Is this supposed to honor Van Til?

I have been displeased with the general trend of the blog posts on The Gospel Coalition site for a while now. From the undertones of opposition to the free market, to the increasing accommodation of sinful culture, and the just downright silly articles. Today, I was once again disappointed by an article with a bizarre undertone.


Today, May 3rd, marks the  Birthday of one of the greatest minds of the Christian church has ever produced, Cornelius Van Til, who has born on this day in the year 1895. To mark the occasion, The Gospel Coalition produced a short article on him, why he should be read, and what books would be a good start. However, I sensed a faint yet strange tone in the article. Yes, the article acknowledged Van Til as a great mind, yes it prompted readers to discover his writings. But there seemed a hint of annoyance in the very brief article. Almost a frustration that we are forced to acknowledge the contributions of Van Til . The very title of the article is telling, “The Most Boring Important Thinker You Should Read”. Deep theological reading can be hard stuff, just try to read through John Owen or Francis Turretin. Would the Gospel Coalition have a blog post calling them boring? Just because somebody writes without constant distractions and jokes doesn’t make them “boring” if you are out to discover the truths of the faith. 


The article starts off in a equally bizarre fashion, for a post that is supposed to encourage people to read his writing: 

“On this day, in 1895, on a dairy farm in the middle of the Netherlands, the world changed. The effects, however, would not become apparent for another 50 to 60 years. Cornelius Van Til, future philosopher and apologist at Westminster Theological Seminary, was born.

I offer this dramatic introduction only half-seriously, which means I’m only half-joking.

By reading some of Van Til’s followers, you would think he authored the first thoroughly biblical understanding of the knowledge of God. “

Is such a form of strange, almost irritated sarcasm really necessary?  The brief article neglects a greater part of Van Til’s legacy and arguably links him to people he would want to have nothing to do with. Is this the best the Gospel Coalition could do? One short and strange article? 

Perhaps I am reading to much into the short article, have a look at the few sentences yourself:




    When I read it originally at TGC, I thought it was a rather strange title and post too…almost like they are trivalizing him, then suddenly having others tell us what to read of Van Til that is important.

    • trh1292

      I think the general attitude towards Van Til these days in many reformed circles in an annoyed tolerance or a condescending acknowledgment of some sorts, sadly.

      • SLIMJIM

        Speaking of that, I’m also surprise at how some would say they are Presuppositionalist in the Van Tillian sense, but don’t operate from his framework or even discuss about Presuppositional apologetics; I might be mistaken but it seems that Michael Horton does not really engage in presuppositional apologetics per se even though he’s a professor of apologetics.

      • trh1292

        Yes, that’s another thing I wanted to mention. That’s why I had the line in there about associating Van Til with people he might not want to have anything to do with. A lot of people would say that Van Drunen, Horton and Westminster West’s Two Kingdom is about as far from Van Til as one could go, as they seem to operate based off what Van Tillians would call “The Myth Of Neutrality”. In any case, I’m not sure why any of them are linked to him because they don’t seem to ever use his apologetic method.

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