Van Til and Self-Attesting Scripture

Welcome to the Brickyard. This is a place to find quotes for use in your own research. The bricks are free but the building is up to you. The following quotes are from Van Til’s Apologetics: Reading & Analysis by Greg L. Bahnsen. Our specific attention is on the section entitled, The Redemptive Self-Attesting Revelation of God in Scripture.

Bahnsen states,

“Van Til’s apologetic insists that Christian faith is not a ‘blind faith.’ It is fully warranted – and not simply in the subjective sense that the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit persuades the believer.”

Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, 198.

Indeed, Van Til taught that there was public objective evidence for all to see. But, as Bahnsen asks, where is it found? He admits that those without Christ may reject this evidence but it remains evidence nonetheless.

“Van Til realized that there are ‘confirmatory’ but inconclusive indications that the Bible is the word of God. These evidences can, when viewed in the alien context of unbelieving presuppositions, be reinterpreted and pushed aside by those who are attempting to escape facing God.”

Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, 198-199.

These inconclusive evidences include the “testimony of the church to the Bible, the consent of its parts, and indeed its entire perfection ” [199]. Taking these as inconclusive, Bahnsen asks,

“Who is in a position to tell us what the proper indications of divinity would be when it comes to a purported revelation from God?”

Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, 199.

Bahnsen concludes that “only God could tell us reliably and authoritatively what qualities mark out His word as really His” [199]. It seems then that fruitful way forward would be to find some testimony or document in which such a divine testament can be found. Where would we find such a testimony or document?

“If some document purported to be God’s word answering this crucial question, what adequate evidence could man have that this second message is a divine message to us? At some point, the message claiming to from God would have to be its own authority, and there is no reason, then, why that should not be at the first point.”

Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, 199.

In short, if there were some book or paper , other than the Christian Scriptures, that claimed to be God’s word on the question of the “proper indications of divinity” it would seem that a more basic authority would need to undergird the authority of this book or paper. And then that authority would need a more basic authority and that authority would need another more basic authority and on and on. Sooner or later one of these words from God would need to be first having no more basic authority undergirding it other than God Himself.

For Bahnsen and for us here at StandardSacredText.com, if God is behind this succession of authoritative statements then why not take the first statement [i.e., Holy Scripture] seeing that He immediately undergirds the first statement through inspiration? Indeed, we do say that Scripture itself attests to the “proper indications of divinity” of itself and as such is self-attesting. Or as we noted in another blogpost, the Scriptures are the first principle of theological knowledge which includes knowledge of the nature and content of Scripture. Thus Bahnsen concludes,

“The fundamental evidence that Scripture is the word of God is its own testimony to that effect. Thus Van Til taught that the Bible is self-attesting.”

Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, 200.

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