Author: A. Allison Lewis
I. Van Tils (1) Life, (2) Theology and Philosophy and (3) Associations
II. The Creed of Christian Reconstructionism
III. Presuppositionialism: a deadly danger
I. Van Tils (1) Life,
(2) Theology and Philosophy and
[NOTE: The dates and periods are not consistent in the various records in my library. What are herein given is the best I can make of the inconsistencies - aal].
Cornelius Van Til was born on May 3, 1895, in the Netherlands and emigrated to the United States when he was 10. He married Rena Klooster in 1925 and they had one son, Earl, who died in 1983. Van Til was survived by a grand-daughter, Sharon Reed of Valencia, PA. He died on April 17, 1987 in his 91st year just a few days before he would have turned 92.
He graduated from Calvin College (A.B., 1922), Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.B., 1924; Th.M., 1925) and Princeton University (Ph.D. 1927). He served as the pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in Spring Lake, MI, 1927-28. He was a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from 1936 until his death. From 1929 to 1972 (43 years) he was professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and then emeritus professor until his death.
Van Tils published writings include The New Modernism (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1946), The Defense of the Faith (P&R, 1955) and Christianity and Barthianism (P&R, 1962), plus several syllabi and numerous reviews and articles. He was joint editor of Philosophia Reformata, a quarterly devoted to Calvinistic philosophy. A festschrift [birthday book], Jerusalem and Athens, edited by E. R. Geehan was published on his 75th birthday (P&R, 1971 [1970 ? - aal]).
Although he was trained in traditional apologetics by B. B. Warfield, J. G. Machen, R. D. Wilson, O. T. Allis and others of the old Princeton school he is best known for the development of a new approach to apologetics known as presuppositionalism.
Van Til gave a brief history of his life and philosophy in an essay published as: Van Til, Cornelius. Why I Believe in God. Philadelphia: Committee on Christian Education, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, n.d.
Probably, as much as any one element in his background, his study of philosophy at liberal Princeton University (Ph.D.) determined his ideas in his future teaching. His writings show great respect for the anti-God philosophers (While a student at Princeton Seminary I attended summer courses in the Chicago Divinity School. Naturally I heard the modern or liberal view of Scripture set forth fully there. And after graduation from the Seminary I spent two years at Princeton University for graduate work in philosophy. There the theories of modern philosophy were both expounded and defended by very able men. In short I was presented with as full a statement of the reasons for disbelief as I had been with the reasons for belief. I heard both sides fully from those who believed what they taught). The other major element of his beliefs was Covenant Theology. Covenant Theology is NOT read out of the Bible but rather it is read into the Bible. The Augustinian or Natural Headship or Traducianism is the only view which adequately explains what the Bible teaches about the passing of mans sinful nature on to all of Adams natural descendents. Van Til charges the Roman Catholic and Arminian views as defective and they are BUT so is his own.
According to his Why I Believe in God, his great privilege was that he was born into a Christian home i.e. born into a covenant relationship. In this essay where one would expect a testimony of the time when he repented of sin and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior you will look for it in vain. What is found are statements such as; I don't deny that I was taught to believe in God when I was a child, but I do affirm that since I have grown up I have heard a pretty full statement of the argument against belief in God. And it is after having heard that argument that I am more than ever ready to believe in God. And again; However if, after hearing my story briefly, you still think it is all a matter of heredity and environment, I shall not disagree too violently [! aal]. My whole point will be that there is perfect harmony between my belief as a child and my belief as a man, simply because God is Himself the environment by which my early life was directed and my later life made intelligible to myself. Or again; . . . . since with body and soul I belonged to my Savior who died for me on the Cross and rose again that His people might be saved from hell and go to heaven! I should pray earnestly and often that the Holy Spirit might give me a new heart so that I might truly love God instead of sin and myself. He also relates; Ours was not in any sense a pietistic family. . . . At every meal the whole family was present. There was a closing as well as an opening prayer, and a chapter of the Bible was read each time. The Bible was read through from Genesis to Revelation. At breakfast or at dinner, as the case might be, we would hear of the New Testament, or of 'the children of Gad after their families, of Zephon and Haggi and Shuni and Ozni, of Eri and Areli.' I do not claim that I always fully understood the meaning of it all. Yet of the total effect there can be no doubt. The Bible became for me, in all its parts, in every syllable, the very Word of God. [This last sentence sounds like the terminology of neo-orthodoxy - aal]. I learned that I must believe the Scripture story, and that 'faith' was a gift of God. What had happened in the past, and particularly what had happened in the past in Palestine, was of the greatest moment to me. I was 'conditioned' in the most thorough fashion. I could not help believing in God in the God of Christianity in the God of the whole Bible! And one more quote to emphasize the issue of salvation from his standpoint: I was not quite five when somebody fortunately I cannot recall who took me to school. On the first day I was vaccinated and it hurt. I can still feel it. I had already been to church. I recall that definitely because I would sometimes wear my nicely polished leather shoes. A formula was read over me at my baptism which solemnly asserted that I had been conceived and born in sin, the idea being that my parents, like all men, had inherited sin from Adam, the first man and the representative of the human race. The formula further asserted that though thus conditioned by inescapable sin I was, as a child of the Covenant, redeemed in Christ. And at the ceremony my parents solemnly promised that as soon as I should be able to understand they would instruct me in all these matters by all the means at their disposal."
It was in pursuance of this vow that they sent me to a Christian grade school. In it I learned that my being saved from sin and my belonging to God made a difference for all that I knew or did. I saw the power of God in nature and His providence in the course of history. That gave the proper setting for my salvation, which I had in Christ. In short, the whole wide world that gradually opened up for me through my schooling was regarded as operating in its every aspect under the direction of the all-powerful and all-wise God whose child I was through Christ. I was to learn to think God's thoughts after him in every field of endeavor.
Van Til, in summary, ends his Why I Believe in God with the following paragraph: So you see when I was young I was conditioned on every side; I could not help believing in God. Now that I am older I still cannot help believing in God. I believe in God now because unless I have Him as the All-Conditioner, life is Chaos.
(2) Theology and Philosophy
Van Til in very general terms sets his theology over against Romanist and Arminian theology. He portrays his theology as Calvinism. From various fragmentary statements he equates Calvinism with Covenant Theology. His Covenant Theology needs to be set forth clearly in order to understand his life, theology, philosophy and associations.
Covenant Theology is only one theology in a sliding scale of theologies from Pelagianism on one end to Augustinianism (Adam's Natural Headship or Traducianism) on the other end. All of these theologies have one purpose and that is to show the connection, OR LACK THEREOF, between Adam's sin and the resultant sin, guilt and condemnation of all of Adam's offspring. Many doctrinal positions which are frequently called theologies really do not deal with the topic at hand and should NOT be called theologies. For instance one could hold to a presuppositionalist or dispensationalist or some other doctrinal position and hold to quite different theologies with respect to the transmission of sin from Adam to all his posterity.
For our purposes we will emphasize Covenant Theology and Traducianism.
The Connection of Humanity to Adam and Eve with respect to the passing on of sin to their posterity and the use of the word IMPUTE.
Is the word IMPUTE used correctly? When we speak of the IMPUTATION of Adams sin to his posterity we are dealing with the connection between Adams sin and the resultant depravity, guilt and condemnation of the human race. Is it proper to say that Adams sin is IMPUTED to his offspring? We do not believe that it is in keeping with the meaning of the word nor the teaching of the Bible.
First there are those who deny any connection whatever between Adams sin and that of his descendants, except the example given by Adam to his posterity and no one ever is in bondage even to that example. All mankind are born just as innocent and free as was Adam of any taint of sin. This is PELAGIANISM.
