Archive for the ‘henry van til’ Category

Several weeks ago, I reviewed this book by Henry Van Til here.  Apparently, you can read this entire work and download it for free on PDF!  Click here.

The work will have the 1972 cover on it–but the content is the same.

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Purchase: Amazon

For those who are familiar with Cornelius Van Til and his work on apologetics, this book will be a treat. The author happen to be Cornelius Van Til’s nephew, and the work explores the implication of Calvinistic theology on culture. Divided into three parts, the first section is largely devoted to the question of what is culture, the relation of it to culture and the effect of sin upon culture. In light of John Calvin’s 500th birthday, for those who are exploring the rich heritage of this servant of God will enjoy part two of the book that discusses the historical development of Calvin and his Reformed predecessors’ contribution towards the intellectual framework for a Calvinistic culture. This section also has a discussion about Augustine. Finally, the third section goes over some of the implication of the theology of Calvinism as it pertains to culture. Excellent work, rather lengthy read at times, but thought stimulating never the less. It has a vintage Dutch Reformed flavor throughout the book. Despite being dated, it is still relevant for those who are exploring what their theology mean when it comes to culture

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Continuing with the previous post on culture, here is an excerpt outline that consider the objections to culture and tradition as authority, as part of a series of outlines in Systematic theology over at Truth Evangelical Assistance Ministry:

Part XI: Objections to Culture and Traditions as Authority

I. Introduction

a. The ultimate authority for the Christian ought to be the Word of God.

i. There can be no other ultimate authority.

1. This outline will consider the case against two alternative authorities that are usually marshaled against Biblical authority. These are:

a. Authority on the basis of Culture

b. Authority on the basis of Traditions

2. Culture and Traditions: Definitions and relationship
a. Definition

i. Culture: A fixed or fluid social unit with networks of beliefs concerning social expectations, values and explanation of the world.

1. Henry Van Til famously described culture as “religion externalized”.

ii. Tradition: A network of beliefs concerning social expectation, values and narratives that claims to have historical antecedent and explanation of the world.

FOR THE REST OF THIS OUTLINE, VISIT http://teamtruth.com/articles/out_systematictheologypart011.htm

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Later at noon, I will be teaching at an apologetics seminar for a Christian college fellowship

Here is the outline:


  1. What is culture?
    1. It is derived from the Latin ‘colere,’ which simply signifies the tilling or cultivating of the ground.”[1]
    2. Culture arises out of humans
      1. Humans make culture.
      2. Humans participate in culture.
      1. If nature is the first environment, then culture is his second environment.
      2. Sometimes culture touches on the natural, which man modifies.
      3. Illustration of Natural v.s. cultural
        1. Nature: An ocean.
        2. Cultural: A pool.
    3. Culture is a pattern of beliefs, behavior and values that a community of people hold to.
  2. Characteristics of culture
    1. Culture is concern with values
      1. It tells us what is and what is not allowed.
      2. Culture tells us what is valuable and the worth of people, places and things.
    2. Culture is not religiously neutral
      1. All things are to be done for His glory (1Corinthians 10:31).
      2. To do otherwise, would be violating God’s command for his creature, and thus not neutral towards God.
    3. Culture is not morally neutral
      1. Everything that man does come from his heart.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

All that man does will include culture

  1. Man’s heart is wicked.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

  1. Culture is social in nature
    1. It involves a community and not just an individual
    2. Example: Art display, ways of speaking, etc.
    3. Culture is unavoidable
      1. Man can not help but to be involved in a society, a “second” environment created by other human beings.
      2. We live in a culture, and how we live shows cultural influence.
    4. Culture changes
      1. Since culture is man-made, it is also able to be changed.
  2. The Christian response: Pressing the antithesis, and reconstruction for the glory of God
    1. Summary: A Christian should not uncritically accept things just because it’s part of their culture; a Christian should engage in culture in a fashion that gives God the glory.
    2. Since cultures are concerned with values, Christian must measure it to the Word of God
      1. The Bible and not culture, is the authority for right and wrong, and values.[2]
      2. Culture could be wrong.
      3. There needs to be a standard that transcends culture.
        1. We cannot use rules and standards for our culture to address another culture as right or wrong,
        2. A universal timeless standard is required.
    3. Since cultures are not religiously neutral, Christians must not offend God in their cultural pursuit.
      1. Once again, a Christian is to enjoy God and glorify Him.
      2. There is a danger therefore, of being too much like the current culture

“But in a society where Christianity is being widely and rapidly disowned, where evangelism is often considered inherently intolerant or even officially classified as a hate crime…the culture to which we would conform in order to be relevant becomes so inextricably entwined with antagonism to the Gospel that to conform to it must mean a loss of the Gospel itself.”[3]

  1. Ungodly elements within a culture must be challenged (1Corinthians 10:5).
  2. Since cultures are not morally neutral, Christians must speak out against evils within culture.
    1. Cultures could be wrong.
    2. These wrongs must be addressed by Christians (Proverbs 31: 8-9)
    3. Since cultures are social in nature, Christians must watch who they are socializing with
      1. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
      2. It is wise to ask ourselves, “Who are we keeping in our company?”
    4. Since culture is unavoidable, Christians must engage the culture and contribute to it for the glory of God
      1. Christians can engage in the arts[4], art history[5], music, and science.
      2. In other words they are doing these to enjoy God, and reflecting on Him.
      3. Christians should offer their interpretation of what’s going on around them in the World, from God’s perspective.
    5. Since culture can change, by the grace of God, Christians must share the gospel in their culture.
      1. Christians must not forget the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
      2. Christians must realize that cultures change, trends die down, but eternity has been set in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
      3. People ultimately need the Gospel for salvation, not just a culture.

[1] Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 29.

[2] See my outline in Introduction to Systematic Theology, Part XI: The Authority of the Bible Part IV: Objections to Culture and Traditions as authority, available at http://teamtruth.com.

[3] Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 27-28.

[4] For example, see Francis Schaeffer’s book on  Art and the Bible.

[5] Hans Roomaker’s book is in the spirit, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture.

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