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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Gordon H. Clark Quote of the Day: Is Crime a Sickness or a Sin?

"Today . . . many people hold that crime is only a disease;  the criminal is not guilty, but sick;  and even his sickness is the result of a misguided society rather than of a depraved individual mind or will.

"Naturally:  Socialism is anti-Christian."

 Dr. Gordon H. Clark. 

Gordon H. Clark on the Atonement and Socialism:  Quote of the Day

It can be confusing to think logically at first.  That is because thinking logically requires some study of logic and the fallacious arguments used by opponents of Christianity.  The basic axiom for the Christian worldview is that the Bible is the starting point for all knowledge.  In light of that, Dr. Gordon H. Clark makes the following observations concerning the justice of God in regards to the atonement by quoting Jonathan Edwards and a couple of Edwards’ invalid arguments in regards to the moral government and the application of the moral law by moral agents.   Clark is an astute critic of invalid arguments since he was an expert in logic.  (John 1:9).

[ . . . that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26 KJV)]

Romans 3:26:    . . . that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.   [NKJV?]

This verse says something about the justice of God, and the justice of God is a most important facet of the doctrine of the Atonement.  But at the moment we are interested only in the method used to defend divine justice.  Here is an example.

Jonathan Edwards wrote a thirty-five page article Concerning the Necessity and Reasonableness of the Christian Doctrine of Satisfaction for Sin (Works, Volume VIII, 1811).  He introduces his subject with the proposition, “Justice requires that sin be punished.”  He appeals to the universal belief that “some crimes are so horrid . . . that it is requisite they should not go unpunished unless . . . some measure [of compensation or repentance] at least balances the desert of punishment.”  In Edwards’ day hardly anyone would have disagreed, and thus Edwards could rely on the commonly held view as a sufficient introduction to his theology.  Today that is not the case.  Many people hold that crime is only a disease;  the criminal is not guilty, but sick;  and even his sickness is the result of a misguided society rather than of a depraved individual mind or will.  If then it be our business to maintain the truth of the Christian doctrine of Atonement, instead of merely explaining it, we must face a problem Edwards hardly dreamed of.  In view of the prevalent behaviorism and Freudian psychology, we cannot rely on common opinion and so-called human reason.  Yet if we rely on revelation alone, are we not begging the question and losing our audience?  Edwards could plausibly appeal to human reason because the human reason he was acquainted with was English reason already permeated with Christian ideas.  But this is no longer the case.  Edwards thought that crime excites “such an abhorrence and indignation that . . . by this all is granted that needs to be granted, to show that desert of punishment carries in it a requisiteness of the punishment deserved” (500).  But today the behaviorists (for example John Watson and B. F. Skinner) aim to remove the idea of punishment from the laws and from the mind of man.  Sweden, for example, has made it illegal for parents to spank their children or even to scold them.  Naturally:  Socialism is anti-Christian.

From the eighteenth-century Christian opinion that all crime demands punishment, unless there be something to balance it, Edwards infers that, since any sin against God is so great that nothing can balance it, God must punish it.  “If any ask, why God could not pardon the injury on repentance, without other satisfaction, without wrong to justice; I ask the same person why he could not also pardon the injury without repentance?”  To Edwards this is unthinkable, but few today would acknowledge that his argument is valid.  On the next page (502) he appeals not only to a Christian conscience, but also to the “consciences of heathen.”  Yet he must add the damaging proviso “unless conscience has been stupefied by frequent violations.”  On page 506 he also admits “all but Epicureans will own that all moral agents are subjects of God’s moral government.”  This is a false statement.  Others than Epicureans are also such exceptions.  Of course Jonathan Edwards antedated the modern Logical Positivists (who are far from being Epicureans) but in addition to Democritus, not even Aristotle satisfies Edwards’ assertion.  For that matter, even one exception to his norm destroys his position.  Yet from his inadequate observation he concludes that therefore God’s conscience must be like ours.  Hence Edwards’ argument fails on two counts.:  invalid inference and false premises.

Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  The Atonement.  Lois A. Zeller and Elizabeth Clark George.  1987.  (Trinity Foundation:  Hobbs, 1996).  Second edition.  Pp. 5-7.

[See also:  The Atonement.]

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