Book Review - Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman

Author: John R. Muether
P&R Publishing, 2008

ISBN-10: 0875526659
ISBN-13: 978-0875526652

Any biographer of Cornelius Van Til needs to assume certain things. First, Van Til’s thought, though brilliant, is not always easy to divine. Second, this difficulty is made more problematic by the coming together of at least two obstacles: 1) Van Til’s sometimes awkward way of putting things, and 2) the difficulty many of us have in obeying the injunction to bring every thought into captivity to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Third, one who would write about Van Til must keep in mind that, owing in no small part to the foregoing points, the famed Westminster apologist is often not closely or sympathetically read by his opponents (many of whom have little or no acquaintance with his writings). Instead, these opponents often content themselves with the misrepresentations of Van Til which have been handed down as unquestioned truths over the years. Fourth, these characterizations help serve the agendas of conservative Christians who like to flirt with wayward evangelicals who, in turn, enjoy rubbing shoulders with non-evangelical intellectuals like Barth, Balthasar or Ricoeur.

For these reasons, the uncompromising thrust of Van Til’s thinking (and its consciously antithetical attitude toward unbiblical opinions) must be explained if his important work is to be appreciated, especially by readers who may desire to be introduced to the man and to understand his influence.

Meuther’s approach

A life of Van Til, authored by a librarian and Church History professor at Westminster Seminary, would seem to be a good place to go to get such a balanced, friendly (though not uncritical) treatment of this important thinker. John Muether has given the Church his take on this one whom he calls a “truly great man” (p. 11), and he has been concerned to connect Van Til with his Dutch Reformed roots as well as his Presbyterian (OPC) commitments. Indeed, these come across clearly throughout the book. Muether charts the “protective isolationism” of his subject’s “Dutch-American upbringing” (p. 38), his minute reading of Kuyper and Bavinck, and how this led to Van Til’s enthusiasm for maintaining the antithesis between saved and unsaved ways of thinking.

Muether recounts the emotional turmoil of young Van Til’s decision to leave the familiar surroundings of Grand Rapids for Princeton—a decision which, however wise, would always be felt by both Van Til and his future wife. He did well at Princeton, winning two academic prizes and completing “four degrees in five years,” receiving his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the university in 1927 (p. 52). Even at this early stage of his life, it appears that the contours of his thought were pretty well cast. Muether notes the looming influence of Bavinck on his subject, “the evidence for which grows as Bavinck’s dogmatics is translated into English” (p. 56). Bavinck’s “Prolegomena” (Volume 1 of the Reformed Dogmatics) includes statements which would sit comfortably in one of Van Til’s syllabii (cf. Muether’s comment about him refining Bavinck’s basic approach, p. 116).

A most interesting feature of the biography is the record of how J. Gresham Machen eventually lured Van Til away from his rural pastorate in Spring Lake, Michigan, to join the newly formed Westminster Seminary in 1929. It is clear that Machen went to extraordinary lengths to secure Van Til’s services for the new Seminary, and how, after Machen’s untimely death in 1937, he found himself taking on much of the responsibility for the work that his mentor had left behind (p. 85).

The author also introduces us to critics (e.g. Buswell and Daane) who often misrepresented Van Til’s views and are the cause of misconceptions about Van Til which continue today.

Van Til & Gordon H. Clark

Chapter four provides one of the best parts of the book. Rejecting John Frame’s view of the Clark-Van Til controversy as a low point in the lives of both men (see pp. 106-107), Muether asserts that Gordon H. Clark’s rationalistic theology tended to make mere assent the basis of faith, instead of the embracing of truth by the whole man (e.g., p. 102). Muether observes that “Clark’s failure to acknowledge the qualitative difference” between Divine and human knowledge, “collapsed (in the words of the Complaint) the Creator-creature distinction that lay at the heart of a biblical doctrine of creation.” (p. 104).

Significantly in this chapter, Muether also shows that Clark’s supporters hoped to broaden the OPC membership and make it fit more comfortably within mainline evangelicalism. He also clarifies that, though Van Til signed the Complaint against the ordination of Clark, he did not take a leading role in the controversy (p. 104). And the language of the Complaint (though it borrows from Van Til’s terminology) was not his. Indeed, Muether suggests that it could more accurately be termed “the Clark-Murray debate” (p. 105), since the esteemed John Murray was one of the main protagonists involved in the dispute.

