Van Tilian or Van Tillian? The Debate Settled

Cornelius Van TilScholars have long debated the proper pronunciation of the name ‘Augustine’. Should it be aw-GUS-tin, as argued here, or AW-gus-teen, as argued here? (For the record: the former is correct.)

Equally important, if not more so, is the debate over whether one who follows the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til is properly labeled Van Tilian or Van Tillian. Here I offer three arguments for the former. Taken together these arguments surely provide a decisive answer to this longstanding dispute.

1. Argument from Statistics

Standard Google searches for the relevant phrases turn up the following counts:

  • VanTilian — about 1,600 results
  • Van Tilian — about 11,600 results
  • Combined — about 13,200 results
  • VanTillian — about 4,760 results
  • Van Tillian — about 7,970 results
  • Combined — about 12,730 results

The winner, by a nose: Van Tilian.

2. Argument from Analogy


  • Brazil → Brazilian
  • Civil → Civilian
  • Virgil → Virgilian


  • Van Til → Van Tilian

3. Argument from Parsimony

“Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” (William of Ockham)

A second L is obviously unnecessary, therefore: Van Tilian.


12 thoughts on “Van Tilian or Van Tillian? The Debate Settled”

  1. Chris Mathew

    Finally, finally. The dispute has been settled once and for all. Hear hear!

    Personally, I have preferred ‘Van Tillian’ (there seems to be a slight aesthetic edge in favour of employing a double ‘l’) but, being met with these succinct and intellectually rigorous arguments, I shall surely succumb to your position!

  2. Pushback:

    I don’t pronounce “Van Til/l-ian” like Brazilian or civilian, but more like Orwellian.

    Argument from scholars: a cursory investigation shows the double ‘l’ used by scholars / thinkers like: Vallicella, North, Habermas, Cowan, Groothuis, Naselli, Wellum, Strange, Oliphint, Waddington, Bucey, Frame…

    Argument from James Anderson:


    1. Doh! I’m going to blame that on a misguided copy editor. :)

      BTW, I’m sorry to hear about your speech impediment.

      1. Brazilian / zil yn
        Orwellian / lee uhn

        You say Van Til yn? Like, rhymes with onion? I’ll chalk it up to being Scottish.

        1. Maybe you pronounce its suffix like ‘reptilian’ rather than ‘Brazilian’? If so, that’s how I pronounce it too. With these single ‘l’ words, I withdraw my argument from phonation and am left only with my argument from scholarly spelling, formidable though that one is.

          1. “…and am left only with my argument from scholarly spelling, formidable though that one is.”

            A fallacious argument from authority.

          1. I wanted to see if pronunciation gave us a clue for spelling. So I’ve backed off this one. We only have left the argument from scholarship. But I’m sure you can find plenty of scholars and thought leaders spelling it ‘Van Tilian.’ Finally, I asked my wife how she’d spell it, and she said with one ‘l’. So I’ll give you this one!

            P.S. Any culture which spells ‘fetus’ as ‘foetus’ really isn’t an authority on how to spell words, btw. ;)

          2. Yeah, I’m not going to go to the wall for British spellings (especially after my argument from parsimony!).

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