Beyond postliberalism : an historical and theological assessment of presuppositional apologetics in conversation with the theologians of the 'Yale School'
Defining the Christian message and articulating how it should be presented to the world has been debated by Christian theologians for centuries. Conservative and liberal formulations of Christian doctrine, its meaning, and how it should be applied have been unavoidable, with the epistemological issues being paramount. A theological strategy, apologetics, as a major bearer of the meaning of Christianity to the world, has been tremendous responsibility for defending the Christian view against its critics. Historically, several methodologies have been devised to establish the veracity of the Christian position and its claim regarding the nature of reality with varying degrees of success. It is the intent of this research project to investigate the validity of the more popular methodologies. An influential voice in the Christian community, the “Yale School” theologians, contends that, given the current epistemological climate, there is no longer a place nor a logical basis for a systematic defence of the Christian view. They argue that, due to the twentieth century epistemological revolution, the Christian faith (which has constructed its defence on a collapsed foundational epistemology) has not fared well against modern alternative worldviews. Moreover, the apologetic methods employed by Christian theologians have assumed the same fundamental cognitive structure as their critics for determining the ultimate nature of reality. As a result, since the eighteenth century Enlightenment, Christianity has experienced a decline and has been largely marginalized by secularism and other religious views. Attempts by apologists to defend the biblical claims have been largely ineffective. This research project will explore how the Christian view has been defended against those critics since the Protestant Reformation and whether, given the contemporary pluralistic world, a systematic defence of Christianity is still a viable theological strategy. The cognitive structures of both liberal and conservative Christianity, with respect to theories of knowledge, will be assessed in light of the current dialogue with theology and philosophy. Through conservation with the Yale School theologians, it will be shown that a presuppositional methodology offers a tenable defence of the Christian view suitable for a postmodern context.