Oliphint — Vantillianism Unleashed

The attack on the logical harmony of the teaching of Scripture by Vantillians seems never ending.  I think what bothers me most is not the fact that these men have a low view of logic.  Nor is it their belief in the paradoxical or assumed contradictory nature of the teachings of Scripture.  After all there are plenty of  liberal and neo-orthodox theologians and pastors who share their view.  Rather, what bothers me most is their complete lack of integrity when it comes to informing their respective Presbyteries about their defection from their vows of ordination.   For example, in the PCA every would be elder (ruling or teaching) and deacon is required to vow in the affirmative that they:

 … sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures….

They must also promise

…that if at any time [they] find [themselves] out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, [they] will on [their] own initiative, make known to [their] Presbytery the change which has taken place in [their] views since the assumption of this ordination vow.

Assumed in the above is an adherence and fidelity to the fundamental of fundamentals; the complete and sole authority found in the Scriptures alone, a position summarized in WCF 1, “Of the Holy Scriptures,” from which every other truth of the Christian faith is deduced.  This includes the belief that in Scripture there is a logical “consent of all the parts” (1.5).  There is nothing in the Confession that asserts that the Scriptures contain apparent contradictions or insoluble paradoxes in anything it teaches and to which we must submit.  Instead, WCF 1 asserts that the meaning of Scripture is one (1.9), and that the “infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself” (1.9).   You will not find in the Confession the notion that Scripture teaches apparently contradictory and conflicting “truths” that can command our assent.

Instead, what we find is the belief that the Scriptures present to the mind a harmonious system of doctrine that includes those things set down in Scripture along with everything that can be validly deduced from Scripture (1.6).  Biblical Christianity is a deductive system and all the doctrines of the faith must be validly inferred from Scripture alone and this constitutes the “whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life.”  In short, the Christian system is totally self-contain to the point where “nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men…”(1.6).   Notice, neither the esteemed findings of science, assumptions derived from so-called “common sense,” observation, sensation, experience, new revelations (Charismatic “prophetic” delusions or papal so-called “ex-cathedra” pronouncements included), even long held and beloved traditions can never challenge or undermine the sole authority of Scripture.  Every thought must bow to Scripture alone.  As Gordon Clark argued:

 Archaeology, of course, can contribute little or nothing toward proving that the doctrines, as distinct from the historical events, of the Bible are true . . . The literary style of some parts of the Bible is majestic, but Paul’s epistles are not models of style. The consent or logical consistency of the whole is important; for if the Bible contradicted itself, we would know that some of it would be false. – What Do Presbyterians Believe p. 17,18.

Which brings us to the most recent attack on the logical coherence of Scripture and God Himself by Scott Oliphint professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  Interestingly, Dr. Elihu Carranza  (who wrote the companion workbook to Gordon Clark’s  Logic) recently alerted me to a piece by Oliphint  that appeared in the June edition of Reformation 21 (the online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals);, “Thought Thinking Itself?: Christianity and  Logic.”  I invite people to read Oliphint’s entire article, but I just want to highlight a few quick gems to keep in mind while reading it:

“… it is Scripturally mandatory for us to affirm the paradoxical…”

Notice, for Oliphint it is not mandatory for us to affirm that in Scripture there is a consent of all (and not just some) of the parts.   Has he informed his Presbytery?

“Before creation, there was no logic.”

And,

“He uses language, and He uses logic, to communicate truth to us. They are, we could say, built in to His creation. But, in terms of His essential Triune character, he is bound by neither….”

According to Oliphint God is irrational.

 “In the Christian faith, there are basic and foundational truths that are and remain paradoxes for us. The Triunity of God is one of those truths. But when we say that they are paradoxes, we are saying more than simply that our minds do not have the intellectual resources to put these truths together.”

In Oliphint’s mind perhaps, but what he assumes (and it’s not very becoming) is omniscience and that if he cannot formulate the doctrine of the Trinity in a non-contradictory manner than no one can.

And, finally, this bit of incomprehensible nonsense:

“So, for example, I have been asked on more than one occasion, something like the following question, “If you accept that God is One and Three, or that Christ is fully God and fully man, and you cannot reconcile those truths, why can you not also accept that Christ died both for His own people, and also (in the same way) for all people?” The response to a question like that, which moves toward a fuller answer, is that the extent of the atonement in Scripture is not taught as a paradox, such that “death for His people” and “death for the world” imply, entail and require each other, but rather is meant to be understood non_paradoxically. So also for other incompatibilities and supposed contradictions that we think we find in the Bible. The coherence of the paradoxes taught in Scripture, in other words, are meant to move us toward understanding how, and that, the rest of what Scripture teaches coheres”

According to Oliphint the Scriptures logically cohere except where they don’t — and evidently he’ll be the one to tell us which is which.  Unbelievably he asserts irreconcilable truths of Scripture are to “ move us toward understanding how, and that, the rest of what Scripture teaches coheres.”  But how is this possible?  First, if the paradoxes of Scripture logically cohere then they are no longer paradoxes.  Instead of tensions in Scripture there is harmony.  Second, if the Scriptures teach truths that cannot be reconciled (i.e., the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc.) and that it is  “Scripturally mandatory for us to affirm” — and not resolve  — “the paradoxical,” then it follows that the Scriptures do not cohere.

Now compare Oliphint to Clark:

 Logic is fixed, universal, necessary, and irreplaceable. Irrationality contradicts the Biblical teaching from beginning to end. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not insane. God is a rational being, the architecture of whose mind is logic. – God and Logic

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111 Comments on “Oliphint — Vantillianism Unleashed”

  1. Hugh Says:

    unfettered

    unhinged

    unbelievable

    /www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ioT2WUbf_g

  2. Hugh Says:

    Professors behaving badly :(

  3. Hugh Says:

    More bad professing: Peter Lillback (WTS Pres.) on Glenn Beck @ 6:25

  4. Hugh Says:

    I say, Oli!

    He closes with this ~ “As I said, these discussions can become quite complex.”
    >Apparently!Hope not!<

    "However, the foundational principles given above — that God's Triune character and His truth must form the parameters for all that we think and do — are relevant, not simply for our view of logic, but for our view of the entirety of life. Soli Deo Gloria!"

    But since the Christian Faith contains "basic and foundational truths that are and remain paradoxes for us," that means that irrationality & paradox must be our theological thinking for all we do. Dreadful skepticism and discouragement, this. No wonder the Anglican Bishop said that Calvinism issues in Unitarianism. THIS form of "Calvinism" (falsely so called) sure would!
    Soli what? Unbelievable.

    Never thought Nicaea would look so logical.

  5. Hugh Says:

    Oops – correction:

    He closes with this ~ “As I said, these discussions can become quite complex.”
    APPARENTLY!

    “I suspect they don’t plague the majority of Christians.”
    HOPE NOT!

  6. truthitself Says:

    I happened to be working on something last night that touches on this subject. I wrote:

    I think the key difference between Clark and Van Til is their view of logic. Van Til maintains that logic is created rather than eternal. Clark believes that logic is the way God thinks and therefore eternal. The difference between these two views is enormous. If logic is eternal, it is an attribute of God who is truth itself. Logic and truth are inseparably connected. Logic is an attribute of truth itself. On the other hand, if logic is part of the creation, as Van Til maintains, then it is not part of God’s nature. If, as the WCF claims, God is truth itself, then logic is not an attribute of truth. Truth can contradict itself.

    White (James R) quotes Van Til as saying that if someone believes that God thinks according to the laws of logic, they are inferring that the laws are an abstraction above God to which he must submit. That concept is as ridiculous as saying that the reason God cannot lie is that there is some law above God by which he must abide. God cannot lie because his very nature is truth. God does not contradict himself, because to contradict the truth is to lie.

  7. Hugh Says:

    T.I. ~ Eminently quotable, this!

    “The difference between these two views is enormous.”

    “…if logic is part of the creation, as Van Til maintains, then it is not part of God’s nature. If, as the WCF claims, God is truth itself, then logic is not an attribute of truth. Truth can contradict itself.”

    “God does not contradict himself, because to contradict the truth is to lie.”

    Thank you!

  8. Gus g Says:

    Can anybody HONESTLY call consistent Vantillianism Christianity? Even classical Arminianism argues that it better reflects the harmony and consistency of Scripture than Calvinism does. Consistent Vantillianism argues that it is a sin to be logical. Why? Because logic is not part of God’s nature. THAT is heresy. Because then God is not truth. Unless you are going to argue that truth is not rational. And if truth is not rational then it is irrational. And another name for “irrational” is mysticism. Mysticism is not Christianity.

