What do you think? Is this a good illustration of our belief in the truthfulness of Scripture?

Why do you believe Scripture?

Here is the debate that we encounter in apologetics circles. There are those who are Presuppositionalists. Presuppositionalist (who believe presuppostional apologetics is the best method to defend the faith) claim that we believe the Scriptures are inspired based upon the authority of the Holy Spirit as He speaks through God’s Word. As well, we must “presuppose” the Word of God’s truth because without this presupposition no absolute authoritative knowledge is possible. Evidentialists (who believe evidentail apologetics is the best method to defend the faith), on the other hand, believe that the authority of Scripture is established by the weight of the evidence that God has provided. God has provided sufficient evidence to compel any unbiased person of its truthfulness. While this evidence does not produce absolute certainty, it does produce enough certainty to hold people accountable for disbelief.

Evidentialists would say that the methodology of the presuppositionalist is faulty in that it amounts to circular reasoning (as illustrated above). Presuppositionalists would say that the evidentialist’s approach is wrong in that it does not provide absolute certainty which the Bible requires and leaves people with some measure of excuse. Yet the Bible says that people are “without excuse” (Rom 1:20).

What do you think? Do you take the authority of God’s word as a necessary presupposition to our faith or do you believe that its authority is established by the evidence? Back to the original question, Do you think this illustration is a good representation of our belief in Scripture?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    11 replies to "Is this a good illustration of our belief in the truthfulness of Scripture?"

    • Chad Winters

      Funny, my wife and I were just discussing Notitia, Assencia and Fiducia just before you posted this. Not to be legalistic, but New Believers should have to have a catuchemen type class where they are given Evidence for the Bible’s truthfulness and What We Believe and Why.

      Although the picture can be accurate and good if you look from the perspective of the “The internal and external evidence of the Bible prove that it is true” So the bible does tell me so!!!

    • Chad Winters

      The more I think about it, the more obviously strawman the comic is. He takes a children’s rhyme “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” and misapplies it. We actually have a stepwise logical argument.

      A – The Bible is true and Accurate: I examined the Bible (both internal and external evidence) and found it true and historically accurate, with proofs of fulfilled prophecy and internal consistency. So A is true

      B – Jesus loves me: Given that A is true, I read in A that Jesus loves me

      C – I know Jesus Loves me because A and B are true

      or something like that 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Chad, you sound like an evidentialist to me!

    • Douglasah

      I wouldn’t want to tell you what to think… Given ONLY that ryme, and ONLY
      that image, I could see how someone could feel that it was accurate.
      However, I would like to think that somewhere behind the doorways the
      man connecting the dots took the time to give his theology a good shakedown.
      I would like to think that he examined his beliefs, examined what the Bible
      was telling HIM, what meaning he found in it that made sense in his life and
      gave it a good trial before merely following along. Is the Bible an authority to
      him because of what he found in it – or just because? Blind faith may be a
      good start for some (children, perhaps) but if the dot connector does not
      find more substantial reasons to feel the Bible is credible, than faith becomes
      hope, hope becomes no more than a baseless hope, and that hope becomes
      part of a background made up of other disappointments in their life. For those
      of us who have found value in the Bible, who have found in – our
      experiences – the Bible to be a useful tool in growing into a more
      authentic, more meaningful life, we have accepted the Bible as credible, and
      the understandings gained from it to be authoritative.

    • Vance

      I don’t think you can “logic” your way to God, or conclude that God is God based on a weighing of the available evidence. So, I am not an evidentialist.

      I also agree with the basic concept of the cartoon that you can’t use the text of the Scripture itself to establish that the text is correct, that is indeed circular reasoning. But, to a certain extent I still fall in the pressupositionalist camp.

      My acceptance of Scripture as authoritative comes from my BELIEF, based on FAITH, that God is speaking to us through Scripture. I do not believe because I was convinced from patent “evidence” from the text. I believe because the actual words and concepts in the text spoke to my soul and the Spirit gave me the assurance it was true.

      Now, I do believe that the Scripture is also eminently “believable”, when read correctly, but there is a great danger if base your faith on the “evidence” but then insist on reading the Scripture in a way that will NOT stand up to factual, scientific and historical scrutiny. If you insist on reading the Bible as a science book or treat the wrong texts as strictly literal historical narrative, then if you come up against the evidence that shows that this will not work, your Faith is in danger.

      I think it is a much more solid (and flexible) foundation to accept the ultimate truth of Scripture as a foundational fact based on faith and conviction. Then you are not concerned about issues or debates about the degree of historicity or scientific accuracy of every verse. You KNOW that Scripture is true, and if there seems to be a conflict, then either the secular science/history being presented is wrong, or the particular interpretation of Scripture that conflicts with that science/history is wrong. The option of Scripture itself being false is not even an option.

    • jybnntt

      The cartoon is a perfect illustration. Every finite creature must embrace tautology when affirming first principles. We know because we know.

