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 04, 2017

Incarnation: Part 2

A Theological and Scripturalist Defense of Gordon H. Clark's Two Person View of the Incarnation
Part 2
By Charlie J. Ray, M. Div.
In any consideration of Dr. Gordon H. Clark's view of the Incarnation it cannot be ignored that Dr. Clark's view of knowledge or epistemology is that all knowledge and all thinking is propositional.  Even written language is possible not because of ink marks on a page but because of the thoughts that the words signify.  While ink marks on a page stimulate recollection and thinking, it is not empirical data that causes knowledge but rather knowledge is produced in man by an innate ability to think, reason, use language, and recollect what is learned by logical deduction.  Even a simple statement like the cat is black requires that the terms be defined precisely and that there is a subject and a predicate joined together by a copula.  The statement that God exists is not a proposition because anything can be said to exist. You have said nothing meaningful if you say that a rock exists or trees exist.  But when you say that a rock is a hard object you have said something propositional about what a rock is.  There could be many other propositions thought about the rock and expressed in words.  But it is thinking that defines a rock as a rock and not empirical perception.  
According to Dr. Clark, man was not born with a mind that is a blank tablet and then man learns from empirical experience.  Instead, Dr. Clark asserted that man is given the a priori ability to perceive time, do math, learn language and think logically.  This is because man is God's image.  (Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 11:7).  In regards to that image, Dr. Clark asserted that since God is a spirit  (John 4:24) and has no body parts or sensation, the image of God cannot be man's physical body.  Instead the image is a spiritual image.  God is an incorporeal spirit and man's soul likewise is incorporeal.  After death the soul either ascends to God or descends into Hades or a place of torment.  (Luke 16:22-31; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8).  Dr. Clark insisted that if man knows anything at all it is because the Logos has enlightened every man.  (John 1:9).  It is God's enlightening of every man that allows man the ability to think, make inventions, and have a civilized society.
Additionally, for Dr. Clark doing apologetics means to think logically, propositionally and systematically.  In fact, when building a defense for Christianity the beginning axiom must be Scripture for it is impossible to rationally prove the existence of God or the truth of the Bible.  Clark does not begin with the doctrine of God but with the doctrine of Scripture and he says that the best summary of the deductive system of dogmatic theology in the Bible is the Westminster Confession of Faith.   Some "professing" Scripturalists deny systematic theology but to do so is to deny Dr. Clark's epistemology and his apologetics, for it is basic to Dr. Clark's Scripturalism or dogmatics to assert that we can know what God knows in systematic form if what God knows has been revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.  The quotes emphasizing systematic and propositional thinking can be found in just about every book that Dr. Clark has written:
If Adam's condition in Eden had not been that of original righteousness, but only a neutral condition, neither good nor bad, there would be little hope of a more blessed future.  Pelagians and Romanists hold that man was originally neutral.  God created him without a moral character.  He had only a capacity to become good or bad.  This assumes that moral character is a product of volition, instead of a volition's being controlled by the character.  But God's pronouncement that the creation was good, and that the creation of man was very good, shows that Adam's original nature was not an equilibrium.  And the argument shows how one doctrine affects another so that theology is not an aggregate of propositions but a system. 
Gordon H. Clark.  The Biblical Doctrine of Man.  (Jefferson:  Trinity Foundation, 1984).  P. 8.
. . . To me, the tremendous assumption without warrant from Scripture is that God is incapable of expressing the truth he knows. And that his knowledge is a logical system seems required by three indisputable evidences: first, the information he has revealed is grammatical, propositional, and logical; second, the Old Testament talks about the wisdom of God and in the New Testament Christ is designated as the Logos in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and, third, we are made in the image of God, Christ being the light that lights every man.
Certainly, the burden of proof lies on those who deny the propositional construction of truth. Their burden is twofold. Not only must they give evidence for the existence of such truth, but first of all they must make clear what they mean by their words. It may be that the phrase non-propositional truth is a phrase without meaning.
Gordon Clark.  God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (Gordon Clark) (Kindle Locations 725-732).  The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.
It is my contention, therefore, that those who deny the systematic nature of knowledge and the fact that man thinks logically--because God is logic--are confused when they accuse Dr. Clark of rationalism, Gnosticism, or Nestorianism.  (John 1:1, 9).  Dr. Clark's view of knowledge as propositional and systematic affects everything he says in his writings.  That being the case, I want to survey Dr. Clark's view of the biblical doctrine of man, his view of the Trinity, and finally his view of the Incarnation in his last book.  But to survey his earlier writings will take some time as his writings are voluminous.
In the next blog article I will survey and discuss in more detail Dr. Clark's view of man and man's nature as man.  He discusses these doctrines in at least three of his books, namely, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, The Atonement, and What Do Presbyterians Believe?  But more on that will be discussed later.
To read Incarnation Part 1 click here:  Incarnation Part 1 Incarnation Part 3

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