Crampton Refutes Anderson

Denson was nice enough to point out in the combox to another post that Dr. W. Gary Crampton’s devastating refutation and review of Vantilian James Anderson’s Paradox in Christian Theology is now available at the Trinity Foundation website.

One of my criticisms of the review, if you want to call it that, is that I only wish Dr. Crampton spent more time examining Anderson’s use of Alvin Plantigna’s epistemology of warrant to justify his belief in the (imagined) logical paradoxes of Scripture, that are, or so we are told, irreconcilable at the bar of human reason. It struck me when reading Anderson’s book that his use of Plantinga’s epistemological method (and I don’t think he was abusing Plantinga here) that magically makes believing in a logically incoherent revelation “rational,” points to the utter uselessness of Planting’s entire epistemic endeavor. I would think a critique along those lines would also go along way in providing the death-knell for the entire misnamed “Reformed Epistemology” movement.  If Plantinga’s scheme can provide warrant for believing contradictory nonsense while still being rational for doing so, then it can provide the epistemological justification for believing all sorts of anti-Christian nonsense.

Another (minor) criticism is that I wish Dr. Crampton spent some time discussing Anderson’s contention that the so-called “paradoxes of Scripture” result from what Anderson anagrammatically calls “MACRUEs” or “merely apparent contradiction resulting from unarticulated equivocation.”

With those minor asides, I very much appreciated Crampton’s review along with his succinct encapsulation of Robert Reymond’s arguments exposing the dangers of holding to the false belief that there are logical paradoxes in Scripture (play close attention to Reymond’s second point).   Crampton writes:

The fact is, however, that a logical paradox (even an apparent contradiction) cannot be “rationally” believed, because one would not know what to believe. If one statement even “apparently” contradicts another, how would one know which to believe? What could be more obvious than this? It is not “rationally” possible to believe such paradoxes. Robert Reymond posed three insuperable obstacles to the notion that the Bible contains logical paradox.

First, as noted above, the issue of what is and what is not a logical paradox is totally subjective. Therefore, to claim universally that such and such a teaching is a paradox would require omniscience. How could anyone know that this teaching had not been reconciled before the bar of someone’s human reason?

Second, even when one claims that the seeming contradiction is merely “apparent,” he raises serious problems. “If actually non-contradictory truths can appear as contradictories, and if no amount of study or reflection can remove the contradiction, there is no available means to distinguish between this ‘apparent’ contradiction and a real contradiction.” How then would man know whether he is embracing an actual contradiction, which if actually found in the Bible (an impossibility, according to 1 Corinthians 14:33 and 2 Corinthians 1:18-20), would reduce the Scriptures to the same level as the contradictory Koran of Islam or a seeming contradiction? If Reymond’s analysis here is sound (and it is), then Anderson’s RAPT “warrant” for holding to the concept of logical paradox is “unwarranted.” The reason being that one cannot “rationally” believe “a set of theological claims even when those claims give the appearance of inconsistency” (262). The acronym RAPT (Rational Affirmation of Paradoxical Theology) itself is oxymoronic. There is no “rational affirmation” possible of a logical paradox.

And third, once one asserts (as with Neo-orthodoxy) that truth may come in the form of irreconcilable contradictions, “he has given up all possibility of ever detecting a real falsehood. Every time he rejects a proposition as false because it ‘contradicts’ the teaching of Scripture or because it is in some other way illogical, the proposition’s sponsor only needs to contend that it only appears to contradict Scripture or to be illogical, and that his proposition is one of the terms…of one or more of those paradoxes which we have acknowledged have a legitimate place in our ‘little systems.’” This being so, Christianity’s uniqueness as the only true revealed religion, will die the death of a thousand qualifications.(22)

In all, Dr. Crampton provides another devastating critique of those Vantilians, like Anderson, who  hold up the Scriptures as presenting to the mind of man an impenetrable morass of apparent contradictions, something they wrongly call “mysteries,” to which we are to bow in submission all in a sick perversion of Christian piety. These men, while pretending to be Reformed, are really the Reformed faith’s greatest enemies. Their thinly veiled affirmation of biblical contradictions (insofar as they appear and must remain to the human existent at least without some further revelation which is neither forthcoming nor to be expected) are hostile to true religion and are nothing more than religious fetishes fashioned in their own minds as they provide  a caricature of the true biblical Creator/creature distinction so badly mutilated by Van Til and his many followers.  As Dr. Crampton observes:

In the words of Gordon Clark, the Westminster theologians and the Reformers before them “believed that God’s revelation can be formulated accurately. They were not enamored of ambiguity [as is found in logical paradox]; they did not identify piety with a confused mind [which is the result of logical paradox]. They wanted to proclaim the truth with the greatest possible clarity. And so ought we.”

Crampton’s review also provides a warning to anyone who might be looking at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina where Anderson teaches to further their theological studies.  With professors like Anderson your money would be better spent elsewhere.  Although finding a seminary that doesn’t already adhere to Anderson’s deeply held conviction in a paradoxical and contradictory faith is getting increasingly harder to find, that is, if possible at all in these dark days.

