Introduction -- By: Anonymous
To commemorate the centennial of the birth of Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895), the editorial staff of the Westminster Theological Journal has decided to devote the present issue to his thought. Those who were asked to contribute to this volume are all sympathetic to the concerns that Van Til raised throughout his long and fruitful career, though some articles are more appreciative, others more critical.
The articles in this volume indicate the deep and wide-ranging implications of Van Til’s apologetic on a variety of issues. From an analysis of institutional decline, to exegetical considerations, to logic and ontology, the cumulative effect of these articles, if nothing else, shows the relevance of what Van Til sought to develop, not only for apologetics per se, but for virtually every area of doctrine and life. This will come as no surprise to those who recognize the shadow of Abraham Kuyper looming behind Van Til. Van Til’s apologetic, against the rampant positivism and idealism of his day, was an apologetic of “the created fact.” And because every fact was created and interpreted by God, it could only properly be seen and understood within the context of the Christian faith. In a world, and all too often a church, in which the facts were both brute and mute, Van Til called us to see the “speech of God” in all that was made (Psalm 19). Even as Kuhn, Polanyi, and others sought to help their followers transcend their limited paradigms, Van Til had for decades been shattering the circles of unbelieving thought and calling the church back to the only true worldand-life view. When the best of Reformed thinkers could only either prove a bare theism (Warfield) or hide the discipline of apologetics in the basement of the theological house (Kuyper), Van Til set the centrality of Christ and his Word in the center of the debate with unbelief, thereby reuniting Christianity with theism and showing apologetics to be the gatekeeper in the house of Reformed theology.
It is, perhaps, difficult properly to assess the historical significance of Van Til’s thinking for the church; generations beyond will be able to read more clearly. But at least this much can be said-in raising up Cornelius Van Til, the Lord has given to the church a great gift because of which much will be required. This volume is an attempt to work toward that requirement to the honor and glory of the self-attesting Christ of Scripture.
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.
K. Scott Oliphint
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