In the previous post, I pointed out some (but not all) of the problems when Calvinists rely on transcendental reasoning in apologetics. While the argument may not be sound in the end, the TAG does work well (practically) against crass materialists and moral relativists.
One of the questions that was always raised in Bahnsen’s seminars concerned using TAG against groups that have their own religious texts (and make ultimate truth claims): Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, and Mormons (while I hate to admit it, Gerry Matatics scored huge points on Bahnsen on this very issue).
On transcendental grounds, what’s to stop the Mormon from claiming that the works of Joseph Smith provide the preconditions for intelligibility?
The TA says you cannot know y unless you presuppose x. X provides the preconditions for intelligibility for y:
- You cannot know the Bible’s contents without the canon.
- Yet, the Bible doesn’t list the contents of the canon (and probably doesn’t even presuppose the concept of a New Testament canon).
- Therefore, to know the Bible’s contents, you must first presuppose the Church.
In fact, the Bible says something like that.
Addendum: Bahnsen’s article on the canon:
I just read Bahnsen’s article on the canon. I was a little nervous at first, trembling before the authority of the great teacher. Unfortunately, Bahnsen didn’t say anything new on canonical studies, and the only real points that hard any force were the quotations by some fathers that acknowledged the Apocrypha as of a different category as the rest of Scripture.
However, Lee McDonald’s book on the canon calls into question almost all of Bahnsen’s arguments: Jamnia was not the final word on “Old Testament Canoncity” (and even if it were, so what? These guys murdered Christ and said the Prophet Isaiah is in hell), and the early fathers weren’t too worked up about a canon (see Ignatius).