Over on The Calvinist International, my friend Joseph Minich has written a long and thoughtful review of K. Scott Oliphint’s recent book, Covenantal Apologetics. Within the review Joseph engages critically with presuppositional apologetics in the Van Tillian tradition. Here is one passage:
It may seem quite strange to find a sort of secularism in Covenantal Apologetics, but something very much like that is at work. In many places recorded in the above review, Dr. Oliphint makes it very clear that two distinct actions occurred in creation: creation and condescension. For instance: “Now, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, once this God creates, he also condescends to relate to his creation” (190). It is possible that this move from creation to revelation is an issue of logical sequence rather than temporal sequence, but the problem remains the same. Revelation seems to be an additive to an otherwise non-revelatory cosmos.
But how can this be the case if God is Reality Himself? He is the “I am,” pure Being. Everything else is only insofar as He is related to it by virtue of its suspension in His own free act. Now, Dr. Oliphint would agree with all of this, we are sure, but it stands to fact that he has a noticeable habit of speaking about God’s creating and then His revealing Himself. One gets the impression that revelation is not rooted in being as such, but is a sort of supplement to objective reality in our subconscious that forces us to recognize God in “the things that are made.” And while we do not want to deny this mechanism at work in some regards, surely it falls far short of explaining that the heavens really objectively do (and can be shown to) “declare the glory of God.” There is an objective demonstrable reality which corresponds to our subjective awareness of it. And any failure to see this is not merely a failure to submit to “biblical authority” (though it might be that), but also a violation of all modes in which we know reality, whether it be our immediate experience or our theoretical reflections.
All of the above problems are implicit in this one, wherein we discover a functionally “neutral” creation (at least for the intelligent mind) after all—which is then given “meaning” by special revelation. Perhaps this only obtains in light of sin, or as a theory which the sinner uses to govern his thought, but then we have actually constructed an objectively impotent created order—which has no ability to to manifest itself to reason and experience as such. It does not act upon the mind, but rather is acted upon and interpreted, and that action obtains its meaning.
Read the entire thing.