Alvin Plantinga,  James Anderson,  John Frame

Anderson on Frame, Van Til and Plantinga

In the canal of thought between epistemology and apologetics there exists a triad of thinkers who contribute, in different ways, to both disciplines. Yet few have articulated positive relationships between the thought of Cornelius Van Til, John Frame and Alvin Plantinga. Scott Oliphint, a Van Tillian, denounced Plantinga as beginning from an anti-Christian premise. Bahnsen, another Van Tillian, dismisses Frame for not being Van Tillian enough. Plantinga, for his own part, entirely ignores Van Til even though even though he presents very similar lines of argument. And then there are those, like my old prof, John Feinberg, who, though convinced of the success of Plantinga’s work, are nonetheless  opposed to Van Til’s and Frame’s apologetic method.

One exception to all this is James Anderson, associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Anderson is, not uncritically, favorable to all three. In his analysis of Van Til and Plantinga, Anderson argues that both men begin with the idea that whether or not God exists has profound implications for the possibility of human knowledge. Although there are differences, Anderson suggests, both Plantinga and Van Til offer the Christian defender a wealth of material in arguing “if knowledge, then God” (see here for full article).

In a Festschrift for John Frame (see here), Anderson contends that Frame’s triperspectivalism dovetails neatly with Plantinga’s proposal regarding warrant. Anderson also sees a greater continuity between Van Til and Frame, suggesting that the essential ingredients of a Van Tillian apologetic–no religious neutrality and no autonomy–are essential to Frame’s theology of knowledge.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.

One Comment

  • Slimjim

    I've appreciated Anderson's work over the last few years and hope the Lord will allow him to contribute more resources and scholarly papers on Christian apologetics and philosphy