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151 Comments on “Crampton Refutes Anderson”


  1. Don’t look to Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida either. John M. Frame teaches here. Also, Simon Kistemacher seemed to think that the seminary’s lack of denominational oversight and its loose adherence to a confessional commitment to the Westminster standards is a plus. RTS Orlando is more broadly evangelical than Reformed. Sad.

  2. Gus Gianello Says:

    I would issue a friendly challenge, find ONE seminary where you would not come out with epistemological derangement. In other words, Reformed seminary is spelled C-E-M-E-T-A-R-Y.

    Those interested in systematically learning the true Reformed faith would be better off (and spending less) by doing the following:
    1. Pick up the classics: Hodge, Terretin, Calvin, Luther
    2. Pick up all of Clark and Robbins
    3. Listen to all the Trinity Foundation available audios.
    4. Pick up the “minors” –Gerety, Crampton.
    5. Correspond with Scripturalists of long standing.

    You will learn TONS of good theology and epistemology just by following this blog and the Trinity Review.

    Ps. Read all of those.

    Gus

  3. Ryan Says:

    I wouldn’t say that seminaries are completely devoid of use, Gus. I visited the RTS in Atlanta with my high school Bible teacher, and Systematics teacher at the time – John Fesko – was really insightful and interesting. While discrimination is always advised (for instance, I believe I heard Fesko was an infralapsarian, a position with which I disagree), I imagine that there’s much someone like myself could learn at such a seminary. After all, Calvin, Hodge, Turretin, and Luther had their flaws as well.

  4. qeqesha Says:

    Dr Crampton must be applauded for defending rationality, the image of God, without which we are beasts! Anderson’s book is Satanic deception and dangerous nonsense! It is aimed at destroying the intelligibility of the Word of God and with it the message from God and plunge us into darkness.
    To think this is the puke Manata wrote a glowing review for!
    What hope is there for ordinary folk when a professor does not understand the simple fact that, “… a logical paradox (even an apparent contradiction) cannot be “rationally” believed, because one would not know what to believe. If one statement even “apparently” contradicts another, how would one know which to believe? What could be more obvious than this? It is not “rationally” possible to believe such paradoxes.”

    Denson

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    If one statement even “apparently” contradicts another, how would one know which to believe? What could be more obvious than this? It is not “rationally” possible to believe such paradoxes.”

    From the point of view of those who have invested in a seminary degree and are looking to make their living in the ministry, there is a distinct advantage in keeping the people in the pews off balance and in the dark. A friend of mine sent me something he wrote the other day and it included the following that I think sums up the benefits of perpetuating the widespread irrationalistic view of the Christian faith:

    Their handling of Scripture undermines God’s revelation (attacks it as even possible because all we have is an analogy of the truth, not truth itself) and leads to doctrinal chaos. Doctrinal chaos opens the door to the rule of men over and against the rule of God’s Word in its truly Biblical sense. Doctrinal chaos means “the little people” lose any right of private judgement using the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and must instead rely on their academic “betters” [who spend time being educated in pagan academic institutions and seeking pagan acceptance & approval] to distill the irrational stew of stories, events, analogical data and apparent paradoxes to tell “the little people” what they must do to remain in a right relationship with a God – which first and foremost is to obey the dictates of their academic betters. This god the academic betters proclaim to them is a god they cannot really know because all they have is analogy and apparent paradox in Scripture – and we’re back to Rome in principle.

    I think you’d agree, this guy really gets it.

  6. Eric Says:

    “A friend of mine sent me something he wrote the other day and it included the following that I think sums up the benefits of perpetuating the widespread irrationalistic view of the Christian faith: …”

    Indeed, Sean, it’s all about tyranny. Great quote from your friend. In our circles we call it elitism.

    Thanks!

    Eric

  7. Roberto G Says:

    I’m not a philosopher, nor do I play one on t.v. However, having read much of Gordon Clark and only having a little familiarity with Alvin Plantinga, I have found one important apologetic affinity between the two thinkers (another might be their theodicy for evil). It is along the lines of an evolutionary argument against naturalism. Plantinga has definitely elaborated this argument out extensively throughout the last two decades. It is worth noting that Clark possibly anticipated such an argument 50 years earlier in his “A Christian Philosophy of Education” (in my opinion, one of his best apologetic works).
    In the signature series volume of that book in the last paragraph on page 94, Clark outlines an evolutionary argument against naturalism. I would be interested to know if this paragraph appears in the original edition of 1946. If this paragraph was added, it must have been added before Clark’s passing. It is an extremely important insight and one that may even have appeared earlier in the writings of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. I don’t read the last two authors, but remember coming across some of their quotes online somewhere to the effect of an evolutionary argument against naturalism.

  8. speigel Says:

    I have also recognized some connection with Clark’s and Plantinga’s ideas based on the example is the one mentioned by Roberto’s. Clark has mentioned Plantinga in another book (It’s in Clark’s signature series Christian Philosophy) and cites from Plantinga’s book. It may be that they may have independently come to the same conclusion or at least learned from each other.

