Reproduced here is the substance of Dr. Buswell’s critique of Van Til’s work on the Christian Apologetics. I posted yesterday the first two letters between Buswell and Van Til, and a portion of the third letter to which Buswell attaches the details of his critique of CVT’s work on Christian Apologetics.
In this review, Buswell is working with a pre-publication copy and the references cited below are [frustratingly] keyed to that edition. Dr. Van Til’s book was published two years later(1939) under the auspices of the Reformed Episcopal Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. The published work has 113 pages, where the pre-publication copy had at least 146 pages. Thus it is at least possible that Van Til took some of Buswell’s critiques into account in editing for the final published edition.
Perhaps someone with access to either the pre-publication copy (1937) or the first edition (1939) of CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS will supply us with a copy of same or possibly take up the project of supplying the specific quotes that would make better sense of Buswell’s comments.
[I’ve added some explanatory notes to the text below, shown in square brackets. Also, Latin phrases have been rendered in italics to facilitate reading. Otherwise the text is an accurate reproduction of the original document, retaining Buswell’s spelling, etc.]
[Update (Overly scholarly bibliographic note) : I’ve received via Interlibrary Loan a copy of the 1939 publication. It is interesting to see that the printing process employed for the 1939 edition was mimeography or stencil duplication (some will remember the old blue ink on paper look). Also, on the obverse side of the title page, there is this Publisher’s Note: “In order to produce this book at the least possible cost, no proof reading beyond careful typing has been done. Mistakes of which neither the author nor printer are cognizant may have crept in.” The last page of this softcover edition notes that it was “Revised and Printed, January 1939.”]
19 3 7
Professor Cornelius Van Til
Westminster Theological Seminary
1528 Pine Street
My dear Professor Van Til
I must apologize for imposing upon you this lengthy set of notes and remarks. I should not blame you one bit if you simply consigned them to the waste basket.
I have dictated on the dictaphone and corrected all the notes up to page twenty.
I have to leave this afternoon for a Bible conference in Elkhart and shall not have a minute’s time next week. I am therefore sending the notes on to you without having read my secretary’s write-up of the material from page twenty on.
Very cordially yours
(Signed) J. Oliver Buswell, Jr.
It is very presumptuous on my part to write you in such detail in regard to your valuable work on Apologetics I have learned much from reading it and have profited thereby, I feel that your insistence upon the doctrine of creation and the doctrine of the trinity and your strong emphasis Upon the absolute self-existence and independence of God, constitute a very necessary and valuable emphasis in our modern world.
The following consists chiefly of a listing and brief discussion of points that troubled me as I read.
Page 2, lines 2 and 6 from the bottom of the page. You seem to use the phrases “full information” and “full interpretation” as synonymous. As I said in my former letter, I have been troubled all the way through your work by your usage of the word “interpretation.” In this context on page 2 of course you do not mean that one would gain either a full interpretation or full information about a snake from the Bible, but I understand that you mean that one would never find out that a snake has a relationship to God as a creature, without looking into the Bible, In this of course I agree. No one has ever reasoned from any fact directly up to God, James Orr makes this very emphatic in “The Christian View of God and the World.” Logically and metaphysically of course there is a direct path of inference from any fact in the universe to God and to the correct view of that fact as a created fact, but historically no one has ever followed that path, independent of revelation.
Page 4, line 17 to 15 from the bottom of the page. If we defend the fortress of Christian theism, we have the world to ourselves logically, but not actually. It then remains for us to persuade and instruct men as God has commanded us and by such logical means as he has put at our disposal.
Page 5, paragraph c, line 4, Of course I agree that there is no “succession of moments” in God’s essential being, but sometimes you seem to imply that there is no succession of moments in God’s consciousness. This must mean one of three things, (l) That God is not conscious of the circumstances in which he has placed us and hence all that the Bible says of the love and care of God is untrue} (2) That the sequence of events in this world is only an illusion; (3) That there is a hopeless actual contradiction in the situation. The word actual is necessary here, I think, for if you categorically state that there is no succession of moments in the consciousness of God and yet that the Bible is true, the contradiction is far more than merely apparent.
Page 6, paragraph c. Your argument seems to be that since God completely knows himself, therefore he contains within himself no possibilities or potentialities which are not realities and actualities. In our conversation last Monday evening, I said erroneously that you taught that knowledge is reality, I had this paragraph in mind, I should have said that this paragraph has moaning for me only in the assumption that God’s knowledge is equal to or the same as reality or actuality. Otherwise there could be no such conclusion from the fact that he fully knows himself. This paragraph seems also to imply that the potential is the unknown* Now if I understand your philosophy correctly, you would escape from Spinoza at this point only by what you call a seeming contradiction, but what to me amounts to an actual contradiction, Your logic in this paragraph would drive you straight into a timeless universe, only that you hold that time is actual for the creature but is not actual in the experience of the Creator,
It seems to me quite contrary to established usage of words to say that there is no potentiality or possibility in God which is not actual or real. This in common language would mean that God has nothing more to do in time. This conclusion of course would deny the doctrine of providence.
Page 7, paragraph 3, lines 3 to 5. Here again we have the same thought which to me is an absolute contradiction.
Page 7, toward the end of the same paragraph. You use the words to know, to interpret, to plan, and to make as though they were all the same. Have you not inadvertently slipped into the vocabulary of Borden P. Bowne’s idealism? Certainly these four words have very distinct and different meanings unless time is an illusion as in an idealistic world.
[* Borden Parker Bowne [1847-1910] was a Methodist theologian. Some of his works include: 1. Metaphysics (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1898); 2. Personalism (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1908); 3. Studies In Christianity (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909).]
Page 8, line 7 ff. I have always thought the word “absolute” should be used with very careful definitions. The phrase “absolute personality” illustrates the point. Of course I agree that God is a person, independent, underived, self-existent, infinite in all of his perfections. Historically however the word “absolute” is somewhat entangled in usage with the thought of unrelatedness. That conception completely destroys the God of the Bible in our thinking. Also the phrase “absolute personality” is used, if I remember correctly, by Borden P. Bowne in connection with the thought that God is more personal than we are, I think you agree with me that a person is a person and that the words “absolute personality” ought not to be used with the thought of various degrees of being a person. Nearly ten years ago I read practically all of Bowne’s books. I had never read much of idealism until then, I was led into reading Bowne through the breezy writings of E.Y.Mullins. The more I read of Bowne, the more strongly I reacted against idealism and his type of personalism.
