Van Til and paradox

Status
Not open for further replies.

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Ok. I would be curious to investigate this allegation further. I've heard people argue that Vantil believed there were contradictions or paradoxes in theology. Some argue this is the basis for Federal Vision thinking. I would like to explore this allegation of paradox.

Is this allegation true?

Thread rules:
1) Use PRIMARY sources to prove or disprove the allegation.
2) Charity brothers!!! Stick to this particular issue. No ad homs against Van Til or each other.

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by puritansailor]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Please read my piece; The Evisceration of the Christian Faith @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=208 . I interact with primary sources and VT's best defenders.

This issue, if you haven't noticed, has been a sticking point for me since the days I first came to the Reformed faith, long before the FV reared it's ugly head. I remember a very bright young member of my church at the time gave me a copy of Frame's "œVT the Theologian" just to see what I thought (copied from the North book and originally titled; "œThe Problem of Theological Paradox"). I remember thinking at the time; no wonder Calvinism is in the backwater of Evangelicalism. What I read was sheer nonsense. Now, don't get me wrong, Evangelicalism broadly speaking is a complete wasteland, yet I thought even this was preferable to the nonsense I encountered in the Frame piece. I will say prior to coming to the Reformed faith the only ray of light was from Francis Schaeffer, who, while having some minor problems of his own, still believed Christianity was a rational faith. That has always been my position, even when I first came to Christ after years of a complete embrace of irrationality and sin. I´m quite sure I have more in common with Paul Manta than I care to admit (maybe the topic for another "œcommon ground" thread ? We can swap depravity stories.) ;) I suppose this is why I find VT and the subsequent developments from his thought so abhorrent, even if not at all surprising.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Magma2
Please read my piece; The Evisceration of the Christian Faith @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=208 . I interact with primary sources and VT's best defenders.

This issue, if you haven't noticed, has been a sticking point for me since the days I first came to the Reformed faith, long before the FV reared it's ugly head. I remember a very bright young member of my church at the time gave me a copy of Frame's "œVT the Theologian" just to see what I thought (copied from the North book and originally titled; "œThe Problem of Theological Paradox"). I remember thinking at the time; no wonder Calvinism is in the backwater of Evangelicalism. What I read was sheer nonsense. Now, don't get me wrong, Evangelicalism broadly speaking is a complete wasteland, yet I thought even this was preferable to the nonsense I encountered in the Frame piece. I will say prior to coming to the Reformed faith the only ray of light was from Francis Schaeffer, who, while having some minor problems of his own, still believed Christianity was a rational faith. That has always been my position, even when I first came to Christ after years of a complete embrace of irrationality and sin. I´m quite sure I have more in common with Paul Manta than I care to admit (maybe the topic for another "œcommon ground" thread ? We can swap depravity stories.) ;) I suppose this is why I find VT and the subsequent developments from his thought so abhorrent, even if not at all surprising.
I think the article, while well-researched, is very rude and hyperbolic. It comes across as if you're literally foaming at the mouth and thinking of every possible vile thing to say about Van Til and any of his disciples.

Where is there any sense of gentleness or humility? Why must their views lead all inexorably to a complete and utter denial of systematic theology and eschewing all rational deduction?

At best, you demonstrate that you fall into the slippery slope fallacy and assume that all who adopt the Van Tillian apologetic must think and do the absolute worst that could come from what you perceive as the reductio ad absurdum of their position.

You don't even attempt to recognize that there are Godly men who have the highest view of Scripture and the love of Christ who may be in error.

I think whatever truth you expose is far overshadowed by the lack of love you show for the brethren in heaping unfair insult after unfair insult. I don't know why you're always so angry in much of you posting about Van Til and his followers but it is visceral to many of us. It ought to be a warning to your soul at your apparent lack of ability to say "Peace" to fellow brothers.

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Please, lets just stick with Van Til in this thread.

Perhaps Sean you could post some of your Van Til quotes here in this thread.

