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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gordon H. Clark on Libertarianism

"The Libertarian movement has been usually anti-Christian. This folder uses very vague ambiguous language. But some of it is too explicit. It seems to hold that there should be no human governments at all."

"Anarchy is the worst possible form of society."  Dr. Gordon H. Clark

For those who advocate the secular philosophy of libertarianism under the rubric of "Reformed Libertarianism," Dr. Clark was at least on one occasion an outspoken critic:

March 5, 1980 

Dear Dr. Robbins,

Yesterday I received a letter with (1) a copy of the “Trinity Manifesto,” (2) “Christian Libertarianism,” (3) “Galatians Fellowship,” and (4) “Wood, Hay, and Stubble.” I am disturbed by the Libertarian folder. The Libertarian movement has been usually anti-Christian. This folder uses very vague ambiguous language. But some of it is too explicit. It seems to hold that there should be no human governments at all. “According to the Old Testament, God’s will in terms of his people is that He alone (not a government) should rule them. This I made explicit in many passages.” But first, God established Moses’ rule. The N.T. teaches us to honor the king, and be subject to the powers that be. This does not harmonize with the statement, “God not only preferred that we live without a government, he actually saw a government as a curse.” I would agree with Augustine that if man had not fallen, there would have been no civil government. But with sin, government is not just a curse, in so far as it limits freedom, but a blessing in that it restrains crime. Anarchy is the worst possible form of society. The pamphlet “stands behind the abolition of all laws against…drug use, pornography, and prostitution.” If you have any comments or knowledge concerning this movement, I wish you would let me hear what you have to say.
Cordially, Gordon H. Clark

Gordon H. Clark. Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark (Kindle Locations 3640-3655). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

In other places Clark has affirmed his support of the principle of general equity and the responsibility of the civil magistrate to uphold the moral values of the Decalogue.  One such place was the question and answer session after his lecture on Puritan ethics.  Clark referred to the liberal and socialist view as "contemporary impuritans."  The Reformed Libertarian movement is therefore neither Reformed nor puritan.  Worse, it is is "impure".  I once asked Sean Gerety to show me from where in Scripture he could deduce libertarianism.  I never got an answer.

The Westminster Confession of Faith explicitly denies that moral anarchy is freedom whatsoever.  In fact, the WCF upholds the principle that all persons and governments are accountable to God and the moral law revealed in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments:

WCF 19.4  To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.1

WCF 19.5  The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof;1 and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God, the Creator, who gave it.2 Neither doth Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.3 (WCF 19:4-5 WCS)
Of course the standard response is that the WCF is not infallible Scripture.  So it is not.  But I have yet to see the biblical statement of faith of any self professed libertarian who claims to be a Christian.  If they could produce one, it would be fallible as well.  I would rather trust the Westminster divines who were all men of great learning and who were familiar with the issues of biblical exegesis, logic, and the Protestant Reformation.

Contemporary Impuritans

. . . The central cause of this widespread moral collapse, so it seems to me, is located in the decline of Puritan religion. This returns us to the main theme of religious rather than civil history. When the seminaries and churches declare that God is dead, or when, less extreme, they substitute for the Puritan God of the Ten Commandments a different concept of god, inconsistent with the Ten Commandments, it logically and factually follows that morality is changed, too. A man’s view of morality depends on his view of God or whatever his first principle may be. Different types of theology produce different types of morality.

And the clincher is that Clark, after delivering this lecture, was asked if he thought the judicial and civil laws of the United States of America should be based on the Ten Commandments.  He said yes.

Questions and Answers

A panel including Gordon H. Clark.

Moderator: Dr. Clark, should the federal and state governments of the U.S. include the ten commandments in their basic body of ordinances?
Moderator: This is in line with your Puritan ethics, I suppose.

Dr. Clark: If you make the franchise dependent on church membership, it results in great hypocrisy in the church. And it has proved deleterious in the case of the Puritans. Now, what was further in that question?

Moderator: Should we, should the federal and state governments of the U.S. include the ten commandments in their basic body of ordinances?

Dr. Clark: Well, yes I rather suppose so. And in fact it has been done done perhaps not completely. But people who say that you cannot legislate morality and people who say they don’t want Christian morality imposed on them, don’t seem to object to laws against theft.  Particularly if they’re the victims. And the law against theft of course comes from the ten commandments. So those who make these objections are inconsistent. They don’t follow the logic of their principles. I don’t see how they could sustain any laws.

The Gordon H. Clark Foundation:  Questions and Answers. A panel including Gordon H. Clark.

Clark was all for separation of church and state but not to protect the moral anarchists from the church but to protect the church from the civil government.  Christians should not take each other to court for this very reason.  He gives the example of a Baptist church where the majority of membership voted to leave the Southern Baptist Convention.  The minority of members of the sued in court and won the church property.  In more recent years Episcopal congregations left the mainline Episcopal Church or The Episcopal Church over the ordination of homosexual priests and the consecration of a homosexual bishop.  But the federal courts in every single case awarded the church property to the mainline denomination even though the local congregations had funded and built the properties in the majority of cases or had been there so long that the congregation had precedence over an over reaching hierarchy of bishops in the general synod.

Those who are promoting moral anarchy under the guise of libertarianism are not even in line with the biblical view in the Old Testament since the view there was not moral anarchy and libertarian or libertine politics but rather a confederacy.  It was only after Saul became king that the confederacy of the Hebrew tribes was united under a central government.  (See: Confederacy in the Bible).  Technically, after the conquest of the land and prior to the anointing of Saul as king the form of government of Israel was a confederation of the twelve tribes.  It was not God's command that the people should have a king until they rebelled against God's own sovereignty over them.  (1 Samuel 8:1-22).

Also, the libertarians forget that it was God's command that the Hebrews should drive out the immoral nations from the land so that their immorality would not become a snare to them to lead them away from God: 

And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. 32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee. (Exodus 23:31-33 KJV)

Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. (Joshua 23:13 KJV)

But we are not a theocracy they will complain.  Certainly we are not a theocracy since there are no longer prophets who receive direct oracles from God.  But we do have the Bible as our axiom and the moral principles of the Bible still apply today to both nations and individuals. 

VII. Of the Old Testament.

THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

Does this mean that Dr. Gordon H. Clark was a theonomist or that he called for theocracy?  Hardly.  If you mean theonomy in the general sense of the term, the Reformed view is theonomic.  But this does not mean that theonomy as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith is in agreement with the views of Van Til's student Greg Bahnsen or Rousas John Rushdoony, Gary North or other extremists who conflated the Old Testament judicial laws with the moral law and general equity.  The Reformed view is clearly against both libertarianism and the extremes of the theonomist and reconstructionist movement.  Theocracy is impossible today since there are no prophets or apostles and no continuation of God breathed revelation.  The canon of Scripture is closed.

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