Inerrancy and Worldview by Vern Poythress

inerrancy and worldviewDetails:

Author: Poythress, Vern

Binding: Paperback

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers

Year: May 2012

ISBN#:  10: 1433523876
ISBN #: 13: 9781433523878

Publisher’s Description:  Though the Bible presents a personal and relational God, popular modern worldviews portray an impersonal divine force in a purely material world. Readers influenced by this competing worldview hold assumptions about fundamental issues–like the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life—that present profound obstacles to understanding the Bible.

In Inerrancy and Worldview, Dr. Vern Poythress offers the first worldview-based defense of scriptural inerrancy, showing how worldview differences create or aggravate most perceived difficulties with the Bible. His positive case for biblical inerrancy implicitly critiques the worldview of theologians like Enns, Sparks, Allert, and McGowan. Poythress, who has researched and published in a variety of fields—including science, linguistics, and sociology—deals skillfully with the challenges presented in each of these disciplines. By directly addressing key examples in each field, Poythress shows that many difficulties can be resolved simply by exposing the influence of modern materialism.

Inerrancy and Worldview’s positive response to current attempts to abandon or redefine inerrancy will enable Christians to respond well to modern challenges by employing a worldview that allows the Bible to speak on its own terms.

About the author:  Vern Poythress is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for 33 years. He has six earned degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of numerous books on biblical interpretation, language, and science.

Endorsements:  “I can think of no one in the world better qualified to write a defense of biblical inerrancy than my lifelong friend Vern Poythress. This book is no ordinary defense of inerrancy that merely focuses on proposed solutions to several difficult verses (though it does examine some of them). Rather, it is a wide-ranging analysis that exposes the faulty intellectual assumptions that underlie challenges to the Bible from every major academic discipline in the modern university world. I think every Christian student at every secular university should read and absorb the arguments in this book. It is profoundly wise, insightful, and clearly written, and it will surely strengthen every reader’s confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible as the very words of God.” – Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary

“Vern Poythress has written what I consider to be definitive books on many subjects, including biblical interpretation, language, science, and sociology. In Inerrancy and Worldview, he brings his insights from these disciplines and more together to address the relation of biblical inerrancy to worldview. He shows quite convincingly that the issue of inerrancy is not just a matter of asking whether this or that biblical passage is factual. Rather, our attitude toward the claim of biblical inerrancy depends on our general view of how God is related to the cosmos and to us as individuals and societies. And that general view, in turn, depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. The book gets deeper into the question of inerrancy than any other book I know.” – John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL

“Every new item that Vern Poythress writes is thoughtful, creative, and worth reading. This book is no exception. Among the many things I like about it is his emphasis on the personalist worldview of the Bible, as over against the impersonalism that dominates modern Western culture. Besides its crucial contribution to his own subject in clarifying how it is that God communicates to us through the Bible, I think this basic idea will be fruitful for a good number of other topics as well. Thanks, Dr. Poythress, and thanks, God, for giving him to the Church.” – C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary; author, The God of Miracles

“Vern Poythress has provided both the church and the academy a remarkable service withInerrancy and Worldview. Recognizing that the modern objection to Scripture is neither univocal nor objective, but rather varied and religious, he helpfully reframes the discussion in terms of competing worldviews. By surveying the various options for the allegiance of the modern mind, Poythress shows that not only is an inerrant Bible a reasonable expectation of a personal God, but our rejection of it is rooted not in evidence, but in our sinful rebellion against that God. With clear logic and pastoral care, Poythress leads us through an amazing tour of both the ‘wisdom of our age’ and the follies of our hearts, bringing us at last to the God who speaks—humbling our pride and setting our hearts free.” – Michael Lawrence, Senior Pastor, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon; author, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

“To our shame, the response of Christians to challenges to our faith can often be dismissive, shallow, defensive, or disrespectful. On the other hand, we can err too much on the side of tolerance for error when truth is under siege. In Inerrancy and Worldview, Vern Poythress shows us how to be neither fools nor cowards. Through intelligent, informed, insightful, and respectful engagement, key foundational faith defeaters taught in many disciplines at every secular university are explained and critiqued from a biblical perspective. Poythress challenges the challenges to biblical belief at the root of their assumptions. We are left with a solid basis and defense of the Christian way of thinking. Inerrancy and Worldview should be required reading for all who want to think more deeply about their faith and defend it within a skeptical culture.” – Erik Thoennes, Professor of Biblical Studies and Ttheology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, CA

Amazon Review by Adam Parker:   “Inerrancy and Worldview is the latest book from Vern Poythress. It is meant to be part of a new trilogy of books centered around challenges to the inerrancy of the Bible (the next book in the series, Inerrancy and the Gospels, is due out in October).

Poythress’ book thoughtfully explores the numerous reasons why many people (Christians included) balk at the idea that the Bible is inerrant. Poythress defines inerrant as meaning “it is completely true in what it says, and makes no claims that are not true.” He points out that attacks are multi-faceted: “some of the voices directly attack inerrancy. Others redefine it” (13).

