, and that considering this will help us tell the truth in a beneficial way - in a way that leaps over and tears down the filters and by God's grace brings some man to saving faith in Jesus.

Michael Coughlin said...

TUAD - I agree with your sentiment, but not your conclusion, necessarily.

I ABSOLUTELY adore the scorched earth reference. That was my GAME!

But, the fact that God has used poor means to save some doesn't justify those means. Whether those means are honoring to God or not is the question.

I wouldn't advocate the sinner's prayer as a generally good way to evangelize if someone likes that method simply because God has saved people who were presented that method.

Kurt said...

So how do I deal with a question like:

"So I don't have the right to judge, but how do I know your exclusive truth claim is better than say Mormonism or some other religion?"

I am not trying to be snarky, I am genuinely interested in the answer, since this comes up, and I generally resort to some kind of evidentialist argument because I am not aware of any alternatives.

Michael Coughlin said...

Kurt - not sure who you were asking, but here's my short answer.

You don't know. The point is that you have to rely on the God of the Scriptures in order to know the God of the Scriptures. You must presuppose that He is true or that He is not true. If you leave open the possibility that He is not, you are in an imaginary world, since He, in fact, is.

Ultimately, the point Dan was getting at is that at this point when you've shown people that the only worldview that can exist is the Christian one, it is incumbent upon you to proclaim His truths to your hearer, like the existence of his sin before a Holy God who will judge, but who sent His only Son that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, that he died and raised again for justification of sinners.

At any point, you can only win the argument if God grants regeneration. But I suppose in God's eyes it is your faithfulness to proclaim His Word no matter how foolish it sounds to the wise that matters.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Michael Coughlin: "But, the fact that God has used poor means to save some doesn't justify those means."

I totally understand.

As far as "poor means" I kinda think the following as examples of "poor means":

o Roman Catholicism and/or Eastern Orthodoxy. Some of these folks are saved through arguably "poor means."

o Mainline LibProts and Emerger LibProts. Some of these folks are saved through arguably "poor means" as well.

o Steve Drake's favorite: There are some folks who are theistic evolutionists who are saved despite their adherence to theistic evolution.

DJP said...

Marcus, what baffles me most about your comment here and elsewhere is that it sounds as if you're responding to a negative review. It would be pretty rough (and unfair) to characterize this review as a negative review.

You're also off in saying "I think its [sic] very unfair to say the film didn't reference the need to proclaim the Gospel." I said no such thing.

But I'll grant you this. I did have that one more directly evangelistic encounter in mind strongly enough that I actually felt as if I'd directly referenced it specifically, though I didn't.

But I didn't deny it, either, and it doesn't change my assessment. I'd be re-writing my review, but I guess to restate briefly:

1. Simply to say "Your worldview is bankrupt" is certainly not adequate.

2. Simply to say, "Your worldview is bankrupt," and "Repent and believe," is far better, but also not all we should strive for.

I think the goal should be:

3. To say, "Your worldview is bankrupt, let me show you. The worldview that starts with the fear of Yahweh, alone, is adequate -- let me show you. On that basis, because Christ is the truth, I urge you to repent of your doomed, damned worldview, and believe in Jesus the Lord."

Sye does a lot of #1, and some of #2. It's #3 where there's work to be done.

Better?

Clint said...

Michael Coughlin: You don't know. The point is that you have to rely on the God of the Scriptures in order to know the God of the Scriptures...

Reply: Michael, the thing is, I don't just see this type of argumentation by the Apostles. For instance in Acts 17:30-31 (NET), we have Paul saying, "he now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead." Pointing to the evidence for the resurrection seems to be what Paul would do to answer the question of "Why Christ over other religions?" Furthermore, we this approach in 1 Corinthians 15:3-19, especially verses 3-7 which has been found to be the earliest creedal statement of the Church. Finally, even with the Thessalonians earlier in Acts 17:2-4,

"Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women,"

the contrast is shown quite well that Paul would argue from the Scripture if his audience already shared his view of its authority. And of course, the event that made Paul start to read and see Scripture this way was the proof he was given of Christ' resurrection.

Michael Coughlin: Ultimately, the point Dan was getting at is that at this point when you've shown people that the only worldview that can exist is the Christian one, it is incumbent upon you to proclaim His truths to your hearer, like the existence of his sin before a Holy God who will judge, but who sent His only Son that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, that he died and raised again for justification of sinners.

