Cornelius Van Til’s Doctrine of God and Its Relevance for Contemporary Hermeneutics
AuthorsHunt, Jason B.
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AbstractCornelius Van Til is known for his work in the field of apologetics. His distinctive approach emphasized consistency between methodology and theology in order to defend the Christian faith. Though often neglected, his doctrine of God provided the foundation for his methodology. The nature of who God is informs how we know him and how we interpret his word. The three most prominent contours of his doctrine were: the Creator-creature distinction, incomprehensibility, and the ontological Trinity. The value of these particular emphases is that they are key touchpoints for diagnosing apologetic methods and affirming the Christian system of truth. The nature of his assessment of methodology at the worldview level along these contours has wide-ranging implications for other disciplines, including hermeneutics. The following study explores the relevance of Van Til’s doctrine of God for contemporary biblical hermeneutics in terms of consistency between method and theology proper as revealed in the Bible. Van Til’s doctrine of God is relevant for contemporary hermeneutics both, in how ‘hermeneutics’ has come to be defined and in terms of how its relationship to metaphysics has been understood. In the former, there has been movement toward a more explicitly holistic definition, one that provides a general theory of understanding involving worldview assumptions. In the latter, the relationship between hermeneutics and metaphysics has been unavoidable. It has also been unstable and inconsistent. Van Til speaks to each of these trends from a self-conscious, Christian worldview. His work focused on worldview considerations and presuppositions, including metaphysical and epistemological concerns. It is argued that Van Til’s contributions are not only relevant for evaluating hermeneutical methods, but also contribute to some concerns of recent developments in the field. Two such developments which have influenced evangelical hermeneutics are Speech Act Theory (SAT) and Theological Interpretation of Scripture (TIS). Van Til’s contributions strengthen the effort to give due consideration to the divine author in discussions of meaning and method, but also serve to help critically evaluate and round out both. Lastly, the relevance of his theology proper is seen regarding the contemporary hermeneutical issue of the NT use of the OT. This provides a brief case study concerning a prominent contemporary issue in evangelical hermeneutics. Van Til’s contribution asks deeper questions regarding method and meaning which further the discussion, and detects flaws in some attempts to make sense of how the NT uses the OT.
CitationHunt, J. B. (2017). Cornelius Van Til’s doctrine of God and its relevance for contemporary hermeneutics (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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