Revelation of the Sovereign God

Van_Til1The doctrine of Scripture as self-attesting presupposes that whatsoever comes to pass in history materializes by virtue of the plan and counsel of the living God. If everything happens by virtue of the plan of God, then all created reality, every aspect of it, is inherently revelational of God and of his plan. All facts of history are what they are ultimately because of what God intends and makes them to be. Even that which is accomplished in human history through the instrumentality of men still happens by virtue of the plan of God. God tells the stars by their names. He identifies by complete description. He knows exhaustively. He knows exhaustively because he controls completely.

It is of such a God the Bible speaks. So it is once again a matter of moving about in circles. It is impossible to attain to the idea of such a God by speculation independently of Scripture. It has never been done and is inherently impossible. Such a God must identify himself. Such a God, and only such a God, identifies all the facts of the universe. In identifying all the facts of the universe he sets these facts in relation to one another.

– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.28


The Absolute Will of God

The basic difference then that distinguishes Christian from non-Christian ethics, is the acceptance, or denial, of the ultimately self-determinative will of God. As Christians we hold that determinate human experience could work to no end, could work in accordance with no plan, and could not even get under way, if it were not for the existence of the absolute will of God.

It is on this ground then that we hold to the absolute will of God as the presupposition of the will of man. Looked at in this way, that which to many seems at first glance to be the greatest hindrance to human responsibility, namely the conception of an absolutely sovereign God, becomes the very foundation of its possibility.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith p.84

Note by K. Scott Oliphint from the 4th edition:
“Here Van Til is employing a transcendental approach to the application of Christian truth. Given that there is self-determination in the will of man, what are the presuppositions behind that self-determination that make it possible? Van Til’s answer is, here and always, the presupposition of God and his character as it is expressed in Reformed theology.”