Despite the toll the episode took on their relationship, it is gratifying to read that Van Til always held Clark in high regard (p. 101). All who still carry a torch for Clark would be well advised to read this part of the biography.

Van Til & Karl Barth

The book moves next to Karl Barth. Meuther notes that Louis Berkhof praised The New Modernism, Van Til’s warning to evangelicals against Barth’s deceptive terminology. He writes,

For Barth… the resurrection happened in a time of pure presence; it was not an event in the past (Historie) but a present manifestation of Christ’s supreme sovereignty (Geschichte) (p. 123).

Evangelicals continue to be drawn to Barth’s dynamic theology through reading him as an evangelical absentee, rather than as a neo-orthodox thinker (cf. especially p. 128). In doing so, they lightly dismiss Van Til’s thorough acquaintance with the early and latter Barth and trot out well worn—but often unsubstantiated—criticisms of Van Til’s engagements with Barth. Some even attack Van Til’s scholarship so as to protect Barth from his censure. It is doubtful that a search of the bookshelves of these evangelical defenders of Barth would uncover carefully marked up and annotated editions of Barth’s Church Dogmatics in the original German! (p. 134). Van Til was both a brilliant theologian and philosopher (though Muether is right to say that he should not be approached as a philosopher, p. 154). Those who take aim at Van Til’s assessment of Barth should perhaps pause for more self-assessment before giving their opinions.

Van Til has always attracted criticism, and certainly some of it is justified. He tended to generalize. His choice of words (precise in its own way) was often confusing, and he was sometimes given to overstatement. These traits, coupled with his unflinching orthodoxy and presuppositional approach to knowledge, guarantee that a continuous line of left-leaning evangelicals, evidentialists and fence-sitting philosophers will take pot shots at his work.

Progressives at Calvin Seminary

The sixth chapter recounts Van Til’s spats with those in the progressive wing at Calvin Seminary, including his former teacher, W.H. Jellema. Van Til regarded Jellema’s pursuance of common ground between Christian and non-Christian systems of thought as a compromise of the antithesis between “covenant keepers and covenant breakers.” The book’s attention to Van Til’s disagreements with Herman Dooyeweerd (p. 175-177) and Francis Schaeffer (p. 197-199) is well done, as is the recounting of Van Til’s isolation from the next generation of evangelicals (Henry, Carnell, and even Edmund Clowney, p. 222). It is also nice to read a clearly articulated denial that Van Til was a closet Theonomist, despite his influence on certain aspects of their work (p. 216-219).

Weaknesses of the book

Having surveyed parts of the book, is there anything else to do but join the reviewers who have already given it a ringing endorsement? I think there is. Despite its success in providing a more detailed picture of Van Til’s life and its clarifications of important disputes (especially those involving Gordon Clark and the Calvin Forum), I was disappointed with the book as a biography of Cornelius Van Til, the thinker.

The biography was disappointing on several counts. First, it is not the controversy which surrounds Van Til that makes him important, but rather his thought. Yet the book does not clearly spell out or explain his thought anywhere (perhaps the closest the author comes is on pp. 114-116, but this is far too little to go on). Some initiation into the world of Van Til’s profound insights would have made his criticisms of Clark, Buswell, Jellema and Carnell more understandable—to say nothing of his views on Barth. The criticisms Van Til received from men like Ronald Nash and Carl Henry cannot be adequately assessed, because the book gives the newcomer to Van Til nothing against which to weigh them. Van Til’s differences with Dooyeweerd are not explored (other than a quick note on p. 176 to the effect that the Amsterdam polymath rejected inerrancy and an historical Adam). These would have thrown light on the contrasts between him and Francis Schaeffer and his followers (e.g. Os Guinness, or Nancey Pearcey). Just what is “Van Til’s transcendental approach” (p. 199, emphasis mine)? We are not told. And why is his response to Dooyeweerd in Jerusalem and Athens characterized as “less effective” (p. 202)?

Meuther mentions Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith (pp. 170-171), but does not delve into its contents. This lack of substance is even more pronounced in the case of Christianity and Barthianism, which Muether calls “his magnum opus” (p. 230). Meuther claims Carl Henry thought the book did not reconsider Barth in light of “Barth’s modifications of his system” (p. 189), but he does not say whether this judgment could be sustained (I believe it can not be, without abandoning a biblically-grounded epistemology).