And so the book is aimed at those who would attack inerrancy. Obviously, a book which covered merely objections to inerrancy would be incredibly long, and so Poythress aims at something more modest – and unique. “We will concentrate here on difficulties that have ties with the differences in worldview” (14).

At a basic apologetic level, this work is wholly presuppositional in its approach. Poythress never deigns to pretend the Bible may or may not be the word of God. He acknowledges that it is, and then proceeds to diagnose what is wrong with the skeptic – not the Bible. “People come to the bible with expectations that do not fit the Bible, and this clash becomes one main reason, though not the only one, why people do not find the Bible’s claims acceptable.”

Poythress interacts with a range of challenges from a worldview perspective: challenges from materialism, history, language, sociology, anthropology, psychology, perceived contradictions, challenges from our attitudes, and also from our own corrupt spirituality. Some of the most helpful work is done when Poythress utilizes Van Til’s personalism vs. impersonalism distinction to answer the ‘problem’ of miracles. What Poythress does most skillfully is to demonstrate that each and every argument against inerrancy begins with precommitments which distort one’s evaluation of inerrancy. The skeptic, for example, perceives contradictions in the text because he does not believe that God speaks through the Scriptures with a unified voice. He has worldview commitments which preclude possible solutions to perceived contradictions in the text.

Modernists have issues with the exclusivity of the Christian faith, as well as complaining of the Bible being a sort of ‘moral straitjacket.’ Even liberal ‘Christians’ have issues with inerrancy related to a host of beliefs which Poythress demonstrates to be unbiblical. There’s something here for every branch of unbelief – Christian and non-Christian alike.

The author has no illusions that this book is a one-size-fits-all case for inerrancy. It is not meant to be. It is specifically targeted towards dealing with unbelief at its root, not at its branches. He acknowledges repeatedly that sin is the root of the problems people have with the Bible. In the footnotes he frequently points readers to more substantive books on different subjects where issues can be explored further while plainly refusing to follow rabbit trails (even very attractive ones that would enrich the chapter) – a type of restraint I hope to learn someday.

I admire this book as a specially focused apologetic tool. It is thoroughly presuppositional, uncompromising, and refreshingly plain to read. I would not hesitate to put it in the hands of a believer who is struggling through inerrancy, but I do think there are better books, generally speaking, for unbelievers trying to discern if the Bible is what it claims to be. It wouldn’t hurt for those peripherally interested to simply read the chapters related to their own bugaboos. Also, I think the appendix (discussing the human authors of the Bible and their place in an inerrant text) is worth the price of admission alone.”


The complete book in Adobe PDF linked above is a gracious courtesy of Dr. Poythress from his and Dr. Frame’s website: If you enjoy reading the digital version, and if you are able, please consider purchasing a physical copy out of appreciation and to encourage Dr. Poythress.

What’s Your Worldview? by James Anderson

what's your worldviewDetails:

Author: Anderson, James N.

Binding: Paperback

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Crossway

Year: Jan 2014

ISBN#: 9781433538926


Publisher’s Description:

How do you view the world?
It’s a big question. And how you answer is one of the most important things about you.

Not sure what you’d say? Join James Anderson on an interactive journey of discovery aimed at helping you understand and evaluate the options when it comes to identifying your worldview. Cast in the mold of a classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, What’s Your Worldview? will guide you toward finding intellectually satisfying answers to life’s biggest questions—equipping you to think carefully about not only what you believe but why you believe it and how it impacts the rest of your life.

About the author:  James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Before studying philosophy, he completed his doctoral work in computer simulation. Anderson is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Endorsements:  “I can think of readers to whom I would not give this book: they like their reading material to be straightforward exposition. The notion of an interactive book, where readers are forced to choose distinguishable paths and interact with discrete lines of thought, finding their own worldviews challenged—well, that does not sound very relaxing, and it may be a bit intimidating. But James Anderson has written something that is as creative as it is unusual: he has written a book in clear prose and at a popular level that nevertheless challenges readers to think, and especially to identify and evaluate their own worldviews. If the style is akin to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, the content is at least as entertaining and far more important.” —D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“This book will become ‘the book’ that will be used by campus ministers, students, and a host of others who are constantly being drawn into conversations concerning worldviews. The layout of this book is ingenious, helpful, and engaging. The information found in these short pages will provide accurate long-term care for those on a ‘worldview journey.’” —Rod Mays, National Coordinator, Reformed University Fellowship

“What’s Your Worldview? is a brilliant concept, because each generation stumbles into its own ways to learn about God. Francis Schaeffer spoke about truth to many now old. James Anderson speaks to the young who grew up with ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, where the outcome depends on the choices readers make. A great gift for thoughtful teens who need to choose wisely.” —Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World News Group

