Recently it has been brought to my attention that despite his lengthy work addressing the concept, there are still people today who will make the claim that Dr. Van Til was an idealist (or suggest an influence on him and him unaware of it). This is because of similarities people project between Immanuel Kant and Van Til concerning transcendentalism. Rest assured, Dr. Van Til not only was not an idealist, but clearly against idealism, and quite aware of idealism, as you will be able to prove with this work. On with the formal details…
CHRISTIANITY AND IDEALISM.
Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1955. 139 pp.
Having been accused by the Calvin Forum writers of being under the influence of idealism, this collection of book reviews on modern idealistic philosophy (1930–1942) was published in order to clarify his opposition to it.
1. God and the Absolute [1930.A]
2. Recent American Philosophy [1937.C]
3. The Theism of A. E. Taylor [1939.B]
4. Philosophical Foundations, John Thomas [1941.B]
5. Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, A. A. Bowman [1939.A]
6. A Sacramental Universe, A. A. Bowman [1940.A]
7. The Nature and Destiny of Man, Reinhold Niebuhr [1941.C]
8. The Logic of Belief, D. Elton Trueblood [1942.B]
9. The Doctrine of God, Albert Knudsen [1930.D]
10. Kant or Christ? [1942.C]
“From time to time I have written on the relation of idealist philosophy to Christianity. It is obvious that such philosophies as materialism and pragmatism are foes of Christianity. It is less obvious but no less true that Idealism and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Christianity teaches man to worship and serve God the Creator. Idealism, no less than materialism or pragmatism, teaches man to serve and worship the creature. Idealism has a language which resembles that of Christianity but its thought content leads inevitably toward pragmatism. That is the idea expressed in the articles that are herewith reproduced. The relation between Idealism and Christianity has recently become a controversial issue among Reformed Christians. This accounts for the republishing of these articles.”-from the Preface
As you can see the accusation is nothing new, and from the first line in the preface, Dr. Van Til could not be more clear about his position. Read it for yourself, share it with philosophy students, and people with the integrity and humility to admit error, misguidance, misleading, and misunderstanding.
The following video selections come from the Westminster Theological Seminary videos on Vimeo Source: http://vimeo.com/westminsterts/videos The goal here is to gather and create awareness of the videos related to this blog.
Notice any familiar faces in the framed photos behind him? 😉
“According to Bavinck apologetics cannot precede systematics. A true apologetics, he says, presupposes dogma. 5 There is in Christian dogmatics no place for reason as an agency by which, independently of the truth of Christianity, a natural theology may be established. The Roman Catholics are mistaken when they seek to work out a natural theology independently of Scriptures. There was a time, says Bavinck, when Reformed theologians also fell into this mistake. So, for instance, S. Van Til divided his work on theology into two parts, one dealing with natural and one with revealed theology. 6 But all this, says Bavinck, was due to false philosophical influences upon theology. He wants to return to the position of Calvin for whom Scripture was the eyeglass through which the Christian should read the book of nature. 7 “Originally natural theology did not serve the purpose of gradually leading up to revealed theology. In studying natural theology, theologians did not provisionally adopt the position of reason in order by reasoning and proof to climb up to the position of faith. On the contrary, the theologian stood upon the position of faith and in the attitude of faith looked upon nature, and thus with his Christian eye, and by means of Scripture, he would find traces of that God which from the Scriptures and through Christ he had learned to know as his heavenly Father.” 8 To this he adds: “Even if there is a knowledge of God through nature, this does not mean that there are two principles in dogmatics. Dogmatics has only one principium externum, namely, the Scriptures, and only one principium internum, namely, the believing reason.” 9 – Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, Chapter 5, A. The Position of Herman Bavinck
“The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought” published in 1971. This is an interesting and important work, as relevant today as ever. In the first chapter Dr. Van Til primarily discusses Reformed apologetics in relation to John Calvin’s Institutes. The second chapter dealing with Roman Catholicism, also deals with classic Greek philosophers, contrasting Thomas Aquinas with John Calvin. Chapter three deals with the philosophy and religion of Immanuel Kant and his influence within Protestantism. Chapter four is an analysis of Richard Kroner and Paul Tillich. Chapter five is a response to modern Catholicism. The last chapter six is a response to the modern ecumenical movement.
“This little volume is designed to aid the Reformed pastor in his work of helping high school and college students face the challenge to their faith presented in their classes on science, philosophy, and religion.
To be able to help his young people the Reformed pastor must himself have some acquaintance with modern science, modern philosophy, and modern religion. But, more than that, he must see clearly for himself that unless science, philosophy, and religion frankly build upon the authority of Christ, speaking his Word in Scripture, they can offer no coherent interpretation of life. Modern thought has repeatedly, in attempting to explain reality, shown its own incoherence.
The first chapter sets out to deal comprehensively with the relation of Christianity to modern thought. It can be read as a complete unit by itself and is, as such, the basis of what follows.
The second chapter deals with traditional Catholicism, the third with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant as the basic source of modern Protestantism, the fourth with modern Protestantism and its relation to twentieth century philosophy, the fifth with modern Catholicism, and the sixth with Ecumenism. In each case the effort is made to show the Reformed pastor how he may relate himself to these movements. The argument of the book is that only the Reformed faith can truly present the gospel as a challenge to modern unbelief.”
Today I am adding a collection of 18 reviews from 1940-1949 by Cornelius Van Til. These include reviews of a book about the philosophy of John Dewey, the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, a couple of books by Karl Barth, a book by Abraham Kuyper, and more. You might ask or wonder what the value of these old reviews of old books could possibly be. These reviews can serve as primary source examples to help us learn how to apply, how to put into practice and use a presuppositional or Van Tillian approach for academic reviews and more generally, every area of life.
One of my overall objectives for this blog/site is to bring together under one roof, as many Van Tillian resources as possible. With that said, this short post is long overdue (my how time slips by, I’ve had CMF bookmarked for nine or ten years now lol).
For the record, it appears that Covenant Media Foundation owns the rights to the wealth of articles in the following link: GREG BAHNSEN ARTICLES
The articles address many different topics including: Apologetics, Authority, Autonomy, Christian Ethics, Critiques of Evidentialism and Classical Apologetics, Epistemology, Presuppositionalism, The Problem of Evil, Theology, Inerrancy, and Limited Atonement.
Fortunately the articles can be saved and copied, and converted into other formats such as pdf, epub, and mobi.
From all of my searching Covenant Media Foundation appears to have the most comprehensive collection of articles by Dr. Bahnsen on the web, if not a nearly complete monopoly on everything Greg Bahnsen. I hope one day, CMF will be a little more generous with at least a select portion of their wealth of resources. In the meantime, Christians lacking financially will have to settle for the free articles, a handful of mp3’s, and the select few YouTube offerings.