Slapping Daddy

Van Til 5

“In other words, the non-Christian needs the truth of the Christian religion in order to attack it. As a child needs to sit on the lap of its father in order to slap the father’s face, so the unbeliever, as a creature, needs God the Creator and providential controller of the universe in order to oppose this God. Without this God, the place on which he stands does not exist. He cannot stand in a vacuum.”

Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

Proof for the Existence of God that You May Not Like Nor Accept

Van Til 4

“Two remarks may here be made by way of meeting the most obvious objections that will be raised to this method of the Reformed apologist. The first objection that suggests itself may be expressed in the rhetorical question “Do you mean to assert that non-Christians do not discover truth by the methods they employ?” The reply is that we mean nothing so absurd as that. The implication of the method here advocated is simply that non-Christians are never able and therefore never do employ their own methods consistently. Says A. E. Taylor in discussing the question of the uniformity of nature, “The fundamental thought of modern science, at any rate until yesterday, was that there is a ‘universal reign of law’ throughout nature. Nature is rational in the sense that it has everywhere a coherent pattern which we can progressively detect by the steady application of our own intelligence to the scrutiny of natural processes. Science has been built up all along on the basis of this principle of the ‘uniformity of nature,’ and the principle is one which science itself has no means of demonstrating. No one could possibly prove its truth to an opponent who seriously disputed it. For all attempts to produce ‘evidence’ for the ‘uniformity of nature’ themselves presuppose the very principle they are intended to prove.” Our argument as over against this would be that the existence of the God of Christian theism and the conception of his counsel as controlling all things in the universe is the only presupposition which can account for the uniformity of nature which the scientist needs. But the best and only possible proof for the existence of such a God is that his existence is required for the uniformity of nature and for the coherence of all things in the world. We cannot prove the existence of beams underneath a floor if by proof we mean that they must be ascertainable in the way that we can see the chairs and tables of the room. But the very idea of a floor as the support of tables and chairs requires the idea of beams that are underneath. But there would be no floor if no beams were underneath. Thus there is absolutely certain prod for the existence of God and the truth of Christian theism. Even non-Christians presuppose its truth while they verbally reject it. They need to presuppose the truth of Christian theism in order to account for their own accomplishments.
The second objection may be voiced in the following words: “While a Christian can prove that his Christian position is fully as reasonable as the opponent’s view, there is no such thing as an absolutely compelling proof that God exists, or that the Bible is the word of God, just as little as anyone can prove its opposite.” In this way of putting the matter there is a confusion between what is objectively valid and what is subjectively acceptable to the natural man. It is true that no method of argument for Christianity will be acceptable to the natural man. Moreover, it is true that the more consistently Christian our methodology, the less acceptable it will be to the natural man. We find something similar in the field of theology. It is precisely the Reformed faith which, among other things, teaches the total depravity of the natural man, which is most loathsome to that natural man. But this does not prove that the Reformed faith is not true. A patient may like a doctor who tells him that his disease can be cured by means of external applications and dislike the doctor who tells him that he needs a major internal operation. Yet the latter doctor may be right in his diagnosis. It is the weakness of the Roman Catholic and the Arminian methods that they virtually identify objective validity with subjective acceptability to the natural man. Distinguishing carefully between these two, the Reformed apologist maintains that there is an absolutely valid argument for the existence of God and for the truth of Christian theism. He cannot do less without virtually admitting that God’s revelation to man is not clear. It is fatal for the Reformed apologist to admit that man has done justice to the objective evidence if he comes to any other conclusion than that of the truth of Christian theism.”
Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia, 1955).

The Frustration of Modern Education

Van Til 3

“Our work as educators would be hopeless and futile if we engaged in it on the principle of synthesis discussed above. But what joy it is to know that Christ has come to save man and his culture! The first Adam by his sin refused to undertake the cultural mandate given him. When he was told to subdue the earth he would not do so as unto God his creator. But the second Adam undertook anew what the first Adam, and all men with him, failed to do. Now then, we who are saved by grace, we who have by the Spirit of God been born from above, need not beat the air. There is for us a true synthesis of all things in Christ. And we may offer this Christ to all men that they too with us might escape the futility and the absurdity, the immorality and the blasphemy, of seeking to synthesize what by their very sinful act they are all the while destroying. The task of educators who do not educate in and unto Christ is like the task of Sisyphus as he rolled his stone to the top of the hill only to see it roll down again. If the facts of the world are not created and redeemed by God in Christ, then they are like beads that have no holes in them and therefore cannot be strung into a string of beads. If the laws of the world are not what they are as relating the facts that are created and redeemed by Christ, these laws are like a string of infinite length, neither end of which can be found. Seeking to string beads that cannot be strung because they have no holes in them, with string of infinite length neither end of which you can find; such is the task of the educator who seeks to educate without presupposing the truth of what the self-attesting Christ has spoken in the Scriptures.”

Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

No Common Ground in Apologetics, but an Axe to Grind

Van Til 2

“It is only to follow out the lead which Hodge in his theology, following Calvin, has given, if we seek our point of contact not in any abstraction whatsoever, whether it be reason or intuition. No such abstraction exists in the universe of men. We always deal with concrete individual men. These men are sinners. They have “an axe to grind.” They want to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They will employ their reason for that purpose. And they are not formally illogical if, granted the assumption of man’s ultimacy, they reject the teachings of Christianity. On the contrary, to be logically consistent they are bound to do so. This point will engage us more fully in the sequel. For the moment it must suffice to have shown how the apologist is not only untrue to his own doctrine of man as the creature of God, but also defeats his own purpose if he appeals to some form of the “common consciousness of man.”

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia, 1955).

Arguing for the Existence of Air Whilst Breathing

Van Til 1

“To make our conversation more interesting, let’s start by comparing notes on our past. That will fit in well with our plan, for the debate concerning heredity and environment is prominent in our day. Perhaps you think that the only real reason I have for believing in God is the fact that I was taught to do so in my early days. Of course I don’t think that is really so. I don’t deny that I was taught to believe in God when I was a child, but I do affirm that since I have grown up I have heard a pretty full statement of the argument against belief in God. And it is after having heard that argument that I am more than ever ready to believe in God. Now, in fact, I feel that the whole of history and civilization would be unintelligible to me if it were not for my belief in God. So true is this, that I propose to argue that unless God is back of everything, you cannot find meaning in anything. I cannot even argue for belief in Him, without already having taken Him for granted. And similarly I contend that you cannot argue against belief in Him unless you also first take Him for granted. Arguing about God’s existence, I hold, is like arguing about air. You may affirm that air exists, and I that it does not. But as we debate the point, we are both breathing air all the time. Or to use another illustration, God is like the emplacement on which must stand the very guns that are supposed to shoot Him out of existence. However if, after hearing my story briefly, you still think it is all a matter of heredity and environment, I shall not disagree too violently. My whole point will be that there is perfect harmony between my belief as a child and my belief as a man, simply because God is Himself the environment by which my early life was directed and my later life made intelligible to myself.”

Cornelius Van Til and Eric H. Sigward, The Pamphlets, Tracts, and Offprints of Cornelius Van Til, Electronic ed. (Labels Army Company: New York, 1997).

If a Christian Doesn’t Eat Meat, He Still Isn’t a Vegetarian (or Vegan for that Matter).

A Christian may or may not eat meat. That’s a matter of preference. But Vegetarianism and Veganism are religious worldviews set against the Biblical worldview. Those holding to these positions are attempting to enforce a religion of paganism upon those who do not share that view. Please view this animal rights video by Dr. Mealanie Joy, then consider my response, to a non-meat-eating Christian. Happily, the person to whom I addressed this note sees through the paganism of the video.

Re the Dr. Melanie Joy video.

Dear,                 

I can understand there are health arguments against eating meat, as well as issues regarding cruelty to animals in modern farming. But the main argument in this video betrays a thoroughly pagan worldview. I’ll leave the health issue aside for now, but the worldview of the presenter worries me.

Shortly into the video, she refers to animals as “individuals,” a term in normal use is reserved for people. Yes, each animal is an individual animal, but not an individual person, as we usually use the word, by itself, of people. Her comparisons between pigs, chickens, cows, and human infants are jarring. This is the same approach to human infants that the pro-abortion movement takes—that the infant is no more than an animal. Ironically, the same people who have no problem aborting a human infant are very often opposed to any use of animals. I am 99% certain that she considers herself “prochoice.” What “heterosexism” has to do with vegetarianism and veganism is beyond me, but it rounds out my perception of her worldview.

The problem with a pagan worldview is that it reduces man to nature, and denies, first of all, the existence of a God who is an uncreated creator of all things. Paganism identifies nature with God—pantheism, so God is a part of nature and by extension, all of nature is a part of God. Secondly, paganism denies the Biblical teaching that man is uniquely created in the image of God, and by virtue of that image, man has dominion over creation (there are very important implications in this doctrine, read Genesis 1:26-31). Without this uniqueness, law, judgement, sin, salvation, and holiness are meaningless, because man is an animal with no unique stature nor responsibility before God.

Dr. Joy raises the issue of animal rights, a phrase which is rarely thought out. In the traditions of Western societies, humans have rights; and humans have responsibilities to animals. If animal rights were the case (and she brings the term “social justice” to her argument), then animals are a part of society such as a human is.

