Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Monday, June 23, 2008



By Forrest Wayne Schultz
In my Epistemology Position Paper I make it clear that I repudiate Van Til's notion of Biblical antinomies because it is out of accord with the Van Til Perspective itself. I am not the only Vantillian to do so. I was still wrestling with this when I read Robert L. Reymond's epistemologicl masterpiece The Justification of Knowledge. This helped solidify my position. In this great work Reymond begins by giving Van Til well deserved credit for developing what we now call the Van Til Perspective. Having done so, Reymond then goes on to criticize Van Til for holding to the Biblical antinomies notion. The sections quoted below are written for that purpose. I would ask everyone reading this to pay very careful attention to what Reymond says, because this is a very important matter.
Here is a direct quotation from Robert L. Reymond's The Justification of Knowledge (Presbyterian & Reformed Pub. Co., 1976)

"Job 11: 7-8; Psalm 145:3; Isa 40:28; Romans 11:33; and I Timothy 6:16, while certainly affirming the immensity of God, need mean for epistemology simply that men, beginning from themselves and refusing the benefits of revelation, cannot, as Paul declares in I Corinthians 1:21, by their own wisdom find God; or conversely, that men are dependent upon divine revelation for a true and proper knowledge (Cf. Delitzsch's remarks on Psalm 145:3 in commentary on that Psalm, III, 389). Deuteronomy 29:29; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; and John 1:18; 6:46 (Cf. vs. 45) actually teach that men by revelation can know God and His thoughts truly to the degree that He reveals Himself in Christ and in His words. Finally, Isaiah 55: 8-9...actually holds out the real possiblity that men may know God's thoughts and encourages them to turn away from their own thoughts and to learn God's thoughts. Consider the immediate context. In Is 55:7 God calls upon the wicked man, the man of iniquity, to forsake his way and thoughts. Where is he to turn? Of course, to the Lord (vss 6, 7) ! Why must he forsake his way and thoughts in turning to the Lord? 'Because,' says the Lord, 'my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways.' (vs 8). The entire context, far from affirming that God's ways and thoughts are beyond the reach of man, to the contrary, expressly calls upon the wicked man to turn away from his ways and thoughts in order to learn God's ways and thoughts. In so doing, the wicked man gains divine thoughts and ways, which are so much better and so much more enduring than his own. ... These verses teach, then, the complete opposite of what generally they are made to teach. ... Delitzsch, in my opinion, rightly interprets these verses:

'The appeal, to leave their own way, and their own thoughts, and yield themselves to God
the Redeemer, and to His word is...urged on the ground of the heaven-wide difference
between the ways and thoughts of God and the despairing thoughts of men... . On
what side the heaven wide elevation is to be seen is shown by what follows. They
(God's thoughts) are not so fickle, so unreliable, or so powerless.'
Commentary on Isaiah, II, 358

The analysis of these verses of necessity has been brief, but the student of apologetics may rest assured that...some of them expressly declare that in dependence upon God's propositional self-revelation in Scripture, men can know some of God's thoughts truly, though, of course, not exaustively, that is, they can know the revealed proposition. the same sense that God knows it, that is, univocally." (Emphases his) (pp. 102-103)

"Now while I readily concede that it is possible for the erring exegete so to interpret two Scriptural statements that upon completion of his exegesis he possesses contradictory statements, I totally reject the notion that he will have interpreted them correctly. He will have either completely missed the intent of one (or both) of the statements or he will have brought together two statements that in no way pertain directly to each other. ... To affirm otherwise, that is, to affirm that two Scriptural statements that relate to the same theological question, when properly interpreted, can be...contradictory. ..and yet to make christianity and the Bible upon which it is based irrational and strikes at the nature of the eternal Logos who speaks throughout its content. God is Truth itself, Christ is rational, neither can lie, and what they say is self-consistently non-contradictory. Furthermore, if truth may appear to be contradictory, the detection of real falsehood is impossible! Consequently, better would it be to resolve the contradiction through further study, admitting until such resolution is achieved that one has not properly understood one (maybe both) of the Scriptural statements, that is admitting that the contradiction is due to human ignorance or some clarifying datum, than to imply that God, when revealing Himself to men in Scripture, actually teaches in the name of truth what, when properly understood, will appear to the rational mind as contradictory. " (pp. 104-105)

Reymond ends this paragraph with the warning that a failure to heed his counsel will be tantamount to a capitulation to "Barthian irrationalism" .

Thursday, June 12, 2008




The March-April 2008 issue of Mission Frontiers magazine contains an article by Jonathan Rice discussing the tragic consequences of the anti-intellectual conception of faith in 19th century British Christianity (pp. 11-14) and an article by Vishal Mangalwadi advocating a Christianity with a strong emphasis on knowledge and truth (pp. 15 - 18) and an article by Rick Wood lamenting our proclamation of a defective Gospel (pp. 9 - 10).

