One aspect of apologetics that has been lacking in the literature, to the point of near extinction, is the ground for the discipline of apologetics itself. [Oliphant-Tipton, Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, 1]The apostle Peter issued what is known as the famous apologetic mandate in all of Scripture. What philosophers, theologians, scholars, and apologists miss about this mandate is that Peter was not speaking to philosophers, theologians, scholars, and apologists, not in the technical sense at least. He wasn't even speaking to people that had the wherewithal to become such. Peter was speaking to a community that had been alienated due to their religious beliefs. Specifically, they were under tremendous pressure to abandon the Christian sect and return to the fold of the world. Why then, does it seem that most apologetic training places so much demand on the average person that it nearly makes it impossible to hold down a full time job, manage the affairs of the house, fulfill the obligations of relationship and parenting and still be able to devote considerable time to church service, worship, Christian fellowship, intense discipleship, and the apologetic task? Is it because apologetics actually demands the kind of philosophical acumen and prowess that some apologists portend? At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I think we give objections to the reality of God more credit than they deserve. Perhaps Christian apologists, philosophers, and theologians should devote more time and energy to making some of the issues in this field easier for the average person to understand. I realize that some will take my comments as an affront to scholarship, but that is not at all what I am saying. As C.S. Lewis said, we need good philosophy if for no other reason than bad philosophy exists. To extrapolate that a bit further, we need good Christian philosophers if for no other reason than to explain to the rest of us what the bad philosophers are actually saying. But what we do not need is what one famous Christian apologist apparently endorses:
Some readers of my study of divine omniscience, The Only Wise God, expressed surprise at my remark that someone desiring to learn more about God's attribute of omniscience would be better advised to read the works of Christian philosophers than of Christian theologians. Not only was that remark true, but the same holds for divine eternity. [Quoted in: Reason and Revelation, 2]
Contrary to classical apologists views on the necessity of evidence and logic, the only valid ground for Christian apologetics is Scripture. It is not autonomous human reason, nor is it found in the amount of evidence one may present for the resurrection of Christ or any of the other miracle claims of Scripture. I agree with Reformed Epistemology's view that belief in God is properly basic. Christian apologetics must proceed on the ground of Scripture alone. Human reason and human interpretation of historical evidence must submit to the Christian ethic. If we undertake scientific investigation and inquiry, it too must submit to the Lordship of Christ and the revelation of God contained in Scripture. I am not suggesting that reason has no role to play whatever. What I am contending is unregenerate human reason can always find a way around God unless God cleanses the mind through regeneration. God uses revelation, not reason to that end. Before you indict me, I am not setting reason over against revelation. I am placing reason under revelation.
Additionally, I am not saying there is no place for theistic evidences. What I am contending is that the ground of Christian apologetics must be Scripture itself. That is where we rest. It is where we begin. It is not merely where we end. We begin with Scripture, continue with Scripture, and end with Scripture. Is Scripture sufficient for the task of apologetics? I mean, really, when we say we believe in the doctrine of sola scriptura, do we really mean that? When it comes to Christian apologetics, do we believe that Scripture alone is sufficient to the cause?
Christian apologists often wave theistic arguments around as if the truth were obvious and the proofs simple. But these sorts of fundamental truths are neither obvious nor simple. [Clark, Kelly James. Reformed Epistemology in Five Views on Apologetics. 283]
The second half of v. 19 says "For God made it plain to them." This is a different form of the same word. The reason that men clearly and plainly know that God is, is that God made it a point to make sure they knew and not only that, but that this knowledge was plain, easy, and simple for men to grasp. When men say, "I do not know if there is a God," or when they say, "I do not believe God exists," or "There is no God," they are not being intellectually honest. At this point, we have one of two options: we can disagree with God and agree with men, giving them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, we can refuse to set aside the revelation of Scripture on the matter and confront the unbeliever with the knowledge that screams loud and clear to them through revelation. The sensus divinitatis and the fact of the material world serve as witnesses on the divine witness stand damning and rebutting the fairy tales of men who perjure themselves under oath in the divine courtroom of the triune God.
"Reason that does not begin with God can always find a 'reason' not to end with God"