    This is the public acknowledgment of the abandonment of Christianity. This IS apostasy, and if the majority of Calvinists and the putatively Reformed believe this then they are at least formal heretics. You can be a heretic and born again if you don’t know you are a heretic. Our mission as Clarkians

  9. Gus g Says:

    Our mission as Clarkians is clear. Convince professing Vantillians to be consistent. That consistency can be attained by either abandoning Vantillianism or abandoning Christianity. Oddly the fellow who became a Hindu did the right thing. To be a consistent Clarkian you must be a Christian. To be a consistent Vantillian you CANNOT be a Christian.

    That is our task. There is an urgent need for evangelism

    Gus Gianello
    gusgianello@Rogers.com

  10. truthitself Says:

    It is my opinion that those who decry logic do so because of their hatred for truth. Logic leads them to conclusions they don’t like when it is applied to Scripture. Therefore, it is to be avoided at all costs. But if what they arrive at, when forced to apply logic to the Scriptures is repugnant to them, to what other than a hatred for truth can it be attributed?

  11. Hugh Says:

    Hatred of logic & truth (though, hopefully not of you, truthitself!) possibly bespeaks a hatred of creatureliness, of fallenness, of sinfulness. Of hating God’s absolute sovereignty over all things.

  12. truthitself Says:

    My statement above is just my opinion. Of course, it is very possible that I am wrong. Unlike Professor Oliphint, I realize that I am not omniscient. In fact, if any opinion I hold is true, it will be one I arrived at by properly understanding propositions of Scripture and applying deductive logic to reach that conclusion.


  13. As Gordon H. Clark says, nothing God does is wrong since God is not subject to any law. Humans are subject to the moral law as creatures. Thus, Clark did uphold the Creator/creature distinction in regards to morality and good and evil. God is not subject to either logic or the moral law–not because God is irrational or because God is evil. It is because the image and likeness of the Creator is logical, rational, and sentient. God’s very nature is Triune. God’s very nature is truthful and logical and rational. It is who God is as God. The same can be said of God’s omnibenevolence, holiness, and goodness. God is by nature good, holy, and just. Nothing He does is therefore wrong. That means, according to Clark, that God is perfectly good, just and holy in all of His decrees, including the decree to cause the fall and reprobate a definite number of humans out of the mass of humanity. This is logically required IF we acknowledge that there is a specific number elected to salvation out of that same mass of humanity. The doctrine of “equal ultimacy” is a logical inference from the fall. Moreover, double predestination is now despised by the neo-Calvinists, hypo-Calvinists, and neo-neo-orthodox theologians within the neo-Reformed camp.

    I don’t know if anyone is reading Mike Horton’s new systematic theology. But it reads more like syncretism of postmodernism, neo-orthodoxy, liberalism, modernism, and “Evangelicalism” than Reformed theology. Horton emphasizes the acts of God and God’s history over and above propositional truth claims, verbal plenary inspiration, inerrancy, and a host of other confessional and orthodox doctrines of the Reformed symbols/creeds.

    My opinion of Westminster, California has hit a new low. There was a time when I thought WSC was at least preaching law and gospel as a proper distinction. Now I am not so sure since their theology of paradox and analogy seems to allow for a compromise with Arminians and Anglo-Papists. Maybe they will be joining up with Packer and the Lambeth Quadrilateral soon?

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  14. justbybelief Says:

    “Rather, what bothers me most is their complete lack of integrity when it comes to informing their respective Presbyteries about their defection from their vows of ordination.”

    Of course, if they’d have told us what they were, or represented, initially, they’d never have made it through the door of the church. Further, they are only in the church to steal, kill, and destroy. These actions don’t bespeak integrity or honor. If Satan is the father of lies can we expect honesty from him or his minions?

    This should give us insight. There is NO compromise with Satan or His minions. They realize there is no compromise with God, or us. Do we realize the reverse? That is, there is no compromise with them. Sadly, many of us don’t.

    Eric

  15. justbybelief Says:

    “My opinion of Westminster, California has hit a new low.”

    Same here. I used to think very highly of them and even thought about attending at one time. I’m not sure there is a seminary left that wouldn’t destroy a sound mind.

  16. Hugh Says:

    @ Charlie (11:30 am)

    ….and the Logic was God…..

    (John’s gospel, chapter one, verse 1c.)

  17. AZTexan Says:

    Attaboy, Sean. Reblogged this as “BEWARE MADMAN! Vantilianism Unleashed!” Thanks again for what you do here and the time and work you put into doing it.

  18. truthitself Says:

    CJR: “That means, according to Clark, that God is perfectly good, just and holy in all of His decrees, including the decree to cause the fall and reprobate a definite number of humans out of the mass of humanity.”

    I think you have well stated the primary conclusion that Van Tilians find repugnant. It is the reason they must denigrate logic. They cannot escape it if they apply logic to Scripture. The God Clark describes is not one they wish to worship.

  19. Hugh Says:

    Chas & just2b ~ Perhaps you venerated WSC too highly to begin with?

    Having graduated back in Horton’s & Clark’s early days (yes, I had Frame and lived to tell about it), I can say it’s changed in many ways for good since late ’90s and in other ways fer not so good.

    As an older student, and a grateful veteran reader of the “Trinity Review,” I can say that Scripture and the “Review” were (are) great aids in helping me discern truth from error, God’s ways from the traditions of men, etc.

    Sadly, too many young men (& women) are corrupted -even at the best of seminaries- by tangential reading that is less-than-edifying.

    Without a strong biblical base going in, knowing what you believe from Writ, and not merely one’s tradition (however faithful it may be), I cannot see how one could survive.

  20. justbybelief Says:

    Maybe so, but, not highly enough to attend ;-).

    At a time in my life when I needed to hear the gospel, having been thoroughly beaten up in the church, those at the White Horse Inn (WHI) preached it consistently. For this I commend them.

    The Trinity Foundation aided me in seeing many of the inconsistencies with the WHI and Mr. Horton. Sometimes he says some pretty inane things, sometimes not. I know that Horton views Matthew 7 in the same way as J.R., at least the last time I heard him, well…, if you can get past that whole ‘analogy’ thing. I’m not sure if he’s a Van Tillian or not.

    I can say that my high esteem of WSC was imputed to it because of Horton and Riddlebarger’s (whom I knew were graduates of the same) preaching of the gospel on the WHI. However, I knew one ‘shepherd’ in the OPC/PCA, a (right) reverend as it were, and graduate of WSC, who couldn’t find the gospel in a sermon with either hand if it were strapped to his itching rear-end. This man’s mentor was John Frame, by his own admission.

    Anyway,I have always known that the church is a mixed bag–wheat and tares–and knew that the same would be true of WSC.

  21. justbybelief Says:

    “According to Oliphint the Scriptures logically cohere except where they don’t — and evidently he’ll be the one to tell us which is which.”

    I believe this is intentionally done in order that they may create a priest class in the church–the sole arbiters of the scriptures–if you will. This is pure elitism. Since they have and will become the sole arbiters of the scripture the common man can know NOTHING and must be spoon fed pablum (lies) by the ‘benevolent’ overlords so he can be controlled by fear. Welcome to Rome.

    This sounds an awful lot like what is going on in the political realm today as well, in which, we have an all knowing government setting policy for us because we are to ignorant to govern ourselves.

    I’m reading a non-fiction book at this time called ‘Collectivism in the Churches.’ In it, the case is made, that the leaders of the church, unbeknownst to the flock, have pushed for socialism (totalitarianism) in the name of the flock under the banner of the Federal Council of Churches, known now as the World Council of Churches, since the beginning of the last century by various means.

    It seems to me that in order to create a political/religious empire, which I believe the Bible exposes and predicts, ‘one’ needs a bunch of dumbed-down, dependent, obsequious, ninnies in order to accomplish this task. Christianity must be watered down and the flock gelded in order to be assimilated. What better way than to attack the word of God (“Has God really said?”) using the cloak of authority.

    Eric

  22. Hugh Says:

    Justby @ 2:06 pm,

    Similar story here, White Horse-wise ~ though you’ll find at Trinity Foundation where I’ve betrayed the cause – guilty as charged.

    And I appreciate your most colorful allusion to the right reverend’s rectum!

  23. Hugh Says:

    Justby @ 3:16 pm,

    You mention the WCC – now the PCA is in cahoots with the likes of Wright-lovers, the RCA, EPC, and CRC. Reunion with PCUSA can’t be far off!

    http://www.weswhite.net/2012/06/members-of-epc-crc-rca-and-pca-form-reformed-communion-alliance-and-website/

    Your “cloak of authority” line is is great ~ this infects the neo-Calvinists as well as the old boy net’. The savants have inside info, apparently…

    In an ironic twist, the “Protestant” pundits act like papists: Their tradition trumps Scripture!

  24. brandonadams Says:

    Thanks Sean,

    I saw this last night at Ref21. Leaves you dumbfounded. I wonder if Oliphant sells versions of his Bible with color coded text so us laymen can know what is supposed to be understood paradoxically and what is supposed to be understood non_paradoxically.

