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(I am working on an essay about the relationship between biblical soul care (biblical counseling) and those who advocate for an integrationist position. I wrote upon a couple of paragraphs on “brute facts” which I cannot keep due to space constraints. But I also wanted to keep these those notes around for use later)

Van Til famously rejected the notion of “brute facts”.[1] ; and thus our understanding of the world — when it is not properly anchored in a right relationship to God is problematic:

But then sin enters. By virtue of it, man seeks to interpret experience independently of God; indeed he is left to himself so that he must seek to interpret all things without God. Hence, all his interpretation will basically be wrong. He will set up a new and false standard of objectivity. Man will think that though he interprets alone, he nevertheless interprets correctly. He thinks that his idea of God is still correct, though there is no longer any foundation for his ideas about anything.[2]

This concept is not purely a belief of Van Til, but is now considered a factor of all scientific inquiry. As Frame explains of Thomas Kuhn’s understanding of the philosophy of science, “When two people differ on interpretation of something, they share agreement on the existence of the thing they are trying to interpret. But in a paradigm conflict [between one system of understanding and interpretation and another], even that agreement can be lost.”[3]

This problem of interpretation is acute when it comes to understanding “psychological” facts:

All such evidence, in the end, is interpreted evidence. There is no such thing as brute uninterpreted fact. Data are collected and related and presented by men, all of whom are sinners and subject to the noetic effects of their sin. In God’s world, all men are related to him as covenant breakers or covenant keepers (in Christ). The judgments of unbelievers, therefore, are arrived at and presented from a point of view which attempts to divorce itself from God. Such judgments must be understood, weighed and examined in this light.[4]

It is at this point, that those who advocate biblical soul care and those who advocate for some form integration[5] between Scripture and “secular” psychology can easily misunderstand one-another.

[1] “Since the natural man assumes the idea of brute fact in metaphysics and the idea of the autonomy of the human mind in epistemology, the Reformed apologist realizes that he should first challenge these notions.”  Cornelius Van Til and William Edgar, Christian Apologetics, 2nd ed. (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2003).

[2] Cornelius Van Til, Psychology of Religion (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1971), no pg.

[3] John M. Frame, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2015), 486.

[4] Jay Edward Adams, Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1986), 269.

[5] “In his analysis of current state of integration, Brian Eck identified twenty-seven models of integration.” David N. Entwistle, Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity: An Introduction to Worldview Issues, Philosophical Foundations, and Models of Integration (Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), 163.