The phrase “Chaos and old Night” originated with John Milton in his epic poem Paradise Lost.
Sonorous mettal blowing Martial sounds:
At which the universal Host upsent
A shout that tore Hells Concave, and beyond
Frighted the Reign of Chaos and old Night (Book I; line 540-544).
Milton uses the phrase, to refer to the “stuff” out of which God ordered and created the world. When Satan is cast from the realm of heaven, he falls into a dark abyss which is inside of the realm of Chaos and old Night. As Satan rallies the demonic fiends of Hell their cries shake the realm of Chaos and old Night. Milton further personifies “Chaos”, “Chance” and “old Night” as fickle and impersonal. These realms are the location of Hell and the final destiny of Satan. [See an overview of Milton’s meaning. Richard Bradley, the first interpreter of Milton, in 1732 states that “Reign” here means realm.]
Cornelius Van Til, in his work “My Credo,” considered “Chaos and Old Night” to be the foundation of the worldview of all non-Christian thought. According to Van Til, it was this worldview that Paul challenged when he spoke to the Greek philosophers of the Areopagus in Acts 17.
“Chaos” and “Old Night” were their only substitutes for what Paul told them of the origin and destiny of the world. They tried various combinations of ultimate rationality (unity) and ultimate chance (diversity) in terms such as “form” and “matter” to take the place of creation and providence, but to no satisfaction. Even so, Paul could not prove to the Greeks in their sense of the word “prove,” that what they believed was foolishness and what he believed was “good sense.” Paul could not adopt the principles of the “free” first Adam to “prove” the principles of the Second Adam. Paul recognized, as did his Greek audience, that his ideas were, all of them, foolishness to the non-Christian mind (Jerusalem and Athens, 5).
For Van Til there are only two worldview options: the worlviews of Chaos and Old Night or the worldview of the Christian God of the Scriptures.
As one probably has gathered by now, this blog aims to engage the worldviews of Chaos and Old Night and show that without the God of the Scriptures, there can be no meaning, rationality or knowledge. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul says:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ . . .
Paul employs military language when he describes one of the aspects of his ministry among the Corinthians. Paul’s aim was to destroy every type of thinking which raises itself up against the knowledge of God. According to Paul elsewhere, all men raise these contrary thoughts against the knowledge of God because man considers himself autonomous, resulting in his allegiance to Satan and his kingdom (cf. Romans 1:18-3:20; Ephes. 2:1-3). All thinking, which is not according to the gospel, is contrary to the knowledge of God. Paul recognizes the fallacy in a belief of “neutrality.” For Paul, one is either on the side of God and his Christ or he is against them. Therefore this blog maintains that all other worldviews are antithetical or in conflict with the Christian worldview. Furthermore all other worldviews align themselves with chaos and old night because they fail to bring their thinking into submission to the Triune God and His Christ.
Therefore we see the necessity to enter into theological conversations with those both from within and from without the Church. While the church has compromised on critical doctrines such as the authority, inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the penal substitutionary atonement, the exclusivity of salvation in Christ, and the doctrine of the Trinity (to name a few), those outside the church have attacked the Christian faith with arguments from the problem of evil, alleged contradictions in Scripture, the historical unreliability of Scripture, etc. In some cases the church’s arguments for these doctrines are not sufficient for the defense of the Christian worldview. It is with this in mind that we invite you, whether you consider yourself Christian or non-Christian, to compare the Christian worldview with all others and see if every thought can be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. We look forward to the dialogue. Post early and often!
– John & John