Intellectual Sense,”Giving Reasons,” and the Christian Worldview

If Cornelius Van Til was known for anything, it was making provocative statements. Here’s just one:

The whole notion of ‘giving reasons’ is completely destroyed by any ontology other than the Christian one.

Greg Bahnsen unpacks Van Til’s claim:

According to Van Til, the Christian claim (that non-Christians already know God from natural revelation and also recognize the voice of God in Scripture) is justified because the knowledge of God is the context and prerequisite for knowing anything else whatsoever. Without presupposing God, it is impossible to make theoretical sense out of any rational method for “justifying” beliefs of any kind on any subject. As the apostle Paul indicated, by suppressing the truth about God that they clearly and directly know, unbelievers have their reasoning reduced to foolishness (Rom. 1:21-22). If they do not acknowledge knowing God, they cannot make intellectual sense out of God’s world or out of themselves as God’s image-bearers. Likewise, Paul taught that those who reject the word of the cross (which is needed to repair man’s stubborn refusal to submit to the light of God) are reduced to foolishness in their thinking and living (1 Cor. 1:20). Their attempts to warrant what they believe and do–indeed, to know anything–are futile deceptions apart from that philosophy which is “according to Christ,” in whom “all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge are deposited” (Col. 2:3, 8). The Christian message, whether it be the truth about the Creator communicated in natural revelation or the saving truth of the gospel declared in Scripture, was defended by Van Til as the necessary precondition for rationally justifying any claim to knowledge about anything else. Van Til: “In fact it then appears that the argument for the Scriptures as the infallible revelation of God is, to all intents and purposes, the same as the argument for the existence of God.”

– Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis,  262-263 (emphasis added)


Posted on February 14, 2013, in Presuppositional apologetics, Van Til Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hey your site is really great I came across while in search for brand info on bing and it has lots of related information on it. Will be sure to come back again and bookmark. Keep up the great work!
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  2. I remember reading this several years ago, especially the part you highlighted…I think there’s so much one can still work out in terms of the Transcendental argument for the Scripture

  1. Pingback: Another Helping of Van Tillian Apologetics Links for Feb 2013 | The Domain for Truth

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