In Defense of the Eschaton
Essays in Reformed Apologetics
Published by: Wipf and Stock Publishers
238 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.48 in
- Published: October 2015
- Published: October 2015
- Published: October 2015
For the cover:
"This marvelous collection of apologetic essays will encourage faith in Christ even as it sharpens the mind."
--Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"Dennison's treatment is by turn powerful, convicting, and cumulatively overwhelming in its analysis."
--Derek W. H. Thomas, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta
"For anyone interested in faithfully and consistently bringing the intellectual challenge of the Gospel to our day, this book is for you."
--Stephen J. Wellum, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"This stimulating collection of essays presents a robust explanation and defense of Van Til's apologetic for the twenty-first century."
--Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
"Nobody can fully appreciate the discussion of presuppositional apologetics over the last century without taking Dennison's approach into account."
--John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
"Bill advances the discussion on all fronts, deftly synthesizing apologetics and eschatology more ably than any other practitioner I know."
--Alan D. Strange, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
For inside of book:
"The influence of Geerhardus Vos and Cornelius Van Til stands like a colossus in the story of the development of reformed theology in the 20th century. For me their contribution was defining. They figured hugely in my own education at seminary and beyond into a lifetime of ministry. Dr. Dennison understands their significance and his encyclopedic knowledge of his subject makes him a sure guide to their thought and its importance for the world and the church."
--Dr. Liam Goligher, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"Undoubtedly In Defense of the Eschaton is an invaluable compilation of Dr. Dennison's Biblically faithful and insightful efforts in defense of the faith. With every expectation of our Lord's blessing I commend to the reader the work of Dr. Dennison which is produced with scholarly excellence, theological integrity and highlights topics that will no doubt advance Biblical theology united with presuppositional apologetics."
--Harry L. Reeder, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama
"Cornelius Van Til has suffered the misfortune of either being dismissed or slavishly idolized. It is the merit of Dennison's work that although Van Til is definitely his teacher, he is guilty of neither but in a clear and accessible manner illumines the profound issues of revelation, common grace, antithesis and Christian thinking that dominated discussions in the Christian Reformed and Presbyterian world of the 20th century. One need not agree with him (or Van Til) on every point to appreciate the significant historical/systematic service Dennison has provided in clarifying the Vos/Van Til nexus for a generation inclined to forget its own roots. This volume is a valuable contribution to making a fair and honest conversation possible which would be a refreshing development."
--John Bolt, Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
"Geerhardus Vos and Cornelius Van Til were among the most significant Reformed thinkers of the last century, their legacy an enduring one. William Dennison is an eminent scholar, a leading exponent of their thought but with distinctive contributions of his own. This collection of his writings, building on both Vos and Van Til, will be of great interest to all who recognize that only when our thinking and living is shaped and directed by the trinitarian God can we be true to his revelation in the Bible."
--Robert Letham, Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology and Director of Research, Wales Evangelical School of Theology
"Cornelius Van Til regularly expressed his indebtedness to the biblical theology of Geerhardus Vos throughout his professorial career. Those privileged to hear Van Til preach or pray surely understood why. But because Vos's influence on apologetics was subtle and indirect, Van Til's claim has generally eluded many readers of his works. Among interpreters, Bill Dennison stands virtually alone for consistently underscoring this connection. As displayed first in his Paul's Two Age Construction and Apologetics (1986), Dennison's essays and articles, gathered helpfully in this anthology, demonstrate the necessity of reckoning with the eschatological dimension of Van Til's work in order fully to assess his contribution to Reformed apologetics."
--John R. Muether, Dean of Libraries and Professor of Church History, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
"Do not be misled by the word "eschaton" in the tile of this collection of the shorter writings of William Dennison. His book has nothing to do with differences between premillennialists and postmillennialists or related issues, but has everything to do with how we go about presenting our Christian faith in a world that is bitterly opposed to this faith. No one has spoken more pointedly to this question in recent times than Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Dennison undertakes to unfold, explain, and illustrate Van Til's apologetic method in a compelling way. Van Til's strength as an apologist lay in consistently maintaining his starting point and method in the redemptive history of the Bible culminating in the final victory of the triune God over all that opposes him (the eschaton). As we press the claims of Christ we must in no way compromise 'the self-attesting Christ of Scripture as mapped out in biblical revelation and summarized in the ecumenical creeds of the early church and the Reformed confessions.' His method represented a radical departure from the evidentialist apologetic method he was taught at Princeton Seminary. Dennison very helpfully takes us through the criticisms Van Til encountered in his own Reformed camp, both from those who opposed his method and from those who sympathetically aligned themselves with his initiative. Van Til would say to his students that if we stand on the shoulders of our fathers in the faith we ought to be able to see a little further. Van Til's own work illustrates that point, and so also does Dennison's. 'Taking Van Til's own acknowledgement that [Geerhardus] Vos was his most influential teacher [at Princeton], I have attempted to push Van Til's biblical apologetic deeper into the fabric of God's revelation.' Tying Van Til's apologetic method into a biblical philosophy of history is the most valuable contribution of this book. Dennison helps us by strengthening the apologetic backbone of believers as we face up to new challenges posed by rapid changes in the intellectual and cultural landscape where we are called to serve today."