Second, there are those who teach that the connection rests solely in a COVENANT made with Adam as the REPRESENTATIVE of all men. This is COVENANT THEOLOGY.
Third, there are those who believe that the connection is a NATURAL one, whereby all men partook of that original sinall sinned in Adam [ROM 5:12]. This is TRADUCIANISM.
Finally, there are various mixtures and/or variations of the above.
The basic question is: How can we be responsible for the sinful nature which is so very evident in everyone and yet a nature which we did not consciously and separately originate? To put it another way, 'How can God justly hold responsible everyone born to Adam, for the sin of Adam?'
The answer is contained in the fact that Adam and his posterity are ONE, and, by virtue of their unity, the sin of Adam is the sin of the race. The name applied to this teaching is TRADUCIANISM. It is not a new or novel idea, though today few believe it. This is the third position listed above. We find an analogy to this unity in Hebrews 7:9, 10. Man has the nature of Adam just as naturally as the little oak shoot has the nature of the great oak tree from which it came. Man receives by his natural or REAL connection to Adam his sin nature. It is properly his own and he properly bears responsibility for its consequences. Individual acts merely add to a persons sin. He sins because he is a sinner by nature.
Much is said about ORIGINAL SIN that is Adam and Eves first sin in the Garden of Eden. Liberals and Modernists believe that the Genesis account is just an ancient myth. Our concern is with that original sin and our connection with that sin. If one wishes to use the term IMPUTATION with reference to Gods simply accounting us sinners we should be careful not to permit our use of that term to be prejudiced by the fact that certain schools of theology, notably the popular COVENANT THEOLOGY, have attached to it an arbitrary, external, and mechanical meaning holding that God imputes sin to men, not because they are by nature sinners, but upon the ground of a COVENANT whereby Adam, without their consent, was made their REPRESENTATIVE. This is the ESSENCE of COVENANT theology. Other elements often associated with Covenant theology are simply a filling out of their system and are totally irrelevant as to whether one believes in Covenant theology or not. Even such a contentious doctrine as infant baptism is not a necessary element of Covenant Theology.
They teach that Adam was constituted by Gods sovereign appointment the REPRESENTATIVE of the whole human race. With Adam as their REPRESENTATIVE, God entered into COVENANT, agreeing to bestow upon them eternal life on condition of Adam's obedience, but making the penalty of his disobedience to be the corruption and death of all his posterity. In accordance with the terms of this covenant, since Adam sinned, God accounts all his descendants as sinners, and condemns them because of Adams transgression.
In execution of this sentence of condemnation, God immediately creates (either at conception or at birth) each soul of Adams posterity with a corrupt and depraved nature, which infallibly leads to sin, and which is itself sin. The theory is therefore a theory of the immediate imputation of Adams sin to his posterity, their corruption of nature not being the cause of that imputation, but the result of it.
It would appear from the preaching and writing of evangelicals today that most hold to this position. The Federal Theory, or Theory of Condemnation by Covenant had its origin with Cocceius [1603-1669]. It was further developed by Turretin [1623-1687]. It is the position held by Charles Hodge and generally by the Reformed churches. It is also the BASIS of the teaching of most Baptists and independents even though they may attack the term "Covenant Theology" with a passion! [NOTE how many doctrinal statements make use of the term REPRESENTATIVE to describe their theology!]
Important to our discussion is the origin of souls. Most teach that the soul of each person is immediately CREATED by God at conception (or birth). Few, if any, believe this concerning the body. Most agree that the body is produced by natural generation. Those who hold the TRADUCIAN position believe that the soul is created mediately. In other words creation was finished with Adam and Eve so that both body AND soul are produced through the process ordained by God for the replenishing of the Earth.
