C.S. Lewis and Moose Tracks Ice Cream

Over the last few weeks, we have been discussing natural law — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Jim Jordan kicked things off by attacking The Calvinist International at the Auburn Avenue conference, and I wrote a few posts on the subject, including an outline of my own debt to C.S. Lewis, and my derivative gratitude for the work of Van Til.

So the debate now continues. Peter Escalante and Steven Wedgeworth have now replied to Jim here. In addition, just as I did, Steven gives an account of his intellectual pilgrimage here. We all travel different paths, but we ascend the same mountain.

That’s what natural law leads to, right? A syncretistic swirl of paganism and Christianity, like moose tracks ice cream? The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient, that kind of thing?

Not really. I think this is a fruitful topic for debate because it concerns the nature of reality, and our access to that reality. For every Christian who lives downstream from Kant, I think this is an issue that should concern us much more than it usually does. We shouldn’t want to live in a generic universe, ruled over by the place-holder god of the secular deists, on the one hand, but on the other we must not duplicate (in our own fashion) the liberal Protestant “retreat to commitment” that Bartley dissects so ably.

So that you don’t have to read between the lines, here is my summary take on the whole thing. As far as relationships go, Jim Jordan is a friend, Peter Escalante is a friend, and Steven Wedgeworth is a friend, so that won’t help you much. I could leave it there, but as far as the substance of this discussion goes, I have much greater affinity with the outlook of The Calvinist International than I do with thoroughbred Van Tilianism. My most recent book, Against the Church, is dedicated to Peter and Steven for their work at The Calvinist International, so that should give you some idea.

One last thing. These really are crucial issues, and so as we debate them, I would urge everyone to keep a cool head. When outsiders look at us, they should think “hotbed of cool customers,” or something equivalent. I commend Peter and Steven for the measured response, and look forward to what shakes out of all this.

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caine
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caine

Doug, I still have my dog eared copy of persuasions (the one where it was Mis-spelled on the binding). Loved it! Amazing you had not read Van Til before writing it!!

RFB
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RFB

I read the linked articles. I am not erudite by any creditable standard; I am treading water (and breathing hard) trying to assimilate what is posted here. The link to Messrs. Escalante and Wedgeworth left my knuckles bleeding as I ran to keep up. But it was enjoyable.

Mike Sweeney
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Mike Sweeney

Hi Doug, is it as simple as acknowledging that classical arguments for the existence of God merely disprove atheism, but do not prove God’s existence? Had Kant considered the existence of nothing in his critique of the ontological argument, and the sense of where, “we are completely ignorant whether it is to be met within us or outside us,” we might not be having this disagreement today.

jay niemeyer
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jay niemeyer

I haven’t even read this blog post yet, but I hereby declare it the best of 2014 for the simple fact that the title contains both “C.S. Lewis” and “Moose Tracks”.
 

P Anselmo
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P Anselmo

Pastor Wilson,
Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Peter E. and Stephen W. kicked things off by attacking their conception of Van Til on The Calvinist International? 
Additionally, this fall I had a conversation with Peter E. and at the time he told me that he could “not stand Van Til”. When you say, “We all travel different paths, but we ascend the same mountain”, do you mean to associate with this sentiment upon that path?
It is my understanding that these gentlemen do not genuinely appreciate Van Til’s presuppositionalism one bit. 

Dan
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Dan

Mike Sweeney, good question: “Is it as simple as acknowledging that classical arguments for the existence of God merely disprove atheism, but do not prove God’s existence?”  Personally, I prefer to assert that classical arguments do in fact prove God’s existence, but they do not lead one to believe in the triune God of the Bible.  As I have stated in prior comments, evidential apologetics can only take us so far.  It cannot (by itself) bring one from spiritual death into spiritual life (i.e. to “saving” faith).  However, evidential apologetics is still useful (and vital) for two reasons: 1) for solidifying the intellectual foundation for those already in the… Read more »

Dan
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Dan

Mike Sweeney, I also wanted to make a point about Kant.  As brilliant as Kant was, his conclusion about not being able to “know God in Himself” is only true if one holds to “pure reason” unaffected by special revelation.  In effect, Kant’s view can be defined as “practical atheism”.  However, as a Christian, I believe God can, and does, intervene in our lives and accommodate Himself toward us through the Holy Spirit (i.e. special revelation).  Of course, Kant did not subscribe to this view.  Neither did David Hume, but for different reasons.  At least Kant accepted theism, whereas Hume did not.  But Kant’s theism was not a Biblical view of God,… Read more »

Steven Wedgeworth
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Steven Wedgeworth

Pastor Wilson,  Thanks very much for the plug and the kind words. Speaking for myself, I am very appreciative of John Frame and find his modifications of Van Til to all be very helpful. I would have my own distinct spin on things, and I am still closer to Lewis, but I don’t have any major objection to Frame’s brand of presuppositionalism when it comes to those basis questions of metaphysics and epistemology. Frame is also certainly very supportive of common-ground interaction and meeting people where they are.  Of course, I think it is also important to note that Van… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

Hi Dan, thanks for the response. In the spirit of my journey, over 10 years ago I began to question the historicity Jesus while thinking I could still know God through a philosophical argument. With a mind reeling, the question of my relationship to this necessary being came up and I couldn’t answer that one. After finishing my stint at the community college, I began a philosophy undergrad program at the local university and began to connect the dots with Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. Got a few interesting looks from my professors along the way. God has been more than… Read more »

Dan
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Dan

Hi Mike, thanks for sharing part of your spiritual journey!  It’s always good to hear when someone comes to know the Lord.  Godspeed, my friend.