“James Anderson’s What’s Your Worldview is a delightfully innovative apologetic. I know of nothing like it. It gets the reader to interact by asking crucial worldview questions. Depending on the reader’s answers, he is led to further questions, or to a conclusion. Animating the journey is a cogent Christian apologetic, showing that only the Christian worldview yields cogent answers to the questions. Anderson’s approach is both winsome and biblical, as well as being the most creative apologetic book in many years. I pray that it gets a wide readership.” —John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Thanks to James Anderson for filling a massive gap in apologetics and worldview thinking. This book is unique in that it is wholly and broadly accessible to readers of any background and educational level, and yet written by an accomplished Christian philosopher. Written with wit, clarity, cogency and simplicity, this book ingeniously guides the reader from a chosen worldview to its implications. Urging the reader to connect the conceptual dots of his own thinking, this book should lead its reader either to turmoil or to truth. This will now be the first book on my list for people who ask ultimate questions about Christianity and its relationship to other ways of thinking. Get this book, read it, then get more to give away to friends and family.” —K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, Covenantal Apologetics

“What’s Your Worldview offers a uniquely interactive approach to finding answers to life’s biggest and most important questions. It makes identifying your worldview, and perhaps replacing it with a better one, an enjoyable adventure.” —Tim Challies, blogger,; author, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

“There has been a plethora of books written about worldview in the past 25 years, but Dr. Anderson has done something much better—he has written a book that helps you discern your worldview, and then ask yourself some penetrating questions about it. Is all as it should be in your worldview? Read on, and find out.” —Rev. William Fullilove, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Assistant Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta

“For some time now, the church has been in desperate need of an accessible and practical tool that would help people evaluate the cogency and coherence of their worldviews. Finally, with this new book, that need is being met. James Anderson is one of the brightest new voices in the world of philosophical theology. You will not want to miss this book.” —Michael J. Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte; author, Canon Revisited

“Not the last word on worldviews, but quite possibly the first! What’s Your Worldview? is creative, clear, and fun, but with some ‘nice’ and necessary sharp edges. I hope and pray it will have the desired effect of making all those who read it stop and think (Isa. 44:19).” —Daniel Strange, Academic Vice Principal and Tutor in Culture, Religion and Public Theology, Oak Hill Theological College, London

“Dr. James Anderson has provided the church with a unique new tool to help the next generation be prepared to give the reason for the hope that is within them.” —Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director, The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics; author, How Then Should We Work?

Amazon Review by Mike Robinson:   “Worldviews are in dispute: Christian theism vs. modern atheism. Christianity vs. Islam. Truth vs. Eastern ideas. There are powerful and compelling arguments for the existence of the Christian God, but one wouldn’t know it if one only read the works of Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins. They assert numerous fallacious and deceptive arguments as they often erect the frailest of straw-men in order to push them down with the greatest of rhetorical ease. Most world religions are not much better since they generally rest on fideism. James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh; assoc. professor of theology & philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary) helps you interact with essential ideas by presenting probing questions about important worldview concepts and applications. How you answer will lead you to the next concept or subject. Anderson engagingly leads the reader to the discovery that only the Christian worldview supplies coherent and persuasive answers to ultimate questions (by means of a type of “game book” or CYOA). This is a very unique and winsome way to not only keep the reader’s attention, but teach him in a manner that may increase retention of essential truths.

You would think that atheism, Islam, finite Godism, and Eastern religions are forceful challengers to Christianity. But Anderson doesn’t merely argue that these views, as amusing as some are, do not reveal the evidential or philosophical actuality, but he guides the reader to the truth. “What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions” draws the student, step by step, to the reality that the Christian worldview has preeminent rational arguments and worldview cogency on its side. The reader will discover that Christianity categorically provides coherency and makes the most sense–even more, concurrently, it provides the foundation for a truth-filled worldview.

A worldview is an overall perspective of life. One sees and defines the world through a basic grid of presuppositions, a worldview. It is the rational network used to evaluate reality. A worldview is a set of beliefs (often unconscious) which affect the way people see and respond to the world. It is a rational paradigm that provides a unified system of analysis. It examines human experience as it provides a set of explanations regarding the problems of existence. Anderson rightly helps the reader understand the important role worldview analysis plays in the development of Christian apologetics as well as the growth of the ordinary person’s thought life.

In “What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions” topics include:

* The Truth Question
* The God Question
* The Freedom Question
* The Unity Question
* The Resurrection Question
* The Moses Question
* The Matter Question
* The Divinity Question
* The Muhammad Question
* The Salvation Question
* And much more

Different worldviews lead to different conceptions of reason, morality, and freedom. The person who goes astray from God’s word falls into many needless troubles and hindrances. One always ends up being a servant to the confines of one’s worldview.

An important function of a worldview is that it serves as an explanatory model of the world. A worldview informs a person’s:

* Description of the world.
* Epistemology (what one can know and how does one know it).
* Ethics (what are moral values and what precisely are they).
* Eschatology (where humanity and reality is headed).
* Objectives (purpose, procedure, and production: what is the purpose of humanity, what should men aim to build, and what course of action should be taken).