Again, why does the author express doubts as to the Van Tilian foundations of the counseling approaches of Jay Adams and David Powlison, or the cultural analysis of Harvie Conn, or the work of John Frame (p. 223)? Surely each of these men believed themselves to be powerfully influenced by Van Til. And what does Muether mean when speaking of “Van Til’s novelty” (p. 234)?

Muether seems to have a penchant for annulling affirmative passages. He often inverts a positive evaluation of his subject by means of a negative opinion from a critic, named or unnamed. As the book comes to its close, a clearly drawn overall assessment is predictably lacking. Muether skillfully shows us Van Til the churchman, and Van Til the gentleman. What we hardly see is Van Til the thinker.


Dr. Paul Martin Henebury (London Theological Seminary; M.T.S., M.Div., Ph.D., Tyndale Theological Seminary) is the founder/president of Veritas School of Theology and lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, Gina, and their four children. He is a member of Mambrino Baptist Church.

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Joseph's picture

It's helpful to have a longer review like this one, although the review does not seemed very sensitive to the way it will probably turn off every reader who does not already love Van Til.

E.g. :

"These traits, coupled with his unflinching orthodoxy and presuppositional approach to knowledge, guarantee that a continuous line of left-leaning evangelicals, evidentialists and fence-sitting philosophers will take pot shots at his work." This frames criticism of Van Til in a way that makes the critic look like he must fit into one of the above three pejoratively characterized categories.

"Fourth, these characterizations help serve the agendas of conservative Christians who like to flirt with wayward evangelicals who, in turn, enjoy rubbing shoulders with non-evangelical intellectuals like Barth, Balthasar or Ricoeur." What's one to infer from this? That people who study these men, who are important thinkers, are "wayward evangelicals"? This kind of poisening of the well is unhelpful, uncharitable, and self-defeating. Comments like the above already negatively determine the way in which any criticisms of Van Til are to be read, implying that critics of Van Til must be in some significant way deficient and/or suspect.

Moreover, the repeated and oh-so-common comments about Barth and Van Til make no substantive response to the fact that some of the most careful Barth scholars alive, who therefore know Barth thoroughly, unlike myself and I would not hesitate to guess most Van Tillians, have read Van Til's criticisms of Barth and find them seriously wanting. Poisening the well seems to be the default response to this issue, or the tired repetition that Barth was read by Van Til in German (great! that's what every scholar is supposed to do: read in the original) and that his edition of the KD was well annotated.

Van Til seems to be a thinker surrounded by hagiography, and this always arouses my suspicion. Critics are always dismissed for "not understanding" Van Til; adherents are often visible from fifty miles by their rather superior conception of Van Til's apologetics and their dogmatic approach to apologetics (I know because I used to be one of these people and I have known many; one need only think of Bahnsen, who, much as I appreciate him, could be called "Van Til's bulldog" for his harsh criticisms of Van Til's critics and his rigid defense of Van Til: cf. the much milder John Frame on Bahnsen and Van Til). Gentler critics of Van Til, like Frame, are frequently dismissed by his more "orthodox" adherents.

That said, in response to Henebury's criticisms of Muether, I suspect Muether might say that he was not most qualified to emphasize the intellectual aspects of Van Til's thought, given that he is not a professional philosopher or theologian. This kind of weakness in a book is frustrating, but I have come to expect it when the author is a historian, given the division of labor in modern historical studies.

I would like to see a rigorous philosophical and theological, yet historically oriented, text on Van Til, but I don't expect one anytime soon, for a few simple reasons.

First , the intellectual background the writer would need is such that the writer would probably be a professional historian of philosophy, and therefore have little incentive to write a book on a thinker like Van Til. Second, those most intellectually qualified in terms of philosophical acuity were lacking the historical knowledge and training to give this kind of treatment of Van Til. Bahnsen's very helpful study of Van Til is the ideal example here, for, rigorous as he was, Bahnsen was thoroughly analytic in his training and approach to philosophy, and lacked the historical background, sympathy, and approach to contextualize Van Til's thought (no mainstream departments require students to reads people like Josiah Royce, much less the Neo-Kantians like Windelbrand or Rickert). Finally, the only kind of person willing to devote the effort writing such a book would require would be someone with deep personal connection to and sympathy with Van Til, and such persons are almost always found in Reformed circles and they have the same problem of background noted above in Bahsen. All of this is unfortunate, as students of this rather ignored period of philosophy (German Idealism and Neo-Kantianism) recognize in Van Til a kind of Christian Kantian attempting to pull of a transcendental deduction of Christianity, the very attempt of which is fascinating.