    On another note, Paul Helm also gave a favorable review on Anderson’s book. Hope no on disregards Paul Helm in toto based on his writing of the review.

  9. speigel Says:

    I forgot to mention another thing between Clark and Plantinga’s ideas. I can’t remember which book I read Clark’s thoughts from, but I do remember reading Clark arguing against a position that may be held by Plantinga – if one’s faculties are working normally, then certain beliefs may be properly basic. But, asks Clark, how does one know if his faculties are working normally? When I find out which book it is, I’ll respond here.

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    I have no doubt that there is agreement between Clark and Plantinga, since there is evident agreement (as Anderson points out) between Van Til’s contradictory view of Scripture and the entire Christian faith and Plantinga. Which goes to my point that any epistemology that can be used to justify and support two mutually exclusive philosophies along with their mutually exclusive understandings of truth and the Scriptures is, to my mind, worthless.

    IMO that Plantinga and those like him have simply lowered the epistemic bar which would certainly explain such widespread agreement across theological and philosophic lines. Their goal is to make Christianity appear “rational” to their Pagan and anti-Christian friends. Basically, they don’t want to be laughed at when they eat their lunch in the faculty lounge at Yale. Look at it this way, Michael Sudduth has employed Plantinga’s theory of warrant to support his Romanish belief in “natural theology,” something both Clark and Van Til thought was patently anti-Christian. (Of course, VT did in places affirm the so-call “classical proofs” while simultaneously rejecting NT, which, in his case, was par for the course).

  11. George Says:

    I’m not sure that Clark would still agree (if indeed he did) with Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, EAAN. A JW Robbins (I think it is the same JWR whose writings we all know and love) refuted Plantinga’s EAAN by distinguishing between Cartesian and pragmatic minds. That article can be found, on, of all places infidels.org. “Evolutionary Naturalism, Theism, and Skepticism about the External World” (2000) – If this is the same JWR, he seems to be writing for an audience with more grounding in philosophy than his more accessible essays demand.

    Putting EAAN aside, and moving on to the problem of evil, I think Clark and Plantinga are nearly polar opposites on the problem of evil – with compatiblists like Dabney somewhere in between.

    “Summarizing the Scriptures, the [Westminster] Confession says here that God is not the author of sin; that is, God does nothing sinful. Even those Christians who are not Calvinists must admit that in some sense God is the cause of sin, for he is the sole ultimate cause of everything.” – Gordon Clark, What Presbyterians Believe

    “His [Plantinga’s] goal is only to avoid contradicting what he sees as the heart of his free will defense, namely, the assertion that God is all-loving and all-powerful. Plantinga wants to
    remove even the suspicion that God might be the author of evil, a position he suspects is
    inherent in the Augustinian tradition. The implications of his remolding of Augustine will
    have ramifications for Plantinga’s work on epistemology, as explained below.” – John J. Johnson “Alvin Plantinga’s Restatement of Augustine’s Free Will Theodicy and its Implications for his Concept of “Warranted” Christian Belief” May 2009 Baylor Thesis

    https://beardocs.baylor.edu/bitstream/2104/5313/1/John_Johnson_phd.pdf

    It is a bit odd that Plantinga put Aquinas/Calvin together in an (A/C) model, and I don’t think I’m the only one who finds his free will defense very Arminian (inspite of Plantinga’s claim to be Reformed).

  12. speigel Says:

    Clark quotes Plantinga with favor in Three Types of Religious Philosophy arguing against Logical Positivists.

    In regards to the evolutionary argument against naturalism:

    “This non-theisitic, naturalistic view is difficult to accept because it implies that the mind, too, as well as the body, is an evolutionary product rather than a divine image…[T]he mind operates with the practical results of biological adaption. Concepts and propositions neither reach the truth nor even aim at it…There is no evidence that our categories correspond to reality. Even if they did, a most unlikely accident, no one could know it…If now this be the case, our traditional logic is but a passing evolutionary movement, our theories, dependent on this logic, are temporary reactions, parochial social habits, and Freudian rationalizations; and therefore the evolutionary theory, produced by these biological urges, cannot be true.”

    This found exactly where Roberto mentioned it. Clark agrees or shares some of Plantinga’s ideas, maybe differing in detail. Either way, learn to accept that Clark agrees with Plantinga on some things.

    And J. Wesley Robbins is not John W. Robbins of the Trinity Foundation. The former is a professor at Indiana University.

    We should get back to Crampton, Anderson, and paradox. I say we petition TF to have Crampton write more Trinity Reviews. I’ve always found Crampton fair and penetrating in his writings.

  13. George Says:

    Spiegel,

    I have two copies of the signature series of Clark’s A Christian Philosophy of Education. The quote on page 94, I looked up yesterday morning. Don’t know if it was Clark’s own 1946 idea and Plantinga borrowed it or not, or if it was an 1988 idea.

    And I did not start the discussion on Plantinga’s theodicy of evil.

