Independent formulation of faith is nothing but the criticism of an individual mind, which cuts itself loose from the communion of saints, takes its stand proudly over against the power of history, and cherishes faith in its own leading by the Holy Ghost but not in the guidance of the Holy Ghost in the Church of Christ. As a protest against this the name of Dogmatological group demands that Dogma, as a result of history, shall be taken as one’s starting-point, and that in its central interpretation and in each of its subdivisions this Dogma shall be examined critically and ever again be tested by the Holy Scripture, in order that in this way at the same time its further development may be promoted.
Precisely because Christianity rests on revelation, it has a content which, while not in conflict with reason, yet greatly transcends reason; even a divine wisdom, which appears to the world foolishness. If revelation did not furnish such a content, and comprised nothing but what reason itself could sooner or later have discovered, it; would not be worthy of its name. Revelation is a disclosure of the μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ. What neither nature nor history, neither mind nor heart, neither science nor art can teach us, it makes known to us,—the fixed, unalterable will of God to rescue the world and save sinners, a will at variance with well-nigh the whole appearance of things. This will is the secret of revelation. In creation God manifests the power of his mind; in revelation, which has redemption for its centre, he discloses to us the greatness of his heart.
– Herman Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation: The Stone Lectures for 1908-1909, Princeton Theological Seminary (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908), 25-26. (Read online at Google Books and Internet Archive.)
It would be pure illusion if one should imagine he could convince his opponents in a purely theoretic way that a starting point in itself is true or false. For in that question are concerned the thinker’s religious convictions, which as sure are not capable of theoretic discussion. Here can avail only an absolute standard of truth, offered in Revelation. And the convincing power of the Word of God is not that of theoretic demonstration.
– Herman Dooyeweerd, Transcendental Problems of Philosophic Thought: An inquiry into the transcendental conditions of philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948), viii.
No-human being can escape making an assumption about the nature of possibility at the outset of his investigation. All men have a priori assumptions in terms of which they approach the facts that confront them. The Christian frankly admits that his a priori is the assumption of the existence of the ontological Trinity, the temporal fiat creation of the universe, and man’s creation in the image of God. The non-Christian has a different sort of a priori. Every non-Christian has an a priori. And the a priori of every non-Christian is different, radically different, from that of the Christian.
Books by Van Til
Both deistic and pantheistic types of philosophy are immanentistic. Both try to worship the creature rather than the creator. Yet, as we have seen before, men have recognized something of the insufficiency of the immanentistic principle. They have demanded a beyond. The nations have been incorrigibly religious. The sensus deitatis (sense of deity) has been deeply ingrained in men, says Calvin, and the seed of religion has been so fixed in their being that they have tried in vain to remove the knowledge of God from their hearts.
Books by Van Til
Nothing can be done with a handful of proof texts. Dogma has to be built, not on a few isolated texts, but on SScripture in its entirety. It must arise organically from the principles that are everywhere present for that purpose in Scripture. The doctrines of God, of humanity, of sin, of Christ, etc., after all, are not to be found in a few pronouncements but are spread throughout Scripture and are contained, not only in a few proof texts, but also in a wide range of images and parables, ceremonies and histories. No part of Scripture may be neglected. The whole of Scripture must prove the whole system.
In connection with the fact of sin, from which the whole antithesis between truth and falsehood is born, this phenomenon presents itself in such a form that one recognizes the fact of sin, and that the other denies it or does not reckon with it. Thus what is normal to one is absolutely abnormal to the other. This establishes for each an entirely different standard. And where both go to work from such subjective standards, the science of each must become entirely different, and the unity of science is gone. The one cannot be forced to accept what the other holds as truth, and what according to his view he has found to be truth.
Thus, taken by itself, the triumph of Scepticism ought to result from this, and Pilate’s exclamation, “What is truth,” should be the motto of highest wisdom. But the process of history is a protest against this. However often Scepticism has lifted up its head, it has never been able to maintain a standing for itself, and with unbroken courage and indefatigable power of will thinking humanity has ever started out anew upon the search after truth. And this fact claims an explanation.
Books by Abraham Kuyper
All human beings by nature recognize the supernatural. Naturalism, like atheism, is an invention of philosophy but has no support in human nature. As long as religion is integral to the essence of our humanity, so long will human beings be and remain supernaturalists. All believers, regardless of their particular persuasion, though they may be naturalists in their head, are supernaturalists in their heart.
Dogmatics shows us how God, who is all-sufficient in himself, nevertheless glorifies himself in his creation, which, even when it is torn apart by sin, is gathered up again in Christ (Eph. 1:10). It describes for us God, always God, from beginning to end–God in his being, God in his creation, God against sin, God in Christ, God breaking down all resistance through the Holy Spirit and guiding the whole of creation back to the objective he decreed for it: the glory of his name. Dogmatics, therefore, is not a dull and arid science. It is a theodicy, a doxology to all God’s virtues and perfections, a hymn of adoration and thanksgiving, a “glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
The imperative task of the dogmatician is to think God’s thoughts after him and to trace their unity. His work is not finished until he has mentally absorbed this unity and set it forth in a dogmatics. Accordingly, he does not come to Gods revelation with a ready-made system in order, as best he can, to force its content into it. On the contrary, even in his system a theologian’s sole responsibility is to think God’s thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in the thoughts of God and has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture. That such a unity exists in the knowledge of God contained in revelation is not open to doubt; to refuse to acknowledge it would be to fall into skepticism, into a denial of the unity of God.