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    I would be helpful, but then who would need him? :)

  26. Hugh Says:

    S & B,

    It’s ALL paradoxical.

    “Every word of God is equivocal; he is a conundrum for all who try to understand him.”

  27. justbybelief Says:

    Hugh,

    “You mention the WCC – now the PCA is in cahoots with the likes of Wright-lovers, the RCA, EPC, and CRC. Reunion with PCUSA can’t be far off!”

    I can’t argue with that. I told friends 17 years ago who left the PCA with me that it would be the next denomination to commit apostasy because they despised their confession and refused to discipline by teaching sound doctrine. It was only those who exposed false doctrine who were called into question. We were the trouble makers who rocked the boat. Our letter to the presbytery fell on deaf and defiant ears of men who were supposed to be caring for our souls.

    Call me paranoid, but I believe that the infiltration into the visible church is rampant (maybe irreversible) and I have little hope for it. They have the trappings of Christianity, the buildings, the forms, power structure, and etc…, but they don’t have the gospel and the Spirit. However, I believe their is a remnant who are suffering outside the gate with their Lord.

    Even Rod Rosenbladt one of the hosts of the WHI has said on several occasions that he would have a difficult time recommending a church, even in his own denomination, to people who asked him where they ought to attend.

    There is a start-up URCNA in our area. A good friend of mine and brother in the Lord, who left the now defunct OPC at about the same time I did was attending these start-up meetings. Being the paranoid fellow that I am and leery of false teachers was on a ‘wait and see’ status. The right-reverend of this prospective start-up is a graduate of WSC and said all the right things initially. However, after closer examination by my friend he found that this ‘guide of the blind’ believed scripture to be analogy even saying that our claiming to know what God knows in anything was equivalent to what Luther coined probing into ‘the theology of glory.’ My friend informed the elder of the church who has oversight of the start-up about these views of this right-reverend from WSC and has been ignored. I guess they view my good friend is just another upstart with an axe to grind.

    Anyway, thanks for bearing with me.

    Eric

  28. justbybelief Says:

    By the way, great post, Sean

  29. Hugh Says:

    Just cause it’s right:

    “Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.” ~ Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148.

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” ~ Table Talks in 1569.

  30. Eric Says:

    I had a Lutheran pastor tell me one time that Presbyterians fell under judgment as they opposed Luther’s definition of reason as the Westminster declared that all of the logical implications of scripture were binding on the conscience. This is how modern Lutherans define reason–making logical deductions from scripture. More specifically, I was told that I erred, by this definition of reason, because I believed in double predestination as Charlie has so eloquently detailed above. I’m not sure how Luther defines ‘reason’ only the moderns. Any insight, Hugh?

  31. Hugh Says:

    Rod’s LCMS is as goofy as the PCA.

    Dunno the answer Eric. Luther was of course a trailblazer, and would probably have balked at a lot of the later biblicism. He initiated a great movement that was not completed in 1646.

  32. David Reece Says:

    Luther meant the reason of the humanists, the pagan philosophers, and the like. He was lumping unscriptural thought together.

    He was not attacking logic.

  33. justbybelief Says:

    David,

    “He was not attacking logic.”

    Thanks, I didn’t think so, and not as the later Lutherans do. It seems to me that Luther was simply affirming that the gospel of ‘faith’ (in Jesus Christ) as found in the Bible is beyond the thought processes of fallen man, even the smartest of fallen man.

    I was told by those in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)–these are the only Lutherans I have ever been intimate with and it is one of, if not the, most conservative Lutheran synods–that among others 1) we are to interpret scripture with scripture, and 2) scripture should stand as written. So, when one comes across a passage such as the one in Timothy were it says, “God wants all men to be saved” we are not to question it or reconcile it with other passages. This second assertion sounds an awful lot like Van Til, and it refutes their first–which is sound–that scripture interprets scripture. Moreover, they read this passage out of context which Calvin did not, and he interprets this as all men without distinction not all men without exception.

    In my limited understanding post-Luther Lutheranism is the precursor to Van Til’s scripture as analogy.

    Eric

  34. Denson Dube Says:

    Charlie,
    “As Gordon H. Clark says, nothing God does is wrong since God is not subject to any law. Humans are subject to the moral law as creatures.”
    Thank you Charlie.
    What God says and does is right, just and good simply because He does it. To look for reasons beyond this is to look for something that cannot be found.(Paraphrasing Calvin)

    @Eric & Hugh,
    ” … itching (r)ear (end)…”
    I think their heads are probably buried deep there too!

  35. justbybelief Says:

    “I think their heads are probably buried deep there too!”

    LOL!


  36. Eric said,

    However, after closer examination by my friend he found that this ‘guide of the blind’ believed scripture to be analogy even saying that our claiming to know what God knows in anything was equivalent to what Luther coined probing into ‘the theology of glory.’

    Luther was referring to the issue of men trying to bring God down to man’s level as a “theology of glory”. He was clearly referring to ascending to God, not to the hard determinist view. Luther himself said that God absolutely determines EVERTHING that happens. He says that in The Bondage of the Will. SO if Luther was talking about God’s decrees to election and reprobation, then he is contradicting himself. The theology of glory Luther refers to is in fact the semi-pelagianism of the Papists, not to Calvinism or hard determinism. Prying into God’s mind means to try to add to special revelation what is not there. It has nothing to do with preaching election, reprobation and double predestination!

    Luther is clearly NOT talking about the issue of Scripture as being merely an analogy, nor is he refuting the doctrine of absolute predestination. He is referring to speculations about who is saved and who is not saved in regards to God’s special revelation in Christ. He is referring to those who advocate works or merits; Luther is not referring to many ways to God as the advocates of neo-orthodox “analogy” do:

    But true Christian religion does not first present God in his majesty, as Moses and other teachers do. It commands us not to search out the nature of God, but to know his will presented to us in Christ, whom he wanted to take on flesh and be born and die for our sins; and he wants this to be preached among all nations. “For since in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). So when your conscience is in conflict, wrestling against the law, sin, and death, in the presence of God, there is nothing more dangerous than to wander amidst curious heavenly speculations, searching out God’s incomprehensible power, wisdom, and majesty—how he created the world and how he governs it. If this is how you try to comprehend God, attempting to pacify him without Christ the mediator, making your works a means between him and yourself, you will fall as Lucifer did and in horrible despair will lose God and everything else. God is in his own nature immeasurable, incomprehensible, and infinite, and so human nature finds him intolerable.

    If you want safety, then, to flee from perils of conscience and salvation, bridle your presumptuous spirit, and seek God in the way that Paul teaches: “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23–24). So begin where Christ began—namely, in the womb of the virgin, in the manger, at his mother’s breast. The reason he came down, was born, lived among men and women, suffered, was crucified, and died was so that he might present himself plainly to our eyes and fasten our spiritual sight upon himself, so that he might keep us from climbing into heaven and from the curious searching of the divine majesty.
    Whenever you are dealing with the matter of justification, therefore, and are wondering where and how to find God who justifies and accepts sinners, remember that there is no other God besides this man, Christ Jesus. Embrace him, and hang on to him with your whole heart, setting aside all curious speculations about the divine majesty.

    Galatians 1:3

    Luther, M. (1998). Galatians. The Crossway classic commentaries (34–35). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

    In other words, Luther points us to special revelation in Christ Jesus AND in Scripture. For him vain speculation is going beyond the plain teaching of Scripture and the plain preaching of Christ and Him crucified!

    And Luther clearly does not see it as rationalism to believe in hard determinism and absolute predestination:

    Sect. 167.—I SHALL here draw this book to a conclusion: prepared if it were necessary to pursue this Discussion still farther. Though I consider that I have now abundantly satisfied the godly man, who wishes to believe the truth without making resistance. For if we believe it to be true, that God fore-knows and fore-ordains all things; that He can be neither deceived nor hindered in His Prescience and Predestination; and that nothing can take place but according to His Will, (which reason herself is compelled to confess;) then, even according to the testimony of reason herself, there can be no “Free-will”—in man,—in angel,—or in any creature! The Bondage of the Will: Conclusion

    The short answer here is that the neo-Lutherans and neo-Calvinists are misquoting Luther out of context. Luther was not rejecting logic OR double predestination. He was rejecting speculating beyond Christ and what Scripture reveals about Him. For Luther Scripture is the final word, not the analogies of the closet liberals pretending to be Evangelicals.