    The very first Gordon Haddon Clark prize in apologetics (1987) went to the young David Reiter who wrote Thinking About the Problem of Evil, “a meticulous discussion and refutation of Alvin Plantinga’s theory of free will.”–JWR With respect to that prize our John Robbins wrote: “Mr. Plantinga, of both Calvin College and the University of Notre Dame, is well known for developing the anti-Christian theory [of free will] in his books.” Learn to accept it.

    Who said Clark and Plantinga never agreed on anything?Not me. They both certainly agreed to not accept the ontological proof of God. Learn to accept that agreement not to accept the proof.

  14. speigel Says:

    George – learn to calm down. I wasn’t telling you to accept something in any condescending manner. Nor was I talking to you in specific. Nor did I mention Plantinga’s theodicy of evil. And whether GHC borrowed or not from Plantinga, we can still say that Clark agreed with Plantinga in an area.

    I already knew that Plantinga’s defense of free will was unbiblical. What’s new to accept? In addition, though JWR mentioned Plantinga in regards to Reiter’s paper, Reiter said he never wrote about Plantinga in the paper that won the Clark prize. But I assume the paper was so well written against the idea of free will that it was only logical to conclude that it devastated Plantinga’s arguments.

    Plantinga does accept a version of the ontological argument as proof. And I have no idea what you mean when you say “Learn to accept that agreement not to accept the proof.” It seems like an unfinished sentence. And I agree with you that you never said “Clark and Plantinga never agreed on anything.” Stop reading into my posts. Speaking of which, this will be my last one on Plantinga.

    Why is it never friendly here?

  15. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Spigiel,
    My astonishment has always been the complete silence Plantinga maintains about Gordon Clark and vice versa. Robbins also seems to have ignored Plantinga except for comments to the effect that “Reformed Epistemology”, Plantingsa’s project, is anything but! Anderson also, it seems does not think Clark’s attempt at making a rational and logically consistent exposition of the Incarnation, the Trinity, theodicy worth any consideration, not even a refutation! This is astounding!
    I suppose, being advocates for irrationality, they are just being true to themselves!

    Denson

  16. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, just a (not so) quick aside. Anderson’s thesis is if someone wants to be orthodox, which, according to him means affirming the “ecumenical creeds,” one must also be willing to accept logical paradoxes. While he only mention’s Clark in passing at the beginning of his book, he does cite others who have attempted to modify the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation in order to avoid any apparent contradictions, but concludes that all such attempts (frankly, any attempt) must end in heterodoxy.

    For example, in the scrambled mind of Paul Manata he admits that Clark’s formulations of the Trinity and the Incarnation resolves any seeming contradiction but at the expense of orthodoxy. According to Manata and Anderson you can’t have both.

    Now, it’s important to keep in mind that they define orthodoxy not in accordance with what the Scriptures teach, but rather what the traditional (ecumenical) creeds teach. Not only does tradition trump Scripture, but it’s a tradition that is limited to just those things found in so-called “ecumenical creeds.”

    For example, if one grants Anderson’s claims that these orthodox creeds entail logical paradoxes, the Westminster creed maintains that in Scripture there is a “consent of all the parts” and there can be no logical paradoxes in Scripture. That’s because the meaning of Scripture is one and “not manifold.” Therefore it follows if a doctrinal formulation ends in a logical paradox, and the Confession maintains that no such paradoxes can exist in Scripture, but rather result from some failure of exegesis or through the addition of some speculation introduced into the doctrinal formulation and apart from Scripture or any of its necessary inferences, then ALL doctrinal statements, no matter how revered, are open to revision. As the Confession explicitly states:

    “All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

    As should be clear, this includes the seemingly sacrosanct formulations found in the Athanasian and Chalcedonian creeds. No doctrinal statement “since the Apostles’ times” is excluded. In contradistinction to this great Protestant creed, Anderson maintains that any such revisions are strictly forbidden. Basically, if you accept Anderson’s definition of orthodoxy the “ecumenical” creeds are written in stone.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think “tampering” with any of the historic creeds should be done with great care and considerable “fear and trembling.” That said, I don’t think any of the creedal statements are somehow impervious to modification just because they’re old and widely accepted. After all, the WCF adopted by American Presbyterian churches has been modified in places. Perhaps Anderson and Manata will charge American Presbyterians with heterodoxy? Anderson is a Brit after all. Of course, since they both reject what the WCF affirms concerning the logical coherence of Scripture in all that it teaches, I guess the Protestant creeds can be modified, just not those embraced by popish sub-Christian cults like the one found in Rome.

  17. Steve Matthews Says:

    Apparently Anderson would like to modify the WFC’s language (I.3) about human writings having no authority in the Church of God.

  18. qeqesha Says:

    Steve,
    Sean quoted someone as saying these people peddle irrationalism in order to lord it over the saints. In keeping with that they must elevate human formulations of doctrine and make them binding on the conscience regardless of whether they are Biblical or not.

    Denson

  19. Steve Matthews Says:

    Agreed, Denson.

