By Thomas Linton, DRS
Chapter 2: Faith and the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails
In this chapter, Dr. Kurt Jaros who has a PhD from the university of Aberdeen, addresses the issue of Van Til’s Apologetic Methodology specifically in regards to Van Til’s use of common grace and his anthropology. I believe that chapter 2 of Without Excuse is an improvement from chapter 1. The reason I say this is because while I disagree with the arguments made in this chapter, this articles engages with Van Til and is within the the scope of the actual debate. Jaros concludes his chapter with saying:
“Van Til has an explicit contradiction in his methodology: he argues that it is both effective and ineffective to argue with the natural man.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 51.
This is an apparent contradiction of the methodology that hopefully will get resolved from this review. Jaros also states that there are theological differences between Presuppositionalism and traditional Reformed theology in approaches to apologetics. Jaros states:
“I will argue that one of the fundamental differences between Presuppositionalism and the traditional Reformed approach is found in the doctrine of man, specifically the doctrine of inability.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 34.
The only way to properly do this to show that Van Til actually contradicts the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). If there is no comparison between Van Til and WFC then the argument cannot really be made that Van Til’s anthropology is contrary to historical reformed theology. Jaros will attempt to accomplish his goal by the following:
- Jaros will try to explain Van Til’s method of apologetics.
- Jaros will explain the differences between Van Til and both Warfield and Kuyper.
- Jaros will offer a critique of Van Til’s use of common grace and anthropology as it relates to Van Til’s apologetic methodology.
- Jaros calls Van Til’s anthropology and apologetic methodology a non sequitur.
According to Kurt Jaros:
“In doing this we shall see that Van Til fails to offer a third way on common grace for his apologetic methodology, thereby failing to challenge the wisdom of the world by his own standard. Therefore, it should be rejected as a distinct viable option for apologetic methodology.”Ibid, 34.
The third way for Van Til implements are elements of both Old Princeton and Old Amsterdam. For this reason the debate is rightfully between Van Til’s stance with Warfield and Kuyper. In this review I will attempt to do the following:
- Demonstrate that Jaros takes one of two extremes in his criticism of Van Til. He holds to what can be called the Absolute Antithesis thesis. This means the antithesis does not allow for any engagement between believers and unbelievers.
- This extreme position of the Absolute Antithesis thesis fails to see Van Til’s position of unbeliever not always being fully epistemologically self-consciousness in their ethical opposition to God. There are times when the unbeliever allows the image of God to show.
- This extreme position of the Absolute Antithesis thesis leads to Jaros stating that Van Til doesn’t actually offer a third way between Warfield and Kuyper but just fully accepts Kuyper’s view on Common Grace. This is an error as a direct result of the Absolute Antithesis thesis.
- In regards to Van Til’s anthropology, Jaros fails to provide sufficient evidence to support the view that Van Til’s position on the fall of man is not in line with Reformed Theology. I will use the WFC chapter 9 section 3 to show Van Til is consistent with the WFC.
- Jaros also fails to follow through with explaining how Van Til committed a non sequitur and the issue of making metaphysical claim on unregenerate. Jaros actually commits a non sequitur himself and also poisons the well in regards to Van Til’s critique of Roman Catholicism.
Kurt Jaros’ Explanation of Van Til’s Method
Kurt Jaros’ first sentence:
“Van Til is concerned that traditional arguments from natural theology compromise the Reformed faith. They do not take seriously the doctrine of total depravity, and, in practice, the disposition of unregenerate man.”Ibid, 34.
Jaros goes on to explain his perspective on Van Til’s apologetic methodology:
“Van Til’s theme of thesis antithesis plays out in the realm of what believers can know and what unregenerate, nonbelievers can know on their own frameworks (or more appropriately, cannot know on their own framework) . “We conclude then that both parties, when the believer and the non-believer, are epistemologically self-conscious and as such engaged in the interpretive enterprise, they cannot be said to have any fact in common.” For Van Til, there is no common ground, epistemologically, between believer and unbeliever. This leads him to the conclusion that, “In contradistinction, from both Roman Catholics and Arminians, however, the Reformed apologist cannot agree at all with the methodology of the natural man.” As we will show, Van Til’s model is ultimately no different Abraham Kuyper’s, because it goes, “off to the right by denying common grace” for apologetic methodology.”Ibid, 36.
