Between Scylla and Charybdis: Presuppositionalism, Circular Reasoning, and the Charge of Fideism

For those interested, here’s my article, “Between Scylla and Charybdis: Presuppositionalism, Circular Reasoning, and the Charge of Fideism” (Originally presented at the 2009 annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society).

Abstract: 

Perhaps the single most common argument against a presuppositional apologetic methodology is the charge of fideism. One doesn’t have to look far in the relevant literature to find Van Tillian methodology dismissed or said to hold to a position that undermines the task of Christian apologetics. Though the term “fideism” is being rehabilitated in some circles, it is still widely understood as a dogmatic proclamation of one’s view irrespective of rational argumentation. Nothing, it is believed, seems to demonstrate the fideism of the presuppositional method as well as their rejection of linear argumentation. Van Tillians are said to embrace, as a fundamental rule of their approach, circular reasoning.

The aim of this essay is twofold. First, I will show that the charge of fideism against Van Tillian presuppositionalism is both imprecise and inaccurate. This will be done by showing that while some definitions of faith and reason are incompatible, others are not. Second, we will examine the charge of presuppositionalism’s alleged embrace of begging the question. This will be done by distinguishing between vicious and virtuous circularity, arguing that presuppositionalists embrace the latter, but eschew the former as strongly as their critics.

It’s also posted on the resources page. I’d love your comments and feedback.

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Posted on March 26, 2013, in Apologetic Method, Philosophical Apologetics, Presuppositional apologetics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am halfway through it now. I’ll link to it @ my blog when I am done with it. So far, it seems to be a very well-done paper and explanation.

    Justin

  2. Brother Joseph, thank you so much for presenting your article to ETS, and for sharing it here! If only we lived near each other, the conversations we could have, while I sip on a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee.

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