A Van Til Glossary by John M. Frame

Hello friends, I wanted to bring special attention to an article by John M. Frame. Before I forget, here is a link to the article in it’s entirety: http://www.frame-poythress.org//frame_articles/2000VanTilGlossary.html

Next, I’d like to quote a few definitions, words often misunderstood…

Absolute Personality: VT’s basic characterization of God. Unlike any non-Christian view, the biblical God is both absolute (a se, self-existent, self-sufficient, self-contained) and personal (thinking, speaking, acting, loving, judging).

All-conditioner: VT’s characterization of God in “Why I Believe in God” (see Bahnsen, 121-143). God is the one who ultimately influences all reality, including our own thinking and reasoning about him.

Analogy, analogical reasoning: (1) (Aquinas) Thinking in language that is neither literally true (univocal), nor unrelated to the subject matter (equivocal), but which bears a genuine resemblance to that subject-matter. (2) (VT) Thinking in subjection to God’s revelation and therefore thinking God’s thoughts after him.

Antithesis: The opposition between Christian and non-Christian thought.

Autonomy: The attempt to live apart from any law external to the self. To VT, this is the paradigm attitude of unbelief.

Borrowed capital: The truth known and acknowledged by the unbeliever. He has no right to believe or assert truth in terms of his own presuppositions, but only on Christian ones. So his assertions of truth are based on borrowed capital.

Neutrality: Trying to think or live without making a religious commitment or ultimate presupposition. In VT’s view, this is impossible. Attempting it presupposes a commitment against the true God.

Objective Knowledge, Truth: Knowledge or truth whose truth does not depend on what man thinks.

Point of contact: A belief held in common between two people that enables them to reason toward further agreement. In VT, particularly the point of contact between believer and unbeliever. For VT it is found, not in a common world view, but in the true knowledge of God that the believer has, and the unbeliever also has, but suppresses.

Predication: attaching a predicate to a subject; hence, making an assertion. VT says that only the Christian world view makes predication possible.

Presupposition: (1) a belief that precedes other beliefs; (2) a belief that governs other beliefs; (3) ultimate presupposition: the belief that governs all other beliefs, or the most fundamental commitment of the heart.

Selfattestation, self-authentication: In any system of thought, the ultimate authority justifies itself. For VT that ultimate authority is God, especially when speaking in Scripture.

Starting point: In VT, synonym for “presupposition.” Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily refer to a beginning point in time, but rather to a belief that governs other beliefs.


For those who might not know, John M. Frame studied under the late Dr. Van Til, and has ever since remained one of his most well known and beloved “disciples”, he is one of two major interpreters of Dr. Van Til ( the other is the late Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen). His writings are invaluable to gaining a greater understanding of Dr. Van Til.


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