In this section above Jaros quotes Van Til but he makes a crucial mistake in his interpretation of Van Til. The issue is with the use of the word “when” by Van Til. This use of when implies there are times when the unbeliever is self-conscious but there are also times when the unbeliever is not self-conscious. Also, Jaros uses the word “framework” which is actually worldview. When the unbeliever in their own worldview. The crucial point for Van Til is that the unbeliever does not consistently live out his own worldview but borrows from the Christian Worldview to argue against Christianity.
According to Van Til:
“So far then as men self-consciously work from this principle they have no notion in common with the believer. Their epistemology is informed by their ethical hostility to God. But in the course of history the natural man is not fully self-conscious of his own position.”Van Til, In Defense of the Faith, 240.
What Jaros failed to realize in his reading of Van Til is the part where Van Til states that the natural man is not “fully self-conscious of his own position”, which means that there is not an absolute antithesis. While Jaros accepts the absolute antithesis thesis that states that Van Til holds a position that there is no point of contact with the unbeliever and therefore there is no possibility of meaningful discussion with the natural man who has rejected the truth of Scriptures. The results is that there is no reason for an apologetic conversation between believer and unbeliever.
Van Til states elsewhere:
“The sinner’s efforts, so far as they are done self-consciously from his point of view, seek to destroy or bury the voice of God that comes to him through nature, which includes his own consciousness. But this effort cannot be wholly successful at any point in history. The most depraved of men cannot wholly escape the voice of God. Their greatest wickedness is meaningless except upon the assumption that they have sinned against the authority of God. Thoughts and deeds of utmost perversity are themselves revelational, revelational, that is, in their very abnormality.”Van Til, Nature and Scripture, Kindle Edition, loc. 139.
Since there is not an absolute antithesis between the covenant breaker and God and the sinful man is not fully self-conscious, there is a point of contact. From this position of unbeliever living in God’s world and not able to fully escape this comes the next issue of self-deception. Greg Bahnsen did his PhD dissertation on the “The Apparent Paradox of Self-Deception” and Bahnsen said:
“In the subsequent study I will maintain, in short, that self-deception involves an indefensible belief about one’s beliefs. That is, S perpetrates a deception on himself when, because of the distressing nature of some belief held by him, he is motivated to misconstrue the relevant evidence in a manner and comes to believe that he does not hold that belief, although he does. When he holds a belief that is discomforting, the self-deceiver simultaneously brings himself to believe that he does not hold it, and toward the end of maintaining that unwarranted second-order belief he presses into service distorted and strained reasoning regarded the evidence which is adverse to his desires. He not only hides from himself his disapprobated belief, but when he purposely engages in self-deception he hides the hiding of that belief as well.”Greg Bahnsen, “A Conditional Resolution of the Apparent Paradox of Self-deception” (PhD diss., University of Southern California, 1978), 47-48, in USC Digital Library, accessed June 24, 2018, USC Digital Library.
Bahnsen’s PhD dissertation describes self-deception. This perspective of self-deception can help make sense of Van Til’s position. Bahnsen goes on to describe this a little more in Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, when Bahnsen says:
“A non-Christian can claim that God does not exist then, and nevertheless be said to know that God indeed does exist. Because this is the case one can employ an effective apologetical argument. Yet the apologist need not fall back upon false and impossible claims to neutrality nor utilize the hostile presuppositions of the unbeliever in order to do so. Rather he drives home the Word of God, forcing the rebel to see that he is living “on borrowed capital” (i.e., Christian presuppositions), and calling him back to a “remembrance” of his God.”Greg Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. American Vision: Powder Springs, GA. Kindle Edition, loc. 1729.
Bahnsen states that even though the unbeliever claims that God does not exist he still knows God exists and this is where the point of contact comes in. This makes sense of the apparent contradiction. Van Til follows up on this in Christian Apologetics when he says:
“The point of contact for the gospel, then, must be sought within the natural man. Deep down in his mind every mind 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 this were not so. It is the one point that cannot bear mentioning in his presence…It is assured of point of contact in the fact that every man is made in the image of God and impressed upon him the law of God. In that fact alone he may rest he may rest secure with respect to the point of contact problem. For the fact makes men always assessible to God. That fact assures us that every man, to be a man at all, must already be in contact with the truth. He is so much in contact with the truth that much of his energy is spent in the vain effort to hide this fact from himself are bound to be self-frustrated. Only by thus finding the point of contact in man’s sense of deity that lies underneath is own conception of self-consciousness as ultimate can we be both true to Scripture and effective in reasoning with the natural man.Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, 2nd Edition, 119-121.
