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The Defense of the Faith 4th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875526447
ISBN-10: 0875526446
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Editorial Reviews


"This new edition provides an enormous service to the reader. The somewhat challenging text is abundantly illuminated by Scott Oliphint, no doubt the leading expert on Van Til in our times." --William Edgar

"Though Van Til often engages ideas, terms, and conversation partners unknown to contemporary readers, this work has a delightful effect in exposing the pretensions of human autonomy and the grandeur of God's sovereign grace. In his careful, thorough, and sympathetic notes, Professor Oliphint has done us all a tremendous service." --Michael S. Horton

"The original is back, with Scott Oliphint's excellent foreword and explanatory footnotes. Now Van Til is much more understandable, and his opponents too. How stimulating it must have been to be part of that dialogue in the early days of Reformed apologetics! We need that stimulus now if we are to deal with unbelief in a God-honoring way." --John M. Frame

About the Author

K. Scott Oliphint is Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has degrees from West Texas State University and Westminster Theological Seminary.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing; 4 edition (July 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875526446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875526447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan Mcgraw on April 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
Reformed systematic theology and a Reformed method of apologetics are intertwined. In a changing world where the Reformed faith is challenged both from within and from without, it is more important than ever to be equipped to return to a defense of the Reformed faith that is rooted in Reformed theology. This makes this annotated reprint of Van Til's Defense of the Faith timely.
I initially passed by this book largely because I had already read the third edition of the same book. This is a reprint of the entire first edition of the text with added explanatory notes by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint. What I had not realized was that the first edition of was substantially longer than subsequent editions because the first edition was written largely in order to defend Van Til's views against a string of critics connected with Calvin Theological Seminary. In many respects, this book is misnamed. Instead of a defense of the Christian faith, it contains primarily Van Til's defense of why he defended the faith in the way that he did.
Rather than presenting a full critical review of the book itself, I will point out some of the strengths and weaknesses of the book for understanding Van Til's method and how this book can help us think about apologetics in relation to the Reformed system of theology.
First, in some respects, this reader is undecided whether he likes better the fourth edition of the Defense of the Faith or one of the older and shorter versions of the same work. Dr. Oliphint's notes are extremely valuable in explaining terms, but Van Til's interaction with his critics reads as though the reader is overhearing parts of a conversation that has occurred behind closed doors.
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This is often considered to be Val Til's Magnus Opus. Having now read almost all his works, I think I can pick a few that surpass this in terms of Apologetic content, but what's for sure is that this is the book that ties together both the structure of his thought and his various responses to objects. Yes, those are the two parts of the book-- which means the structure of the book is very honest and accurate (vs. many modern books whose parts/chapters are named merely to sell books).

People often say Van Til is hard to understand. Here's some advice I had for that:

1) I generally have no idea what people mean by "Van Til is hard to read"; HOWEVER, it seems that because I have a philosophical background with an understanding of both Kantianism and German idealism (Van Til's chief opponent and emphasis), I seem to have the key to understanding Van Til. If you have absolutely no clue what the Absolute is generally, what Transcendental means, what a limiting concept is, or what a presupposition in in philosophy, then you might have a hard time. BUT:

2) Make sure you are using the K. Scott Oliphint annotated edition. This edition defines all the appropriate philosophical terms and gives a nice little summary for each person discussed in the book.

3) Read everything multiple times. This is not because Van Til is "hard to understand", but because Van Til is teaching reformed theology using philosophical language and your background might be reading Van Til using non-Reformed philosophy lenses. I'd say this is one of the major problem with critics of Van Til. He says “bow” (...before the king) and they hear “bow” (...and arrow).
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This is the landmark work by Dr. Cornelius Van Til as far as Biblical apologetics. There is much to be said for the work in apologetics in the evidential approach and the men who have labored so fruitfully in that field. But as far as the Biblical 'method' is concerned or the 'theology' of apologetics as a discipline, Van Til's presuppositionalism has no equal in taking every thought captive to Christ, and showing how the Bible must be one's authority at the very outset of defending the faith.

Leading up to apologetics and then discussing it in length, the book is divided into 11 sections as follows:

1. Christian Theology
2. The Christian Philosophy of Reality
3. The Christian Philosophy of Knowledge
4. The Christian Philosophy of Behavior
5. Christian Apologetics (Point of Contact)
6. Christian Apologetics (The Problem of Method)
7. Christian Apologetics (Authority and Reason)
8. Common Grace and Scholasticism
9. Argument by Presupposition
10. The Defense of Christianity
11. Amsterdam and Old Princeton

The beginning (chapters 1-4) is a huge help into understanding the basic Christian worldview as a whole and the foundation from where Van Til develops his approach to apologetics. Then in chapters 5-7 he does a masterful job of contrasting the differing approaches to the discipline.

Chapter 9 is by far the most compelling treatise I have ever read on the subject of a truly Biblical approach to apologetics. It is here where Van Til makes his famous statement:

"Both Thomas Aquinas and Butler contend that men have done justice by the evidence if they conclude that God probably exists....I consider this a compromise of simple and fundamental Biblical truth.
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