We must realize that we are facing a rapidly changing historical situation, and if we are going to talk to people about the gospel we need to know what is the present ebb and flow of thought-forms. Unless we do this the unchangeable principles of Christianity will fall on deaf ears. And if we are going to reach the intellectuals and the workers, both groups right outside our middle-class churches, then we shall need to do a great deal of heart-searching as to how we may speak what is eternal into a changing historical situation.” (Escape From Reason by Francis A. Shaeffer, pg. 93)

‘Pre what’? Yea, I know you’ve probably never heard of the approach but around my campus Presuppositionalism is nearly taken for granted as a normal part of the English language. Other forms of Christian apologetics out there are the Classical, and Evidential. A good intro to the different approaches is the Counterpoints book, Five Views on Apologetics here. Most people who do know about presuppositional apologetics think about men in suits talking about epistemological arguements that never touch the surface of our lives, and perhaps for some of the portrayals of it out there they have good reason to feel this way. Schaeffer is a good reason not to characterize it this way.

One of the things that I have found so helpful in the method is the way it enables me to take some of my theological beliefs about God as Creator and man as creature over into debates with people who are not Christians. For me presuppositionalism isn’t a head game, its a living application of scripture to every doubt and every hurt people carry or bear toward God. Presuppositional apologetics reminds me that every person has a very invested opinion on God, man, the world, and how things are supposed to be. It reminds me that when I’m sharing the gospel with someone part of what I need to be sensitive to is their unbelief and the ways they twist the revelation of God already given to them in creation.

If you’re interested in this style of apologetics, I would strongly suggest this little book, Reasons of the Heart by William Edgar, professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary and Jazz pianist extraordinar. Edgar was saved through Schaeffer’s ministry, and carries the personalism and cultural power that Schaeffer had as an apologist in his heart and his writing. Edgar did his PhD work on Pascal, reasons of the heart is something he’s spent a lifetime giving reflection to. Be blessed as you read this precious little tome…