Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics

Most readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of the brilliant Reformed apologist Cornelius Van Til. (Proof: I drink coffee out of one of these.) Most readers of Van Til will know that he was a big fan of the brilliant Reformed biblical theologian Geerhardus Vos, who was one of his professors at Princeton Seminary. Van Til described Vos as “the greatest pedagogue I ever sat under.”

I’m not sure whether the big-fan-of relation is transitive, but it seems more than fitting to pass on word from Phil Gons that Logos are planning a full English translation of Vos’ Gereformeerde Dogmatiek. However, the project is contingent on there being sufficient interest. Go here for more information, including how to pre-order at a locked-in low price.

4 Responses to Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics

  1. James,

    I am fairly new to the apologetics world but I learned that you are wise when it comes to this area. I was hoping to gain some insight from you.

    I have recently gained a moderate understanding of presuppositional apologetics and I am somewhat confused because I see a real split when it comes to Van Til. Now in my limited knowledge I see some 3 general responses to him. People either mostly disagree, agree somewhat and disagree somewhat or are mostly in agreement.

    As a follower of Van Til which camp do you fall in because I recently read on Paul Manata’s blog that he says he agrees with you in most areas. From my point of view it doesn’t seem like Paul Manata agrees a lot with Van Til. It seems like he is saying you can’t really have certainty because TAG is deficient. So I am getting some mixed messages, I saw a post you had defending TAG and defending Van Til. Really what I am getting at, was Van Til wrong? Can we not have epistemic certainty as Paul Manata seems to be claiming? It does bring some questions to mind since Paul seems to have been an ardent follower of Van Til. I am probably misunderstanding some point but hopefully you can help.

    • Thanks for the comment; sorry for taking a while to reply.

      I appreciate the question, but I’m not sure I can give a satisfactory answer, mainly because the question itself is ill-defined. What does it mean to “mostly agree” or “mostly disagree” with Van Til? What would count as a major point of disagreement as opposed to a minor one? No one agrees with Van Til at every point — at least, I’d be very suspicious of anyone who claimed that they did, for that would suggest a lack of independent critical thought. And even among those who describe themselves as Van Tilians there is disagreement as to what constitutes the essential core of his philosophy. For example, Bahnsen gave the impression that he was the “real deal”, yet arguably he paid little more than lip-service to the idea of theological paradox (which Frame showed to be a major them in Van Til’s thought) and to the claim that the ontological Trinity is a precondition of rational thought (which was almost a mantra for Van Til). Yet Bahnsen was rightly considered one of the premier interpreters and defenders of Van Til.

      I consider myself a Van Tilian simply because my overall approach to apologetics and philosophy has been more influenced by Van Til than by any other thinker. But needless to say, I disagree with him on some significant points. I agree that TAG is a distinctive kind of argument and that it ought to be the centerpiece of a robust Christian apologetic; but I disagree that TAG delivers epistemic certainty (in the Cartesian sense) and that it needs to do so to be a successful argument. I agree that religious neutrality and intellectual autonomy must be consistently repudiated; but I disagree that traditional theistic arguments and historical/evidential arguments necessarily violate those principles. These points of agreement and disagreement alone would place me somewhere between Frame and Bahnsen. But at the end of the day I’m more concerned about whether my beliefs are true than whether they align with Van Til, or Frame, or Bahnsen, or any other gifted but fallible thinker.

      If you want to get a good handle on Van Til’s philosophy, I strongly recommend that you read Frame’s Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought followed by Bahnsen’s Van Til’s Apologetic. Part One of Frame’s book serves as a useful antidote to the “movement mentality” of some Van Tilians.

      • James,

        Thanks for the reply. I have seen this a few times now where the claim is that TAG is a great apologetic but does not give us certainty. I was taught that it gave us certainty through the Impossibility of the contrary. How come this is not true? Thanks


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