Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Gordon H. Clark quotes from The Biblical Doctrine of Man

"Reduce thinking to chemistry and no distinction between truth and error remains.  Behaviorism has committed the suicide of self-contradiction."  Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  The Biblical Doctrine of Man, p. 29.

Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  The Biblical Doctrine of Man.  1984.  Second edition.  (Jefferson:  Trinity Foundation, 1992).

Obviously, my favorite theologian is the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  I continually read and reread his books and commentaries to gain new insights.  It turns out that reading his works carefully and slowly yields benefits that may have been missed in previous readings done in haste.  Also, it turns out that because Clark thinks in terms of system, his books often hit on various topics that might at first glance appear to be unrelated to the book he is writing at the time.  For example,  how does socialism relate to the biblical doctrine of man?  Yet, Clark's books are peppered with his political views, which in a Christian worldview is inseparable from the system of propositional truths that are revealed both in Scripture and through the innate and a priori categories of the mind in regards to the image of God  (John 1:9; Genesis 1:26-27; 1 Corthinthians 11:7; Colossians 3:10; Genesis 9:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4).  One example of that is when he mentions the philosophical problems of behaviorism and then he immediately transitions from behaviorism and shows how behaviorism relates to socialism and communism and the worldview of the materialists.

In his book, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, Dr. Clark argues that if thinking is merely bodily chemistry or physical movement in the body, then no two thoughts are the same.  Furthermore, abstract thinking is not possible precisely because brain chemistry cannot be demonstrated to produce the same thoughts.  How would one prove that 2 + 2 = 4 is the same bodily function in two different brains and the exact same chemical reaction or electrical reaction in two different brains?  "Since, further, a thought of similarity or comparison cannot occur until there are two items to compare . . .  . . . these thoughts, these motions of bodily parts are not present . . ." in subsequent bodily actions in the individual or in another individual's body, no two thoughts can be identical or even similar (Clark, p. 31).

Devastating as this may be, the argument does not end here.  On the behaviorist view it is not only impossible for one person to have the same idea twice, but it is all the more impossible for two people to have the same thought once.  If Pythagoras had the idea of a triangle, Einstein never learned Euclidean geometry.  . . . The wiggle of a dendritic process in my brain cannot be the wiggle in your brain.  The motion of a bodily part cannot occur in two places, either at the same time or at different times.  (Clark, p. 31).


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Is 1 John 5:7-8 Original?

Is the Johannine Comma in the Canonical Text of Scripture?

More important is the question whether the Textus Receptus is the original text. But such a belief would be as foolish as the former. Since the present study is not addressed to professional scholars, but to students and ordinary church members, it is permissible to say something about the Textus Receptus, the Greek text which underlines the King James translation.  Dr. Gordon H. Clark

Unfortunately, even the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark occasionally got things wrong in regards to the Textus Receptus and other issues.  The following quote from Dr. Clark's paper, "Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism," has at least one glaring error, namely the challenge or promise of Erasmus to include the Johannine Comma if the papists could produce at least one Greek manuscript which contained that verse.  Dr. Clark would not have been aware of this at the time of the writing of the article because it is a recent development.  But more about this later in this post.  

Anyway, Dr. Clark rejects both the King James Only position and the Textus Receptus as the following quote demonstrates:

First, no one should hold that the King James Version is the infallible autograph. For example (even if it is in the Old Testament), 2 Samuel 6:23 says, “Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” But 2 Samuel 21:8 refers to “the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul.” For once the Revised Standard Version can be complimented for removing the contradiction. In my earlier years I had heard that some people believed the King James to be infallible, but I was 70 years old before I ever met one such. The liberals surely have exaggerated their number, but at least one minister was of that opinion.

More important is the question whether the Textus Receptus is the original text. But such a belief would be as foolish as the former. Since the present study is not addressed to professional scholars, but to students and ordinary church members, it is permissible to say something about the Textus Receptus, the Greek text which underlines the King James translation.

