The Inescapable Revelation of God

prpbooks-images-covers-md-9780875527895“The sinner’s problem from his point of view is to cast doubt upon this evidence, to make it appear as though the evidence were not clear. With the rich man who lifted up his eyes in torment, it is the effort of every man to put the blame for his failure to serve God upon the elusive character of the evidence for God’s existence. If he could rightly say that God has to be diligently searched for, that he might possibly be hidden in some remote corner of the earth, or moon or Jupiter, then he would have an excuse for his ignorance. Following Paul, the Reformed theologian, and he alone, will stress the inescapable character of the revelation of God.”

– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.268

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Man’s Response to Revelation

6618151Calvin makes a sharp distinction between the revelation of God to man and man’s response to that revelation. This implies the rejection of a natural theology such as Aquinas taught.

He makes a sharp distinction between the responses to God’s revelation made by:

(a) man in his original condition, i.e., Adam before the Fall;
(b) mankind, whose “understanding is subjected to blindness and the heart to depravity” (Inst. II.i.9)
(c) those that are “taught of Christ” through Scripture and whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit.

– Cornelius Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and the Defense of Christianity & My Credo p.24

All knowledge rests on revelation

As indicated in an earlier connection, man’s creation in God’s image involves (a) the fact that man’s ideal of knowledge should never be that of the comprehension of God, and (b) the fact that man’s knowledge is nevertheless true.

What we have now spoken of as the presuppositions of revelation are nothing more than the presuppositions of a truly Christian theistic theory of knowledge. God had in himself all knowledge from all eternity. Nothing could be added to his store of knowledge in any process of time. In accordance with his plan, or, as we may say, in accordance with his interpretation, all finite things were made. Hence, all knowledge that any finite creature of God would ever have, whether of things that pertain directly to God or of things that pertain to objects in the created universe itself would, in the last analysis, have to rest upon the revelation of God.

– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.119

Revelation permutations

Man might receive revelation (a) about nature, (b) about man, and (c) about God. He might, moreover, receive such revelation from three distinct sources, that is, from three distinct immediate sources, namely, from nature, from man, and from God. The matter may be schematically presented as follows. Man might receive revelation:

A. About nature:

1. From nature        i.e., through physics
2. From self              i.e., through psycho-physics
3. From God             i.e., through theologico-physics

B. About man himself:

1. From nature        i.e., through physico-psychology
2. From self              i.e., through psychology proper
3. From God             i.e., through theologico-physcology

C. About God:

1. From nature        i.e., through natural theology
2. From self              i.e., through rational theology
3. From God             i.e., through theology proper

– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.121-122

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If this has piqued your interest, I encourage you to read Van Til’s ‘An Introduction to Systematic Theology‘ where he develops each of these categories over several chapters. 

God confronts man everywhere

The main point is that if man could look anywhere and not be confronted with the revelation of God then he could not sin in the biblical sense of the term. Sin is the breaking of the law of God. God confronts man everywhere. He cannot in the nature of the case confront man anywhere if he does not confront him everywhere. God is one; the law is one. If man could press one button on the radio of his experience and not hear the voice of God then he would always press that button and not the others. But man cannot even press the button of his own self-consciousness without hearing the requirement of God.

– Cornelius Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel p.203