CMF has administered a great service for the Church of Christ!! Maybe I am late for the party, but the other day I discovered most if not all Dr. Bahnsen lectures/sermons/debates are now available to listen to and or download…for FREE! I will link to the Apologetics section below, but use the pull down menu to select other areas of teaching such as Philosophy, Ethics, Theology, and more. Oh yeah, years and years of listening and learning here and all so incredibly relevant.
Simply sharing out of appreciation, knowledge about a free introductory course on the theology and apologetics of Van Til by Dr. Lane Tipton on the Reformed Forum site:
Course info: (copied from the course page)
“Dr. Lane G. Tipton teaches a thorough introduction to the theology and innovative apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987), a pioneer in a distinctly Reformed approach to defending the faith.
This course investigates the context, structure, and significance of Van Til’s theology and apologetics. It is designed to introduce students to the main influences and fundamental concerns of Van Til’s theological approach to apologetics. Topics include a general introduction, Trinity, image of God, covenant, revelation, worldview, antithesis, common grace, and idealism. Special attention is given to the programmatic deep structures of Van Til’s thought, distinguishing his views from Roman Catholicism, Barth, and Evangelical approaches to theology and apologetics.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Articulate the core doctrines and principles of Van Til’s theology and apologetics with knowledge gained through primary sources.
- Apply Van Til’s critique of correlativism to contemporary theological mutualism.
- Identify the basics of Van Til’s doctrine of general and special revelation.
- Analyze and evaluate Van Til’s foundational critique of Kantian and Hegelian forms of idealism.”
THANK YOU DR. TIPTON AND REFORMED FORUM!
Sorry I have been away for awhile, life is crazy like that sometimes. So I wanted anyone wondering what happened with the debate a few months ago to know why it ended prematurely. Well, not long after my last response in the debate, upon giving me a third warning the administration/mods at “Christian Forums” decided to give me a month ban/vacation. In all of my years of posting there it was the first time I had been banned, and interestingly enough almost all of my warnings came as a result of posting in the political areas from a conservative perspective. But far more than this temporary setback I learned the person I had been in debate with Mark Kennedy was deathly ill. When I learned about it, that his projected time on earth was so short, it was pressed on my mind to walk away from the debate, with the thought he had greater and more important things to do than debate on the internet with someone he did not know personally. Another brother posted this Sept 29: “Mark Kennedy passed away earlier this month after a short battle with stage 4 Melanoma. It came on fast. He checked in to hospice care on 29 August. Please keep his family in your prayers.” Mark Kennedy home with the Lord
My dear readers please pray for his family as they deal with their loss.
Yours in the Lord
Hello readers, a couple of days ago my attention was brought to several videos produced by Christ Presbyterian Church of Magna, Utah, a congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (www.gospelutah.org). I have previewed this video titled “The Atheist Illusion” and can recommend this to all adults (at least PG-13) with mature minds. This wonderful video is filled with references to source materials which provides a historical context for the situation today and context to various views of the new prophets of atheism. True to the presuppositional approach, the atheistic worldview and it’s proponents are condemned in their own words and by the words from the legacy of heroes patterned before them.
From watching this insightful high quality video I have put together a small selection of public domain resources.
Resources for further academic research:
Hereditary Genius, Francis Galton (Prefatory Chapter x)
A Civic Biology (Evolution p.196)
Margaret Sanger (Founder of Planned Parenthood)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (p. 239)
Inside the Third Reich (p.96)
Hitler’s Table Talk (search “Christianity”)
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Go to and subscribe to Youtube channel “ancientpathstv” for more videos such as this one.
Good news readers, Reformed Fellowship Inc. has given me permission to post articles by Dr. Van Til from their past issues of Torch and Trumpet journal! Dr. Van Til wrote quite a few articles for the Torch and Trumpet especially from 1951-1959. My sincere gratitude to the wonderful people of Reformed Fellowship Inc.