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by puritansailor]
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by puritansailor
Vantil believed there were contradictions or paradoxes in theology. Some argue this is the basis for Federal Vision thinking. I would like to explore this allegation of paradox. [Edited on 5-23-2006 by puritansailor]

I don't have time to do a lot of research in Van Til, but a couple of comments:

1) To start the broken record again, the centerpiece of CVT's theology, as with all the orthodox was the Creator/creature distinction. Many of his critics do not accept this distinction or apply it inconsistently. The analogue to that was the traditional distinction between archetypal and ectypal theology. We can never know what God knows the way he knows it. In that case our speech about God is always and only analogical. There must be paradoxes. We ought not be ashamed of them. Our salvation is paradoxical! We were saved by the shameful crucixion of God the Son on a Roman cross. Luther called this the theology of the cross. Paul called it the foolishess of the Gospel (1 Cor 1-2).

2) Paradoxes have to considered and defined carefully. A paradox is not an absolute contradiction, i.e., not a contradiction for God. There are no such things. Are there things we creatures cannot explain fully? Absolutely. The relations between the way God understands things and the way we understand them are properly called paradoxical. Attempts to resolve such paradoxes necessarily flow from or lead to rationalism (the identification of the human intellective faculty with the divine or the use of some created rationality to leverage divine revelation).

3) I don't see any necessary logical connection between CVT and the FV. The latter indulges in late Modern subjectivism/irrationalism but also demonstrates elements of Modern rationalism in their attempt to make salvation more "reasonable." If justification is by grace through faithfulness, the scandal justification sola gratia, sola fide is mitigated. If we're united to Christ in baptism and we retain those benefits through faithfulness, the scandal is mitigated. The irrationalism is evident when the FV refuse to correlate their reading of redemptive history with Reformed dogmatics.

CVT was staunch critic of both rationalism and irrationalism. His theology has little to do with CVT unless "subjectivism" = refusal to identify the human intellect with the divine!

The actual roots of the FV lie in several places: a) the modern antipathy to systematic theology, with which antipathy CVT did not sympathize; b) a massive revision of covenant theology beginning with Barth -- no one in the 20th century was more thoroughly critical of Barth than CVT; c) Mr Murray's discomfort with the traditional covenant scheme certainly helped create sympathy for revisionist tendencies in more conservative circles; d) near universal ignorance among 20th century American Reformed folk of historic Reformed theological categories; e) moralist sympathies, driven by reaction to antinomian evangelicalism, rooted in Norm Shepherd's revision of covenant theology and the doctrine of justification; f) Klaas Schilder's revision of covenant theology was another stream of influence that flowed into the creation of the FV; g) the NPP helped create plausibility within conservative evangelicalism and Reformed circles for the sorts of revisions offered earlier in the 20th century.

The attempt to tag CVT with causal responsibility for the FV is unhistorical and grounded in a series of false assumptions and conclusions drawn from those assumptions.

rsc

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by R. Scott Clark]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
I know these were comments in brief, but I'll assume they present the CVT position well. So consider my comments as the criticisms of CVT in brief.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark


1) To start the broken record again, the centerpiece of CVT's theology, as with all the orthodox was the Creator/creature distinction. Many of his critics do not accept this distinction or apply it inconsistently. The analogue to that was the traditional distinction between archetypal and ectypal theology. We can never know what God knows the way he knows it. ...
The last clause I underline because it's the one that Clark agreed with. But with it in place, what is said to follow, doesn't. For the "way" God knows is eternally - the mode of God's knowledge is different. But content can be the same between God and man - ergo the Scriptures. If man can not know God's thoughts, than the Scriptures are pointless. We can not know them, or what we think we know, is never what God knows. I think that in fact, the Scriptures are God's thoughts, and when we know them, we know the same thoughts God knows. When we know "Jesus died for sin", that is the same thought God knows, even if the mode of knowing is different.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
.... In that case our speech about God is always and only analogical. ...
And I'm sure that someone will clarify this, because CVT's definition of analogy is not standard here. I'll just say that an analogy is not the same as the truth.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
... There must be paradoxes.....
This does not follow.
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
... We ought not be ashamed of them. Our salvation is paradoxical! ...
This does not follow.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
We were saved by the shameful crucixion of God the Son on a Roman cross. Luther called this the theology of the cross. Paul called it the foolishess of the Gospel (1 Cor 1-2).
Shameful? There was nothing shameful about Christ's sacrifice to save us. It was necessary.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark

2) Paradoxes have to considered and defined carefully. A paradox is not an absolute contradiction, i.e., not a contradiction for God. ...
This means man is incapable of understanding God's revelation. If it is a contradiction the way man understand something, then man does not understand the truth. For it not to be a contradiction for God, yet it is a contradiction for man, then man does not correctly understand what God understands.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark

... There are no such things. Are there things we creatures cannot explain fully? Absolutely. The relations between the way God understands things and the way we understand them are properly called paradoxical. ....
The "way" and the "what" are two different things. While God "knows" things eternally (and man temporally), God understands things logically, in the same way man does. The logical relationships that make language have meaning (the laws of logic) are not temporal, they are eternal. So that the "way" God understands is the same "way" man understands. The only question is, can man understand "what" God understands (the contents (propositional truths) of God's revelation. So, there is no paradox between the way God and man understand. The only question is regarding the "what". And that is not necessary paradoxical either.


Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
... Attempts to resolve such paradoxes necessarily flow from or lead to rationalism (the identification of the human intellective faculty with the divine or the use of some created rationality to leverage divine revelation).

Yes, this is how we come up with the Doctrine of the Trinity, and the Doctrine of Works, and all the other doctrines that we deduce by good and necessary consequences from the Scriptures.

This whole idea that God's knowledge and mans' knowledge is analogical, and leads to paradox, is the problem with CVT's philosophy. And that he made it the "center piece" is really really bad theology. It's the reason for the inconsistencies in CVT's statements. I think he regrets it now, but he put so much in to it, that he could not abandon it without losing face.

Maybe the problem is the definition of paradox. It seems that a paradox is and is not a contradiction for Van Til. For Clark, a contradictions, A is B and not-B, is a contradiction for God and man. So if man sees two statements that are clear contradictions, he knows that on of them can not be God's thoughts. But Van Til seems to say that we should embrace both thoughts as true. This is not only irrational, it's impossible. Once we see the contradiction clearly, we have by seeing the contradiction, determined that one must be false. We already reject the idea that both are true or both are God's thoughts. So Van Til's definition of paradox must not mean contradiction for God or man. And if it does not mean contradiction for man or God, then maybe he should not use the term at all.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Civbert
I know these were comments in brief, but I'll assume they present the CVT position well. So consider my comments as the criticisms of CVT in brief.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark


1) To start the broken record again, the centerpiece of CVT's theology, as with all the orthodox was the Creator/creature distinction. Many of his critics do not accept this distinction or apply it inconsistently. The analogue to that was the traditional distinction between archetypal and ectypal theology. We can never know what God knows the way he knows it. ...
The last clause I underline because it's the one that Clark agreed with. But with it in place, what is said to follow, doesn't. For the "way" God knows is eternally - the mode of God's knowledge is different. But content can be the same between God and man - ergo the Scriptures. If man can not know God's thoughts, than the Scriptures are pointless. We can not know them, or what we think we know, is never what God knows. I think that in fact, the Scriptures are God's thoughts, and when we know them, we know the same thoughts God knows. When we know "Jesus died for sin", that is the same thought God knows, even if the mode of knowing is different.

So then, are God's thoughts successive and tied to expression through language? Are all of God's thoughts contained in Scripture? Do we understand Scripture perfectly or through the lens of Sin?
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
We were saved by the shameful crucixion of God the Son on a Roman cross. Luther called this the theology of the cross. Paul called it the foolishess of the Gospel (1 Cor 1-2).
Shameful? There was nothing shameful about Christ's sacrifice to save us. It was necessary.