The Textus Receptus derives from the work of Erasmus, a Dutch scholar (1466-1536). His first edition of the Greek text appeared in 1516. It is full of mistakes, though most are merely typographical. The story is that Erasmus was anxious to have the honor of being the first to publish the Greek New Testament, and to do so he had to rush through his work before Cardinal Ximemes de Cisneras could publish his so-called Complutensian Polyglot. The Cardinal seems to have had no such eagerness, and though his edition was set up in type possibly as early as 1514, the actual publication date was 1522.  Erasmus’ sloppy work doesn’t hold a candle to it.

Deficiencies other than typographical are not all Erasmus’ fault, or only partly so. He had the use of less than twenty manuscripts and used mainly only two or three. His only manuscript of Revelation lacked its last page, so Erasmus himself translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek for the last six verses. He did this in some other places where his manuscripts were defective. Presumably this was unavoidable. Then to his credit, he omitted 1 John 5:7-8.This shocked the Roman Church. He replied that if they would produce even one Greek manuscript that had those two verses, he would include them. So the obliging papacy quickly got an Irish priest to make such a manuscript, and Erasmus inserted the verses.

 Dr. Gordon H. Clark, "Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism."  Trinity Review, January--August 1984.  (Trinity Review link).


I checked the ESV and the RSV in comparison with the KJV on 2 Samuel 6:23 and 2 Samuel 21:8.  A footnote in the ESV says that most Hebrew manuscripts for 2 Samuel 21:8, presumably the Masoretic Text, have Michal while only two Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint Greek translation has Merab, the daughter of Michal.  I suppose Dr. Clark could be correct that the original autograph has Merab and not Michal.  But could he be wrong?  Perhaps keeping Michal in the second verse is consistent with the Masoretic Text for another reason such as this is a different Michal?  After all, kings of that time period often had more than one daughter with different wives and concubines and this could be a different daughter named Michal?  My Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia has Michal in 2 Samuel 21:8, although the textual notes affirm what the ESV has in footnoted form, that there are two Hebrew texts and one Septuagint text which has Merab.  Interestingly, the Swete and Ralf editions of the Septuagint both have Michal.  On the other hand, the Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew lexicon has it that Michal is an error for Merab, because the Lucian version of the Septuagint has Merab and that must mean an earlier Hebrew manuscript had Merab.  I am using Logos Bible to find much of this information because understanding the textual apparatus in the BHS is difficult to say the least.  Who is correct here?  It is hard to say but my first impression is to go with the majority of the textual evidence, not the minority.  Could it be a scribal error that got repeated?  Yes, but it is also possible that there is another explanation such as the fact that Saul had two daughters named Michal and this is not the same Michal who was promised to David and who remained childless.

Regarding the Complutensian Polyglot, I wonder if Clark is correct about this since a polyglot has more than one translation and is quite different from a critical edition of the Greek New Testament.  Also, from what I can gather Erasmus had more than one edition of his Textus Receptus and corrections were made in later editions.

I would like to say at this point that I am not a professional scholar or a textual critic.  But I do have the critical editions of the Greek New Testament and the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia in hardback and on my computer.  I like to fact check what I see online or in the footnotes of the modern translations to verify or falsify what is there.

At any rate, Clark's assertion that Erasmus included the Johannine Comma or 1 John 5:7 because he promised to do so if the Roman Catholic scholars could produce a Greek manuscript which contained it is simply false.  I will have to look at the ending to the book of Revelation to see what the issues are in that pericope in another post.  It has been refuted by a liberal textual critic that Erasmus made no such promise or challenge to include the comma if a manuscript in Greek could be produced.   I am getting this information from a source that criticizes James White's book, The King James Only Controversy, where White in footnotes uses a biased source for his contention that Erasmus promised to include the comma if any Roman Catholic scholar could produce a Greek manuscript containing the verse.  This is not true and unfortunately even Dr. Clark was taken in by this false assertion.  Additionally, it is true that Erasmus had access to only a handful of Greek manuscripts but there were at least four editions of his Textus Receptus, 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535.  (What Manuscripts Did the King James Translators Use?).

