- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing; 2 edition (November 5, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875527892
- ISBN-13: 978-0875527895
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God 2nd Edition
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"One of Van Til's two or three most important books, this is certainly a must-read for anyone who is trying to understand Van Til today. He challenges Christians to think in a distinctively biblical way. That biblical way opposes and challenges all religions and secular philosophies, all ideologies that place the ultimate source of truth and value in human beings rather than in God. Thoroughly re-edited, with an excellent introduction by William Edgar." --John M. Frame
"The copious explanatory notes by Dr. Edgar are invariably helpful and will serve to enhance the singular value of this great work for the present and coming generations." --Richard B. Gaffin Jr.
About the Author
Cornelius Van Til (18951987) was born in Grootegast, the Netherlands, and immigrated with his family to America in 1905. He attended Calvin College and Calvin Seminary before completing his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University with the ThM and PhD degrees.
Drawn to the pastorate, Van Til spent one year in the ministry before taking a leave of absence to teach apologetics at Princeton Seminary. When the seminary reorganized, he was persuaded to join the faculty of the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary. He remained there as professor of apologetics until his retirement in 1975.
Van Til wrote more than twenty books, in addition to more than thirty syllabi. Among his best-known titles are The Defense of the Faith, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, and An Introduction to Systematic Theology.
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Top Customer Reviews
All of the six volumes in this "Defense of the Faith" series are student syllabi; thus, they may or may not be polished "books," unlike Van Til's other works. In the Preface to this 1971 work, Van Til indicates, "The first 'edition' of this syllabus appeared more than thirty-five years ago. It title then was: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Since then much has happened in theology. Yet the old syllabus is now made available again in a practically unaltered form. The author has dealt with the main developments of recent theology in other writings. The most important of these is that of neo-orthodoxy." He adds, "The present syllabus has an apologetic intent running through it. A Reformed theology needs to be supplemented by a Reformed method of apologetics.... The non-Christian faith as a whole, as a unit, must be set over against the non-Christian faith as a whole. Piecemeal apologetics is inadequate, especially for our time."
Van Til makes the interesting statement, "it is true that in the study of matters of the laboratories and the field, the Bible is only indirectly concerned. We do not go to the Bible itself for the facts with which we deal. On the other hand, it is true of theology that it gets its facts about God almost exclusively from the Bible. We say almost exclusively, because we also learn about God from nature. Hence we must say that it is only a matter of emphasis. We do not limit ourselves to the Bible when we study anything else." Later on, he admits, "Many non-Christians have been great scientists. Often non-Christians have a better knowledge of the things of this world than Christians have." However, he adds, "this is true IN SPITE OF their immanentistic view of life and because of the fact that they cannot help but work with the 'borrowed capital' of Christianity."
He says, "It is true that all false religions have been 'religions of authority.' ... This authority that other religions have spoken of, however, is of a different nature from the authority of Christianity.... What really ought to be done, therefore, is to set the religion of Christianity over against the other religions in order to say that only Christianity is the religion of authority. At the same time it should be made clear that only Christianity is the religion of the Spirit."
This entire series is of great interest to students of Van Til, presuppositional apologetics, Calvinist philosophy, or Christian apologetics in general.
He really gets to the difference between believers and unbelievers in a way that is so uncompromising. I have now read it 4 times and continue to pick up nuggets, his little "parables"- once understood, can be humouress, but not on the first reading.
Easily my favourite book, and I have been "through the mill!"
This title is NOT easy reading, but it is a title which will give a lot of material to consider. Excellent, excellent, even if you disagree with Van Til, it is excellent.
Van Til's method can be summarized as thinking God's thoughts after him in an analogical way (we receptively reconstruct God's own preinterpreted facts). He also builds his system around the following:
1) God's being and knowledge are coterminous. If God’s knowledge is not coterminous with his being, then it is a correlative of his being. This being is then given a potentiality of its own. No more internally complete knowledge. Hence the open and finite god of non-Reformed systems.
2) The principle of individuation lie withing the Godhead. Only there are facts correlative and brute factuality ruled out.
3) Van Til struggles with the 1 and 3 of the Godhead, particularly in terminology, but I think he is making steps forward and his difficulty is no different from Augustine’s.
Persons are mutually exhaustive of each other, but what does that mean?
he says we “speak of God as a person” (220). Is this necessarily modalism? Maybe not. Whenever God confronts us in Scripture, he speaks as one person. That could be what Van Til means.
Before we attack Van Til, we must acknowledge that there really isn’t a good definition of person. Indeed, for Eastern Patristic thought there cannot be a definition of person, because a person is what is uniquely particular about an individual and resists a universal definition.
Even more, Patristic definitions of person, such as they were, did not include self-consciousness and mind. Modern definitions of persons do. This isn’t to say the latter is correct, but it does highlight our problem today of speaking about persons.
4) Beware of Beginning with Bad Abstractions. We should not think of “Being” in an abstract, empty way.
An abstract “way of negation” is a convenient tool for the sinner to remove the positive demands God makes on him. If one uses the way of negation before the way of eminence (ala Rome), then one ends up with a finite god.
We lose the aseity of God when we begin with abstract concepts of being. Such abstractness makes God/being a correlative with other being(s).
If we “negate” simply by removing the creatureliness of a property--time and space-- and then applying that to God, we do not get the infinity of god. We get emptiness (211)
This book suffers from the usual defects, if such they are. He moves too quickly and key points aren't always elucidated. Still, if you work through what he is saying and continually reference Greek thought and Bavinck, many gems are within.