“What’s Your Worldview?” Anderson tackles a wide range of worldviews and theoretical categories. The reader can interact with dualism, atheism, Islam, monism, deism, finite Godism, Platonism, pantheism, and countless other worldviews.

The traveler discovers that a worldview consists of a number of background assumptions as well as ultimate beliefs–those are essential presuppositions used to view human experience. “What’s Your Worldview?” gently helps the reader identify many of these presuppositions that constitute the grid through which one observes the world. Presuppositions stand on that which one considers to be the foundation for truth. One’s presuppositions supply the source of their moral values and therefore the guiding source for their assessments and choices.

People tend to view the world in a way skewed to favor the elements essential to their worldview. Studies have demonstrated that people are inclined to think they are more intelligent and sensible than the average person. Obviously some people are engaged in defective reasoning. “What’s Your Worldview?” smoothly challenges one’s reasoning process at its core and ground. People generally view their worldview with foggy glasses (biased presuppositions) as they assume the weak and incoherent features of their worldview without critical inquiry. Anderson allows the reader to use one’s own critical analysis upon their worldview and the worldviews of others. The author fills a vital need within the modern church: worldview studies. “What’s Your Worldview?” is an innovative volume that is reader-friendly and accessible to those with little apologetic or philosophical training. As one digs in, Anderson guides with care, easiness, and appealing straightforwardness–this volume inventively escorts you from a selected worldview to its effects and consequences. Anderson gradually steers you to discover the result of your own ideas, as you either choose the truth or the unpleasant results of an incoherent worldview.

This is a book today’s generation urgently needs–an approachable and hands-on resource that helps the reader evaluate the cogency and soundness of the assorted worldviews jostling for their souls. Herein, students as well as ministers, find the solution. Since it is an interactive book, it is great for campus ministries, youth groups, teachers, and the busy pastor. No apologist should miss this book. Endorsed by D.A. Carson, Marvin Olasky, K. Scott Oliphint, and John Frame.”

View Sample Pages:  30 SAMPLE PAGES



Every Thought Captive by Richard L. Pratt Jr.

Richard Pratt, Every Thought CaptiveAuthor: Richard L. Pratt, Jr.

Binding: Paperback

Page Count: 166

Publisher: P&R Publishing

Year: 1979

ISBN#: 9780875523521

Description: A popular presentation of Reformed (or “Van Tillian”) apologetics for the layperson. Suitable for students, especically undergraduates. In down-to-earth language Richard L. Pratt, Jr. has given us this helpful study manual on apologetics, the task of defending the faith. Far from a theoretical exposition, this training manual teaches how to answer nonbelievers and to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Pratt shows how the biblical doctrines about humanity and our relationship to our Creator determine how we should do apologetics. Within this theological framework he examines the premises, attitudes, and specific steps involved in a genuinely biblical defense of Christianity. Illustrations and review questions help to make this a valuable tool for individual or group study.

About the author: Richard L. Pratt, Jr. is a graduate of Roanoke College. He holds the M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and the Th.D. in Old Testament Studies from Harvard Divinity School (while at Harvard he gained a reading knowledge of eleven languages.) He is currently a Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He is author of the books Designed for Dignity: What God Has Made It Possible for You to Be and He Gave Us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives and has been a contributor to several books and journals.

Endorsements: “Richard Pratt has written a manual to help ordinary people engage in apologetics along the lines of Van Til’s approach. In the process he has translated the philosophical terminology of Van Tillian apologetics into everyday language…both sound and stimulating.” – Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

“Presents Reformed (or ‘Van Tillian’) apologetics in genuinely popular language…In this respect, Pratt’s book is something of a breakthrough. I would expect and hope that this accomplishment will give the book a wide hearing.” – John M. Frame

Amazon Reviewer Nunja Bidnet: Van Til for the rest of us

“We’ve heard often in Evangelical circles the declaration that “No one has ever come to Christ by losing an argument.” These declarers are just using the wrong arguments, or at least have failed to ground their argument on a proper foundation. I would contend, after reading Richard Pratt’s Every Thought Captive, that in order for one to come to Christ, one must lose an argument. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,” (I Cor. 2:14) so all who have been saved lost an argument with – no, a war against – God and have been convicted by His revealed Word in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pratt’s goals in Every Thought Captive are simple but lofty. Heavily influenced by Van Til, but cognizant of the general inaccessibility of the revered apologist’s writing, Pratt hopes his work brings Van Til’s “worthwhile writings” within “the grasp of the average layperson.” Having minimal direct exposure to Van Til, I can’t say whether justice has been done to the man’s work, but Pratt does effectively outline a strategy that properly encourages, orients and humbles any rank-and-file would-be apologist for the daunting work we are called to do.