I wasn't going to comment on most of the topic, but I was surprised when I read this. Of course the Cross' ultimate purpose and nature as we know it to be is not a shameful thing but a glorious thing. But in its temporal and apparent state, including how unbelievers see it and even what it represents to us as well, it is the height of shame. This shame in the temporal and apparent senses can be seen in Luke 18:32, in which it was spoken of how Christ "will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon." Likewise, the "even death on a cross" language in Philippians 2:8 is not merely due to the physical torment, but also the public image a cross had in the culture of the time. Interestingly enough, this temporal and apparent shame (the existence of which is directly affirmed by Scripture) being actually non-shameful in the ultimate and most true sense (which you would likely note) is actually a good analogy for the Van Tillian concept of apparent paradoxes, which people often criticize while fully acknowledging the parallel nature of Christ's public "shame."

Even so, while we're on this, I think it is important to note that there is in fact also an eternal and actual sense of Christ's shame on the Cross as well, one which, though necessary as you note, is truly shameful in the highest way possible: In Hebrews 12:2, we are told of how Jesus, "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (emphsis mine). We are told throughout Scripture to rejoice in our sufferings, and Christ would have properly done so as well. So then what is this type of shame being spoken of that He did not rejoice in, but rather despised? It was His becoming one with sin. It had a glorious end and purpose, but it in and of itself was the height of true shame (and in fact the epitome of it by definition, since sin is the breach of God's perfection) so much so that God turned away from Christ at the moment. In the end, this existence of a true element of shame (and the epitome of shame at that) being at the very heart of the most glorious and honorable act of all time further illustrates the paradoxical (in the Van Tillian sense, that we can never understand it) nature of the Gospel as Dr. Clark was noting.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
Maybe the problem is the definition of paradox. It seems that a paradox is and is not a contradiction for Van Til.

Remember, Patrick asked for sources.

A paradox *is not* a contradiction for Van Til.

You know that phrase that Clarkians love to rail on? The one that says, "we embrace with passion the apparently contradictory?" Well, what Clarkians do not quote is the sentence before that:

"We shun like poison the idea of the really contradictory."

A paradox, for Van Til, was an *apparent* contradiction, but was never a real one.

And how do you know when something is an "apparent" contradiction?
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by Paul manata
Maybe the problem is the definition of paradox. It seems that a paradox is and is not a contradiction for Van Til.

Remember, Patrick asked for sources.

A paradox *is not* a contradiction for Van Til.

You know that phrase that Clarkians love to rail on? The one that says, "we embrace with passion the apparently contradictory?" Well, what Clarkians do not quote is the sentence before that:

"We shun like poison the idea of the really contradictory."

A paradox, for Van Til, was an *apparent* contradiction, but was never a real one.

And how do you know when something is an "apparent" contradiction?

When it appears to be a contradiction, but in fact is not a contradiction after all.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Originally posted by Civbert
I know these were comments in brief, but I'll assume they present the CVT position well. So consider my comments as the criticisms of CVT in brief.

Originally posted by R. Scott Clark


1) To start the broken record again, the centerpiece of CVT's theology, as with all the orthodox was the Creator/creature distinction. Many of his critics do not accept this distinction or apply it inconsistently. The analogue to that was the traditional distinction between archetypal and ectypal theology. We can never know what God knows the way he knows it. ...
The last clause I underline because it's the one that Clark agreed with. But with it in place, what is said to follow, doesn't. For the "way" God knows is eternally - the mode of God's knowledge is different. But content can be the same between God and man - ergo the Scriptures. If man can not know God's thoughts, than the Scriptures are pointless. We can not know them, or what we think we know, is never what God knows. I think that in fact, the Scriptures are God's thoughts, and when we know them, we know the same thoughts God knows. When we know "Jesus died for sin", that is the same thought God knows, even if the mode of knowing is different.

So then, are God's thoughts successive and tied to expression through language? Are all of God's thoughts contained in Scripture?

My point is I agree we don't know God's thoughts "the way" He knows them. His thoughts are NOT successive. I said: "for the "way" God knows is eternally". And no, not all of God's thoughts are contained in Scripture. But the thought's that are contained in Scripture do not contradict each other.

Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia

Do we understand Scripture perfectly or through the lens of Sin?