    I was listening to Gordon H. Clark’s lecture on inerrancy the other day. He nailed it down when he said that the Evangelical who wishes to hide his departure from the faith will only disagree with one or two points of Biblical doctrine, inspiration or inerrancy while the full blown liberal disagrees with all of them or many of them. But BOTH are still liberals. I couldn’t agree more. At heart Horton, Oliphant and all the rest of these Van Tilians are liberals, neo-orthodox, and promoters of a theology of revelation that makes the Bible less than God’s very words in written form.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Charlie


  37. But true Christian religion does not first present God in his majesty, as Moses and other teachers do. It commands us not to search out the nature of God, but to know his will presented to us in Christ, whom he wanted to take on flesh and be born and die for our sins; and he wants this to be preached among all nations. Commentary on Galatians 1:3

    Clearly Luther is advocating Scripture as the clearest revelation of who Christ is. Luther would never advocate some irrational view of Scripture. AND Luther clearly accepts reason and logic in understanding God’s sovereignty:

    . . . God fore-knows and fore-ordains all things; that He can be neither deceived nor hindered in His Prescience and Predestination; and that nothing can take place but according to His Will, (which reason herself is compelled to confess ;) then, even according to the testimony of reason herself, there can be no “Free-will”—in man,—in angel,—or in any creature! The Bondage of the Will: Conclusion

    I guess Luther was more Calvinist than the neo-Calvinists and more of a “rationalist” than Gordon H. Clark? Ironically, the rationalism of the neo-Calvinists is essentially irrational and Calvin and Luther and Gordon H. Clark are not rationalists at all. The center of their theology is Scripture, not natural speculations, common grace, or natural reason.

    Charlie


  38. The idea that the Reformed Confessions or Symbols can be rejected as mere “tradition” is unreformed thinking. It is the Anabaptist view. We do not hold to the Reformed Confessions as equal to Scripture. Scripture is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. However, creeds and confessions are a secondary authority. They are authoritative summaries of Scripture and “draw their most certain warrant from Holy Scripture”. The Reformed view, unlike the Church of Christ and other Anabaptist religions, does not reject the ecumenical creeds or the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity or even the Anglican Formularies. It submits their authority to the authority of Scripture. Otherwise what you have is not Sola Scriptura but Solo Scriptura where everyone interprets Scripture individually instead of being subject to a confession of faith. Without confessional authority there is only liberalism.

    Even Gordon H. Clark said that the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms are the best summary of the teaching of Scripture.

    Charlie

  39. Tim Harris Says:

    Sean, your comment “evidently he’ll be the one to tell us which is which” misses the main thrust of Oliphant’s article which was precisely to give an objective criterion. Namely, assertions that set up a dialectic or correlativity that is inescapable are paradoxical for the creaturely mind, while assertions lacking that quality are univocal and linear. I thought it was a worthwhile contribution.

  40. Hugh Says:

    Mr Harris,

    Surely you read on:

    …he asserts irreconcilable truths of Scripture are to “move us toward understanding how, and that, the rest of what Scripture teaches coheres.” But how is this possible? First, if the paradoxes of Scripture logically cohere then they are no longer paradoxes. Instead of tensions in Scripture there is harmony. Second, if the Scriptures teach truths that cannot be reconciled (i.e., the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc.) and that it is “Scripturally mandatory for us to affirm” — and not resolve — “the paradoxical,” then it follows that the Scriptures do not cohere.

    Next, do all assertions in Scripture from the Divine Mind set up a dialectic or correlativity that is inescapable? That thus, are paradoxical for the creaturely mind? Then can we think or communicate God’s thoughts?

  41. justbybelief Says:

    Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed (The Bible) belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

    These elitists have turned revelation into secret things.

    Maybe God’s way of judging this is best deferred to Him:

    Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (man) more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

    Revelation 22:18,19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

    Eric

  42. Pht Says:

    I wonder how long it will take this kind of … I balk at saying it … “thinking” to reach its logical conclusion. If someone can arbitrarily ignore any single part of scripture because they deny logic; by that standard, they can ignore ANY part of ANY language.

    How is it that these fools don’t realize that when you toss logic under the bus, it takes all of language with it too?

    It’s impossible to communicate with out identity, (non)contradiction, & excluded middle…

    How many times in history have the would-be saviors of orthodoxy introduced some mechanic to save orthodoxy, only to have it work out to it’s logical ends and wind up completely destroying all of what they were trying to save.

    —-

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a church setup with a confession that the elders and on up had to swear to uphold and a church constitution setup such that the elders and up had to take out an ad or something public to affirm the confession publicly … and if they didn’t, they’d be, by the church constitution, publicly fired and have all benefits stripped. Same; for anyone not enforcing said …

    I wonder how this idea would square with what the bible has to say on the topic…

  43. truthitself Says:

    Van Tilians assert paradoxes in Scripture. By paradox they mean “apparent contradiction”. They acknowledge that there are no real contradictions in Scripture, but, they say, there are found in Scripture what cannot be distinguished from real contradictions. I will call them counterfeit contradictions.

    Counterfeit money appears to be real money. Counterfeit contradictions appear to be real contradictions. Counterfeit money can be difficult to distinguish from real money. The closer the appearance of counterfeit money to real money the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between the two.

    If I were to receive a $100 bill that I knew to be counterfeit but I could not distinguish from a real $100 bill, is there any way that I could know that no one else could distinguish it from a real bill? If I could both not distinguish it myself and know that no one else could either, is there any way I could be certain it was counterfeit? Perhaps my reason for “knowing” it to be counterfeit was faulty. Perhaps it isn’t counterfeit at all. Perhaps I should spend it. Why not?

    But my problem doesn’t end there. Since at least one perfect counterfeit exists, how can I know that it is the only one? I certainly can’t do it by examining the bills that I am offered. Am I to just give up paying attention the authenticity of the money I receive? Should I value equally a perfect counterfeit and a real $100 bill? How can I do anything else?

    My only two options are to value them all or value none of them, since I cannot distinguish between them.

    Likewise, since paradoxes and contradictions cannot be distinguished, one should either accept them all or accept none of them. Those are the only two options that one has if one is honest.

  44. justbybelief Says:

    “Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a church setup with a confession that the elders and on up had to swear to uphold and a church constitution setup such that the elders and up had to take out an ad or something public to affirm the confession publicly … and if they didn’t, they’d be, by the church constitution, publicly fired and have all benefits stripped. Same; for anyone not enforcing said …”

    Hmmm…Imagine that–church discipline? What a quaint idea.

  45. truthitself Says:

    Pht: “It’s impossible to communicate without identity, (non)contradiction, & excluded middle…”

    Did you notice that the article ignores the excluded middle? I find that odd. It is certainly not the only thing I find odd about the article.

  46. truthitself Says:

    Oliphint: “Second, when some want to charge that this Christian view ultimately allows for all kinds of contradictions, in the Bible and elsewhere, we have a ready answer. If Scripture and the Triune God are our foundation, then the paradoxes that are taught in His Word are truths, both sides of which imply and require one another. Paradoxes are such that when you have the one, you must “straightway” also have the other. Other truths that may seem contradictory, either in the world or in the Word, and that do not imply, entail and require each other, are in need of resolution.”

    Now I get it. We both cannot and can distinguish a paradox from a contradiction. Paradoxes are contradictions “both sides of which imply and require one another,” According to Oliphint, sometimes A and not A imply and require one another. When that is the case, we must not attempt a resolution. He fails to explain how any of the truths he claims imply and require one another are indistinguishable from contradictions. If they are distinguishable from contradictions, then they do not fit the definition of a paradox. Two truths that do not appear to contradict each other are not “paradoxical”. Jibberish is jibberish (the law of identity).

  47. Denson Dube Says:

    I get it! Scott Oliphint, is the barber who shaves the barber who shaves all those who do not shave themselves! Finally, the creature that has eluded detection for decades has been pinned down and I claim credit for the discovery. I want recognition for this! Forget the Higgs boson! This is huge!

  48. justbybelief Says:

    “. . . God fore-knows and fore-ordains all things; that He can be neither deceived nor hindered in His Prescience and Predestination; and that nothing can take place but according to His Will, (which reason herself is compelled to confess ;) then, even according to the testimony of reason herself, there can be no “Free-will”—in man,—in angel,—or in any creature! The Bondage of the Will: Conclusion”

    This is pretty plain, Charlie. One would have to be downright dishonest-as the Lutheran clergy is, at least the WELS clergy–to gainsay that statement by Luther as many do. No surprise, they rejected God (as revealed in scripture) before Luther.

    Their dishonesty manifests itself in statements like this: “Luther was arguing against a humanist, Erasmus, against ‘The Diatribe,’ however, if arguing against a Calvinist his argument would take a different tact, he would attack their rationalism (reason).”

    Amazing! Simply, amazing!

