The epistemology of natural theology is inherently evidential. That is to say that a belief in general atonement short of universalism as a synergistic system requires individuals to be able to ascertain something from the created world in order to generate their own faith in God. That something is necessarily some kind of evidence of God that is displayed in the natural world.The epistemology of someone who holds to particular atonement as a monergistic system is based on the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. While evidence is necessary for survival in the natural world, knowledge of God must be given by God such that the evidence of him in the natural world, including the testimony of the saints, may be correctly ascertained, though they are secondary causes.Interestingly, even a synergist by the presentation of the evidence will inadvertently be used monergistically by God to bring his elect to faith. The monergist has evidence as an option, but doesn't rely on it. Prayer, proclamation of the full Gospel from the Scriptures in every way possible, and the testimony of a life submitted to God are the primary tools of the monergist who sees these things as faithful to God. Evidence only resonates with someone who is already regenerate. Proclamation calls the elect who are dead to life. The only evidence they need is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jim,This is an excellent comment and one that requires careful reading. Your statement “The monergist has evidence as an option, but doesn't rely on it. Prayer, proclamation of the full Gospel from the Scriptures in every way possible, and the testimony of a life submitted to God are the primary tools of the monergist who sees these things as faithful to God.”is very similar to Anslem’s who is often misunderstood as seeking evidence for the existence of God in order to believe; rather it was his belief that led him to seek understanding for God’s existence, but his belief was prerequisite to his search. It is faith seeking understanding which is what the monergist does. In fact, it is what every believer will do if they truly seek to obey Him since it follows that to obey is to first understand.“Evidence only resonates with someone who is already regenerate.”This is missed by most (if not all) who fall in to the “give me/them evidence” camp. That is regeneration precedes salvation, one must be made alive first since only the living can see. To co-opt a phrase, “to the dead no evidence is enough, to the living, no evidence is needed.”
Jamie,“to the dead no evidence is enough, to the living, no evidence is needed.”I love it! Yes, I find much merit in Anselm's fideism and it has been formative in the development of my presuppositional thinking in the past few years.As it is, I see presuppositionalism more as a way of understanding how we think about apologetics than a method in and of itself. Rather, it helps us focus our methods on what is important or helpful. It's rather more important that we be faithful to the Scriptures in reliance on God than we are relying on the best presentation of the evidence, or even the more philosophical Thomistic arguments. It seems to me that such was Jesus' approach as he applied the Scriptures honestly and forthrightly to the people he encountered. And even with him many didn't accept his teaching. But for many, the power of the Truth itself was acknowledged as they were filled with the Spirit of Truth.Simply proclaiming the truth is foolishness to those who rely on evidence, both those who demand evidence in order to hide behind a denial of the evidence as well as those brothers and sisters who think the unbeliever asks for evidence in good faith and evidence alone will actually persuade them.Now it's true that Jesus actually provided evidence. His miraculous works were given as signs. But the signs were effective only for those who already had faith or were being given faith. John 6 shows a massive group of people who were fed by an astonishing miracle, but had no faith. They went away when Jesus proclaimed the truth and didn't feed them again. Only those who had faith remained and were spiritually fed by the hard truth. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."