To read a little history about The Outlook (formerly Torch and Trumpet) please visit this page:
Also would like to encourage others to express gratitude in one way or another to Reformed Fellowship for helping to keep the works of Van Til relevant today and to aid future generations in defending the Christian faith and persevering in the faith.
God bless and Soli Deo Gloria!
PS – Keep watch as new articles will be added to the “Van Til Articles” section, and I might post a few into the feed.
Hello readers, the following is the third and final (for me, I will explain in a separate post) response from me in this little debate I agreed to. MK = Mark Kennedy = the person I have been debating.
Brother Mark! I would briefly like to note how up to post #5 (post #6 appears to be a different story) you have made it difficult for me to disagree (which I can appreciate on one hand). Up to this point, if this were a normal conversation, I would most likely not respond thinking to myself; “we agree more than we disagree, so no big deal”, no need to nitpick. However, a no response here would defeat the purpose of having a debate, so please forgive the nitpicking which follows and if I come across as overly critical. I think precision is important to most Calvinists, perhaps more so than for many others. Please consider this as iron sharpening iron.
MK: You brought up two principles, I’m summarizing as ‘presuppositionalism applied to Science’, and the ‘subjectivism of autonomy’. Science is a limited epistemology limited to the study of natural phenomenon, what presuppositions we bring to such experiments, theories and laws of science belongs to a larger epistemology known as metaphysics. Metaphysics isn’t the paranormal and supernatural included into our naturalistic thinking, it’s the study of first principles that transcend all reality.
About twenty years ago in a college course titled “Changing Universe” from our primary text “The Five Biggest Ideas of Science” I recall reading briefly on the history of Science, and historically the first Scientists, were Philosophers. And then I think about Philosophers like Aristotle and his work “Categories” and the role and influence of his works on Western Civilization. His work “Categories” is indeed a philosophical work and considered the first written textbook on formal logic.
Science as an epistemology is an incomplete epistemology. Every Scientist has an epistemology and for example must depend on transcendental laws of logic or laws of thought to interpret the phenomenon and conduct scientific procedures.
Science can be defined as:
“A branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged andshowing the operation of general laws” Dictionary.com
Epistemology can be defined as:
“A branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.” Dictionary.com
One branch of epistemology is the philosophy of Science, and I acknowledge the connections, however as you note, Science is limited to the natural, therefore the epistemology is limited to the natural, but at the same time is dependent upon transcendentals or metaphysics, another branch of philosophy. However there is a problem in all of this, a naturalistic epistemology presupposes autonomy which is at odds with transcendental realities or absolutes. So my contention here is that metaphysics cannot be justified or sustained without dependency on the supernatural.
Additionally, the reason Science is limited to naturalism is due to the Scientific Method, so it is not so much epistemology, as it is dependency on the predictability involved with test results through the five senses. The apologist who emphasizes experience though may point to the conversion testimonies of countless Christians throughout the centuries as evidence of the supernatural. The empirically verifiable differences in persons who experience Spiritual regeneration. Differences in thought and behavior and responses to external phenomenon.
In summary to this section of response, I agree Science and Evidential apologetics are categorically two different fields, and naturalistic Science defined as such indeed is limited, but the naturalistic presuppositions also reveal severe limitations of the evidential apologetic as a primary defense of….faith. We should embrace our Calvinism in every field, without a Revelational (Transcendental) Epistemology, we shall never pass beyond the natural to the supernatural, we shall never interpret the facts of Science as the God created facts in our interpretation of facts.
MK: Ubiquitous to reality is that God being self existing and self evident there is a light that shines for every soul that comes into the world, leaving us without excuse (John 1:9; Rom. 1:20). One of the things we presuppose is the existence of God, St. Thomas Aquinas describes five ways of proving God exists, argument from motion, efficient causes, possibility and necessity, gradation of being, and design (The Existence of God can be proved in five ways.). His conclusion to each arguments was that, ‘This all men speak of as God’.