    Eric

  49. justbybelief Says:

    And this from “The Bondage of the Will” in which Luther commends Erasmus for getting to the root of the issue–whether man’s will is free or bound…

    “In this, moreover, I give you great praise, and proclaim it—you alone in pre-eminent distinction from all others, have entered upon the thing itself; that is, the grand turning point of the cause; and, have not wearied me with those irrelevant points about popery, purgatory, indulgences, and other like baubles, rather than causes, with which all have hitherto tried to hunt me down,—though in vain! You, and you alone saw, what was the grand hinge upon which the whole turned, and therefore you attacked the vital part at once; for which, from my heart, I thank you. For in this kind of discussion I willingly engage, as far as time and leisure permit me. Had those who have heretofore attacked me done the same, and would those still do the same, who are now boasting of new spirits, and new revelations, we should have less sedition and sectarianism, and more peace and concord.—But thus has God, by the instrumentality of Satan, avenged our ingratitude!”

  50. Pht Says:

    —————————————————————————-
    “justbybelief Says:

    Hmmm…Imagine that–church discipline? What a quaint idea.”
    —————————————————————————-

    I was thinking less of church discipline and more of rigging the church so that it’d be in the self interest of bible/truth haters to seperate and get out of the flock.

    You know, force them all to make a yearly public declaration upholding the confession in the local news, with their pictures associated; and set up the church structure so that their pay and benefits would stop the moment they went awry; along with required public statement of said.

    … and don’t just ask if they can confirm the confessions. Require them to write up the doctrine taught in the confession in their own words and as they understand it; (require a right understanding AND boot the postmoderinst word-twisters) and require them to say wether they accept those doctrines… than make sure they’re actually behaving as a person would who believes said…

    and the enforcers would probably have to be checked by having their pay/position/benefits be revoked if it can be proven that they aren’t enforcing said steps, AND have that be made public TOO.

    Who knows, that might actually last … what, MAYBE one generation?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Oliphint: “If Scripture and the Triune God are our foundation, then the paradoxes that are taught in His Word are truths, both sides of which imply and require one another.”

    Someone should pin him down and ask him to define exactly what he means in this sentence by the words “triune,” “truth,” and “paradox.”

    Clearly one, some, or all of these words are being horridly twisted by this man.

  51. justbybelief Says:

    Pht,

    I like your idea and am about as optimistic as you are as to its longevity if implemented. I do think the WHOLE body of Christ, not just the clergy, should be instrumental in its implementation and maintenance. What I believe this elitism has done is destroy the concept in the Bible that ALL the members of the body are gifted and therefore, important, even the very least, not just the clergy.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that without logic there is no language. Drawing some logical conclusions from your assertion I find that If there is no language, there is no gospel. If there is no gospel there is salvation. If there is no salvation there are no saints. Just as Luther said, “Justification by faith alone is the article of a standing or falling person or church.”

    I think that ultimately, Satan’s attack is against the gospel. In it God is really known. If Satan can undermine any doctrine ‘adorning’ the gospel whether it be an attack on logic, language, the Deity of Christ, the absolute inability of man to save himself, the virgin conception, and etc…he can undermine the gospel.

    I think the true religion is a coherent whole and that Van Tillianism is incoherent, as is Lutheranism. As a Christian I can testify that the lie just won’t satisfy.

    Thanks for bearing with me.

    Eric

  52. justbybelief Says:

    “I get it! Scott Oliphint, is the barber who shaves the barber who shaves all those who do not shave themselves!”

    Denson, That just cracks me up every time I read it.

  53. Steve M Says:

    Denson is definitely onto something!

  54. Steve M Says:

    Oliphint is definitely on something!

  55. Denson Dube Says:

    SteveM,
    Bwahaahahaha!! Dude, you’killing me!

  56. Tim Harris Says:

    Hugh — Yes, the quote continues, but the point is, it is merely asseverative, without interacting meaningfully with Oliphant’s thesis.
    The point as I see it, is that being precedes logic. Being excludes what it is not. Clarifying that exclusion leads to a rule about propositions known as “the law of identity.” However, the propositional rule is subordinate to being, which precedes it.
    Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons. It is not that we are unable to discuss it intelligibly; it is just that our logic if you will must rise to the sublimity of the Subject and this will lead to assertions that are paradoxical when judged by logic that is fully adequate in the lower realm.

  57. truthitself Says:

    TH: “The point as I see it, is that being precedes logic. Being excludes what it is not.”

    Wait a minute. Are you saying that being is not the same as not being?

  58. truthitself Says:

    TH: “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.”

    Could you kindly give me your definition of a person? I have been unable to get a definition of “person” from a Van Tilian. Without a definition, I don’t know what you mean.

  59. truthitself Says:

    Does being precede not being?

  60. Denson Dube Says:

    Tim,
    “The point as I see it, is that being precedes logic. Being excludes what it is not. Clarifying that exclusion leads to a rule about propositions known as “the law of identity.” However, the propositional rule is subordinate to being, which precedes it.”

    Oh dear, oh dear, here we go again!

    How do you know that Tim? Why can’t one say, “Logic precedes being(whatever that is) … that is why “being” excludes what is not. “Being” derives this from the law of identity.”?

    I know your answer already. It is because you say so, right?

  61. justbybelief Says:

    “The point as I see it, is that being precedes logic. Being excludes what it is not. Clarifying that exclusion leads to a rule about propositions known as “the law of identity.” However, the propositional rule is subordinate to being, which precedes it.”

    You have a dizzying intellect. So, there was a time when God was missing one of His attributes, that which makes Him God, or rather, God was and was not God at the same time. Just what I thought, Van Tillians need this ‘god’ of there own devising, which is not the God of the Bible, to prop up this system of thought, or non-thought.

  62. truthitself Says:

    Tim: “Being excludes what it is not (i.e. non-being). Clarifying that exclusion leads to a rule about propositions known as ‘the law of identity’.”

    Me: Is it only “being” that excludes what it is not? Isn’t that true for every category? The category Creator excludes the category not Creator. The category Truth excludes the category not Truth. The category Banana Slug excludes the category not Banana Slug. Isn’t this exclusion you speak of more illustrative of the law of contradiction than the law of identity?

    Tim: “being precedes logic”

    Me: This proposition is merely asseverative, without interacting meaningfully with the thesis that Logic is eternal rather than temporal. Now exactly where do you find it asserted in Scripture that logic is a creation of God rather than part of His nature?

    Tim: “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.”

    Me: Is each Person (you have not defined person) a separate being? Or do the three Persons comprise one being? How does the “being of one of the Persons” both exclude and include the other Persons? Each of the Persons has a being that both excludes and includes the other two Persons? Does each Person (undefined) have one being (undefined) or does each Person have two beings (one that includes and the other that excludes the other two persons)? Getting back to the law of identity: jibberish is jibberish.

  63. Pht Says:

    ————————————————————————————–
    Tim Harris Says:

    July 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    The point as I see it, is that being precedes logic. Being excludes what it is not.
    Clarifying that exclusion leads to a rule about propositions known as
    “the law of identity.” However, the propositional rule is subordinate to being, which
    precedes it.
    ————————————————————————————–
    What is the meaning of the word “being” as you are using it?

    If you can actually define this word as you’re using so you’re actually saying
    something instead of nothing, in a lot of words…

    How do you know that “being” precedes the three basic laws of logic (it requires all
    three of them, not just identity…)?

    If it’s something you can actually know, than how does “being preclude logic?”

    I do wonder how you can discuss, in language, anything that, by it’s nature, precludes
    logic; for language is irrefutably based in logic, and without logic, there can be
    no language; no description of ANY form.

  64. timharris Says:

    There is a handful of men here that are almost capable of carrying on a civil discussion. The rest are chimpouts, eager to thump the chest and declare someone stupid, heterodox, or even demonic on the basis of one or two commbox comments. So I will answer each according to his kind.

    PHT — Sein des Seienden? With a word like “being” we are getting pretty close to if not lighting upon a primary term. One could say “entity” but that is simply substituting the Latin “ens.” One could say, “that which is” but “being” is the nominative related to “to be” of which “is” is a conjugation. All of this begins to show why it is that one cannot really do logic apart from metaphysics. For the purpose of this discussion, how about this definition: “that to which any term in a proposition refers, if it refers.”

    Denson — oh yes, obviously, my thesis is, “things are the way they are just because I say so.” Right.

    JustByBelief — oo oo, ee ee, aa aa.

    Baal — that is, “TruthItself” is a moniker that is arrogant if not blasphemous, so I will substitute. However, you ask some important questions. First, I have given a definition of “person” that I am comfy with — a living entity that can meaningfully say “I.” However, I don’t think it is the case that a precise, bullet-proof definition is needed in order to have a meaningful conversation. Indeed, it is not possible to define every term non-circularly. So, if you don’t like my definition, why don’t you propose another and let’s see if we can make progress with that. “Bundle of propositions” won’t do, however, for reasons that should be obvious — propositions are not living, they don’t speak, and so forth.

