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A conversation with John Frame

BENYOLA: Why do you believe, in your experience as an apologist, as a teacher of the church, that presuppositional apologetics is an effective and God-honoring way to reach lost souls for the kingdom?

FRAME: Because I think it’s biblical. The Bible says that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished to every good work. So the Bible, God’s revelation to us, is fundamental to everything that we think, everything that we do. So I take that as my authority. I suppose maybe you’re pressing me to give examples in my dialogues with non-Christians. I can’t say that my conversations with non-Christians have been all that successful in terms of producing conversions. Even that is hard to say, because being a Calvinist, I believe that conversion is entirely the work of God. It’s supernatural. So there may be no correlation at all between my presuppositionalism and the conversion of the people I talk to. It may be that what I consider to be very bad presuppositions or bad principles of argument, will lead many more people to convert to Christianity. That happens. God is sovereign. There’s no place in the Bible that says people won’t be converted unless they hear this argument or that argument, or they’re exposed to this presupposition or that presupposition. So in a way, I’m a presuppositionalist not because I have experience of it being effective with a lot of people, but because the Bible tells me that human thinking relies on presuppositions.

BENYOLA: I’m interested to identify ways to use presuppositionalism in reaching lost souls. Often in the Reformed community, we’re very scholarly, we know the Scriptures, we’re very well-read, it’s important to us to strive to understand the revealed truth of God, and we have so much more truth than many others. But we also have the tendency to become insular. The truth often doesn’t make it past our four walls. So I want to understand how take these principles and better reach people with the truth of God.

FRAME: Well, yes. I think you need more than just presuppositions to reach people. That’s why, when you come to seminary, you don’t just study theology, you also study homiletics, you study preaching. You need to learn how to use language. You can’t just stand up in a pulpit and say anything and hope that some people will come to accept the message of the text. You have to learn how to do illustrations. You need to be able to address people in a certain way. You need to know the difference between appealing for a verdict and just keeping people interested for a half an hour. So there are a lot of things to learn about that, and that’s apologetics, too. Apologetics, I think mainly, is an epistemological discipline, where we tell people the importance of presuppositions in human thought, and the need to address that. But you need to address all kinds of other things, too. You need to talk to people and say, “All right, you were raised in a church. How did it happen that you renounced your faith in God? Is there something that happened in your life that made belief in God untenable?” So find out what’s going on with them. So you can learn a lot about evangelism through studying counseling, through studying rhetoric. There are just lots of different dimensions of evangelism.

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