  20. speigel Says:

    On a related tangent, how do the people on this blog feel about Clark’s thoughts on the incarnation? How about McMahon’s critique on Clark’s “Incarnation” found here >>> http://www.apuritansmind.com/ChristianWalk/McMahonMeditationIncarnation.htm

    Crampton endorses Clark’s theory in a tract and some articles calling Clark’s theory a rational solution. But the tract’s publisher in a publisher’s comment expressly denies a Nestorian explanation of the Personhood of Christ. Not sure if the publisher’s comment should be imputed to Crampton. McMahon calls Clark’s theory Nestorian, even if it is a refined Nestorian.

    What was Clark’s theory? Was it Nestorian, whether or not you agree if Nestorianism is wrong? Was Clark justified in arguing against historical theology? Was historical theology wrong until Clark? What say you? I’ll like to hear some responses.

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Speigel, first, McMahon is a little more circumspect then you make him out to be. He said; “[Clark] seems to hold to a form of Nestorianism….” He never actually accuses Clark of heresy, just that he comes very close. In Clark’s defense, he says for one thing Nestorius never defined what he means by “person.”

    OTOH, you are correct and I think Crampton is mistaken in his belief that Clark was defending the traditional formulations of the Trinity and the Incarnation. He was not. For one thing, in his formulation of the Trinity he abandons completely the idea of substance as undefinable nonsense and then in the next volume applies his solution to the unity of persons to the problem of the Incarnation. Interestingly, when I raised this objection to McMahon he assured me that substance could be defined in such a way as to make ineligible the belief that God is three persons of one substance. When I pressed him he refused to provide either the definition or even a source where I could find this mysterious definition. He said it would take too long to explain.

    There is also a scathing review of The Incarnation by David Engelsma in The Standard Bearer. Engelsma seems to share the belief that the traditional formulations are the last word and writes:

    I am even less sure that the Spirit of Christ failed to lead the church into all the truth of the person and natures of Christ at Chalcedon, or into the truth of the infinity of the being of God at Dordt and Westminster.

    Well, if it was Holy Spirit leading the Westminster Divines in everything they penned then perhaps the 1789 American revision is a case of willful heterodoxy when they denied the civil magistrate the right to call synods, participate in them, and enforce “whatsoever is transacted in them.”

    And, even though identifying the papacy as the antichrist is very likely and is a shoe that certainly fits, it is not a necessary inference from Scripture. Was it the Holy Spirit speaking when the Divines originally identified the pope as “that antichrist”? If so, then if this identification is not a necessary inference from Scripture were the Divines justified in adding to Scripture? Was the Holy Spirit speaking through the Divines in the same way He speaks through the propositions of Scripture? If we’re to believe Engelsma, perhaps they were.

    As Clark said in light of his attempts to revisit and expand on these doctrines: “fifteen hundred years of chanting nonsense produces an ingrained habit, a new idea has a hard time making progress.” Amen. Actually, I’m very thankful that it is so hard to make progress as these doctrines, particularly those touching on the Trinity and the Incarnation, should be handled with care. But I don’t agree with Engelsma that Clark was being “cavalier.”

    Also, you might want to check out this discussion of Nestorianism and the council of Ephesus at PB. I had seen this quote before, but someone cited A.A. Hodge again who wrote:

    The Nestorian heresy, charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God, because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.” (Outlines of Theology, Chapter 20, Question 15, 3rd Answer)

    FWIW in The Incarnation Clark sought to answer the question who or what died on the cross? Did a person die on the cross or an impersonal
    nature? Does a nature grow in stature and wisdom or does a person? If someone doesn’t like Clark’s answer, they can certainly try to come up with their own, but I would like to think that all our dearly held doctrines are open to revision in the light of Scripture. After all, the Holy Spirit was given to “guide” us into all truth, not just hand it to us on a silver platter. Consequently, just because some men think certain questions settled, if the accepted formulations can be shown to be deficient in the light of Scripture, then I think we’re correct to conclude that perhaps more work needs to be done. That’s my position. Call me an idealist. 🙂

  22. qeqesha Says:

    Engelsma says
    ¨But Clark’s doctrine is the boldest, most advanced Nestorianism, suffering, fatally, from the weaknesses because of which the church rejected Nestorianism, its failure to unite the two natures of the Savior and its inability to unify the work of redemption.¨
    Following Engelsema, couldn´t one say, ¨Trinitarianism fails to unite the three persons of the Godhead and is unable to unify the work of redemption?¨ He simply repeats ¨natures¨ without explaining what he means by it.
    Engelsema does not tell us why he thinks two persons, the Son and the human cannot be united. They obviously were. The difficulty of course is how?

    Denson

  23. speigel Says:

    @SG:
    From the McMahon article:

    It is important to address his disagreement since his ultimate conclusion on the nature of the Incarnation and the person of Christ leads him to believe in a kind of Nestorianism, if not a full-fledged Nestorianism under the guise of philosophical and ‘logical’ necessity.

    At the very moment of conception the Son has assumed the nature of the humanity of Jesus. I believe Clark would affirm this, but his Nestorianism seems to deny this.

