Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cornelius Van Til Quotes

“Dr. Van Til, why did you decide to devote your life to the study of philosophy and the teaching of apologetics?” And I then sat back to allow the metaphysics free room to roll. Van Til never blinked. “Why,” he said, “to protect Christ’s little ones.”
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/november-web-only/illusion-of-respectability-allen-guelzo.html?start=1

I'm a Van Tillian presuppositionalist when it comes to apologetics. I don't agree with everything Van Til or his followers taught or teach, but I'm in much agreement. Here are some interesting Van Til quotes I've collected. I'm posting them now as is and will eventually edit and add to them. There are still some duplicates.  Some I've typed up myself, others I've copied and pasted from other websites, SO THEIR ACCURACY IS NOT GURANTEED.




It is Christ as God who speaks in the Bible. Therefore the Bible does not appeal to human reason as ultimate in order to justify what it says. It comes to the human being with abso­lute authority. Its claim is that human reason must itself be taken in the sense in which Scripture takes it, namely, as cre­ated by God and as therefore properly subject to the authority of God…  The two systems, that of the non-Christian and that of the Christian, differ because of the fact that their basic as­sumptions, or presuppositions differ. On the non-Christian basis man is assumed to be the final reference point in predic­tion… The Reformed method…begins frankly “from above.” It would “presuppose” God. But in presupposing God it can­not place itself at any point on a neutral basis with the non-Christian… Believers themselves have not chosen the Chris­tian position because they were wiser than others. What they have they have by grace alone. But this fact does not mean that they must accept the problematics of fallen man as right or even as probably or possibly right. For the essence of the idea of Scripture is that it alone is the criterion of truth. - Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1969, pp. 15, 18, 43.

Either modern man will have to admit that he knows everything or else he will have to admit that he knows nothing. The only alternative to this is that he claims both absurdities at the same time.- Cornelius Van Til, The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel

There is no guarantee that the human mind can in any sense know reality that is near unless it knows reality that is far away. For all I know, the next fact that I must adjust to a previous fact is a fatal automobile accident. How then do I know that it is not the most pragmatically valuable thing for me to know whether the fact of death does not immediately connect me with another fact, namely, the judgment?- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 217

It soon appears that the elephant wants to warm more than his nose.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 207

When the elephant of naturalism once has his nose in the door, he will not be satisfied until he is all the way in.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 77


"No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all."- Cornelius Van Til

"I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else."- Cornelius Van Til

The same point may be further elucidated if we say that Platonic and Augustinian thought have opposing conceptions of Mystery. Augustinian thought holds that there is not and has never been mystery for God. It is this that makes the mystery that has always and that will always surround man not a burden, but a joy, to him. Man can rejoice in the mystery that surrounds himself because he believes that no mystery surrounds God. If mystery should be thought of as surrounding God, then nothing would remain for man but utter despair. A child who knows that his father is a millionaire does not need to have more than a dollar in his hand. The believer can pray with confidence, “Give us this day our daily bread.” On the other hand, Platonic thought starts out with the idea that there is mystery surrounding both God and man.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 49-50

If one really saw that it is necessary to have God in order to understand the grass that grows outside his window, he would certainly come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and to the knowledge of the absolute authority of the Bible. It is true, we grant that it is not usually in this way that men become true Christian theists, but we put it in this way in order to bring out clearly that the investigation of any fact whatsoever will involve a discussion of the meaning of Christianity as well as of theism, and a sound position taken on the one involves a sound position on the other.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 207

To be sure, it is true that we should never seek to defend more than it is strictly necessary to defend. But our contention is exactly that it is strictly necessary to defend the absoluteness of Scripture. If one does not defend the absoluteness of Scripture, one cannot defend the absoluteness of Christ or of God.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 221

In the second place, this whole Christian theistic position must be presented not as something just a little or as a great deal better than other positions, but must be presented as the only system of thought that does not destroy human experience to a meaningless something. - Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 222

