Presuppositional Apologetics – Ultimate Authority

Ultimate Authority

An individuals ultimate or final authority can be defined as his ultimate standard by which all is measured being last in a series, process, or progression. It is an independent standard that relies on no other source for authentication. All worldviews, and thus all people, have a final authority, though most are not conscience of this fact. Our duty as the apologist is to make people epistemologically self-aware. In other words, we attempt to bring attention to their ultimate faith commitment which, if humans are to be rational, must be the Word of God.

  • The Nonbeliever’s Ultimate Authority
  • Is Not God’s Word
  • 1 Cor. 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
  • Ephes. 4:17-18 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
  • Is in Opposition to What He Know Is the Ultimate Authority
  • Romans 1:19-20 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
  • Matthew 7:26-27 “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
  • Resides in Creation Itself
  • Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
  • Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
  • Results in Foolishness
  • 1 Cor. 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
  • Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
  • Proverbs 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?
  • 1 Tim. 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”
  • Luke 16:31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’ “
  • The Believer’s Ultimate Authority
  • Is God Himself
  • Colossians 2:2c-4 Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
  • Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
  • Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  • Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
  • Is Understood Through God’s Word
  • John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
  • Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
  • 2 Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
  • Psalm 19:7b The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.


  • Is Self-Authenticating
  • Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
  • John 5:26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
  • El Shaddai lit. means all-sufficient
  • 1 John 4:8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (Love requires an object. Before the world existed God was still love, therefore his attributes find their essence in the Trinity. He does not need creation to sustain Him.)


  • The Necessity of the Circular Argument
  • Every worldview ultimately terminates in a circular argument because of the nature of a final (or ultimate) authority. If the question why? is constantly asked we eventually hit bedrock so to speakthe ultimate reason for believing all facts from which all predication is derived. For the rationalist, reason is the final authority, therefore every time reason is given as a reason for reason (say that five times fast) we are listening to a circular argument. It is just as circular for the rationalist to say that reason is his authority as it is for the Muslim to say that the Koran is his.
  • The difference between the Christian worldview and all others is that in the Christian conception of reality there is an escape valve from the viscous circle because the attributes of God make it possible for Him to communicate with His creation in such a way that they can understand. It is the only worldview that makes life intelligible.

Worldview Ultimate Authority Internal Critique

Rationalism Logic or Reason
  • What kind of reason/logic? Man has derived many kinds of logical systems. What compels the rationalist to say that his is the correct one? He would have to appeal to himself in which case ultimately he’s the final authority, though he doesn’t realize it.
  • How do we know that life is meant to be rationally understood? This is never addressed.
  • Even if a type of logic is proven by assuming that the world is rational and that reason is inescapable, we have no compelling reason to assume that our senses are reliable, or that there’s uniformity in nature, or that the future will be like the past, etc.
Islam The Koran
  • Firstly, this religion stole many of its teachings from Christianity. This can be shown historically. But apart from history, the Koran claims to accept the biblical account, though it’s been distorted.The question then becomes, on what basis are certain biblical passages distorted and others aren’t? For the Koran to be consistent with the Bible it must give some direction as to which passages are distorted and which aren’t. For the Koran to be true in its statement that it’s consistent with the Bible, it must be false, because the Bible contradicts the Koran. This assertion on the part of Islam is arbitrary, and the Christian can therefore be just as arbitrary in his assertions concerning Islam if we are to be consistent.
  • Muslim literally scholarship consistently ignores textual variations and historical realities. For it to be a consistent worldview it must not allow for contradictions. The Christian worldview seeks to reconcile, not distort, historical and textual variations.
  • The attributes of Allah are not a sufficient base on which to hang the preconditions of intelligibility. He is not triune and therefore cannot explain personhood. He is arbitrary and therefore cannot explain the uniformity of nature or ethical laws, etc.
  • When engaging with someone from an anti-Christian viewpoint we must put on their glasses by entering their worldview (an internal critique). When we enter their worldview we will find contradictions that enable us to show that their philosophy does not make existence intelligible. There is only one worldview that does give meaning to life: Christianity. This is the essence of what it means to answer a fool according to his folly.