Page 10, top of page. God’s knowledge is certainly absolutely comprehensive, but to say that God’s being is absolutely comprehensive sounds very much like pantheism. This I know is not what you mean. I agree that God is “incomprehensible” in the sense of being too great for complete finite comprehension. Some writers however use the word to signify that God’s existence and nature are contrary to such measure of finite comprehension as he has given to his people. This assumption furnishes the basis for certain types of agnosticism. You do not hold, do you, that there is anything in God contrary to our understanding?
Page 11, first paragraph. It sounds as though you mean here what I have referred to in the last paragraph above. Of course we shall never, even in heaven, attain to complete comprehension, but I cannot agree that it is a sin to strive for complete comprehension as an ideal. The analogy would be “Be ye perfect as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” We do not attain sinless perfection in this life, but it is the ideal toward which we strive. I cannot find anything in the Bible to deny that complete comprehension is an ideal which God sets before us.
Page 11, second paragraph under Christology, third line of the paragraph. Are you not historically incorrect in saying that the church has emphasized that Christ was not a human person? In the following paragraph I agree of course that Christ did not lay aside his divine nature but I cannot read my theology in any such way as to warrant your saying that this requires us to deny that he became a human person and was a divine-human person. He “was and continueth to be God and man in two distinct natures and oneperson forever,” He was one person and that one person since the incarnation continues to be a divine person but is also “man.” I agree of course that the divine and human natures were not intermingled, but I fear that a student would not really see that you emphasize the humanity of Christ’s person as clearly as the deity of his person.
Toward the bottom of this page you use the word “commingle” with reference to the eternal and the temporal. In many places in your work I have felt that you ought to define what you mean by commingling. Certainly you do not deny that God acts upon man or that Christ literally entered into history, “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The old statement about the separate natures of Christ is clearer in its old form. I do not find that you define what you mean when you speak of these two natures in the terms of the temporal and the eternal. The divine nature and the human nature were not confused, but the eternal divine person became flesh, became man, and, without ceasing to be divine, very intimately mingled himself in our time and space sequences.
Page 12, first paragraph. Your statement that man “should not seek for comprehensive knowledge” seems to me to be contrary to John 14:26, John 16:13, and contrary to the implications of “a comprehensive interpretation of the whole of life” in paragraph 2, page 16.
Page 12, paragraph 2. The word “false” at the end of this paragraph modifies the word “knowledge” and seems to say that knowledge may be “theoretically correct” and yet be false. Would it not be more accurate to say that according to the Scriptural usage “to know God” is not used with reference to the question of metaphysical knowledge at all, but means to be in fellowship with God?
Page 13, end of the first full paragraph and middle of the last paragraph. Again you use the phrase “mix the eternal and the temporal” in what seems to me a very inclusive sense. You do not of course mean to deny that God acts upon man directly or that God responds to man’s situation as the Bible teaches that he does. Is it not the distinct creatureliness of man and the distinct otherness or objectivity between God and the nature of God and man and the nature of all things temporal, which you wish to maintain? The temporal and the eternal, or God and man, do not “mix” in the sense of dissolving identity or losing objectivity or distinct otherness, but in almost every other sense of the word “mix” there is a very definite mixing, mingling, communion, between God and man, between the eternal and the temporal.
Page 14, end of the first paragraph and beginning of the second. I could wish that the word “absolute” were here defined. I have a great horror of those idealistic frozen systems of philosophy which present an unrelated God, but of course I completely accept the Calvinistic doctrine of the eternal self-existent personal God who has created the temporal order out of nothing, and who operates in and upon it according to his own decrees.
Page 14, end of the second paragraph. Your last two sentences in this paragraph seem to me to echo a fallacy common to deterministic or mechanistic philosophy. It is assumed that if man had any genuine freedom he would have freedom at all times to reverse himself. I agree thoroughly that since the fall, man does not have freedom to do the will of God except by the sovereign grace of God, but you as an infra-lapsarian hold that Adam had genuine freedom, but nevertheless that he did not have freedom to deal inconsistently with the covenant of works. In my book on “The Christian Life” I have attempted to deal with this fallacy of mechanistic philosophy. Hebrews 2:1 ff. seems to indicate what I believe is the correct attitude toward such freedom as God has given us. The exercise of free will implies a “drift” which tends to become permanent.
[* Buswell, The Christian Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937.]
Page 14, third paragraph, Here you use the word “interpret” twice in the sense of foreknowledge and decree.
Page 15, second paragraph. Toward the beginning of this paragraph you use the word “orthodox” in a more inclusive sense than that with which I am familiar. Would not the words “superficial but evangelical” suit you better? “Orthodox” has always seemed to me a very strong word, signifying correct doctrines and of course you hold that there is only one “system of doctrine” taught in the Scriptures. In line 7 of this paragraph you refer to some of the “orthodox” as “the enemy”!
Just below the middle of this paragraph you refer to Arminianism as characteristic of interdenominationalism. We have suffered so much at the hands of official “denominationalism” in recent days and there is so much Arminianism in denominational machinery in general, that I hardly think you could defend this use of the word. I think I know what you mean by “interdenominationalism.” I am rather familiar with the movement, I think membership in a distinctive Presbyterian body is far superior; but as a matter of fact, most of the interdenominationalists with whom I am familiar occupy practically the position of the Amuraldians as described by Charles Hodge and A. A, Hodge. They believe in the five points of Calvinism in substance, but most of them are not clear on the definition of the doctrine of limited atonement. Their position is an imperfect Calvinism, but is certainly far removed from historical or actual Arminianism.
At the end of this chapter (on page 15) with reference to your use of the terms “eternal” and “temporal”, I jotted down the following comments after my first reading, “Is ‘eternity’ identical with ‘God’? If this is not what he means, then what? Does not God completely dominate time as well as eternity? Does not the redeemed have eternal life?”
Page 16, paragraph 4, last sentence. Here is one of your several admissions which seem to me to completely undermine the negative arguments of yours to which I so much object. If a Christian theologian may learn the terms of philosophy and argue intelligently with a philosopher, how can you maintain that the method of James Orr and Charles Hodge is wrong?
Page 17, beginning at the middle of the page. In referring to God as a concrete universal, I think I understand what you mean. The nature of God being infinite in all of his perfections, and the will of God being supreme in creation and providence, we find in our God that which takes the place of, and is far more reasonable than, the ultimate universal of philosophy. But your language seems here to identify God as being the same as the supreme universal. In the last sentence in the third from the last paragraph on this page you actually refer to God as “a universal that is all inclusive,” Later on in your discussion of the iniquity of the medieval argument between idealism and nominalism, you make it perfectly clear that God is not in any sense the universal conceived by philosophy, but it seemed to me as I read through your work for the first time that the last sentence on page 17 seems to leave God merely as a triune idea, such as we find in Borden P. Bowne.