“I have checked again Erasmus’ words quoted by Erika Rummel and her comments on them in her book Erasmus’ Annotations. This is what Erasmus writes [on] in his Liber tertius quo respondet … Ed. Lei: Erasmus first records that Lee had reproached him with neglect of the MSS. of 1 John because Erasmus (according to Lee) had consulted only one MS. Erasmus replies that he had certainly not used only one ms., but many copies, first in England, then in Brabant, and finally at Basle. He cannot accept, therefore, Lee’s reproach of negligence and impiety. ‘Is it negligence and impiety, if I did not consult manuscripts which were simply not within my reach? I have at least assembled whatever I could assemble. Let Lee produce a Greek MS. which contains what my edition does not contain and let him show that that manuscript was within my reach. Only then can he reproach me with negligence in sacred matters.’

“From this passage you can see that Erasmus does not challenge Lee to produce a manuscript etc. What Erasmus argues is that Lee may only reproach Erasmus with negligence of MSS if he demonstrates that Erasmus could have consulted any MS. in which the Comma Johanneum figured. Erasmus does not at all ask for a MS. containing the Comma Johanneum. He denies Lee the right to call him negligent and impious if the latter does not prove that Erasmus neglected a manuscript to which he had access.

“In short, Rummel’s interpretation is simply wrong. The passage she quotes has nothing to do with a challenge. Also, she cuts the quotation short, so that the real sense of the passage becomes unrecognizable. She is absolutely not justified in speaking of a challenge in this case or in the case of any other passage on the subject” (emphasis in original) (Henk Jan de Jonge, cited from A History of the Debate over 1 John 5:7,8, Michael Maynard, p. 383).  

Quoted by Chris Thomas, Confessional Bibliology blog.  "Erasmian Myths:  The Comma Wager." 

James White repeats the myth of the promise by Erasmus and cites Rummel as his source in his footnotes.  (James White, "And Some More on the Comma.")

I am not saying that the Johannine Comma is definitely original but who can say definitively that it was not?  There is evidence that it is alluded to by the church fathers and there are a few older manuscripts that were not available to Erasmus that have been discovered since that time.

Daniel Wallace, who also does not think that the Johannine Comma could be in the original autographs, cites at least one 14th century Greek manuscript that contains the comma, that being 629.  Wallace says that codex 177 has the verse added by a later editor and the reason he knows this is that there is a verse number included with the marginal note:

On 74 recto is 1 John 5.7–8. The page begins in the middle of 1 John 5.4. Verses 7–8 read, οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες, το πνευμα, και το υδωρ, και το αιμα· και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν (‘For there are three that testify, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement’). This is unremarkable as it is. But there is a marginal note, written above the text in the upper margin. The note is written in a much later hand—at least second half of the sixteenth century as can be seen by the introduction which specifies ‘v. 7.’ Verse numbers were not invented until 1551, in Stephanus’ fourth edition of his Greek New Testament. Hence, this cannot be any earlier than that date. The hand, however, looks to be much later. I would judge it to be 17th–18th century.

Daniel Wallace, "The Comma Johanneum in an Overlooked Manuscript."  The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts


I have no opportunity to  examine these manuscripts in person or online so I will have to take Wallace's word for it that there is a verse number written in the margin by the same scribal hand.  But according to Wallace there are a few other manuscripts that have this verse written in the margin and some of them are older than what Erasmus had access to.  But again these manuscripts have the verse in a marginal note that the professional scholars assert must have been added later by another handwriting.

To date, only eight manuscripts are known to have the comma Johanneum in them (Metzger curiously omits mention of codex 629 [Textual Commentary2], the one manuscript that can claim a date for this reading prior to 1520). They are as follows:

61 (produced in 1520)

629 (14th century)

918 (16th century)

2318 (18th century)

There are also four manuscripts that have this reading in the margin of the text, added in each instance by a much later hand:

88 (12th century; comma Johanneum added in 16th century)

221 (10th century; comma Johanneum added later)

429 (14th century; comma Johanneum added later. Metzger says that 429 is from the 16th century [Textual Commentary2, 647])

636 (15th century; comma Johanneum added later. Metzger says that 636 is from the 16th century [Textual Commentary2, 648])

Daniel Wallace, Ibid.  

