Apologetics and prolegomena are thoroughly interconnected. We cannot defend the faith without also understanding the basic principles of the faith we seek to defend. Given the debates over the doctrine of Scripture in recent years, this point is becoming increasingly urgent, and I was reminded of this fact while reading Cornelius Van Til’s analysis of Warfield’s apologetic method. Van Til writes,
…how could those who are asked to study the evidence for the divinity of Scripture for themselves, with a method that is not itself clearly based upon the presupposition of this divinity itself, be given an opportunity to identify the Scriptures for what they are at all? The only way by which the Scriptures can be placed before men so that they can even intellectually recognize it as being the Word of God is by placing the sharpest possible contrast before men between the principles involved in the idea of divine ultimacy and human ultimacy. The natural man must be shown that, on his principle, no intelligible identification of any fact in human history is possible. He must not be encouraged to think that he can make such an identification in terms of his principle. If it be allowed that he can make any such identification, he is, by implication, also given the right to identify both the incarnate and the written Word. The result will be that in identifying them he will destroy them by his principles of univocism and equivocism. (Christian Theory of Knowledge, p. 253)
Even our approach to Scripture discloses something about what we think it is in the first place. Before they venture to study the very nature of Scripture, perhaps scholars should consider whether they’ve answered that question implicitly even before they have begun their investigation.