Thursday, June 10, 2010

What It Takes

The Christian knows the truth about the non-Christian. He knows this because he is himself what he is by grace alone. He has been saved from the blindness of mind and the hardness of heart that marks the "natural man." The Christian has the "doctor's book." The Scriptures tell him of the origin and of the nature of sin. Man is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). He hates God. His inability to see the facts as they are and to reason about them as he ought to reason about them is, at bottom, a matter of sin. He has the God-created ability of reasoning within him. He is made in the image of God. God's revelation is before him and within him He is in his own constitution a manifestation of the revelation and therefore of the requirement of God. God made a covenant with him through Adam (Rom. 5:12). He is therefore now, in Adam, a covenant-breaker. He is also against God and therefore against the revelation of God (Rom. 8:6-8). This revelation of God constantly and inescapably reminds him of his creaturely responsibility. As a sinner he has, in Adam, declared himself autonomous.

Thus, intellectual argument will not, as such, convince and convert the non-Christian. It takes the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to do that. But as in the case of preaching, so in the case of apologetical reasoning, the Holy Spirit may has a mediate approach to the minds and hearts of men The natural man is quite able intellectually to follow the argument that the Christian offers for the truth of his position. He can therefore see that the wisdom of this world has been made foolishness by God. Christianity can be shown to be, not "just as good as" or even "better than" the non-Christian position, but the only position that does not make nonsense of human experience.

Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, P&R 1969, Pg. 18-19.

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