Reply: I agree with this in a sense, but as a philosophical Thomist, where is metaphysically ultimate and necessary, but he didn't use the presupp approach in his philosophy, nor do I see this approach by Paul in Acts 17.

Michael Coughlin: At any point, you can only win the argument if God grants regeneration. But I suppose in God's eyes it is your faithfulness to proclaim His Word no matter how foolish it sounds to the wise that matters.

Reply: As an Arminian and a proponent of evidential apologetics (or at least keeping the historical reality of the crucifixion/resurrection the first point of conversation in an evangelistic encounter with a disbeliever of those two events), this makes me think this apologetic method issue comes down whether you believe in irresistible grace or prevenient grace. I don't think God is always drawing non-believers and neutralizing their total inability to come to Christ, but probably draws them at various points, then stops or keeps drawing them depending on how they respond.

Therefore, I completely respect the need for the Holy Spirit to bring someone to Christ, but I also wouldn't construe it as an either/or situation but a both/and. Sometimes he uses our persuasive efforts to draw someone, and sometimes he doesn't use that particular avenue to draw. He could even use different things (our debates, our love for the non-Christian) in each individual drawing as we interact with the same non-believer for years, for instance. Luke also seems to hold up Paul's persuasiveness as virtue in Acts as well.

Clint said...

Oops, here's a corrected version of one of my statements. I left out the word "God."

*I agree with this in a sense, but as a philosophical Thomist, where God is metaphysically ultimate and necessary,*

Michael Coughlin said...

When you point to the evidence of the resurrection you are presupposing what God has said is true. Paul presupposes that God is who raised Jesus.

I agree with this approach.

I am not sure I get what you are trying to say, Clint. You seem to be trying to refute or correct my comment but I don't think you do.

I would say that Acts 17 is a great example of Paul presupposing the veracity of the message from God. I guess at this point I'd ask you to explain how he is not.

If you really want to get philosophical, I would argue that you have presuppositions of your own, you either deny it or hold to contradictions or that which would not hold up to logical scrutiny.

Let me know what you think. I'm interested in your professed Arminianism. I've never met someone who really was. Usually they are just 1 or 2 point Calvinists. ;)

Frank Turk said...

DJP:

If you don't e-mail me after Marcus' response to your very-civil and cogent response, I'll send you $50 in Peet's gift certificates.

DJP said...

If I don't ever email you, I get Peet's certificates?

Psh. Love Peet's, but even that won't keep me out of your inbox, brudda. You're stuck with me for the duration.

Sye Ten Bruggencate said...

Thanks for your review Dan!

Problem is the film would be 3 hours long if they put in more #3. There was plenty of #3, but it did not make the final cut as the emphasis was on apologetic methodology. I would have loved the film to be 3 hours long to show the kinder gentler Sye, but I can live with your interpretation of my failures based on the film.

Spent the day at UMass Dartmouth, where one of the bombers attended. Plenty of #3 there. Wish I could afford a camera crew to catch those moments :-)

DJP said...

I'd say "lacunae," maybe, not failures. As I hope I made clear, even SIMPLY a demonstration of demo-work has great value.

So I'm now envisioning, "Son of Answering the Fool," or "Beyond the Answer to the Fool"... or "Answering the Fool: the Final Chapter."

DJP said...

...which, when you do any of them, make sure they put me on to a review-copy!

(c:

Clint said...

Michael,

"When you point to the evidence of the resurrection you are presupposing what God has said is true."

It's not clear to me what you're trying to say with this specific statement.

"Paul presupposes that God is who raised Jesus."

I'm not trying to say people don't have presuppositions. Just that it's not always important to address them. Depends on where the convo goes. I would also say it's much easier to argue the evidence for the resurrection if they already theists, even of a general sort. But I think it's possible to argue it without them sharing that belief.

"I am not sure I get what you are trying to say, Clint. You seem to be trying to refute or correct my comment but I don't think you do."

I'm more probing to learn how a presuppor handles these passages. Also, I'm trying to discern how many presuppors thinks the presupp method is the only valid tool in the shed. Finally, I'm seeing if any agree this is connected to the Calvinist/Arminian issue.

"I would say that Acts 17 is a great example of Paul presupposing the veracity of the message from God. I guess at this point I'd ask you to explain how he is not."

That's the thing. We know from his conversion earlier in Acts that he started "supposing" because he was given evidence of Christ's resurrection.

