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They Must Affirm God Before They Deny Him

cornelius-van-til-01Reformed Protestants contend that there must be a specifically Protestant defense of all Christian doctrines. In Reformed theology the argument is that all our doctrines are interdependent. The major doctrines imply other doctrines. For example our doctrine of the atonement, will to some extent, influence our doctrine of God. Cornelius Van Til, describing the difference between a Protestant and Romanist doctrine of God, rightly says in his book A Christian Theory of Knowledge,

”The answer given is that the Protestant doctrine of God stresses his self-sufficiency and therefore his ultimate control over all that comes to pass in the course of the history of the world. The Romanist doctrine of God, while also speaking of God’s self-sufficiency, none-the-less compromises it to some extent. It does this by virtually ascribing to man a measure of self-sufficiency. And by ascribing a measure of self-sufficiency or ultimacy to man, God is in a measure made dependent upon man.”

The Protestant doctrine of God requires that it would be foundational to everything else as a principle of explanation. “If God is self-sufficient, he alone is self-explanatory.” (Van Til, 12) If God alone is self-explanatory, then he must be the final reference point in all human predication. That is to say, that God must be the final reference point in all our claims about reality and experience. God is like the sun where all lights on earth derive their power of illumination. You don’t use a candle to search for the sun. The idea of a candle, the idea of light, and fire is derived from the sun. With this understanding all creation is a derivative being made by God. It could not come into existence by chance or by itself. God is the source of everything.

When we take away the notion that God is self-explanatory or self-sufficient then we also take away the final reference point in everything that we predicate. We make God  a partner with humanity and together we work to explain something we have in common, creation. Facts are then not what they are by the plan of God but they are partly that and exist by some unknown power or in and of themselves. We may look to God for the answer, because he knows better. He has more experience or he is just better at figuring this stuff our. But we would never need to make all thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. In this view, the Christian cannot tell the non-Christian that the non-Christian view is destructive and he cannot give him any certainty to what Christianity can give him and what he needs.

The essence of the non-Christian position is that man is autonomous. It is that man is independent therefore man is the ultimate final reference point in predication. That is because the facts in the world and in creation are just there. They aren’t connected or anchored in a final point therefore man interprets reality and is in himself the basis of that reality. With this view, facts of creation come into being by “chance”. Now possibility is placed above the mind of man and above God. It has taken a place of primary and the utmost importance. Laws of logic are seen as entering the universe by happen chance, a derivative of culture or even denied.

The Christian meets the challenge of the non-Christian by exposing to them this dilemma. The best way to do this is show the non-Christian that in order for them to make statements about experience, creation or any other thing in creation they are assuming that there is an objective final reference point. They are presupposing God as they make their arguments against his existence. Christians cannot start off from an apparent objective position then move to God, just as the non-Christian cannot start off denying God unless he first affirm that God does exist.

 


4 Comments

  1. Yeah, that can be true of some. I’ve always asked why I should even begin to believe a god could exist… nevermind the question of whether one does. The entire concept is ridiculous and absurd. Your argument does not work with me or those like me. I do not acknowledge any gods and question the sanity of anyone who does. More pointedly, I question the sanity of anyone who even considers as possible the existence of a god… any god.

    • Trey Jasso says:

      You haven’t really responded to the basic argument. Rather you have introduced another argument and tried dismissing the claim. But it still stands, you must point to an objective reality to establish any type of predication or rational argument. You want a logical “reason” but you can’t account for the existence of reason. You want to define “sanity” but you can’t even account for the distinction between “sanity” or “insanity” other than you making the call. In your understanding, of course I’m lacking a sort of grasp with reality. But in my system, you are lacking a cohesive worldview and will do anything to deny the existence of God. That would include slander Him, insult those who love Him, argue against Him, blog about how much you don’t believe in Him, etc.

      We both have two different world views. One simply has more explanatory power than the other. You may not like the Christian answer but we do have answers. Your system lacks cohesion and I question the sanity someone who could consider embracing such an incoherent system.

  2. I think you’re putting a lot of words in my mouth there….

    I did respond. If there is no reason to begin to think a god could exist, then any argument about the nature of a god is moot. There is no objective reality. There is only the reality that we experience though the simulation of the world in our brains.

    Prediction and rational argument are based on shared experience and the rules we derive from this. I don’t attempt to account for the distinction… society (or humanity as a whole) subjectively says that those who are not in the majority are not normal and sanity falls into that bucket… who is not in the majority is in the area that is not sane. We do work extra to show that those who abuse or ignore the rules found to work the best are not ‘sane’ … not ordered, not aligned.

    Your world view encourages people to ignore the rules that we have found to work best to explain and undertand the world around us. You fall into the group that is susceptible to insane thinking and action.

    There is no way to slander the tooth fairy or the easter bunny. Likewise there is no way to slander a god. I don’t think that word means what you think it does. Your use of it implies that a god is a person. Clearly your doctrine does not say this and if your god is ********* because of something I’ve said then your god truly is *******… why do you worship *********?

    Your only answer is ‘god did it’ and that is no answer at all. You simply blame anything without scientific understanding or explanation on magic that you call god. It explains nothing. You have no credible evidence for this ********. All you have is blind faith in something that is without credible evidence. You have nothing that doesn’t look like insanity and it is your insanity to call this situation you are in a sane thing.

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