Reforming Apologetics (Fesko)

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greenbaggins

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Jacob, while this is certainly progress, I am still a little confused about something in your OP. You said, "According to presuppositionalists, Thomas is wrong for trying to synthesize Aristotle with Christ. However, it is not clear why Thomas is wrong for using concepts from Aristotle, yet it is fine for Van Til to use even more dubious concepts from Kant (emphasis added)." The impression I got from this was that Van Til was less orthodox than Aquinas, at least on the point of integrating pagan philosophers. However, on every point I have pushed back on, you say you either agree with Van Til or are okay with what he said. Where does that leave your original statement? I guess the real problem I have with the statement in the OP is that in the first half of the comparison, you are going with presups in what they say about Aquinas, but in the second half of the equation, you don't do that, but rather go with your own analysis of CVT (which I argued is flawed). I don't know any Van Tillians who say that CVT borrowed ideas and concepts from Kant, let alone would give anyone a pass for doing so. This means that the hinted-at inconsistency is manufactured rather than real.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I still think he used idealist language. I merely conceded the other points for the sake of argument and to move the discussion forward.


Vos in Ref. Dogm. 1 said we reason from effect to cause in the existence of God. Van Til's TA moves in precisely the opposite direction.

Van Til said Bavinck was too Thomist and too scholastic. CVT didn't misunderstand Bavinck. He knew exactly what Bavinck was saying.


I hinted at that. Depends on what one means by w-view. If it is simply a frame for looking at the world, then it's fairly obvious. Fesko reviews the literature from James Orr onward and notes that there it has a very different meaning.
Well I haven't read the book. My point wasn't to start a debate in the book review section, that would be better in the apologetic method section. I also wanted to provide resources, as I said, for people to see the otherside of some of people and ideas brought up.
I'm glad you responded to Vos and Bavink, like Warfield and Kuyper, it seems he separated out their theology from their apologetics. Does Fesko, or you, think that theologically Van Til is out of step with Reformed Orthodoxy? If so does Fesko recon with the fact that Van Til got his theology from Vos, Warfield (I believe he studied under both), Kuyper, and Bavink? If so wouldn't that beg the question of whether they got Reformed Orthodoxy right?
I'm merely asking about the book, not trying to start a debate. Since he is trained in historical theology, and knows his stuff, you would think he would notice that question as requiring some sort of answer. So I think it would cripple his apparent (not saying he's saying this but it was implied in your review) argument of Van Til being being out of step with RO.
The worldview stuff and the common notions stuff I disagree with him on but this isn't the place debate only discussing the pros and cons of the book. On common notions one thing not clear, to me or I mave missed something, was whether or not he deals with Van Til having a different basis for common notions (us being made in God's image, common grace, and that we all think about the same stuff)?
On TA'S does he deal with Don Collett's work and hence the logical form that I got from him and layer out? Don I believe claims it was Strawson's formulation.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Jacob, while this is certainly progress, I am still a little confused about something in your OP. You said, "According to presuppositionalists, Thomas is wrong for trying to synthesize Aristotle with Christ. However, it is not clear why Thomas is wrong for using concepts from Aristotle, yet it is fine for Van Til to use even more dubious concepts from Kant (emphasis added)." The impression I got from this was that Van Til was less orthodox than Aquinas, at least on the point of integrating pagan philosophers. However, on every point I have pushed back on, you say you either agree with Van Til or are okay with what he said. Where does that leave your original statement? I guess the real problem I have with the statement in the OP is that in the first half of the comparison, you are going with presups in what they say about Aquinas, but in the second half of the equation, you don't do that, but rather go with your own analysis of CVT (which I argued is flawed). I don't know any Van Tillians who say that CVT borrowed ideas and concepts from Kant, let alone would give anyone a pass for doing so. This means that the hinted-at inconsistency is manufactured rather than real.
I have to agree with Lane. It seems that this review at points was less about a book and more about your own analysis of Van Til and presupps. Thats a critical comment on the review unless you're echoing Fresko but happen to agree with him.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
The impression I got from this was that Van Til was less orthodox than Aquinas, at least on the point of integrating pagan philosophers. However, on every point I have pushed back on, you say you either agree with Van Til or are okay with what he said

