The man with yellow glasses

The unbeliever is the man with yellow glasses on his face. He sees himself and his world through these glasses. He cannot remove them. His interpretation of himself and of every fact in the universe relating to himself is, unavoidably, a false interpretation. The conclusion that he, quite logically, draws from his assumption of his own autonomy is that the Christian position with respect to the creation, fall and redemption of man is the projection of a man who has illusions. There simply cannot be any such thing as creation. There can be no judgment after death. There can be no eternal punishment for sinners. There are no sinners.

It is therefore the idea of a common ground of interpretation that the “presuppositionalist” rejects. Such a common ground would be a meaningless monstrosity. Can any one intelligently assume that he is both a creature and not a creature, a sinner and not a sinner? Can any one intelligibly assume, with Hamilton, the Reformed theologian, that God is the source of possibility and with Hamilton, the apologist, that possibility is the source of God.

– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.259


5 thoughts on “The man with yellow glasses

  1. Harrison Jennings June 12, 2016 / 5:22 am

    This is interesting. Would it not also be the case that believers also have their own pair of glasses through which they view the world? Is that not indeed what all people have, a “worldview” or set of beliefs by which they perceive and interpret reality? Does there not need to be some objective standard by which we evaluate which pair of glasses most closely aligns with external reality?

    Liked by 1 person

    • keesthequokka June 12, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Yes I agree that the believer views things through their worldview. Van Til himself states that “it is indeed impossible for any man to make any statement about any fact of experience without doing so in terms of an all-inclusive view of reality. And we can only rejoice if there seems today to be some measure of appreciation of this fact, for to the extent that this is the case we need no longer concern ourselves with the idea of ‘neutrality.’”

      This isn’t to reject absolute truth. The point being made above is that the unbeliever wears glasses that are distorting reality. The Christian can interpret reality correctly if he employs a method that depends on God. Van Til elaborates on that here:

      In terms of evaluating which pair of glasses aligns with reality, Van Til argues that if one does not start with the Christian worldview he can not make sense of reality. The Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Harrison Jennings June 12, 2016 / 5:53 pm

        Thanks for the response, that cleared some things up for me. My follow up question (I’m new to presuppositional apologetics) would be, if we’re starting with the Christian worldview, how do you determine which specific Christian worldview to start from? How do you determine whether, say, Catholicism or some form of Protestantism is the correct starting point?

        Liked by 1 person

      • keesthequokka June 13, 2016 / 2:22 pm

        I’m not sure where you stand theologically, but I would argue that Reformed theology is the most consistently Christian position. To understand why I say that I highly recommend reading B.B. Warfield’s ‘The Plan of Salvation.’ It’s not very long.

        Van Til argues throughout his works that Catholicism is compromised with non-Christian principles because of its rejection of the sovereignty of God in all things, and its sub biblical view of man. Arminian theology suffers many of the same problems philosophically as Catholicism.

        To understand Van Til’s apologetic it is important to recognise that he doesn’t start with an empty concept of God. He seeks to defend Christianity as a unit with a methodology that is faithful to the core biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty, the creator-creature distinction, and the doctrines of grace. Van Til spends a lot of time laying out his apologetic methodology and contrasting it with the traditional method which he sees as being more accord with Catholic/Arminian theology. So a lot of his criticism of that method points to why he believes those forms do not provide an adequate defense. Van Til would argue that only Reformed theology provides the Christian with a place to stand.

        Liked by 1 person

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