One of the results of today’s perverted, sub-standard Christianity is noted on page 4 by the Editor Ralph Winter: “Kenya, with over 400 denominations and almost as many Evangelicals as in all of Europe, has exploded before our eyes -- into nasty and unprecedented intertribal warfare -- despite being 80% Christian, just like the USA. Nearby, the Central African Republic is considered by some to be one of the most dangerous and corrupt countries of the world. ... Well, 70% of the country is “Christian” in 59 denominations, with a higher percentage of Evangelicals than any other country in Africa. In Nagaland, almost 100% of the Nagas are Christian -- it is the most Christian state in India. It is also considered the most corrupt.”

Now there are many people who suppose that it is only in America and Europe that we have perverted Christianity. They think, “Ahh, the Christians on the mission field -- now there we have the real Christianity !” Not so!! I purpose cited these examples from Africa and Asia to make the point that defective Christianity is found all around the globe, not just in the West. When I was a very young Christian I kept hearing about the supposedly great revival going on in Uganda. I learned how spurious that was when soon afterward Idi Amin, a very vicious dictator, took over the country. Actually we should not expect anything else -- since our churches are messed up we will send out missionaries who are messed up who will produce converts who are messed up.

I hate to have to mention this, but, hey, it is there and we had better deal with it. There is one sign of hope and that is the magazine noted here which has a thoughtful and courageous editor, Dr. Ralph Winter, who is willing to discuss embarrassing stuff like this instead of sweeping it under the rug.





One of the best books showing the incompatibility of real christianity with the old liberalism was J. Gresham Machen's very fine work Christianity and Liberalism.

One of the best books showing the incompatibility of christianity with what used to be called the new liberalism, i.e. existentialism, was Cornelius Van Til's brilliant work Christianity and Barthianism.

One of the best showing the incompatibility of christianity with the latest liberalism (today) is Gene Edward Veith, Jr.'s Postmodern Times.

Another way of naming the three phases is old modernism, new modernism, and postmodernism.

Machen and Van Til were conservative Presbyterians. Veith is a conservative Lutheran.

Machen was the founder of Westminster Seminary and Van Til was one of the profs there. Veith in 2006 became the Academic Dean (or Provost) at Patrick Henry College.

John Frame noted that the "and" in the title of Machen's and Van Til's books is the disjunctive "and", i.e. it is meant to show contrast. In other words they are saying that liberalism is NOT christianity, so that the choice (in late 19th -early 20th century) is between christianity and liberalism; then in mid twentieth century America the choice was between christianity and barthianism (the new liberalism). Now, today the choice is between christianity and postmodernism.





When I was a young man, shortly after my conversion, in the early 1960s, a young British ultraliberal Anglican Bishop named John A. T. Robinson caused an uproar with his best-selling book Honest To God, which in no way taught anything new, but merely repeated the heretical notions found in such liberals as Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, who were very popular with liberal Protestants back then. What was new was a BISHOP saying these things which were clearly contrary to the official doctrinal stance of the Church of England. Now there had been plenty of Anglican clergy who thought as he did but at least they did not come out and say it in front of the servants! (You should not come out and say such things publicly; they should stay "in the closet", don't you know.) There was such a firestorm ignited by this (then young, but now old) Bishop Robinson that a new book soon appeared entitled The Honest To God Debate. There also was a witty British conservative named O. Fielding Clarke who countered Robinson's book with one of his own bearing this witty title, For Christ's Sake! (Get it -- Honest To God !! For Christ's Sake !!)

Well, now, history has been repeating itself, this time on our side of the pond, with a new Bishop Robinson, this one called Gene Robinson, from NEW England, who has come out of the closet, admitted that he is "gay", and is now finally, several years later, openly "marrying" his "partner" [in crime]. Here again, you see, there have always been "homos" in the church, but at least in the past they did not come out and flaunt it.

The article about this is produced below. You will note how controversial this is in the Lambeth Conference, which is the worldwide organization of Anglican Churches. The reason for this is that while the British Anglicans have been becoming more and more liberal, the African Anglican churches, which are rapidly growing, are very Biblical and are getting more and more upset at the antics of these Robinson types. At a recent Lambeth Conference, the American ultraliberal Bishop Spong was verbally attacked by some of these Africans, one of them going so far as to try to exorcise the demons in Spong!!

I tell you folks, I don't know where people get the idea that church is boring!!

OK, here, without further adieu, is the aforementioned article hot off the press from AP:

NH gay bishop, partner joined in civil union

By NORMA LOVE, Associated Press Writer Sun Jun 8, 9:45 AM ET

CONCORD, N.H. - The first openly gay Episcopal bishop and his partner of 20 years have been united in a private civil union.

The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was legally joined to Mark Andrew, his partner of 20 years, in a civil ceremony Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire announced.
Civil unions became legal in New Hampshire this year.

The union was performed five years to the day after New Hampshire Episcopalians elected him as their bishop.

The civil and a following religious service of thanksgiving were both held at St. Paul's Church in Concord.

Robinson had made public his intention to join his partner, but had kept the date secret out of concern about security. Spokesman Mike Barwell said the ceremony was intentionally private.