I'll try to flesh it out:
1) Van Til spoke with an Idealist accent. That's not a criticism. He wasn't just reading the pure sweetness of Calvin one day and suddenly came to the TAG. He, like pretty much every other thinker in history, used the current terminology available to him. He specifically said he was doing that in Defense of the Faith.
2) I do think some of those terms are of limited value today; I grant that "dubious" might have been too strong.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
After rereading the OP, if Fesko thinks a WV is a "view of reality composed from a single principle" he doesn't understand it it seems. Even Kant had what 10 to twelve categories (not one) that we build a WV from? Dooyeweerd had how many modal aspects with which we apply our religious ground motive (all of which have more than one) to build a WV? I'm just raising doubts as to how well he understands the subject matter here, if that's all he's saying. Again not trying to start a debate only asking questions to determine the value of the book. So far I'm not impressed with it.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
That was true of 19th century W-view talk, particularly w/James Orr.
So it seems his book relies heavily on James Orr as being the standard for WV thinking? You know as well as I do that it was way more complicated than that. If thats how he is historically evaluating the whole thing that seems a bit shoddy to me. And he should know better, his book on the WCF is the standard of historical scholarship.
So if historically he's using James Orr as the litmus test of understanding WV thinking to criticize most WV thinking that leaves a lot to be desired. Also if he claims that Van Til is out of step with Reformed Orthodoxy but doesn't deal with whether or not Kuyper, Warfield, Vos , and Bavink being either misunderstood or also out of step with Reformed Orthodoxy that's shoddy scholarship. It implies more of an "are to grind" mentality that affects the value of a good scholar. I know I'm throwing a lot of the same criticisms from different angles but I think they're legitimate for anyone to consider before reading this book.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Weltanschaung was literally an intuition of the world from a single principle.
Yes but how was it used? Did Dooyeweerd derive his WV from a single principle? Or Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer for that matter? Again I'm becoming less and less interested in this book outside of reading a friendly critique. Although with the apparent historical shoddy scholarship from a good historical scholar the smell of "axe to grind" is getting stronger.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Yes but how was it used? Did Dooyeweerd derive his WV from a single principle? Or Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer for that matter? Again I'm becoming less and less interested in this book outside of reading a friendly critique. Although with the apparent historical shoddy scholarship from a good historical scholar the smell of "axe to grind" is getting stronger.

A book review is not an exhaustive analysis of each chapter. Fesko does the leg work you ask for. I didn't include it because the review had other things to talk about.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
A book review is not an exhaustive analysis of each chapter. Fesko does the leg work you ask for. I didn't include it because the review had other things to talk about.
Ok fair enough, you're right. Dooyeweerd's ground motive is usually 3, I've read 4 as well, so thats more than one. In fairness to you and the fact that this just a review I'll reduce questions to a few to move along.
These questions are meant to determine the value of the book alone. Does he say and/or imply that Van Til is "out of step" with classical Reformed Orthodoxy? If so does he deal with, even in a foot note, Van Til's reliance on the previously mentioned Reformed giants for his theology? Does he recognize and/or respond to the question of their Orthodoxy? Last is his historical analysis, regardless of complexity, reduce to WV being derived from a single principle?
All those questions are questions a historical theological scholar not only should be able to answer but answering or not answering them reflect upon the value of the book? If he does deal with all of them I look forward to reading the book if not I'll read one day maybe.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Does he say and/or imply that Van Til is "out of step" with classical Reformed Orthodoxy?

As a whole, no. On certain points some things he said are harder to square with RO. For example, at one place CVT appears to embrace the idea of common notions, but elsewhere he seems to reject it.
Last is his historical analysis, regardless of complexity, reduce to WV being derived from a single principle?

He acknowledges the differences in how the term is used.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Maybe because people keep on misunderstanding what CVT is trying to do and connecting him to Kant when CVT was perhaps the most trenchant critic of idealism in the 20th century.

I literally referenced Bahnsen's lectures. We aren't "connecting him to Kant," as though that suddenly made him bad. We are just noting similarities in terminology. If you are witnessing to 19th century academics in a German university, that's an excellent approach and I commend it wholeheartedly.

I believe God is actus purus, and that's similar to some things Aristotle said. I'm fine with that. Am I an Aristotelian? Not really.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
As a whole, no. On certain points some things he said are harder to square with RO. For example, at one place CVT appears to embrace the idea of common notions, but elsewhere he seems to reject it.


He acknowledges the differences in how the term is used.
Ok fair enough. On a lighter note I have focused in on a defensive question interacting with you here and elsewhere on the question of Van Til’s relationship to Reformed Orthodoxy. I've read many people, and reviews of this book imply it's here too, who put out the supposed dichotomy of VT/RO? But like the Calvin vs. The Calvinist thesis that Muller disproved. The same could be said here.
If one pits Van Til against only the classical Reformed Orthodoxy I'm sure some case could be made of significant differences, making it harder to dispel. Now I've read a couple of essays in "Reason and Revelation: New Essays In Reformed Apologetics" that seek to dispel that but few critiques, if any, take into account the intermediary thinkers and their relation to CRO. Reformed Forum has done some things on it. But unless the critic can answer and deal with those questions(yhe intermediary thinkers) than the whole argument falls apart.
 
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