Page 18, next to the last paragraph, line 3. If there is no potentiality in God, then either (1) he has done everything he ever intends to do, or (2) our experience of sequence in time and space is an illusion, or (3) there is a hopeless contradiction in reality.
In the same paragraph you make reference to the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession of the Spirit. I am heartily in sympathy with your statement, “The diversity in God is as basic as the unity.” Several years ago I tried to make a study of this question of the eternal generation of Christ. I summarized this study in a note in my new book, “Behold Him,” I cannot give you the page reference. I expect the book from the press early next week. I cannot find that the word “to beget” ever applies to Christ in the eternal sense in the Scriptures.
[* Buswell, Behold Him! Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937]
The word “only-begotten,” “monogenes,” I am convinced, has lost all sense of begetting and simply means the “unique” son of God as the word is used in the Septuagint in Psalm 22:20 or 35:17.
Page 18, next to the last paragraph, next to the last line, I shrink from the use of such a phrase as “completely actualized.” It sounds too much like Bowne. After reading several of his works I came to feel that all phrases referring to different degrees of actuality or reality, are illogical, God is real, God is actual, God has always been actual, but if the doctrine of creation out of nothing is to stand out “in sunny outline brave and clear,”* then, since creation, we are just as actual, just as completely actualized, as God is, Borden P. Bowne constantly says we are becoming more and more actualized, but God is more completely actual than we are.
[* A line from the poem “In the Presence of the Lord, by Richard Chenevix Trench [1807-1886]
Page 19, line 1. I like better the idea that the decrees of God are the concrete universal, than the idea that God is the concrete universal. However when you proceed to state that from the point of view of the relation of the universe as a whole to God, we must say that “actuality precedes potentiality” then it seems to me we are forced to conclude that time is an illusion or that the universe is logically deduced as a frozen syllogism.
In the center of paragraph two on page 19, I thoroughly agree that plurality and unity are equally ultimate in God, and I believe also that the decrees of God are far more basic than the created universe, since the decrees of God are eternal and the universe is temporal. You seem to say however that the plurality of the created universe was actual in God, or in the decrees of God, before the universe was created. This strikes me as an impossible kind of actuality unless the universe is eternally a part of God or identical with Him.
With reference to the last two sentences of this paragraph on page 19, I do not equate historical particulars with the universal which is God, but neither do I equate the non-historical particulars in the eternal decrees of God, with God.
Page 22, paragraph 2, line 5 from the end of the paragraph. Did you intend to say that God is eternal purpose, or that God has eternal purpose, in himself? The former sounds too much like Bergson and Paulsen.
Page 22, paragraph 2, last five lines of the paragraph. I greatly appreciate this statement but I understand your words “end of tine” to be figurative and not literal. I am afraid that some of your students might understand you to mean
that time as time in the abstract mathematical sense comes to a stop, so that there can be no more sequence.
Page 22, third paragraph, next to thelast line. Rather than the “sound proof exclusion chamber,” would it not be more accurate to say that the punishment of Satan is ethically an essential part of the harmony?
Page 23, third paragraph under “Being and Becoming.” I agree that if we hold to a doctrine of “Eternal Generation” we must hold it in some such way as you indicate. God cannot be regarded as becoming greater or becoming more than he is, but on the other hand when you say in such categorical language that, there can be no change in God, that God is nothing but being, it might seem to some students that you are denying the works of providence and of redemption. The Scripture certainly indicates that there will come a day when God will judge the world. This excludes the thought that there is no sequence in God’s own consciousness with reference to his own.
With reference to your discussion of Epistemology, beginning on page 25, and other remarks on Epistemology and Ontology (e.g. the first sentence of the next to the last paragraph on page 140). I agree with you entirely in taking our stand with the doctrine of creation out of nothing, against Rationalism and Idealism on the one hand, and against Empiricism and Pragmatism on the other hand, I feel, however, that in your use of words and in some of your statements you are inclined to regard what God has created as having its existence in more or less idealistic terms. On the other hand I am strongly inclined to believe that God has created this universe in such a way that the empirical sciences are valid as far as they go.
Page 26, paragraph three. I cannot follow you in saying, “In God knowledge and being are identical. In God the subject of knowledge is the object of knowledge.” The first statement denies foreknowledge and predictive prophecy unless time is an illusion. The second statement cannot be true unless God is the universe. Here again I seem to taste the flavor of idealistic Ontology.
In the next paragraph you have similar statements. If God “can have no external reference point” then he cannot create a universe which is other than himself. If God cannot “ask the question about objectivity” then we are driven straight into idealistic pantheism. True, God does not ask for information, but “Adam, where art thou?” has a very definitely objective point of reference.
In the next paragraph also in saying that in God the real is the rational and the rational is the real, I am led into all sorts of difficulties. God was rational before he created the universe. Certainly his decrees included all things that were to be. Then we should have to conclude that the universe was real before it was created. This could be so only on the denial of actual creation and the assumption of idealistic ontology, or else on the assumption of a hopeless contradiction in the Bible.
Page 27, the last six lines of the first paragraph. Here you use the words “existence,” “meaning,” “no longer exists,” in such a way as to imply that our existence is only in our meaning. This is very much like Borden P. Bowne.
Page 27, paragraph 2. I do not see that the fact that man is “like” God or is made in the image of God assures that our knowledge of God must be true. It does not seem to follow that if we “exist at all as self-conscious beings” we therefore can be sure that we have true knowledge of God. Being like God in the sense of having self-consciousness does not seem to guarantee correct knowledge. You say here that you are not speaking of the question of sin but of a metaphysical relationship. If your argument is correct, would you not have to concede that the unsaved man has true knowledge of God? I hold, of course, that the unsaved man is capable of receiving some degree of the knowledge through direct historical evangelistic testimony not because the unsaved man is in tho image of God in self-conscious existence, but simply because of common grace. It seems to me that I Corinthians 13-12 has a bearing upon your discussion at the bottom of page 27.
Page 29, paragraph 2, last sentence. I agree that man’s knowledge of God is logically more fundamental than man’s knowledge of the universe, but to say that man’s knowledge of God and of himself and of the universe about him must be temporally simultaneous, simply does not correspond to fact. I suppose however you mean to describe a type of knowledge which is logically ideal, rather than the knowledge which actually exists in the mind of any man.