While Kurt Jaros accepts the Absolute Antithesis thesis in his criticism of Van Til’s apologetic methodology when stating there is no common ground between the believer and the unbeliever it would appear that Van Til held to a common ground. The common ground is the image of God in man. Since the unbeliever is the image of God it remains the point of contact for effectively reasoning with him (keep this mind when the issue of metaphysics comes up). From the apparent quotes from both Bahnsen and Van Til would seem obvious to state that Vantilian Presuppositionalism offers a method that allows for a point of contact between the believer and the unbeliever.
Warfield vs Kuyper
In this section Kurt Jaros attempts to address is the tension between B. B. Warfield and Abraham Kuyper. This is a difference Old Princeton on the one hand and Old Amsterdam on the other hand. To understand this more please see B.A. Bosserman’s book The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox and chapters 1-2. In explaining Van Til’s position on differences between Warfield and Kuyper, Kurt Jaros says:
“Van Til a fine distinction the depth of sin’s effect on human nature, noting the doctrine of inability, here observed the phrase ” cannot but sin,” applies to apologetic methodology for Van Til. While Van Til seeks a third way on common grace, the connection to Kuyper’s anthropology is undeniable.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 38.
According to Jaros’ assessment of Van Til’s view on common grace it doesn’t appear that Van Til does enough to distance himself from Kuyper. No Vantilian will deny the influence of both Old Princeton and Old Amsterdam had on Van Til. There is also no issue with Van Til’s doctrine of inability.
Van Til addresses his view of common in chapter 6 of Common Grace and the Gospel. On pages 172-173, Van Til points out that metaphysically all things are in common between unbeliever and believers due to both being image of God. He then says nothing is in common with epistemology when the unbeliever is epistemologically self-conscious. This how the believer is able to “push the antithesis” with the unbelievers worldview. The unbeliever says there is no God and then borrows from the Christian Worldview for ultimate standard of morality, meaning to existence, beauty, love, and truth.
The Clarity of General Revelation and The Role of Common Grace
Kurt Jaros makes the claim that Van Til’s concept of general revelation is necessary and sufficient but only for those with the right worldview. Kurt Jaros also says that for Van Til general revelation is sufficient. Kurt Jaros says:
“Note that for Presuppositionalists, the unregenerate man has innate knowledge of the Creator and does not need evidence for that knowledge. There is no atheists, in principle. But if Presuppositionalism is true would there be any generic theist or bare theist Presuppositionalists critique classicalists as only defending bare theism (a description of some of God’s attributes without going into detailing God’s special revelation). So, if there are no atheists with presuppositionalism, are there any bare theists?”Ibid, 39.
This statement about general or bare theists demonstrates a failure to grasp a crucial and foundational element of Van Til’s theology. Everyone is either in covenant through Christ as a covenant keeper or in covenant with God through Adam as a covenant breaker. In this regard the professed atheist is no different than the professed bare theist, deist, or pantheist. All are non-Christian and covenant breakers. For Van Til it doesn’t matter as much that God exist but which God. It is the Christian Trinitarian God that we seek to defend. Regarding bare theism Van Til says:
“The entire debate about theism will be purely formal unless theism be taken as the foundation of Christianity. But if it is so taken it is no longer theism as such but Christian theism that is in debate. Pantheist, deists and theists, that is bare theists, may formally agree that God exists. Socrates, in arguing about the nature of piety within Euthyphro says that men “join issue about particulars.” So if the whole debate in apologetics is to be more than a meaningless discussion about the that of God’s existence and is to consider what kind of God exists, then the question of God’s revelation to man must be brought into the picture…Covenant-breakers could expect nothing but covenant wrath. That God meant to bring covenant-breakers back into covenant communion with himself through the covenant of grace could in no wise be discovered other than by supernatural redemptive revelation. B. B. Warfield brings out this point when he says that in addition to believing the supernatural fact, that is, God as a transcendent, self-existent being and in the supernatural act exemplified in creation and providence, the Christian must also believe in supernatural redemption. As certainly as the recognition of the great fact of sin is an element in the Christian’s world-conception, the need and therefore the actuality of the direct corrective act of God—of miracle, in a word—enters ineradicably into his belief.”Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 152-153, Kindle Edition.
