Van Til: The Bible Speaks

One of my favorite theologians is Cornelius Van Til. He was a philosopher, apologist, and professor at Westminster Theological Seminary for 43 years. His approach to defending the faith was rather unique and still causes polar responses. But one of his most helpful comments assists us today.

Van Til wrote “The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication.” (Christian Apologetics, 19-20)

Do you see the Bible in this way? Do you believe that the Bible has the final Word on every matter of your life, of your beliefs, of your daily interactions? For many, the Bible is like our seasonal decorations. Oh they are beautiful, and we are glad to display them. We place them in front of others. We adorn our tables with them. We give them a place of prominence. But the when the season is over, well, we thrust it away. We put it in a box in a corner, and we forget it until such a time as we have need. For many of us, our relationship with Scripture may be like that. The Bible is sits in our vehicles or on our shelves, but it is not ordinary appendage like our wallets, our watches, or our phones.

What Van Til was proposing was that as Christians, the truth of God contained in Scripture is not to exist as a seasonal blessing. The Bible is as beautiful today as it is on Christmas and Easter. The longest chapter of one of the longest books in all of Scripture is Psalm 119 and has one thing in mind: God’s Word. There we learn in Psalm 119, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. . . The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (vv. 105, 130 ESV) What do we learn? Scripture naturally gives off light. What does light do? It lets me see in the dark. Where ought I to shine this light? Everywhere.

This lies at the heart of Van Til’s comments, and I would argue the heart of every Christian who wants to live not only in a consistent manner, but even more basically, in a Christian manner. We want God’s Word to shine before us in every sphere of our world. We do not tell God “Listen here, you can help my kids, but don’t tell me how to run my business.” Or, “You are for spiritual matters, but what I do with my body is my choice.”

We lift up our hearts to God -the whole thing – and we surrender it unto Him. As long as we are content to hold bits and pieces back, the whole thing is going to be worse off for it. Our prayers and religious acts will not be worshipful, but blasphemous.

Here is what may be most puzzling to consider, especially as we have people who claim to be Christian but live Christ-less lives. If we trust God with our eternity, why are we always so hesitant to trust Him with our present? If we trust that God will do good to us, for millions of millions of years, well after we die, why can’t we trust Him for our 100 years or so on the earth?

What am I getting at? Be consistent. Be all in.  To use the language of Elijah, “If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21 ESV) As a bird is made to fly, so a Christian is made to trust and believe in God’s Holy Word. It is our essential tool. It shows us what God desires of us, and to what end we were designed.