"Let me know what you think. I'm interested in your professed Arminianism. I've never met someone who really was. Usually they are just 1 or 2 point Calvinists. ;)"

I suppose you could say I'm a 1.5 or a 2. I get a 1 on T, 0.5 on U (because I would say as a Molinist also I get to U through a different route than irresistible grace, with "soft" libertarian freedom because I think Total Inability is sometimes or often in play in the unregenerate unlike some Arminians who think it never is), and possibly a 0.5 on L (because of how God decrees all of time under Molinism and seeing the atonement as a representation rather than a substitution).

J. E. Smith said...

I just finished running the vid by my pastor in the hopes that we might set up some stuff to get that type (#1, 2, and 3) of outreach going this fall at the university which is just blocks from our church. Thanks, Dan (and Sye!).

DJP said...

Terrific! I'd love to hear how that turns out.

Sir Aaron said...

Sye:

If you ever come to Houston, I think I can get you a camera crew....

Michael Coughlin said...

Answering the Fool 2: I Pity the Fool!

DJP said...

Coughlin FTW.

Marcus Pittman said...

Dan. I apologize sincerely if you thought my attitude towards your review was ill mannered. I didn't mean any negative feelings towards it and as I said several times I appreciate it.

Please accept my apologies.

DJP said...

Oh, thanks Marcus, but I wasn't offended. Just baffled. We're all-good.

Robert Baty said...

Sye fearless????

That's not been my experience. Despite being a tyro, Sye continues to "run" from me while his sympathizers cover for him.

I first ran across Sye on one of Eric Hovind's FaceBook pages.

I have proposed that Sye's much-touted "proof of God" is NO "proof of God".

Sye has not been honest in what he has had to say about the matter.

The invitation remains open for Sye or his appointed surrogate to come out, come clean and openly and honestly negotiate for the proposed exchange involving Sye's
affirmative "proof of God" claim and my rebuttal thereto.

Perhaps there is someone here who has the moral influence to get Sye to initiate the negotiations; by simply sending an email message to:

Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com

If deemed necessary, we can negotiate an alternative venue
for the negotiations.

The website associated with the above email address has public archives which can be accessed at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Maury_and_Baty/

The historic record regarding my dealings with Presuppositionalism, and Sye in particular, are found in
the archives there and span the last few weeks.

If you search the archives there you might even find references to where Sye and his sympathizers have
implicitly admitted that Sye's "proof of God" is NO "proof of God".

If Sye agrees and wants to make an explicit admission of that and the propriety of my complaint against him and his claim that would make the proposed issue in dispute moot.

If Sye does not agree, the invitation remains for him
to accept and initiate the negotiations...or his appointed
substitute.

ChristineLV said...

Thanks for the review, Dan. I saw that you said that you had learned from Sye.

If you have followed him for any length of time, you should know that he goes beyond the call of duty with his energy, and time, and resources to share the Gospel and to disciple people who the Holy Spirit has blessed with understanding what he has been demonstrating to them all along.

His public works are for the education and edification of the church. If hard core "atheists" insist on remaining enemies of the Cross and continue to attempt to bait Sye then I say, "Have at 'em!" It's great watching and listening for the novice apologist.

If there is a true "downside" to his ministry it is that he spends so much time with college educated folks and college students and there are "regular " people such as myself that deal with the same hate and ad hominem attacks that would benefit from Sye teaching us to speak to those who do not speak in terms of "worldviews" and philosophy.

As it is, though, I have learned a lot from Sye and hope to continue to glean from his understanding for years to come.

Clint said...

Michael,

Did you see my last response to you. Hoping for an interesting dialogue.

Michael Coughlin said...

Yes, Clint. I'll respond when I can.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Michael
Thank you for the information, I ordered a set.
Nash

donsands said...

"Sye seems to focus on utterly destroying the unbeliever and his worldview, period. Winning the unbeliever to a God-centered worldview (conversion) does not seem to be the priority."

The highest motive to share the truth is to honor our Lord and His Word. The soul who needs quickening is also something that should make our eyes moist.

Yet, Mark wrote in the 4th chapter of his Epistle:

"And when Jesus was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them,
“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

Not that I understand our Lord's words in total, but it seems God is saying we are to fish for men, and speak the truth of Christ, and the Word, and many will not hear, even though they do hear.

Thanks for the great post, and for sharing about Sye.
Another encouraging brother in the Body to learn from.

Have a great weekend and Lord's Day, in the Lord's house with the Lord's people.



Michael Coughlin said...

