John Frame: A Presuppositionalism of the Heart

On Wednesday I expressed some frustration with John Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God: An IntroductionBut there were three points that particularly made an impact on me. The first point was to do with the four essential components of a Christian Worldview; the second had to do with the image of God, and the point of contact to which apologists appeal. The third is this:

 

3. A ‘presuppositionalism of the heart’

At the conclusion of a long section on methodological considerations regarding apologetics as proof, in which Frame has contrasted Van Til’s approach with the more traditional approach and offered some really helpful pushback to Van Til along the way, he concludes thus:

It may no longer be possible to distinguish presuppositional apologetics from traditional apologetics merely by externals – by the form of argument, the explicit claim of certainty or probability, etc. Perhaps presuppositionalism is more of an attitude of the heart, a spiritual condition, than an easily describable, empirical phenomenon. To call it “spiritual” is certainly not to say that it is unimportant – quite the contrary. Our biggest need in apologetics (as in all other areas of life) has always been spiritual at the core. And our “presuppositionalism of the heart” is not something vague and undefinable. The presuppositionalism we are talking about is (1) a clear-headed understanding of where our loyalties life and how those loyalties affect our epistemology, (2) a determination above all to present the full teaching of Scripture in our apologetic without compromise, in its full winsomeness and its full offensiveness, (3) especially a determination to present God as fully sovereign, as the source of all meaning, intelligibility, and rationality, as the ultimate authority for all human thought, and (4) an understanding of the unbeliever’s knowledge of God and rebellion against God, particularly (though not exclusively) as it affects his thinking. And if there are some apologists who maintain these understandings and attitudes without wanting to be called Van Tillians or presuppositionalists, I am happy to join hands with them. (p87-88)

I can sign up to that.

For all my gripes with the book, and the fact that I am rather unlikely to ever recommend this volume to anyone, my biggest takeaway is that presuppositionalism must begin in the heart. Whilst I found myself dissatisfied with the external packaging of Frame’s presuppositional approach – the leaps it made, the tone with which it was expressed, and the jargon it employed – it has given me a great deal to think about in relation to my own faith, the gaps in my own epistemology, and the areas where my own presuppositions may be less than wholly biblical.

And for that, I am thankful.

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