Advance Your Understanding of Reformed Apologetics: Enroll in Our Fellowship Program
Reformed Forum’s Fellowship in Reformed Apologetics is a unique academic program offering intensive training in the tradition of Cornelius Van Til. The program is dedicated to fostering a rigorous and collaborative learning environment in order to produce theological leadership for the Church. Designed with flexibility in mind, this program adapts to the needs of each student—from full-time workers without formal theological education to postdoctoral students seeking an advanced research opportunity.
This is not a degree program. Nonetheless, students and faculty alike will benefit from a collegial community actively engaged in lectures, critical reading, and seminar discussions. Students who complete the program will demonstrate a thorough understanding of Reformed apologetics through original research in service of the Church.
Expand Your Theological Knowledge through Cohorts & Study Groups
A small group of students will meet regularly to discuss lectures and readings with faculty members in a format inspired by traditional PhD/ThM seminars. Two courses are now available. As we produce additional courses in the curriculum, we will establish cohorts for each course.
In this course, students will learn the foundational features of Cornelius Van Til’s theology and apologetic by analyzing key doctrines through primary source readings. These features will be situated biographically as well as historically within Van Til’s ecclesiastical and ecumenical context. This course provides a compass for the entire fellowship program by covering in broad strokes the material for each of the program’s other courses.
Designed to equip the student to engage critically central issues in trinitarian theology, this course will focus on the architectonic significance of the Trinity both in Van Til’s theology and apologetics. Special attention will be given to Van Til’s historical and theological context, his theology of triune personhood, the structure and function of the representational principle, the distinctively trinitarian character of the transcendental method, and his rejection of all species of correlativism, ranging from Karl Barth to contemporary expressions of Evangelical mutualism.
Doctrine of Revelation
This course will address Cornelius Van Til’s doctrine of revelation. Topics will include the following: (1) the implications of the self-contained and immutable Trinity for a doctrine of revelation in the work of creation and in the special act of providence in covenantal condescension; (2) the distinctive character of natural revelation and the natural knowledge of God in Reformed theology, set in comparison and contrast to the views of Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth; (3) the relation between natural and supernatural, or general and special revelation, giving special attention to Van Til’s key essay, “Nature and Scripture"; (4) the Vosian doctrine of eschatology as it bears upon the distinction and the relation of God's revelation in nature and God's revelation in covenant (and in Scripture).The course will give sustained attention to a close reading of central primary sources in Van Til's corpus that bear on his doctrine of the revelation of the self-contained Trinity in nature and in covenant.
Common Grace and the Antithesis
This course will explore Cornelius Van Til’s theology of common grace within his historical and polemical context. Topics will include Van Til’s philosophy of history, the point of contact in the apologetic encounter with the unbeliever, the myth of neutrality, and the history of the common grace debates within the Christian Reformed Church. Special attention will be given to Van Til’s theology of earlier and later grace in light of (a) the particularism and immutability of the triune God’s the eternal decree and (b) the universalism and mutability of Adam the covenant of works.
This course will consider Cornelius Van Til’s distinctive presuppositional or transcendental approach to defending Christian Theism as a unit. Van Til’s indirect argument by presupposition will be set in contrast to other approaches that use a block-house methodology and seek to offer rational and probabilistic arguments for theism and Christianity. Special attention will be given to the Reformed theological and exegetical foundations that regulate Van Til’s presuppositional or transcendental method and the use of evidence in a presuppositional apologetic.
Christology, Redemptive History, and Hermeneutics
This course will explore Van Til's doctrine of the person and work of Christ in polemical engagement with modern christological alternatives. Topics will include a presentation of Van Til's doctrine of the hypostatic union, with an intensive focus on the personalizing relation between the immutable person of the Son and his assumed humanity, along with the bearing of the eternal Son's preexistence on his revelation in redemptive history. Special attention will be given to Van Til's most programmatic treatment of Christology in his neglected but important volume, The Great Debate Today, a work that showcases his sustained appropriation of the pioneering work of Geerhardus Vos and Herman Ridderbos in stunning application to Rudolph Bultmann's so-called program of demythologization. The course concludes with a biblical exposition and pastoral application of Van Til's theology and hermeneutic of the "self-attesting and self-interpreting Christ" of Scripture.
Van Til and Barth
This course will offer extensive exposition and sustained theological critique of Karl Barth from a confessionally Reformed perspective. Dr. Cassidy surveys Barth scholarship, analyzes Barth’s doctrines of revelation, God, and reconciliation, and connects his analysis to the pioneering critique offered by Cornelius Van Til. Dr. Tipton deals with Barth’s doctrine of creation as it is centered on the primordial event of Jesus Christ in which God and man participate together in a transcendent time (Geschicte). Dr. Tipton then sets Barth’s dialectical and mutualist view over against a Vosian approach as enriched by Meredith Kline’s theology of Endoxation. Special attention is given to a close reading and a focused engagement with Barth’s Church Dogmatics as both Cassidy and Tipton demonstrate and extend the value of Van Til’s penetrating critique of Barth’s deeper modernist conception.
This course will examine Van Til’s exposition and critique of transcendental idealism (Kant) and absolute idealism (Hegel). The course will begin with an overview Van Til’s critique of various forms of post-Enlightenment idealism. The thesis will emerge that against both transcendental and absolute forms of idealism, of which both entail distinct forms of correlativism, Van Til set forth Reformed Trinitarianism and federalism as a comprehensive alternative. The course will then focus on Kantian transcendental idealism and reflect on Van Til’s vigorous rejection of Kant’s conception of dimensionalism, as well as his notions of theoretical and practical reason. Next, the course will proceed to give sustained and detailed attention to Hegel’s absolute idealism and reflect on Van Til’s comprehensive rejection of Hegelian correlativism. The course will conclude with a summary of Van Til’s doctoral dissertation and explore his argument that idealism is antithetical to Christian theism, since it reduces to pragmatism. Special attention will be given to reading relevant primary sources with critical understanding.