Hanniah the Prophet renders van tillian apologetics useless

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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
What's really ironic is that CVT almost never interacts with Thomas in any detail. You don't find any serious analysis of key texts in Thomas. Everything Warren says about Fesko applies to CVT's analysis.
Warren does touch on that claim but I’m not too concerned with that.

Is Thomas a Calvinist? Or is Calvin a Thomist? I believe that’s our biggest concern… no?

“Calvin’s statements don’t contain much argument, just the moral appeal that men should turn their minds to the wisdom of God when they see the design and order of nature. That is no basis for claiming that Calvin accepted Aquinas’s arguments in their full context, which incorporates Aristotelian philosophy. Van Til argues that Calvin’s approach to knowledge undermines the Scholastic view of knowledge, so Calvin’s views are not a subset of Aquinas’s if this related issue is taken into account. Fesko appeals to Calvin’s remarks about connecting the beauty and order of creation to the wisdom of the Creator in order to rebut Van Til’s claim that Calvin rejected the Scholastic view of knowledge. He should have stuck to directly addressing Van Til’s argument regarding Calvin and Scholasticism.

The argument that Van Til makes for Calvin rejecting Scholasticism is that in the first paragraph of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, he appeals to beginning with the positive revelation of Scripture as necessary to have true knowledge of man is as well as God. [19] This contrasts with Aquinas’s empiricist approach that leads to saying, at the beginning of Summa Theologica, “We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not.” While Calvin does not explicitly repudiate Aquinas’s method of remotion and other Aristotelean ideas about form and matter, he never appeals to knowing God by beginning with experience and then negating the positive aspects of the empirical world until we reach an empty universal that we call God.[20] Van Til also appeals to Calvin’s statements that men fail to acknowledge God because they are willfully blind.[21] In contrast, Aquinas says that through nature we know God in a “general and confused way”[22]because this knowledge is gained through effects that are not proportionate to the cause.[23] In other words, the nature of the evidence obscures the knowledge of God rather than man’s rebellion against clear, inescapable evidence. Fesko cites Calvin’s Institutes at 1.5.11 to argue that “In fact, with Aquinas, Calvin believed that only the philosophically learned could access this natural knowledge of God; this is something that the common rabble could not do” (64). Actually, Calvin’s statement in this paragraph is in keeping with Van Til’s anti-Thomistic characterization of Calvin’s views. Calvin says here, “Bright, however, as is the manifestation which God gives both of himself and his immortal kingdom in the mirror of his works, so great is our stupidity, so dull are we in regard to these bright manifestations, that we derive no benefit from them.” The problem, again, is not the obscurity of the revelation but the depravity of man. Calvin’s point in regard to philosophers in this passage is that they, as the most acute inquirers into the nature of reality, should see God’s glory manifest in nature better than most, but they don’t. Despite the clarity of natural revelation, even the most distinguished philosophers “labour under such hallucinations” and are prone to “vanity and error.”


Did Aquinas borrow anti-Christian thought from Aristotle? That is the concern. Is God to be comprehended (or deduced) via natural revelation and human reason? I think that’s the concern with a Roman Catholic conception if I’m following from CVT’s perspective accurately. A total depravity of fallen man is the dividing line. So was Calvin a Thomist? Did Aquinas see the total depravity of man as part of the equation?
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Warren does touch on that claim but I’m not too concerned with that.

It's literally the issue. By not dealing with it he shows himself ignorant of key claims.
Is Thomas a Calvinist? Or is Calvin a Thomist? I believe that’s our biggest concern… no?