The term IMPUTATION is commonly applied to:
1. Adams sin being imputed to his posterity.
2. The sinners individual sins being imputed to himself.
3. Believers sins being imputed to Christ.
4. The righteousness of Christ being imputed to the believer.
If IMPUTATION is used simply to mean to ascribe, account or reckon to a person some quality, act or possession it is then possible to use it in these four ways. However, the teaching of the Bible with respect to sin would be far less confusing if we restricted its use to numbers three and four. In numbers one and two it is not a quality or deeds being GIVEN. It is merely a statement of the fact of ones condition. In number three the believers sins (not simply "original sin") are GIVEN to Christ All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity [sins] of us all [ISA 53:6]. Again in number four something is GIVEN to the believer Christ's righteousness the righteousness which is of God by faith and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. [PHI 3:9; ROM 5:17].
Modern dictionaries certainly do not determine Christian theology but they can sometimes be useful and certainly necessary to meaningful communication. Of IMPUTE the dictionary of my college days says: "3. Theol. To ascribe vicariously" [Websters New Collegiate Dictionary, 1953]. My current dictionary says: "2. Theol. to ascribe (goodness or guilt) to a person as coming from another" [Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, 1982]. The wording varies but the meaning is the same. The believers righteousness or justification may be ascribed vicariously or our sins can be vicariously laid on Christ i.e. "as coming from another" in both cases. BUT OUR sin certainly cannot be so described. Men are sinners on their own account. It is therefore confusing to use "impute" simply to mean "to consider," "count" or "reckon" WITHOUT any implication of doing so "vicariously" or "as coming from another."
ADAMS NATURAL HEADSHIP or TRADUCIANISM
This was first elaborated by Augustine [354-430 AD] and is therefore, frequently called the Augustinian Theory. It was the view held by the Reformers with the exception of Zwingle. It is the view vigorously promoted by William G.T. Shedd.
It holds that God reckons to all Adam's posterity the sin of Adam mediately, IN VIRTUE OF THAT ORGANIC UNITY OF MANKIND BY WHICH THE WHOLE RACE AT THE TIME OF ADAMS TRANSGRESSION EXISTED, NOT INDIVIDUALLY, BUT SEMINALLY, IN HIM AS ITS HEAD. The total life of humanity was then in Adam. The race as yet had its being only in him. In Adams free act, the will of the race revolted from God and the nature of the race corrupted itself. The nature which all his natural descendants possess is the same nature that corrupted itself in Adam. Adams sin is placed to our account mediately, therefore, not as something foreign to us, but because it is ours we and all others having existed as one moral person or one moral whole, in him, and, as the result of that transgression, possessing a nature destitute of love to God, prone to evil, guilty and deserving of the just condemnation of God, and are dead in our trespasses and sins; . . . by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest [EPH 1:1, 3].
The atonement of Christ was vicarious, substitutionary He bore our sins in His own body [1PE 2:24]. Though He is our Advocate or Lawyer before the Father, He is far more than just a lawyer REPRESENTING us. Our righteousness is something not ours by nature or the filthy rags [ISA 64:6] of our own doing. Our righteousness is something freely GIVEN in sovereign mercy [EPH 2:1-10].
Shedd, William G. T. Dogmatic Theology, Volumes I and II third edition, 1891 Volume III Supplement, 1894. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Strong, Augustus Hopkins, Systematic Theology, Three volumes in one, 1907. Philadelphia: The Judson Press.
Van Till's beliefs are summarized by him in his:
As presented in Jerusalem and Athens [Pages 3-21]
In the dedication of the book we are told that:
"The extensive impact of this original and penetrating Christian apologist has been aided by the private distribution of numerous 'unpublished' class syllabi. His lectures, whether given in Roman Catholic, Jewish, fundamental, liberal, or Calvinistic institutions are equally challenging and demanding. Yet for all this prodigious activity, the influence of Cornelius Van Til has been spread mostly by his students. . . ."
He tells us his approach and purpose when he writes: "first by setting forth in this, my 'Credo,' a general statement of my main beliefs as I hold them today Then I shall deal separately with the problems and objections some of you have raised in respect to my views . . . . "
His essential objection to the old or 'traditional method' of dealing with the presentation and defense of Christian doctrine are summed up in the following statement:
"It compromises man's covenantal relationship with God by not understanding Adam's representative action as absolutely determinative of the future."
