Monday, February 11, 2008

Robert Reymond and the Existence of God

For my Systematic Theology Class I am reading Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. For years I have read many of the “evidentialists” argumentation for the existence of God. Some are quite complicated and others not quite so. All use human reason to prove God’s existence. What I have discovered over the years is that the evidentialists at some point will go against their own “evidentialist” position and argue presuppositionally. For example, in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (I am also reading for the class) he writes:

“Thus, for those who are correctly evaluating the evidence, everything in Scripture and everything in nature proves clearly that God exists and that he is the powerful and wise Creator that Scripture describes him to be. Therefore, when we believe that God exists, we are basing our belief not on some blind hope apart from any evidence, but on an overwhelming amount of reliable evidence from God’s words and God’s works. It is a characteristic of true faith that it is a confidence based on reliable evidence, and faith in the existence of God shares this characteristic.”

Please notice the probability argument. We can believe in God because the evidence is overwhelming. Therefore we might conclude that the Christian belief is better than others or at least more reasonable. Yet this is not convincing to the man who may see things differently. To those who would disagree he says sin causes people to not evaluate the evidence correctly. Although I agree, this is not how the Reymond would argue. As a presuppositionalist he states:

"In conclusion, the presuppositionalist wishes the evidentialist would recognize that he too has his presuppositions as do all other people, and that he too reasons circularly. For instance, though the evidentialist will not permit the Bible to be self-authenticating, he presupposes (wrongly) that sensory data (cosmic, historical, archaeological, ect.) are self-authenticating, and thus he is as much a 'dogmatist' on sensory experience as the presuppositionalist is on revelation. Hence the objection of circularity that the evidentialist levels against the presuppositionalist applies to himself with equal force."

Reymond concludes his arguments about evidential apologetics:

"I must conclude that their use is the employment of shabby tools as means to win men to Christ. The defects in the arguments are many and apparent. Is not the apologist, then, leaving himself open to being humiliated should his auditor have the ability to point out the defects in them?"

I agree. Every argument to prove the existence of God will always find an opponent. Even the Evidentialist understands this and appeals to the idea that unbelievers are just blinded by their sin. Reymond concludes the chapter:

“Accordingly, we will not begin our study of the doctrine of God with the question, “Does God exist?” Of course God exists. As Gordon H. Clark has argued repeatedly, anything that has any faint meaning at all “exists”. But it makes a great deal of difference whether God is a dream, a mirage, the square root of minus one, or the infinite personal God of sacred Scripture...Apologetically speaking, it is the existence of this God—the Triune God of Holy Scripture—that provides the only viable answers to the most perplexing questions respecting the origin and nature of the world and mankind and the titanic issues of life and death.”

So how should the Christian witness to the Gospel? The same as that of the Apostles in their proclamation. Just because unbelievers are unbelievers does not mean they are allowed by God to remain in their unbelief. On the Day of Judgment, this excuse will not be allowed. Why do we allow it now? As Reymond says,

“When they debate, they draw their arguments from the Scriptures. They never imply that their hearers may legitimately question the existence of the Christian God, the truth of Scripture, or the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ prior to personal commitment. Never do they suggest by their appeal to the evidence for God’s presence and benevolence that they are endeavoring to erect a ‘probability construct.’ They went forth into the world not as professional logicians and philosophical theologians but as preachers and witnesses, insisting that repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ are the sinner’s only proper responses to the Apostolic witness.”

Let us as Christians learn to have complete confidence of God’s revelation of Himself and His Gospel and proclaim to a lost and sinful world that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Soli Deo Gloria

No comments: