Apolopedia

Cornelius Van Til

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The father of presuppositional apologetics

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) revolutionized the world of apologetics. A 20th -century philosopher and theologian, Van Til attended Princeton Theological Seminary, wherein he received his ThM in 1925 and subsequently his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1927.

Shortly after receiving his Ph.D., the seeds of Van Til’s presuppositional apologetic were already evident. In two issues of the Princeton Theological Review (1927 & 1929), Van Til reviews two authors – Alfred North Whitehead and Hermann Bavinck. Within these reviews, we most prominently see Van Til’s treatment of analyzing opposing presuppositions, the impossibility of neutrality between the Christian and non-Christian, and arguing that Christian theism is the only viable alternative to autonomy.

His apologetic had thus evolved and matured even more into what it is known as today. Crucial to Van Til’s apologetic is the acknowledgment—contrary to the classical and evidential methods—that neutrality is both impossible and immoral. It does not proceed from a neutral position wherein the Christian’s beliefs are forfeited to appease the non-Christian opponent for the sake of pretended open-mindedness.