We misunderstand Scripture because of the noetic effects of sin. Sin does not distort Scripture, it distorts our understanding of it. And those statements we believe in error, because of the misunderstanding due to sin, are NOT Scripture. Those things we do correctly understand from Scripture, are God's thoughts. They are the same propositional truths for God as they are for man, when man understands them correctly.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by Paul manata
Maybe the problem is the definition of paradox. It seems that a paradox is and is not a contradiction for Van Til.

Remember, Patrick asked for sources.

A paradox *is not* a contradiction for Van Til.

You know that phrase that Clarkians love to rail on? The one that says, "we embrace with passion the apparently contradictory?" Well, what Clarkians do not quote is the sentence before that:

"We shun like poison the idea of the really contradictory."

A paradox, for Van Til, was an *apparent* contradiction, but was never a real one.

And how do you know when something is an "apparent" contradiction?

I don't know how many times I need to say this! Seriously, I've answered this ....n times, Anthony.

First, as Gabriel said, the obvious answer is that is appeared contradictory, but on futher analysis, it was not.
So then there are no apparent contradictions. I'm talking about those "apparent contradictions" you said you can not resolve.

Originally posted by Paul manata

But I'm assuming that you really meant, "but how do you know that the apparent contradictions in Scripture are not real contradictions since you haven't analyzed them and seen how they are merely apparent, not real."

That's what you meant.

The answer to that is easy: "God cannot lie." To say A & ~A in the same sense and relationship is a lie. Therefore God does not say A & ~A.

There are no real contradictions because God cannot contradict himself.

I agree. But are you saying that apparent contradictions are the ones you can resolve, or the ones you can not resolve? Which is it? If the former, then you are saying that you know they are "apparent" contradictions because you can resolve them. Are there any you can not resolve? What makes them contradictions to start with? (Not what makes them "apparent", but how do you know they are contradictions?

Feel free to document your answers with sources. ;)
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by Paul manata
Maybe the problem is the definition of paradox. It seems that a paradox is and is not a contradiction for Van Til.

Remember, Patrick asked for sources.

A paradox *is not* a contradiction for Van Til.

You know that phrase that Clarkians love to rail on? The one that says, "we embrace with passion the apparently contradictory?" Well, what Clarkians do not quote is the sentence before that:

"We shun like poison the idea of the really contradictory."

A paradox, for Van Til, was an *apparent* contradiction, but was never a real one.

And how do you know when something is an "apparent" contradiction?

Because God said/revealed it. The problems that Clarkians have is that they wish to run an external "credit check" on God. We believe what God says regardless of us being able to work out the details.

CT
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't have time to interact on this thread but I thought I'd toss out a source that has been neglected so far. After doing a search on the word paradox* in the Works of Van Til on CD-rom I came up with 438 hits. Of course not all of these are Van Til's own words but his interaction with others. It is the latter that this article is. It is from 1934 and is entitled: Christianity - The Paradox of God. It is Van Til arguing against someone else's use of the word paradox as irrational. Oh, the irony. It is 18 pages and is included for download.

Here is an excerpt: (emphasis mine)

Kantian Antinomies

The root of the whole matter, as far as the conception of paradox goes, lies, we believe, in this fact that Dr. Mackenzie has not clearly distinguished between the apparently contradictory and the really contradictory. Dr. Mackenzie, as we have pointed out, began his argument about the relation of human freedom to God´s absoluteness, from experience. This forced him to introduce chance or the irrational as an element in the total situation. This would also naturally lead him to think that the apparent contradictions between God´s absoluteness and human freedom are real contradictions. In fact, it was only because he thought of these apparent contradictions as real contradictions that he could introduce the concept of chance at all. If the concept of paradox should mean no more than the harmony of the apparent contradictory it would not help to bring together the discordant elements of his theology.

Now it is true that Dr. Mackenzie has entitled one of the chapters of his book, Paradox as Apparent Self-contradiction. Yet, under this innocent flag Dr. Mackenzie has brought in the Kantian concept of a separation between one field, the phenomenal, in which the law of contradiction holds good and another field, the noumenal, to which the law of contradiction does not apply. [Chris: If Van Til is cognizant of this in McKenzie, then we should give benefit of the doubt that he is not doing it himself.]