    Propositions should refer to something. The “something” is prior to the proposition about it (even if it is only in the imagination). The “something” cannot be “forced” into a way of being because of some law of logic; this puts the cart before the horse. Instead, we should constantly remind ourselves when learning logic that we are saying things about being. Logic is derivative in that sense. Logic is a discipline of assertion-formation that emerges from doing metaphysics.

  65. Baal Says:

    TH: ” The rest are chimpouts, eager to thump the chest and declare someone stupid, heterodox, or even demonic on the basis of one or two commbox comments.”

    Apparently you only declare someone demonic on the basis of a moniker.

  66. Baal Says:

    TH: “First, I have given a definition of “person” that I am comfy with — a living entity that can meaningfully say “I.”

    Baal: Would a mute qualify as a person? A mute could “say ‘I’ ” in his or her mind only. I am assuming the living entity you describe must think in order for its ability to say “I” to be meaningful. Is this entity something other than its thoughts? If so, what?
    TH: “Bundle of propositions” won’t do, however, for reasons that should be obvious — propositions are not living, they don’t speak, and so forth.

    Baal: A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. A proposition is not vibrations in the air or ink patterns on a page. For a declarative sentence to have meaning implies a mind, therefore I would argue that your assertion that propositions aren’t living is based upon a misconception of what a proposition is. A proposition is a thought. That Clark defines a person as a complex of thoughts is obvious since he equates propositions with thoughts. So does Scripture “As a man thinks in his (figurative) heart, so is he.”

  67. Pht Says:

    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    July 14, 2012 at 9:07 am

    PHT — Sein des Seienden? With a word like “being” we are getting pretty close to if not lighting upon a primary term. One could say “entity” but that is simply substituting the Latin “ens.” One could say, “that which is” but “being” is the nominative related to “to be” of which “is” is a conjugation.
    ——————————————————————————
    Which seems to me like a long way of saying “we don’t know what this word means; even though we use it.

    Which is pretty sad, really, because it amounts to people saying nothing at all, and using a lot of words to do it.
    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    All of this begins to show why it is that one cannot really do logic apart from metaphysics.
    ——————————————————————————
    Metaphysics… another thing that’s virtually undefinable. There’s no agreement on what metaphysics is… how can anyone possibly know what you mean here?

    Maybe you should do what you have done below: let everyone know what you mean by your usage of the word.
    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    For the purpose of this discussion, how about this definition: “that to which any term in a proposition refers, if it refers.”
    ——————————————————————————
    You seem to be defining being as “a thing that can be the subject of a true/false statement”

    … what would this definition not include?
    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    Propositions should refer to something.
    ——————————————————————————
    So, it’s not a proposition to say that nothingness is a state of non-existence?
    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    The “something” is prior to the proposition about it…
    ——————————————————————————
    Prior in time, prior in logical order… prior how?

    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    The “something” cannot be “forced” into a way of being because of some law of logic;[/quote]
    ——————————————————————————
    So, this something, it can be a something and a nothing at the same time, in the same location, and in the same sense?

    If it need not be under the rules of logic, this is entirely possible.

    ——————————————————————————
    timharris Says:

    Logic is a discipline of assertion-formation that emerges from doing metaphysics.
    ——————————————————————————
    … logic is derivative, for the christian who takes the bible seriously and respects it, from God; logic is the way that God thinks.

  68. Tim Harris Says:

    PHT — you are big on definitions, so please define precisely some of the terms you used above, viz.
    nothingness
    state
    non-existence
    time
    location
    sense
    Before attempting to answer your questions, I want to make sure you know what you are talking about.

    Baal — I’ll confess, I find this identificiation of person or mind with “propositions” so mind-bogglingly implausible that I am searching for how to expain the difficulty. Let me try several tacks:
    1. Thoughts are more than propositions even on the rarified view: they are an ordered sequence of propositions marshalled according to a strategy. You miight be able to DESCRIBE all that using propositions, but that is different from the thought itself.
    2. The “complex” of propositions are not held in consciousness simultaneously; one disappears from consciousness to be replaced by another. On your view of mind, how do you account for the identity through propositions (the analogue I guess of the traditional identity through time problem)?
    3. The meaning of the sentence “the cat is on the mat” continues after I stop contemplating it. Yet that meaning or proposition is not another mind.
    4. Thoughts can include more than propositions. For example, when I think about the Pythagorean theorem, I may be visualizing triangles in a certain relation. It is a geometric intuition which is different from the contemplation of a proposition that purports to convey the same content.
    5. A mind or person performs other acts than contemplation of proposiitons: for example, issuing a command, groaning, expressions of desire. The proposition “Patton is issuing a command” is different from Patton’s act of giving the command. Similarly, when the private hears, “attention,” he need not go through an intermediate propositional analysis “when the general says ‘attention’ then the general desires that I stand up; the general said ‘attention’ therefore the general desires that I stand up; all things that the general desires are things that I ought to do; therefore I ought to stand up.” No, the mind seems to have an immediate understanding of a command without any syllogistic baggage, though of course a philosophical private could, for amusement, go through all those hoops. In short, each of us knows from his own experience that “being a person” involves much much more than “contemplation of propositions.”

    An analogy:
    You hear someone say, “a computer is only as good as the program running on it” and someone comes along and concludes, “a computer is nothing other than the set of instructions that execute sequentially.”
    No: the computer is a bunch of transistors responding to electrical stimuli, organized in such a way that a sequence of instructions is capable of running on it.

    The scripture cited has to do with the correlation between one’s inner thoughts, espeically those having moral significance, and one’s moral uprightness or corruption. It’s intent is hardly to explain this idiosyncratic metaphysic about personhood and propositions.

  69. justbybelief Says:

    “There is a handful of men here that are almost capable of carrying on a civil discussion.”

    Why should anyone entertain a false teacher?

  70. Pht Says:

    ————————————————————-
    Tim Harris Says:

    July 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    PHT — you are big on definitions, so please define precisely some of the terms you used above, viz.
    ————————————————————-
    Certainly, as long as you realize I don’t ask after definitions to play games, engage in one-upmanship, or delay. Discussions hit stopping points on definitions and I don’t care for talking past anyone. It would help if when you asked for definitions that you’d ask them so that people wouldn’t have to guess what instances you’re asking after. context, it helps…
    ————————————————————-
    Tim Harris Says:

    nothingness
    state
    non-existence
    time
    location
    sense
    ————————————————————-
    Nothingness – The state of being something that God cannot think or create; for example, thinking that the truth he just uttered is a lie, or that he could create a square sphere.

    State: The form of existance of a thing in any given temporal or logical point.

    Non-existence: that which God has not created or thought.

    Time: The condition of reasonable self-aware created beings in that they experience things in distinct sucession (the opposite of eternal, where there is no temporal succesion).

    Location: the state of being in one physical or temporal point instead of all of them or some of them at the same time.

    Sense: In the context of the sentence I’m guessing you’re asking after? “in the same sense” would be, say, both are “A” instead of one being “a” and one being “b.” This link uses the word in the way I was using it in it’s first two sentences: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_noncontradiction
    ————————————————————-

  71. Pht Says:

    justbybelief Says:

    July 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Why should anyone entertain a false teacher?
    ——————————————————————

    To show everyone just exactly how wrong they are, and maybe win them over, if God makes it possible…

    That is, only if they’re willing to honestly engage and live by their own standards. Otherwise, yes, it’s time wasting…

  72. Steve M Says:

    @Tim from Steve M aka TruthItself aka Baal

    You defined a person as “a living entity that can meaningfully say “I”. You have now added a great deal to your original definition. You have added the ability to contemplate propositions and “much much more.” Your original definition lacks anything that would distinguish one person from another. Above you equate the term “being” with the term “entity”, therefore, I think it would be fair to insert it into your definition (i.e. a living being that can meaningfully say “I”). Your definition does not include any notion that more than one being or entity can meaningfully, as a group, say ”I”, yet you assert, “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.” In your definition, a being (or entity) is a person, but when you describe the Trinity your definition “evolves”. I find your definition inadequate. I find your thinking to be inconsistent. Most Van Tilians do not consider inconsistency to be a fault. I do. If each “Person” of the Trinity is a “being”, then this “being” cannot “both exclude and include the other two Persons” (i.e. the other two beings). This is pure jibberish. You seem to like jibberish.

  73. Pht Says:

    The crickets, they do chirp when someone asks a few geniuine questions.

  74. Hugh Says:

    Van Til’s Warrior Children, or Childish Warriors?

  75. Pht Says:

    More like … van-tils children who refuse to define what they mean by the words they use…

  76. AZTexan Says:

    Vanshrillians? Vansillyans? Bueller?

  77. Tim Harris Says:

    Let’s go one at a time.
    PhT — for you, into the chimp cage. There, as other chips arrive, you can “evangelize” them. That if they accept Clark’s theory of the origin of logic as their personal lord and savior, they can escape eternal hellfire.