Not one single person outside of John Gerstner claimed Thomas is a Calvinist. This is a red herring.
Did Aquinas borrow anti-Christian thought from Aristotle? That is the concern

Did CVT borrow anti-Christian thought from Kant? That is the concern. (See what I am doing? You are poisoning the well by calling Aristotle "anti-Christian," which means we need to say things like WCF 5.2 is "anti-Christian).
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
While Calvin does not explicitly repudiate Aquinas’s method of remotion and other Aristotelean ideas about form and matter, he never appeals to knowing God by beginning with experience and then negating the positive aspects of the empirical world until we reach an empty universal that we call God

This is why he needs to understand his concepts, of which he is ignorant. Thomas does not say we negate the positive aspects of the empirical world. Rather, he says we negate the finite mode of an attribute before we apply it to God. I'm almost glad Warren made this mistake, as it illustrates the key issue.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
It's literally the issue. By not dealing with it he shows himself ignorant of key claims.


Not one single person outside of John Gerstner claimed Thomas is a Calvinist. This is a red herring.


Did CVT borrow anti-Christian thought from Kant? That is the concern. (See what I am doing? You are poisoning the well by calling Aristotle "anti-Christian," which means we need to say things like WCF 5.2 is "anti-Christian).
Ok, but a belief that God can be deduced via human reasoning in conjunction with natural revelation I reckon would be problematic.

Your other charges are not for me to take up. This gentleman I’m quoting does so to an extent you may or may not find satisfactory. So I will respect your position.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
I think it comes down to the operation of grace. The extent of our depravity and how all encompassing grace is to our entire understanding and comprehension of spiritual matters which thus spills into every other area of existence. I’m not sure this piece can be glossed over. I think that’s what’s at stake, but I may be wrong. That’s what I think CVT is getting at. I believe that’s where he’s coming from in his apologetic and critique of what he seems to deem a lesser approach.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Ok, but a belief that God can be deduced via human reasoning in conjunction with natural revelation I reckon would be problematic.

There is a difference between knowing That God exists and what kind of God exists. Natural revelation claims the former, not the latter. That is completely legitimate.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I think it comes down to the operation of grace. The extent of our depravity and how all encompassing grace is to our entire understanding and comprehension of spiritual matters which thus spills into every other area of existence. I’m not sure this piece can be glossed over. I think that’s what’s at stake, but I may be wrong. That’s what I think CVT is getting at. I believe that’s where he’s coming from in his apologetic and critique of what he seems to deem a lesser approach.

Aquinas holds to physical premotion. He holds to the priority of divine grace. Unfortunately, it is mediated through baptism and that gets problematic, but CVT's critique otherwise misses the target.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
There is a difference between knowing That God exists and what kind of God exists. Natural revelation claims the former, not the latter. That is completely legitimate.
So, wouldn’t an apologetic that leads with the Revealed word of truth be proper? I’m not saying common ground isn’t a desirable meeting place. But a futile appeal to reason with a spiritually hardened world feels like a cowardly approach. I believe a carnal or shallow Christianity is born out of a high view of a fallen world. I’m not looking down on the fallen world. But God’s glory can’t be denied.
 
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Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Hmmm....Mic drop?

The last 15 miutes or so is pretty relevant on CVT....
Anthony this video is very helpful and I have been listening to it as part of my reflections on the Divine passability vs mutualism debate. Lane Tipton is a very good interpreter of Van Til.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Aquinas holds to physical premotion. He holds to the priority of divine grace. Unfortunately, it is mediated through baptism and that gets problematic, but CVT's critique otherwise misses the target.
I think an institutional church thrives when it is elevated above revelation or revealed truth. Aquinas is part of that tradition. That’s more than a small problem no matter how off the rails and irrelevant the RCC has become….
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I think an institutional church thrives when it is elevated above revelation or revealed truth. Aquinas is part of that tradition. That’s more than a small problem no matter how off the rails and irrelevant the RCC has become….

Anyone who believes in the visible church believes at some level in the institutional church. I'm also not sure how anyone is elevating x above special revelation. If anything, Aquinas is usually guilty of grace being elevated above nature.

