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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bahnsen's Misquote of Clark Out of Context

WCF 2.1  There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; . . .

In his book, Presuppositional Apologetics, Greg Bahnsen completely misrepresents the position of Dr. Gordon H. Clark:

Indeed, by contrast, one could easily be led to believe that logic per se is his transcendental rather than Scripture. Instead of the attempt to be independent of God’s Word, “the denial of the law of contradiction, or even the failure to establish it as a universal truth, was the downfall of secular philosophy.”30 For the absolute presuppositionalist, God and His revelation guarantee the possibility of epistemological fruitfulness, for He who is the truth has deigned to give us a revelation of knowledge. Clark, on the other hand, concludes his chapter on epistemology in A Christian View of Men and Things by saying that it “has tried to show by an application of the law of contradiction—a law that is not merely formal but is itself an integral part of the system of truth—that truth exists and that knowledge is possible.”31 The impression that the truth of Scripture is not the grounding for logic, but that the law of contradiction is methodologically more primitive than Scripture for Clark, is apparently confirmed when he says,

Just how it could be possible to formulate reasons prior to any logic remains unexplained. It seems evident to me that any set of reasons or any argument for creation ought to make use of and therefore presuppose logic.32

The issue here is not whether, de facto, one makes instrumental use of the law of contradiction in all his thinking (that is readily granted), but whether, in principium, logic or the truth of Scripture is your absolute presupposition. Clark’s comment either makes an illegitimate separation of epistemology from metaphysics or posits logic as prior to the presupposition of Scripture. (Both errors will be treated infra.)

Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, ed. Joel McDurmon (Powder Springs, GA;Nacogdoches, TX: American Vision;Covenant Media Press, 2008), 144.

First off, Dr. Clark deduces from Scripture that man is God's image.  (John 1:9; Genesis 1:27, 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7).  Since God is Logic according to John 1:1 where the Greek word Logos is used, it follows that the law of contradiction is how God thinks.  And since man is God's image, man's ability to think logically is innate in man.  The Scriptures are propositional revelation to man and are therefore inherently logical as the very thoughts and propositions God knows and reveals to man.  Logic is logically prior to the Scriptures because God by divine simplicity is Logic along with all the other predicates that can be deduced from Scripture and describe who God is.  Moreover, God is logically prior to Scripture.  God is also holy, just, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.  But none of these things are parts of God, rather they tell us what God is and nothing in God's nature can be divorced from Him.  Definitions matter and a logical proposition is stated in a subject and a predicate joined by a copula.  Without definitions we could know nothing about God.

Thus, Clark does not make logic prior to revelation in Scripture but deduces from Scripture what God has revealed about Himself, namely that Logic is not created but Logic is God just as God is Love and Love is God.  God is Logic.  It logically follows then that logic is inherent in God by way of divine simplicity and the indivisible nature of God.  Logic is how God thinks.  

If only these Van Tilians would understand that their own position must use logic because without logic understanding is impossible.

 (WCF 2:1-2 WCS)

Note:  The Clark quote in Bahnsen's footnote 32 is from:   Clark, “Reply to Gilbert B. Weaver,” The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, ed. R. H. Nash, 460.  It is interesting that Bahnsen is using a secondary source rather than a direct quote from Clark in context.  This is a good indication that Bahnsen didn't bother reading Clark's works in their own context.

1 comment:

John Bradshaw said...

Thx Charlie.
Dr Robbins says much the same in his essay The Church Irrational re logic.
But why would Bahnsen knowingly misquote Clark? This I do not understand. Scholars seem more UNtrustworthy as a bunch to me, rather than trustworthy.

Support Reasonable Christian Ministries with your generous donation.