--Norman Shepherd, Pastor, Holland, Michigan
"For those not familiar with Dr. Dennison's work, his distinctive contributions in this series of articles outline the implications for Christian apologetics of the evident intrinsic integration that exists in Van Til's thought with the philosophy of history inherent in the Biblical Reformed theology of Geerhardus Vos. In this volume, Dennison provides the Reformed church and the Christian academy with a key that helps to unlock a Biblically faithful defense and declaration of the Christian faith. From this starting point, Dennison provides a cogent critique of structural and substantial shortcomings in the arguments of the most prominent proponents of classical apologetics and education. He also effectively critiques the most recent previous, popular, and prevailing interpreters of Van Til in a way that calls for a fuller response from them. Taken together, this book presents a challenge to any and all existing models for human thought that do not hold as necessary and sufficient the aeonic, historical character of divine redemptive revelation fulfilled in the self-attesting Christ of the Scriptures. As such, this volume offers, at once, an elenctic indictment against unbelieving and biblically inconsistent thought and a faithfully Reformed and ecumenical invitation to defend this faith by all who hold to and love the Bible as the infallible Word of God. To be sure, this seminal contribution requires and deserves greater elaboration even beyond this collection. What Dennison himself admits concerning one article may also be affirmed with regard to this brief book: 'My study is only meant to be an introduction. I have not provided a comprehensive presentation of Van Til's philosophy of history, epistemology, or his connection with Vos. Van Tilians must have a renewed commitment to disclose, understand, and carefully reexamine the basic presuppositions that underlie the structure of his thought.' The book, however, does afford, as a starting point, manifold opportunities for continuing dialogue, discussion, and debate on how we evangelize our communities, educate in our schools, and counsel in our churches. This prospect all by itself makes a careful and critical reading of this book well worthwhile. My prayer is that Dennison's arguments herein will be considered carefully, engaged faithfully, and applied persuasively to 'destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and [to] take every thought captive to obey Christ' (II Corinthians 10:5, ESV)."
--Christopher H. Wisdom, Vice President and Professor of Practical Theology, Erskine Theological Seminary
"It would be impossible for me to overestimate the influence of Van Til's apologetic on my thought and indeed my life. Navigating the halls of three secular postgraduate academic institutions, I have carried with me the toolkit of transcendental critique and, more specifically, an awareness of the myth of objectivity, which I weave through my teaching and my conversations with unbelievers. In making Van Til's work accessible, Bill Dennison offers in this collection an invaluable means of putting on the full armour of God so that we may resist captivity by the philosophies of the world. Reading his essays has refreshed me, and I highly recommend them to every Christian."
--Valerie Hobbs, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, University of Sheffield; Fellow in Christianity and Language as well as Associate Director of the Lydia Center for Women and Families, Greystone Theological Institute
"Whether one agrees or not with the apologetic methods of Cornelius Van Til, his unique contributions to the discipline must be considered. William Dennison has spent a lifetime engaged in this work and his students and readers have been the beneficiaries. In the collected pages of this volume, the reader is helpfully led by the hand into the mind and thoughts of one of the most unique theologians of the modern age."
--Jason Helopoulos, Associate Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan
"I am very pleased that James Baird has collated and edited these fine selections from the prolific pen of William Dennison in In Defense of the Eschaton. Dennison has reminded us anew of the influence of Geerhardus Vos on his pupil Cornelius Van Til. Dennison demonstrates the essential nexus between covenantal (presuppositional) apologetics and the eschatalogically infused redemptive history. It is impossible to go away from reading In Defense of the Eschaton and not now see how the truth that "eschatology precedes soteriology" suffuses the apologetic task. The antithesis between belief and unbelief reflects the reality of the overlap of this present evil age and the age to come. If I say that Dennison is brilliant and solidly biblical and Reformed, it is true but an understatement. This volume leaves the reader wanting more."
-- Jeffrey C. Waddington, Stated Supply, Knox Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
"In these essays, Dr. Dennison builds faithfully upon the apologetic method of Cornelius Van Til rooted in the biblical theology of Geerhardus Vos. He effectively demonstrates its wide-ranging relevance for a consistently Christian approach to not only 'practical' apologetics, but also inter-disciplinary issues involving philosophy, rhetoric, Christian education, and the perennial debate over 'Christ and culture.' The appearance of these essays in a more permanent form is a welcome addition in the library of any minister or student of Christian theology who seeks in all things to exalt the preeminence of Jesus Christ."
