Is Van Tillianism Foundationalist?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by BayouHuguenot, Mar 8, 2015.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Not necessarily. Even my wide definition of foundationalism excludes a lot of major thinkers (Putnam, Rorty, all of postmodernism, Gordon Clark)

    My interest was in seeing what the two have in common. I do not think they are synonyms.

    I hold to PBB. There is nothing wrong with it. I just reject the modern construals of it. I don't fault CvT for holding to PBB (though that is more true of Bahnsen than CvT).

    Most Clarkians told me that to the degree they keep up with modern discussions, they hold to something like Coherentism. That was Geisler's reading of Clark, anyway.

    That is interesting about indirectly provingit.

    Why do research at all, then? But to find the answer to a question.
     
  2. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman

    Quotes below from: Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2008.

    From Van Til's in the foreward by K. Scott Oliphint as follows:

    page x-xi:
    Secondly, God is Van Til's 'presupposition'. God's written Word is just that - God's Word. When the preacher preaches God's Word the preacher is doing that, preaching - God's Word. That is Him. God is His Word. God is simple (no division in God: God has unity in Himself).

    Thirdly, I quote Van Til from the same book:

    page 127-128:
    Yes God is the 'presupposition', but to know who that God is, or in other words, what kind of God He is, involves God's revelation to man, i.e. Holy Scriptures. So in order to presuppose about God and to begin a discussion of God's true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness for His creature, i.e. man, man therefore has to go to His now written Word to bring any meaning, not only to the discussion, but to reality itself. A reality, by the way, created by God who is literally the starting point of all of this. 'This' being not only creation but God's work of redemption by Christ Jesus.

    More Van Til:

    pg. 139:
    pg. 374:
    pg. 374n43: [This footnote is to what I quote directly above on pg. 374],
     
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Thanks for the principia quote. That's what I was looking for.

    I wonder, though, since Van Til is saying his view of principia is that of Bavinck, and Bavinck followed Turretin, would Van Til hold to the same principial epistemology? This is quite interesting, since I debated this issue with some cultists at the Facebook Level-Headed (sic!!!!!) Christian Reconstruction group, and they scorned Turretin.
     
  4. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Sophomore

    Jacob, I can see some in Reconstructionism scorning Turretin. What exactly was the context? Did they claim he was a rationalist?
     
  5. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman


    There is much about this in "Defense of the Faith" not only a comparing between Van Til and Amsterdam (Bavinck) but Old Princeton (Warfield). Van Til is more strict about this principle than the other two from the writing.

    pg. 374:
    pg. 351:
    Outside of scriptural certainty is probability. John Gerstner who broadly approaches apologetics like Warfield and Bavinck, which R.C. Sproul broadly does as well, do so by starting not with God and His revelation, but they start with 'reason'. By starting with 'reason' or anything outside of scriptural certainty the conclusion is always one of 'probably'. Which is not necessarily terrible in everyday life, but when it comes to God and His Word which He has given for our certainty to certain things in our life (whatever God has revealed for sure in the Holy Scriptures) is well - certain.

    As an aside, I am comfortable with how science operates in 'probability' or 'statistically' or even to what will happen when I cut the grass. There are probabilities to consider even when we drive a car and that is ok. God has revealed certainties and then other things God has kept them unrevealed from us. Apologetically speaking, I am comfortable with these understandings because outside of scripture certainty even other self-proclaimed Christian apologetics as to 'what reality is' and 'what kind of God is He' admit, as Gerstner did, that in the end their apologetic starting point only goes to 'probably' and then after all that reasoning if they want to share the certainty of God's revelation they will have to go to the scriptures. Van Til starts at the scriptures. Even other apologetic methods have to end up there anyways in time. Van Til's case on this matter is that those who by not starting with God and His revelation the uncertainty opens the door to defenselessness (which is not being apologetic) which for Van Til compromises Christianity [see Van Til's chapter six on "Christian Apologetics: The Problem of Method"]. I know Van Til also discusses science and technology in his writings to demonstrate how a Christian understanding is the only understanding for the interpretation of the science and technology of yesterday and today which Van Til calls "borrowed capital" and my professor called "stolen capital".

    pg. 27: Van Til,
    Footnote to the quote directly above:

    pg. 27n1:
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I asked the question whether the Transcendental Argument necessitated an internalism with regard to basic beliefs. we then got onto the subject of Turretin and a writer for American Vision said, "Too bad for Turretin." Granted, it wasn't the mos scathing critique, but it does show the danger of doing theological reflection independent of, and sometimes with arrogance to, our betters.