Can I definitively say that the Comma Johanneum was in the original autographs?  Not really.  But to say that it definitely was not there troubles me because even though the evidence is sparse, it is still possible that it was in the autographs.  Another question would be whether or not these are all deliberate forgeries in the margin or were they added just out of extra information even if we accept the later date suggested by the critics?  Could it be possible that the different handwriting was by someone else in the same time period as the apograph itself?  Perhaps in the one instance of codex 177 Wallace has a good case for saying the note was added in the 16th century because there is a verse number for verse 7, which was presumably impossible prior to 1551.  But why does not Wallace tell us his reasoning for the other four manuscripts having the marginal note added later?  And it is also worth pointing out that Wallace says that 636 is 15th century and not 16th century as Metzger said.  I would like to know his reasoning for that statement.

Although I cannot verify or falsify the information, at least one claim is made that a bishop named Eugenius quoted a portion of the verse in refuting the Arians at the Council of Carthage in 485 A. D.  (Jesse Boyd, "And These Three are One:  A Case for the Authenticity of 1 John 5:7-8 Rooted in Biblical Exegesis").  The problem here is that footnote 45 gives credit to a secondary source for the quote so I cannot verify it.  Michael Maynard is the translator of the work titled Victor of Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africanae Prov.  

While I cannot absolutely prove that the comma was or was not in the text, I am irritated by statements by James White where he castigates those who are skeptical of the exclusion of this verse and others.  White says anyone who accepts the Byzantine Majority Text or the Textus Receptus is King James Only.  These polemical remarks only serve to show his own intolerance for dissent from the liberal textual critical views in his modern translations only camp.

In the introduction to his book White claims that he is not saying that preferring the KJV makes someone KJV Only:  

It is very important to understand the motivation behind this book.  This book is not being written to push one particular translation of the Bible over another.  There is no desire to get everyone to read the NASB, or the NIV, or the NKJV, or the RSV, or any other "modern" translation.  On the other hand, I am not in any way seeking to stop those who use the KJV from reading that venerable translation.  This book is not against the King James Version.  I know many fine Christian people who use the KJV and for whom the translation works just fine.  However, I do oppose those who would force others to use the KJV or risk God's wrath for allegedly questioning His Word.  I oppose KJV Onlyism, not the King James Version itself. 

James R. White.  The King James Only Controversy:  Can You Trust the Modern Translations?  (Minneapolis:  Bethany House, 1995).  P. VI.

Toward the end of the introduction White attacks tradition.  But he never defines what tradition is.  Is the Westminster Confession of Faith or the Westminster Standards "tradition"?  Of course the Bible alone is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God.  But what I object to is White's belligerent ad hominem attacks on those who favor the Byzantine Majority Text, one of which I would suppose was the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  In chapter one White lists Zane Hodges, Arthur Farstad, W.G. Pierpont, and M.A. Robinson as King James Only, though in footnote 1 he concedes that they interacted with him as gentlemen.  This is a condescending concession on White's part:  

GROUP #2:  "The Textual Argument"

A large spectrum of people come together in this second group, joined by their common belief that the underlying Hebrew and Greek texts used by the King James translators, are for various reasons, superior to all other original language texts.  These individuals would not necessarily believe that those texts are inspired, per se, but that they more accurately  reflect the original writings off the prophets or the apostles.

There are a number of possible positions that fall within this one category.  One group that would strongly reject the term "KJV Only," but who feel that the Greek texts used by the KJV translators were superior to those used by modern translations, would be the "Majority Text" advocates. (1).  This viewpoint asserts that the best reading should be that which is supported by the consensus, or majority, of the existing manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.  . . .

White, Ibid., p. 2.

White also attacks those who support the Textus Receptus as King James Onlyists on the same page.  But they acknowledge that the KJV is not the inspired Word of God, only the original autographs are the inspired Word of God.  In a debate with a group of Reformed Baptists represented by Rev. Jeff Riddle of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in the Louisa, Viriginia area, White went so far as to attack them as ignoramuses for presupposing that the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, says that God providentially preserved the autographs in the apographs represented by the Textus Receptus.  Of course, White is correct that we have thousands more fragments of manuscripts today and some lengthy copies of manuscripts today that were not yet discovered in the 16th century.  But in White's debate with Bart Ehrman a few years ago, Ehrman castigated White for being an ignoramus.  Ad hominem is a legitimate argument only when it is not an abusive attack as White used it in his debate with Riddle.

