Van Til and the Philosophical Colloquy

Lillbackedit-small1In a lecture presented in 1981, Peter Lillback begins by telling the story of an imaginary philosophical colloquy. Gathered at the meeting are representatives from various schools of thought; Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Aquinas, John Wesley, John Montgomery, Clark Pinnock, Josh McDowell, B.B Warfield, John Gerstner, and Cornelius Van Til.

Before Van Til arrives, those gathered seek to find common ground by presenting different ideas that they might all agree on. They make great progress and are able to come to a consensus just before Van Til enters the room. Hopeful for unanimous agreement they inform Van Til that they have all agreed that “the rational mind of man is able to interpret all of reality honestly and with full capability to discover the truth.”

Of course, to everyone’s disappointment, Van Til does not agree. Quoting from his works he presents his view of sinful man’s reasoning and the necessity of recognising the authority of Scripture. In the remainder of the lecture Lillback seeks to show that Van Til’s position is in reality the historic view of the Reformed church. Then in a following lecture Lillback presents the “exegetical and theological basis for presuppositionalism.” These lectures are highly informative and deserving of a wider audience.

Lecture 1: ‘Van Til’s Place in the History of Modern and Reformed Thought.’

Lecture 2: ‘The Exegetical and Theological Basis for Presuppositionalism.’


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