"Initially, the idea was to have it in a public building to make clear it was a public civil ceremony and a private thanksgiving ceremony," Barwell said Sunday.

The plan changed out of respect for next month's worldwide Anglican church conference in England, called the Lambeth Conference, and out of concern for the couple's security.
Robinson had announced in March that he would have no official role in that conference, saying restrictions that organizers wanted to place on his involvement had caused him "considerable pain."

Robinson was told last year that he could not fully participate in the once-a-decade gathering in England as the world Anglican Communion has been on the brink of schism over his 2003 election.

The civil union was performed by Ronna Wise, a longtime friend and justice of the peace.
About 120 family and close friends attended.

Robinson and Andrew decided to enter the union before Robinson's trip to ensure they have legal protections New Hampshire's civil union law gives gay couples. The law bestows all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, which includes inheritance and other rights enjoyed by married couples.
On the Net:
Diocese: http://www.nhepisco

http://news. s/ap/20080608/ ap_on_re/ gay_bishop

Saturday, June 07, 2008





OK, guys, I have already shocked you by my post in which I quoted from Nancy Pearcey's Commencement Address in which she advocated christian reconstruction at a prominent dispe bible college. Now prepare yourself for another -- she now is the professor of worldview studies at that same institution! This school (now called PBU --Philadelphia Biblical University) was formerly called PCB -- the Philadelphia College of Bible, one of the staunchest of all dispe bible colleges, which not only uses the Scofield Bible in all their courses, but of which Scofield himself was one of the FOUNDERS !! My source for her address was impeccable, PBU's own magazine. And my source for her appointment as Prof there is also impeccable, it is found in the Pearcey Report, which gives a bio of Nancy.

Here it is:


Nancy R. Pearcey is editor-at-large of The Pearcey Report and professor of worldview studies at Philadelphia Biblical University. Previously she was the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute, where she taught a worldview course based on her book Total Truth, winner of the 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best book on Christianity and Society.

Formerly an agnostic, Nancy studied violin in Heidel- berg in the early 1970s, then traveled to Switzerland to study Christian worldview at L'Abri Fellowship, where Francis Schaeffer was living and teaching. Later she graduated from Iowa State University with a Distributed Studies degree (philosophy, German, mus- ic). After earning a master's in Biblical Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, she pursued graduate work in the history of philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. She has been a visiting scholar at Biola University's Torrey Honors Institute and is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

Heralded as "one of the few female intellectuals in evangelicalism" (Evangelical Outpost), Nancy has addressed staffers on Capitol Hill and at the White House; actors and screenwriters in Hollywood; scientists at labs such as Sandia and Los Alamos; students and faculty at Stanford, Dartmouth, Princeton, USC, Ohio State, and the University of Georgia; as well as educational and activist groups, including the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. She has appeared on NPR and C-SPAN.

Nancy began publishing articles on science and world- view in 1977 for the Bible-Science Newsletter, where for 13 years she analyzed the Christian worldview themes she would develop more fully in later books and articles. In 1991 she became the founding editor of the daily radio program "BreakPoint, " where she served for nearly nine years as executive editor, heading up a team of writers producing broadcast-ready commentaries. Under her intellectual leadership, the program grew into an influential outlet for a Christian worldview perspective on current events, with an estimated weekly audience of five million. She was also policy director and senior fellow of the Wilberforce Forum, and for five years she coauthored a monthly column in Christianity Today.

Nancy has served as managing editor of Origins & Design, an editorial board member of Salem Communications, and a commentator on Public Square Radio. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Times, Human Events, First Things, World, Pro Rege, Human Life Review, American Enterprise, The Family in America, and the Regent University Law Review.

Nancy has authored or coauthored several works, including The Soul of Science and How Now Shall We Live? She contributed the Foreword to The Right Questions, and chapters to Of Pandas and People, Mere Creation, Pro-Life Feminism, Genetic Ethics, Signs of Intelligence, Reading God's World, Uncom- mon Dissent, and a forthcoming Phillip Johnson Festschrift titled Darwin's Nemesis. Nancy and Rick are homeschooling the second of their two sons.

You can check this out at about.php

And, hey, this is real important -- she is the new Francis Schaeffer and is one smart feisty lady -- a real Kingdom Warrior!