Immediately following his statement that "œperhaps the day may come also when the scientific view of natural selection an the New Testament doctrine of election of grace may be seen to be both sides of God´s activity, and not the horns of an inescapable dilemma," Dr. Mackenzie says: "œThe philosophy of Immanuel Kant gave the prestige of that great thinker´s name to the inevitableness of paradox or antimony in all our thinking" (p. 81). Then he adds a little further on: "œI am not here attempting to defend all the Kantian antimonies, nor the justification of Hegel´s correction-but antimonies are not antagonisms either in the knowledge of nature or in the realm of theology" (p. 81). Here it seems plain that though Dr. Mackenzie does not defend all the antimonies of Kant, he does accept the Kantian concept of antimony. Now Kant thought that as far as the understanding is concerned as good an argument can be produced for the proposition that the world has had no beginning in time. This illustrates Kant´s conception of antimony. As far as the field of knowledge or science was concerned Kant held that A and not-A, though contradictory to one another, could be proved by arguments in which no such contradiction is found. From this inescapable dilemma in the field of knowledge, Kant sought refuge in the "œnoumenal" realm in which we need not be concerned with the law of non-contradiction. It was, according to Kant, with the noumenal realm that religion deals. Accordingly, the phenomenal is an aspect of Reality as a whole, religion need not be seriously considered with the law of non-contradiction. In Reality as a whole these contradictions of the realm of knowledge may, after all, each state an aspect of the truth. Reality as a whole is analytic but also synthetic; it is fixed and yet the absolutely new somehow appears.

Over against this Kantian view, as it largely controls modern philosophy, Reformed theology has maintained that God is absolutely rational, so that nothing absolutely new can exist for Him. Accordingly when we face what seems to us to be antimonies, we do not seek refuge in the realm of the irrational where something absolutely new may emerge, with the result that both of our contradictory statements may yet be approximations to the truth. Reformed theology has never allowed that there is any sphere in which the law of non-contradiction does not operate. To do that would be to give up its conception of God who "œfrom all eternity did by the most wise and Holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain (s) whatsoever comes to pass." Thus we maintain that the world has had a beginning in time and we deny that it can, with an equal show of truth, be held that the world has not had a beginning in time. In short, Kantian thought denies whiled Reformed theology affirms that Christian theism is intellectually defensible.
Kantianism and Reformed thought may both say "œantimonies are not antagonisms." For Reformed thought that is true because, if taken in the Reformed sense, antimonies are only apparent contradictions which are resolved in God. On the other hand, if taken in the Kantian sense of real contradictions one of the "œantimonies" is true while the other is false. For Kantianism this phrase is true because in the totality of things the intellectual or phenomenal realm in which the antimonies operate is, after all, only one aspect of Reality as a whole. For Kantianism antinimies are not antagonisms because for it truth is relative; for Reformed thought antimonies are not antagonisms because for it truth is absolute. Kant´s position implies an ultimate Irrationalism while Reformed theology is based upon the conception of God as an absolute, self-conscious and therefore wholly rational being.
There can be no peace but only war between these two types of thought. One will look in vain for a clear distinction between these two lines of thought in the writings of Dr. Mackenzie. The main impression created is that he has sought to combine the Kantian-Kierkegaardian and the orthodox-Christian lines of thought, that he has fought to combine the ultimately rational and the ultimately irrational. That was my main criticism. I brought out something of the results of such an effort by pointing to things that lie on the surface. In the present article I have tried to show that the difficulty lies at the very roots of Dr. Mackenzie´s theology.

If I have time, I will collate a few more quotes of Van Til on paradox. Discuss away.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
...
Are there any you can not resolve?

Are there any apparent contradictons that I cannot resolve right now? Sure.

What makes them contradictions to start with? Not what makes them "apparent", but how do you know they are contradictions?

I'm not talking about real contradictions. You continue to equivocate on my position.

