Gary gives several examples of how Christians should do apologetics by “pushing the antithesis.”

Instead of beginning with the bits and pieces of a worldview (evidences for this or that doctrine, or this or that god), the starting point is more fixed and fundamental. “Thus, when all is said and done,” Dr. Bahnsen makes clear to us, “apologetics becomes the vindication of the Christian worldview as a whole, not simply a piecemeal defense of isolated, abstractly defined, religious points.”[1]

It’s with this operating presupposition that Dr. Bahnsen called his students to “push the antithesis,” that is to force the unbeliever to live consistently with his rationalistic and materialistic presuppositions that underlie and seemingly support his worldview. It’s this push that exposes the inherent faultlines in naturalistic worldviews that begin with the supposed sovereignty of the creature rather than the Creator, which is the essence of the antithesis. “Without the ingredient of antithesis, Christianity is not simply anemic, it has altogether forfeited its challenge to all other worldviews.”[2]

Dr. Bahnsen continues:

Abraham Kuyper well understood that all men conduct their reasoning and their thinking in terms of an ultimate controlling principle—a most basic presupposition. For the unbeliever, this is a natural or naturalistic principle, in terms of which man’s thinking is taken to be intelligible without recourse to God. For the believer, it is a supernatural principle based on God’s involvement in man’s history and experience, notably in regeneration—[a] perspective that provides the framework necessary for making sense of anything. These two ultimate commitments—call them naturalism and Christian supernaturalism—are logically incompatible and seek to cancel each other out.[3]

When pushed to be consistent with the operating assumptions of their worldview, naturalists soon learn that matter-only presuppositions don’t work and lead to nihilism. R.C. Sproul puts it well when he writes, “Although I do not embrace presuppositional apologetics, I do recognize that the existence of God is the supreme proto-supposition for all theoretical thought. God’s existence is the chief element in constructing any worldview. To deny this chief premise is to set one’s sails for the island of nihilism. This is the darkest continent of the darkened mind—the ultimate paradise of the fool.”[4]

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis consists of twelve chapters that include study questions, an answer key, a glossary of terms, and a comprehensive bibliography. If you want to be equipped to present the truth of the gospel in a compelling way, then Pushing the Antithesis is required reading.

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In this excerpt from a recent Burros of Berea round table, Gary gives several examples of how Christians should do apologetics. Using what Greg Bahnsen called “pushing the antithesis” Christians must force unbelievers to own their materialistic assumptions about reality. Matter does not give us ethics or morality, these must come from a Being.

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[1] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1998), 31.
[2] Greg L. Bahnsen, “At War with the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis,” Antithesis, 1:1 (January/February 1990), 6.
[3] Bahnsen, “At War with the Word,” 48.
[4] R. C. Sproul, The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 171.