What was Van Til's specific starting point?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by BayouHuguenot, Oct 1, 2014.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I have read probably 7/10 of CvT's work, yet I am struggling to remember if he said the Christian's starting point was the Ontological Trinity or the Scriptures. I seem to remember that Clarkians accused CvT of starting with the Ontological Trinity instead of the Bible.
     
  2. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    He generally said, coordinatedly, that his starting point was the ontological Trinity and the self-attesting Christ of Scripture, which brings into view the God who is there and the supreme revelation of Himself in the Son who testifies to and is testified of in the Holy Scriptures.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  3. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The self-attesting God of Scripture was the starting point for CVT. The Trinity was the answer to the philosophical problem of the one and the many. It may be that this philosophical use of the doctrine and his paradoxical method led to his rather odd formulation that God is one person.
     
  4. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Jacob:

    I've written on your question here and there, but I'll link to my friend Scott Oliphint's piece which does a good job in a brief space showing the dual starting point of the ontological Trinity (as revealed in Scripture) and the self-attesting Christ (as also revealed in God's Word); in other words, the Triune God and the Incarnation, both as testified to in the Word of God, is his starting point. Certainly CVT evoked the ontological Trinity as the solution to the great problem of the one and the many because that is fundamental to all reality, which is to say, that he adduced the ontological Trinity in quite a broad fashion.

    Here is Scott's piece on Van Til: Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  5. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It could be a terminological difference. The Trinue God is the starting point for "apologetics" is a different concept to the Trinue God being the starting point for "everything."

    It is obviously the case that the God Who attests to Himself in Scripture is the Triune God. The Trinity is not to be added to the concept of God but is essential to it. CVT often made that point. But this Triune God is only known through Scripture. Hence in his Credo he stated, "The self-attesting Christ of Scripture has always been my starting point for everything I have said."
     
  6. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, indeed, the Triune God (the ontological Trinity) of the Bible and the self-attesting Christ of Scripture is Van Til's starting point in apologetics and evangelism, which he sees as of a piece, as Scott article points out.

    Van Til's approach is quite integrative and organic. This is what leads him to say what he does, infelicitously, about God being one person. He so wants to express the unity of God (who is three persons), emphasizing that God is fully self-actualized and that there is no "leftover" essence that is not expressed in the persons, that he resorts to such unfortunate language. He said God is three persons and one person (though equivocating on the meaning of "person"), wanting to stress that God could be spoken of in this fashion because He acted in such perfect harmony of person and purpose. John Frame in Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought has a good treatment of this. I don't have the book at hand but I recall it as being around p. 174ff.

    Peace
    Alan
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Prof Strange,

    Thank you. I will look into it.
     
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