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During Easter there are many popular apologetics books promoted to persuade unbelievers of the veracity of the Resurrection of Christ such as Lee Strobel’s, The Case for Easter.  Unfortunately most of these books don’t even defend the Christian worldview since they abandon the authority of Scripture to seek neutral ground with the unbeliever and to use archaeological and non-biblical historical data to prove the Resurrection.  This is a vain attempt because even if sufficient evidence is provided that evidence is not interpreted in a vacuum, it is interpreted by everyone’s worldview, and without abandoning naturalism the naturalist will not accept the Resurrection as an act of God.  Neither will the Muslim accept the Resurrection based on extra-biblical historical proofs until he has denied the authority of the Qur’an which explicitly denies the Crucifixion of Christ in Surah An-Nisa: 157 (4:157) and only affirms that he ascended into heaven, so there was no need for the Crucifixion nor the resurrection according to the Islamic worldview.

The following quotes from Van Til explain the importance of evaluating one’s presuppositions and worldview when interpreting facts since there is no “neutral ground” on which everyone comes to the facts without prior assumptions and arrives at the same conclusion [bold and italics were added for emphasis, also parenthesis are given in the quotes with explanations for more technical terms].

“…We must show that the philosophy of fact as held to by Christian theism is the only philosophy that can account for the facts.  And these two things must be done in conjunction with one another.  Historical apologetics becomes genuinely fruitful only if it is conjoined with philosophical apologetics.  And the two together will have to begin with Scripture, and argue that unless what Scripture says about itself and all things else which it speaks is true, nothing is true.  Unless God as an absolutely self-conscious person exists, no facts have any meaning.  This holds not only for the resurrection of Christ, but for any other fact as well[1].

Van Til also points out the futility of trying to prove the Christian worldview one piece at a time, which places the unbeliever as the ultimate judge and authority over God’s Word, rather than God being the final authority.  So even if an unbelievers accepts the resurrection of Christ, but has not denied himself as the ultimate authority rather than accepting  God as the true final authority,then he has not truly believed in Christ’s atoning work for sinners, his perfect life unto death obedience, crucifixion, and resurrection, and the true person of Christ as fully God and fully man, and accepted the Christian worldview. The sinner still assumes he is the standard of truth, and has not been convicted by the Law of God to show him his need of Christ’s redeeming work, which is why a genuinely biblical apologetic cannot be separated from the proclamation of the Law and Gospel.  As we confront unbeliever’s suppression of the truth by confronting their worldview we are not treating the Gospel as an intellectual fact to believe, but are confronting them with the Law of God and their need of Christ, which provides a transition to further explain the law of God and the Gospel.

The Scriptures nowhere appeal to the unregenerate reason as to a qualified judge.  On the contrary, Scripture says over and over that the unregenerate reason is entirely unqualified to judge.  When Scripture says, “Come, let us reason together,” [Isaiah 1:18] it usually speaks to the people of God, and, if it does speak to others, it never regards them as equal with God or as really competent to judge.  The unregenerate man has knowledge of God, that is, of the revelation of God within him, the sense of deity, which he seeks to suppress [Romans 1:18-21].  Scripture does appeal to this sense of deity in man, but it does so and can do so only be denying that man, when acting on his adopted monistic assumption [the monistic assumption is the view that man is the interpreter of truth apart from God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture, that man is the ultimate authority rather than God], has any ability or right to judge of what is true or false, right or wrong[2].

“Historical apologetics is absolutely necessary and indispensable to point out that Christ rose from the grave, etc.  But as long as historical apologetics works on a supposedly neutral basis, it defeats its own purpose.  For in that case it virtually grants the validity of the metaphysical assumptions [views about reality e.g. whether only natural events occur or whether miracles are possible as in the Christian worldview] of the unbeliever.  So in this case a pragmatist may accept the resurrection of Christ as a fact without accepting the conclusion that Christ is the Son of God.  And on this assumption he is not illogical in doing so.  On the contrary, if his basic metaphysical assumption [views about reality] to the effect that all reality is subject to chance is right, he is only consistent if he refuses to conclude from the fact of Christ’s resurrection that he is divine in the orthodox sense of the term.  Now, though he is wrong in his metaphysical assumption, and though, rightly interpreted, the resurrection of Christ assuredly proves the divinity of Christ, we must attack the unbeliever in his philosophy of fact, as well as on the question of the actuality of the facts themselves.  For on his own metaphysical assumptions, the resurrection of Christ would not prove his divinity at all” [3].

[1] Cornelius, Van Til, edited by William, Edgar, An Introduction to Systematic Theology 2nd Edition: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God (Phillipsburg, NJ; P&R, 2007), 243

[2] Ibid, 69

[3] Ibid, 242

 

This video by the LutheranSatire provides a comical application of the points made in this blog post applied to the reasons for why Atheists, based on a naturalist worldview, deny the resurrection of Christ: