Reforming Ontology and Logic in the Light of the Trinity: An Application of Van Til’s Idea of Analogy -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 57:1 (Spring 1995)
Article: Reforming Ontology and Logic in the Light of the Trinity: An Application of Van Til’s Idea of Analogy
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress


Reforming Ontology and Logic in the Light of the Trinity:
An Application of Van Til’s Idea of Analogy

Vern Sheridan Poythress

God is the all-sufficient Creator and King of the universe (Ps 103:19). We are creatures made in the image of God (Gen 1:26–28). What are the implications of these fundamental biblical ideas for ontology and logic?

Beginning with the Basics

Let us begin with the basics. According to the Bible, the Creator-creature distinction is fundamental (Genesis 1; Isaiah 40; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15–17). There are two levels of being, two levels of existence: the self-sufficient, original existence of God the Creator, and the dependent, derivative existence of creatures.1 By contrast, non-Christian philosophy pretends that there is only one universal level of being.2

The ontological distinction between Creator and creature has implications for epistemology.3 God’s knowledge must be differentiated from the knowledge that creatures have (Isa 40:28). God’s knowledge is original and self-sufficient (Isa 40:13–14). Our knowledge is derivative and dependent (Ps 94:10).4 Human beings can have true knowledge because they are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26–28). They are “analogical” to God.5 Their knowledge is analogically related to God’s knowledge.6

The Word as Standard

Now let us turn to a specific word of God, namely, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Let us consistently apply theistic reasoning, that is, analogical reasoning, to this passage. When we do so, we find that it leads to reforming human thinking about ontology.

The Word is the Second Person of the Trinity, who became incarnate in the fullness of time (John 1:14). What does it mean that he is called “the Word”? In the contex...

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