Today (3 May) marks 121 years since the birth of Cornelius Van Til. Here are a few somewhat random quotes about a great man.
“When I determined, as a result of reading Van Til, to attend Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to stay with him for a time. One of the advantages of staying with him was the occasion to walk with him on his ‘daily constitutional.’ After almost thirty years, two things still stand out to me about those walks. (1) Even as an octogenarian, Van Til could maintain a rigorous pace. More importantly, (2) I remember that every one of Van Til’s neighbors, to whom I was introduced by him, said virtually the same thing to me: ‘I suppose he’s talking to you, too, about this Jesus.'”
– K. Scott Oliphint, Van Til the Evangelist
“For all his studies, Van Til clung closely to the soil, and few pastimes gave him greater pleasure than harvesting tomatoes. Because the academic life was generally perceived as the vocation of the weak, his neighbors wondered why he was forgoing a successful career in which he was manifestly gifted. ‘Such a good farmer as Kees should not be wasting his time on books!’ many townspeople advised the family. For much of his adult life, Van Til spent portions of the summer months working on the family’s farm, often putting his nephews to shame with his harvesting productivity in the hot August sun.”
– John R. Muether, Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman p.35
“[Orthodox Presbyterians] remember Van Til as a familiar, friendly face at church gatherings – the fellow who washed dishes at congregational meetings so that his wife could vote, the grandfatherly minister who loved kids and told jokes about chickens and such, the flaky professor who threw chalk at wayward students, the kindly man who visited hospital rooms and prayed with strangers as well as friends.”
– John Frame, Selected Shorter Writings Vol.2 p.198
“The first six weeks I was in seminary I lived in the home of the Van Tils after which time my wife came with our new baby and we moved to an apartment. What I saw there was only a continuation of what I had seen when Oome Kees was in our home. You were in the presence of a very godly man who felt a deep need for the forgiveness of sins and who in every aspect of his life wanted, out of thanksgiving, serve God with his heart and soul and mind.
His day began with God. His mealtime was not only a time of fellowship but also a time when the Bible or some devotional meditation was read. It was a time when a hymn was recited or sung. That was something Kees and Rena always did together. In letters he refers to singing Psalms in the hospital with Aunt Rena and how when she came out of the anaesthesia of an operation she was singing a Psalm.”
– Robert Den Dulk, The Van Til Family: Humble Beginnings
“You have been, and are, probably the most remarkable husband I have seen. No one else could have given Rena the care, support, and admiration which you have given her over the years. Time has not dulled your patience and steadfastness. You have thought of her and her welfare over the years and under all possible conditions and have done everything you could to make life possible for her. It has been a remarkable demonstration of Christian love and tenderness and is a pattern that I am sure no one will equal for uncounted time.”
– Paul Woolley in a note to Van Til following the death of his wife Rena.
John R. Muether, Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman p.213