We have already indicated that the best apologetic defense will invariably be made by him who knows the system of truth of Scripture best. The fight between Christianity and non-Christianity is, in modern times, no piece-meal affair. It is the life-and-death struggle between two mutually opposed life-and-world views. The non-Christian attack often comes to us on matters of historical, or other, detail. It comes to us in the form of objections to certain teachings of Scripture, say, with respect to creation, etc. It may seem to be simply a matter of asking what the facts have been. Back of this detailed attack, however, is the constant assumption of the non-Christian metaphysics of the correlativity of God and man. He who has not been trained in systematic theology will often be at a loss as to how to meet these attacks. He may be quite proficient in warding off the attack as far as details are concerned, but he will forever have to be afraid of new attacks as long as he has never removed the foundation from the enemy’s position.
It should not be forgotten in this connection that the minister’s duty is increasingly that of an apologist for Christianity. The general level of education is higher than it has ever been. Many young people hear of evolution in the high schools and in the colleges where their fathers never heard of it except as a far distant something. If the minister would be able to help his young people, he must be a good apologete, and he cannot be a good apologete unless he is a good systematic theologian.
The propaganda of orthodoxy seems to be limited almost exclusively to evangelization in the narrow sense of the term. When this propaganda turns to teaching as a means, it all too frequently employs uncritically the conceptions of “reason” and “fact” as these are understood by those who make no profession of Christianity. The result is that there is no teaching of Christianity as a challenge to unbelief. Revivalists ought to make themselves unnecessary as quickly as possible. Orthodoxy must take over the teaching function of the church anew, and do it with a better knowledge of the requirements of that work than ever before.
It goes without saying that if all these benefits are to come to us as ministers and as a church, we must undertake our work in a spirit of deep dependence upon God and in a spirit of prayer that he may use us as his instruments for his glory.
- Introduction to Systematic Theology, Cornelius Van Til, 23-25↩
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