Clint:
“When you point to the evidence of the resurrection you are presupposing what God has said is true."”
It's not clear to me what you're trying to say with this specific statement.
Clint – I am saying that the resurrection is not an evidential argument. The resurrection alone means nothing. It is the fact that the scriptures testify to the resurrection that is the reasoned argument, which can only be argued presuppositionally.” Actually, Sye told me he would use me in a book one day as an example of a non-believer who happily assented to the fact of the resurrection – long before I ever believed God’s commentary on it.
I'm not trying to say people don't have presuppositions. Just that it's not always important to address them.
I would agree with you. Although my opinion is that when I find divergence, I usually have to trace it back to differing presuppositions in order to help explain the contradiction to the listener. But generally, no, I don’t always attack presuppositions in my personal evangelism.

I'm more probing to learn how a presuppor handles these passages. Also, I'm trying to discern how many presuppors thinks the presupp method is the only valid tool in the shed. Finally, I'm seeing if any agree this is connected to the Calvinist/Arminian issue.
I suppose you could ax 10 presups and get a few different views. A more lengthy comment would be needed to truly address your question I believe. And yes, I think this is related to CalMinius.

That's the thing. We know from his conversion earlier in Acts that he started "supposing" because he was given evidence of Christ's resurrection.
I disagree. I believe Paul was granted faith to believe when He saw the resurrected Christ but taught “from the scriptures.” Even the evidentialism of his direct revelation is rooted in the fact that he wasn’t the judge; he either had to believe or reject the Christ a priori.

I suppose you could say I'm a 1.5 or a 2. I get a 1 on T, 0.5 on U (because I would say as a Molinist also I get to U through a different route than irresistible grace, with "soft" libertarian freedom because I think Total Inability is sometimes or often in play in the unregenerate unlike some Arminians who think it never is), and possibly a 0.5 on L (because of how God decrees all of time under Molinism and seeing the atonement as a representation rather than a substitution).
Interesting. It is nice to meet someone so serious about understanding what he believes. I mean this with much love and respect – based on your own professed beliefs I find it hard to believe your sins have been paid for by Jesus – which in turn means you will pay for them yourself. If you do not believe Christ is truly your substitute, then it seems you are not relying on his death, burial and resurrection to be justified. As well, I have a VERY big struggle believing that people who deny the doctrine of perseverance are truly putting their full faith and trust in Christ. Usually is plays out that they are trusting in some work of their own, whether they vocalize it or not.
HST, I did not mean to insult you, but rather raise the concern because, well, that is my primary concern – the conversion of lost sinners and your own profession doesn’t fall in line with my understanding of “the gospel.” I hope you will not be offended personally, but rather see it as genuine love and concern.

Clint said...

Michael,

"Clint – I am saying that the resurrection is not an evidential argument. The resurrection alone means nothing. It is the fact that the scriptures testify to the resurrection that is the reasoned argument, which can only be argued presuppositionally.”

Scriptures as in OT Scriptures?

"Actually, Sye told me he would use me in a book one day as an example of a non-believer who happily assented to the fact of the resurrection – long before I ever believed God’s commentary on it."

Yes there can be some who won't accept the rest such as Pinchas Lapide, but I have found for a majority the rest follows from the resurrection. Also, evidentialists don't argue for the resurrection occurring in a vacuum.

"I disagree. I believe Paul was granted faith to believe when He saw the resurrected Christ but taught “from the scriptures.” Even the evidentialism of his direct revelation is rooted in the fact that he wasn’t the judge; he either had to believe or reject the Christ a priori."

Are you saying he was believing in Christ a priori? Of course, Paul was "granted" faith but how that worked all depends on Calvinist/Arminian/Molinist views. Furthermore, Paul said he was initially taught the Gospel from a revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12), not Scripture.

"Interesting. It is nice to meet someone so serious about understanding what he believes. I mean this with much love and respect – based on your own professed beliefs I find it hard to believe your sins have been paid for by Jesus – which in turn means you will pay for them yourself. If you do not believe Christ is truly your substitute, then it seems you are not relying on his death, burial and resurrection to be justified. As well, I have a VERY big struggle believing that people who deny the doctrine of perseverance are truly putting their full faith and trust in Christ. Usually is plays out that they are trusting in some work of their own, whether they vocalize it or not.
HST, I did not mean to insult you, but rather raise the concern because, well, that is my primary concern – the conversion of lost sinners and your own profession doesn’t fall in line with my understanding of “the gospel.” I hope you will not be offended personally, but rather see it as genuine love and concern."