    Baal/aka the very Truth Itself/ aka Steve … more later. You may actually be human.

  78. Steve M Says:

    Tim

    Would that be a human being or a human person?


  79. Steve M: *badun-tsss*

  80. Pht Says:

    Ah, I see.

    Ask honest questions… get an abusive retort in return.

    —-
    Tim Harris Says:

    August 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

    …Clark’s theory of the origin of logic as their personal lord and savior…
    —-

    … and an idea attached to you that you’ve nowhere proposed and do not believe at all.

    I find it strange how it is that people are perfectly willing to say “God is love but love is not God” Or “God is truth but truth is not God” …

    but when someone dares even whisper that “God is logic but logic is not God” or “God is right-thinking but right-thinking is not God” … oh, boy it’s the end of the world.

    As if humanity has not equally messed up truth, love, and all the other of God’s attributes we share in some way. That some moron somewhere ignores his bible and puts Logic for God does not refute that the pattern of God’s thinking forms the basis of logic.

    Should I start treating you the same way you’ve been treating me, Tim? Attributing things to you you’ve not posted and tossing names at you that don’t apply to you?

  81. 1WilliamFarel Says:

    How can Oliphint claim that God, in Himself, is not logical? If that is so, then there are times when the Son is the Son and yet not the Son, the Father is the Father and yet not the Father, and the Spirit is the Spirit and yet not the Spirit. So much for the eternal, unchangeable being of God, right? This is all a bunch of pious-sounding gibberish. God did not create the Laws of Logic anymore than He had to create His own omniscience or omnipotence. These all flow from who God eternally IS.

  82. Steve M Says:

    “This is all a bunch of pious-sounding gibberish.”

    Yes it is, William, but you should appreciate the years of seminary training it takes to make ones gibberish sound that pious.

  83. Tim Harris Says:

    I’m back.

    Steve M: “Your definition does not include any notion that more than one being or entity can meaningfully, as a group, say ‘I’…”

    You need to clarify this objection. Perhaps a singular/plural distinction would aid here. Plus, a definition does not have to include every predicate that applies to the defiendum. In addition, you haven’t done the courtesy to address how your bundle of propositions overcomes the 5 or more objections I gave above. It’s fun to be the one taking pot-shots, but you need to sit in the hot seat also.

    Wm Farel: “[the laws of logic] all flow from who God eternally IS.”

    Isn’t that what I was saying when I said that being precedes logic? “Flow from” captures a similar notion of antecedence.

  84. Steve M Says:

    @Tim
    You’re back like a bad penny.

    Yes, it is fun taking pot-shots. No, I don’t need to clarify my objection. It is quite clear.

    When you say being precedes logic, are you referring to being in general?

  85. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    If I am to sit in the hot seat, I won’t be put there by a created logic.

  86. Tim Harris Says:

    Well Steve you obviously don’t need to clarify it for you, but you do for me. I have no idea what you are tilting at or why it would serve as a defeater to my definition. Why would a definition of “person” need to include a “notion” for group-speak or whatever you are talking about there.

    A definition is not the same as an encyclopedia article.

    Saying additional things about persons (whether Trinitarian or otherwise) does not mean the definition is “expanding.” It means our knowledge base expands. Knowledge is not simply a matter of expanding definitions.

    So if you have a question about the definition, ask away.

    Meanwhile, I await your answer to the objections listed above to the bundle-theory of persons, to which I am ready to add

    6. Then when someone is not thinking at all — say, during sleep — he ceases to exist as a person? (But of course, speaking of “someone,” “he” and so forth already shows that person is not the same as the bundle of propositions he is thinking.)

    As far as “created logic,” it’s true that Oliphant said that before Creation there was no logic, but this is not quite the same as saying that logic is created. The principle of differentiation within the Trinity in eternity is obviously not going to involve “inferring” things using Aristotelian “syllogisms” and so forth. His way of knowing, and thinking, is quite different than that. If it weren’t, he would be Zeus or Wotan, not God. Nevertheless, I think it would be unfair to Oliphant to peg him to saying that logic is created in the sense of contingent. I think he denies that pretty clearly.

  87. Tim Harris Says:

    7. If the bundle of propositions is thought to include all propositions that follow by implication, then you have this additional problem. Most people probably hold two propositions somewhere that are contradictory. But from P&~P you can deduce Q, for any Q. Including ~Q. So then, anyone holding contradictory propositions includes in his bundle every proposition in the universe, as well as the negation thereof!

  88. Tim Harris Says:

    Pht,
    Since you protested — no, you are not relegated to the chimp cage because you asked questions, but because you rudely speak about people in the third person that are present, and ratify Chimp JustByBelief’s insinuation that I, or anyone that would engage with the clarkian view of logic, is a “false teacher,” who can only be “won over” if “God makes it possible.” In other words, you are casting this discussion about the nature of logic in the language of apostasy and regeneration, and see yourself as an evangelist, not a conversation partner. No thank you.

  89. Steve M Says:

    Tim: “So if you have a question about the definition, ask away”.

    Does someone who is asleep have the ability to meaningfully say, “I”?

    Oliphint: “Logic, like all else save God himself, is created.”

    I am probably being unfair to quote Oliphint.

  90. Hugh McCann Says:

    OK, what’s that Oliphant in the room?

  91. Tim Harris Says:

    Steve,
    1. Yes of course a sleeping person is a living being that is capable of saying ‘I’ (though perhaps not at that precise moment).
    2. I was about to apologize for not reading Oliphint’s article carefully enough, but then I searched on the word “created” and still cannot find the quote you attribute to him. Are we talking about the same article, namely http://www.reformation21.org/articles/thought-thinking-itself-christianity-and-logic.php ? If so, would you mind giving the paragraph #, or % of the way down, or some other way that I can find the quote?

  92. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    Look for the quote here:
    http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/revelation-and-reason-new-essays-in-reformed-apologetics-1.php

    I found it elsewhere, but it is the same quote.

    Apparently if a person is a complex of thoughts, he ceases to exist when he is asleep (i,e, not thinking), if a person is an entity that can meaningfully say “I”, he does not cease to exist when he cannot do so.

    If you think you are making brilliant points, I’m satisfied to let the readers judge the brilliance of your “arguments”.

  93. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    You never answered my question:
    When you say being precedes logic, are you referring to being in general?

  94. Tim Harris Says:

    1. No, referring to an unattributed quote in another article than the one Sean cited, by a third party reviewer, is not fair. I’ll sign up to debate the assertions in this post — not everything written by Oliphint anywhere any time, as alleged in an unfootnoted review. No.

    2. The point is, my person as a thinker not a thought, has a principle of continuity that could be unpacked to account for identity through time, including sleep. At least, a swag could be taken at it. Whereas I can’t imagine what principle of identity through time could be established for a bundle of propositions (or even, what it means to be “in time” on that definition). But I’m all ears. The crickets are chirping, as someone said up there in reference to someone else.

    3. No, I don’t think I am making brilliant points. Rather commonplace ones, I should have thought. And I would be happy to have the definition I offered for “person” to be improved upon. I am getting old, and don’t want to waste time cherishing a mistake. However, the bundle of propositions would need to overcome the half-dozen objections I outlined even to get to first base.

    4. We don’t know who the readers are, but if the writers are correlated to the readership, it doesn’t bode well. Insult, condescension, taunting, accusation of apostasy, talking trash, and mutual butt-slapping seem to be the heart of the Clarkian apologetic if I may be permitted to apply a little induction to the swath of posters here. If there are few objectors that venture forth to debate, you can be sure it is for those reasons, not because of fear of being rebutted.

    5. “Being in general”? Hahaha. Would this be in the Aristotelian or Heideggerian sense? Tell you what. You guys are big on definitions. Define what you mean by “being in general,” in terms that a simpleton like me can understand, then I will answer your question.

  95. Hugh McCann Says:

    Insult, condescension, taunting, accusation of apostasy, talking trash, and mutual butt-slapping seem to be the heart of the Clarkian apologetic if I may be permitted to apply a little induction to the swath of posters here.

    I am herewith PEGGED! Love it! :)

  96. Hugh McCann Says:

    I am chagrined that I’ve missed this thread… :(

    This is priceless, Tim.

    There is a handful of men here that are almost capable of carrying on a civil discussion. The rest are chimpouts,* eager to thump the chest and declare someone stupid, heterodox, or even demonic on the basis of one or two commbox comments.

    * Tim – I am unfamiliar with this term, but Googling it yielded rather shocking definitions. How mean thee here?

  97. Hugh McCann Says:

    Tim, it’s uncanny – it’s like you’ve written my c.v.

  98. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    You said: “As far as “created logic,” it’s true that Oliphant said that before Creation there was no logic, but this is not quite the same as saying that logic is created.”