    At one point McMahon does say that Clark “seems” to hold to Nestorianism. But in context, McMahon qualifies the word “hold” with “seems” because McMahon immediately states that Clark didn’t finish the book. We therefore don’t know what Clark would have written in regards Nestorianism – whether distinguishing his position from it or arguing in defending Nestorianism.

    You also stated a disagreement with Gary Crampton. Where did Crampton write that Clark was defending the traditional formula of the Trinity and Incarnation? Can you quote or cite Crampton? Thanks.

    It should be noted that Clark changed his view on the incarnation the last years of his life. All his other works were based on the traditional understanding of the incarnation. So Clark does defend the traditional understanding of the incarnation in his other works.

    To be fair to Engselma, the quote you provided is limited to Christology and the infinity of God. Engselma, of course, states that Divines were wrong in regards to remarriage. So I would not, nor could I, conclude that Engselma meant the Holy Spirit lead the Divines in everything they wrote.

    In regards to creeds and such, do you think one person should have the right to change it, or is it the church’s right to do so? In addition, are you saying that the creeds we wrong about Christology for the past thousand years or so? And do you think Clark would agree?

    @Denson:
    How is Engsela supposed to explain how the two persons can be united when Engselma expressly rejects that there are two persons? There is no question as to how two persons can be united UNLESS one accepts that there are two persons to be united. Your assertions against Engelsma are unfair.

  24. qeqesha Says:

    speigel,
    you wrote ¨How is Engsela supposed to explain how the two persons can be united when Engselma expressly rejects that there are two persons? There is no question as to how two persons can be united UNLESS one accepts that there are two persons to be united. Your assertions against Engelsma are unfair.¨

    Engelsema seems to think that if one has two ¨natures¨, unity is achieved by simply asserting that they belong to ¨one person¨. My question is, if ¨two natures¨ why not ¨two persons¨? Why can´t one say ¨two persons¨ one Christ, just as we say three persons one God forever? Further, Engelsema does not define his terms, preferring instead to making meaningless noises.

    Denson

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    At one point McMahon does say that Clark “seems” to hold to Nestorianism. But in context, McMahon qualifies the word “hold” with “seems” because McMahon immediately states that Clark didn’t finish the book. We therefore don’t know what Clark would have written in regards Nestorianism – whether distinguishing his position from it or arguing in defending Nestorianism.

    I don’t have the book with me, but Clark does at least try to distance himself from Nestorianism. As I mentioned, and among other things, he said that Nestorius didn’t even try to define what he means by “person.”

    You also stated a disagreement with Gary Crampton. Where did Crampton write that Clark was defending the traditional formula of the Trinity and Incarnation? Can you quote or cite Crampton? Thanks.

    I thought you already did that? Here it is again and verbatim:

    “Gordon Clark did not have this problem. In The Trinity(5) and The Incarnation(6), he propounded a rational, Biblical view of both doctrines. Robert Reymond also set forth rational explanations of the Trinity and Christology in A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith.(7) Then there is the Westminster Confession of Faith, which teaches that there is a perfect harmony in all Scripture, i.e., a “consent of all the parts” (1:5), and wherein we find a rational, orthodox teaching on the doctrine “Of God, and of the Holy Trinity” (2:1-3) and “Of Christ the Mediator” (8:1-8).”

    Crampton equates Clark’s teaching in The Trinity and The Incarnation with what is taught in the Confession, but they are different. Besides the question of substance in regard to the unity of persons, something Clark completely jettisons, Clark advances to a two-person theory in The Incarnation. Admittedly, Clark did not hold to a two-person view throughout his entire career, but certainly in the book Crampton cites.

    I think it’s a great tragedy that Clark wasn’t around for many more years so he could develop his theories more fully and answer his critics himself. I also think all of Clark’s books on theology proper are arguably his most important and least read works.

    It should be noted that Clark changed his view on the incarnation the last years of his life. All his other works were based on the traditional understanding of the incarnation. So Clark does defend the traditional understanding of the incarnation in his other works.

    Perhaps, but Crampton cited The Incarnation and not some other work.

    To be fair to Engselma, the quote you provided is limited to Christology and the infinity of God. Engselma, of course, states that Divines were wrong in regards to remarriage. So I would not, nor could I, conclude that Engselma meant the Holy Spirit lead the Divines in everything they wrote.

    I was being fair. As Denson notes Engelsma accused Clark of full-blown Nestorianism. Others have too. I don’t know if I really buy it since what little I have been able to read about Nestorius, I get the impression he was not as bad as some people claim. I’m no expert on Nestorianism, but it seems the opposition against him was more politically motivated than theological. After all, opposing the idea that Mary is the mother of God is a worthy cause, especially when you consider the gross idolatry we see coming from the Roman church/state.

    In regards to creeds and such, do you think one person should have the right to change it, or is it the church’s right to do so?

