Like a Child on Their Father’s Knee

The ultimate source of truth in any field rests in him. The world may discover much truth without owning Christ as Truth. Christ upholds even those who ignore, deny, and oppose him. A little child may slap his father in the face, but it can do so only because the father holds it on his knee. So modern science, modern philosophy, and modern theology may discover much truth. Nevertheless, if the universe were not created and redeemed by Christ no man could give himself an intelligible account of anything. It follows that in order to perform their task aright the scientist and the philosopher as well as the theologian need Christ.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.147-148

We must take Christ at his word

According to Calvin, God’s revelation to man is always and everywhere clear. It is sin that makes men pervert the revelation of God. It is because men are sinners that their “theology” is evil. Sin makes man spurn the love of God and merit his wrath, thus every man, says Calvin, is walking in the way of death. His is a downward journey on the staircase that leads to eternal separation form God. But God in his grace has sent his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the redeemer of the world. He himself tells us about his work of redemption. He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He gives us his Spirit so that, though of ourselves we would spurn this redemption, he enlightens our minds and quickens our hearts to receive it. Thus redemptive revelation, as well as foundational revelation, is self-authenticating. We must take Christ at his word. If we do so, then our reason will truly be set free. Then we can anew enter upon the task of glorifying God in science and in art, in philosophy and in worship. And then we are on the staircase that leads to his presence in glory forevermore.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.23

Mutually exclusive totality-visions

It appears then that if there is to be any intelligible encounter between the Christian and the non-Christian, it must be in terms of the two mutually exclusive visions that each entertains. To appeal to the law of contradiction and/or to facts or to a combination of these apart from the relation that these sustain to the totality-vision of either, the believer or the unbeliever, is to beat the air. It is well to say that he who would reason must presuppose the validity of the laws of logic. But if we say nothing more basic than this, then we are still beating the air. The ultimate question deals with the foundation of the validity of the laws of logic. We have not reached bottom until we have seen that every logical activity in which any man engages is in the service of his totality-vision.

It is also well to say that we must follow the facts wheresoever they may lead us. But again we should note that all research into the realm of fact, on the part of any man, is in the service of his totality-vision. The self-authenticating man assumes that if the Christian story were true, then the scientific enterprise would be meaningless. Free scientific inquiry, he assumes, requires that there be no pre-interpretation of facts in terms of the Christian story. On the other hand, the Christian holds that the idea of free scientific inquiry is unintelligible except upon the presupposition of the truth of the Christian story.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.137

Various Disguises

The self-authenticating man has various disguises. He will appear as the “rational man” and demand that the Christian story must make peace with the laws of logic, as these are based on his vision of Goodness above God and man. He will appear as the “moral man” and demand that the Christian story make peace with the laws of morality, as these are based on his vision of Goodness above God and man. He will appear as the “scientific man” and demand that the Christian story must make peace with the facts of science. For these facts must be what the vision of the self-authenticating man says they can be. But in whatever guise he may appear, the self-authenticating man assumes that he is to be the judge…

We dare not curry favor with the self-authenticating man. We dare not claim that the Christian story is “in accordance with logic” and “in accordance with fact” in terms of the vision of the self-authenticating man. We must rather call him to repentance. We must insist on his unconditional surrender to the self-authenticating Christ. But we must do that in the interest of his finding himself, of his finding meaning in science, in morality, and in religion. We must do that in the interest of his participation in the victory of the all-conquering Christ.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Case for Calvinism p.135, 142

The Christian Story

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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

Borrowed capital

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