Cornelius Van Til

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Cornelius Van Til

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), born in The Netherlands, was a Christian philosopher, Reformed theologian, and presuppositional apologist.[1]

He is credited as being the father of modern presuppositional apologetics which is a branch of Christian apologetics.

He was also a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from the 1930s until his death in 1987.[2]

Van Til's thought

Theopedia says of Van Til:

Van Til is perhaps best known for the development of a fresh approach to the task of defending the Christian faith. Although trained in traditional methods he drew on the insights of fellow Calvinistic philosophers Vollenhoven and Herman Dooyeweerd to formulate what he viewed as a more consistently Christian methodology. His apologetic focused on the role of presuppositions, the point of contact between believers and unbelievers, and the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian worldviews.

He didn't particularly care for the label describing his approach as "presuppositional," which more accurately represents the apologetical method of Gordon Clark, but he (and his students) accepted it as a matter of convention because it is at least useful in grouping methods into those which deny neutrality and those which do not.

In Van Til: The Theologian, Frame, a sympathetic critic of Van Til, describes Van Til's contributions to Christian thought as comparable in magnitude to those of Immanuel Kant in non-Christian philosophy. He indicates that Van Til identified the disciplines of systematic theology and apologetics, seeing the former as a positive statement of the Christian faith and the latter as a defense of that statement -- "a difference in emphasis rather than of subject matter." Frame summarizes Van Til's legacy as one of new applications of traditional doctrines:

Unoriginal as his doctrinal formulations may be, his use of those formulations -- his application of them -- is often quite remarkable.[3]

External links


  1. Cornelius Van Til, Theopedia
  2. Cornelius Van Til, Theopedia
  3. Cornelius Van Til, Theopedia