To speak of human rights, means that a human must not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. So if animals have rights, it means that an animal can never be deprived of its life or liberty without due process, that is, without a court order, such as is the case when a human is tried and found guilty of a crime. Nor can humans be used for slavery or experimentation, but these things are seen as inhumane (the Nazis and Planned Parenthood are modern examples of the horrors of such abuse).

If animals are afforded “rights,” it must be asked, “who grants these rights?” Is it God? Not in paganism. It is always man who grants rights in paganism, and as history shows, man can take rights away from those he deems unfit. Thus in pagan America and Canada, man has determined that the unborn have no rights and are not human.

Quite practically, if animals are given the same rights as humans, all elimination of disease-carrying pests must be made illegal: rats, mice, mosquitoes, etc., all have a right to life. Antibiotics are also forbidden, as they kill of entire populations of bacteria.

This may seem like an extreme example, but once rights are afforded to a class, the size, age, intelligence, or perceived value of that class must be deemed irrelevant. An animal is an animal.

This also holds true for animal testing for life-saving medications. While I think that cosmetic testing is cruel (and cosmetics don’t help most of those who use them anyway), I am in full favour of using an animal to test a drug or medication for effectiveness or harmful side effects. Pigs have been bread for the sole purpose of harvesting their skin for burn transplants. Paganism may see that as illegitimate, but it is illegitimate only if the Biblical doctrine of man created in the image of God is ignored.

So if one wishes to be a vegetarian or vegan from a Christian viewpoint, it must be done so without confusing man and animal. The Bible does teach, by the way, compassionate animal husbandry. The vegetarian does, however, have to deal with passages throughout the Bible that permits the eating of meat (and commands it in the case of the priests—see Leviticus and Deuteronomy). The Old Testament has strict limits on diet, as is well known.

In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that the dietary restrictions were a thing of the past (note vss 18-19):

Mark 7:14–23 (ESV)

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

It might also be good to remember that Jesus served fish (John 6:9; Luke 9:16; Mark 6:38; John 21:9)!

Furthermore, when the Gospel is preached, food is used to convince a faithful Hebrew Christian (Peter) that if foods are not to be rejected as unclean, neither should people (Acts 10:9-16 and Acts 11). Galatians 2:11-14 only makes sense if we understand that Paul allowed eating any kind of meat. His prohibitions on meat eating in his other letters are about the unique sense of where the meat was purchased, that is, a pagan temple. He did not allow it if it violated a Christian’s conscience.

So in summary,

  1. The Biblical worldview says that man is created in the image of God, and therefore separate from animal, and any appeal to vegetarianism must not cross those boundaries.
  2. Animals, while under the care, stewardship, and dominion of man, do not have human rights.
  3. Advocating for animal rights is an act of sinful rebellion, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18—32). In this manner, vegetarianism and veganism is very dangerous to the Christian.
  4. The Bible advocates the eating of meat, and does not forbid it. Therefore, vegetarianism or veganism cannot be made a law to which Christians are subject. It is a matter of Christian liberty.

 

46schaeffer

I’ve attached a chart, from Francis Schaeffer, which explains the nature of the “chasm” between God and creation, and between man and the rest of creation. The first slide shows what the Biblical worldview teaches, that there is a “chasm” between God and His creation; that is, He is entirely separate from and not dependent upon, in any way, what He created. The second slide shows that there is also, within creation itself, a separation between man and all other entities, living or otherwise, in creation.

God, Creation, Chasm God, Creation, and us

I hope this helps you in your evaluation of this video. Eating meat or not is a choice you can make. But to call oneself a vegetarian or vegan is to be aligned with a movement that is opposed to the Kingdom of God. This is by no means meant to be a rebuke, but a way to help you see the implications of the worldview of this particular presentation.

In the Lamb,

Scott

 

If a Christian Doesn't Eat Meat, He Still Isn't a Vegetarian (or Vegan for that Matter).

A Christian may or may not eat meat. That’s a matter of preference. But Vegetarianism and Veganism are religious worldviews set against the Biblical worldview. Those holding to these positions are attempting to enforce a religion of paganism upon those who do not share that view. Please view this animal rights video by Dr. Mealanie Joy, then consider my response, to a non-meat-eating Christian. Happily, the person to whom I addressed this note sees through the paganism of the video.

Re the Dr. Melanie Joy video.

Dear,                 

I can understand there are health arguments against eating meat, as well as issues regarding cruelty to animals in modern farming. But the main argument in this video betrays a thoroughly pagan worldview. I’ll leave the health issue aside for now, but the worldview of the presenter worries me.

Shortly into the video, she refers to animals as “individuals,” a term in normal use is reserved for people. Yes, each animal is an individual animal, but not an individual person, as we usually use the word, by itself, of people. Her comparisons between pigs, chickens, cows, and human infants are jarring. This is the same approach to human infants that the pro-abortion movement takes—that the infant is no more than an animal. Ironically, the same people who have no problem aborting a human infant are very often opposed to any use of animals. I am 99% certain that she considers herself “prochoice.” What “heterosexism” has to do with vegetarianism and veganism is beyond me, but it rounds out my perception of her worldview.