For Van Til it is not that some sort of God that exists but rather the self-contained God of Scripture. According to Van Til’s covenantal theology:
“For Adam’s representative act of disobedience took place against this original favorable attitude on the part of God to all mankind. So sin is what it is as an act of covenantal disobedience. And grace, both special and common, is what it is in relation to sin as an act of covenantal disobedience. In fact, for the solution of the problem of common grace it is of basic importance to set it in the perspective of the Reformed view of history as a whole. Only when it is seen that God’s grace comes to men who are covenant-breakers in Adam, to such as were from the outset of history, even when they did not exist, that is when they did not yet exist as historical individuals, already the objects of God’s favorable attitude, that grace is seen truly to be grace.”Ibid, 501-502, Kindle Edition.
It is from this idea of the covenant relationship between man and God that Van Til’s view of common grace can be properly understood. The covenant-breaker receives favor from God even though he is in rebellion to God.
Kurt Jaros goes on to quote from Van Til’s Common Grace and the Gospel from page 186-187. There are two sentences that he does not include in his quote that I believe help clear things up regarding Van Til’s view of common grace. First, Van Til says:
“The revelation of God to man in the created universe is said to be clear. Men therefore cannot help but know God.”Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel, 186.
“The point is that when and to the extent that the natural man is engaged in interpreting life in terms of his adopted principles then, and only then, he has nothing in common with the believer. But man can never completely suppress the truth.”Ibid, 186-87.
Van Til believes that the general revelation of God was so clear that nobody could help but to know God.
Van Til did not reject common grace and the revelation of God in nature. Van Til did not believe in seperating general and special revelation. The confusion lies in the difference between general or natural revelation and natural theology according to Classical Apologetics. According to the Blackwell Companion on Natural Theology the definition of Natural Theology is:
“Natural theology is the practice of philosophically reﬂecting on the existence and nature of God independent of real or apparent divine revelation or scripture. Traditionally, natural theology involves weighing arguments for and against God’s existence, and it is contrasted with revealed theology , which may be carried out within the context of ostensible revelation or scripture. For example, revealed theology may take as authoritative certain New Testament claims about Jesus and then construct a philosophical or theological model for understanding how Jesus may be human and divine. Natural theology, on the other hand, develops arguments about God based on the existence of the cosmos, the very concept of God, and different views of the nature of the cosmos, such as its ostensible order and value.”Charles Taliaferro, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009. pg. 1, ProQuest Ebook Central,
There is a difference between general revelation and Natural Theology. General revelation is God’s revealing himself through nature and Natural Theology according to the Classical Apologist is the Christian using nature to argue for the existence of God apart from special revelation.
Jaros moves from Van Til’s view of general revelation and common grace to Van Til’s anthropology. The first thing Kurt Jaros says:
“Van Til says that man’s rebellion is ethical, and not intellectual. He believes there is no metaphysical differences between the natural man and the believer, only epistemological differences.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 43.
When Van Til says it is ethical rather than metaphysical what he really means is the difference is a covenantal difference. The unregenerate man is not different than the believer metaphysically but in a covenantal manner (remember the part about metaphysics) the unbeliever is a covenant breaker.
In this section Kurt Jaros does get something regarding Van Til’s anthropology correct. Kurt Jaros says:
“Common grace serves as a retardant to the depth of human sinfulness and is the source of the natural and civic goods we enjoy. Common grace does not, however, the natural man’s ethical disposition toward God. Common grace does not, however, correct the natural man’s will to accept truths about God known from natural theology.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 44.
Van Til no doubt rejected the Classicalists view of natural theology and that sinful man can somehow reason his way to God independent of God’s special revelation. This has to do with Van Til’s belief in the noetic effects of sin.
Kurt Jaros then goes on to make this statement:
“Unregenerate man’s inability to believe in the Creator God, through general revelation, is a distinctive theological feature of presuppositionalism.”Kurt Jaros, Without Excuse, “the Natural Light of Reason: How Van Tillian Anthropology Fails“, 45.
