Archive for June 17th, 2009

Whether one agree or disagree with him, Reformed Apologist Cornelius Van Til has made his contribution in the greater landscape of Christian Apologetic with his formulation of Presuppositional Apologetics.  No man is perfect, and a criticism often quoted against him comes from his own words where he stated,

“The lack of detailed scriptural exegesis is a lack in all of my writings.  I have no excuse for this”, and “I wish I could have given better exegetical justification for this position that I have.” (found in Geehan ed., Jerusalem and Athens, 203-204).

Though Van Til was Covenantal in his theology, from the quaters of Dispensationalism, some have appreciated his insight and contributed exegetical justification for Presuppositional Apologetics.

I’ve recently discovered and scanned through two dissertations in this regard.  These works are more technical in their exegetical defense with interaction of the original language and grammatical/syntactical structure of their passages than for the general readership. I hope to get around finish reading them eventually:

George J. Zemek, Jr., Exegetical and Theological Bases for A Consistently Presuppositional Approach to Apologetics, Thd. Dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1982.

R. Brian Rickett, The Implications of Psalms 19 for Presuppositional Apologetics, ThM. Dissertation, The Master’s Seminary, 2003.


Zemek stated that the purpose of his dissertation was to show “the validity of presuppositional apologetics rests solidly upon exegetical and theological bases which premeate the totality of Divine revelation” (Zemek, 3).  The thesis focused heavily on the finite limitation of human minds, and the effect of sin on the mind.  It is interesting to note that Zemek’s advisor included Dr. John C. Whitcomb, which John Frame identified as a Dispensational Van Tillian.

Rickett’s thesis offer syntactical, contextual, lexical and literary analyses of Psalm 19.  He argues from these basis for the conceptual framework of Presuppositional apologetic.  An important aspect of Van Til’s apologetics is the role of general and special revelation, which is discussed as well in light of Psalm 19.  Dr. William Barrick is the advisor, whom I myself have personally benefited from his insight of Psalm 19.  He also devotes a chapter responding to Bruce DeMarest criticism of Van Til.

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