His solution is his innovative and popular PRESUPPOSITIONALISM. His departure from the traditional approach to the presentation and defense of the Christian faith is summed up in one statement in which he states "That we argue, therefore, by 'presupposition.' The only 'proof' of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of 'proving' anything at all."
Not only to 'prove' biblical Christianity but to make sense of any fact in the world Van Til holds that one must presuppose the reality of the 'self-contained' triune God and the self-attesting revelation of the Scriptures. From this basis, the redeemed person then reasons 'analogically', attempting 'to think God's thoughts after him'. This means humans may know reality truly (for God, in whose image they are created, knows it truly), but not exhaustively (for God is infinite and they are finite).
Cornelius Van Til made presuppositionalist philosophy popular in America and he is the source of Christian Reconstructionism's principle teachings and therefore is recognized by many as the founder.
However it was his student, Rousas John Rushdoony, who established Christian Reconstruction as a political and social movement to take over the world. This program was laid out in 1973 in his book called Institutes of Biblical Law. "Rushdoony owes his reverence for the Old Testament Scriptures to the strict teachings of the Armenian church." The Bible both Old and New Testaments is their Law book, however Reconstructionists take the Old Testament Law as the foundation of their program. He established the Chalcedon Foundation to carry out his plan. Rushdoony's son-in-law, Gary North applied Rushdoony's Institutes to economic issues.
Another contributor to the Reconstructionist movement, Greg Bahsen wrote the best defense of theonomy for the movement and also contributed to the emergence of other writers such as Gentry, Chilton, Jordan, and DeMar.
As postmillennialists they are confident that God will win sometime in the distant future and that the millennial Kingdom will be established before the second coming of Christ.
Much of the above material was presented in a paper "Christian Reconstructionism - an Overview" by Kit Ozburn, for Soc 257: New Religious Movements, Fall Term, 1997 at the Chalcedon Foundation.
II. The Creed of Christian Reconstructionism
by Rev. Andrew Sandlin
[May be Freely Reproduced. Taken from The Christian News, June 24, 1996. Page 6.]
A Christian Reconstructionist is a Calvinist. He holds to historic, orthodox, catholic [universal - aal] Christianity and the great Reformed confessions. He believes God, not man, is the center of the universe and beyond: God, not man, controls whatever comes to pass. God, not man, must be pleased and obeyed. He believes God saves sinners He does not help them save themselves. A Christian Reconstructionist believes the Faith should apply to all of life, not just the spiritual side. It applies to art, education, technology, and politics no less than to church, prayer, evangelism and Bible study.
A Christian Reconstructionist is a Theonomist. Theonomy means Gods law. A Christian Reconstructionist believes Gods law is found in the Bible. It has not been abolished as a standard of righteousness. It no longer accuses the Christian, since Christ bore its penalty on the cross for him. But the law is a statement of Gods righteous character. It cannot change any more than God can change, Gods law is used for three main purposes: First, to drive the sinner to trust in Christ alone, the only perfect law-keeper. Second, to provide a standard of obedience for the Christian, by which he may judge his progress in sanctification. And third, to maintain order in society, restraining and arresting civil evil.
A Christian Reconstructionist is a Presuppositionalist. He does not try to prove that God exists or that the Bible is true. He holds to the Faith because the Bible says so, not because he can prove it. He does not try to convince the unconverted that the Gospel is true. They already know it is true when they hear it. They need repentance, not evidence. Of course, the Christian Reconstructionist believes there is evidence for the Faithin fact there is nothing but evidence for the Faith. The problem for the unconverted, though, is not a lack of evidence, but a lack of submission. The Christian Reconstructionist begins and ends with the Bible. He does not defend natural theology, and other inventions designed to find some agreement with covenant-breaking, apostate mankind.