Page 29, paragraph 3. I cannot find that you have anywhere resolved the contradiction in the statement that we cannot know ourselves in any true sense unless we know God. When in other portions of your, work you admit that the man who does not know God may nevertheless know e.g. such a thing as that he is a man with a pain, your statements do not seem to me to be supplementary but contradictory.
In this same paragraph you say that if we know God, we know him truly though not comprehensively. At first reading this sentence seemed to me like a mere case of redundancy, but perhaps here is a key to the difficulty. In any usage with which I am familiar, to know is to know truly, and to say that knowledge is true, is to repeat the same thought in different words. However, I noted above in commenting upon p, 12 a case in which you refer to theoretically correct knowledge as being false, I assume therefore that you have some distinction in mind which I do not find explicitly stated.
Page 29, last paragraph, line 9 from the bottom of the page. For man to “interpret” the universe to God, strikes me again as a strange way of using the word “interpret.”
Page 30, the second paragraph. I agree that all knowledge depends upon the fact that God has made both us and the universe, but do you mean that on this basis our knowledge of the universe “must” be true, or “may” be true?
Page 30, third paragraph and fifth paragraph. I agree with you that a paradox is a seeming and not an actual contradiction. I agree also that we do experience many paradoxes, but I cannot agree, and this seems to me a very fundamental point, that any paradox must be regarded as necessary for our minds in this present world. To use a simple illustration, when in working a problem in mathematics one comes to a conclusion which is self-contradictory, doubt is cast upon the entire process of reasoning. Every step must be retraced and re-examined. The error of reasoning does not usually occur at the point of paradox, but at some other point, of the weakness of which we are least conscious. To hold therefore that paradox is necessary in our thinking, is to cast doubt upon the entire process of thought.
I have discussed the paradox of answered prayer in my book on “Prayer” in the chapter on “Petition,” and in my book “What is God?” under the paragraph heading, “The Wisdom of God.”
[ * Buswell, Problems in the Prayer Life. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1928 and What Is God? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937.]
I cannot agree that there is any paradox in the statement that God is eternally all-glorious and that we glorify him. The logical analogy between this situation and the atonement accomplished, by Christ in the process of history, seems to be rather close. In the counsels of God Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Nevertheless in the process of time Christ came to offer himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice. Paul explains in the Epistle to the Romans that God’s holiness in the ages before the cross was vindicated by the actual accomplishment of the atonement. In other words, God was just as much propitiated by an atonement which was to be, as he is propitiated by an atonement which has been accomplished.
Similarly we do not have to say that we change the glory of God when we glorify him. God is just as much glorified by a glorification which is to be, as by a glorification which has been accomplished.
Page 30, last line on the page. I think you use the word “new” in a strange way and in a way not justified by the Scripture. I do not understand new as in any sense contrary to the eternal decrees of God. Again in the middle of the third paragraph on page 31 you use the word “new” as though it meant “not foreknown.”
Page 33. At the bottom of this page you describe the first sin of mankind as the denial of the theistic assumption. Of course you do not mean to deny what the Bible says of this sin as a deliberate conscious act of disobedience and rebellion. Now the only way I can harmonize these two conceptions is to suppose that you are unconsciously working upon the Greek assumption in ethics. The Greeks never got it through their heads that a man might really know what is right and do what is wrong. If they had been correct, then we should be correct also in assuming that whenever we see a person doing wrong, he is wrong in his logic as well as in his ethics. It seems to me that in order to follow your argument on page 33 one would not only have to assume that moral wrong involves logical wrong, but also one would have to assume that the sinner is perfectly consistent in his logic. Thus at the end of the first paragraph you say that the non-Christian viewpoint amounts to a denial of the existence of the eternal one and many as the presupposition of the existence and meaning of the finite one and many. Now there is much evidence to show that unbelievers, even atheists, have assumed that the Christian view of God and of Christ is after all correct, but their unbelief, or even their atheism, has been a matter of wilful rebellion against what they know and inadvertently confess to be the truth.
Page 34, first paragraph. In the center of this paragraph you say, “It would be completely self-contradictory for Eve to say that the devil was really a creature and that he might yet be right when his interpretation was the opposite of God’s interpretation.” I agree that the position of sin is self-contradictory and inconsistent. It seems to me far more reasonable to assume that Eve’s ethics contradicted her logic, than to assume that she had a fully consistent system of anti-theistic epistemology.
Page 34, third paragraph. Are you not begging the question when you say that the non-theistic presupposition is that the particulars in the universe are ultimate? This certainly is not the attitude of mind of many non-believing men of science. My teacher of chemistry, for example, was a Hebrew. We were very emphatically taught that chemistry does not deal with the question of the whence or the whither. Chemistry simply takes the tangible world and studies a certain set of phenomena within it. This particular teacher, going beyond chemistry, used to say that when we ask the question, Why is this so? the only answer is, This is so because God made it so. To assume that within certain
limits the intelligent mind of unsaved man by common grace can deal with the particulars of the universe, is not by any means to assume either that the particulars are, or are not, ultimate.
To assume that a Christian may talk with a non-Christian intelligently in regard to the particulars of the universe is not to assume neutrality in any sense of the word, but simply to assume that although the unsaved man by common grace does know some of the facts in some of their relationships, yet he is ignorant or rebellious in regard to the most important of all the relationships of the facts.
Page 34, third paragraph, below the middle of the paragraph. You say that the “factness” [actuality] of facts depends upon their having been created by God. I agree with this of course one hundred per cent, but this is not the same as saying that the recognition of facts in some limited relationships is dependent upon the recognition of their having been created by God.
In a certain church building in a little town in Indiana I saw a wire hanging through the ceiling of the vestibule. I simply did not know on what the wire was hung. The pastor of the church, however, had far more complete knowledge than I. I could observe the wire as such, in certain of its relationships. He knew the deeper and fuller significance of the wire and informed me that the wire was suspended from the swinging arm of the church bell. Now had I been disposed to argue, he could have talked with me on the basis of such facts as I could observe without for one minute surrendering the facts that he knew to be true. He could have argued that from my point of view in all probability the wire would have some such relationship and significance. To assume my point of view for the sake of the argument constructively would not be in any sense the same as renouncing his own correct understanding of the situation. This is Butler’s method.
Page 34, last four lines. This almost sounds like the doctrine of continuous creation, whereas the Bible seems clearly to indicate that the work of creation was finished and that God has completely ceased (rested) from it. I agree entirely with James Orr in opposition to Jonathan Edwards on this point. To say that the created world is thoroughly dependent upon the sustaining providence of God is of course correct, but I feel that if you were to add the further correct statement that God has in creation really made an objective universe which he does not intend to allow to pass out of existence until the day of judgment, you would not be led into the negative statement to which I so much object.