The problem with a pagan worldview is that it reduces man to nature, and denies, first of all, the existence of a God who is an uncreated creator of all things. Paganism identifies nature with God—pantheism, so God is a part of nature and by extension, all of nature is a part of God. Secondly, paganism denies the Biblical teaching that man is uniquely created in the image of God, and by virtue of that image, man has dominion over creation (there are very important implications in this doctrine, read Genesis 1:26-31). Without this uniqueness, law, judgement, sin, salvation, and holiness are meaningless, because man is an animal with no unique stature nor responsibility before God.

Dr. Joy raises the issue of animal rights, a phrase which is rarely thought out. In the traditions of Western societies, humans have rights; and humans have responsibilities to animals. If animal rights were the case (and she brings the term “social justice” to her argument), then animals are a part of society such as a human is.

To speak of human rights, means that a human must not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. So if animals have rights, it means that an animal can never be deprived of its life or liberty without due process, that is, without a court order, such as is the case when a human is tried and found guilty of a crime. Nor can humans be used for slavery or experimentation, but these things are seen as inhumane (the Nazis and Planned Parenthood are modern examples of the horrors of such abuse).

If animals are afforded “rights,” it must be asked, “who grants these rights?” Is it God? Not in paganism. It is always man who grants rights in paganism, and as history shows, man can take rights away from those he deems unfit. Thus in pagan America and Canada, man has determined that the unborn have no rights and are not human.

Quite practically, if animals are given the same rights as humans, all elimination of disease-carrying pests must be made illegal: rats, mice, mosquitoes, etc., all have a right to life. Antibiotics are also forbidden, as they kill of entire populations of bacteria.

This may seem like an extreme example, but once rights are afforded to a class, the size, age, intelligence, or perceived value of that class must be deemed irrelevant. An animal is an animal.

This also holds true for animal testing for life-saving medications. While I think that cosmetic testing is cruel (and cosmetics don’t help most of those who use them anyway), I am in full favour of using an animal to test a drug or medication for effectiveness or harmful side effects. Pigs have been bread for the sole purpose of harvesting their skin for burn transplants. Paganism may see that as illegitimate, but it is illegitimate only if the Biblical doctrine of man created in the image of God is ignored.

So if one wishes to be a vegetarian or vegan from a Christian viewpoint, it must be done so without confusing man and animal. The Bible does teach, by the way, compassionate animal husbandry. The vegetarian does, however, have to deal with passages throughout the Bible that permits the eating of meat (and commands it in the case of the priests—see Leviticus and Deuteronomy). The Old Testament has strict limits on diet, as is well known.

In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that the dietary restrictions were a thing of the past (note vss 18-19):

Mark 7:14–23 (ESV)

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

It might also be good to remember that Jesus served fish (John 6:9; Luke 9:16; Mark 6:38; John 21:9)!

Furthermore, when the Gospel is preached, food is used to convince a faithful Hebrew Christian (Peter) that if foods are not to be rejected as unclean, neither should people (Acts 10:9-16 and Acts 11). Galatians 2:11-14 only makes sense if we understand that Paul allowed eating any kind of meat. His prohibitions on meat eating in his other letters are about the unique sense of where the meat was purchased, that is, a pagan temple. He did not allow it if it violated a Christian’s conscience.

So in summary,

  1. The Biblical worldview says that man is created in the image of God, and therefore separate from animal, and any appeal to vegetarianism must not cross those boundaries.
  2. Animals, while under the care, stewardship, and dominion of man, do not have human rights.
  3. Advocating for animal rights is an act of sinful rebellion, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18—32). In this manner, vegetarianism and veganism is very dangerous to the Christian.
  4. The Bible advocates the eating of meat, and does not forbid it. Therefore, vegetarianism or veganism cannot be made a law to which Christians are subject. It is a matter of Christian liberty.

 

46schaeffer

I’ve attached a chart, from Francis Schaeffer, which explains the nature of the “chasm” between God and creation, and between man and the rest of creation. The first slide shows what the Biblical worldview teaches, that there is a “chasm” between God and His creation; that is, He is entirely separate from and not dependent upon, in any way, what He created. The second slide shows that there is also, within creation itself, a separation between man and all other entities, living or otherwise, in creation.

God, Creation, Chasm God, Creation, and us

I hope this helps you in your evaluation of this video. Eating meat or not is a choice you can make. But to call oneself a vegetarian or vegan is to be aligned with a movement that is opposed to the Kingdom of God. This is by no means meant to be a rebuke, but a way to help you see the implications of the worldview of this particular presentation.

In the Lamb,

Scott