I'm asking about how you determine two propositions form a contradiction. I don't care if they are "real" or "apparent". Just explain how you determine that the term "contradiction" applies in a particular case.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by Paul manata
...
Are there any you can not resolve?

Are there any apparent contradictons that I cannot resolve right now? Sure.

What makes them contradictions to start with? Not what makes them "apparent", but how do you know they are contradictions?

I'm not talking about real contradictions. You continue to equivocate on my position.

I'm asking about how you determine two propositions form a contradiction. I don't care if they are "real" or "apparent". Just explain how you determine that the term "contradiction" applies in a particular case.

Two propositions form a contradiction if all the terms are used with the same meaning, yet one asserts that something is the case while the other says it's not the case, as a brief answer to the brief question.

You'd have to be more specific, though.

Given your definition of contradictory - can two contradictory propositions be true at the same time?

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by Civbert]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
Also, you've still not admitted that you were wrong about Van Til. Why is that, I:chained: wonder?

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by Paul manata]

About what specifically? I recall you said I was wrong about what "they" mean to Van Til.
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by Paul manata
Also, you've still not admitted that you were wrong about Van Til. Why is that, I:chained: wonder?

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by Paul manata]

About what specifically? I recall you said I was wrong about what "they" mean to Van Til.

you said "for Van Til paradox and contradiction were the same thing."

I quoted Van Til and explained how they were not. For Van Til, then, they were not the same thing.

"For him" a paradox was not the same as a contradiction. Sheesh! read the quotes Christ just gave.

Weren't you the one who chided Van Tillians for dying on little hills. You were wrong about what you said regarding Van Til, no big deal.

So are paradoxes the same as "apparent" contradictions?
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Looking at the some writings of Van Til, he said:
Reformed theology has maintained that God is absolutely rational, so that nothing absolutely new can exist for Him. Accordingly when we face what seems to us to be antimonies, we do not seek refuge in the realm of the irrational where something absolutely new may emerge, with the result that both of our contradictory statements may yet be approximations to the truth.

This seems to dispute what others have said, that Van Til said we are to embrace "apparent" contradictions, or how the "something new" may resolve them in the future, making them "approximations to the truth". At least in this instance, Van Til does not call for the irrational embracing of "apparent" unresolved contradictions.

(I'll return and add the citation when I determine the source).

It's from the file posted by Chis Rhoads (crhoades) the Works of Van Til on CD-Rom. It's in this thread on page three on my list. "posted on 5-23-2006 at 01:28 PM"

[Edited on 5-23-2006 by Civbert]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by crhoades
I don't have time to interact on this thread but I thought I'd toss out a source that has been neglected so far. After doing a search on the word paradox* in the Works of Van Til on CD-rom I came up with 438 hits. Of course not all of these are Van Til's own words but his interaction with others.

Thanks Chris. Where did you get the CD-Rom. Do you need Logos or some other program to search the text?



[Edited on 5-23-2006 by Civbert]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Paul manata
From Wikipedia:

The word paradox is often used interchangeably and wrongly with contradiction; but where a contradiction by definition cannot be true, many paradoxes do allow for resolution, though many remain unresolved or only contentiously resolved, such as Curry's paradox. Still more casually, the term is sometimes used for situations that are merely surprising, albeit in a distinctly "logical" manner, such as the Birthday Paradox. This is also the usage in economics, where a paradox is an unintuitive outcome of economic theory.

Selective quotation? At the beginning of the Wiki article it says:
A paradox is an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition. Typically, either the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction, the puzzling result is not really a contradiction, or the premises themselves are not all really true or cannot all be true together. (emphasis added)

This is exactly what I've said. If it's "apparently a contradiction", either the your reasoning is faulty, or one of the premises are not true ("or can not be true together" - which means they are by definition contrary or contradictory). Funny that. I suppose then a Vantillian will need to decide if paradoxes are "apparent contradictions".

