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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Incarnation Part 6

A Theological and Scripturalist Defense of Gordon H. Clark's Two Person View of the Incarnation
Part  6
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 any way 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.

Next post:  Incarnation Part 7

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John Bradshaw said...

A great series. Thx Charlie. Perhaps in a future essay you could comment how Dr Clark understood the specific Scriptures that speak of Christ as man, God, God-man, as Charles Hodge outlines in the section Consequences of the Hypostatical Union, vol. 2,p.374, Systematic Theology.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for your comment, John. Unfortunately I've been working longer hours lately so I haven't been able to post. Dr. Clark's epistemology is important in understanding his view of the Incarnation. In fact, all of his writings fit together in harmony. Dr. Clark's view of knowledge as propositional and as a system of propositional truths also determines his view of the Trinity, his definition of a person, and how the three persons of the Trinity are distinguished from one another. This also is how Clark approaches the doctrine of the Incarnation. But more about that later.

John Bradshaw said...

Thx Charlie. It would be very interesting if you could dissect how his system leads to his definitions, particularly in this case of a person. It seems to me that getting the definition of a person (or a substance), from Scripture is not that easy. Yet perhaps it is upon this point that Dr Clark differs with Chalcedon and the writers of the WCF.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Incarnation Part 7

Charlie J. Ray said...

John, it is a bit complicated to bring all of Clark's thinking together. I've read all of his books and I have to constantly re-read them to remind myself what his views are. If you mean that the Bible contains all knowledge, no. That is not what Clark says. He starts with the axiom of Scripture which he says is propositional and logical information. From the Bible propositions are read and understood and from those propositions a system of propositional knowledge is deduced. Also, you have to understand that Clark said that all knowledge is propositional. This is where he differs from Augustine's realism because Augustine said that knowledge is based on real ideas that exist in God's mind. Hence Augustine's view is called Augustinian realism. In other words, knowledge does not come from empirical observation but from the innate ability of man to think in propositional form or logical form.

A person is defined by the propositions he thinks. Since only God is omniscient, only God knows all the propositions there are to know about you. You cannot know yourself exhaustively because your ability to think is discursive or subject to time and linear thinking. But God knows everything you will ever think from your birth till you die and he knows it all at once.

I will jump ahead a bit to show you where I am heading with these articles. Basically Jesus must be two persons because if the Logos replaces Jesus's human soul or personality, then Jesus is not really a human person. The problem with the kenosis or self-emptying of Christ, as Clark saw it, was that it made Christ less than fully God. And if the Logos replaces the human soul of Jesus and at the same time the Logos laid aside the incommunicable attributes of the divine nature or the divine privileges, then the Trinity is altered as well. It would make the Logos or the eternal Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity less than God! But more about that later.

Charlie J. Ray said...

From the propositions in the Bible other propositions can be inferred and deduced. One example is that man is God's image and the reason we think logically is because that is how God thinks. God is Logic. John 1:1.

John Bradshaw said...

Thx Charlie, that was quite a helpful summary.
Whilst I can see that the two persons theory is where Dr Clark's definition of a person would lead him, one must wonder if the definition is correct. Not that I can give you a better one!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Clark's view is much more complicated than this. He doesn't reject everyday experience obviously. He often distinguished between common ways of talking and a more formal philosophical examination of things. The word religion is meaningless because it cannot be consistently defined because of all the world religions. But we use the word in every day speech to refer to different religious systems. Christianity is not a religion among religions. It claims to be an all encompassing worldview that goes beyond just a theological point of view. It is also a philosophical worldview.

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