Wisdom of This World | Cornelius Van Til
Text: 1 Corinthians 1:10-21
Cornelius Van Til (died 1987) was a professor at Princeton and later a co-founder of Westminster Theological Seminary. In this message, he explains to college students that God has made the wisdom of this world foolish. He provides examples of great thinkers in science and philosophy, across the ages, who have failed to explain the origin of life, the law of nature, the sin of men, and their destiny. And he shows that, while scholars throughout the centuries have attempted to give answers on the topics of another world, truth, beauty, and evil and goodness, all of their answers turn out to be vague speculations. And they deny God as the creator of men in His own image, and some even make God equal to men so that they are not accountable to Him. Others believe in the “rottenness” of men, but they do not acknowledge men as sinners. In short, these great thinkers over the ages have suppressed the light they had and lived unrighteously, and so they are without excuse and guilty before God.
At the same time, one wonders about the advances in science, technology, and philosophy conceived by these great thinkers. One might argue that these achievements have value and that we cannot call these men fools. Van Til responds by acknowledging their achievements and that these advances have profited us all. However, he asserts that these things are meaningless when the greatest needs of men and their destiny have not been addressed. Thus, men without Christ effectively know nothing; they are hostile to God, adhere to what is false, and cling to what is from Satan. Furthermore, natural men, whether learned or unlearned, will not admit that they break the holy law of God and are going to perdition.
In spite of all this, Van Til exhorts Christians to not be afraid to challenge the beliefs and folly of men and to offer the gospel humbly to all men. This message accurately portrays man’s hard-heartedness to the gospel, and helps place our evangelistic efforts in the proper perspective, requiring us to trust only in God’s power to open people’s eyes to the truth.
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