Buswell's critique of Van Til's Christian Apologetics

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Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Trying to keep the hungry hordes happy with new things to read, here's some historical apologetics:

Buswell – Van Til Exchange (1937) « - The Continuing Story -

In 1937, Cornelius Van Til sent a pre-publication copy of his work on Christian Apologetics to J. Oliver Buswell with a request for his review. The book was later published in 1939 by the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church. At 113 pages in length, the published version was slightly shorter than the version supplied to Buswell.
Dr. Buswell read the book and wrote an initial reply. Van Til then responded to that letter, and finally, Buswell replied with the substance of his critique of Van Til’s work. What is still unclear all these years later is how it was that the three letters were then gathered together, transcribed and reproduced. It is at least clear that the correspondence was distributed to a wider audience, since the same compilation, on 8.5″ x 14″ paper, is found in several different collections here at the PCA Historical Center.
The first two letters are reproduced in the post linked above, along with the first portion of the third letter. To do justice to the real substance of Buswell’s critique, as it appears attached to the third and final letter, really demands inclusion of the referenced portions of Van Til’s book. That will take some work, but perhaps by the end of the summer. Or if someone wants a summer project . . .

[There was a later Buswell-Van Til exchange in 1948, and I will plan to post that in the near future.]
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Puritan Board Senior
Interesting! I look forward to reading the full critique (but, alas, no.... I cannot afford another summer project!) Still, the exchange thus far has piqued my interest.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
Wayne, thanks for the good work. The main lines of criticism and response are already appearing at this early date.

Some kind of interaction had obviously taken place on "last Monday evening," which set the correspondence in motion. I wonder what took place.


Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Some kind of interaction had obviously taken place on "last Monday evening," which set the correspondence in motion.
I wonder what took place.

We may never know. However, with that hint in mind, I can review the very limited amount of CVT correspondence among the Buswell Papers,
and conversely, someone in Philadelphia could look through Van Til's Papers at Westminster. Not sure it's worth that effort, and finding an answer to
that question is really a shot in the dark, but you never know.

Douglas P.

Puritan Board Freshman
This is great, thanks for sharing!

My one overwhelming point of agreement with Dr. Buswell:

(4) Several of your terms I wish might be more specifically defined.

I love Van Til's response to # 2:

If Dr. Machen has shown that the resurrection of Christ is an historical occurrence he has done an inestimable piece of service. But if then the pragmatist philosopher comes along and says that that is an interesting item in this strange world but that it has no universal significance, the factual discussion is in itself for that man quite fruitless unless it is supplemented by or preceded by a discussion of the philosophy of fact.

It is this exact point which in my experience has opened the most eyes on the problem of evidentialism.


Tempus faciendi, Domine.

I don't know why the Reformed Episcopal seminary was the publisher of that volume. I do know that the REC used to be much more Reformed and that even in the 1970s there was a good relationship between Westminster and the REC seminary there in Philadelphia. I drove over there once for a book sale and it was an impressive campus.

I presume that their seminary had the ability and perhaps such interest in using the work as to warrant publishing it. Westminster at that point in time would not have had the financial ability, I don't think.
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