Again, presuppositionalism believes that the unregenerate already know God and are in denial of this knowledge. It is not an inability to believe that God exists it is an inability to repent and turn in faith towards God.
Kurt Jaros on page 45 accuses Van Til of committing a non sequitur. Kurt Jaros goes on to say, “Why ought we think that simply because natural man rejects his status as an image bearer of God, that he is unable to use those God-given functions to reason with us about his telos?” But this is actually a non sequitur because it doesn’t follow from Van Til that the unbeliever needs to reason his way to God but rather the unbeliever needs to repent of his sins and turn to Christ. The problem with Kurt Jaros’ claim is that it comes close to a synergism. Van Til’s objection to the Thomistic view of Natural Theology but that is not a non sequitur. It may be controversial within the Reformed community but not a non sequitur.
Van Til openly confessed that he adhered to the WFC and according to WFC 9.3:
“Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/westminster-confession-faith
This does not appear to be different from Van Til’s view on the natural man’s ability to convert himself on his own. According to Van Til in his Christian Apologetics he says:
“When man fell, it was therefore an attempt to do without God in every respect. Man sought his ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty somewhere beyond God, either directly within himself or indirectly within the universe about him.”Cornelius Van Til. Christian Apologetics, 2nd Edition, 42.
At the end of page 45, Kurt Jaros makes the claim that Van Til is making a metaphysical claim when Van Til states that unregenerate man is unable to use God-given functions to reason to God. There is no basis for this claim though and he again accuses Van Til of non-sequitur but not from anything Van Til actually states but from a certain interpretation of Van Til. Kurt Jaros does not take into account what the WCF actually says of fallen man. The misunderstanding is that Van Til takes seriously the WCF statement, “a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself.” This is not a metaphysical claim as Kurt Jaros is assuming but is a covenantal claim that due to man being in sin and covenant breaker cannot will or reason to God for salvation. Regarding the issue of metaphysics, Van Til said:
“In conjunction with man’s false ideal of knowledge we may mention here the fact that when man saw he could not attain his own false ideal of knowledge, he blamed this on the finite character. Man confused finitude with sin. Thus he comingled the metaphysical and the ethical aspects of reality.Ibid, 43.
On page 181 of Common Grace and the Gospel, Van Til states, “I hold that all facts of the universe are exhaustively revelational of God” and as a result all men unavoidably know God and themselves as creatures of God according to Romans 1. On page 199 of Common Grace and the Gospel, Van Til goes on to say: “true Protestantism is a manner of restoring man, the creature of God, to his true ethical relationship to God…Therefore when God gives man His grace, His saving grace, this does not reinstate his rationality or morality. It reinstates his true knowledge righteousness, and holiness (Col. 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). It restores man ethically, not metaphysically.”
It is not Van Til that confuses the ethical and metaphysical but the Classicalist with adopting a pagan philosophy of life combined with Christianity.
On page 46, Kurt Jaros accuses Van Til of being misguided in his critique of of Roman Catholicism and Arminianism. The problem is that Van Til provides thorough critiques of both in many of his works. This is not something that can properly be addressed in one paragraph. It is not fair to criticize Van Til for his assessment on the differences between different theological groups and only dedicate a paragraph to such a criticism.
Kurt Jaros moves to the objection that Van Til’s methodology is essentially no different than Kuypers apologetic method and there is no real reason to engage in apologetic conversations with the unbeliever. In his critique of Van Til, on pages 46-47, Kurt Jaros uses Van Til’s Christian Apologetics pages 84, 104-105, and 119-121. This is essentially Van Til’s Christian Apologetics from Chapter 3 on the Point of Contact.
Van Til starts the chapter by quoting Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) who was a neo-Kantian philosopher. Van Til quotes this neo-Kantian philosopher “every author seems in the last count to be lead by his own conception of of human life” which is to say that not everyone is lead by Scripture but rather the natural man is lead by his own autonomous thinking. Van Til says:
“It is therefore imperative that the Christian apologist be alert to the fact that the average person to whom he must present the Christian religion is quite different kind of being than he thinks he is…Christianity, then, must present itself as the light that makes the facts of human experience, and above all the nature of man himself, to appear for what they really are.”Ibid, 85-86.