Page 35, paragraph two. Here are those negative statements in a nutshell. You seem to assume that the unsaved man cannot know any facts whatsoever. To say that “there is no appeal to what one thinks of as obvious facts which every sane person must recognize as facts,” not only undercuts the work of James Orr, Charles Hodge, and Robert Dick Wilson. Warfield also has to be thrown into the same waste basket. For example in his article on “God” in Davis’ Bible dictionary he argues simply, obviously, and directly from that which the unsaved man knows to that which he ought to accept. You are here discarding a very rich heritage. Hodge feels that he is on the common ground of orthodox tradition in his appeal to “quod semper quod ubique quod ab omnibus.” In fact if your argument is correct, the larger part of the evangelical appeal of the Bible will have to be abandoned. The heavens no longer declare the glory of God, for there is no human speech nor language in which their voice can be heard at all, except by those who are already saved. We can no longer use the text, “Come let us reason together; saith the Lord.” We shall have to regard the words of the Lord, “Believe me for the very works’ sake” as on mistaken epistemological ground. We shall have to rewrite the Epistle to the Romans for the invisible things of God, his eternal power and godhead, are not at all “clearly seen” and are not “understood through the things that are made.” We shall have to conclude, contrary to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that God used a very false method when he bore witness to the testimony of the apostles “with sighs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to his own will.”
I understand clearly that the rebellious man will allege that the evidences of God in the physical universe are merely of the class of wonders and are not true “signs” of, God’s existence and God’s wisdom. I feel however that vie have abundant grounds to think that we can show at least to some of the unsaved that there is a radical difference in kind. This difference can best be shown not by a linear logical argument but by bringing out the relationship between the facts considered in a narrow horizon and the facts .considered in the wider horizon of the general scheme of things.
Page 35, last three lines, and page 3.6, first paragraph. It almost seems to me here that you have a material conception of time, or at least that you regard time as a kind of substance or stuff or force. I agree of course that everything that does exist outside of God himself has been created by God* But I think you told me once in conversation that you do not consider the principle “that the whole of anything if and when anything exists, must be greater than any of its parts,” as a created fact. I think you would hold that this is simply a part of the truth which is in the nature of God. I do not believe that you would argue that in creation God created the fact that two units plus two units may be identified as being what they are. I do not think that you consider the law of identity, the law of contrariety, and the law of excluded middle as created laws. I think we talked these things over at lunch one day in New York. These laws seem to me, and to you also, I think, as merely parts of the truth which is in the nature of God.
Now to me time is nothing but the mere empty possibility that if and when anything takes place, it may take place in sequence or in a “before-after” relationship. This idea of time does not describe time as being any created thing, at all, but merely a part of the truth which is in the nature of God.
I know that the usage of the word “time” is dreadfully confused. Even my Webster’s Dictionary describes time not as the mere possibility of sequence but as “that in which sequence takes place.” According to this, time would be a certain “that which” or substance and therefore time would have to be regarded by Christians as a created thing. I prefer to say that the possibility of sequence is not a thing, but that the entire time-place continuum is a created thing.
Page 37, paragraph two, end of the paragraph. I agree that some men worship God, others worship sin, but according to Paul, others worship ignorantly “the unknown God.” I feel that the First Epistle to the Corinthians indicates that Paul definitely changed his method of approach after his address in the court of liars in Athens, but I do not feel that we are justified in saying that Paul was wrong in his Athenian address.
Commenting upon paragraph four of page 37, after my first reading, I wrote the following in the margin. “All human thought is analogical of God’s thought insofar as true. But a non-Christian may think truly sometimes within limits, and a Christian may think falsely sometimes. A non-Christian may think with some content of truth, while yet he falsely thinks that his thoughts are univocal,”
At this point in my dictating I have received your letter of February first in reply to mine of January thirtieth. I shall keep it in mind as I comment further upon your work.
Page 37, last sentence of last complete paragraph. It does not seem to me to be correct to say that non-Christians uphold the ultimacy of the created universe and the ultimacy of the mind of man itself. There are some forms of non-Christian thought which uphold the ultimacy of the created universe but there are other forms of non-Christian thought which are frankly ignorant on the point of ultimacy. There are some forms of non-Christian thought which hold to the ultimacy of the mind of man itself, but certainly pragmatism does not hold to the ultimacy even of the human intellect, nor indeed to the ultimacy of anything except perhaps its assumption that nothing is ultimate.
Page 40, first paragraph. Does this statement not depend upon the Greek assumption that ethics and epistemology are the same thing, or that one could not know the truth and at the same time reject it? Your statement that he could not even observe the objective aspects of revelation or know them to be what we claim that they are without being regenerated, would seem to me impossible except upon Socrates’ unconscious assumption that virtue and knowledge are fundamentally the same. As a matter of fact I believe there are many individuals who are intellectually convinced that the facts of revelation are what the Bible says they are, but who simply will not accept Christ and are not redeemed.
Page 40, paragraph six. Here you say, “If we ask men to become Christians we are asking them to deny everything they have believed hitherto.” This again strikes right at the heart of the difficulty. I do not believe that this statement is true, nor that it is in any degree defensible. I find also many other statements in your work which are to my mind completely contradictory to this one. I agree with what you have said in paragraph four above, on page 40, “We see the truth by grace alone,” but I insist upon what you have elsewhere implied that all men see some of the truth by common grace. In the middle of paragraph five on page forty you state, “The only possible argument between Christians and non-Christians is an ad hominem argument.” Now the word “ad hominem argument” describes two different kinds of argumentation: (l) An acceptance of a proposition which we know to be false, but
which we assume for the sake of argument in order to show our opponents that it is false. Now, if when we ask a man to become a Christian we ask him to deny everything he has believed hitherto, it must be this kind of ad hominem argument to which you refer. It must be that you mean that every inch of ground between us and the unbeliever is false ground. This I cannot accept. Is it not significant that some of the most fundamental principles of logic were developed by Aristotle?
There is (2) another use of tho word “ad hominem argument,” a phase sometimes described, an assumption of a truth or a partial truth which our opponents admit, in order to argue from this partial truth to a conclusion which our opponents inconsistently deny. If this is what you mean by ad hominem argument, then, of course, I agree. But this is not in harmony with what you say in page 40, paragraph six.
