I can't believe it's that interesting to that many, but several have asked me what I mean when I say I'm a "modified van Tilian."
Frankly, I've been reluctant to answer because I know readers often seem to expect a doctoral dissertation in 500 words, and I'm not prepared to give that. But enough nice folk have asked, nicely, and I think they deserve what answer I have. And so, I'm taking off of Matt Gumm's question from my most recent post here.
DJP: what do you see as the connection between apologetics and evangelism? How are they related?My answer:
Also, would you mind sharing (or pointing to it if you've already talked about it) what you've modified about your van Tilianism? Thanks.
Well, if I'm not held to doctoral dissertation standards, I'd say that evangelism rests on apologetics, explicitly or implicitly. That is, it proclaims a truth which has been, is, and/or can be vindicated apologetically.
And, while I don't think that sheer proclamation is a substitute for apologetics, good apologetics should always issue in a declaration of the gospel. Our goal is not to prove ourselves right and the sinner wrong. Our goal is to show that God is right, and the sinner is wrong, that he is "without excuse" (Romans 1:20), and thus to point to Christ as God's answer to man's deepest needs.
In spite of a lot of reading, I'd not say I'm an expert on van Til/ianism. But it has struck me often that, in their zeal to show the inadequacy of evidential-ISM, van Tilians often neglect, or positively deride, the Biblical role of evidences.
For instance, a zealous and thoroughgoing van Tilian might jump all over a man who said "Evidence is essential, evidence 'demands a verdict,' and the evidence points to Christ's deity."
Yet Jesus Himself said something just precisely like that, more than once (John 5:36; 10:25, 27, 38; 14:11; 15:24).
So any apologetic theory or praxis that seems apologetic about evidences is inadequate.
By the same token, any apologetic that thinks that the mere amassing of evidence is sufficient to compel belief is also wrongheaded, both epistemologically and anthropologically. It overlooks the dominant role of one's presuppositions, and the dominating power of sin in creating and enforcing those presuppositions, evidence be damned.
Hence, if you read my own apologetical essay as linked to in the article, you will see a sort of two-pronged approach that both attempts to take fundamental aim at the premises, and brings evidence to bear in demonstrating the truth of the Gospel. (I've solicited the evaluation and feedback of van Tilians on that essay, and so far have gotten none.)
So, for what it's worth, there you have it.