I also note in your first sentence about "revelation." Revelation also includes natural revelation, and sometimes natural revelation, like in astronomy, corrects how we interpret special revelation.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So, wouldn’t an apologetic that leads with the Revealed word of truth be proper? I’m not saying common ground isn’t a desirable meeting place. But a futile appeal to reason with a spiritually hardened world feels like a cowardly approach. I believe a carnal or shallow Christianity is born out of a high view of a fallen world. I’m not looking down on the fallen world. But God’s glory can’t be denied.

That's the problem. You are assuming reason and the laws of logic to even interpret the Bible. This is where presups confuse the order of being with the order of knowing.
 

83r17h

Puritan Board Freshman
That's the problem. You are assuming reason and the laws of logic to even interpret the Bible. This is where presups confuse the order of being with the order of knowing.

Jacob, could it also be that in requiring special revelation (specifically as the content of Scripture) as having epistemological antecedent to other knowledge, they are making a confusion (or rejection) of the natural / positive distinction?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
That's the problem. You are assuming reason and the laws of logic to even interpret the Bible. This is where presups confuse the order of being with the order of knowing.
But how is that a problem for the believer. We are most consistent. Im wondering if your conception of things like reason and logic are being parsed from true knowledge - or the origin of true knowledge. Isn’t this what CVT means when he suggests ….. hold on….
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
@BayouHuguenot …. You are smarter than I, at the risk of defeating your own argument, explain what the author espouses here:
Thomistic philosophy undermines this definition of worldview. Van Til objects that Aquinas tries to integrate an anti-Christian view of all three areas of philosophy into Christianity, making Thomism inadequately integrated. The Thomistic procedure can be described as attempting to use an anti-Christian epistemology to prove Christian metaphysics – namely, the Christian God. (Things aren’t exactly this neat. No philosopher has developed an epistemology without having some concept of metaphysics in view. What we claim exists and how we claim to know what exists are inextricably related issues.) As I have explained, Van Til argues that the Aristotelian epistemology can only lead to an anti-Christian view of metaphysics, not the God of the Bible. If “worldview” seems like an alien concept to Thomists, it is because their philosophy is not integrated. Their distinction between reason and faith, with the first derived from Aristotle and the second derived from the Bible, undermines viewing Christianity as a worldview, having an integrated view of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Van Til says, “Both men [Warfield and Bavinck] view the place of Scripture as imbedded in their total outlook on life. They do not build the first story of their house by reason in order then to add a second story built by faith. Their outlook on life is a living whole. For convenience we speak of this total outlook on reality as a world and life view.” Van Til depicts Thomists as having a two-story house with the first story built from Aristotle’s philosophy, which is then used to reach the second story that is built from the Bible. But the first story is inconsistent with the second story, like a building that provides no way to reach the second floor from the first floor. In fact, the first floor is a collapsing floor because it undermines the possibility of reason, knowledge, and ethics."

It sounds like the God of the Bible, the source of all things, is sacrificed from the beginning…. That’s quite a blind spot. If I am interpreting the quote wrong, how would you ? even at risk of sounding objective. (You are a pretty fair minded guy from what I can tell ). Does the author get Aristotle wrong? That appears to be the concern.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
That's the problem. You are assuming reason and the laws of logic to even interpret the Bible. This is where presups confuse the order of being with the order of knowing.
I’m saying reason without regeneration. How can a believer check their knowledge at the door when doing apologetics?
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Anyone who believes in the visible church believes at some level in the institutional church. I'm also not sure how anyone is elevating x above special revelation. If anything, Aquinas is usually guilty of grace being elevated above nature.

