“There is simply no neutrality between the Christian worldview and that of the nonbeliever.
The only common ground—or more properly stated, point of contact—between two people holding to such opposing worldviews
is that both people are made in the image of God,
and both are fallen and sinful.”
slew of internet reactions circling around the recent theonomy debate between J. D. Hall and Joel McDurmon have drawn my attention to something of concern. Writing as a presuppositionalist, I hope this article will serve to gently correct some fellow believers who likewise self-identify as presuppositionalists. I do not, however, wish to point to these individuals by name and thus permanently associate their errors with their persons. For that reason, I will critique from a distance.
When one suddenly understands the validity, prowess, and biblical faithfulness of the presuppositional apologetic, one may likely experience a subsequent period of apologetic zeal. Anyone who does not share the same brilliant insights is now in danger of having an earful from the young presuppositionalist. This type of zeal coincides similarly with coming to a Reformed understanding of the faith. The new Calvinist or presuppositionalist suddenly sees (as it appears to him at least) the grievous errors of everyone else. Why can’t people just see it the way I do?! One specific area in which a young presuppositionalist may misappropriate his zeal is in his newfound understanding of the “myth of neutrality.”
First articulated in Cornelius Van Til’s writings on apologetics (and later fleshed out by Greg Bahnsen and more concretely applied by John Frame, K. Scott Oliphint, and others), the myth of neutrality is a potent and crucial piece in understanding presuppositional apologetics. Much ink has been spilled defining and articulating the various schools of apologetics, so a brief description of the myth of neutrality should suffice for this article. But before we get to the myth of neutrality, we must first deal with the concept of worldviews.
A worldview is a comprehensive way of looking at the world. It is composed of different distinctives, markers, questions and assumptions about reality. Ravi Zacharias has often used the four markers of origin, meaning, morality and destiny as a way to categorize the different aspects of worldview for this simple reason: these areas contain questions that every worldview must provide answers to. People’s worldviews are often not fully articulated because they haven’t asked the tough questions about reality and what it means to be human. Likewise, many have attempted to answer these questions and therefore have a worldview formed by a wide array of influences. Experiences, observations, and feelings also leave strong impressions on how one sees the world. The inputs of music, literature, and life events will likewise shape how one understands the world. For example, the attacks on 9/11 forced many to face the question (and reality) of evil — something that many had not dealt with prior to the attacks.
For my purposes here, worldview will be defined as “a well-reasoned framework of beliefs and convictions that gives a true and unified perspective on the meaning of human existence.” Whether one is aware that he has a worldview or not, one’s thinking is always governed by a set of presuppositions. For example, if one’s worldview contains the presupposition that the Illuminati rule the world by means of secretly controlling world governments, he will interpret everything he reads in the paper and sees on the news according to that basic presupposition. Thus, a worldview interprets facts according to preconceived notions about reality, whether those notions are true or not.
What is the Myth of Neutrality?
The idea of the myth of neutrality is most descriptive in articulating how the Christian-theistic worldview relates to all non-Christian-theistic worldviews. To understand the myth of neutrality is to understand that the Christian faith is exclusive in its claims. In other words, the myth of neutrality is about a clash of worldviews — more precisely, a clash between Christianity and everything else.
Now when one wants to contest with an opposing worldview, one usually assumes some neutral ground with that worldview. This idea of neutrality is that two opposing worldviews can step outside their basic presuppositions about reality and, without bias, deal with how to approach reality. Take the example of Fox News here. Fox News will make an appeal to be fair and balanced. In some sense, this is an appeal to neutrality. But what CNN can rightfully point out is that Fox News has a bias. And they are absolutely right — Fox News does have a bias because it has a kind of worldview, though not necessarily a Christian one. Furthermore, CNN puts forth a worldview, and it espouses that worldview under the narrative that they are actually fair and unbiased. They claim that their reporting conforms to reality as it actually is. Neither Fox News nor CNN’s worldview is “neutral,” nor could they ever be. Every worldview is exclusive of others; therefore, the idea of neutrality is a myth.
Now, is there such a view of reality that actually describes things the way they are? Or put into postmodern terms, is there a “meta-narrative” that is ultimately true?
Yes. Yes there is. Scott Oliphint writes in his book Covenantal Apologetics perhaps the most concise way to describe the myth of neutrality: “There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.” 
A plethora of applications stem from this foundational understanding of the myth of neutrality. For example, the myth comes up in apologetic methodology, epistemology, theology, logic, and several other areas. Van Til strongly acknowledges this in his book, The Defense of the Faith, in which he argues that there is no account of the laws of logic apart from a Christian worldview. There is simply no neutrality between the Christian worldview and that of the nonbeliever. The only common ground -- or more properly stated, point of contact -- between two people holding to such opposing worldviews is that both people are made in the image of God, and both are fallen and sinful. Aside from this similarity, their worldviews are at absolute odds; they clash over the basic questions of human origin, meaning, morality, destiny, and final authority.
In apologetics, this school of thought is the presuppositional school. Its main apologetic rival, which buys into the myth of neutrality, is the evidentialist school. There are many applications that stem from the basic differences in these two approaches. For example, under the myth of neutrality, the Christian evidentialist allows the atheist to appeal to laws of logic. By contrast, the Christian presuppositionalist knows that the atheist’s appeals to logic are not justified. Laws of logic cannot be accounted for apart from the Christian worldview. How can immaterial laws of logic exist in a materialist worldview? How can they be accounted for? Atheists are forced to borrow capital from the Christian worldview in order to make any arguments at all. Furthermore, a presuppositionalist cannot submit evidence to an atheist granting the assumption that God’s existence is not already clear. Because the Word of God provides the basis for the presuppositionalist’s reason, he cannot assume neutrality by granting the atheist’s false assumptions of reality.