    I gave you a direct quote from Oliphint: “Logic, like all else save God himself, is created.”

    I originally found the quote in:
    The Laws of Logic and Reformed Philosophy by Jamin Hübner.
    The quote is attributed to Oliphint.

    You present a constantly moving target. Most of the time what you present is too incoherent to require a serious response.

    If it is not “being in general” that you are referring to in your statement “being precedes logic”, what do you mean by “being”?

    You wrote: “The point is, my person as a thinker not a thought, has a principle of continuity that could be unpacked to account for identity through time, including sleep.”

    I hope your thinker has thoughts, but he does not when he is asleep. As your thinker thinks different thoughts does he cease being the same thinker? Your thinker is not identified by the thoughts he thinks. Your thinker does not think propositions. His thoughts are non-propositional.

    I will present you with some very meaningful statements:
    1. I
    2. I
    3. I
    4. I
    5, I

    These five statements do not have predicates, but they are extremely meaningful because they represent five persons. I am certain that you can tell me what they mean. I have no idea.

    Here are some more very meaningful statements:
    1, We
    2. We
    3. We
    4. We
    5. We

    Perhaps you can tell me what these statements mean.

    Here are some more:
    1, They
    2. They
    3. They
    4. They
    5. They

    Can your person meaningfully say, “They”?

    Is your person capable of predication? Can he understand a proposition?

    If a parrot or a tape recorder says “I”, what about it is not “meaningful”? Could it be that the parrot and the tape recorder lack the ability to understand propositions?

  99. Tim Harris Says:

    Hugh,

    I think your statements are meant to be ironic. My induction on the “posters” here was not meant to yield a covering proposition that accounts for every single one, but merely a correlation. You have only “gone over the edge” once or twice, and that was with humor, so you’re still ok.

    Have you thought any more on my email to you on succession?

    (BTW “chimpout” just refers to the proneness of chimps, orangutans, etc. when they get riled up, to go into a frenzy of chest-thumping, hopping up and down, and screeching. A very apt analogy on this board, I must say. For a nice literary introduction, read Edgar Allen Poe’s Murders on the Rue Morgue.)

  100. Hugh McCann Says:

    Tim,

    I vaguely recall that email (from Greenbaggins-ville?)… Please forgive me, but I have had mucho going on. Please resend or point me to pertinent ‘baggins post. Thanks!

    Hugh

  101. Tim Harris Says:

    Well Steve, maybe if you stop regarding me as a “target” you wouldn’t complain if you think I am moving.

    But actually, I haven’t moved… yet. Though I’m willing to, if shown to be wrong. As I said on July 14 last year, “if you don’t like my definition, why don’t you propose another and let’s see if we can make progress with that.” Remember, demolishing my definition does not establish the Clarkist definition.

    re your lists of dangling pronouns — The point I am tilting at in saying “capable of saying ‘I’” is to bring home reflexive self-consciousness as part of what it means to be a person. The higher primates are obviously dealing with a principle of differentiation of objects which is a kind of inchoate propositional attitude: “this banana will satisfy craving.” Think of Lewis’ wonderful treatment of Mr. Bultitude’s temptation while sitting in the tree over the wall at St. Anne’s. But their consciousness lacks the self-reflection to include ‘I,’ let alone an I-thou posture. So if we could “hear them talk” we wouldn’t understand them, as Wittgenstein observed. It would be a kind of proposition-formation that would be foreign to us, because (I add — Wittgenstein didn’t explain) lacking the personal pronouns. It would be pure haeceity with no transcendence and the “propositions” wouldn’t communicate. In contrast, if your five persons were beginning to make utterances beginning with “I…” or even “they…” we would realize we were dealing with persons. We would recognize a principle of individuation that was rooted in their separate consciousnesses. Thus, even if there was a clone of me, and we were “thinking the same propositions,” we would still know, apodictically, that we were our own separate persons. It is a primal certainty by which the thing referred to by “I” is inviolable.

    On the other hand, if you say a person “is” his propositions, we would have, at one moment, Tom and Harry distinguished as they sit looking at the cat on the mat, because of their different propositions:
    Tom: “Tibbles is on the mat”
    Harry: “Tibbles has a broken leg”

    But then a moment later, they seem to have swapped places:
    Tom: “Tibbles has a broken leg”
    Harry: “Tibbles is on the mat”

    So have they swapped identities?

    A moment later, they are both thinking, “Tibbles is on the mat.” Now, have they fused into one person?

    I suppose you will say, “no, it is the set of all the propositions they ever think, and these sets will eventually differ unfusably.”

    But if you take that route, then you have to deal with the fact that most humans will “think” more than one proposition that are mutually contradictory. Then, the propositional theory will be subject to the objection #7 I explained above.

    In order to head off the insult I know you are itching to deliver, let me hasten to add that these comments are not “brilliant,” they are fairly mundane. Perhaps you or one of the other readers will be able to untangle my evident confusions.

  102. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    Before I go further. does your definition of person include the “higher primates”.

  103. Tim Harris Says:

    No. As I thought I spelled out in the long paragraph —

  104. Tim Harris Says:

    (the php deleted the quote) — “But their consciousness lacks the self-reflection to include ‘I,’”

  105. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    I said, “You present a constantly moving target.”

    You respond, “Well Steve, maybe if you stop regarding me as a “target” you wouldn’t complain if you think I am moving.”

    Please note: I did not say “You are a constantly moving target”

    I think you are well aware that the target was the positions you present which do tend to ramble. It is disingenuous to accuse me of regarding you as a target as if you are responding to something I said.

    “No. As I thought I spelled out in the long paragraph”

    Yes, it was a long paragraph.

    I am not sure what it has to do with “First, I have given a definition of “person” that I am comfy with — a living entity that can meaningfully say “I.””

    Are you saying that the higher primate cannot differentiate itself from the banana?

  106. Steve M Says:

    Tim
    You wrote:
    “7. If the bundle of propositions is thought to include all propositions that follow by implication, then you have this additional problem.”

    If it is thought to? By whom? I have not suggested this. Must I answer for everything that someone (certainly not me) might think? I don’t think so.

    You wrote: “Most people probably hold two propositions somewhere that are contradictory”.

    By people do you mean persons? You have been arguing that propositions are not necessary to personhood. What is necessary is reflexive self-consciousness.

    You wrote: “But from P&~P you can deduce Q, for any Q. Including ~Q. So then, anyone holding contradictory propositions includes in his bundle every proposition in the universe, as well as the negation thereof!

    Who can deduce? (you?) Your person cannot deduce anything. You have not required rationality of your person. Your person can “meaningfully” say “I”, but you have not explained what makes saying “I” meaningful without rationality. If rationality is required to be a person, then your definition is completely inadequate.

  107. Steve M Says:

    Tim:
    “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.”

    Tim:
    “However, I don’t think it is the case that a precise, bullet-proof definition is needed in order to have a meaningful conversation. Indeed, it is not possible to define every term non-circularly. So, if you don’t like my definition, why don’t you propose another and let’s see if we can make progress with that. “Bundle of propositions” won’t do, however, for reasons that should be obvious — propositions are not living, they don’t speak, and so forth.”

    Me:
    “A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. A proposition is not vibrations in the air or ink patterns on a page. For a declarative sentence to have meaning implies a mind, therefore I would argue that your assertion that propositions aren’t living is based upon a misconception of what a proposition is. A proposition is a thought. That Clark defines a person as a complex of thoughts is obvious since he equates propositions with thoughts. So does Scripture “As a man thinks in his (figurative) heart, so is he.”

    Me:
    “You defined a person as “a living entity that can meaningfully say “I”. You have now added a great deal to your original definition. You have added the ability to contemplate propositions and “much much more.” Your original definition lacks anything that would distinguish one person from another. Above you equate the term “being” with the term “entity”, therefore, I think it would be fair to insert it into your definition (i.e. a living being that can meaningfully say “I”). Your definition does not include any notion that more than one being or entity can meaningfully, as a group, say ”I”, yet you assert, “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.” In your definition, a being (or entity) is a person, but when you describe the Trinity your definition “evolves”. I find your definition inadequate. I find your thinking to be inconsistent. Most Van Tilians do not consider inconsistency to be a fault. I do. If each “Person” of the Trinity is a “being”, then this “being” cannot “both exclude and include the other two Persons” (i.e. the other two beings). This is pure jibberish. You seem to like jibberish.”

    I thought at this point a little recap would be helpful. We have gotten so far away from the original arguments.

  108. Steve M Says:

    Tim Harris:
    “Now in the case of the Trinity, the being of one of the Persons both excludes and includes the other Persons.”

    When Tim Harris flips a coin, it comes up both heads and tails.

  109. Denson Dube Says:

    Steve M,
    It’s, “Heads I win and tails you loose!”


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