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.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Reformed Anglican Connection: New Biography on the Life and Thought of Dr. Gordon H. Clark

"Don’t be satisfied to learn Scripture truth second hand. If you make a duplicate key from the master key, then a duplicate key from the first duplicate, in four generations the keys will not fit the lock. You must have constant reference to the Master Key. (Check your doctrine by the inspired Word of God.)"  -- Robert Knight Rudolf

Recently, I received an e-mail from a theological student named Douglas Douma some time ago.  He sent me several chapters to review from a new biographical work he is doing on the life, theology and thought of the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  In the e-mail Douglas informed me that the Reformed seminary at Sangre de Cristo in Westcliffe, Colorado is in possession of an unpublished 800 page systematic theology written by Dr. Clark.  He is in process of reading  that systematic theology.

Also, for those interested in Dr. Clark's connection with the Calvinist, Protestant, and Reformed side of Anglicanism, there are brief mentions of Dr. Clark's association with the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia.  One personal connection Dr. Clark had was with Robert Knight Rudolf, whom he apparently met at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Clark was friends with Rudolf after he became a professor at the REC seminary.  Rudolf was apparently influenced by J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til as well, and they are in fact pictured together at the Wikipedia website.

Dr. Cornelius Van Til and Robert K. Rudolf

Unfortunately, the Reformed Episcopal Church has gone decidedly far away from its original reason for being and has become increasingly associated with Tractarianism, high church Arminianism, and Anglo-Catholic ecumenicalism.  (See:  The Departure of the Reformed Episcopal Church).   The REC has even provided a commentary on The Declaration of Principles to explain away their departure from those principles which were never supposed to be revised or rejected.  (See:  Declaration Denial).  One has to wonder if this departure from Protestant and Reformed orthodoxy and confessionalism is due to Van Til's theology of paradox and/or a connection to theonomy?  Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary, California is just one example among many of the direction which Van Til's theology of irrational paradox leads.  (See my critical review of Horton's systematic theology).  

The REC denomination joined with the Anglican Province of America in concordat back in 2002 or so.  (See also:  Anglican Province of America).  More recently the denomination joined with the decidedly Anglo-Catholic denomination, the Anglican Church in North America.  Despite its claims to be "orthodox" the ACNA is not Evangelical or Protestant.  In fact, its only claim to orthodoxy is its objection to homosexual ordination.  The APA is likewise not Evangelical or Protestant but in fact is a high church Anglo-Catholic denomination.

While it is certainly true that Dr. Gordon H. Clark was not infallible, it is nevertheless true that Dr. Clark never wavered on his objections to neo-orthodox theology and his objections to Dr. Cornelius Van Til's compromise position, which attempted to mediate between the old line Princeton Theology, and the neo-orthodox position, which advocated irrationalism and contradiction as the modus operandi for solving the modernist controversy.  This is how Mike Horton could embrace a known advocate for Open Theism, namely the heresiarch Roger Olson, as a "brother" in Christ.  (See:  For/Against Calvinism).  Basically, irrationalism and paradox can be used as an excuse to justify many departures from the five solas of the Reformation and the confessional nature of traditional and classical Protestant and Calvinist theology.

Dr. Clark was a known supporter of Dr. J. Gresham Machen and helped Dr. Machen form the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Unfortunately, after Dr. Machen's death the neo-liberals, who sneaked into the new seminary at Philadelphia, sought to prevent Dr. Clark's ordination with the OPC as a teaching elder.  That attempt failed and Clark was exonerated and ordained.  (See:  Clark/Van Til Controversy).  Regrettably, this was a temporary victory as Clark was forced to leave when most of his supporters were under theological and doctrinal attack by the irrationalists under the leadership of Dr. Van Til.  That departure can be directly linked to the rise of neo-liberalism at Westminster Seminary, PA, the Norman Shepherd fiasco, and the more recent victory of the Federal Vision heresy within the Presbyterian Church in America.  (See:  PCA Endorses Federal Vision).

The legacy of Dr. Gordon H. Clark continues today through the Trinity Foundation and those who support presuppositionalist apologetics and biblical inerrancy.  The controversy revolves around the issue of the univocal nature of Scripture as propositional revelation.  Van Til contended that any idea of Scripture as univocal revelation and propositional revelation is to violate the creature/Creator distinction.  Van Til's response to Clark was to adopt Thomas Aquinas' theology of Scripture as analogy rather than propositional.  The neo-orthodox theologians adopted Aquinas' theology as a way of advocating their theology of mystery, paradox, and irrationalism.  The neo-Calvinists, who evolved out of the 19th century adoption of Abraham Kuyper's semi-arminian doctrines of common grace and the free offer of the gospel, decided to accommodate neo-orthodoxy into the clothing of Evangelicalism and its anti-intellectual mindset.  It can legitmately be argued that the beginning of the liberal bent at Princeton Seminary in the 19th century can be directly traced to the adoption of Kuyper's compromises with Arminianism and to the Stone Lectures:

In the same year, at the invitation of B.B. Warfield, Kuyper delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary, which was his first widespread exposure to a North American audience. These lectures were given 10–11 October 14 and 19–21 in 1898. He also received an honorary doctorate in law there. During his time in the United States, he also traveled to address several Dutch reformed congregations in Michigan and Iowa and presbyterian gatherings in Ohio and New Jersey.   (Kuyper:  Member of Parliment).

Ironically, B.B. Warfield, an ardent advocate for verbal plenary inspiration and biblical inerrancy, invited Kuyper to speak at Princeton.  It can legitimately be argued that this compromise with a rationalist and Arminian point of view that set off the move to theological liberalism at Princeton.  This same bent is present at both Westminster seminaries, PA and CA, and the same neo-liberal results are present.  That can be observed in the neo-legalism of Norman Shepherd and Richard Gaffney at Westminster PA and in the neo-liberalism of the Two Kingdoms theology at Westminster CA.  Gaffney has confused justification and sanctification in his over-emphasis on the doctrine of union with Christ in existential encounter.  The 2K theology of Westminster CA has led to aberrations like Lee Irons, who endorses homosexual marriage in the political realm.

In closing, I cannot say where Robert K. Rudolf's theology ended.  I do know that for a brief time that Dr. Gordon H. Clark taught at the Reformed Theological Seminary.  How much his influence was able to counter the irrationalism of Cornelius Van Til I do not know.  But judging from the current state of the Reformed Episcopal Church the answer has to be not much.

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed. (WCF 1:6 WCS)

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