Attack On Human Autonomy

A Christian Theory of Knowledge, by Cornelius Van Til (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969, 390 pp., $6.50), is reviewed by Ronald H. Nash, director of the Graduate Program in Humanities, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green.

No student of Christian theology and philosophy should regard his education as complete until he has carefully worked his way through at least one of Professor Van Til’s books. In this extension of his earlier Defense of the Faith, Van Til continues his attack on all systems of thought that exalt the automony of man at the expense of the sovereign God of the Scriptures. If God is sovereign, nothing can be above him (such as the laws of logic) or can exist independently of him (such as “facts”). Human knowledge is impossible unless man’s knowledge is analogical of the divine knowledge, that is, unless man thinks God’s thoughts after him. Van Til’s purpose in this book is to show modern man the relevance of Christianity by demonstrating that only Christianity has the answers to the questions that modern thought seeks in vain.

The thesis of modern theology, philosophy, and science is that “nothing can be said conceptually about a God who is above what Kant calls the world of phenomena, the world of experience.” But, Van Til counters, if the God of Christian theism does not exist (or cannot be known), then Chance is ultimate. And if Chance is ultimate, then nothing (neither words, nor thoughts, nor events) can have any meaning. But if nothing has meaning, it is impossible to deny (or affirm) the existence of God or anything else. The effort to eliminate God turns out to be self-defeating. “If Christian theism is not true, then nothing is true.… So far as modern thought is not based ...

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