You don’t know me. I don’t really know you. I recognize your blogger handle (RazorsKiss) from James White’s IRC channel. We may have interacted, we may have not, if we did it wasn’t memorable enough to care.
I won’t be referring to you as RazorsKiss. We are grown men, who must be truly accountable as a people, not an anonymous cyber name. If you truly are about accountability as you state then you won’t mind me using your real name. On another note, you should be involved in a local church which will keep you accountable. You told me on Facebook that you will be joining one soon. That’s a good idea. I pray they become your primary source of accountability, not an autonomous group of blogger friends called a “board.”
Joshua Whipps, Sye is a friend of mine. A dear one, one in which I would take an onslaught of bullets for. I first met Sye at a conference a long time ago, I don’t remember much from that but soon after he asked to stay at my house as he was traveling from Florida. I didn’t really know him well, but I did remember his debate with a guy that blew me away. I thought him staying at my house would be edifying. I was wrong.
It changed my life, and in addition started Edified, which ultimately launched Crown Rights and allowed us to make How To Answer The Fool. I owe Sye props for everything I have and every job I have gotten since.
The strange thing is that at one time you guys at Choosing Hats also valued Sye. I don’t know what changed, but just search for Sye Ten Bruggencate in the Choosing Hats search to get rave reviews from the past. So much so that it makes me question the Choosing Hats ‘board’ that your article was even allowed to be posted.
I have asked Sye not to respond to you. He has a very busy month filled with debates and talks. This week is his vacation in Holland. I want him rested, and not to have to deal with attacks from the enemy before we launch our debate and of course the Crown Rights production of it. Sye asked me to write a response to your ivory tower rants. I didn’t want to. I had a really great Theology of 24 blog I was going to post today…but that can wait, or you can read Shane’s here.
A long time ago before you and I were born, there was this crazy thing called the Roman Catholic Church. It was composed of a nasty group of people who refused to allow the Bible to be translated into English. I’m sure you are aware of this history. I am probably not qualified to give you an academic retelling of it, so I will just assume your knowledge on it but in summary they killed people who made the Bible accessible to the peons.
There were people willing to die so that everyone, from the learned, to the unlearned could get the Scriptures and read them in the common language. These guys are now heroes. The Church is forever in their debt for their sacrifice. They made the Bible simple and accessible to all people, no matter their education level. Now people don’t even have to read to study the Scriptures. We have audio Bibles, and Podcasts. We have entire seminary classes available for free online. God has truly made Scripture available to every class of people. But not just Scripture, God has provided teachers who can break down the most complex doctrines in the most simplistic of explanations that anyone can understand.
I don’t really know what charge you bring against Sye. Your post didn’t point out one specific thing he has done, other than perpetuate an apologetic that doesn’t require hard work to master. I’m sorry that Sye doesn’t tickle your frontal lobes or appease your desire for intellectual stimulation, but Sye has shown the commoner how to debate the most learned man.
The apologist is not a Biblical calling, you use that word like you would use Elder, Teacher or Evangelist. You seem to assume requirements for such a man that the Bible does not give. James White is not an ordained apologist he is an ordained Elder, who does the work of defending the faith. He’s great at it. He has accomplished in study what few can or will do and Christian’s will forever be in his debt for his books and Dividing Line episodes. The same is true for Van Til, and Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Clark. God has raised these athletes of intellectualism up for noble purposes. The Bible is truly deep enough for the most skilled diver, and shallow enough for children to wade through with arm floaties and swim noodles.
There is only one Van Til. There is only one Greg Bahnsen. There is only one James White. They all serve separate purposes. The problem is when you make academic athletes like these guys the standard for all Christians who desire to defend the faith.
Now on my Facebook post you stated:
I’m going to uncategorically state that the issue is NOT academics – it is systematics’.It isn’t about being “academic” – it is about studying to show yourself approved.
Well this is just semantics which requires answering questions.
Just how much studying should be done? How systematic should one be before they are qualified to debate an atheist at work, at the local cigar lounge or in the line at Starbucks? Are you saying that Presuppositional Apologetics can only be used by people who can articulate it to X amount of degree?
Sye doesn’t have a problem with systematic theology. He doesn’t have a problem with complex dissertations of theology. Sye loves Van Til and Bahnsen, that is where he learned this apologetic from by the way. His heart is to take their high and lofty teachings and systematics down to a level where the Christians in third world countries could comprehend and use, or the Christian’s who don’t really know how to read that well, or even baby Christians just setting out to share the Gospel. Sye, like the reformers wanted to bring the glorious truth of Scripture down to the common man. You are creating an intellectual system which intimidates people from sharing the faith because they believe they might not know enough.