I also note in your first sentence about "revelation." Revelation also includes natural revelation, and sometimes natural revelation, like in astronomy, corrects how we interpret special revelation.
Natural revelation is secondary though, correct? Does Aquinas make the distinction between natural man and regenerated man the way a Calvinist would?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
I’m saying reason without regeneration. How can a believer check their knowledge at the door when doing apologetics? Of course the order is confused —— the former is sorely lacking. There is not real truth at the core since the former are outside God in simply being. They are willfully ignorant. We are being before we are knowing, in a restorative sense. So we can only know if we know rightly.
I’m not sure how the order of being —— a product/order of God’s creation and knowing/gaining knowledge —— via the physical world and experience fits in CVT’s analysis. But I think his main distinction is between belief and unbelief. True and false origins. The unbeliever at worst gets it wrong and at best may have a slight conception but the truth is repressed to the point that they are in the dark. Doesnt this darkness have to be lifted first?
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Natural revelation is secondary though, correct? Does Aquinas make the distinction between natural man and regenerated man the way a Calvinist would?

I don't see what its being secondary (if that even makes sense) has to do with the discussion. Secondary in time or secondary in importance?

Yes, Aquinas makes such a distinction, but I am not sure how that makes a difference.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I found this quoted portion online and it would make me a bit skeptical.
”Theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and philosopher Aristotle had a lot in common even though they were born about sixteen hundred years apart. They both believed in the God/s and respected them. Of course during the time of Aristotle, the many people believed in more than one God. Aristotle respected the many Gods, but still doubted them. The common ideas through these two great individuals help improve Christian thought during the thirteenth century.

One idea that was first introduced by Aristotle and then used by St. Thomas Aquinas was that the truths of faith and those of sense experience are fully compatible and complementary. This means that one can only understand the mysteries of God, through revelation. One example of this is the mystery of the incarnation. Incarnation is when God the Son, became human and lived on this world.

Another idea that was first introduced by Aristotle and then used by St. Thomas Aquinas was that all knowledge originates in thought toward the comprehension the human soul, the angels, and God Himself.

In conclusion, St. Thomas Aquinas renewed some of the ideas of Aristotle’s work and made these the philosophical foundation for Christian thought. In essence, St. Thomas Aquinas finished Aristotle started. Aristotle was a man who was ahead of his time. His ideas were not accepted because they were different than those of his time. That is when St. Thomas came and used Aristotle’s old ideas were used in religion. St. Thomas Aquinas was in the right place at the right time and was able pick up where Aristotle had left off.”

What's the website?
 

83r17h

Puritan Board Freshman
I’m not sure how the order of being —— a product of God’s creation and knowing—— via the physical world fits in CVT’s analysis. But I think his main distinction is between belief and unbelief. True and false origins.

I believe that Jacob is saying that the preconditions of knowledge are ontological, not epistemological.

God must exist, and have created, in order for me to know that 2+2=4. This is the order of being. 2+2=4 presupposes God's existence.

However, in the order of knowing, the order may be reversed. The proposition "God exists" is not necessary to proceed from "2+2" to "4."

Bavinck makes this point in his prolegomena if I remember correctly, when discussing the Word and the Church. The Word exists before the Church, and is the source of it. However, the Church typically comes before the Word pedagogically in the believer's experience. That's an example of the difference between order or being and order of knowing.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
@BayouHuguenot …. You are smarter than I, at the risk of defeating your own argument, explain what the author espouses here:
Thomistic philosophy undermines this definition of worldview. Van Til objects that Aquinas tries to integrate an anti-Christian view of all three areas of philosophy into Christianity, making Thomism inadequately integrated. The Thomistic procedure can be described as attempting to use an anti-Christian epistemology to prove Christian metaphysics – namely, the Christian God. (Things aren’t exactly this neat. No philosopher has developed an epistemology without having some concept of metaphysics in view. What we claim exists and how we claim to know what exists are inextricably related issues.) As I have explained, Van Til argues that the Aristotelian epistemology can only lead to an anti-Christian view of metaphysics, not the God of the Bible. If “worldview” seems like an alien concept to Thomists, it is because their philosophy is not integrated. Their distinction between reason and faith, with the first derived from Aristotle and the second derived from the Bible, undermines viewing Christianity as a worldview, having an integrated view of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Van Til says, “Both men [Warfield and Bavinck] view the place of Scripture as imbedded in their total outlook on life. They do not build the first story of their house by reason in order then to add a second story built by faith. Their outlook on life is a living whole. For convenience we speak of this total outlook on reality as a world and life view.” Van Til depicts Thomists as having a two-story house with the first story built from Aristotle’s philosophy, which is then used to reach the second story that is built from the Bible. But the first story is inconsistent with the second story, like a building that provides no way to reach the second floor from the first floor. In fact, the first floor is a collapsing floor because it undermines the possibility of reason, knowledge, and ethics."

