For Dave Bruskus, Tony Jones, and Me

Hey guys (and my mom, since she reads this now ;)),

In light of my recent discussion with Dave B on presuppostional apologetics (Van Til, Frame, Bahnsen, et. al.) and especially after listening to the poignant critique of Christian objectivity and certainity offered by Tony Jones, I’ve been reminded that to argue for a Christian Worldview has the pre-condition of systemized thinking. That is, we are not aruging for 1, 2, or even 3 points of orthodox Christian thinking, but for the Christian world and life view as a systemic whole. That is why Tony J is so effective in putting our little MacArthurite on the boards. He simply asks hard questions, gives answer which demonstrate the relative quality of his  own subjective system, and continues to back our modern Mac-man into a corner. They are not bowing to the same epistemic authority, thus the continual pot-shots and talking over each others head. The question remains: how can we get these two on the same page?

Tony’s questions are good. He is a smart guy, no doubt. This assertion further necessitates our understanding as humble, reforming, Christian folks that what is in question here are not mere parts of interpretation but the overarching whole. That said, I offer you 3 links which may help. These are three debates I’ve listened to recently.

NOW, you’re busy, so don’t feel like you have to listen to all 3 en toto, rather, if you don’t have the time, listen to the opening statemetns only. This alone will provide you with a great window into the fact that defending the Chrstian worldivew as understood in the orthodox creeds and confessions requires a systematic approach.

FOR DAVE (and everyone):

Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein (this is an AMAZING debate, some tech languge, but so worth the 2 hours):

Paul Manata vs. Dan Barker:
Paul Manata vs. Derek Sansone:

IN THE END, we must willingly be humbled by the enormous weight of our non or mis understanding. Our only hope for true certainty is by faith in God’s son through the spirit. As one of our students rightly pointed out last night, this is not different for the Unbeliver. All walk by faith, not by sight, in an ultimate sense. The question we must answer is whether or not the object of our faith can make sense out of what we see.


11 responses to “For Dave Bruskus, Tony Jones, and Me

  1. The debates by Bahnsen are really good, I have listened to the Bahnsen v Stein debate 2x now and still need to listen to it again and again, but really have been impacted by Bahnsen and Van Til stuff recently-thanks to Greg Van Bahnsen Schnee…

  2. I’ve only listened to the debate of Tony Jones and the masters college guy online yesterday, and I am intrigued by this. I thought the whole talk was rather fruitless, and I wondered why Jones recorded the conversation. Was this to prove to everyone that he was attemping to dialogue with those from the more fundamenalist circles? I felt like Jones kept interrupting him. If I didn’t know Tony was an emergent guy, I would have assumed that he was arrogant and a bit pompous just like the other guy.

    I think that the best way to do it would be to sit down with this guy in a room or at a coffee shop (as emergents are known to do) and talk to the person. Don’t talk to a movement or about a you vs. me mentality. If you’re going to do this, there is not point in even talking. I am using a public computer right now, but would like to listen to those other debates at a future time. If they are anything like what Jones did though, I think I will be quite frustrated.

    Emergents just seem to have this tendency to make it a us vs. them ideal (i.e. the free thinking post-modern Christian vs. the modern Christian) and these labels are not helpful.

  3. coldfire…good thoughts man. I agree with you, we need to be super careful about how/when we have discussions like these, laden with humility, patiences, and love.

    ps, do you mind tell us who you are brother? Just curious, not so we can stalk you. 😉

  4. Justin Richter

    I think Van Tillian thought offers solutions to getting these two guys on the same page. Third Mill has some good/free resources that engage this issue. Check out the free videos on Building Your Theology. Super helpful.

    I agree with Greg, the McArthurite doesn’t have a well developed epistemology. I am not sure if Tony’s was all that greater but atleast it was a little more thought out. In many ways I agree with Tony, but like you guys I think he was bullying the dude around. But obviously there was some history/turmoil between the guys.

    A quick example that I give to people when they ask me,” which denomination has the right interpretation of scripture? Isn’t it subjective?” I say yes and no. If I were to ask you what is the Ocean? You could answer it in different ways. It is a body of salt water. A place where sharks swim. It covers approximately 2/3s of the earth. And all those would be good answers. Are they subjective answers? Yes. Are they true? Yes. But if you were to answer. It is all fresh water. Or it covers the the planet Mars. Or its where Cows roam. Would your answer be subjective? Yes. True? Definitely not.

    Likewise what is orthodoxy? What is the correct summary of Christianity? I think alot of time modernity argues over whether the ocean contains salt water or it covers 2/3s of the earth. We kind of touched on this with our previous post on “What is the Gospel?” This is where VanTillian thought comes in. Language is limited. It can only summarize truth. We are finite creatures and we can’t totally comprehend even a speck of truth. We are not God. But we can understand truly and speak truly, just not fully.

    So can two denominations say apparently different things and still be true? Yes. Can someone say something false and be unorthodox? Yes. (e.g. cows roam the ocean).

    The best book I have read on this topic is Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by J Frame, but before picking that up I suggest watching those IIImill videos.

    On another note, where is everybody else, A.K.A Big Nate, Crutchmer and the rest of the 505?

  5. You can look at my blog and learn a little bit about me. I’m in my senior year at Azusa Pacific University and I am studying social science to be a high school history teacher with a minor in youth ministry and biblical studies. I don’t know many answers, but I have a lot of questions.

  6. Justin, thanks for the insight…and, as you know, i love pratt’s videos, so yes, everyone else, go to and get some learning in that grey matter for free…

    Coldfire, thanks for the info man. We’re glad to have you hear, appreciate your questions and welcome your comments. What is your blog so the rest of us can go check it out.

    AND what about them 505 boyz???


  8. christopherlake

    Hey guys, I’m back after a blog break, but at the moment, I don’t have sufficient time to really jump deeply into this discussion. One question though– given that the Bahnsen audio files are copyrighted through Covenant Media Foundation, and sold on the CMF website, how is sharing them on here not illegal?

  9. Chris,

    That’s a good question. It is easy to get caught up posting links to others who have links to others … and lose track. I poked around for a few minutes on the site where the links eventually lead and couldn’t find his local link (any reference on his own site to the files… probably there, I just didn’t have time to keep digging) to see if he had permission.

    Where the mp3s reside:

  10. woops…should have mentioned that…if you want bahnsen, which you do, take a quick listen to sample, then go buy the CDs at covenant media…i have the CDs if you want to borrow them, and if you can’t afford them, let me know and I’ll do my best to hook you up…they’re THAT good.

    for all your ordering needs. again, you need, want, must have bahnsen vs. stein…it is single handedly the most amazing Presupp-smack down of all time…B is humble, bold, and puts the atheist worldview on the boards…first principals dawg!!!

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