From time to time I have been noting significant changes in the outlook of dispes today. Now let me tell you of one of the most interesting of these because it is occurring at a dispe Bible College with impeccable dispe credentials -- this is Philadelphia College of Bible (PCB), which was formed by the union of two dispe schools, one of which had as one of its founders none other than C. I Scofield !! When I was living in Philly, during the 60s and early 70s and was in very close touch with PCB, they used the Scofield Reference Bible for all classes, they had a very close relationship with Dallas Seminary (the premier dispe seminary), PCB was regarded as either the top or one of the top dispe Bible Colleges in the USA, there was no concern for a Biblical world-view and their “secular” courses were taught no differently than at Humanist colleges, and their Academic Dean (Clarence E, Mason, Jr.) made it crystal clear in his Syllabus that “The only mission of the church to the world is evangelism”. That was THEN (1960s and early 1970s)

NOW look at this diametrically opposed statement in the Commencement Address at this college delivered on May 5, 2007 by Nancy Pearcy (a protogee’ of Francis Schaeffer): “For example, we’re called to bring the gospel to people who work in politics. But we’re also called to transform political structures political structures, to bring biblical principles to the transformation of civil society. We should reach out to teachers as individuals. But we are also called to bring a biblical view of education into our schools. We want to save artists and musicians, but we also want to save the art world.” The basis for Pearcey’s assertion is the principle she sets forth in the very opening of her Address: “We typically hear Christians say that the Bible is the authoritative source of truth for faith and morals. But we don’t always hear Christians say that the Bible gives a framework for the rest of knowledge as well -- for law and politics, for business and economics, for the arts and humanities. ... In the New Testament we’re commanded to take every thought captive to Christ -- not just moral or theological thoughts, but every thought. In other words we’re called to craft a Christian worldview, which simply means a biblically informed view of t he entire world and everything in it.”

PCB is now called PBU, Philadelphia Biblical University, although in fact it is still a Bible College , not a real university. Anyway, as an alumna of PCB, now called PBU, my wife receives all the materials sent out to the alumni, including their quarterly magazine PBU Today. The quotes above are taken from the Summer 2007 issue of this magazine. I have been looking at this magazine carefully over the past several years during which I have been noting more and more articles on Christian Worldview”, some of them quite good. Therefore this address by Nancy Pearcey should be seen as a culmination of a trend that has been in place for a number of years.

OK, guys those are the facts!! Whether or not the principles set forth by Pearcey are in conflict with dispe or not, there they are - being proclaimed at a dispe bible college. I am not going to tell you how to deal with this -- that is NOT my point. My point is that from now on when you critique dispe you do so based on what dispes are saying and doing TODAY, not on what they said or did 50 or 100 years ago.



A Review of Leland Ryken & Philip Ryken (Editors), The Literary Study Bible, English Standard Version (ESV)
(Wheaton, IL: Good News Pubs. [Crossway], 2007)
ISBN: 978-1-58134-808-8 1913 pp. $49.99

By Forrest Wayne Schultz

I first encountered Leland Ryken as an excellent commentator on C. S. Lewis, one of my favorite writers and thinkers. With the passing of Clyde Kilby, Ryken assumed the mantle of the leading American authority on Lewis, and, indeed, quite appropriately, Ryken, is now the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College. I learned of Phil Ryken after he became the senior pastor of "Tenth Pres" (The Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA), which I discovered by means of a visit to the Tenth Pres website. Tenth Pres was the church I attended until I left Philly, and it was by far the best church I have ever attended, and it appears to be flourishing now under Phil Ryken's leadership even more so than previously. Other achievements worth mentioning is his doctorate from Oxford and the position he holds as a theology professor at Westminster Theological Seminary's California campus. He is the son of Leland Ryken.

The task undertaken by the Rykens in the work under review here is more significant than many people might suppose: it involves showing the RIGHT way to study the Bible as Literature, which must be carefully distinguished from the two WRONG ways which gained popularity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- doing literary studies to AVOID studying the theology of the Bible and doing literary studies in order to REPLACE the theology of the Bible. The first of these is often done in "The Bible As Literature" courses; and the latter has been done to replace the doctrine of creation with evolutionary theory and to replace the doctrine of salvation with existentialist philosophy by employing the ruse of regarding Genesis and the Gospels as "mythology" rather than accounts of what really happened. In contrast, as the Rykens show, the RIGHT way to do a literary study of the Bible enhances one's ability to understand and appreciate the theology of the Bible. In short, the Rykens rightly maintain that the various literary forms employed by the Scriptural authors are intended to lead us into the truths in the Biblical world-view -- not as a means of ignoring or rejecting these truths. And the serious way in which ordinary things and daily life is treated by the great literary artistry of Scripture bears witness both to the importance of ordinary things and of daily life as well as to the importance of beauty in verbal expression, as many scholars such as Auerbach have shown. Detailed discussions of the Rykens' literary principles can be found in the Introduction and in the books authored by Leland Ryken noted in his author's bio on the book jacket, and definitions of the technical literary terms can be found in the Glossary following the Bible.

Following this Introduction is a Preface explaining the principles involved in the English Standard Version translation of the Bible (the ESV), which was first published in 2001, by Crossway, and is a registered trademark of Good News Publishers. Some of the content of the Literary Study notes found here first appeared in Ryken's Bible Handbook, which was published in 2005 by Tyndale House (and used here by their permission), according to the Copyright page. According to the Preface the principle underlying the ESV is that of an "essentially literal" translation that seeks to capture both "the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer". The ESV, like the NASV and the NRSV, attempts to retain the style and literary beauty of the KJV, and regards itself as being the latest in the lineage of English Bible translations starting with Tyndale and the KJV, although, unlike the KJV, the New Testament of the ESV is not translated from the Textus Receptus, but from the latest edition of the Nestle Greek text of the New Testament.

It is difficult to say just how useful the Rykens' notes in this Literary Study Bible will be. First of all, in the overwhelming majority of Scriptural passages one does not need to be a literary scholar to know whether he is reading a geneology or a psalm or a letter or a law code or a dialogue or a parable or whatever. The ordinary Bible reader may not know the technical terms for the various literary forms he encounters, but he usually can distinguish them without any help from an English Professor. Secondly, it would appear to be doubtful that the Literary Study method could ever be used to settle a major theological controversy. For example, the Rykens provide a discussion of the various symbols used in the Book of Revelation and of the meaning of the apocalyptic genre but they are unable to settle the millennial debate. This is clearly indicated in their note on p. 1876 which merely STATES the three millennial views (pre-, post-, a-) but makes no attempt to use the Literary method as a means of determining which of these views is the correct one. So, while their Bible as Literature approach is clearly valuable for the reasons shown here, it apparently cannot be used to settle theological debates such as the Millennial issue and is usually not needed to determine what literary form one is reading, although an appreciation of that form may be encouraged.

The commentary of the Rykens is well written and easy to read. The ESV was produced following good translation principles and the text is easy to read. The ESV eliminates the archaisms of the KJV but its language does not have quite as powerful an impact as the KJV does. Finally, as the Rykens themselves say, their literary commentary is not intended to replace the traditional methods of study but to supplement them and lead to an appreciation of the importance of the literary-artistic aspect of the Word of God.

By highlighting the importance of the artististic aspect of Scripture the Literary Study Bible should be helpful in bringing to attention the artistic aspect of God Himself. By inspiring the writing of Scripture as a work of literary artistry God shows His concern for the the literary arts just as the artistic aspect of His creatures shows His concern for the visual arts. These together with God's dramatic artistry as the Playwright of history leads us to realize that God is a very creative, beautiful, imaginative, and interesting Person -- a great truth which has heretofore usually been egregiously omitted in the Doctrine of God in our systematic theologies.

Written Under The Auspices Of Active Christian Media

Forrest Wayne Schultz has degrees in engineering and theology, including a Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary, where he wrote his thesis on the Biblical view of ecology. He has had articles and book reviews published in The Chalcedon Report, The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, and several space magazines. He served as President of the C.S.Lewis/J.R.R.Tolkien Society of Philadelphia in the late 1960s and as President of the Southside Science Fiction and Fantasy Society in Riverdale GA in tha late 1980s. He was the President of the Environment Chapter of the National Space Society and its delegate to the Georgia Earth Day 1990 Committee. He writes news releases covering the arts scene in Coweta County, GA, where he resides, and this will be the second year he will be leading a workshop on the writing of news releases at the international Muse Online Writers Conference. He can be reached by telephone at 770-583-3258 or by email at



In his allegory The Pilgrim’s Regress, C. S. Lewis shows that the way to defeat the Freudian notion that God (as Father) is a psychological projection of one’s (human) father is by the ability to distinguish between a copy and the original. Freud wrongly regarded the human father as the original and God as the copy. The Bible rightly shows that God is the Original and that humans are “copies” of God, created in the image of God. In fact, the Biblical definition of man is the creaturely image of God. Van Til placed a great stress not only upon the Creator/creature distinction but also upon the all important point that this distinction consists in man’s being a finite analogue of God. Van Til went so far as to state that man is a finite replica of the being of God insofar as this is possible for a creature. That is, man is as much like God as it is possible for a creature to be. In short, God is the Original, man is the creaturely copy of the original.

Humanists very often posit a reversal of this all-important truth: they regard man as the original and God as the copy. Freud was not the only one to do this. Another example was Ludwig Feuerbach, who claimed that God was a sociological projection, i.e. God is created by a society to embody its ideals.

While this kind of stuff is to be expected from humanist thinkers, it is surprising to also find this notion among Christian thinkers. According to this notion many Biblical statements about God are dismissed as “anthropomorphic” language. Take, for example, the Biblical term “the Hand of God”. Most Christian Bible commentators say that such a term is not meant literally because God does not have hands. Do you see what they are doing? They are regarding the human hand as the original and God’s hand as the copy. To them a real hand is the human hand and therefore it is only a figure of speech to say that God has hands. This is radically false. Human hands are a finite, creaturely copy of God’s hands. God can do much more with His hands than we can do with ours. God’s hands are the Original hands and are the definition of all that a hand can be. Our human hands are creaturely copies of God’s supreme all-powerful hands and are not nearly as handy as God’s hands. Therefore it is literally true to say that God has hands, namely He has divine hands. It is also literally true that men have hands, namely human hands, which are creaturely, analogous copies of God’s Hands, which are the Original hands.