A Christian Reconstructionist is a Postmillennialist. He believes Christ will return to Earth only after the Holy Spirit has empowered the church to advance Christs kingdom in time and history. He has faith that Gods purposes to bring all nations though not every individual in subjection to Christ cannot fail. The Christian Reconstructionist is not utopian. He does not believe the kingdom will advance quickly or painlessly. He knows that we enter the kingdom through much tribulation. He knows Christians are in the fight for the long haul. He believes the church may yet be in her infancy. But he believes the Faith will triumph [See MAT 7:13, 14; LUK 18:8; 2TI 3:12, 13 - aal]. Under the power of the Spirit of God, it cannot but triumph.
A Christian Reconstructionist is a Dominionist. He takes seriously the Bibles commands to the godly to take dominion in the Earth. This is the goal of the gospel and the Great Commission. The Christian Reconstructionist believes the Earth and all its fullness is the Lords that every area dominated by sin must be reconstructed in terms of the Bible. This includes, first, the individual; second, the family; third, the church; and fourth, the wider society, including the state. The Christian Reconstructionist therefore believes fervently in Christian civilization. He firmly believes in the separation of church and state, but not the separation of the state or anything else from God. He is not a revolutionary; he does not believe in the militant, forced overthrow of human government. He has infinitely more powerful weapons than guns and bombs he has the invincible Spirit of God, the infallible word of God, and the incomparable gospel of God, none of which can fail. He presses the crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ in every sphere, expecting eventual triumph.
III. Presuppositionialism: a Deadly Danger
The Bible claims to be from God and proves itself to be such [2TI 3:16, 17; 2PE 1:20, 21; ACT 1:3; 2:22; ISA 34:16; EXO 11:4-7]. The Bible does not ask anyone to believe it on blind hope or groundless assumption(s).
Peter tells us to BE READY ALWAYS TO GIVE AN ANSWER TO EVERY MAN WHO ASKS YOU A REASON OF THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU [1PE 3:15].
If the Bible speaks accurately in matters of history, science and human nature with internal consistency, then the Bible's instruction in non-verifiable areas can be trusted because its human authors had no more ability to verify future events or scientific truths than their ability to speak on matters of doctrine apart from its ultimate Author God. Accuracy in one implies accuracy in the other.
We argue reasonably that a man should accept the authority of the Bible. Ultimately, though, the authority of Scripture is something which will be accepted willingly or rejected willfully. If accepted, the Holy Spirit will add assurance to the logical proofs. The natural man accepts not [though he knows full well what the Bible says. His problem is his willful refusal to accept what it says] the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually understood. But he who is spiritual understands all things, yet he himself is understood by no [natural] man [1CO 2:14, 15]. The same is true with salvation. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God [ROM 8:16].
We do not rest our surety in God's Word on the presupposition of its truth. This Kierkegaardian leap of faith which the Presuppositionalists insist every believer must make before he can be certain of the truth of God's promises is irrational and dangerous. God did not write the Bible for us to merely hope and assume that it was right and reliable. Presuppositionalism is irrational-fidism [The belief that faith alone is the basis of knowledge rather than reason based on evidence - aal].
God gives evidence to substantiate what He tells us. He gave us the whole book of 1st John for one purpose sure knowledge. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God [1JO 5:13].
Paul did not stop his definition of the gospel in 1st Corinthians 15 with the statement of Christ's death for our sins, burial and resurrection. He proceeded to present a list of verifiable witnesses to prove with certainty the resurrection of Christ and argued for the necessity of that resurrection which DEMONSTRATED the divine confirmation of His Son's testimony.
Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith [belief] is also vain. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith [belief] is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of those who slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Christ the second Adam] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as those in Adam all die, even so all those in Christ will be made alive [This verse does not deal with the resurrection of the lost. This verse deals only with the contrast between those in Adam and those in Christ. Other passages of Scripture deal with the resurrection of the lost (such as JOH 5:28, 29; MAT 25:46; DAN 12:2). 1CO 15:1-22].