I agree with your statement in the middle of paragraph five. “We cannot admit to begin with that one man’s opinion is as good as another, unless we do this for argument’s sake.” I should not even admit such a thing for the sake of the argument. Butler does not admit for one moment that he may be wrong. He simply takes elements of truth common to the Christian and the non-Christian and argues upon the truth admitted by the non-Christian, up to at least the point of probability. Then he shows that if there is even a slight probability in favor of the gospel, the unbeliever is responsible for at least this degree of truth. Butler keeps firm hold of the rock all the time while he is dealing with the man in the whirlpool. Holding to the truth, we may recognize that a lost man may actually have some of the truth. We may then endeavor to persuade him to be consistent with such truth as he does possess.
Above I have taken exception to your statement that we ask the unbeliever to deny everything he has previously believed. I accept your next sentence, however, “We do ask the unbeliever to take a fundamentally different outlook upon life as a whole.”
Are we not much like citizens talking with strangers who have lost their way in our home city? When I came out of the Commonwealth Building tho other evening I was “turned around” and I started to go in the wrong direction. I had to make a fundamental change in my orientation. This is not to say, however, that I had to change everything which I believed in regard to the geography of the city of Philadelphia. Mr. Woolley simply told me in what direction lay the Broad Street Station. From that I knew immediately where to find my hotel. How the unsaved man with whom I have dealt are very much like that. They are going in an utterly wrong direction. They need a fundamental change in their whole outlook upon life, but this is not to say they are entirely wrong about all facts and relationships. If we can find some real truth to which they do adhere, it is perfectly legitimate and logical for us to start with that.
True, many unbelievers would say that even if a certain individual arose from the dead, that would not prove him to be our Saviour. But if the resurrection of Christ can be established as an historical fact, and then this fact can be shown to be in definite relationship with a long series of predictive prophecies, an integral part of an historical redemptive program, if the bodily resurrection of Christ can be shown to be an integral part of the scheme of things as a whole, much of which scheme our opponents admit to be true, in fact if we can convince them that the resurrection of Christ is a “sign” in the Scriptural sense of the word, a manifestation of supernatural power and a part of God’s redemptive program, we are using a perfectly valid method of instructing them unto salvation. In accepting Christ, of course, they must accept the fact that all facts in the universe are created.
Page 41, second paragraph. Opposite the center of this paragraph I wrote in the margin, at my first reading, “Amen! But this destroys his point.”
In the third from the last line in the above mentioned paragraph. I do not think you mean to use the phrase, “complete disintegration.” This would be inconsistent with the doctrine of eternal punishment.
Page 41, last complete paragraph. I thoroughly agree with your three points: (l) The total inability of the non-regenerate consciousness to accept the truth of Christianity; (2) The necessity for a consistent presentation; and (3) Reliance upon the grace of God, but this is not the same thing as denying that God will in his common grace use rational inference from truth known “after a fashion” in loading men to accept the Christian truth as a whole.
Page 42, last six lines of the first full paragraph. I deny that Butler or any of the rest of those whose fundamental method you reject, ever took the attitude of trying to find out whether or not their Christian theism was true. Butler’s attitude was simply that illustrated by saying, “Now you and I both know that the Robert Morris Hotel stands in a certain relationship to the Broad Street Station, but if you will look with me down this street you will see that it leads directly to the Broad Street Station. Therefore, you must turn directly around in order to reach the objective.” Butler’s reader answers that he cannot see quite as far as the Broad Street Station. Butler then shows by the direction of the traffic and other circumstances that he ought to accept at least as a probability that, which Butler knows for an absolute certainty. So therefore even Butler’s opponent is morally responsible for the direction he takes.
Page 42, the last four lines of the third complete paragraph and the first four lines of the paragraph which begins near the bottom of the page. With reference to your discussion of implication into the theistic universal and the Christian and non-Christian mode of analysis and synthesis, I should suggest that the proposition “Socrates is a man,” is true even though the statement “Socrates is a man created and providentially sustained by God,” is a far greater and far more significant truth. The former proposition is admitted by all. From this there is a perfectly logical metaphysical pathway leading directly to the theistic assumption, and arguments with the unsaved along this pathway are exemplified repeatedly in the Bible and in the very best Christian apologetics.
Page 43, first full paragraph. You say that the non-Christian denies the theistic a priori, and therefore he cannot mean the same thing by his terms which we mean when we use the same terms. Now the non-Christian may or may not deny the theistic assumption. He may be simply in doubt about the whole metaphysical and ontological
relationship of things, but even Democritus, who explained all things by chance relationships of the atoms means the same thing that we mean when we say “Socrates is a man,” although we immediately add to this very limited proposition, another proposition which is far greater and far more significant. It would not be illogical for us to say to Democritus, “Now since we agree that Socrates is a man, can you not see that all the lines of truth leading to and radiating from this noun ‘man’ lead by direct inference to the theistic postulate, and not to your postulate of chance.” If Democritus has a logical mind by common grace, and if he will listen long enough, we shall be able to show him the logic of our argument though he may not admit it, and he may go on deliberately teaching his philosophy of chance.
Page 44, the last part of this page and the first half of page 45. Paul says not only that these truths ought to be seen, but that they “are clearly seen…so that they are without excuse. And this seems to me a categorical contradiction of your statement on page 40 that we ask the unbeliever to deny everything which he has believed hitherto. On Paul’s argument we ask the unbeliever to accept consistently that which he has previously seen clearly enough but about which he has been very inconsistent.
Page 49, the first three lines. I cannot agree here. On the contrary it seems to me that every man by common grace has something of the Christian assumption in his thinking. Furthermore, Paul’s assumption of the original apostasy of mankind and more particularly of the gross darkness into which the heathen had fallen, is that they had originally a correct knowledge of God but “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” therefore “God gave them up to a reprobate mind.” I know non-Christian men whose epistemological assumptions are not at all contrary to the Christian faith. They are in a state of deliberate conscious rebellion against God.
This, I think, explains, the question which you raise in point number three in your letter of February first. The difficulty with the heathen is not a false epistemology not fundamentally their non-Christian assumptions in regard to the question of cosmogony or ontology. They are “without God” ethically but it is perfectly logical to present the gospel to them on the basis of such elements in their epistemology as are still sound.
Page 49, the middle of the second full paragraph. You would not hold, would you, that this is really correct exegesis of our Lord’s words in regard to the wheat and the tares?
Page 49, the end of the third full paragraph. I cannot harmonize your last sentence in this paragraph with what you say about the middle of page 45 in regard to our beginning the theistic argument “anywhere.” Perhaps I do not understand what you mean by limiting ourselves to the historical only.