I'm not offended, but I'm shocked you would so quickly jump to conclusions about my salvation when I wasn't trying to explain my beliefs on the gospel and just because I don't accept P. Perhaps I should add I think the atonement is a penal representation in line with what a Reformed author Hans Boersma write in his book at this link,

http://www.amazon.com/Violence-Hospitality-Cross-Reappropriating-Atonement/dp/0801031338/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367712481&sr=8-1&keywords=hans+atonement

as well as a few other things I write about here in a post on the Gospel

http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/2013/01/what-is-gospel.html

Finally, in my disbelief of P, I still don't think a Christian can lose their salvation because of sins or lack of works, but they can throw it away by ceasing to have faith in Christ. Furthermore, I just don't see how faith can be construed as a work or effort because of how Paul contrasts faith/works in Romans 4:1-5 (ESV),

"What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in[b] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,"

Anyway, I suspect they will be closing the comments soon on this post, so if you want to continue this convo, we may have to at my article I linked you to, or we could at another venue where I have theological discussions with people online.

Michael Coughlin said...

Well done, Clint. Your explanation qualifies under the Michael-Coughlin-denial-of-P-which-could-still-mean-the-person-is-trusting-Christ.

Anyway, thanks for your good spirit. I will read your posts when I have a chance.

lustus said...

Chris Rosebrough over at Fighting for the Faith has interviewed Sye about the film. They address many of your concerns. Thank you for the very well thought out review and I appreciate the commenters as well.

May 06, 2013 — How To Answer the Fool

May God glorify Christ Jesus in the salvation of the souls we so feebly love.

DJP said...

I enjoyed and profited from the interview (substance starts around 7-8 minutes in). Just disappointed that the one reference to this review was a misreading. But that's a little blip on a good interview.

Nash Equilibrium said...

i finally received and watched the video, last weekend. Having done so, I totally agree with your review here, I loved the spirit of what he was doing but he came off as an unthinking automaton to many of the unbelievers he confronted. If he had responded alternatively as you recommended in your review, he could have gotten his point across in a way that made them think, and made them realize that Christians think too, rather than simply reinforcing their stereotypes about Christians, which I'm afraid Sye did in most cases. As you say, he stood his ground ferociously but lost the people he might have reached.
I realize that Paul had it infinitely easier at Mars Hill since his audience believed there might be a real God who was merely unknown to them (and they were correct on that score!), while the atheists that Sye interacted with were not even accepting of that much.
I much appreciated Sye's observation that when the Word says that the fool has said in his heart there is no God, the Word is making a moral judgement against the fool's choice not to believe, not that the fool is merely lacking either knowledge or intellect and simply comes to the wrong conclusion.
Great video, and an even better review, Dan. Thanks for cluing me in on this video's existence and the ways his message could be improved.

Dad said...

Surely everyone has moved on...

BUT watched the video last night and it strikes me as a tinge hyper-calvinistic...

Sounds like Sye is calling people to repent, which he recognizes as a gift of God. And then, they will have a changed heart by which they can believe the gospel.

Like when he tells Franco to go home and repent for his bad worldview.

But a Spirit given repentance is given via the hearing of the gospel by a sinner, NOT in response to a demolished worldview.

THE SINNER CANNOT AND WILL NOT REPENT, UNLESS HE HAS SOMETHING TO TURN TO!!! The gospel of Christ's atonement and forgiveness to a convicted sinner is the means by which the sinner is granted repentance.

Apart from that, you can't and won't repent.

Hyper-calvinism?

Frank Turk said...

Steve: Do you feel better now?

What will Calvinism ever do with that mighty blurb?

Kerry said...

Hi, Just to say what an excellent critique, I havn't seen that much of Sye, but came to same conclusions. Don't flatter, but don't aim for personal destruction either. Aim to win the argument with the corresponding aim to win the person which is paramount.
Regards,
Kerry http://struth-his-or-yours.blogspot.co.nz/

Chris said...

Your observation on the need for a “positive proclamation” reminded me of what Piper writes on “winning” people over to the truth. Though he was initially making the case for Biblical manhood and womanhood, the principle nevertheless applies to all Biblical truth. I’ve modified (see brackets) the quote to reflect that. Piper writes,

“So there is a second task needed in winning people over to a vision of [truth]. Not only must there be thorough exegesis, there must also be a portrayal of the [Biblical] vision that satisfies the heart as well as the head. Or to put it another way: we must commend the beauty as well as the truth of the vision. We must show that something is not only right but also good. It is not only valid but also valuable, not only accurate but also admirable.”