There's Van Til antithesis again
It was in the interest of antithesis that Van Til wrote his first major classroom syllabus, now entitled A Survey of Christian Epistemology, stating that, "It is necessary to become clearly aware of the deep antithesis between the two main types of epistemology," Christian and non-Christian. It was in the interest of antithesis that Van Til published his first major book on the "Crisis Theology" of Barth and Brunner, entitled The New Modernism, hoping to alert the Christian church to the fact that Barth's dialectical theology was fundamentally one with modernistic theology -- and that "the new Modernism and the old alike are destructive of historic Christian theism and with it of the significant meaning of human experience."
At War With the Word: The Necessity of Biblical Antithesis
It was with the interest of a proper understanding of antithesis that Van Til, in the next year, published his second book on the subject of Common Grace, where the fundamental premise was that "the believer and the non-believer differ at the outset of every self-conscious investigation." And perhaps the most memorable section of Van Til's basic text in apologetics, The Defense of the Faith, is precisely his treatment of the mock dialogue in which Mr. Grey, the evangelical apologist, does not appreciate, to his detriment, the significance of the philosophical antithesis between belief and unbelief.
This theme of the principial, epistemological and ethical antithesis between the regenerate, Bible-directed mind of the Christian and the autonomous mind of the sinner (whether expressed by the avowed unbeliever or by the unorthodox modern theologian), remained part of Van Til's distinctive teaching throughout his career. Indeed, his festschrift bears the pertinent title Jerusalem and Athens -- based on Tertullian's famous antithetical quip "what indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?"
Spiritual Antithesis: Common Grace, and Practical …
Van Til put a considerably greater emphasis on the radical between the believer and the unbeliever with respect to epistemic and ethical norms (although the fact that Van Til saw this antithesis as one of rather than is often neglected even by his would-be advocates, to the detriment of the Van Tilian cause). From my reading of Plantinga, I surmise that he would endorse this perspective , but would by no means be comfortable with Van Til's more extreme formulations of the matter. (I make no comment here on the motivation of either party for their positions on this vexed issue!)
How we handle the intersection of the spiritual antithesis, ..
One of Van Til's students, T. Grady Spires, now professor of philosophy at Gordon College, Wenham MA, says of him, "Every student of Van Til can instantly recall the characteristic Van Tillian blackboard graffiti: the foremost symbols being two circles, a big one for the creator, the other for creation with no ontological bridge between. The entire history of philosophy or Christian thought, including most heresy, would be strewn in names and phrases across the board. . . . The consumption of chalk and the whir of ideas were symptomatic of an excitement generated not from brilliant eruditions, though some of his skyrocketing digressions could be called that, but from the strong and systematic emphasis on the antithesis between a biblical world and life view and the several intellectual scientific versions of the carnal mind. Students began to see how far-reaching were the differences between believer and non-believer."
Spiritual Antithesis: Common Grace, and Practical Theology
The OPC has benefited mightily from the antithetical posture of Machen and Van Till. When tempted to compromise its Reformed identity for the sake of wider influence and outreach, either by forming alliances with non-Reformed Protestants or by confusing the spheres of the church and the state, the OPC has by God's grace insisted upon the otherworldly nature of the gospel and, thus, the anti-worldly character of the church. Is the situation today any different from that faced by Machen and Van Til? No matter what one's assessment of the culture in which the OPC now ministers, the antithesis is no less a reality now than it was for the early church. As Machen wrote, the antithesis was the "great principle" of the church and it continually needed "to be taken to heart." And he warned that "if the sharp distinction is ever broken down between the church and the world, then the power of the church is gone. The church then becomes like salt that lost its savour...."
In Antithesis A Journal Of Apologetics – 864981 – …
The conclusion I wish to draw from this discussion is that the "antithetical" nature of Christianity calls for a presuppositional method of defending the faith. According to Dr. Van Til, "the antithesis" revealed in the Bible must be pressed with unbelievers in order to guard Christianity's uniqueness, exclusivity, and indispensability.