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He Is There and He Is Not Silent: A Review

By: Jonathan Harris

Francis Schaeffer, one of my personal favorite thinkers, shows that the only acceptable option for modern man looking for meaning is to adopt biblical Christianity. Unlike Van Til or Bahnsen, Shaeffer doesn’t make the reader aware that his starting point is the biblical God in order to prove the biblical God. However, neither can he be considered a classical or evidential apologist. Schaeffer’s tactic is to take man’s starting points, bring them to their logical conclusions, and show why such philosophies that come out of them are unlivable. He focuses especially on logical positivism and linguistic analysis in the area of epistemology, but makes sure to rule out every alternative possibility in the realm of metaphysics and morality as well. Though some might find Schaeffer’s wording hard to understand, I believe, for the serious apologist—especially one who wants to understand presuppositional apologetics—it is helpful to hear an alternative vocabulary for the same concepts. This will offer the defender a wider breadth of words by which to explain his position to the nonbeliever, and it will serve to enhance the concepts the defender already holds. For example, Schaeffer’s use of the word “base,” is equivalent to Bahnsen’s use of the word “presupposition.” I probably would not offer this work up to someone new to apologetics, and/or untrained any kind of philosophical thinking. But for those who want to hear the transcendental argument explained from a different angle, you can’t beat this book.

Warning: For those thoroughly trained in presuppositional apologetics, this book may seem a bit on the autonomous side sometimes. It may seem that Schaeffer is appealing to man’s reason and his knowledge of the world, and indeed he is, but to Schaeffer I believe he is doing so with the understanding that man has a God-given intellect preloaded with the understanding that God exists. As he repeatedly says, God has made man to live in this world and given him instruments for functionality consistent with this world.

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