So, the unlikelihood of such a study appearing is to be regretted, as Van Til deserves a rigorous, historical and nuanced philosophical analysis, but, in the meantime, I am glad Muether and others are contributing to our knowledge of Van Til, and, given that I'm a Van Til sympathizer, I'm glad to read Henebury's review, even if it may turn off non-Van Tillians. Kudos to SI for posting this comprehensive and helpful review.

ssutter's picture

are you saying that everyone already has presuppositions about Van Til? and there's really no brute facts about him? LOL

It's helpful to have a longer review like this one, although the review does not seemed very sensitive to the way it will probably turn off every reader who does not already love Van Til.

_______________
www.SutterSaga.com

Paul Henebury's picture

Joseph, thanks for your opinions.

As I offer some observations on your review of my review I should begin with the obvious statement that I was not writing an article on Van Til. It was a book review of "Cornelius Van Til: Reformed ,Apologist and Churchman." I stress the word "Apologist" because it has everything to do with my criticisms of Muether's helpful work.

You take exception to these words:

"These traits, coupled with his unflinching orthodoxy and presuppositional approach to knowledge, guarantee that a continuous line of left-leaning evangelicals, evidentialists and fence-sitting philosophers will take pot shots at his work."

"Fourth, these characterizations help serve the agendas of conservative Christians who like to flirt with wayward evangelicals who, in turn, enjoy rubbing shoulders with non-evangelical intellectuals like Barth, Balthasar or Ricoeur."

You say I am guilty of "poisoning the well." You think that I am saying that anyone who reads these men must be "left-leaning" or "wayward." Well, I read them myself, so I don't think I could mean that. I had in mind such evangelicals as McGrath (whose "Intellectuals Don't Need God" includes a misinformed characterization of CVT), or Ramm or Bloesch or Richardson. The comments on CVT by these men of the Evangelical Left, as Erickson calls it, can be read in their works and judged accordingly by anyone familiar with Van Til's thought. Anyone who knows Van Til well is all too familiar with the "long line of left-leaning evangelicals, evidentialists and fence-sitting philosophers" who do not apprise themselves of Van Til's oeuvre but are free in their declamations notwithstanding. Are all critics of CVT to be included within this group? I did not say so. John Frame, for instance, takes issue with him and his observations are sometimes telling. Sean Choi argues against his transcendental argumentation, and although I am not convinced he has understood the theistic formulation of Van Til's transcendentalisim his critique issues a warning to sloppy presuppositionalists, if I may call them that. But it remains true that most critics of CVT need to read him more closely. Some of them actually need to read him! And it remains true that such an ardent biblicist as Van Til is going to fall foul of "wayward evangelicals who...enjoy rubbing shoulders with...Barth, Balthasar and Ricoeur" (the first two were examined by Van Til. I picked Ricoeur because of his present-day influence on evangelicalism). Muether documents some of this friction is his Bio. I was generalizing and as a general statement what I said is true. I am not implying that all critics of Van Til fall into my three categories – but most of them do, and that is regrettable.

You say “some of the most careful Barth scholars alive” disagree with Van Til. True enough! But the majority of these scholars are unsaved and are alienated in their minds to God and His revelation. It is not surprising therefore, that Van Til, who is asking whether Barth is orthodox, comes to different conclusions than they do. Many Barth scholars (e.g. Hunsinger, Balthasar, Webster, McCormack) are not too interested in Barth’s evangelical orthodoxy. Many conservative evangelicals who appraise Barth are either not nearly as well acquainted with his Dogmatics as was Van Til, or they have been adversely effected by Barth and have moved away from their former conservative positions (e.g. Ramm, Berkouwer). You say the review contains “no substantive response” to these Barth scholars. Why would anyone expect me to provide it in a biography review? Muether (134) himself includes an account of how Geoffrey Bromiley ignorantly dismissed Van Til’s attack on Barth; remarks which reflect more upon Bromiley’s ignorance of Van Til than the latter’s acquaintance with the Basel theologian.

All that can be said here is that Barth was not orthodox in any essential doctrine except on a very superficial level (he often sounds orthodox). He could not have signed SI’s statement of faith for example. Regeneration and consecration affect the way one evaluates say, evolution, scientific method, history, art, philosophy, and theology. I try to “bring every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). I do not always do so. I would include myself among those who, as I said, “have difficulty” doing this. Van Til helps me focus on what God says I ought to be focusing on. Barth and his evangelical allies do just the reverse. Does this mean we ignore Barth? No indeed. We just don’t treat him as one of the sheep!

Why did I mention CVT’s scrutiny of Barth’s Dogmatics in German? Because regardless of whether “that’s what every scholar is supposed to do” they often don’t (e.g. K. A. Richardson’s “Reading Karl Barth”). But my point was more serious. Van Til is often criticized for not taking the later Barth into account in his criticisms. But if Van Til was not waiting around for the KD to be translated into English and his German edition was, as Roger Nicole said, very carefully scrutinized, then that particular old cherry is a fabrication is it not?

You imply I am guilty of hagiography. But the review does not indulge in it and neither does Muether’s book. I have to wonder what has provoked such a reaction. Pardon me, but you get a little emotional in your fifth paragraph. Why go after Greg Bahnsen? And which “harsh criticisms” of his are you referring to? I know plenty of harsh criticisms of Van Til!

Next you state you suspect that Muether is not qualified, because he is a historian, to handle the theological and philosophical thought of his subject. I do not agree. In fact, Muether occasionally demonstrates that he is able to do justice to these matters. My criticism of him was that he needed to do this more, not that he couldn’t do it at all. But then one thinks of Marsden on Edwards, Hoffecker and Calhoun on the Princetonians, Tyerman on Wesley, Selderhuis on Calvin (although I am taking the word of others here). With respect, your expectation of historians seems a little awry in this regard. And if memory serves me right did you not once recommend and link to church historian Sean Michael Lucas’s criticism of Van Til (even though Lucas is neither a Barth or Van Til scholar)? Why would Muether be less qualified to evaluate Van Til’s thought than Lucas? Are you not being a bit pejorative and uncharitable – something you accused me of being - toward Muether? And what is “a transcendental deduction”? Transcendental arguments are not deductive arguments (contra Choi).

You think my review will put off non-Van Tillians. I think not, but you are welcome to your opinion. I rather hope it will cause many who criticize Van Til in ignorance to read him first. He is not above criticism. I myself find that I sometimes disagree. But he deserves informed criticism, and there is too little of that. I am sorry if my review offended you or anyone else. That was not my intention.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Joseph's picture

Dr. Henebury,

Thank you for your lengthy and generous response.

With respect to Barth, I'll agree to disagree cordially. McCormack and Hunsinger are both orthodox Christians, in that they affirm and defend the classic creeds. With Balthasar this goes without saying. And, I think all of them would completely disagree when you say Barth was not orthodox. McCormack flatly says the opposite in his "Orthodox and Modern." Barth could affirm all of the five fundamental, for example, save inerrancy, and he affirmed the orthodox creeds, so, beyond reading past his own affirmations, I'm not sure how one could deny his historic orthodoxy. I don't expect to change your mind, but I'm stating the above for the record; people like McCormack and Hunsinger are Christians by confession, and neither of them could be accurately classified as liberals. Barth came from a radically different position than we did, and as one of my undergraduate teacher, John Morrison, who is an evangelical who knows his Barth, noted in his discussion of Barth: Barth came very far from his origins, so far that he was almost where we are on most of the important issues. That's quite remarkable, considering how far German liberal theology was from orthodox Christianity, and I don't think it should be slighted. John D. Morrison has extensive disussions of Barth and relevant themes, by the way, in his two books, one a monograph on Thomas Torrance, the other a collection of essays, Has God Said?. Morrison should be more read, as he is one of the better thinkers in evangelicalism (beyond the circles of well known "biggies," I mean), and is an expert on the authority of Scripture. He always gave a fair treatment of Barth, and he demanded his students do the same. He, too, would completely disagree with your characterization of Barth.

I was not offended at your review; I found some of what you said unfortunate and likely to turn some people off; like you, I hope I wrong and that it will cause just what you say: more people to read Van Til, at least before they dismiss him.

With respect to Meuther, I meant, and don't think I could reasonably be construed as meaning, any disrespect to him. The philosophical movements that I mentioned, for example, are obscure, and few people, including philosophers, know anything about them, and it's that kind of knowledge and background that I don't expect historians to have, generally speaking. I have read historians writing on intellectual topics, people like Marsden and Noll, for example, and they can often be very helpful, but their discipline is fundamentally descriptive, and they are not normally trained in the kind of analysis and argumentation that philosophers do by training and profession. This is simply a recognition of the division of labor, not a slight either to historians or philosophers. My point was that, based on this recognition and my own experience, my expectations of historians has altered and been tempered.

Your response to this seems sensible; I simply reported what I thought someone like Muether could or would plausibly say in defence of themselves.

Did I imply you were guilty of hagiography? I think I said Van Tillians are often hagiographic, which is, I think true. You can disagree, of course. They are often defensive, as well, and perhaps not without reason. These are my impressions of the Van Tillians I have read or known. I personally have no investment in apologetics "methods," as I think it's an unhelpful way of thinking about and framing the issues involved. Much more helpful, I think, is something like Stackhouse's "Humble Apologetics," which is much more attentive to the kinds of factors apologists need to take into account than many other works.

I'm not familiar with this Lucas fellow you mention, so if I linked something to him I have no memory of it and can't speak to it without recalling having done it. As noted above, I was and am hardly disparaging Muether, just noting a response he could plausibly make.

Regarding emotion, I don't recall any of it. I have a personal background with Van Til and Van Tillians, as mentioned, but have very little intercourse these days with people who follow him, are aware of him, or care about him, so it's hardly something I would get upset about. I mentioned Bahnsen, as I thought I noted, because he is one of, if not the most, philosophically notable Van Tillians, and by far a more "orthodox" Van Tillian than Frame.

Again, thanks for the review and your generous response.

Paul Henebury's picture

Joseph,

Thank you for your responses. I wish I could be detained by this thread because it deserves more attention than I can afford to give it right now.
I only wish to say that our discussion highlights the two approaches to Barth within evangelical/fundamental circles (whether one is Van Tillian or no).

You believe Barth is basically orthodox. I believe he sounds orthodox but in reality isn't. What is to be done?
Well, all I can do now is to ask anyone who is interested to read David Gibson & Daniel Strange (eds.) "Engaging with Barth," or at least Greg Beale's recent "The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism," esp. Appendix 3 on his view of the Bible. From the non-fundamentalist side perhaps Trevor Hart's "Regarding Karl Barth" would do the trick. In each case one will come away with a bitter taste in ones mouth.

Alternatively, I would call attention to the theologies of Erickson or Reymond or Lewis & Demarest; or Carl Henry's frequent interaction with Barth in the 6 volumes of "God, Revelation & Authority." Their responses to Barth's theology are nearly always negative! If one wishes to survey Barth on soteriology (he believed all humanity is elected and will be saved in the Elect Man - Jesus Christ, which denies the Gospel of justification by faith) perhaps Demarest's "The Cross and Salvation" would supply the help. Volume 4 of John Murray's works should also be studied in this regard.

Brilliant as Barth was his thought cannot be cut up piecemeal as if his rejection of inerrancy and propositional revelation did not emerge from his view of the hiddenness and freedom of God and his consequent rejection, not only of Natural Theology (which I also reject), but his virtual rejection of General Revelation too.

You say Hunsinger and McCormack are evangelical. Hunsinger is better described as "Neo-Liberal" being a chief architect of the 1998 Catechism for the PC(USA). McCormack definitely belongs to the left of evangelicalism, where perch the likes of Grenz and Ramm and the later Berkouwer and Franke and Bloesch. Why is it that when a scholar becomes infatuated with Barth his conservativism suffers correspondingly? "By their fruits you will know them" should be ringing in our ears! This is why Van Til plunged himself into the study of Karl Barth. He knew this drift would be a consequence of making friends with Barth. I myself have had to show students how Barth's influence effects e.g., A. T. B. McGowan's doctrine of Scripture. (I really need to polish my review of McGowan's book and submit it to SI!). Barth's threefold doctrine of revelation lies behind the latest assaults on biblical inerrancy.

I must go, and am sorry to do so, but maybe these words will help some readers to be very careful when around evangelicals who treat Barth as a fellow traveler. He is not. The degree to which one follows him will be the degree that one departs from "the faith delivered to the saints."

I might respond to more of your post, some of which I agree with, but I must leave things there. Thank you again for your input.

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

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