Pratt dedicates better than two-thirds of his book laying a “firm foundation” for the defense of Biblical Christianity. While many – maybe most, particularly those of evidentialists – apologetics works jump directly into “point-counterpoint,” Pratt wisely puts first things first. Pratt does not pay passing lip service to the idea that commitment to faith in Christ, with Scripture as its foundation, is the only Biblical approach to apologetics and evangelism. He hammers the point relentlessly. Not a bad thing, since the tendency of most is to default to what is comfortable. What is comfortable is what is found in most apologetics works – load us up with a bursting binder of facts and an exhaustive chronicle of cute one-liners meant to score rhetorical points then send us on our way to play the game on the non-believers’ turf by the non-believers’ rules. For Pratt, this method plays directly into our opposition’s hands. Pratt makes clear that the Christian apologist must use the Bible as the foundation for our defense, but also that the Bible itself, an object of scorn for the enemy, must be defended. The kings and generals analogy (p. 4) was effective – “It is clearly the generals’ responsibility to defend the king…according to the directives of the king himself.” A full clip of clever sound bites cannot accomplish Peter’s directive regarding a ready defense.

Pratt continues outlining the basis for an apologetic defense for ten “lessons.” The primary strength of the book is here. Pratt orients the believer in such a way that places him properly in relation to God. When one understands that it all began with God, who man was before sin, who man is in sin and what our redemption is in Christ, our function as apologists comes into clear focus. The only independent agent in the universe is God. Everyone and everything else is dependent and finite. The Christian must never attempt to loose himself from that anchor, or he becomes as deluded as the denier and an impotent apologist. Only our dependence on God produces “true knowledge.” Our attempts at independence are rebellion against God. And these attempts at independence are not merely futile, but death (Gen. 2:17). “Independence” results in reckoning all things, to quote Calvin, “by the yardstick of their own carnal stupidity.” (p. 31) As believers “restored according to the original character of the image of God,” dependence on God involves not “merely some portion of man…[but] his whole character.” (p.39)

This is not to say, as Pratt makes clear, that never may a believer refer to extra-Biblical sources to demonstrate Truth. He cites Paul to make the point that we may do so, but we must “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.” (Col. 2:8) The non-believer will insist that logic, reason and philosophy must be based on human “independence” and “neutrality,” an idea that Pratt prepares the apologist to dismantle completely. Fatal violence is done to the non-believer’s illusory regard for his “independence” by illuminating the contradictions on which he must rely in order to sustain his argument – absolute certainty and total uncertainty. On the other hand, “Christians are able to know and follow God’s revelation and therefore produce a philosophy which is not according to independent human perspectives.” (p. 51)

Pratt admits that both the believer and non-believer are committed to circular arguments, but the Christian holds to an objective, eternal and limitless God outside himself as the center, while the non-believer holds to himself and his limited, subjective perceptions, as if the world around us would cease to be once that non-believer did. The “neutral” non-believer’s circular reasoning sets himself up as the explanation for, or at least the explainer of, the universe. The believer need not be so arrogant. And Pratt implores the believer to avoid arrogance by maintaining a consistent life, a careful approach and correct procedure. (Lesson 8)

When Pratt moves to the “basic structure of a Biblical defense,” he does his best, in relying on Proverbs 26:4-5, to construct a practical apologetic approach. The “two-fold justification” model includes two three-step methods – the “argument by truth” and “the argument by folly.” Understanding that Pratt meant this to be a study manual, not an exhaustive, answer-every-challenge guide, the structure he lays out is not quite as simple for the layperson as he intended.

The steps in the “argument by truth” has the apologist properly place faith in Christ first and at the center, then offer Christian evidence for belief in the existence of God, then expose the non-believer’s rejection of the first two steps as arising from the non-believer’s commitment to independence. Pratt instructs that to be prepared to make such a defense, the Christian must know Scripture and maintain Christ as the center. Fair enough, true enough and easy enough, conceptually anyway.

Overall, Every Thought Captive proved to be a useful and accessible primer on the proper approach to the defense of Biblical Christianity. As John Newton in A Review of Ecclesiastical History (1769) wrote, “So long as the gospel of Christ is maintained without adulteration, it is found sufficient for every valuable purpose; but when the wisdom of man is permitted to add to the perfect work of God, a wide door is opened for innumerable mischiefs.” Pratt relates this message well in encouraging Christians to rely on the unshakable foundation of God’s revealed Word in preparing our defense.”

