Leithart on Van Til

From Peter Leithart:

Based on a student’s questioning, I’m wondering whether “presuppositionalism” is the best term to describe what Vantillians are after. We don’t, after all, come up with some kind of set of axioms or theological idea “prior” to receiving revelation. We can talk about making the Triune God our “starting point” as much as we want, but faith in the Triune God is not in fact the “starting point” of our thinking (in either a chronological or logical sense). I like Frame’s revisionist view that “presuppositions” are really “basic commitments,” but that still seems to individualistic to me. I’d rather think of how we can ecclesiologize Van Til: Instead of saying that “all our thinking is grounded in the presupposition of the Triune God of Scripture,” we might say “as Christians we think and act from within the Church, which is the body of Christ and the community of worshipers of the Triune God.” This moves Van Til in the direction of postliberals and postmoderns, but that’s not a bad move in this case I think.

Food for Thought!

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Posted on November 9, 2009, in Van Til Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi,

    Just read through this post, and I don’t think Leithart quite understand Van Til on presuppositions,

    For instance, he says:

    “We don’t, after all, come up with some kind of set of axioms or theological idea “prior” to receiving revelation”

    Yet Van Til would not say that man knows God prior to “receiving revelation”. That probably wouldn’t even make any sense to Van til. Given that Van Til, along with Calvin, would affirm that man, by virtue of being created in the image of God, has knowledge of God. If this is the case then in being who he is, he has a theology, though it’s bad because he tries to suppress the truth he knows about God.

    So if Christian theology is in view here, one could not have a revelation-less thought c.f Romans 1:18-22.

    “We can talk about making the Triune God our “starting point” as much as we want, but faith in the Triune God is not in fact the “starting point” of our thinking”

    Here, Leithart either Leithart hasn’t read Van Til’s discussion(s) on how Faith and Reason are connected or he has and is ignoring them. Not only that, but also Van Til’s teaching on Authority and FPRs (Final points of reference). I think if he would have read Van Til on that or perhaps one of his disciples (i.e. Edgar, Oliphint, et al.) he would have understood how faith and reason are intertwined with one another. How you cannot have one without the other.

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