An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Kuyper: "The attempt to prove God’s existence is either useless or unsuccessful."

Abraham Kuyper:

“The attempt to prove God’s existence is either useless or unsuccessful. It is useless if the searcher believes that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. And it is unsuccessful if it is an attempt to force a person who does not have this pistis by means of argumentation to an acknowledgment in a logical sense.” 

Dict. Dogm., De Deo I, p. 77. 
Translated by Louis Berkof in Systematic Theology. Available as pdf here.


Kevin Stevenson said...

In response, C. Van Til said,

"Thus, intellectual argument will not, as such, convince and convert the non-Christian. It takes the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit to do that (in perfect agreement with Kuyper). But as in the case of preaching (which likewise is powerless apart from palingenesis), so in the case of apologetical reasoning, the Holy Spirit may use a mediate approach to the minds and hearts of men. The natural man is quite able intellectually to follow the argument that the Christian offers for the truth of his position. He can therefore see that the wisdom of this world has been made foolish by God. Christianity can be shown to be, not ‘just as good as’ or even ‘better than’ the non-Christian position, but the only position that does not make nonsense of human experience” (A Christian Theory of Knowledge [Philadelphia: P & R, 1969], 19, parentheses added).

Kuyper’s dilemma seems to assume that apologetics must issues in faith on the part of the non-Christian, if it is to be deemed either useful or successful. That is not how most Christian thinkers in the Reformed tradition have understood the discipline to function, however. I think we could fairly substitute “proclaiming the gospel” for Kuyper’s “proving God’s existence” and the argument still hold the same amount of water. Nevertheless, we are to proclaim the gospel, just as we are to do apologetics, in hope that the Holy Spirit will use our meager obedience to wrought his work of faith in the heart of the yet-non-Christian.

Steve Bishop said...

Hi Keith, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Interesting points from van Til and yourself. I do agree that we are to proclaim the gospel - and I suspect that Kuyper would too!