Rightly regarding God as the Original and man as the copy is a very important feature of the Biblical principle, emphasized by Van Til, that God is the ultimate reference point and the only proper starting point for all predication. This principle, which is at the heart of the Van Til Perspective, was clearly recognized and followed by other great twentieth century Christian thinkers such as C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and R. J. Rushdoony. It is absolutely essential for straight thinking in all areas of the Christian world-view and in the Christian reconstruction of all areas of life. Amen!




Legal (and Spiritual) Suspense “With A Twist”

A Review of James Scott Bell The Whole Truth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008)
ISBN 13: 978-0-310-26903-8 337 pp $14.99

The literary phrase “with a twist” is an understatement because it refers to tales which actually have a number of “twists”, not just one. A good example is provided by the novel under review here. I really cannot elaborate without “giving away the story” so I will say no more than to encourage you to read Bell’s latest legal thriller to find out what I mean by these multiple twists. Let me also say that if you liked his Presumed Guilty, you will like this one too.

The story focuses upon a recovering drug-and-alcohol-addict, Lawyer Steve Conroy, who is barely staying afloat and is hardly in any shape to undertake the untying of any Gordian twists. To the contrary, his inept efforts result in his own body being tied up -- literally. One of his methods of coping, which makes reading this book such a delight, is his wittiness, which suffuses almost all of his dialogues. Actually, even if you don’t care for the plot, the book is worth reading just for these verbal gems. Perhaps this book should be regarded as comedic legal suspense! The writing is also remarkable for the natural way in which spiritual matters are shown to be integral to the story. Here and in his other novels Bell novels provide good examples of how spirituality is related to daily life.

Bell is one of a growing number of Christian authors during the past decade who are writing with an ever growing maturity, so that by now, to those who are au courant, the term “Christian fiction” is, happily, coming more and more to mean literary (and spiritual) sophistication. This is the kind of witness which Francis Schaeffer said we should bear before the watching world. If you like legal thrillers and sophisticated Christian fiction, you will like the novels of James Scott Bell. Info is available on his website

ANNUIT COEPTIS: Where It Comes From and What It Means

Annuit Coeptis: Where It Comes From And What It Means

Well, after all these years I finally found out where this famous Latin sentence comes from and what it means. (This is the motto found on the top of the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States.) My source is the fascinating newly published book Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin by the excellent writer and scholar Nicholas Ostler (NY: Walker & Co., 2007), where the following is found on pages 287 - 289.

Since the time I was a boy I was told that “Annuit Coeptis” meant “He has favored our undertakings”. This turns out to be close but not exact. According to Ostler the verb literally means “ nodded to”, as when a person who is asked a question nods his head “Yes”. The source for this famous Latin sentence is that very important epic of ancient Roman literature, Aeneid (ix, 625) penned by the great poet Virgil. It is recounting a famous episode in the life of Aeneas’s son Ascantius, who asks Jupiter for his nod of approval for the arrow shot he is about to take at an enemy soldier. In this passage, since Ascantius is beseeching Jupiter, the verb is in the imperative mood, so that the words are “annue coeptis”, i.e. “nod to my undertakings”. Jupiter nods his approval with a clap of thunder and Ascantius’s arrow successfully slays the enemy.
Now you may wonder what in the world this has to do with the founding of the USA. Well, you see, Aeneas founded a town which Ascantius moved to Alba Longa, where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome were born. And Virgil regards the founding of Rome as proceeding according to a divine plan, just as many American Christians believe that the founding of America happened in accord with God’s plan. Our founders believed this, which is why they chose this motto “Annuit Coeptis”, which says of God that He has nodded his approval upon our undertakings just as Virgil says that Jupiter nodded his approval upon Ascantius’s undertakings. In both cases the results led to the founding of a new nation. (By the way in Rome, as in Greece, you had the city-state concept, i.e. a city as a state.) AND the founding of Rome was very important to the ancient Romans, who continually referred to it and who even developed their calendar accordingly, i.e. the years were numbered from the founding of Rome, which was designated by the initials A.U.C., Ab Urbe Condita (From the Founding of the City).

Now I noted that Annuit Coeptis was at the top of the reverse of the Great Seal directly above the all seeing Eye of God, which is also extremely important in getting the context here because the word Providence, which comes from Latin, means Foresight in the sense of “seeing to it that the planned thing happens” (the Latin verb video means “to see”). OK, so on top we have God Providentially nodding his approval upon our undertakings, which produces the result indicated by the other Latin phrase at the bottom: Novus Ordo Seclorum, a New Order Of The Ages! And, guess what -- that also comes from Virgil and is found in the extremely important passage in his Fourth Eclogue which prophesies the coming of the Messiah from a Virgin. And the reworking of Virgil here is interesting because, you see, Ordo Seclorum is part of the phrase “a great order of the ages is born” and the Novus is referring to the Child, the new Child, sent from heaven above (“novus” means “new”).
Now Virgil was regarded as very important by both the early and medieval church for being granted this knowledge by God, and Dante revered Virgil so highly that he uses him as the Guide through the Inferno in his Commedia. At the time our nation was founded and for some time afterward until around the time of the dawning of the twentieth century, all educated men knew Latin and Greek and ancient Roman and Greek history so that what I have noted here was very well known to them. Thus, you see, all educated men then, Deists as well as Christians, knew all this and even the Deists believed in Divine Providence.
One final thing -- although the evidence for this is unclear, there are those who believe that the motto on the obverse side, “e pluribus unum” (“from many states, one nation”) also comes from Virgil. The source is an ancient poem called the Moretum which on pages 101-104 contains a recipe for making a savory dish by mixing together many ingredients. Out of these many ingredients (e pluribus), this one (unus) dish is produced. You know, I really like this analogy better than the melting pot notion because I abhor blast furnaces for their ultracrude technology. Blending good ingredients to produce a savory food is a much more pleasing metaphor!





