Interpretation of Facts Objection

However, the argument of Butler does not challenge men to repentance for their sin of misrepresentation. It virtually grants that they are right. But then, if men are virtually told that they are right in thus identifying their false interpretations of the facts, with the facts themselves, in certain instances, why should such men accept the Christian interpretation of other facts? Are not all facts within one universe? If men are virtually told that they are quite right in interpreting certain facts without God, they have every logical right to continue their interpretation of all other facts without God.

From the side of the believer in the infallible Word of God, the claim should be made that there are not, because there cannot be, other facts than God-interpreted facts, i.e., facts which are what they are because of their place in the plan of God. In practice, this means that since sin has come into the world, God’s interpretation of the facts must come in finished, written form and be comprehensive in character. God continues to reveal himself in the facts of the created world, but the sinner needs to interpret every one of them in the clearer light of Scripture. Every thought on every subject must become obedient to the requirement of God as he speaks in his Word, every thought must be brought into subjection to Christ. The Butler argument fails to make this requirement and thus fatally compromises the claims of Scripture.

It has frequently been argued that this view of Scripture is impracticable. Christians differ among themselves, after all, in their interpretation of Scripture.

This objection, however, is not to the point. No one denies a subjective element in a restricted sense. The real issue is whether God exists as self-contained, whether therefore the world runs according to his plan, and whether God has confronted those who would frustrate the realization of that plan, with a self-contained interpretation of that plan (the Bible). The fact that Christians individually and collectively can never do more than restate the given self-contained interpretation of that plan approximately neither implies the nonexistence of that plan itself nor the impossibility of the self-revelation of that plan given by Christ in the Scriptures.

The self-contained circle of the ontological trinity (the trinity considered apart from economic relations) is not broken up by the fact that there is an economical relation of this triune God to man. No more is the self-contained character of Scripture broken up by the fact that there is a diversity of transmission and acceptance of that word of God. Such at least is, or ought to be, the contention of Christians if they would really challenge the modern principle. The Christian principle must present the full force and breadth of its claim. It is compelled to engage in an all-out war against the misinterpretation of the universe by the natural man.

(Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought, 28)

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