Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Robert D. Knudsen's Calvinistic Philosophy lectures (Disk 22)

This is a continuation of the class lectures on Calvinistic Philosophy given by Robert D. Knudsen at Westminster Theological Seminary.  As before, the information in the audio recordings have not been validated for accuracy (use at your own risk).

Van Til, part 2 (Disk 22)

MY NOTE: Here Knudsen gives a very complex answer to a question asked before the audio started.

Van Til does not have the aversion to antinomie that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. An antinomie will have a logical contradiction in it, but more than just a contradiction. It arises due to a transgression of the bounds of the cosmos. Van Til has never used the principle of the exclusion of the antinomies.

Some say Van Til did not have a workout idea of the boundary as Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven did. But Van Til did have a strong creator/creature distinction. MY NOTE: this boundary may be implicit but not explicit. It is also in his view of revelation.

Is Van Til closer to Bavinck? According to Van Til, yes and Van Til is closer to Stoker than Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd.

Van Til does not develop the idea of the cosmonomic structure that Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven have.

MY NOTE: picking up from disk 21 here:
The idea of the concreteness, all of the items are present from the very beginning. The concrete idealist was one who was aware of the context in which he was starting and have everything there from the beginning and see everything in its unity and aware of its presuppositions. Hegel introduced time into logic itself in an attempt to overcome Kantian's notion of the thing in itself. Van Til says they failed in this attempt.

The idealist says the God of theism must be replaced by the absolute. Van Til questions that and he admits that the idealist is correct in the idea of the unity of thought and being. He (the idealist) is correct in rejecting pragmatism and the idea of ultimate contingency. However a close examination the concrete idealism shows that its presumed absolute cannot embrace all of the facts and remains abstract. Absolute idealism degenerates into pragmatism and pragmatism has already show to be impossible.

Van Til is quite content to insists that Christianity is a rational belief and has grounds for it and is content to enter into argument and we begin with experience (MY NOTE: not sure what he means here).

There is a certain formal agreement with idealism in that there is value in the concrete approach as far as identifying presuppositions and he says that it is impossible to argue directly for God. If you argue directly for God you are doing what the idealists does, that you have to be able to get an idea/essence of God before you can use it as a principle of interpretation and that you have it under control.

For Van Til the transcendental argument is negative argument. You have to presuppose God (the God of the Scriptures) and apart from whom your experience in unintelligible and that would include this notion that if we have presupposed God we are no longer in the situation where it is incumbent on us to define God before we can use God as the ultimate principle of interpretation. All of our thinking has to presuppose the creator/creature distinction.

If there is any predication at all you we have then to be able to unite, to gain a meaningful unity of our experience but apart from Christianity there is no meaningful unity, then we are left with brute, uninterpreted fact.

A form of the argument (as Knudsen has interpreted it) that if you abandon the true transcendent viewpoint a process is set into motion in which one shows that he can get a unitary view of things. Bavinck argued along these lines. If you miss then the true God of the Scriptures, you are bound to worship the creation rather than the creator.

Van Til has attempted to construct a consistent reformed apologetic. He has moved then into a line of transcendental argument. What does that mean? There will be this negative type of argumentation, we argue for the impossibility of contrary. If then one loses the transcendent standpoint and we cannot get a unified position and this inability is an indirect proof of the true starting point.

If you are going to have an apologetic, you must have a point of contact (anknupfunspunkt). The expression in Romans 1 of having known God. The knowledge of God and of ourselves are correlate. We are always in a position of accepting the revelation or we suppress the revelation (covenant keeping or covenant breaking). We are either obedient or disobedient. There is no tertium quid. All these things are involved in Van Til's idea of the analogical relationship between God and man.

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