Sample Pages:

Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy by Gary North

Author Name: North, Gary
Keywords: theology
Book Title: Westminster’s Confession
Subtitle: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy
Pages: 385
Subject: Theonomy
Year of Publication: 1991

Description: “In the final days of October, 1990, the long-predicted book by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary finally appeared: Theonomy: A Reformed Critique. In response come Westminster’s Confession. It is both a negative and a positive statement. Theonomists believe that “you can’t beat something with nothing.” It is not enough to demonstrate that someone is wrong; you must also show what is correct. Cornelius Van Til made this principle the bedrock application of his apologetic method. It was not enough to demonstrate that his opponents’ systems of thought were internally inconsistent; he also showed why Christianity is the only logical alternative. But he left an incomplete legacy. He refused to offer an explicitly biblical alternative to the natural law theory that he had refuted. His system created a judicial vacuum. Into that vacuum have come two rival factions: the political pluralists and the theonomists. The battle is now engaged. Westminster Seminary’s problem for a generation – indeed, Calvinistic American Presbyterianism’s problem for two centuries – has been to justify a commitment to modern religious and political pluralism in terms of the Westminster Confession’s judicial standards. The faculty has been double-minded on this point: Proclaiming their commitment to Van Til’s apologetic method, they have simultaneously denied the idea that the Bible is the bearer of biblical blueprints or judicial frameworks for society. In short, they have abandoned any ideal of a Christian society, i.e., Christendom itself. This is Westminster’s social and cultural confession – a Theologically negative confession, proclaiming in the name of the original Westminster Assembly what society ought not to be, but never daring to suggest what it should be. In contrast,Westminster’s Confession offers a positive confession. It offers a biblical alternative. It restores the vision of Christendom.”

Amazon Reviewer Steven H. Propp:

Gary Kilgore North (born 1942) is head of the Institute for Christian Economics, and a prominent Christian Reconstructionist, who has written widely on many topics (including postmillennial eschatology).

He wrote in the Foreword to this often sharply-worded 1991 book, “This book is a refutation of Theonomy: A Reformed Critique… My book is what some people will call a ‘quickie.’ The Westminster book is, too, but it took about five years to get it into print… In short, I did not devote my full attention to writing this book… So it is hardly a great book. It does not have to be a great book. It just has to be better than ‘Theonomy: A Reformed Critique.’ … What I neglect will be covered by Greg Bahnsen in the book I commissioned him to write, No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics…”

He asserts, “(Westminster is) no longer willing to defend without qualification Cornelius Van Til’s absolute rejection of natural law theory, both ancient and modern. Here is Westminster’s dilemma: it had to break publicly with Van Til’s philosophy in order to justify its rejection of theonomy. It had to reject his monumental legacy to the Church. Yet even now, the faculty has refused to admit openly that most of them have made this break. This is the thesis of my book.” (Pg. xxii)

He points out, “Rousas Rushdoony does not belong to a local church, nor has he taken communion in two decades, except when he is on the road, speaking in a church that has a policy of open communion or is unaware of his non-member status. He has not spoken with (North or Bahnsen) for many years. But this is Rushdoony’s problem, not ours… Several Christian leaders have attempted to get me and Rushdoony to sit down and discuss our problems. I have in every case agreed, even flying to Washington, D.C., in 1981 to meet with him. He backed out of his agreement when I walked in the room, and he has refused all mediation ever since.” (Pg. 80-81)

He further reveals about his famous disagreement with his father-in-law, “The time has come to stop covering up what really is going on… I submitted to (Rousas J. Rushdoony’s) Chalcedon Report my monthly essay… Rushdoony sent it back and insisted that I rewrite it, saying that it was heretical, and even worse. I refused to rewrite it. I did not insist that he publish it; I just refused to rewrite it… he submitted a protest to our church elders informing them of our heresy, and asking them to discipline us (North and James Jordan) both… they replied that (the article) was somewhat peculiar but certainly not heretical… (Rushdoony) then publicly fired me and Jordan from the Chalcedon Report… What is this disagreement all about? It is (local church) Tyler’s disagreement with Mr. Rushdoony about the requirement of local church attendance and taking the Lord’s Supper…” (Pg. 334-336)

This book will be “must reading” for people wanting “in-depth” information about the Christian Reconstruction/Theonomy debate.”



Van Til’s Apologetic by Greg L. Bahnsen

by Greg Bahnsen

Author: Bahnsen, Greg L.

Publisher: P & R Publishing Company

Date: July 1998

ISBN-10: 0875520987 | ISBN-13: 9780875520988

Binding: Hardcover

Pages: 764

Author Greg L. Bahnsen was the scholar-in-residence at the Southern California Center for Christian Studies and an ordained minister iin the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California, specializing in the field of epistemology (theory of Knowledge). He also received M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Dr. Bahnsen was the author of numerous books and published articles and was a popular conference speaker. He was also a renowned public debater as evidenced in his interchanges with Muslims, Roman Catholics, Jews, and atheists. A complete list of his over 1,700 audio tapes, videos, articles, and books is available from the Covenant Media Foundation. description: More than a simple Cook’s tour of an influential apologist, Greg Bahnsen presents Van Til’s theology as he actually wrote it, but with the added commentary necessary to bridge the gap between the perceived audience of the writer and the layman. Bahnsen doesn’t oversimplify, but gives true commentary and context to spotlight the material in a way that even long-time Van Til readers will find refreshing.

