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Van Til, Cornelius (1895-1987) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Van Til, Cornelius (1895-1987)


Historical Note:

Cornelius Van Til was born on May 3, 1895 in the village of Grootegast located in the province of Groningen, Netherlands. In 1905 the Van Til family immigrated to the United States, and settled on farmland in Indiana. His family became members of the local CRC, and even helped established a Christian school for the area. Like his father before him, Van Til enjoying working on the farm, however he felt that he had a greater calling.  He attended Calvin College and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1922.  He went on to Princeton Theological Seminary earning his Th.B. in 1924 and Th.M. in 1925.  In the fall of 1925, Van Til married Rena Klooster. By 1927 Van Til earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

In the fall of 1927, Van Til began his first charge as pastor of the CRC in Spring Lake, Michigan. However, in the fall of 1928 he accepted a one-year appointment to serve as instructor of apologetics at Princeton Theological Seminary.  The Seminary offered to extend his appointment to a full-time faculty position. However, Van Til declined the offer and returned to his congregation in Spring Lake. He wouldn't stay long at Spring Lake because, he soon accepted another faculty position, this time at Westminster Theological Seminary.

In September 1929 Van Til became Westminster's professor of apologetics. Van Til would remain at Westminster until his retirement in 1972, but would continue to lecture another several years. In 1936 he became a minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Two years later, professor Van Til held an honorary professorship at the University of Debrecen in Hungry. He also furthered his education over the years, earning a Th.D. from University of Potchefstroom and a D.D. from Reformed Episcopal Seminary.  Another accomplishment was his assistance in establishing the Philadelphia-Montgomery Christian Academy as well as serving as its president of the board.

At the age of 91, Cornelius Van Til died on April 17, 1987. His wife, Rena, and son, Earl preceded him in death. He was survived by his granddaughter, Sharon Reed.






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