This is because the natural man has rejected God and no longer thinks of himself as image of God but something else. Van Til ends his chapter on Point of Contact with the following:
“It is assured of a point of contact in the fact that every man is made in the image of God and has impressed upon him the law of God. In that fact alone he may rest secure with the point of contact problem. For that fact makes men always assessible to God.”Ibid, 120.
This points to the issue of man as fallen image of God while thinking he is something different. Here, Van Til’s effort is to use apologetics in evangelism. The unbeliever thinks he is fine and does not see himself as a sinner before God. The idea is to press the Creator/creature distinction and the Fall.
One final issue that needs to be addressed is a quote on page 49 of Dr. Richard Howe, “even if one granted that the Presuppositionalist was right in claiming that human beings are estranged from God, it does not follow from this that human beings are totally estranged from reality itself” and then goes on to say the unregenerate can fully understand reality.” There are a couple of problems with what Dr. Howe and also Dr. Jaros state here. First, it is not Presuppositionalists who state that fallen man is in rebellion and alienated from God but the Scriptures. To the extent that Classicalists deny this truth is going counter to Scripture and not just Presuppositionalism. For example in Isaiah 59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” and Matthew 7:17-18 , “So, Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” This idea that the Presuppositionalist view is foreign to Christianity. The claim of Van Til making a metaphysical claim is without any serious merit. Van Til does not deny in anyway that the unbeliever is no longer image of God. He maintains that the unbeliever or unregenerate is still image of God. Second, the idea that presuppositionalists make the leap of estranged from God is estranged from reality needs to be explained more. The unbeliever lives in God’s world and is a creature of God and that shows on occasions.
In this article, Dr. Kurt Jaros provided a critique of Van Til’s apologetic method with a particular emphasis on Van Til’s use of common grace, anthropology, and how that relates to Van Til’s Apologetic Methodology. According to Jaros, there is no room for an apologetic conversation in Van Til’s apologetic method. This is because he comes to believe in the Absolut Antithesis thesis for Van Til. This is better than the Rejection Thesis. The Rejection Thesis is the other extreme that some say Van Til abandoned Christianity altogether for Idealism.
It is from the acceptance of the Absolute Antithesis Thesis that Jaros claims Van Til’s view on common grace is identical to the Kuyper’s position and completely opposed to Old Princeton’s position that was being argued. This conclusion can be challenged and I recommend the reader to check out B.A. Bosserman’s book titled The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox. In Dr. Bosserman’s book he dedicates three chapters to the subject manner of Old Princeton, Old Amsterdam, and Idealism in relation to Van Til.
Jaros attempted to prove that Van Til’s apologetic methodology is inconsistent with traditional Reformed Theology. The problem is that Jaros never compared Van Til’s view of human nature with the WCF. The WCF chapter 9 section 3 was analyzed and compared to Van Til in this review but was not addressed by Jaros. Just because Van Til disagrees with Warfield on common grace does not mean that Van Til’s position is somehow unorthodox or inconsistent with Reformed Theology. Finally, Jaros accuses Van Til of committing a non sequitur but this does not appear to be a valid objection and is more due to Jaros’ adoption of the Absolute Antithesis thesis. In the end, the criticisms made against Van Til’s Apologetic Methodology in regards to both fallen human nature and common grace are not accurate but based upon a false starting point with how Jaros interprets Van Til. This results in false accusations. In the end their is no reason to think Van Til’s Apologetic Methodology is what Jaros presents it as being. I advise everyone to read Van Til’s works and without allowing for negative filter from those adherents of Classical Apologetics due to how they interpret Van Til. If you are in the process of reading Without Excuse but have never read Van Til then I suggest you read Van Til first and read Greg Bahnsen’s Van Til’s Apologetics Reading and Analysis that will provide some good content on Van Til.
Bahnsen, Greg. “A Conditional Resolution of the Apparent Paradox of Self-deception.” PhD diss., University of Southern California, 1978. In USC Digital Library.
Bahnsen, Greg. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and defended.. Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2010.
Taliaferro, Charles. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central.
Van Til, Cornelius. Christian Apologetics, 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003.
Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith, Kindle Edition.
Van Til, Cornelius. Common Grace and the Gospel, 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015.