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What Is a Presuppositional Approach?


The world is a complex of connections.  No portion of reality exists in abstraction but is always joined to the rest of the whole.  This inter-connectedness of the reality means that consideration of a portion of reality always entails assumptions about the nature of reality as a whole.

A presuppositional (or transcendental) approach to apologetics seeks to uncover the assumptions upon which arguments rest and asks whether there is a legitimate foundation for those assumptions.  This approach seeks to evaluate the compatibility between a stated position and the outworking of that position, either philosophically or experientially.  It asks:

  • What assumptions are necessary for this argument to be true?
  • Are these assumptions consistent with the stated position and lifestyle of the unbeliever?
  • Where does the position require a foundational presuppostion that it cannot supply?

Every argument against the Christian worldview entails basic assumptions that can only be grounded in the Christian position ("borrowed capital").  A presuppositional approach seeks to demonstrate this incongruity and use it to commend the truthfulness of the Christian position.

For more on a presuppositional approach to apologetics, listen to Dr. K. Scott Oliphint’s lecture “What is Presuppositional Apologetics?" or consult other apologetics resources .