    There were other things but I can't remember the exact conversation. I think I have it on my email somewhere.
     
  7. Toasty

    Toasty Puritan Board Sophomore

    How would you respond to someone who asks this: How do you know that the belief that the Bible is the word of God is self-justifying?

    Do you respond by saying that everyone has to have self-justifying beliefs and that everyone is living off the borrowed capital of Christianity?
     
  8. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I can agree that there are similarities but there are also, don't mind the pun ;) , foundational differences such that they can't be considered to be in the same group.

    To indirectly prove something is one area where I see massive differences between the two. A direct proof is more along the lines of a deductive or inductive argument. An indirect argument is more transcendental in nature in that the presuppositions of Christianity must be assumed in order to make sense out of our experience. A deductive or inductive method may or may not use PBB as premises to directly prove some sort of conclusion.

    As far as being internalist or externalist, I never really thought about it honestly. I would say though, off the top of my head, probably in some ways both. But that is a very interesting line of questions, thanks for bringing that up. I'll have to think about it. Good thread Jacob.
     
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate


    Yes and no. The method is to show as persuasively as possible how nothing in life makes sense without the truth of our faith. So the method is to indirectly show how the bible is self authenticating by directly showing how nothing in life makes sense unless Christianity is true.
     
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    :cheers2:
     
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I almost typed a response to this, but then I realized there were more issues under the surface. Good question.
     
  12. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Sophomore

    That is certainly a danger for us all. I was curious because I have found some on those circles to readily dismiss non-Reconstructionist views as being rationalistic or unbiblical or some such dismissive language. A view akin to fundamentalism's old view of the bible: whatever prima facia reading offered is the only true reading.
     
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I don't want to speak for everyone in that group, because I know some good guys there, but that was my own mindset over ten years ago when I ran with the recon crowd. Not knowing Turretin's approach to theology, and how he solved many future problems (albeit riding a few hobby horses of his own), almost led me to despair of Protestantism. It was when I reread Turretin that my theology got (mostly) straightened out.

    Some of the hyper Recons begin with the approach that if a thinker isn't immediately pushing the unbeliever to epistemological self-consciousness, then he has compromised with autonomy. That's the plain and simple of it. If we approach epistemology in such a way that we have to write off men like Charles Hodge, then we have already lost. Gary North has an article where he suggests that systematic theology should be written around the Klinean 5 Point Model and Van Til's epistemology. I cant find the article, though. It's worth reading (and like all Gary's stuff, quite entertaining).
     
  14. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, since my philosophy and apologetic books are packed (for, Lord willing, a move to a new home) I only have the internet. But the discussion thus far here included the definition of presupposition. I found this (although not about presupposition as such, it is intimately related):

    "Transcendental arguments are partly non-empirical, often anti-skeptical arguments focusing on necessary enabling conditions either of coherent experience or the possession or employment of some kind of knowledge or cognitive ability, where the opponent is not in a position to question the fact of this experience, knowledge, or cognitive ability, and where the revealed preconditions include what the opponent questions. Such arguments take as a premise some obvious fact about our mental life—such as some aspect of our knowledge, our experience, our beliefs, or our cognitive abilities—and add a claim that some other state of affairs is a necessary condition of the first one. Transcendental arguments most commonly have been deployed against a position denying the knowability of some extra-mental proposition, such as the existence of other minds or a material world. Thus these arguments characteristically center on a claim that, for some extra-mental proposition P, the indisputable truth of some general proposition Q about our mental life requires that P." (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    The latest book on Presuppositional Apologetics (from Westminster if I recall), had an article specifically about the formulation of a transcendental argument and the propositions/presuppositions involved. Again, my books are packed :-(
     
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