On the contrary, the Christian theist must claim that he alone has true knowledge about cows and chickens as well as about God. He does this in no spirit of conceit, because it is a gift of God's grace. Nor does he deny that there is knowledge <i>after a fashion</i> that enables the non-theist to get along <i>after a fashion</i> in the world. This is the gift of God's common grace, and therefore does not change the absoluteness of the distinction made about the knowledge and the ignorance of the theist and the non-theist respectively.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 222

We may use our minds as flashlights with which to discover things, but these flashlights derive <i>all</i> their power of illumination from the sun. - Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 224

The kingdom of God must be built upon the destruction of the enemy. - Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 207

Christianity is not for a few elite intellectualists. Its message is to the simple and to the learned. The argument must therefore be adapted to each one's mental capacity. And it should not be forgotten that the difference between the learned and the unlearned is, after all, very small when it comes to a consideration of ultimate questions. The learned may have many more facts at his disposal and be more skilled in the use of the syllogism, but when it comes to a consideration of the meaning of any one fact or of all facts put together, all this refinement does not bring him very far. Many a man of ordinary intelligence can reason with himself about the reasonableness of thinking of the existence of the facts apart from God, as well as the most learned scholar. To say this is not to disparage scholarship. Scholarship is necessary in its place, but it is not necessary for every man.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 211-212

It follow logically that only one historical religion can be the true religion. Any Christian apologist is shirking his duty if he does not say that Mohammed is a false prophet. This is not to indulge in anything uncharitable. Charity has nothing to do with the question.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 127

There is not a spot in heaven or on earth about which there is no dispute between the two opposing parties. It is this point that can bear much emphasis again and again.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 116 [longer quote below]

Christian theism's fundamental contention is just this, that nothing whatsoever can be known unless God can be and is known. And as stated before, by God we mean the triune, self-sufficient God and his revelation of himself to man and his world. In whatever way we put the question then, the important thing to note is this fundamental difference between theism and antitheism on the question of epistemology. There is not a spot in heaven or on earth about which there is no dispute between the two opposing parties. It is this point that can bear much emphasis again and again.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 116


When the elephant of naturalism once has his nose in the door, he will not be satisfied until he is all the way in.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 77

A suit of clothes usually shows signs of wear at several places simultaneously.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 79

...I would not talk endlessly about facts and more facts without ever challenging the non-believer's philosophy of fact.- Cornelius Van Til

Agnosticism is epistemologically self-contradictory on its own assumptions because its claim to make no assertion about ultimate reality rests upon a most comprehensive assertion about ultimate reality.- Cornelius Van Til

The picture of fallen man as given in Scripture is that he knows God but does not want to recognize Him as God.- Cornelius Van Til

The only "proof" of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of "proving" anything at all. The actual state of affairs as preached by Christianity is the necessary foundation of "proof" itself.-C. Van Til [My Credo]

The only "proof" of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of "proving" anything at all.-Cornelius Van Til

The actual state of affairs as preached by Christianity is the necessary foundation of "proof" itself.-Cornelius Van Til

Let our apologetics be as Van Til urges "suaviter in modo, fortiter in re" (gentle in the manner of presentation, but powerful in argumentative substance)

It is wholly irrational to hold any other position than that of Christianity. Christianity alone does not slay reason on the altar of  'chance.' - Van Til

"...I propose to argue that unless God is back of everything, you cannot find meaning in anything."-Cornelius Van Til [Why I Believe in God]

"Men do not see the need of grace till by grace they see it."- Cornelius Van Til [A Christian Theory of Knowledge p. 53]

No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all.-CVT [Why I Believe In God]

I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else.-CVT [Why I Believe in God]

I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief...rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else.-Van Til

"...I hold...that unless you believe in [the Christian] God you can logically believe in nothing else."- Cornelius Van Til [Why I Believe in God]

Shall we who wish to prove that nothing can be explained without God first admit some things at least can be explained without him? - Cornelius Van Til [The Defense of the Faith p. 200]

The Reformed apologist throws down the gauntlet and challenges his opponent to a duel of life and death from the start.- Cornelius Van Til [The Defense of the Faith p. 113]

When the non-Christian, not working on the foundation of creation and providence, talks about *musts* in relation to *facts* he is beating the air- C. Van Til [The Defense of the Faith p. 206]

"...Reformed apologetics is the hope of the world." Cornelius Van Til

I would therefore engage in historical apologetics.....But I would not talk endlessly about facts and more facts without ever challenging the non-believer's philosophy of fact. - Van Til [The Defense of the Faith p. 199]

Arguing about God's existence, I hold, is like arguing about air. You may affirm that air exists, and I that it does not. But as we debate the point, we are both breathing air all the time.-Cornelius Van Til [Why I Believe in God]

Arguing about God's existence, I hold, is like arguing about air...[A]s we debate the point, we are both breathing air all the time.-Cornelius Van Til

The natural man is quite able intellectually to follow the argument that the Christian offers for the truth of his position. He can therefore see that the wisdom of this world has been made foolishness by God. Christianity can be shown to be, not "just as good as" or even "better than" the non-Christian position, but the *only* position that does not make nonsense of human experience.- Cornelius Van Til [A Christian Theory of Knowledge p. 19]

Predication is meaningless except upon the presupposition of the truth of Christianity.- Cornelius Van Til [A Christian Theory of Knowledge p. 272]

Now the only argument for an absolute God that holds water is a transcendental argument... [which] seeks to discover what sort of foundations the house of human knowledge must have, in order to be what it is.-Van Til [A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 11.]

The argument for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity is objectively valid.... The argument is absolutely sound. Christianity is the only reasonable position to hold. It is not merely as reasonable as other positions, or a bit more reasonable than other positions; it alone is the natural and reasonable position for man to take.-Van Til [Common Grace, p.62]

Anti-theism presupposes theism.-Cornelius Van Til [A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. xii.]

Deep down in his mind every man knows that he is the creature of God and responsible to God. Every man, at bottom, knows that he is a covenant breaker. But every man acts and talks as though this were not so. It is the one point that cannot bear mentioning in his presence.-Cornelius Van Til [The Defense of the Faith, pp. 109, 111, emphasis added; cf. pp. 102, 115, 285, 305-306.]

True human knowledge corresponds to the knowledge which God has of himself and his world. Suppose that I am a scientist investigating the life and ways of a cow. What is this cow? I say it is an animal. But that only pushes the question back. What is an animal? To answer that question I must know what life is. But again, to know what life is I must know how it is related to the inorganic world. And so I may and must continue till I reach the borders of the universe. And even when I have reached the borders of the universe, I do not yet know what the cow is. Complete knowledge of what a cow is can be had only by an absolute intelligence, i.e., by one who has, so to speak, the blueprint of the whole universe. But it does not follow from this that the knowledge of the cow that I have is not true as far as it goes. It is true if it corresponds to the knowledge that God has of the cow.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, page 1


The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication. It tells us not only of the Christ and his work, but it also tells us who God is and where the universe about us has come from. It tells us about theism as well as about Christianity. It gives us a philosophy of history as well as history. Moreover, the information on these subjects is woven into an inextricable whole. It is only if you reject the Bible as the word of God that you can separate the so-called religious and moral instruction of the Bible from what it says, e.g., about the physical universe.– Cornelius Van Til, allegedly from Christian Apologetics p.19 and The Defense of the Faith p.29

The same point may be further elucidated if we say that Platonic and Augustinian thought have opposing conceptions of Mystery. Augustinian thought holds that there is not and has never been mystery for God. It is this that makes the mystery that has always and that will always surround man not a burden, but a joy, to him. Man can rejoice in the mystery that surrounds himself because he believes that no mystery surrounds God. If mystery should be thought of as surrounding God, then nothing would remain for man but utter despair. A child who knows that his father is a millionaire does not need to have more than a dollar in his hand. The believer can pray with confidence, “Give us this day our daily bread.” On the other hand, Platonic thought starts out with the idea that there is mystery surrounding both God and man.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 49-50

Let our apologetics be as Van til urges "Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re" (gentle in the manner of presentation, but powerful in argumentative substance)

This does not at all mean that Scholasticism has made no advance in details. Nor does it in the least minimize the greatness of the intellectual labor displayed in the movement as a whole. It only means that we cannot turn back to Scholasticism as Rome today is doing, in order to find a solution for the epistemological difficulties of the day.- - Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 64

When one opens his mouth about possibility he <i>ipso facto</i> defines reality. When one opens his mouth about possibility he also opens his mouth about God. God is either the source of possibility or he comes out of bare possibility, or for that matter any other term would have no significance if God were not back of it as the final subject of predication. It is this fundamental basis of theism that is denied if one attempts to interpret reality in a mixture of  categories.- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 107

Hence the problem of the one and the many, of the universal and the particular, of being and becoming, of analytical and synthetic reasoning, of the a priori and the a posteriori must be solved by an exclusive reference to the Trinity.
- Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 96


Christianity is not merely the most tenable hypothesis that one can find for the interpretation of the world. Christianity is no hypothesis at all. It is accepted on the authority of the self-attesting Christ of Scripture and at the same time it is the presupposition without which predication is - Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, p. 117
[[[[[[[[[see Van Til on Christianity as Hypothesis in the same book 208-209.  Van Til says, something like, there is a sense in which it can be presented as hypothesis using analogical language, not presented as hypothesis using univocal language]]]]]]]]]



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Was Jesus Literate?


The following quote is taken from Is Jesus the Only Savior? by James R. Edwards pages 29-30

John Crossan believes that Jesus was illiterate. This, of course, contradicts the New Testament, for there we are told that Jesus read from Isaiah before preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-20). Crossan puts forth the following argument for his conclusion: He begins by saying that according to Mark 6:3, Jesus was a tekton. The most common English rendering of tekton is "builder," or "carpenter," but Crossan takes the term not as a description of a trade, but as a description of a group of low-caste peasant expendables. He then states that 95-96% of Jews in first-century Palestine were illiterate; hardly any of the remaining 4-5% would have come from this low class. Here, then, is his conclusion: "[The stories that Jesus was literate] must be seen clearly for what they are: Lukan propaganda rephrasing Jesus' oral challenge and charisma in terms of scribal literacy and exegesis."12

I argue that Crossan is wrong on this point, and here are my reasons why: All Greek-English lexicons render tekton as "carpenter," a reference to a trade, not to a social class.13 Moreover, we know that manual labor was not a derogatory distinction in Jewish Palestine, in contrast to Crossan's insinuation that it was. The Mishnah, for example, places the teaching of a manual trade to one's son on a par with teaching him Torah.14 Obviously, in the Jewish world anything analogous to Torah was clearly honorable. Now, it is hard for me to imagine that the commandment to teach one's son Torah would result in a 95% illiteracy rate among the Jewish population. Consider the Jewish literature produced by the Roman period: not only the entire Old Testament, but also the New Testament, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Bar Kokhba literature, the Mishnah, and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. These are immense bodies of literature; in the last, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, some fifty thousand documents exist! Would a literary achievement so extensive have been produced for a 3-5% reading population? Further, if Crossan were right about Jesus' illiteracy, why would Luke have intentionally lied about it? After all, if 95% of the population were illiterate, there would be no reason to make Jesus literate.15

FOOTNOTES:

12. [OMITTED]
13. [OMITTED]
14. "A man should always teach his son a cleanly craft" (Qiddushin 4:14); "At five years old [one is fit] for the Scripture, at ten years for the Mishnah" (Aboth 5:21); "Above all we pride ourselves on the education of our children, and regard as the most essential task in life the observance of our laws..." (Josephus, Against Apion 1.60); "[The Law] orders that [children] be taught to read, and shall learn both the laws and the deeds of the forefathers..." (Josephus, Against Apion 2.204).

15. See A. Millard, "Literacy in the Time of Jesus," Biblical Archaeology Review 29/4 (2003): 37-45, who concludes that "writing and reading were widely practiced in the Palestine of Jesus' day." Further, G. Dalman, Jesus—Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels, trans. P. Levertoff (New York: KTAV, 1971), 36-37, leaves virtually no doubt that Jesus was literate.