Page 49, middle of the last paragraph. You say “we do most firmly maintain that if men would only reason straight they would be Christians.” Now this seems to me to cut directly at the foundations of ethics. You answer your own statement on page 55 where you admit that Satan knows and recognizes the existence of God and that the lost
in eternity will ultimately recognize God for what he is. If this is true ultimately how can you hold that this is untrue temporally. You very frequently assume that everyone, including Satan himself, is perfectly consistent with his assumptions (true or false), whereas sin seems to me to be wilfully, and often consciously inconsistent.
Page 50, last full paragraph. The argument from archaeology seems to me to have its chief value due to the fact that the great majority of mankind have a reasonably valid epistemology. Host people will admit that if the Bible can be thoroughly vindicated historically it may then reasonably be concluded to be true spiritually. A very large number of ordinary men have no :epistemological prejudice against theism but have hidden their sins behind supposed historical discrepancies in the Bible.
Archaeology, therefore, removes their only defenses, and leaves them face to face with accepting or rejecting the gospel. (Of course I agree with you that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that they are enabled to believe unto salvation.)
Of course, a non-Christian may refuse to believe the spiritual messages of the Bible in spite of archaeological evidence. So also your epistemology, which I personally consider very valuable, except in the one point frequently referred to, is totally rejected by Will Durant and John Dewey. Instrumentalism says there is no validity in logic or in epistemology of any kind.
Page 51, line three. I cannot follow you in the use of the words “no less than.” The writers of the gospels were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. We must surely distinguish between God’s action as a primary cause, and God’s action in sustaining a chain of secondary causality. The Westminster Standards teach that God is not the author of sin.
Page 51, third paragraph. I very heartily agree with all that you say here, but this does not mean that one who does not consciously accept theism cannot see any of the facts and relationships which exist in the created world. If this were the case, the ad hominem destructive argument would be just as futile as the constructive inductive argument from historical evidences.
Page 52, first paragraph. We grant that man has nothing whereon to stand outside of God’s providence; thought cannot hold together without God. But, God holds those facts together even for a man who denies him.
Page 52, second paragraph. So could not ask a question or even exist if God did not exist, but men can exist and ask questions without knowing that God exists.
Page 52, third paragraph. It seems to me that the first sentence in this paragraph is entirely untenable and is flatly contradicted by your next few sentences.
Page 55, last full paragraph, I have already commented in part upon this paragraph. Let me just ask one more question here. If Satan now has correct understanding of theism and yet remains Satan, why must we conclude that his ethics did not conflict with his epistemology in his becoming the devil? In the last sentence of this, paragraph you recognize that the lost will eventually recognize God for what he is, but this: would seem to contradict your statement on page 49, that if men reason correctly they would be Christians.
Page 56, next to the last paragraph. I agree that doubt is sin and that a Christian does not think of God as “probably” existing, but I do not feel that a Christian is wrong in attempting to lead an unbeliever up to the state of probability in a faith which for us is absolute. You practically admit this in your next paragraph but this is admitting the validity of Butler’s argument.
Page 56, last paragraph. About the middle of this paragraph you admit that we might for the sake of the argument place ourselves in our opponents’ position In order to see what “happens,” but unless we assume that our opponent has some truth upon which we may begin to argue, nothing happens ‘ It is just as impossible for us to move destructively as to move constructively. Everything falls to pieces as soon as, or before, we say the first word. The ad hominen argument is just as impossible as the “real” or inductive and constructive argument. On the other hand the genuine constructive argument, like the argument from historical evidences, is just as possible as the ad hominum argument. I cannot see the slightest possibility of any grounds for your making this distinction. Either we find some truth in our opponent’s mind and from this we argue constructively as well as destructively, or else if we find no truth with which to begin, we cannot argue at all in either direction,
Page 57, line ten. I do not like to say that God is “absolute rationality.” I prefer to say that God is “absolutely rational” or “perfectly rational,” or that “truth is fundamental in the nature of God.”
Page 58, last paragraph. I wonder whether you do not misunderstand some of your friends, Butler, for example. I do not feel that Christians “frequently1 assume neutral attitude. Orr and Hodge certainly do not. They merely try to find some common ground of truth for the sake of the argument constructively as well as destructively.
In the seventh line of this paragraph I cannot agree that the non-Christian theory of reality presupposes that there is no logic that precedes history. On the contrary, if I understand Plato and Spinoza correctly, they assume that logic precedes history, but they are not Christian philosophers on that account.
Page 55, end of the second paragraph, I cannot agree that God must be regarded as “a timeless being.” Vos does not find anywhere in the Bible any text which clearly teaches that God’s existence is timeless. What possible Scriptural foundation can there be for such a conception?
Pa&e 59, last paragraph. If the non-Christian does see that his starting point and his methods are involved in his conclusion, he may still be far from Christian theism. He may admit that reality is predetermined, but he may turn to Spinoza rather than to Christ.
Page 68, end of the first full paragraph. I have discussed above this question of incomprehensibility and necessary paradox.
In the second sentence of the next paragraph I agree of course that there are no real contradictions in God’s created universe, but I do not like to call the decrees of God “his analytical judgment.” The decrees of God include “whatsoever comes to pass,” but decreeing future events is one thing and analytically judging is another.
Page 75, ninth line from the bottom. This is a difficulty I have noticed before. Do you mean to say that our knowledge “is” true, or merely that our knowledge “may be” true?
Page 78, end of the third paragraph. The sense world includes the Bible as well as the light of nature. Certainly from the Bible we can derive correct information. Thus we are not excluded from an argument beginning in the sense world. In the Bible we often find an argument beginning with the light of nature itself, leading up to the theistic conclusion.
Page 82, lines one and two. Here you have time as a created stuff or at least as a created container for the universe.
The individual soul does not act as an ultimate cause in one sense because the individual soul is created, but if we are to believe in personal responsibility, then it follows that the individual soul is created by God to initiate certain ethical motions. This was done once for the race in Adam.
Line four. By the word “unconsciously” I suppose you mean without the conscious foreknowledge of God.
Page 85, end of first full paragraph. I like your illustration of the prodigal very much. I am sorry to say that the last half of page 96 and the first part of page 96 are missing in my copy.
Page 102, fifth paragraph. The allegorical method of interpretation is of course quite a different thing from the mystical attitude in epistemology, allegorism being sometimes employed by mystics and sometimes by those who are not mystics. My antagonism to mysticism and idealism leads me to shrink from applying the word magnificent to the system of Plotinus.
