Recently I was asked how evidence fits into my overall argument in favor of a standard sacred text of Scripture for the English-speaking believing community. First, I will try to be as succinct and clear as possible then I will go onto offer an explanation for my view.
Yes, use evidence. Use as much as is relevant to your case. Use evidence with mouse. Use evidence with a house. Use evidence here and there. Use evidence everywhere. Use evidence with a fox. Use evidence with box. Use evidence in a train, in the rain, and on a plane.
The issue, as I see it, concerns the priority of evidence. Evidence is not the foundation of Christian belief. The Holy Spirit speaking in and through the Scriptures is the foundation of Christian belief. Evidence is secondary, supporting, and servant to the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the word of God. In other words, there is an order of belief, and it begins with the Spirit of God, not evidence.
First, the Spirit of God speaks through His words to His people and His people accept those words by the spiritual gift of faith. This is how people come to believe Jesus is the Son of God and their Savior. This is how people come to believe any teaching of the Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture.
Second, once the Christian comes to hold a given belief, they then go on to amass evidence, arguments, extra-biblical examples, artifacts, testimony, etc. All of these are then used to support the belief already held. Support is the key word here. Supports are not the foundation. They are only there to assist in what is already firmly founded and grounded in the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the word of God.
Third, such a stance is not “Presuppositional”. It is Christian. When you observe your pastor preaching on being a godly husband by saying the Bible says you are supposed to nourish and cherish your wife do you respond, “Oh, there the pastor goes again on his Presuppositional hobby horse”? No, you see the words in the text and observe that what the pastor is saying is in accordance with the words in the text, the Holy Spirit bear witness with your spirit, and you are either encouraged in being a good husband or you are convicted for being a bad one.
The source of Christian belief is not evidence it is faith and faith comes by hearing the word of God. As such, the Christian’s belief in his Bible as the word of God is first founded by faith and that faith comes by the word of God. Only after this firm founding of one’s believe does evidence come to support that belief. Should the evidence supplant the Christian’s faith-founded belief then we have a significant moral and theological dilemma because whatsoever is not of faith is sin [Romans 14:23] and faith depends on nothing for its existence or efficacy except God and His word.