What was even more irritating is that White unashamedly pronounced his "tradition" that the traditional ending to Mark's Gospel chapter 16 is not original.  I will make remarks about this in a future post.  I am not opposed to using the tools available to us today.  However, White refuses to admit that there are weaknesses in the textual criticism argument, including the fact that it is a highly subjective "science" that needs constant revision and never arrives at the original autographs.  Making dogmatic pronouncements that White knows that the traditional ending to Mark 16 is spurious does not make it so.  What if in some future manuscript it is discovered that the traditional ending is original?  Is James White omniscient, inerrant, and infallible in his opinions?  Could he be wrong?

There are several axioms of modern textual criticism depending on which school of criticism is chosen.  An axiom cannot be proved or disproved, falsified or verified precisely because said axioms are starting points, not scientifically proved.  The late Dr. Gordon H. Clark asserted that Scripture is his beginning axiom or starting point.  The problem with James R. White is that he starts with theories of critical textual criticism, not with Scripture itself.  (See Principles of Textual Criticism).

Personally, I think James White is clearly in the modern translations only camp.  I lean toward the Byzantine Majority Text at the very least and probably toward the Textus Receptus as well.  That does not mean that I cannot be persuaded otherwise.  But I think it is highly problematic to completely jettison the confessional position that God providentially preserved the autographs in the apographs.  The problem with White is that the critical editions are based on a jigsaw puzzle of thousands of fragments and that the textual critics vote by committee on what should and should not be in the Bible.  It means that pragmatically there is no established standardized Greek text for Bible translations.  White should at least concede that in God's providence the KJV and the Textus Receptus were the standard for hundreds of years.

Here ends this post.  I will take a look at the ending of the last chapter of the book of Revelation in a future post.

Addendum:  I think the Masoretic text could be using Michal as the mother of Merab which would be technically correct if lineage is more important than naming the individual.  Ancient near eastern cultures would have understood that Merab was the daughter of Michal.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Divine Simplicity, Divine Mutualism and the Clark/Van Til Debate



I am not particularly a fan of Ian Anderson and the rock and roll band Jethro Tull anymore but back in the 70s it was cool.  It was disappointing to learn that Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have now gone commercial.  The band is now selling hand sanitizer at price gouging and exorbitant prices of all things.  And the title track for the commercial?  You guessed it.  Aqualung.  I guess a homeless beggar smearing shabby clothes with a runny nose is in dire need of hand sanitizer.  But how to afford $9 for an 8 ounce bottle? 

I bring up Jethro Tull for the sake of a conversation starter.  Another album that sold well in the 1970s was War Child.  On that album Ian Anderson the poet asks the question if God is playing chess or is He only playing a game of solitaire?  Anderson grew up in the not so conservative Anglican church so his rebellion against God is based on his rather meager understanding of high church Anglo-Catholic theology, apparently.  Anderson’s question, however, relates directly to the problem of evil, predestination, and the divine immutability of God.  According to the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark, all the propositions in the system of propositional truth in Scripture are in harmonious relationship to the other parts of the system.  In short, one cannot divorce the issue of common grace from the issue of absolute predestination or from the doctrine of the incarnation or the doctrine of God.  All of the parts of the system of doctrine in Scripture relate in some way to the other parts and there are no stand-alone aggregates or isolated venn diagrams.

Of late an interesting controversy within the Van Tilian school of apologetics and theology has developed and the participants in the debate have carefully drawn out their battle lines.  On the one side are those who defend the classical and creedal view that God is a simple being who is tri-personal, immutable, and without passions or parts.  On the other side, the defenders of God’s mutualism argue that in order to relate to humanity God must in some way condescend to man’s finite existence.  The problem here is that there is an apparent contradiction or paradox between God’s transcendence and His immanence in governing His creation by way of providence.  How can an absolutely immutable and changeless God who has no potential to be actualized govern a constantly changing temporal existence within the space-time continuum of creation?  After all, did not Dr. Cornelius Van Til emphasize the Creator/creature distinction as the main emphasis of his apologetics and theology?  Does a God who is pure act have any potential?

I get a bit peeved, however, when I hear Van Tilians continually misrepresenting Dr. Gordon H. Clark’s views.  Although I sometimes struggle to see what Clark is trying to say in his often Socratic remarks, I do think I have a better understanding of Clark than most of the Van Tilian critics since I have read most everything that Clark has written or at least as much as I could lay my hands on.  Last night I came across a discussion on Dr. Jordan Cooper’s YouTube channel where he had Dr. Lane Tipton as his guest.  Tipton repeats the same tired old accusation against Gordon Clark that Clark has violated the Creator/creature distinction by saying that the Bible is univocally the very words of God and not just an ectypally or analogically mediated revelation whereby God condescends to the creature’s level by means of a tertium quid or through covenantal properties.  Scott Oliphant has opened up a firestorm by using the incarnation of Christ as a model for his contention that God makes covenant with man by way of a covenantal relationship known as covenantal properties.  In other words, God must be changed by this assuming to Himself this tertium quid of covenantal properties.  But is Oliphant really going beyond Van Til as James Dolezal, Lane Tipton, Camden Bucey and Jeff Waddington have contended?  I do not think so because if you take the Van Tilian view that all Scripture is essentially contradictory and that Scripture is not univocally God’s propositional revelation but is instead an analogical and ectypal revelation of God whereby God condescends to man’s creaturely existence, then you have to say that that God exists in a two-fold way that implies that God changes in ectypal revelation but not in His unknowable secret being which exists only in the archetypal mode of God’s nature.  This is precisely why Gordon H. Clark rejected the Thomistic view of truth as two-fold, that is that the Bible is analogical truth and not the same propositional truths that God knows in His essence or being.

On the Jordan Cooper YouTube channel, Lane Tipton reads from Van Til to show that Van Til says God is immutable and self-contained.  42 minute mark.  But this does not fly with me because I know that Van Til waffles back and forth between Barthianism and classical theism.  Van Til’s rejection of logic as a merely human logic shows that Van Til can in one breath affirm immutability and then affirm mutability.  Van Til’s followers are continually ignoring their own contradictions.  While Gordon H. Clark did acknowledge that there are some paradoxes in the Bible, he insisted that there must be a logical solution to these apparent contradictions or paradoxes.  Scott Oliphant’s covenantal properties theory is basically just taking the doctrine of analogical truth to the next level since a totally transcendent God could not interact with His creation whatsoever without violating the Creator/creature distinction.  And let us not forget that the issue of epistemology enters into the debate because a totally transcendent God would also be unknowable.  And since God is a simple being and all that is in God is also God Himself,  the implication is that whatever God eternally knows in propositional form is also God’s eternal being.  In Van Tilian terms this would mean that God cannot be divided into ectypal and archetypal categories because God is all that He is without any division of parts whatsoever.  The problem is that not only is Oliphant’s covenantal properties a tertium quid but so is the analogical revelation view.  Either we can know something of God through special revelation on singular points of univocal special revelation and innate knowledge through the image of God or we can know nothing that God knows whatsoever.  There is a reason that Van Tilians in general favor divine mutualism and the reason is that they can affirm outright contradictions based on Van Til’s theology of paradox and that all Scripture is apparently contradictory.

The problem does not begin and end with the Van Tilians, however.  J. Oliver Buswell and his protégé, Dr. Robert L. Reymond, both advocated for divine mutualism.  Dr. Reymond went further and said that God has passions and emotions and responds to human emotions.  Reymond tried to soften this by saying that God cannot be manipulated by His creatures but this ignores the fact that God is eternally immutable.  In fact, Reymond affirms a contradiction which he calls “dynamic immutability.”  You can read Reymond’s view on pages 177-201 in his systematic theology.  However, a short quote will show how he confuses human categories with the immutable and eternal Creator:


An objection often raised against God’s decretal immutability is this: if God always acts in accordance with his own foreknown eternal purpose, which is unalterably fixed, if he is ever constant in his fidelity to his own eternal decree, how do we explain the fact that the Scriptures will speak of God as being “grieved” over some prior action on his part or of his “changing his mind” and expressing a willingness to chart a course of action other than the one he is on? Are his “grief” and his “changing his mind” also aspects of his dynamic immutability, and if so, what then does “immutability” mean? And how does this square with the unalterable fixity of his eternal decree?


Reymond, Robert L.. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith: 2nd Edition - Revised and Updated (Kindle Locations 3641-3646). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.   [Page 180.  Hardcopy edition.]

Did not God alter his course away from his earlier unconditional declaration of judgment? And if so, where then is his immutability?

 A fourfold response may be given to these questions. First, where, upon a superficial reading, the biblical text seems to suggest that God did in fact alter his course of action away from a previously declared course of action, one should understand that his “new course” is only his settled, immutably certain response—in keeping with the principles of conduct respecting himself which he himself enunciates in Jeremiah 18:7–10—to a change in the human response to his holy laws:

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. (emphases added)

In other words, God always acts the same way toward moral evil and the same way toward moral good. In his every reaction to men’s responses to him, the immutable moral fixity of his character is evident. If men and women alter their relations to him, he will always respond in a manner consistent with his immutably holy character. This being true, God does not deem it necessary to attach to every promise he makes or to every prediction of judgment he issues the conditions for human weal or woe. They are always to be understood as in force, though they may be unstated. They are always operative so that whatever men do, God responds accordingly. And if the biblical interpreter does not realize this—that these conditions are operative even though unstated—he may conclude that God has broken a promise or has failed to carry out a predicted judgment.


Reymond, Robert L.. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith: 2nd Edition - Revised and Updated (Kindle Locations 3663-3677). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.  [Pp. 180-181].


Unfortunately Reymond vacillates back and forth between the apparent contradictions between God’s decretive will and His providential will in governing the creation and His creatures.  Reymond insists that God actually does change His mind in reaction to the willful actions of His creatures even if God’s decretive will is unalterably immutable.  In his favor, however, Reymond agrees with Dr. Gordon H. Clark that God knows the future in every detail because He has foreordained and decreed it to be so, not because God needs to learn something new.  (Pp. 184-191).  

However, in contradistinction to Clark, Reymond affirms that God must have emotions, otherwise He is eternally frozen:


. . . To say then that God is unchangeable, that is, “immutable,” must not be construed to mean that he cannot and does not act. The God of the Bible is portrayed as acting on every page of the Bible! He is not static in his immutability; he is dynamic in his immutability. But his dynamic immutability in no way affects his essential nature as God (that is, his “Godness”); to the contrary, he would cease to be the God of Scripture if he did not will and act in the ways the Bible ascribes to him. But he always wills and acts, as Isaiah declared, in faithfulness to his decrees: “In perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago” (Isa. 25:1). Berkhof correctly concludes:

The divine immutability should not be understood as implying immobility, as if there is no movement in God.… The Bible teaches us that God enters into manifold relations with man and, as it were, lives their life with them. There is change round about Him, change in the relations of men to Him, but there is no change in His Being, His attributes, His purpose, His motives of actions, or His promises.42

Thus whenever divine impassibility is interpreted to mean that God is impervious to human pain or incapable of empathizing with human grief it must be roundly denounced and rejected. When the Confession of Faith declares that God is “without … passions” it should be understood to mean that God has no bodily passions such as hunger or the human drive for sexual fulfillment. As A. A. Hodge writes: “we deny that the properties of matter, such as bodily parts and passions, belong to him.”43

We do, however, affirm that the creature cannot inflict suffering, pain, or any sort of distress upon him against his will. In this sense God is impassible.  . . .


Reymond, Robert L.. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith: 2nd Edition - Revised and Updated (Kindle Locations 3617-3631). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.  [Pp. 178-179.]

Reymond may have equivocated on these points but it seems to me that Scott Oliphant’s attributing a tertium quid to God in the form of condescending covenantal properties goes well beyond what other divine mutualists like Buswell, Reymond, Berkhof, and Packer have said.  It is indeed troubling when open theism and process theology is being openly taught at an allegedly Reformed seminary like Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA.

Addendum:  Dr. Gordon H. Clark said that since emotions are sensations of the body, it would impossible for God to have any emotions whatsoever.  That's because God is a spirit and has no body.  (John 4:24; Deuteronomy 4:15-16; Luke 24:39).  According to Clark, emotions are passionate outbursts and to say that God has such would mean God's disposition toward the elect would be in constant flux and change.  Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17 would refute this.


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