Luke put it this way: To whom also He showed Himself alive after His death by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God [ACT 1:3].
The record of Jesus dealing with one of the twelve disciples, Thomas, makes it clear that what He did in mighty deeds and miracles was to give unmistakable evidence that He was God the Son come to save all whom the Father gave Him:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be unto you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and behold My hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into My side and be not faithless, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and My God." Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed."
Therefore also many other [miraculous] signs did Jesus before the disciples, which have not been written in this scroll: But these have been written, in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and in order that believing you may have life through His name [JOH 20:24-31].
All whom the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and he who comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the Fathers will Who has sent Me, that of all whom He has given Me I should lose no one, but should raise them up again at the last day. This is the will of Him Who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son and believes on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured [unbelief] at Him because He said, I am the Bread which came down from Heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, Whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He said, I came down from Heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father Who has sent Me draw him and I will raise him up at the last day [JOH 6:37-44. From a human standpoint they had the very best opportunity: the preacher Jesus; the evidence miracles and signs; YET rings out those unforgettable words, You must be born again [JOH 3:7]].
God is not in the business of making us suppose. He is in the business of making our paths plain communicating His revelation clearly with supporting evidence which only He could give.
Do we believe the Bible because we have hope in the councils and popes which, as Luther put it, "often contradict"? NO! We believe the Bible because its' claims are factually supported by its' internal consistency; its' fulfilled prophecy and the external evidence of history. The claims alone are worthless without reliable objective evidence to back up those claims. Contrast this with the historic inaccuracies and internal inconsistencies in the Koran, Vedas, Book of Mormon, Apocrypha, etc. If claims alone were sufficient then the same argument would be valid for the claims of authority by the other religious "holy" books. Note what the Koran says: Some He guided, while others are committed to straying. They have taken the devils as their masters, instead of Allah, yet they believe that they are guided [Koran: Sura 7:30].
The Word of God is necessary for the salvation of any one:
But what says it? The Word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the Word of faith, which we preach; That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, Whoever believes on Him will not be disappointed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith [belief] comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God [ROM 10:8-17]
See also Hebrews 11 where we see that those listed in the roll call of faith believed the promises of God, Who time and time again demonstrated His faithfulness to them about His promises. Note also Isaiah 1:2-7, 18-20 and Psalm 105:1-45. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Remember, God uses means to save His people. No one can save himself AND no one can come to God except He draw him by the use of His Word applied by the Holy Spirit of God [John 13:18; 6:35-40, 44; 1:12, 13].
If the facts do not prove the Bible to be true and that it gives true history, as it plainly claims, then no man can give it any more respect than he can the holy books of the other plainly false writings of the natural man.
ANY religion, if its false assumptions (presuppositions) are accepted as true, can "prove" that it is the true religion. For example: Mormonism, Romanism, Seventh Day Adventism, Jehovah Witnesses, Liberal, Modernist and Neo-orthodox Protestants (including most Baptists), Charismatics, Moslems, Buddhists and Animists.
Do the writings and philosophies of men change the lives of those who fervently believe them? they certainly do whether they be Communists, Charismatics, atheists, Mormons, mystics, Romanists, Moslems or whatever belief has firmly grasped their minds. Yes, many will even die for their FALSE BELIEFS. The change of life in no way proves the truth of these false writings and philosophies! Even the Bible changes the lives of MANY who are never born again by the grace of God.
The BIBLE is TRUE whether ANYONE believes it or not. We BELIEVE God because we believe that He has revealed Himself TRUTHFULLY through His Written WORD i. e. in accord with history and the facts of the natural world of which we are thoroughly aware and are therefore without excuse. Because that which may be known of God is manifest to them; for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse [Rom 1:19, 20]. The book of Romans is not difficult to understand. The problem that so many find with this book is the result of the fact that the natural man will not accept what it plainly teaches.
