The Trinitarian Theology of Cornelius Van Til
by Lane G. Tipton (foreword by R. Carlton Wynne)
Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) offered a confessionally Reformed doctrine of the Creator-creature relation that stands out as distinct in contrast to both traditional Roman Catholic and contemporary Barthian alternatives. His Trinitarian theology of the Creator-creature relation supplied a pioneering enrichment of Reformed theology in the traditions of Old Princeton and Old Amsterdam.
In this volume, Lane G. Tipton interprets Van Til in his own historical and polemical context and demonstrates how the immutably dynamic life of the self-contained Trinity bears upon God’s relation to Adam in the work of creation, the act of special providence in covenant, and the person and eternal Son in the event of incarnation.
Tipton argues that Van Til’s Trinitarian theology deepens confessionally Reformed Trinitarianism and federalism in contrast to medieval Thomistic and modern Barthian theological alternatives. In a period marked by theological decline, he strives to clarify and extend confessional Reformed Trinitarian and federal theology in the service of the church’s union and communion with the immutable person of the crucified and ascended Christ of Scripture.
Lane G. Tipton (MDiv, Westminster Seminary California; PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is pastor of Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pennsylvania and Fellow of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Reformed Forum.
Dr. Tipton is the author of Foundations of Covenant Theology: A Biblical-Theological Study of Genesis 1–3 and teaches the Fellowship in Reformed Apologetics, a comprehensive curriculum on the theology and apologetics of Cornelius Van Til.
He is a frequent panelist on the Christ the Center podcast and most notably, its Vos Group series in which he discusses Geerhardus Vos’ Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments.
Over recent years, a number of problematic doctrines of God have emerged from among those who profess to be faithful representatives of the thought of Cornelius Van Til. For those like myself who stand outside the Van Tilian tradition, this has proved perplexing and indeed somewhat disturbing, given the status of Van Til within American confessional Presbyterianism. The question of whether Van Til offers a doctrine of God faithful to the Bible and the Westminster Confession is for us not simply a matter of historical curiosity but of theological and ecclesiastical moment. And so this volume by my friend and former colleague, Lane Tipton, is to be welcomed as a clear and thoughtful contribution to clarifying the relevant issues. The orthodox Trinitarian doctrine of God is foundational to orthodox Christianity and this exposition and defense of Van Til on this is one that should be read and pondered by all who care for the confessional integrity of those churches that look to him as an authority.
Carl R. Trueman
Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College
In this latest work Dr. Tipton offers a reliable guide to the trinitarian thought of Cornelius Van Til. This careful study, the product of decades-long gestation, serves in turn to deepen, correct, and develop scholarship in the Van Tilian tradition. No one who wants to understand Van Til’s theology, or the history of early Westminster, can afford to ignore it, or will read it without profit.
Chad Van Dixhoorn
Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
Geerhardus Vos stated that, although John Calvin mentioned frequently the covenants, Calvin’s theology was built on the basis of the Trinity. In The Trinitarian Theology of Cornelius Van Til, Lane Tipton expertly shows how Van Til, in defending the Reformed faith against ancient falsehoods (Roman Catholicism) and modern substitutes (Barthianism), developed and applied the Trinitarianism that Calvin embraced and the federalism that Vos taught. Tipton’s penetrating analysis of Van Til’s critique of Roman Catholicism shows how Van Til built upon the dogmatic insights of Vos and of Herman Bavinck regarding man made in the image of God and the incompatibility of Rome’s donum superadditum and the Reformed doctrine of the covenant of works. Tipton further shows convincingly how Van Til’s critique of Karl Barth’s theology has been vindicated in recent times unwittingly through such distinct voices as Bruce McCormack and Keith Johnson.
Danny E. Olinger
General Secretary for the Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Willow Grove