You stated in your letter:
Stop trying to make things simple, and start teaching folks how to do hard things.
Certainly the same thing could have been said to Tyndale while he was trying to translate the Bible into that of the common man.
Teach people Latin!
Don’t degrade the Word with the common tongue!
The problem is not the translation, it’s that people don’t want to learn hard things!
Your position that Sye’s apologetic is not complex or intellectual enough is a scary one. One which your Elders, not your ‘board’ should have examined.
I remember planning for How To Answer The Fool. There was a lot of discussion that went in. One thing that was hotly debated was whether or not the film should include a step by step approach to debating atheists. Sye was strongly against it. If you watch the end of the film, after the credits, Sye is seen talking to The Chocolate Knox and Knox says something to the effect of Teach me how to do it, hoping to catch Sye off guard and get him to present a step by step. Sye was not caught off guard and responded with two simple words I can’t.” after some more prodding Sye said these beautiful words:
“All the treasures of wisdom are hidden in Christ, the fear of the Lord in the beginning of knowledge. You can’t know anything at all unless you start with God. Go Forth.
In his talk at The Reason Rally he says “Believe your Bible, do what it says.”
That’s the joy of the presuppositional approach. It’s just simply believing the Bible and acting like it when you defend the faith. Are there more systematic ways to explain this? Certainly, and once someone gets sick of Sye’s milk, they will move on to Van Til’s and Bahnsen’s Prime Rib if they desire to do so and are able to. If they don’t, just like anyone who remains on milk, there is a problem. Sye would likewise agree. This is as you state the part of sanctification [that] is growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
In How To Answer The Fool, you will notice a debate between Dr. Jones and Sye. Dr. Jones was puffed up on his own knowledge. He demanded a more complex answer than Sye was giving him. He wanted to know the didactic and syntagmatic something or others. The idea that Sye was exposing his vain reasoning without even knowing the definition of those words drove Dr. Jones literally to the point of insanity. The foolish was confounding the wise. Just like the Bible says.
Now Sye could have spent hours with him breaking down those points and showing him the correct answer to his syntagmatic something or others, but he didn’t. Why? Because it was not necessary and would have only tickled his frontal lobes arousing his pride. The very foundation of Dr. Jones knowledge was corrupted, why not expose that?
Sye’s apologetic is a consistent call to repentance that brings Glory to God, not Glory to the apologist. Its purpose is not academic or educational, its purpose is evangelistic.
You stated the following:
To be truly receptively reconstructive, we need to both acknowledge the function of, and exercise the function of all the other tools and fasteners we are given in the toolbox.
In his talk at The Reason Rally he says Presuppositional Apologetics is not just a tool in the toolbox, it’s the very foundation upon which the toolbox sits.
You might claim to be a presuppositionalist, but you use presuppositional apologetics as an evidence. Sye uses presuppositional apologetics as a methodology. That’s a subtle yet massive difference. Presuppositional apologetics is not some other tool. It’s the basis by which we do all apologetics. It’s the foundation.
Let me ask you this how systematic should Sye’s approach be in order to convert the soul of the unbeliever? How much evidence should we present for the Creation of the World to an unbeliever until he has had sufficient knowledge for conversion. Just how much “hard work” is required? The answer is zero, no unbeliever will remain unconverted due to our lack of study.
Joshua, I am afraid that your position is of the utmost ivory tower elitism. I know, I know, your ivory tower is your truck. As you said on Facebook “My ivory tower is a 2015 International.” You are a truck driver. I get it. But the Ivory Tower is not about your job or your position, it is about the state of your heart towards those who are not as learned as you, or part of your circles. You might very well be a truck driver, but you have a very ivory tower attitude towards those who don’t embrace your intellect. So much so I fear you have created a law unto yourself.
I pray that you repent, and trust Christ, not your knowledge, that you submit yourself to Elders, not board members and that you love the little people who might not know as much as you do.
And perhaps one day, there will be more people to hang out with you at the top steps of your International Ivory Tower, but if that happens be sure to thank Sye for building the first steps.
For those of you who have not seen How To Answer The Fool, or are curious about the apologetic methodology in which this post discusses. How To Answer The Fool is available on Vimeo on Demand for rent, or download on Vimeo. I encourage you to watch it here and judge for yourself.
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