Those who are truly born again are thus because God has chosen and drawn them to Himself by the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son as the Holy Spirit works in them using the Word of God [ROM 10:17] (the written word now and His direct Word, before the Bible was written to Adam and Abraham for example).
We are not Rationalists (i.e.) anti-supernaturalists, however, man is created a rational being. Man is not saved by good deeds BUT by the unmerited grace of God alone [John 1:11-13].
Presuppositionalism is a destructive, false philosophy about the facts of history and God's revelation of Himself and His redemptive work for His elect. The atonement of Christ was sufficient for all mankind BUT only effective for His elect [1JO 2:2; PSA 86:5; 2PE 3:9; 2TI 2:4-6; JOH 6:37-40, 44, 45; EPH 1:4-14 and 2:1-10]. Presuppositionalism will lead future generations to a skepticism and a new Modernism as bad as any recorded in the history of the church. The whole Bible teaches that the belief of the saints is based on evidence rather than some nebulous hope.
Reymond, Robert L., The Justification of Knowledge: An Introductory Study In Christian Apologetic Methodology. 1984 prt., 1979 2nd prt., 1976 1st prt. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.
Sproul, R. C., John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics. 1984, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. Pp. x, 364.
Van Til, Cornelius, Apologetics. No date [NOTE: This printing had to be after the publication of Jerusalem and Athens because it is listed on the inside back cover - aal].
Van Til, Cornelius, The Defense of the Faith. 1955, Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.
Van Til, Cornelius, The Defense of the Faith. 1976, 1967 3rd ed., 1963 2nd ed., 1955 1st ed., Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.
Van Til, Cornelius, The New Modernism: An Appraisal of the Theology of Barth and Brunner. 1973, 1972 3rd ed., 1947 2nd ed., 1946 1st ed., The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.
Bahnsen, Greg L. "A synopsis of the evangelical postmillennial position" [Christian Reconstructionists position - aal].
Baird, Bryan Neal, "Presuppositional Apologetics: An Apology for my Theology: The inseparable link between Reformed Theology and Presuppositional Apologetics."
Frame, John M., Van Til and the Ligonier Apologetic. Westminster Theological Journal, Vol 47, #2 Fall 1985, pp. 279-99. [Criticism of: Classical Apologetics, Sproul, R. C., John Gerstner and Arthur Lindsley, 1984, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. Pp. x, 364.
Frame, John M., Van Til: the Theologian. N.d., Phillipsburg, NJ: Pilgrim Publishing Company.
Garver, S. Joel, A Primer on Presuppositionalism. 1997, [Sincere thanks are owed to those participants in a conversation that took place on the listserv of the Society of Christian Philosophers in June 1997. The material below grew out of and largely reproduces that conversation. Thanks especially go to Jonathan Barlow, Michael L. Westmoreland-White, Wes Morriston, and Matthew Davidson].
Ozburn, Kit, Christian Reconstructionism - an Overview. For Soc 257: New Religious Movements, Fall Term, 1997.
Sandlin, Andrew, The Conservatives' Assault on Sacred Scripture. 1998, The Chalcedon Foundation. [The arguments are like those of T. Letis and are based on the Greek Orthodox Church - aal].
Sandlin, Andrew, The Creed of Christian Reconstructionism. From The Christian News, June 24, 1996. Page 6.
Sandlin, Andrew, Executive Director, The Ministry of Chalcedon. 2000, The Chalcedon Foundation.
Van Til, Cornelius. A Survey of Christian Epistemology. 2nd ed., n.d., 1st ed., 1932, Vol. II of the series In Defense of Biblical Christianity, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.
Van Til, Cornelius. Jerusalem and Athens, ed. E. R. Geehan, 1980, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., pp. 3-21.
Van Til, Cornelius. Why I Believe in God. No date, Philadelphia, PA: Committee on Christian Education, Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Return To Main Index
This Page Last Updated: 05/10/09 A. Allison Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org