Van Til didn’t shy away from the difficult aspects of presuppositional apologetics (which uses Christianity as a starting point rather than nature or hard science), but embraced them, incorporating them into his presentation of the Christian worldview. Bahnsen molds much of the souce texts into a comprehensive treatise on Apologetics, and covers such varied ground as:

  • The place of Apologetics in Theology
  • The nature, necessity and aim of Apologetics
  • Apologetics in relation to Epistemology (the study of the limits and validity of knowledge)
  • Comparative apologetics
  • The complexities and failures of unbeliefAlthough Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) authored over 250 separate pieces of material, he never released an in-depth systematic overview. This volume distills his thought on presuppositionalism, giving space to fully illustrate this biblically-based type of apologetical argument.


Faculty Review: This the the late Dr. Bahnsen’s testament to today’s defenders of the truth. It is an encyclopedic synthesis of the thought of Cornelius Van Til, who was arguably the most original apologist of the twentieth century. In the grand tradition of the Sentences of the fathers, this study will be a standard for years to come. – William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary

Faculty Review: Our Confident expectation is that this volume will prove effective both as an introduction to [Van Til’s] thought and for promoting a deepening understanding of it. – Richard B. Gaffin and K. Scott Oliphint, professors at Westminster Theological Seminary

Staff Review:, Cornelius Van Til’s distinctive, Reformed approach to apologetics (“transcendental,” “presuppositional,” and “covenantal”) stands as a milestone in the history of Reformed theology. Greg Bahnsen’s volume captures the significance of Van Til’s contribution in a way that preserves the details of his approach. Bahnsen’s lucid style brings greater clarity to Van Til’s corpus and is a must read for students of Van Til’s theology and apologetics. Bahnsen provides helpful discussions of the issue of ultimate authority and human knowledge, the impossibility of the contrary, the transcendental argument for God’s existence, and an epistemologically self-conscious apologetic. He also offers insightful treatments of the importance of Reformed theology for apologetics, the presuppositional conflict of worldviews, the relation of presuppositions and the use of evidence, and an analysis of competing apologetical systems (evidentialism and natural theology). Bahnsen also opens an illuminating window on Van Til’s relationship to Old Princeton (especially Warfield) and Amsterdam (Kuyper) and shows where he agrees and disagrees with each. Another hallmark is the judicious selection of primary readings. – Jeff Waddington – Westminster Bookstore Staff

Monergism Review: There is only one work to buy on Van Til and this is it. Bahnsen has written the definitive commentary on the works of the great thinker. Van Til is very hard to understand because his thought is deep and abstract. Bahnsen provides readings and analysis so that Van Til becomes assessable to everyone. This book is a goldmine of information, tackling the problems of unbelief and exposing them to the light of a “presuppositional apologetic”. If your not sure what “presuppositional apologetics” means this book is a good place to start. If you are a “presuppositional apologist” then you will fully agree- this book is worth every cent! The task Bahnsen has completed would be absolutely daunting, but nothing has been dummied down to insult the intelligence of the reader. At the same time, non-technical readers can understand it. I couldn’t even imagine where one would begin with a synthesis of Van Til, but Bahnsen gives us clarity where there has been much confusion. It is strange that one should start with Bahnsen instead of Van Til if they really want to understand Van Til. But this is true because “Van Til’s Apologetic” is the clearest, most accurately systematized introduction to Van Til available. Indeed, Van Til could not have done better! You have not studied apologetics until you have studied the works of Van Til and this book is all you need to accomplish that task. – B. K. Campbell


Amazon Reviewer A. Blake White: “Reading this book has been nothing less than ‘epoch-making.’ Dr. Van Til’s writings are voluminous, spanning 3 feet on a book shelf when combined. Greg Bahnsen has done the church a great service by compiling, and systematically organizing some of Van Til’s key writings into about 3 inches of shelf space (764 pp). The book is almost an anthology with running commentary by Bahnsen. Bahnsen usually opens each section with an intro, which is followed by many sections of Van Til’s writings pertaining to the relevant topic, with lots of footnotes from Bahnsen analyzing, adding, and answering critics along the way. Van Til can be hard to read in places, as he is very well read, and expects his reader to be familiar with the history of Western philosophy. Bahnsen is very helpful here in the footnotes. The book has 9 chapters:

1. An Introduction to Van Til’s Apologetic
2. The Task of Apologetics
3. A Simple Summary and Illustration
4. The Epistemological Side of Apologetics
5. The Apologetical Side of Epistemology
6. The Psychological Complexities of Unbelief
7. The Presuppositional Apologetical Argument
8. Comparisons and Criticisms of Apologetical Methods
9. Concluding Summary: How to Defend the Faith

It is saddening to know that this book has not and probably will not gain much of a hearing outside Presbyterian circles. Van Til really is a brilliant gift to the church and was crucial in the ‘Reformation of Christian Apologetics.’ One could not ask for a higher view of Scripture. Van Til took the lordship of Christ seriously, especially concerning the realm of knowledge.

