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Why Cornelius Van Til is Important for Preaching (i)

December 23, 2008

images1Who is Cornelius Van Til?

Cornelius Van Til was a professor at Westmister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia when it founded and stayed there until 1975.  He was theologian who became known for what is called “presuppositional” apologetics.  What he attempted to produce was a completely reformed method of apologetics.  A method that could be used to support, not simply Theism, but Christian theism.  He would differentiate himself from evidentialism (proving Jesus really rose from the grave in three days, the reliability of the New Testament, etc), and deal fundamentally with the worldview presuppositions.

Two Circles

Van Til was famous for his “Two Circles”.  These two circles would be the foundation of his whole apologetic, and the first reason why Van Til is important for preaching.  The first circle would represent the being of the Creator and the second would be the being of the creature.  The basic distinction between the two is that they are “wholly other”.  God is Creator who has being in himself and man is creature who has everything derivative of God.  One cannot describe “being” in general, then procede to describe the distinctions between Creator and creature.  God is not a sum of all properties in man.  God is not the ultimate example of man.  To describe the being of the Creator and creature in this way would be to neglect the biblical teaching of both.

This understanding of Creator and creature is very helpful for preaching the Gospel.  Without the understanding of the Creator being wholly other than the creature, the need of the gospel is obscured.  If God is described as merely an example of human atonomy, then the offense of our sin against God is null.  Without the a biblical doctrine of God, Jesus is nothing more than superman.  Van Til is a helpful preservative for the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.

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