As then the Christian builds his view of man, he does so unashamedly on the basis of the Christian story. This story is the story of the covenant. Man was created as a covenant-keeper, but he soon became a covenant-breaker. When we say he became a covenant-breaker, we mean by that that all men after Adam through the fall of Adam, the first man, came into the world as covenant-breakers (Rom 5:12). Here human choice is so significant that the action of the first man colors the nature of the actions of all later men. All later men are under the wrath and curse of God because of Adam’s rejection of the word of God’s love and command. And they daily add to their sinfulness by their constantly renewed disobedience. But then come the glad tidings of the grace of God in Christ. He who thought it not robbery to be called equal with God because he was God humbled himself to the death, even the death of the cross. And he who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.120
Since on the Reformed basis there is no area of neutrality between the believer and the unbeliever, the argument between them must be indirect. Christians cannot allow the legitimacy of the assumptions that underlie the non-Christian methodology. But they can place themselves upon the position of those whom they are seeking to win to a belief in Christianity for the sake of the argument. And the non-Christian, though not granting the presuppositions from which the Christian works, can nevertheless place himself upon the position of the Christian for the sake of the argument.
– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.18
In Calvinism more than in any other form of Protestantism the message of Christianity is clearly presented as a challenge to the wisdom of the world. The natural man must not be encouraged to think that he can, in terms of his own adopted principles, find truth in any field. He must rather be told that, when he finds truth, even in the realm of the “phenomenal,” he finds it in terms of principles that he has “borrowed,” wittingly or unwittingly, from Christianity. The fact of science and its progress is inexplicable except upon the presupposition that the world is made and controlled by God through Christ and that man is made and renewed in the image of God through Christ.
– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.106-107
The truth Paul brings requires response, the response of repentance; and repentance is the work of the whole man. Paul’s truth is ‘existential.’ He who rejects it virtually commits suicide both intellectually and morally.
Yet Paul also knows that sin is of such a nature as to make men prefer intellectual and moral suicide to the truth of God in Christ. Repentance means the recognition of bankruptcy. It involves the suppliant’s attitude begging for mercy, for pardon, for life. It means fleeing from the city of destruction and pressing on to the celestial city even when Mr. Worldly Wise Man and all his friends are going in the other direction. It means bearing the offence of the cross. Will any of the wise of the world accept his gospel and repent?
– Cornelius Van Til, The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel p.5-6
[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. Before seeking to prove that Christianity is in accord with reason and in accord with fact, it would ask what is meant by ‘reason’ and what is meant by ‘fact.’ It would argue that unless reason and fact are themselves interpreted in terms of God they are unintelligible. If God is not presupposed, reason is a pure abstraction that has no contact with fact, and fact is a pure abstraction that has no contact with reason. Reason and fact cannot be brought into fruitful union with one another except upon the presupposition of the existence of God and his control over the universe.
– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.18
When the sinner has by God’s grace in Christ received this new light and this new power of sight then he sees all things in their proper relationships. Formerly he stood on his head while now he stands on his feet. Formerly he referred all things to himself as the final point of reference. Now he refers all things to God his Creator, and to Christ his redeemer as the final point of reference. His conversion was a Copernican revolution. It was not accomplished by steps or stages. It was an about-face. Before his conversion he looked away from the God and the Christ of Scripture. After his conversion he can’t see a fact in the world that he does not wish to deal with to the glory of God. The words of Paul, ‘Whether ye eat, or drink, or do anything else, do all to the glory of God,’ are now his motto. Deeply conscious of his continued sinfulness he is, none the less, now, in the core of his being, a lover instead of a hater of God.
– Cornelius Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought, p.35-36
In view of the facts mentioned above we shall have to concern ourselves first and primarily with the two opposing principles of interpretation. The Christian principle of interpretation is based upon the assumption of God as the final and self-contained reference point. The non-Christian principle of interpretation is that man as self-contained is the final reference point. It is this basic difference that has to be kept in mind all the time. It will be difficult at times to see that such is actually the case. The very fact that by God’s common grace fallen man is ‘not as bad as he could be’ and is able to do that which is ‘morally good’ will make the distinction between two mutually exclusive principles seem an extreme oversimplification to many.
In fact, it is in spite of appearances that the distinction between the two principles must be maintained. The point is that the ‘facts of experience’ must actually be interpreted in terms of Scripture if they are to be intelligible at all. In the last analysis the ‘facts of experience’ must be interpreted either in terms of man taken as autonomous, or they must be interpreted in terms of God. There is no third ‘possibility.’ The interpretation which takes the autonomous man as self-interpretive is an ‘impossible possibility.’
– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.44-45
They can’t account for counting… Einsteen couldn’t count. I mean he has no philosophy that accounts for the idea that one fact is different from another fact. And if one fact isn’t different from another fact, you can’t count. There has to be some difference between potato one and potato two. Suppose that you are in a coal bin on a dark December night, and you’re looking for a black cat that isn’t there and you are blind… As Hegel said, “this is the night in which all cows are black and all cats are grey.” There is no differentiation.
I’m trying to bring this point home to you, for your consideration. You should not be afraid of any non Christian philosophy. We should not be apologetically presenting our position as though it were just as good as, or better, or a whole lot better. That’s not the issue. The issue is quite the opposite. Ours is alone the basis on which anything can be said intelligently about anything. And if you grant it that the other fellow could even find one fact and distinguish it from another fact, you’re making a fatal concession because then you are admitting that he can predicate to some extent. And if he can predicate intelligently to some extent then there isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t predicate all the way down and account for reality in a way that is as good yours, or maybe even better than yours. Then you are on this better or worse. You’re on probability and improbability.
– Cornelius Van Til, ‘Christ and Human Thought: Church Fathers Part 2‘ from 35:44