    If you believe it was Athanasius contra mundo (against the world) then one man is perhaps all it takes. But, if men are somehow forbidden to even consider alternatives that perhaps better comport to what the Scriptures teach, and not have to utilize pagan philosophic terms like “substance” which seemingly have no intelligible meaning, then I think we’ll all be repeating nonsense for another thousand years.

    In addition, are you saying that the creeds we wrong about Christology for the past thousand years or so? And do you think Clark would agree?

    I’m saying that I think the creeds can be improved and Clark offered some improvements. So, yes and yes.

    And, for the record, even as the historic creeds stand, I don’t think they entail the paradoxes Anderson claim they do. Of course, if God is three persons of one substance and no one can say exactly what substance means in relation to the one incorporeal God and creator of all, or how this idea relates or unifies the three divine Persons, or even if they refuse to even define the word “person” in light of Scripture, then it still may not be that the formulations are paradoxical, just that they’re unintelligible. Like I said, I think they can be improved upon.

  26. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, while I’m at it…

    I think Robert Reymond is probably a better judge of the problem under discussion and has a much better grasp of the insufficiency and/or limitations of Chalcedonian formulation. He wrote in his Systematics:

    “The temptation, confronted as we are by the great incarnational mystery, is to deny one of the two series of Scripture data [Christ as represented as not knowing this or that matter and equally represented as knowing all things – see Warfield’s “Human Development”], and this is precisely what many in our generation have done . . . While I hold the Chalcedonian Definition in the highest esteem, I do not intend to suggest that it should have been the ‘terminal point’ in christological reflection in the sense that any and all reflection on the Incarnation since Chalcedon has been and is out of order. Dogma, however much revered and however much it becomes time-honored tradition, must be subject in all of its expressions and in all times to the Word of God, and it is uninterrupted research into Scripture that must ultimately guide the church.”

    I should also point out that Reymond notes that J. Oliver Buswell Jr. argued for a two levels of consciousness solution to the problem of the Incarnation and also mentions Thomas Morris who argued for a “two-mind” solution. I suppose some uncharitable reviewer could claim these men “believe in a kind of Nestorianism, if not a full-fledged Nestorianism under the guise of philosophical and ‘logical’ necessity.”

    FWIW, I tend to take McMahon with a grain of salt.

  27. speigel Says:

    @SG:

    Clark distances himself from Nestorianism in the sense that (1) Nestorius possibly doesn’t hold to current Nestorian teachings and (2) that Nestorius wasn’t wrong about the personhood of Christ. Clark states that Nestorius didn’t provide clear definitions of the terms he used. Clark doesn’t expressly distance himself from Nestorianism by distinguishing his position from Nestorius. Had Clark more time to finish the book, perhaps he would have denied or affirm a Nestorian position.

    I noted that Crampton’s publisher, not Crampton, denied any Nestorian understanding of the Personhood of Christ. I have also seen Crampton trying to fit Clark’s theory of the incarnation with Westminster’s. I am not sure if he is successful in that area.

    As to Engelsma, you weren’t being fair since you used the quote as an example trying to show that Engelsma thought that Divines were led by the Spirit in all they wrote in the Confession. The conclusion doesn’t follow from the quote. Engelsma expressly denies that Westminster got everything right. All Engelsma affirmed was that Westminster got it right in regards to Christology.

    I just reread that section in Reymond’s ST. I won’t quote from it since anyone who has the book can read it, but Reymond expressly says that Chaceldon was right insofar as it talks about the personhood of Christ in the incarnation. He expressly states that Chaceldon is the terminal point as to the “one Person” of Christ. In the quote you cited, Reymond says that there should be further reflection, not change, from Chaceldon. Per Reymond, Chalcedon set the limit.

    I have read Morris’ book that Reymond cites. After doing some more research, I have yet to find anyone calling Morris’ view Nestorian. In fact, Morris expressly states that as he wrote the book he was careful to avoid the Nestorian heresy.

    Lastly, in his book on the Trinity Clark notes that even if Clark is wrong in his definition or if he doesn’t further any new understanding of the Trinity, that it is still intelligible and right to say that God is one in one sense and three in another.

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    As to Engelsma, you weren’t being fair …All Engelsma affirmed was that Westminster got it right in regards to Christology.

    That’s right Speigel, because the Confession merely regurgitates the ecumenical creed. My argument stands. I was being fair to Englesma and it would appear that you are just being contentious.

    Second, I never said or suggested that Reymond agreed with Clark’s theory and not with the Chalcedonian formula. I have no idea if Reymond has even read Clark on the Incarnation. The point of the Reymond citation is that Chalcedon, at least according to Reymond, was not the “terminal point” in “christological reflection.” Would this be another example of you simply being contentious?

    Third, you’re wrong and Clark does not say the doctrine of the Trinity with the inclusion of the idea of substance is intelligible. The reason he wanted to rid the doctrine of the idea of substance is *precisely* because the idea of substance is UN-intelligible. Frankly, that was the point of the treatise. I said the doctrine is not contradictory and admit the creed takes pains to avoid even the appearance of being paradoxical, but that doesn’t mean that the formulation is intelligible. Clark said “Define or discard.” But, of course, you provide no citation to support your argument.