--Benjamin W. Swinburnson, Minister, Lynnwood Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Lynnwood, Washington
"This book is exactly the kind we should all read more of today. It is not about this or that hot topic, or this or that current debate. Instead, it is persistently about what is ultimate: how we can know anything at all and live consistently with that. Bill Dennison shows us how by filling our vision with the self-authenticating Lord Jesus Christ, to know whom is life eternal. How can we confess this One in the face of the world's denial and Christian scholarship's open betrayal? Is to live really Christ, as Paul says? Take and read!"
--Marcus A. Mininger, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
"As a young teen Dr. Dennison introduced me to the fundamentals of Christian theology. Now as a colleague, he has refreshed my exposure to the apologetics of Van Til. Anyone wanting to think further about the applications of Van Til's thought will be helped by this collection."
--Thomas K. Groelsema, Senior Pastor, First Christian Reformed Church, Byron Center, Michigan
"This marvelous collection of apologetic essays will encourage faith in Christ even as it sharpens the mind. It represents an eschatological approach to the life of the mind, rooting traditional Augustinian-Reformed apologetics in the rich soil of Scripture and its unapologetically firm faith in the Lord of nature, history, and rationality. Many thanks to Bill Dennison for staying true to his tribe (Presbyterian confessionalists and students of Van Til) while developing its insights in important, new ways to meet the needs of our own day."
--Douglas A. Sweeney, Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought, Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"It is good to see these important essays gathered in one place, forming as a whole what they couldn't individually--a comprehensive and sustained witness to the effectiveness of a presuppositional apologetic and to the cohesiveness of Van Til's theological and philosophical thought. Dennison's treatment is by turn powerful, convicting, and cumulatively overwhelming in its analysis."
--Derek W. H. Thomas, Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta; Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina
"This collection of essays is a must read for those interested in the apologetic work of Cornelius Van Til. Dr. Dennison not only helpfully describes and illumines some key aspects of Van Til's thought (e.g., common grace, the relationship between natural and special revelation, and critique of non-Christian thought), he also develops Van Til's apologetic in ways not often discussed. By showing Van Til's dependence upon the pioneering work of Geerhardus Vos, Dennison offers a more robust understanding of Van Til's work by grounding it in a sound biblical theology and then illustrating how this biblical grounding wonderfully applies to the doing of apologetics. For anyone interested in faithfully and consistently bringing the intellectual challenge of the Gospel to our day, this book is for you. Take, read, enjoy, and put it to work!"
--Stephen J. Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Professor Dennison and I have not seen eye-to-eye with regard to Van Til, and after twenty years I am still bewildered by his critique of my approach (chapter 2 of this book). But Dennison and I both seek to honor Jesus Christ and to recognize his claims on human thought, and I honor him for that. Further, Dennison does us a service by drawing attention to Van Til, one of the most significant Christian thinkers of recent years. However one evaluates it, Dennison's analysis of Van Til is distinctive and has influenced many students. Indeed, nobody can fully appreciate the discussion of presuppositional apologetics over the last century without taking Dennison's approach into account. For that reason I am glad to see the book available, and I recommend it to serious students of the debates over apologetic method."
--John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
"The voice of Bill Dennison is loud (for those who've heard him in person) and strong (for those who've read him). But Bill is not loud because he's proud, but because he profoundly believes the Word of the Lord. For many today, epistemic skepticism is a virtue and is thought to be 'humble apologetics.' It is no true humility, however, to fail to take God at His Word and to refuse to acknowledge the systemic lack of intelligibility that pertains apart from the ontological Trinity and the self-attesting Christ of Scripture. There is no neutrality, Bill reminds us--we all come from the perspective of those who have been united with Christ and seated with him in heavenly places or from the vantage of those who remain only 'in Adam' and who are indeed the living dead. Truly, this is an apologetics rooted in redemptive history and biblical eschatology. Bill's eschatological apologetics is a great contribution to the enterprise of defending the faith but has not sprung full-grown as Athena from the head of Zeus. Bill builds all that he does on the Word of God as understood by Augustine, Calvin, Vos, Van Til, and others of that tradition. As noted herein, however, Bill no more simply repristinates Vos and Van Til than they did Augustine and Calvin. Bill, as these first-rate integrative contributions to Van Til studies and redemptive history will show, as well as the book reviews, advances the discussion on all fronts, deftly synthesizing apologetics and eschatology more ably than any other practitioner I know. I heartily commend these essays to all readers concerned about these matters in a day in which autonomy is thought sophisticated and in which God and His Word is regarded as passe. Here we hear Bill, with all his learning and devotion to Christ, athwart history yelling 'Stop' to all the naysayers of Christ and His Word, seeking truly to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, walking according to the coming age while challenging those yet living in this age, appreciating both common grace and antithesis, seeking to address all in this world from the heavenly perspective of the believer, and to engage truly in a transcendental analysis of all life and thought. Take, read, apply, and enjoy! SDG!"
--Alan D. Strange, Professor of Church History, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
"This stimulating collection of essays presents a robust explanation and defense of Van Til's apologetic for the twenty-first century. It will both make Van Til more accessible to the beginning reader and greatly assist the more discerning reader probe even more deeply into the profound truths he propagated."
--Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary