A Theological and Scripturalist Defense of Gordon H. Clark's Two Person View of the Incarnation
By Charlie J. Ray, M. Div.
In my last post I ended abruptly and neglected to mention another error in Dr. Robert L. Reymond's view of God immutability. Apparently Dr. Reymond's views on common grace, the well meant offer, and the free offer of the Gospel influenced him to agree with the Arminians that God can will to change Himself. I infer this from Dr. Reymond's contention that in God's interactions with men His inward dispositions change although men cannot manipulate God or move God without His permission:
The God of Scripture is constantly acting into and reacting to the human condition. In no sense is he metaphysically insulated or detached from, unconcerned with, or insensitive or indifferent to the condition of fallen man. Reymond, (p. 178)
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, (p. 179).
Dr. Robert L. Reymond. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998).
If the implication is that God can will that men can inflict suffering, pain, or distress on God, then this argument is similar to the Arminian argument that moral evil exists because God wills to give men and angels libertarian free will. The libertarian free will argument is that there is nothing to determine the wills of men or angels one way or the other in regards to moral good or moral evil and that God wills to make Himself finite and subject to the creature's arbitrary and capricious moral decisions which are therefore undetermined. Of course, libertarian free will is inherently contradictory because God commands men and angels not to sin or do evil so their decisions are not without predetermination. Secondly, there are consequences for moral evil and both men and angels reflect on foreseen consequences prior to acting so that their decisions should be affected by their looking into the future for possible outcomes of their decisions, thus their decisions are not entirely undetermined because they both know that God punishes rebellion. Also, it should be pointed out that even Reymond acknowledges that in hell God is unmoved by the cries of those in unending torment for all eternity. If God cannot be unwillingly moved to pardon those in eternal punishment, obviously this means that God wills for the wicked to suffer in unending torments. But according to Reymond's own argument, God could be moved to change His mind. The unchangeable and immutable nature of God means, however, that it was always God's eternal purpose to reprobate some individual and particular men and angels and to punish them forever in hell as an expression of His eternal justice.
Also, one has to ask how God could be in pain or distressed or suffer in anyway when God has no body and no bodily sensations? The anthropopathisms in Scripture, according to A. A. Hodge, are analogies or metaphors that help humans relate to God and are not to be taken literally:
4. How are we to understand those passages of Scripture which attribute to God bodily parts and the infirmities of human passion?
The passages referred to are such as speak of the face of God, Ex. 33:11, 20; his eyes, 2 Chron. 16:9; his nostrils, 2 Sam. 22:9, 16; his arms and feet, Isa. 52:10, and Ps. 18:9; and such as speak of his repenting and grieving, Gen. 6:6, 7; Jer. 15:6; Ps. 95:10; of his being jealous, Deut. 29:20, etc. These are to be understood only as metaphors. They represent the truth with respect to God only analogically, and as seen from our point of view. That God can not be material is shown below, Question 20.
When he is said to repent, or to be grieved, or to be jealous, it is only meant that he acts towards us as a man would when agitated by such passions. These metaphors occur principally in the Old Testament, and in highly rhetorical passages of the poetical and prophetical books.
Archibald Alexander Hodge, Outlines of Theology: Rewritten and Enlarged (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1878), p. 132.
There is much more to say on this issue but I will end here for now and continue the discussion on the kenotic and sub-kenotic view of the incarnation as it relates to modern Evangelical and Pentecostal views in the next post. Dr. Gordon H. Clark comments on this in his commentary on Philippians but I unfortunately forgot to bring that paperback with me as I am traveling at this time. But I will return to his remarks on that book in a future post.
See: Incarnation Part 5
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