Below are several recent posts on this subject which I made to email discussion groups.


In several recent posts I stated that Creation Week must be regarded as an archetypal paradigm, i.e. that God’s work of creation is a model which man is expected to follow in his work. The Fourth Commandment clearly states that the reason why man is supposed to work for six days and then rest on the seventh is because this is what God did during Creation Week. Now there is a great significance in this which is not usually noted when this is discussed.
The Hebrew verb for work or labor (abad) which is used in the Fourth Commandment (Ex 20:6) literally means “to serve”. Work or labor is to be regarded as service -- we are supposed to serve one another and, in so doing, thereby also serve God. It is very significant that Moses was instructed to tell Pharoah -- “Let My people go that they may serve Me” (the same verb, abad, is used here) and that the Ten Commandments are prefaced by God referring to Himself as “The Lord thy God which brought thee out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”. So, as free men under God we are to serve God by laboring in works of service to others by following after God’s pattern during Creation Week in which He served man by creating a home for man to live in. Most English translations of Gen 2:8 say that God “put” man in the Garden of Eden. The literal translation of the Hebrew verb here is “caused to abide”. That is, God made the Earth as a home for man, an abode for man, a place in which to abide. This is the service which God did for man during Creation Week -- he created the Earth as a home for man to live in. Luke’s genealogy of Christ concludes (Lk 3:39) by referring to Adam as “the son of God”. Therefore God as Father created the Earth as a home for his son, Adam. This is the example we fathers are to follow by creating homes for our sons.

OK, now do you see why this is so important? Do you understand now what an archetypal paradigm means? The reason God took six days to create the world was NOT because he NEEDED that much time to do it. That is preposterous -- He could have done it in a split second. Also, did He get tired afterward and is that why He took a day of rest? What a laugh!! NO. The reason He did His creation work in six days and then followed that by a day of rest was because He was establishing thereby a pattern for us to follow in our weekly cycle. Man not only was created in the image of God; He IS the image of God, the finite reflection of God, the creaturely ectype of God. Therefore he is intended to follow God’s pattern.

I think one of the reasons we have missed this is that we regard the Fourth Commandment as only teaching us to rest on the Sabbath. It does say that, of course, but that is not all it says -- it also tells us to do six days of work serving others following God’s pattern of His six days of work serving us by creating a home for us.

God’s grace and God’s love did not begin in the New Testament -- it has been there since The Beginning. Amen.





In my recent post on Creation Week as Archetypal Paradigm, I stated that (1). God purposely took six days to do His work of creation followed by one day of rest in order that it would serve as a model for man to follow -- man too should do six days of work followed by one day of rest; and (2). that just as God did a service to man during Creation Week (by creating a home, i.e. an environment, for man to live in), so men should do their work as a service to other men. Now let us look at another very important factor here -- creativity.
The reason that God decided to create and was able to create the world is that He has a creative nature. There is a mystery in HOW God created, but there is no mystery as to WHY He created. Creation is what you expect a creative person to do. Francis Schaeffer liked to say that the reason men can be creative is that they are created in the image of a Creator! Now if Creation Week indeed serves as Archetypal Paradigm for man, then this means that man not only has been given the ability to create but that the creatures God created in His cosmos are to serve as the models for human art works. God’s cosmos is very orderly, very beautiful, and contains an enormous variety, and shows that God has a great imagination. Therefore our human art works likewise should be orderly, beautiful, variegated, and imaginative. And we should be creative not just in the arts but in all that we do, even if it is a mundane thing like organizing an office.

This subject is very important not just for the reasons noted but also for showing that the principles and rules for Christian reconstruction are found throughout the Word, not just in those sections usually designated as law. The very opening chapters of the Bible contain an archetypal paradigm for us to follow, as I have shown. Now, if we do not see it that way but just see it as info on how the world got here, then we will miss the principles I have been discussing.

OK, one more thing before I sign off. Remember when I said that God did not need to take six days to create but did it for the sake of serving as a pattern for man? Well, you see, the whole cosmos and everything in it is the way it is so it can serve as the home for man and for the education and training of man. God did not HAVE to create it this way -- He did it this way for the purpose noted. There have been all kinds of rationalistic nonsense about how if God is infinite, the universe must be infinite or that this must be the best possible world if God is perfect, etc. God created the world for a purpose -- to serve as the home for man and for the education and training of man so that it is the best possible world FOR THAT PURPOSE. Also, there are things God has been criticized for by those saying it would be better to have done it this way or that. But you cannot discuss what is best in a vacuum. You first must define the purpose. So, in conclusion, God created the cosmos the way He did so it would serve His purposes for man and He took six days to do it in order to provide the model needed for man. Do you see what I am saying here? This is really important stuff which is rarely discussed.




During the past twenty years or so there has been a lot of discussion among physicists concerning The Anthropic Principle, which is the very obvious and very profound rule that the laws of nature must be such as to allow men to exist or we would not be here to study them. It turns out that this principle places some very strict limits on the amount of variation allowable in these laws and in the values of the various physical constants. Since God designed the universe to be the home of man, the Anthropic Principle is the result, i.e. the laws and data of physics must be such as to provide a cosmos in which man can live.
Two centuries ago this same principle was propounded with respect to terrestrial environments by Christian geographer Karl Ritter on page 104 of Volume I of his book Die Erdkunde (Berlin, 1817) in this magnificent sentence: “In all the phenomena of nature and history the influences of this terrestrial arrangement and its conditions are prominent everywhere, since it was prepared from the beginning as the place for the display of nature and her powers, as the bearer of peoples, as home, dwelling place, and temporary arrangement for the development of the human race, which cannot be imagined without this arrangement.” (my translation) It is noteworthy that Ritter recognizes the very important but often neglected point that the Earth is not only the home of man but that it also has been designed for the education and training of man to enable him to fulfill his destiny as the image of God having dominion over the Earth as the vicegerent of God.

OK, now my point here is that the creationist vs. evolutionist debate should not just be seen as an argument over how the cosmos got here -- did God put it here or did it get here by chance evolving from some kind of primordial stuff. The debate is also over the very essence and meaning of the earth and the universe. The earth and the universe is man’s HOME -- man BELONGS here because the cosmos was designed and created specifically to serve as the home of man. The “mechanistic” cosmology or any other kind of cosmology (such as the gnostic cosmology) in which man does not feel at home is false.
All right, now let’s tie all this together. The Christian Anthropic Principle includes these points: the earth is the home and school of man; the six days God took to create it (and the rest of the cosmos) followed by His one day of rest was done by Him to provide a pattern we are to copy -- each of our weeks is to be six days of work followed by one day of rest; God’s service to man here is to be the model for our service to one another, and God’s creativity is to serve as a model for our creativity; and the specific laws of nature and the specific environments of Earth and the cosmic environment of outer space were planned by God to fulfill His plan for man’s life in the cosmos.

The Christian doctrine of creation is not complete if any of these points are omitted.






Because God has caused man to abide in the world, he is at home in the world and his epistemic equipment (sight, hearing, etc.) has been given to him to enable him to receive information about the world. Because man is already “tuned in” to the world, he must not and need not seek out some kind of Archimedean Point as a means of gaining knowledge. One of the greatest of all epistemological blunders ever was Plato’s infamous “Cave” parable, which claims that man’s senses deceive him as to the nature of reality and that in order to obtain truth he must forsake them as shadowy illusions and that he can only attain to the truth by ascending out of the cave up into the realm of light, which process has come to be known by philosophers as the seeking out of an Archimedean Point above reality, which is needed to know the truth about reality. Because God has given men the epistemic equipment to know reality, man is already tuned in to reality, and does not need to escape from sense data by any such Archimedean Point ascensions.

Back in the late 60s some of the hippies talked about “tuning in”. We do NOT need to tune in. We are already tuned in -- this is the epistemological implication of the creationist doctrine that God has caused man to abide in the world. We do not need to “tune in”. We are already tuned in. What we need to do is to pay attention to what we are receiving. It is not as though the radio is turned off or tuned to the wrong station. The radio is on and we are tuned in to the right station. What we need to do is to pay attention to what is being broadcast!

Amen !!





God is a Person. Since man is the image of God, men are persons. Human artifacts were made by persons, namely men. Man and nature were both made by God, Who is a person. Therefore every being is either a person or has been made by a person. Therefore all truth is truth about persons and their creations. Truth, of course, is objective, not subjective, i.e. it is true whether we know it or not, whether we believe it or not and whether we like it or not. But truth is also personal in the sense noted above, i.e. all truth is truth either about persons or about their creations.



That’s some pretty heavy stuff, I think, so it is now time for a bit of creationist humor.
Here is the first one:

Q. What do creationist teenagers say about the age of the Earth?
A. The Old Earth Sucks !
The Young Earth Rocks !

Here is the second one:
Q. What was the first thing Eve did after she was created?
A. She looks over and sees this guy standing there and goes over to him and says,
“Who are you? I don’t know you from Adam!!”.
Q. How did Adam respond?
A. He responded by uttering the first palindrome in history: “Madam, I’m Adam”.