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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

R. Scott Clark and the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Uncertainty

"First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible"  -- Gordon H. Clark

Dr. Scott Clark does not believe that the Bible is univocally the very inspired words of God.  He is a skeptic when it comes to Scripture.  His view is essentially the neo-orthodox view of Scripture as revelation only in a secondary sense.  The Bible "contains" or "frames" the Word of God but is not itself the direct revelation of God in written form.  For Scott Clark the Bible is questionable and anyone who actually believes the Bible is direct, univocal revelation is on a quest for "illegitimate" religious certainty  (QIRC). 

He attacks biblical Christianity and the doctrine of sola Scriptura by insisting on imposing uncertainty on the inspired Scriptures:

The first aspect of the QIRC is that it is not satisfied with being a mere image-bearer, an analogue of God. It wants more. It wants to know what God knows, the way he knows it. It seeks to bend the line of analogy into a line of intersection with God’s intellect. It effectively denies Isaiah 55:8–9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
If we know what God knows, the way he knows it, then his thoughts are our thoughts and his ways are no longer higher than ours, at least not always. Intersection is not analogy.  [The QIRC-er Must Be Right].
Ironically, Scott Clark contradicts himself because he is claiming he is right while disparaging those who claim to be right.  This is typical contradiction for Van Tilians.  The law of contradiction does not apply to them--at least that is the implication.

But you did get what he said in the quote above?  He said that you cannot know anything God knows, not even in the Bible.  So become an agnostic and wonder about things I guess?  But Scott Clark seems to be absolutely sure that there is no absolute truth.  How ironic that Clark agrees with the liberals and the neo-orthodox and attacks biblical Christianity as "fundamentalism".

I have no need to deny Scripture.   Scripture alone is the Word of God, notwithstanding the Van Tilian denial of the absolute truths revealed in propositions in the Holy Scriptures.  The more I learn about Van Tilian theology the more I come to the conclusion that Van Tilians are enemies of Scripture and of the Gospel.

Scott Clark openly admits that he does not read or consider the views of Clarkians:

Thus, for my part, I’ve resolved not to argue with QIRC-ers (though I fall from this resolve occasionally). Who can argue with someone who knows what God knows, the way he knows it? [Ibid.]
A better question is why bother arguing with someone who absolutely knows that no one knows the Scriptures are the very words of God in written form?  Such blatant denial of the doctrine of plenary-verbal inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is glossed over in the name of ecumenical fellowship.  Of course, Scott Clark "knows" absolutely that Gordon H. Clark was wrong, does he not?  Liberals absolutely know that there are no absolutes and Van Tilians absolutely know that Scripture is not univocally God's revelation.

But for the record, Gordon H. Clark never asserted infallibility of men on any level.  He acknowledged that Scripture alone is infallible:

 A final note on this point returns us to the Romanists. The Council of Trent said that it would require supernatural revelation to know whether one was predestinated to eternal life. These directions in the Bible on how to attain assurance show that without extraordinary revelation, simply by the right use of the ordinary means, we may attain to the assurance of faith.

A third point concerning assurance is one that is logically implied by what has already been said. Yet it deserves an explicit mention. The Westminster Confession puts the matter very strongly. “This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidences of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption” (17:2).

Though the wording is very clear, it may be necessary in this age to point out two places where a misunderstanding may arise. First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible. This would be a reversal to the Romish position that a supernatural revelation is necessary. All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation. Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.

Gordon H. Clark (2013-03-04T05:00:00+00:00). What Is The Christian Life? (Kindle Locations 3388-3403). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

It follows that if Van Tilians do not believe the Bible teaches all we need to know in propositional statements and that Scripture is not univocally the Word of God, then we must need some sort of existential encounter to know what God says?  If so, then how would we know anything?  Van Tilians reduce Scripture to analogy and subjectivity for good reason.   That reason is that they are on a quest for illegitimate religious uncertainty.  (QIRU).



Anonymous said...

Scott Clark contradicts himself because he is claiming he is right while disparaging those who claim to be right.

Bingo. He hangs himself. He also wrote about "legal preachers" a while back, but did the same thing, becoming, in effect, a "legal preacher" he wrote the article to warn against.

The larger context is his recent attempt to lump theonomists in with Federal Vision heretics. I am theonomic, but certainly not a "Theonomist" or a Reconstructionist.

It really gets old to listen to people from all walks try to lump in all of their opponents with FVists, instead of dealing with the issues.

RSC has a habit, IMO, of building up images of his opponents that are not accurate, smashing them, and walking away as if his work were done. The problem is, unfounded assertions and strawman-bashing does not a hard (or honest) day's work make.

I am not a committed VanTilian or a Clarkian, but I was forced to stop and consider Clark's positions more closely when I was asked, "Who decides what tension in Scripture we should not attempt to resolve?"

I now have quite a few Clark books in the queue. :-D


Charlie J. Ray said...

Irrationalists are always contradicting themselves. They conveniently duck behind paradox when you pin them down on anything at all. And for the record, Dr. Gordon H. Clark said that the Decalogue should be retained as a guide for the civil and criminal law of the USA. He was not a theonomist for obvious reasons. But if all knowledge begins with Scripture, the morality and criminal law must be deduced from the apodictic law of God which is summarized in the 10 Commandments.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I highly recommend Clark's book, God's Hammer. Also, Christian Philosophy and A Christian View of Men and Things. These are essential books to understand Clark's thought. His commentary on the Westminster Confession is also good.

God's peace!


Charlie J. Ray said...

And you're absolutely right about your observation. Do we pick and choose which "apparent" paradoxes have solutions? Maybe we should assume that there are no paradoxes in the Bible? We might not have all the answers now. But as the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark said, that does not mean that there are no solutions. The liberals at one time said the Hittites were mythological. We now know the liberals were wrong.


Charlie J. Ray said...

I don't think theonomists are FV. But I do believe that the theonomic view leads to the FV because of the emphasis on paradox and making law the central feature instead of the law/gospel distinction.

Anonymous said...


You said, " Maybe we should assume that there are no paradoxes in the Bible?"

That's a good idea. I agree, and would affirm that there are no paradoxes in Scripture.

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