But we believe that just for the reason that we cannot hope to obtain comprehensive knowledge of God we cannot hope to obtain comprehensive knowledge of anything in this world. - Van Til, The Defense of the Faith
I do enjoy perusing Van Til's work- it's guaranteed to be a great read. But there is one issue in his work that has always bothered me regarding his treatment of law.
Van Til did write that 'Subordinationism is the mother of heresies', and I don't argue the point (in regards to the Godhead). However, law is a property of said Godhead, and I have found his treatment of that subject to be at odds with his stated positions. When describing the relationships between mechanical and teleological law, he places the mechanical (that which would be classified as 'scientific and particularly measurable') as subordinate to teleological law (that which is moral and spiritually discerned). On the surface, this would seem logical- for any man can observe what is particular regardless of his state of salvation, while the true nature of God and the Law which is demonstrated by His nature is given only to His elect. However, when he gives an example of this, he contradicts both the subordination principle as well as the quotation above.
The subordination of one fact and law under higher created facts and laws appears particularly in the notion of miracle. When Moses commanded the sea to stand aside so that Israel might go through dry-shod, the laws of the physical universe were set aside at the behest pf the will of man. But the subordination of the laws of nature to the will of man was in order to the subordination of the will of man to God. - Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, Pg. 28
Say what? For Van Til to make that statement, he would have to assume that man possesses comprehensive knowledge of mechanical law i.e., since we can't explain what happened through our own understanding of law, it must have been suspended- and thus must be subordinate.
A simple look at the history of science would demonstrate such confidence in man's knowledge of mechanical law to be misplaced. And, as 'enlightened' as we may be scientifically in our present age, how much of what we assume to be 'lawful' fact will be considered hogwash 100 years from now? Just ask your local phrenologist that question.
It seems to me that Van Til broke two of his own rules. First, he assigned to man comprehensive knowledge of mechanical law to the extent that we can declare that a suspension of said law must have taken place in order for the Red Sea to part. Is that really so? Does the finite knowledge of man rule out the possibility of yet undiscovered mechanical law?
Secondly, if all law is of God, then would not the subordination of one type over another constitute a type of subordination within the Godhead? Is one kind of law more pure and holy than another? This idea is illogical if not preposterous to me.
So have I totally misunderstood this particular issue of Van Til's work? Note that I eagerly love his writing, and I'm not trying to disparage him in any way; rather this is one point that I still scratch my head about.