Unfortunately the natural theology of St. Thomas Aquinas did not go far enough; if we stop there we have not even proven that the God who exists is the God of Christianity. However even what is called natural theology presupposes the Scriptures, and apologists appealing to natural theology should acknowledge their Christian presuppositions beforehand. The non-Christian will deny they are made in the image of God, and deny the law of God written on their heart, because all men are sinners and men in bondage to sin suppress the truth of God.
MK: The court in Dover dismissed this argument as absurd and said, just a Thomas Aquinas, was that the designer was clearly and obviously God. For the apologist, especially the Calvinist, it is already presupposed that you are aware of the divine attributes of God and his eternal nature. That’s what I like about Presuppositional Apologetics and what I don’t like, is it need not stop there. That’s a given, an axiom of Christian theism that all men know. We do well to emphasize that point since God has made it clear to them.
And it does not stop there, apologists with a Biblical anthropology need to recognize the antithesis between the regenerate man and the man dead in sins and trespasses, the regenerate conscience and the seared conscience, the renewed mind and the carnal mind. We can appeal to what men know all day long, but can it avail when men suppress the truth of what they know?
How are we bringing the non-Christian to confrontation with the Gospel if we’re only holding them accountable in a Romans 1:18-20 way?
Frankly, we can’t, God alone has the power to reach men with the lesser light of revelation in the things that are made, and no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44).
I agree God alone has the power to reach men, but he has chosen to reach men with the greater light of the Gospel of Christ. How can men come to know Christ except by the Scriptures? The things that are made declare the existence of God, but do not declare the Gospel of Christ.
MK: What we can do is a due diligence with regards to knowing our own history found in the pages of Scripture. We have a witness there that spans human history, past, present and the very near future. At a minimum we can affirm the tradition authorship and if given to Christian scholarship, learn the intricacies of traditional authorship and the unique preservation of our sacred texts.
I love Bibliology and it is of great value to the Christian, however from the perspective of the non-Christian, even if and when they affirm the historicity of Biblical tradition, people, places, and things, the buck stops there and at best they approach the enlightenment of Deism. It is one thing to look at the Bible as literature and another to affirm it is of Divine origin.
MK: The epistemology related to the historicity of an event, certainly the epic miracles surrounding the Exodus and the resurrection are formidable tasks, given the high degree of skepticism even in our own seminaries.
Formidable is saying it lightly, apart from the miracle of monergistic regeneration in the heart of the non-Christian, they will always exit out the back door in retreat to their most basic presuppositions of their worldview.
MK: But time and time again, even in the wildness of the creation/evolution controversy I’ve seen well read, hard core skeptics, silenced by a formal presentation of the facts.
Certainly I too believe there is great value in silencing critics and skeptics for the sake of the faithful, for the sake of the layman, and the believer struggling with doubts.
MK: Evidential apologetics is indispensable to Christian scholarship, the transcendent principles Presuppositional apologetics are not in conflict with that, but rightfully should be in concert with evidential apologetics and epistemology.
Without a transcendental Revelational Epistemology, Evidential apologetics is limited to naturalistic epistemology of the Scientific method, and Supernaturalism is out of question, and likewise justification for metaphysics without supernaturalism is a lost cause. So evidential apologetics without Presuppositional apologetics is an exercise in futility.
MK: Adam was created from the dust of the earth, created from the earth for the earth. Even though he was more then that, we all exist on an earthly plane. Is it somehow surprising that men in their natural selves can only see the natural plane? With miracles abounding the children of Israel turned in their hearts back to Egypt, they stoned the prophets and crucified the author of life. How do we bring them to a supernatural worldview? God alone can pierce that darkness and we should have every confidence he can and does.
Exactly, God alone by a sovereign supernatural mongeristic work of the Spirit in regeneration.
MK: We have a well developed soteriology but I’m not quite sure that anthropology is often revisited in our apologetics.
