“Presuppositionalism denies the biblical assumption of the public nature of the truth of the gospel.”
There are, of course, different kinds of presuppositionalists. I cannot speak for all of them. I myself am closest to Van Til and Bahnsen. I don’t believe that either of them said anything in conflict with the public nature of the truth of the Gospel. It is clear that Scripture refers to public events—the history of Israel, the events of Jesus’ earthly ministry, his cross and resurrection, the apostolic expansion of the church. Many of these events were miraculous, and Scripture (as in 1 Cor. 15) stresses the public nature of the events and the testimony about them. Van Til always insisted that factual evidences were an important aspect of apologetics. But of course he also insisted that these evidences be presented in the context of a biblical epistemology, not as a conclusion of autonomous thinking.
“Presuppositionalism alters the task of evangelism from presenting the apostolic case for Jesus as Lord to the task of persuading people to accept the general tenets of Christian belief.”
I know of no presuppositionalist who fails to present Jesus as a historical figure who taught, worked miracles, and rose from the dead. Nor do I understand the contrast you draw between “the apostolic case” and the :”general tenets of Christian belief.” We can agree that the gospel focuses on what Jesus said and did, and particularly his death and resurrection. But in the present age, nobody should question the fact that we must also set forth the biblical world view: creator/creature, revelation, etc. Many people don’t understand the Gospel story, because they come at the facts with an unbiblical epistemology. Paul says that Jesus’ resurrection is validated by 500 people who witnessed the resurrection together. A powerful piece of evidence, surely. But when you tell people that today, some will reply, “ well, David Hume taught us that there is NO believable testimony about a supernatural event; because it is always more probably that an event has a natural explanation than a supernatural explanation.” At this point, the Christian must say something about Hume, or general epistemology. We must make sure that the evidence for Jesus must be understood on a biblical epistemology, not a Humean or deconstructionist one.
“Presuppositionalism adopts a coherence rather than correspondence account of truth which is assumed in Scripture and by our God-given, common sense.”
Scripture and common sense do not accept a “correspondence account of truth” as opposed to a coherence or pragmatic theory. Scripture and common sense don’t endorse theories; rather they provide part of the basis for theories. The correspondence theory is one attempt to formulate the way we know things, but it is philosophically controversial. In my Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (hence DKG) I argue that correspondence, coherence, and pragmatics, in their best form, are not incompatible with one another, and, indeed, reduce to one another. We cannot tell what our ideas “correspond” to unless we have a system of ideas that deals with various things including the concept of correspondence itself. But certainly the correspondence theory is right in saying that our ideas must align with the facts of the world.
“Presuppositionalism is a relatively new, twentieth-century doctrine, philosophical in nature and unknown to the apostles and prophets through whom God gave us the Scriptures.”
The apostles and prophets were not philosophers, so they did not develop philosophical theories of knowledge. But of course later theological reflection legitimately tries to analyze and apply the implications of what the apostles and prophets taught. So theologians talk about the “Trinity,” though you will not find that term in the Bible. The question is whether the idea of the Trinity is consistent with what the Bible teaches and whether it helps us in understanding the Father, Son, and Spirit. Same with epistemological theories. The Bible doesn’t mention presuppositions, let alone presuppositionalism, but many of us have made the case that presuppositionalism is helpful in formulating what is implicit in the biblical doctrine, e.g. of revelation.
” Presuppositionalism, as a doctrinal mixture of philosophy and Christian Reformed theology, violates a cardinal principle which is perhaps most distinctive to that theology, namely, sola Scriptura (or Scripture alone as the basis for our faith and practice).”
Presuppositionalism seeks to show precisely why and how we must base our teaching on Scripture alone. You may prefer “correspondence” or “evidentialism” or “Classical apologetics.” But those systems are no less philosophical than presuppositionalism, and they are no less controversial. All of them go beyond Scripture in the LANGUAGE they use. All of them seek to defend sola Scriptura. What presuppositionalism says about sola Scriptura is that we should develop our doctrines in a way that renounces autonomy and recognizes only Scripture as the foundation of human thinking.
“Presuppositionalism boldly recasts what the Bible says is fundamentally a problem of sin as a problem of knowing.”
No. Sin affects every area of human life, including knowing. The fall affected the thought of Adam and Eve, not just their actions. Evil actions, indeed, flowed from evil thoughts. So Paul says that sinful man “represses the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1). The Gospel reorients both our thoughts and our actions to serve Jesus as Lord.
” Presuppositionalism claims that apart from regeneration in Christ and the Scriptures people cannot know or convey truth truly or objectively.”
Rom. 1 tells us that non-believers know God clearly from the things he has made. So in fact they CAN know truth truly and objectively. So Jesus commends the teaching of the Pharisees, telling us to believe what they say, but not to do what they do. The problem is not so much with their knowledge as with what they do with it. Paul says that these nonbelievers “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” So that actually their thinking is a mess. Sometimes the truth they know bubbles up, and they admit it; other times they deny what they know deep in their hearts. Only regeneration in Christ and the Scriptures can restrain this suppression of the truth.
“Presuppositionalism weakens by implication the church’s public stance for truth.”
On the “public stance,” see my answer to question one. Since the events of salvation were public events, the apostles proclaimed them in public. We should do the same today, and no presuppositionalist denies this.
“Presuppositionalism indirectly confirms the relativism of our age by affirming that truth is relative to Christian presuppositions.”
Not true. Presuppositionalism emphasizes strongly that the Gospel is objective. Now of course, when someone comes to the Gospel with ungodly presuppositions, he can make it look bad. In that situation (as in the case of Hume, question 2 above) we insist that the objective truth must be understood by the objectively true biblical epistemology. God has revealed in history who Jesus is and what he has done. He has also revealed (objectively) how we should think about it. It is not very helpful; to say that truth is “relative to Christian presuppositions,” though with sufficient analysis that statement can be affirmed. Better to say that truth is objectively fixed in the mind of God, and that we must believe it as God has revealed it to us.
“Presuppositionalism burdens uneducated (and even educated) persons in the church both here in America and throughout the world with obscure problems about knowledge or truth that they are in no position to understand or evaluate.”
Presuppositionalism is no less philosophical or technical than any other epistemology. It raises no problems that rationalism, empiricism, correspondence, coherence, pragmatism don’t also raise. It just answers those questions differently. It does not require uneducated people to study philosophy. It only points out that anyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus must apply his lordship to all areas of his life. If you are a telephone lineman, you should do that to the glory of God. If you are a homemaker, the same. If you are a philosopher, then you should seek to do that to God’s glory. But there is no reason why everyone must be a philosopher, any more than that everyone should be a homemaker.