By the Wiki definition - some contradictions are paradoxes, but not all paradoxes are contradictions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox

Since paradox may mean statements that "leads to a contradiction" - it seems un-wise to speak of Scripture as being necessarily paradoxical - since "reformed theology has never allowed that there is any sphere in which the law of non-contradiction does not operate", and this must include Scripture. That being the case, (and Clark heartily agrees) then we confuse people by saying we should embrace the paradoxes of Scripture. We seem to say the Scripture can be irrational. Clearly this contradicts Van Til in the text Chris gave. So does Vantillians still say we should embrace the paradoxes of Scripture?
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Civbert
Originally posted by crhoades
I don't have time to interact on this thread but I thought I'd toss out a source that has been neglected so far. After doing a search on the word paradox* in the Works of Van Til on CD-rom I came up with 438 hits. Of course not all of these are Van Til's own words but his interaction with others.

Thank Chris. Where did you get the CD-Rom. Do you need Logos or some other program to search the text?
http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/248/nm/Works_of_Cornelius_Van_Til_CD_ROM

It is the logos format. $49 bucks is a steal for all of his works. Books, articles, lectures, unpublished manuscripts etc. The version of logos that comes with the cdrom is a couple versions old but it still works. You can get upgrade cds from Logos for the cost of shipping to get up to the newest version.

This resource is invaluable for the study of his thought. Hopefully you will buy it in order to bring peace between the camps and exhonorate Van Til rather than seeking for new fodder...;):p

I'm sure an interesting search would be "Clark" to see what turns up! LOL...
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
OK. So far I've understood the the difference between a real contradiction and an apparent contradiction is that one is real and the other is apparent. I'm not sure how you determine the difference, because apparent contradictions may not be resolvable, although you know they are apparent if they are resolvable.

It's those unresolvable ones that trouble me, especially in light of the Vantillian command to embrace apparent contradictions. (Or maybe the "paradoxes" we embrace are only the resolvable contradictions??)

And since both statements of a contradiction can not be true, and apparent contradiction that can not be resolved, involve apparently two or more propositions that can not be true, then we can not believe apparent contradictions without rejecting the law of non-contradiction.

So maybe embracing apparent contradictions does not mean believing them - or maybe embracing paradox means only believing the apparent contradictions we can resolve (those we know are not real contradictions because we have resolved them).

See, I don't see how you can believe two statements are "apparent" contradictions (of the unresolvable kind), and still say you believe them both. That seems to be a contradiction in itself.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
All the truths of the Christian religion have of necessity the appearance of being contradictory
(Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel, 165).

Distinctions of "Paradox":

Rhetorical Paradox
a figure used to shed light on a topic by challenging the reason of another and thus startling him
(Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell, 826, 827; Robert L. Reymond, Preach The Word! 31, 32).

Logical Paradox
"A set of assertions that appear to be contradictory, and cannot be reconciled by human reason."

Question: Is Van Til arguing for the first type of paradox (which can be resolved by human reason, or the second, which cannot (but God can)?
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
"Now since God is not fully comprehensible to us we are bound to come into what seems to be contradictions in all our knowledge. Our knowledge is analogical and therefore must be paradoxical"
(Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 44).

It seems to me a bold claim to suggest that our knowledge MUST be paradoxical since Van Til does not know if scriptural doctrines appear contradictory to EVERYONE. Reconciling God's sovereignty and human responsibility may appear contradictory to some people, but it does not to me. So are the two paradoxical or not?
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
"Now since God is not fully comprehensible to us we are bound to come into what seems to be contradictions in all our knowledge. Our knowledge is analogical and therefore must be paradoxical"
(Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 44).

It seems to me a bold claim to suggest that our knowledge MUST be paradoxical since Van Til does not know if scriptural doctrines appear contradictory to EVERYONE. Reconciling God's sovereignty and human responsibility may appear contradictory to some people, but it does not to me. So are the two paradoxical or not?

The only question is at what level a doctrine becomes paradoxical. For we understand that we do not have exhaustive and without it then one will run into a paradox at some point.

Clark hasnt solved the question of God's sovereignty and human responsibility, he however places the mystery in the proper place, with God. That is nothing different than what Van Til does.

CT
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top