–The gospel of the self-authenticating God speaking through Christ in Scripture offers man salvation, not only for his life, but for his science and philosophy and theology as well. (571)
–Christianity alone is reasonable for men to hold. It is wholly irrational to hold any other position than that of Christianity. Christianity alone does not slay reason on the altar of `chance.’ (730)
–Every Evangelical, as a sincere Christian is at heart a Calvinist. But witnessing is a matter of the head as well as the heart. If the world is to hear a consistent testimony for the Christian faith, it is the Calvinist who must give it. (582)
–So in presuppositional apologetics we seek to “remove the enemy’s foundation” by reducing his worldview to absurdity, thereby rendering the claims that constitute his case against the gospel unintelligible and demonstrating the necessity of the Christian worldview if we are to make sense of argumentation about reasoning about, and interpretation of, any element of human experience. (111)
–It is therefore mandatory that Reformed theologians urge their fellow Protestants everywhere to call upon modern man to interpret his life in terms of the book of God and therefore in terms of the God of the book. (713)”

Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith

From the introduction: “Cornelius Van Til’s doctrine of the Trinity has been variously viewed. On the one hand, it has been misconstrued as heretical or attacked as rash and dangerous by some. On the other hand, however, a not insignificant group of theologians and Christian writers has found Van Til’s doctrine of the Trinity to be a fruitful source for serious work to develop a truly Christian worldview. The contrast between the two groups’ evaluation of Van Til could not be greater. Evaluating Van Til is something of a theological problem, which has now become further complicated by recent studies of the doctrine of the Trinity which have been critical of Augustine’s formulation — the foundation of Van Til’s approach. A Reformed representative of those critical of Augustine is Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.1 who offers, in the place of the traditional statements of the doctrine, a social view of the Trinity.

This recent study of the Trinity invites reconsideration of Van Til’s view. Does Plantinga’s social view of the Trinity and recent critique of Augustine require a revision of Van Til’s approach? What about Van Til’s use of non-traditional language? Is it legitimate or is it a “novelty” that causes confusion? What are the worldview implications of Van Til’s view of the Trinity and does Plantinga’s view significantly alter these? To consider these and similar questions, we introduce and evaluate Cornelius Plantinga’s social view of the Trinity, briefly explain and attempt to defend certain aspects of Van Til’s view and compare it with Plantinga’s, and, finally, suggest a revision of Van Til’s view that sets the doctrine of the Trinity more clearly at the center of systematic and Biblical theology and the Christian worldview. It is my purpose to help bring Van Til’s profound exposition of the Trinity back into the discussion of this doctrine and, in that connection, to help stimulate further consideration of the worldview implications of the doctrine of the Trinity.” – Ralph Smith

I recommend Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith to anyone looking for more insight into Van Til’s teachings, the following link is to Rev. Smith’s website where you can read a couple of samples from the book: If you are a Van Tillian, and are involved in doing apologetics (especially on the internet), you may butt heads with someone introducing common misunderstandings of Van Til’s position on the Trinity, and this book along with Van Til’s writings should help clear things up.

Van Til: Defender of the Faith by William White

Author: White, William

ISBN: 840756704

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Pages: 233

Binding: Paperback

Product Description:

“He has been praised, condemned, quoted, misquoted, represented, misrepresented, understood, misunderstood, loved, hated, explored, ignored.”

So writes William White, Jr., in the introduction to the authorized biography of the greatest apologist in American theology, Cornelius Van Til.

Van Til, former professor at both Princeton and Westminster seminaries, turned the field of apologetics upside down by de-emphasizing man’s rational faculty. “To employ the launching pad of the naked intellect instead of the launching pad of Scripture is to fight the Lord’s battle in Saul’s armor. All thinking must begin where the Bible does: ‘In the beginning, God…; otherwise all is chaos.”

White skillfully unfolds the story of Van Til’s early years in the Netherlands and later in Indiana, his mutual love for learning and farming, his marriage to Rena Klooster, and his call to the ministry, and eventually to the university. The author reveals Van Til’s personal side: his sense of humor, adventure, and uncompromising conviction.

White traces Van Til’s philosophic development with care. But always, there is the humanity and humility of the man, his love of Scripture. White points out that Van Til, like Luther is “bold before man, humble before God.”

I highly recommend White’s book to anyone interested in Van Til, especially his personal life.. Perhaps you are familiar with Van Til the Apologist, Van Til the Professor, Van Til the Theologian, Van Til the Preacher, in the pages of this book, you will become familiar with Van Til the man, and what an interesting portrait of his life this is! For example, did you know Van Til was married to his wife Renee for 53 years? Not so many people can say the same, considering how common divorce is in America, including professing Christians. He was not a perfect man, and did not have a perfect life. He went through struggles and disappointments like the rest of us, at the same time, it is amazing all that God did through him! This great biography of Van Til is out of print, but can be found through searching.

Van Til, defender of the faith: An authorized biography