Classical Theism Refuted in
Favor of Biblical Theism
"Van Til often says that the apologist
should argue for Christianity 'as a unit.'
That is, in his view we must not defend a general theism
theism”) first and later defend Christianity.
Rather, the apologist must defend only the distinctive
theism of Christianity.
As Van Til often put it, we should not try to prove
that God exists
without considering what
kind of God we are proving.
And that means, in turn, that we should not try to prove
that God exists without defining God in terms of the doctrines
"Does this principle imply that we must
prove all the doctrines of Christianity in every apologetic
argument we employ?
Critics are sometimes tempted to understand Van Til in this way,
and Van Til’s own expressions sometimes encouraged that
But Van Til was too thoughtful to teach anything so absurd.
Rather, I think what he meant was that (1) the apologist
must “presuppose” the full revelation of the Bible in defending
the faith. (2) He
must not tone down any biblical distinctives in order to make
the faith credible.
(3) His goal should be to defend (by one argument or the other)
the whole of biblical theism, including the authority of
Scripture, Trinity, predestination, incarnation, blood
atonement, resurrection, and consummation.
And (4) the apologist should seek to show that compromise
in any of these doctrines leads to incoherence in all human
"But beyond these general principles, Van
Til also had in mind a focus on divine aseity, the
'self-contained ontological Trinity.'
For aseity designates what most clearly distinguishes the
biblical worldview from its alternatives.
Thus, it makes clear in what way Christian teachings are
a system of truth, one 'unit,' and not just a fortuitous
collection of ideas….
"There are traces of the doctrines of aseity in Judaism and
Islam, and in heresies such as the view of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On this fact, two remarks (sic):
(1) To the extent that they ascribe aseity to God, they do it
because they at that point they are influenced by the Bible.
(2) Their divergence from Bible teachings leads them to
compromise the aseity of God: Islam makes God unknowable and
remote, fearing that his direct involvement in the world will
revitalize him. If
the Islamic God were truly
a se, he would not
lose his transcendent glory by entering history.
Islam also turns predestination into fatalism, thus
veering toward (sic)
an impersonal concept of God.
Judaism today (whatever recent scholarship may conclude
about first-century Judaism) is a religion of works, rather than
of a an a se God who
gives what we cannot repay.
And Judaism, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other
cults, rejects the Trinity, which, as we have seen, is closely
related to God’s aseity."
(John Frame, “Divine Aseity and Apologetics,” in Oliphint
and Tipton, Revelation
and Reason, pages 119-120.
The last paragraph is from the footnote on page 120.)