Ahh now you’re approaching the historical problem of traditional apologetics, without a Biblical anthropology, traditional apologetics alone are not sufficient nor thoroughly Biblical to be;
“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
“The only basis, the only presupposition, that allows for factuality and the scientific enterprise is the truth of Scripture. Without the Bible, science has no order in nature to expect, and the scientist finds himself adrift between abstract timeless logic and pure ultimate potentiality – or “pure chance.” The world of actuality is only an accident, and the “universe” (if there is such a thing) cannot be known since there is no known connection between sense experience and analytic thinking, no reason why irrational dreams are not as true as rational thought.
The scientist must believe that he confronts a system when he does his work, or else the work would be futile. That system is either the result of the purposeful plan of the sovereign God, or it is the reflection into the unknowable “universe” of the ordering mind of man – which in its turn is equally unknowable. If the scientist refuses to presuppose the truth of Scripture (which is actually an epistemological impossibility), he will have neither a true universe to investigate or any reason to suppose he has the ability to do so. The Bible provides the only possible presupposition for all thought and science.” – Greg Bahnsen, PA001 Presbyterian Guardian 40:1 (December-January,1970-1971), © Covenant Media Foundation — 800/553-3938.
Read the full article: Revelation, Speculation and Science
“It was useful to seek to apply the method of reasoning discussed in the previous chapters to the various schools of philosophy about us. However, since we have constantly sought to bring out that all forms of antitheistic thinking can be reduced to one, and since the issue is fundamentally that of the acceptance or the rejection of the concept of God, it may suffice to apply the analogical method of reasoning in an argument with those who hold to the “scientific method” of the day. That scientific method is agnostic. It claims to be willing to accept any fact that may appear, but unwilling to start with the idea of God.
Reasoning analogically with this type of thought, we seek to point out that it is psychologically, epistemologically and morally self-contradictory. It is psychologically self-contradictory because it claims to be making no judgment of any sort at the outset of its investigation, while as a matter of fact a universal negative judgment is involved in this effort to make no judgment. It is epistemologically self-contradictory because it starts by rejecting theism on the ground that its conception of the relation of God to the universe involves the contradiction that a God all-glorious can have glory added unto him. By this rejection of God, agnosticism has embraced complete relativism. Yet this relativism must furnish a basis for the rejection of the absolute. Accordingly, the standard of self-contradiction taken for granted by antitheistic thought presupposes the absolute for its operation. Antitheism presupposes theism. One must stand upon the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist.
Finally, agnosticism is morally self-contradictory since it pretends to be very humble in its insistence that it makes no sweeping conclusions, while as a matter of fact it has made a universal negative conclusion in total reliance upon itself. The “natural man” is at enmity against God.” Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Table of Contents Chapter 16 A Sample of Christian Argument
“If we are to defend Christian theism as a unit it must be shown that its parts are really related to one another. We have already indicated the relation between the doctrine of Christ’s work, the doctrine of sin, and the doctrine of God. The whole curriculum of an orthodox seminary is built upon the conception of Christian theism as a unit. The Bible is at the center not only of every course, but at the center of the curriculum as a whole. The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication. It tells us not only of the Christ and his work, but it also tells us who God is and where the universe about us has come from. It tells us about theism as well as about Christianity. It gives us a philosophy of history as well as history. Moreover, the information on these subjects is woven into an inextricable whole. It is only if you reject the Bible as the word of God that you can separate the so-called religious and moral instruction of the Bible from what it says, e.g., about the physical universe.
This view of Scripture, therefore, involves the idea that there is nothing in this universe on which human beings can have full and true information unless they take the Bible into account. We do not mean, of course, that one must go to the Bible rather than to the laboratory if one wishes to study the anatomy of the snake. But if one goes only to the laboratory and not also to the Bible one will not have a full or even true interpretation of the snake.” – Van Til, Christian Apologetics Chapter 1 The System of Christian Truth