      Although evidences can be valuable in demonstrating the reasonableness of the system that flows from first principles.

    • Sara

      I think that it’s important to read the full passage of Romans 1:20: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; (21) for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.” An old literature teacher of mine once said that God gave us two books from which He reveals Himself–nature and the Bible. While it is important to accept through faith that the Bible is able to support its own scripture, we are also “without excuse” when it comes to perceiving God’s truth in our everyday world, including the search to find external evidence to support what we read in scripture. This comes from both observing the natural world and the complexity with which God crafted it, and seeking how scripture does point to truth in our time bound world. This includes both the case studies for supporting the authenticity of scripture, and seeing how God calls everyone, whether they are willing or not, to serve His purpose. For me, both nature (including the clues God has given us) and scripture support one another in providing God’s revelation. If finding outside evidence helps us gain more confidence in scripture and helps us discover more of God’s revelation, then they shouldn’t back away from it.

    • Josh

      The problem with illustrations like this (as some of the above posters have pointed out) is that they are merely strawmen arguments. They try to paint the picture that Christians merely function as robots following a command prompt; never questioning, never using their reason. Thus (I take it this was taken from an atheistic website judging from the link on it) the “logical” way of the humanist is the only true path for one who wants to use his reason to determine his reality. The problem with that reasoning is that it gives the false impression that it is possible to come to an issue without any presuppositions at all, which is undoubtly a lie. We are all biased and we all come with our own presuppositions to everything. And I would argue that atheists come with even more presuppositions than most because they borrow their ideas from theists.

      Here is a quote from a blogger who explains this point a lot better than I can, “Atheists are essentially self-deceived theists. In fact atheism presupposes theism. Does an atheist believe there is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Why? On what basis? For the good of the many? Who decides? Hitler was doing good in his own eyes. If you say it is good. I can say it is bad. The only basis for right and wrong is God, who defines it. Atheists cannot account for moral absolutes. Any idea of right & wrong is borrowing from a theistic worldview. Atheists believe the universe is nothing but material, nobody created it, no designer gave it meaning or purpose. The logical consequence of such a view is that life is ultimately meaningless. Any meaning that an atheist give to life is foreign to his worldview – actually it is borrowing from a theistic worldview. In fact from an atheistic worldview there are no abstracts, abstracts are nonmaterial. Remember the atheist believes there is nothing but material. Atheists cannot account for logical absolutes like the law of noncontradiction. How can an atheist account for such things? In fact how can an atheist account for anything abstract at all – like the color yellow, or the concept of ‘hard’, or human language at all? Where does it come from in a strictly material universe? Just to speak using words, all words are essentially abstract, nonmaterial ideas, an atheist borrows from a theistic worldview. So an atheist cannot think, reason, claim any meaning to life, or that any action is right or wrong. He can account for none of these from an atheistic world view. The only worldview that can is a theistic worldview. Theisism is thus proved by proving the impossibility of the contrary – Theism. Atheists cannot help but live, breath, and think borrowing from theism. That is the only world that is. They just refuse to admit it. Read Cornelius Van Til on presuppositional apologetics.” (http://theologica.blogspot.com/)

      Ultimately I think Hebrews 11:1 sheds some light on this issue and can be illustrated as followed: If I sit down on my chair I am placing my faith in the strength of the chair. It has consistenly held me up over 100 times but as we have all seen or experienced chairs do break depending on the wear of the chair, the weight of the individual, etc. So there is no absolute certainty that the chair will hold me up, there is a very very high percentage that it will, based on its past history and my experience with it but there is no way I can be 100% absolutely sure that it will. Does this mean that I should never sit down in it? That is absurd and I think that this is the false depiction that this illustration is trying to give, especially to those who do not know how historically verifiable the Bible is.

      In conclusion, I sit on a chair because it has been tested that it will hold me and support my weight many times. I trust the Bible as Gods Word firstly because I have experienced a change in my life through God using His Word and His Spirit to speak to me through it and secondly because it has been tested (under much harder and precise criticism than a chair) by many people who are certainly hateful and biased against it and have yet to provide substantial evidence that shows that it is fraudulent in its historical authenticity.

    • veritas83

      Michael – Is it possible to be somewhere in the middle? I consider myself to be a presupositionalist evidentialist. I do not believe that you can reason your way to God, but I also see value in supplementing the Scriptures with evidence from general revelation. Generally speaking, my position would probably bother both sides. I’m just wondering if this is logically inconsistent. What do you think?


    • C Michael Patton


      You can be in the middle. In fact, in my opinion, this is the best place to be. I think that we understand things in a both/and fasion rather than an either/or way. God is inherently authoritative, yet He uses evidences many times as the means of both coming to faith and growing in faith. This way, we study the evidences being prepared at all times for God to use them as the Holy Spirit moves in their lives.


    • C Michael Patton

      BTW: Here is a blog that I have written that offers both a presuppsitional argument along side evidences. Most presuppostionalist like John Frame would agree that evidences to have a place.

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