Page 103, last paragraph. Is not the phrase “conquer this world for Christ…” a hangover from a postmillennial vocabulary?
Page 102, fifth paragraph. The allegorical method of interpretation is of course quite a different thing from the mystical -attitude in epistemology, allegorism being sometimes employed by mystics and sometimes by those who are not mystics. My antagonism to mysticism and idealism leads me to shrink from applying the word magnificent to the system of Plotinus.
Page 103, last paragraph. Is not the phrase “conquer this world for Christ…” 9, hangover from a postmillennial vocabulary?
Paul does demand a completely revolutionary faith but he does not hold that his pagan hearers are “in the lie, in falsehood” totally. There are many illustrations of Paul’s building upon such truth as his hearers had.
Page 107, first paragraph. I have commented above upon the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son.
Page 107, second paragraph. I have commented above upon your use of the phrase mixing the eternal and the temporal.
Page 108, paragraph three. In the center of this paragraph you seem to imply that according to the Christian view God is not “absolutely other” than his universe. Are you not allowing pantheistic vocabulary to creep in here? Is it not fundamental to the Christian view that God is absolutely other than his creation? “Other” does not mean “unrelated to” but does mean distinctively “objective to.”
Page 112, line fourteen from the bottom. “His very interpretation has brought them into existence” savors too much of Bordon P. Bowne in my opinion. Bowne’s idealism teaches that what we call objective reality exists only in the mind and thought of God. I realize however that you use “interpretation” sometimes as synonymous with “decrees.”
Page 113, middle of the page. I have previously commented on your use of the phrase “intermingling of the temporal and the eternal.”
Page 114, bottom of the page. I have previously commented on your use of the word “orthodox.”
Page 115, second complete paragraph. Your use of the words “absolutely personal environment” sounds like Bowne’s idealistic personalism. 1 know of course that you do not teach that the created universe is personal.
Page 115, last paragraph. I have previously commented upon your teaching to the effect that apparent contradiction or paradox is a necessity in human thinking. I have also previously commented upon your interpretation of the first sin of man as being a striving for comprehensive knowledge.
Page 116, next to the last line. “An absolutely personal conception of reality” reminds me too much of Bowne.
Page 117, paragraphs three and four. Here you refer to man’s proximate environment as being “to a large extent impersonal” and you object to the thought that reality exists “to some extent beyond” God. Ought we not to say that man’s proximate environment is distinctly non-personal and has been created to be distinctly outside of God’s own personal existence?
Page 118, second paragraph. I have previously commented upon your phrase “mixture of the eternal and temporal.”
Page 119, fifth and sixth lines from the bottom. I have previously commented upon your teaching that human thought must be apparently, contradictory.
Page 120, first paragraph. I am ashamed to say that I have never read Paley’s “Evidences” but I am sure that you have misread Butler. The latter never admits for one moment that he may be wrong in his Christian theism. He triers to induce the unbelieving reader to conclude that what Christians regard as absolutely certain, is at least probable even on the basis of consistent argument from such scraps of truth as the unbeliever has.
With reference to the last sentence of this paragraph of yours, is probability really contradictory of certainty? When I am certain of a thing disputed by a friend, I do not give up my certainty when I lead him to see the probability that I am correct.
Page 120, second paragraph. About the middle of this paragraph you say “We can place ourselves upon the opponent’s position for argument’s sake only. We ask men to see what happens. . .” Not it seems to me that if we should really place ourselves in our opponent’s logical position in the argument, and if that position is a perfectly consistent anti-theism, then nothing happens for we cannot utter one word either positively or negatively upon the perfectly consistent anti-theistic assumption.
Page 122 f. Your quotation from Calvin seems to me to destroy your own argument. Calvin’s order of logic is distinctly from first surveying one’s self in an incomplete way to “forthwith turning his thoughts toward God.” “Every person therefore on coming to a knowledge of himself is not only urged to seek God, but is led as by the hand to find him,” is certainly an argument from the particulars of this created world to Christian theism.
Of course Calvin also points out that the particulars of this created universe cannot be fully and correctly understood except from the theistic point of view.
It does not seem to me that what Calvin says in chapter one of the Institutes bears out your statement that Calvin “knows that unless he [man] connects himself with God at once he cannot do so afterward.”
Page 123, third paragraph. One need not hold that the knowledge transaction is complete on the created level in order to hold that it is valid as far as it goes.
Page 125, last paragraph. Are you sure that Calvin teaches that “one cannot think of the human mind at any time as distinct from God” or does he teach that one ought not so to think and cannot so think he is perfectly consistent?
Both Hodge and Flint discuss the theory of innate ideas as related to Des Cartes’ philosophy. I am no authority on Des Cartes but are you sure you are correct in saying that Des Cartes’ teaching that God gives us the innate ideas is “an after-thought”?
Page 127, fourth paragraph. I heartily agree with your statement concerning Spinoza’s system of pantheism.
Page 133, second paragraph. I do not know just what you mean by “the creative theory of divine thought.” It sounds too much like Bowne’s idealism. Certainly for God to think is not the same as creating.
Page 134, middle of the page. I have previously commented upon your teaching of the incomprehensibility of God.
Page 134, last four lines. I agree that there is no knowledge at all unless God exists, but this is not the same as saying-that there is no knowledge in the mind of a man who does not know that God exists.
Page 138, last five lines. This sounds again very much like Bowne’s epistemology and metaphysics.
Page 140, next to the last paragraph. I have previously commented upon this sentence. You certainly use the vocabulary of idealism to express Christian truth more than seems wise in my humble judgment.
Page 140, last paragraph, and page 141 second paragraph. The ultimacy of time in the sense of mere possibility of “before-after”in the nature of God, is not the same as “the ultimacy of the time-world.” No one is more emphatic than I in teaching that the time-world is created and utterly dependent.
Page 144, last paragraph. I thoroughly agree that this world is not in any sense contingent, but this is not the same as saying that this world does not contain actual sequence and that God is not conscious of this sequence which he has created. Charles Hodge makes a strong distinction between that which is contingent, that which is necessitated, and that which is certain.
Page 146, first five lines. Bowne did not react against idealism. He was distinctly and openly an idealist.
Page 146, fourth paragraph. Bowne strenuously fought against pantheism but it always seemed to me that his system would sweep anyone straight into pantheism. Now, Knudson and Brightman are clearly teaching pantheism.
[* Knudson, Albert Cornelius (1873-Aug. 28, 1953) and Brightman, Edgar Sheffield (1884-1953), both Methodist theologians.]