Is Presuppositional Apologetics Circular in Its Reasoning?


In my Apologetics and Evangelism class, there was a very interesting quote I thought I would share.  It is against the claim that Presuppositional Apologetics is circular in its reasoning.  What do you think?

“To deny circularity when it comes to an ultimate authority is to subject oneself to an infinite regress of reasons. If a person holds to a certain view, A, then when A is challenged he appeals to reasons B and C. But, of course, B and C will certainly be challenged as to why they should be accepted, and then the person would have to offer D, E, F, and G, as arguments for B and C. And the process goes on and on. Obviously it has to stop somewhere because an infinite regress of arguments cannot demonstrate the truth of one’s conclusions. Thus, every worldview (and every argument) must have an ultimate, unquestioned, self-authenticating starting point. Another example: Imagine someone asking you whether the meter stick in your house was actually a meter long. How would you demonstrate such a thing? You could take it to your next-door neighbor and compare it to his meter stick and say, “see, it’s a meter.” However, the next question is obvious, “How do we know your neighbor’s meter stick is really a meter?” This process would go on infinitely unless there were an ultimate meter stick (which, if I am not mistaken, actually existed at one time and was measured by two fine lines marked on a bar of platinum-iridium allow). It is this ultimate meter stick that defines a meter. When asked how one knows whether the ultimate meter stick is a meter, the answer is obviously circular: The ultimate meter stick is a meter because it is a meter. This same thing is true for Scripture. The Bible does not just happen to be true (the meter stick in your house), rather it is the very criterion for truth (the ultimate meter stick) and therefore the final stopping point in intellectual justification” (Michael J. Kruger, “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics,” in The Master’s Seminary Journal, 12/1 (Spring 2001) 81, n. 31).

7 Responses to Is Presuppositional Apologetics Circular in Its Reasoning?

  1. Lee says:

    Just to make sure I understand – this quote is defending Presuppositional Apologetics (PA) against the claim that it (PA) is circular?

  2. Lee says:

    Ok – just wanted to make sure we were on the same page :-)

  3. shawn says:

    Presuppositional Apologetics is completely circular in its reasoning. However, don’t you think it needs to be. If we presuppose the complete Inability of man and the sufficiency of Scripture, then we will only stay within the bounds of scripture to hope that God will enlighten his soul. Do you think that your “presuppositions” of the man, sin, scripture, means to salvation, will only serve for your foundation in your reasoning. These foundations have their starting point in Scripture, but scriptures defense of itself is within scripture. Completely circular but I think it has to be. Good post

  4. shawn says:

    I forgot to put in there this thought: Aren’t all worldviews whether Christian, Muslim, Athiestic arguements circular? They are going to argue within their worldview to attempt to persuade.

  5. nathanwells says:

    Yes, I think all worldviews are in some way circular – but
    I actually am tending to believe that Christianity true Christianity is not circular, but rather we should say that it is based on reality – that is, the Creator Himself is revealed – therefore is real in a way that makes it a reasonable base for all else – because we KNOW Him. He is not a theory, He is alive.

    I don’t think that totally makes sense – I need more time to think things through. I’m not totally sold on the way classical presuppositionalists do things.

  6. Miguel Mesa says:

    Great post. I have asked this same question myself in the past. I am convinced that circular reasoning is an inevitable and irreducible phenomenon of our createdness.

    The term itself ‘circular’ is neither positive nor negative in value but only descriptive. If anything the term lends itself to the baggage of negativity because of the standard or expectation it itself is subject to; namely the modern notion of truth – facts being indubitable and objective (in the detached sense) in the empirical sense at the service of the scientific method.

    All facts are theory-laden as it’s been said. We all are situated beings that think within established categories of thought. Not a bad thing of course. This simply is how God made us. Our failure…and this is the chief failure of an unbridled modern science is that we can come to an epistemic mastery and arrive on top of knowledge.

    No, we are epistemic dependent beings. We all, always are trusting in something or someone as our reliable and authoritative witness.

    credo ut intelligam

    peace brother::

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