In it, he argues that the Lutheran Confessions are inherently oriented towards empiricist apologetics, rather than a presuppositionalist ones (the later he of course associates with Calvinism). Montgomery makes a number of errors throughout the article regarding his interpretation of the Lutheran Confessions. Notably, he fails to distinguish between reason's use in things below us (which is valid) and things above us (where it is not). Secondly, he also dismisses Edmund Schlink's perfectly valid claim that the Scriptures are not (in an ultimate sense) understandable apart from the center of the gospel. Again, he fails to distinguish between the inner and outer clarity as described by Luther, which forms the background and presupposition of Confessors' interpretation of the Scriptures.
These criticisms are issues for another blog post though, and I'd like deal with the question of presuppositionalist vs. empiricist Christian apologetics. Just to define our terms, presuppositionalist apologetics tends to be the position of Calvinists. According to Calvin, human beings all have a sense of divinity (sensus divinitatis) present within them, which therefore forms their view of the world. For this reason, Calvin notes, even when people are skeptical about the existence of divinity, they will act as if God exists. They will cry out to him in a storm or appeal to morality. Cornelius Van Til and some other modern Calvinists took this a step further. Van Til noted that when a Christian argues with a modern Atheist, the Atheist will inevitably say something like "Christianity is bad because it claims miracles, which violate the laws of nature. Also, Christians have done things (like burning witches and persecuting heretics) which are immoral!" The problem here, Van Til points out, is that the Atheist has just contradicted himself. He has posited both rational laws of nature and morality, which presupposes a rational creator God as their author. Christians can therefore argue with Atheists by showing them that there worldview is irrational, because he makes theistic presuppositions while having eliminated the existence of God.
Montgomery (along with a number of Evangelical philosophers) takes an opposite tack. They believe in empiricist apologetics. According to this way of thinking, Christianity is most credibly presented when the empirical evidence in its favor is mustered. Montgomery therefore makes arguments to show that the NT documents are credible and reliable. (As a side note: many of his arguments, I do not personally find very convincing- namely because I believe that he often times relies on conjecture or irrelevant facts that do not support his conclusions. Moreover, people like NT Wright, Kenneth Bailey, and Richard Bauckham have made considered better arguments in recent publications). When Montgomery is most convincing (in my opinion) is when he argues that the resurrection is the key to rationally validating Christianity. I've made the same argument myself: Jesus made certain claims about himself, the authority of the apostles, and the OT prophets. When he rose from the dead (a fact with a rather massive amount of evidence supporting it), he validated these claims of authority. Hence, one can (so to speak), take his claims about his own personal authority and that of the Bible to the theological bank.
What are we to make of this? If we examine the approaches carefully, what I would suggest is that they are not necessarily contradictory, but simply deal with different aspects of the Christian faith. First, the presuppositionalist perspective works best when applied to first article issues. Is there a creator God? Yes, of course, people act like there is one even when they deny it. This is an especially important argument to make in a post-Kantian, post-modern context. With the turn to the subject (in Kant) and the linguistic turn (after Wittgenstein) the entire unity between word and world, perception and reality have come undone. Ultimately, the only thing that could theoretically bring together our perceptions of morality, the laws of nature, and the relationship between word/world is the existence of a creator God who has created these things in harmony. Moreover, even secular people (who have no theoretical reason to believe in these harmonies) acts as if they exist. In fact, people literally could not get through their day if these presuppositions were wrong. This means, I believe, that Calvin and Van Til are essentially correct: people know God is the author of the laws of morality and nature, but ignore him. Unbelievers are therefore irrational in their unbelief. Paul makes the same argument in Romans 1.
This nevertheless does not take one very far. Ultimately, all we really get out of this is a kind of fuzzy theism. The Calvin and Van Til would of course admit this. Therefore, here, particularly with second article issues, the empiricist apologetic works best. It can be shown, for example, that Sodom and Gomorrah burned up around the time of Abraham. It can also be shown that the walls of Jericho fell at the time of Joshua- it can even be shown that it was harvest time, as the Bible clearly states that it was. Most importantly, the authority of the NT and OT are validated by Jesus' resurrection. Even if there are holes in our knowledge regarding the verifiability of certain events in salvation history (we cannot demonstrate, for example, that Abraham had two sons or that Sarah laughed when she heard that they would give birth to a child), the reliability of the Bible's reports of these events can be deduced as being inerrant from the fact of Jesus' own objectively valid claims about his own authority and about the authority of the Scriptures. Herein, I would claim, lies the value of Montgomery's approach.