Dan Phillips' Sympathetic Review of Sye Ten Bruggencate!
With select readers' comment following the article!
Review: How to Answer the Fool:
A Presuppositional Defense of
the Faith, with Sye ten Bruggencate
by Dan Phillips
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Known to himself, his parents, and everyone except
me as Sye ten Bruggencate, the intrepid Canadian
has well-earned the admiration of folks like Fred
Butler, who introduced me to him, and myself, for
his in-your-face approach to applied presuppositional
He's known for his wonderful web page, Proof that
God Exists, and for the many videos of his
encounters and debates with unbelievers.
this video does well what I think is most-needed,
today and I would commend it, even if only for that
Its weaknesses are outweighed by its value
Sye ...explains...why...a Christian must start
with God and not with doubt.
Sye also does at least a very effective introductory
job of dismantling evidentialism and showing its
Sye has a few well-crafted and well-honed-by-constant-
use ways of reducing unbelievers to fuming, sputtering,
enraged impotence, and he illustrates many of them in
Among the things I admire about Sye is that he apparently
is absolutely fearless, and will go absolutely anywhere
to talk to absolutely anyone...
Often, Sye takes a phrase and simply repeats it until
he's kicked off a show or his hearer walk away in a
He explains what (I think) he's doing here thus:
this is his "big weapon."
His opponents want him to set it down and play the
game by their rules.
He refuses to set it down.
As Sye sees it, they just want him to concede that
they have the right to adjudicate God's truth
(without demonstrating how they have that right),
and he won't do it.
He calls them on it.
He asks for their ID, and when they refuse to show
it (because they can't), he refuses to play nice
and go on.
I think this is right, though I'm about to say it's
Sye's no shrugger, and he's not out primarily to make
He's out to vindicate God's truth and announce God's
terms for surrender. This is a needed corrective in
a wishy-washy, apologetic (in the wrong sense),
scared-of-our-shadows day such as ours.
Sye seems to focus on utterly destroying the unbeliever
and his worldview, period. Winning the unbeliever to a
God-centered worldview (conversion) does not seem to be
You see very little appeal, very little bridge-building,
very little outreach.
In a way, presuppositional apologetics often is like
that kind of "testimony" that we all object to: 40
minutes of lurid detail about what a wretched sinner
I was, stealing drug money from toddlers and shooting
heroin into my eyeballs, followed by 3 minutes about
how Jesus saved me, He's great, yay Jesus, let's close
So, presuppositionalism tends to be 40 absolutely
devastating and wonderful and solid-gold minutes about
how bankrupt the autonomous worldview is, then "you
really need to repent and cry out to the Lord because
only He is true, which HEL-LO you know already anyway,
For instance: by all means, do what Sye does.
Challenge the unbeliever.
Listen (Sye generally does that very well).
Do a round or two of "Do you know that?
How do you know that?"
But then, instead of repeating that until the person
walks off in a gnarled bird's-nest, stop, and say
Or a hundred other ways.
So, he tells this puffed-up "I love Jesus" doubletalker,
"No, you don't!"
We cheer, because we're starved to see anyone speaking
edgily and with conviction.
But would a better response have been, "You do? Can you
love Jesus without believing anything He taught or
submitting to His commands?", or "Describe this 'Jesus'
And so, rather than broken-recording one phrase until
the person we're trying to win is utterly exasperated,
There is, after all, something to the warning against
winning an argument and losing a person.
Look, believe me: I am not saying this because I think
I could do better than Sye.
I do not.
I admire Sye.
I've learned from him.
But as I watch him, again and again I get the feeling
that he "counts coup" when a believer goes away in a
It's an excellent and needed start, and with the
reservations noted above, I do commend it.
READERS' COMMENTS (select)
From: Sye Ten Bruggencate
Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Time: 3:07 PM MT
Thanks for your review Dan!
Problem is the film would be 3 hours long if they
put in more #3. There was plenty of #3, but it did
not make the final cut as the emphasis was on
I would have loved the film to be 3 hours long to
show the kinder gentler Sye, but I can live with
your interpretation of my failures based on the film.
Spent the day at UMass Dartmouth, where one of the
bombers attended. Plenty of #3 there.
Wish I could afford a camera crew to catch those
From: Robert Baty
Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Time: 5:02 PM MT
That's not been my experience. Despite being a
tyro, Sye continues to "run" from me while his
sympathizers cover for him.
I first ran across Sye on one of Eric Hovind's
I have proposed that Sye's much-touted "proof
of God" is NO "proof of God".
Sye has not been honest in what he has had to
say about the matter.
The invitation remains open for Sye or his
appointed surrogate to come out, come clean
and openly and honestly negotiate for the
proposed exchange involving Sye's affirmative
"proof of God" claim and my rebuttal thereto.
Perhaps there is someone here who has the moral
influence to get Sye to initiate the negotiations;
by simply sending an email message to:
If deemed necessary, we can negotiate an
alternative venue for the negotiations.
The website associated with the above email
address has public archives which can be accessed
The historic record regarding my dealings with
Presuppositionalism, and Sye in particular, are
found in the archives there and span the last
If you search the archives there you might even
find references to where Sye and his sympathizers
have implicitly admitted that Sye's "proof of God"
is NO "proof of God".
If Sye agrees and wants to make an explicit
admission of that and the propriety of my complaint
against him and his claim that would make the
proposed issue in dispute moot.
If Sye does not agree, the invitation remains for
him to accept and initiate the negotiations...or
his appointed substitute.
- Who in the world is Dan Phillips?
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