It sounds like the God of the Bible, the source of all things, is sacrificed from the beginning…. That’s quite a blind spot. If I am interpreting the quote wrong, how would you ? even at risk of sounding objective. (You are a pretty fair minded guy from what I can tell ). Does the author get Aristotle wrong? That appears to be the concern.

Many issues are at play here. Can we just focus on one? And in any case, Van Til's commitment to Kantian and idealist categories represents a philosophical milieu far more diabolical than Aristotle.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I’m not sure how the order of being —— a product/order of God’s creation and knowing/gaining knowledge —— via the physical world and experience fits in CVT’s analysis. But I think his main distinction is between belief and unbelief. True and false origins. The unbeliever at worst gets it wrong and at best may have a slight conception but the truth is repressed to the point that they are in the dark. Doesnt this darkness have to be lifted first?

God is the order of being and is logically prior to everything. Our knowing, however, doesn't always begin with God. Before we can even say "I believe in God," we have used logical categories prior to our even getting to God.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
What's the website?
That quote seems a little off.

But here ….“In the wider context of his philosophy, Aquinas held that human reason, without supernatural aid, can establish the existence of God and the immortality of the soul; for those who cannot or do not engage in such strenuous intellectual activity, however, these matters are also revealed and can be known by faith.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Faith-and-reason

Seems at odds for us. A strange kind of overlap….between natural and supernatural knowledge of God via ‘intellectual activity.’ I’m assuming it only scratches the surface of Aquinas’ thought. I think it misses out on desire and what Luther termed the bondage of the will. Our “free will’ will only entertain certain notions based on our inclinations. Our inclinations are predisposed to higher things to the degree that our spiritual inclinations are restored. Aristotle and even Aquinas are products of times when inclinations toward higher, spiritual things were intellectual pursuits at the very least. We are living in a time that such pursuits seem to be waning and we are left with the need for true revelation as espoused in the written word. Just my 2 cents. I’m not sure how CVT is an idealist exactly. But I would think somebody who does apologetics is seeing a fuller picture without being too bogged down by philosophical proofs. CVT is starting with the revealed word as THE presupposition for all truth. Is that idealism? Natural revelation is sound, compelling supplements found in the order, design, purpose, etc., of creation. Nobody disputes those things, certainly not the believer. Other religions miss the mark. Liberals are highly religious and idealistic. But there is only one true religion.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
.“In the wider context of his philosophy, Aquinas held that human reason, without supernatural aid, can establish the existence of God and the immortality of the soul; for those who cannot or do not engage in such strenuous intellectual activity, however, these matters are also revealed and can be known by faith.” https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Faith-and-reason

Seems at odds for us. A strange kind of overlap….between natural and supernatural knowledge of God via ‘intellectual activity.’

I don't see the problem. Reason can establish that God exists, not what kind of God exists. Same with the soul. If I am not identical with my material body and the mind exists, then the soul follows.

I would also urge you to consult actual Thomist sources . Start with Feser.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
I don't see the problem. Reason can establish that God exists, not what kind of God exists. Same with the soul. If I am not identical with my material body and the mind exists, then the soul follows.

I would also urge you to consult actual Thomist sources . Start with Feser.
Sure. Unaided reason can provide a loose conception of those things. Aquinas is a brilliant thinker.

We can reason for we know that we are created male and female. Others reason some very strange things aided by their suppressed knowledge and depraved inclinations.
 
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