Submitting evidence to the atheist therefore wrongfully elevates the atheist to the place of judge over God. It likewise forces the Christian to assume neutrality while the atheist never does himself. No one is neutral. No one could be neutral in terms of an opposing worldview that is projected upon our interactions with reality. As Bahnsen often says, “They aren’t neutral, and you shouldn’t be either.”
So when the young presuppositionalist first grasps this concept, he has a tendency to see the myth of neutrality everywhere he looks. There is a strong tendency to project the myth of neutrality onto every intellectual dispute he encounters — and in many instances, in places it is not warranted. Here is a lighthearted example to illustrate my point:
Joe: “You either like Dodge trucks or Ford trucks. There is no neutral ground.”
Bob: “What about Chevy? I prefer Chevy . . .”
Although Joe and Bob both have worldviews, Joe’s assertion has nothing to do with the Christian worldview in relation to non-Christian ones. This is a scenario where the myth of neutrality is not in play. Sometimes a middle ground or third choice is completely valid, as the Chevy lover Joe is pointing out. Obviously, this is a simplification of the fallacy.
Another example used by K. Scott Oliphint is derived from Scripture and should adequately drive the point home:
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14 NIV)
Without knowing what the man (whom we later learn is the Lord Himself) will say in reply, one might mistakenly assume that Joshua’s question might actually be an “either/or” scenario. One might even say that Joshua had read his Van Til and was correctly avoiding the myth of neutrality! But the next verse shows us that this is not so. The answer to an either-or question that excludes both answers is known as a false disjunction. This is an instance in which non-neutrality is not to be inferred but could be mistaken as legitimate when imported into a different context.
This misapplication of the myth of neutrality -- dichotomizing two options -- is referred to as the fallacy of a middle ground (also known as “the law of an excluded middle”). For the young presuppositionalist, this word “middle” has the ring of neutrality, but this logical articulation actually has nothing to do with worldview neutrality (the kind of neutrality that is a myth). Some options are not diametrically opposed, as illustrated by the Dodge/Ford illustration. I suspect, however, that because the term “middle” is used, some people will assume (improperly) that the third option must be moderate or in the middle of the two viewpoints (though this can sometimes be the case). But here, it is not the case. Sometimes, two competing arguments do not require an antithesis of worldview. Sometimes, both are arguing from the same premise (to a degree) and are of the same worldview. The middle is a valid option that is not “in-between” in this way -- it is simply an excluded and proper option to which the myth of neutrality should not be applied. In other words, not everything is a fundamental dichotomy. Oftentimes, there are indeed legitimate options outside of the two prominent options that are given.
Lastly, if the zealous young presuppositionalist asserts that the myth of neutrality is in play, he needs to be able to articulate how it is functioning in the situation at hand. Simply using presuppositional buzzwords and then misapplying them communicates two things:
1) It shows that the user does not understand what he is saying. (Granted, our social media generation allows for thoughts to be published before they are, well, thought through.)
2) It gives the impression that this presuppositional buzzword will do the “heavy work” of the discussion and cause the other person to surrender his own presuppositional commitments.
I hope these passing remarks will edify the discussion between theonomists and non-theonomists who both regard themselves as presuppositionalists. There is a plethora of other uses of the myth of neutrality, uses and misuses of the antithesis that I simply do not have space to discuss here. It is my sincere desire that this will lead others to dig into the principles of apologetic methodology, charity among brothers and sisters in Christ, and a mode of criticizing other members of the Body with gentleness, kindness, and respect. Soli Deo gloria.
 That is, from the “presuppositional” school of apologetics, as opposed to the evidential or classical schools.
 This section on worldview adapted from a paper presentation: Fourth Annual Theological Fellowship Conference. Not in the Dock: Reclaiming the Courtroom in Proper Use of Evidence in Apologetics. January 20th, 2015.
 What Is a Worldview?, prod. RZIM, perf. Ravi Zacharias, What Is a Worldview?, 2012, accessed December 19, 2014, http://vimeo.com/47662226.
 Philip Graham Ryken, What Is the Christian Worldview?, Basics of the Reformed Faith (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2006), 7-8.
 K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 51.
 The use of the word antithesis has a considerable overlap with describing the myth of neutrality. Its scope, however, is beyond the focus of this article and varies more among presuppositionalists and early reformed apologetics than does the myth of neutrality which utilizes an understanding of the antithesis between worldviews, primarily.
 Cornelius Van Til and K. Scott Oliphint, The Defense of the Faith, Fourth ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2008 (1955)), 119.
 Ibid. 173.
 Ibid. 294.
 In some respect, it seems odd to talk about the misapplication of the myth of neutrality based on what it is. In other words – one cannot misapply something that is false. On the other hand, the myth of neutrality has been used as a concept that can be applied. This akin to describing the myth of neutrality as something that cannot be applied because it is false to begin with – but because it is a concept that describes the reality and relationship between worldviews, it can be applied.
 For some, this may flatly and broadly paint everything that such a person has said or done as “bad presuppositionalism.” But it should go without saying that without a thorough investigation of the individual, this is just bad application of the method. Certainly we can do better.
Josh is a graduate of Wheaton College with a B.A. in international relations and a current student at Covenant Theological Seminary. He loves to read, endeavor to write, and strive to glorify God in all aspects of his life. He has written for American Thinker, RedState, Semper Reformanda Journal, and Ecclesiam, and he hopes to be able to finish a writing project on the canon of Scripture. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshHoller.