How well do we Reformed apologists understand our differences? Tearing Down Strongholds, by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr., is written for people like myself who need further explanation of the two Reformed positions—presuppositional and classical apologetics. The goal of apologetics is to destroy false teaching, and then to proclaim and defend the truth. Ultimately, all of this done correctly should bring glory to God. That is precisely what Sproul sets out to do. “My goal is not only to tear down the strongholds of the Devil, and not only to repel the assaults on the gates of hell, but to show that the foundation upon which our faith stands is firm,” he writes.
Sproul begins by tracing the Enlightenment period, concluding, “The battle is no longer over whether science or religion will give us truth but over the very existence of truth.” He covers logical positivists, naturalists, behaviorists, and pragmatists, who started the slide of modern philosophy into skepticism. In addition, there are the relativists, who believe there is no such thing as objective truth. Even further out are those who embrace “the nothing,” nihilists. Nihilism claims that there is no truth, no goodness, no reason for being or for doing. Many of these, with their twisted beliefs, use Christian truths while denying that Christianity possesses any truth at all. Our culture today often decides moral and epistemological questions simply by counting noses.
Next, Sproul moves to the question of God’s existence. Presuppositionalists argue that we must begin by presupposing God. But Sproul says we must begin our knowing with ourselves, and he believes that the presuppositionalist also starts with self-consciousness. So we start at that point and move on to the knowledge that makes knowledge of God possible. Without presupposing logic’s validity, the basic reliability of our senses, and the ability of our words to communicate, we can know nothing, Sproul writes.