Does Apologetics Put Reason Above the Bible?


http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/christianpiatt/files/2012/11/fightersII.jpgApologists, particularly those who would be considered "evidentialists," are often faced with a question from much of the Church. This question comes in various forms though the common thread among the questions is "Aren't you putting reason and evidence above God's Word?"


While it is certainly a fair question and probably comes from good intentions, I think it is usually asked due to a misunderstanding of the evidentialist position. That is, with respect to the "position" of evidence and reason, it is being assumed that the apologist is setting reason above God's word, claiming that they will use reason to determine if the Bible is true.


If that were an accurate characterization, I would wholeheartedly agree with such criticism. However, I think a distinction should be made between the idea that we use reason to determine whether or not the Bible is true versus the idea that we use reason to help us determine the extent to which we are willing to believe that the Bible is true.

It comes down to a distinction between whether something is objectively true (ontology) as compared to whether or not we can know the truth (epistemology). As an apologist, I do not believe that I get to decide whether or not the Bible is true. If the Bible is true, it is so independently of whether or not I believe it to be.

The evidence is what leads me to the belief in the truth of the Bible (epistemologically). It is not so dissimilar to our legal system today. For example, when someone is tried for a crime, the fact of the defendant's guilt is either true or false regardless of what any jury may decide. However, the evidence is presented in order to help the jury identify, or discover, rather than "create" the truth.

This may be difficult to understand, I know.  It is difficult to explain, as well. Though I hope I have done so adequately, here. In the event that there is still some question, I welcome your feedback and an opportunity for dialogue.

For more resources:

No comments:

Post a Comment