  29. speigel Says:

    Engelsma doesn’t believe that the creeds are the last words to everything they wrote. I’m not being contentious, I’m just calling it as it is. Engelsma, may be read to have said it was the last word as to Christology on the single person of Christ. Reymond, as I will indicate below, agrees.

    I don’t know if Reymond agreed with Clark’s theory nor did I say he did. I brought Reymond up since you partially quoted him in stating that there should be further Christological reflection, with which I agree. Reymond does state in his opinion that Chaceldon isn’t the terminal point of Christological reflection but this is qualified when he later states that it is the terminal point of the “one person” of Christ. Therefore, according to Reymond “further Christological reflection” means to NOT go beyond the one person of Chalcedon. Therefore his quote doesn’t deal with further change (as opposed to reflection) in regards to the single personhood of Christ. Reymond expressly says there is a limit as to that further reflection – don’t go beyond one person.

    I do not know why you keep calling me contentious when I am actually making a valid argument. You will probably tell me why or how you think I am being contentious, but to be honest, you will be wrong there as well. For everyone else, please read Reymond’s entire section.

    Finally, I never said that Clark thought “substance” was intelligible. He outright denies that it is. I said that for Clark it may be enough to say that God is one is one sense and three in another. I am puzzled by why you think I am saying something I have not said. In fact, I mentioned Clark in my last post to AGREE with you that the Trinity is not paradoxical simply because God is one in one sense and three in another and having Clark agreeing. I don’t know why you found my quote and helping a bother. I will help less. The cite is in the chapter on Augustine in his book on the Trinity. I hope I won’t be asked for the page number.

    I would like it if next time you wouldn’t say that I “of course” didn’t provide a cite as if to imply some deception on my part. I didn’t provide a cite since you seem to be so well versed on his book. I guess you’re not.

    I hope future conversations will have less innuendos as to my character and more argumentation as to the topic. Again, I hope for more light and less heat, especially when I came for clarification and not innuendos as to my character.

    I’ve yet to hear about what people liked about Clark’s theory on the Incarnation. Does it solve the problems of Nestorianism? How does it solve the mediatorial atonement problem that, as per Clark, Nestorianism has? Lest I be accused on not providing a cite,it’s in Trinity, page 59. I don’t remember if Clark talked about solving that problem in his book on the incarnation. If he has and someone knows, can you please provide a cite? Thanks.

  30. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not being contentious, I’m just calling it as it is. Engelsma, may be read to have said it was the last word as to Christology on the single person of Christ. Reymond, as I will indicate below, agrees.

    Maybe you didn’t mean to come across that way, but you did. Above is another good example. You say “Engelsma, may be read to have said it was the last word as to Christology” and that’s how I read him. Then you persist in saying that I’m reading him “unfairly.” Seems contentious to me.

    But, and just so you don’t think I’m being unfriendly, perhaps you just are not understanding what I’m saying so I’ll put it another way.

    By what standard could we conclude that “the Spirit of Christ… lead the church into all the truth of the person and natures of Christ at Chalcedon, or into the truth of the infinity of the being of God at Dordt and Westminster” and not do the same concerning the role of the civil magistrate or the identity of Antichrist? Was the Spirit of Christ more active in 450 AD and at that particular council then on the day the Westminster Divines wrote their chapter on the civil magistrate or concerning the church?

    It’s even more problematic if one considers the person and natures of Christ at Chalcedon, because Engelsma simply presumes that any further reflection that has been done concerning the person and natures of Christ since 450 AD is either superfluous or worse. In Clark’s case worse.

    It would seem to me that Chalcedon cannot be the last word as Engelsma suggests, for if it was then why do we see Buswell, Morris, Clark and others offering up differing theories. I suspect the reason is that, at least in the minds of many, the formula of Chalcedon does not satisfactorily address all the biblical data. That is certainly Clark’s opinion and I find his arguments and his solution pretty compelling. For example, when we learn that Jesus “grew in wisdom,” was thirsty, is ignorant of the exact time and day of his return, is forsaken on the cross, and a whole host of other examples, I don’t think simply saying that those were examples of Jesus “in his human nature” gets to the hart of the problem. I don’t think anyone would deny that in order to be an acceptable sacrifice Jesus Christ had to be like us in every way except without sin. He had to be a man and what is a man if not a person? Is a man just an impersonal nature? When Jesus grew in wisdom was it just an impersonal nature that was growing? How do you maintain that Jesus was fully man and fully God without doing violence or diminishing either and I’m not at all convinced that Chalcedon accomplished that or was the last word.

    I don’t know if Reymond agreed with Clark’s theory nor did I say he did. I brought Reymond up since you partially quoted him in stating that there should be further Christological reflection, with which I agree. Reymond does state in his opinion that Chaceldon isn’t the terminal point of Christological reflection but this is qualified when he later states that it is the terminal point of the “one person” of Christ. Therefore, according to Reymond “further Christological reflection” means to NOT go beyond the one person of Chalcedon.

    OK, so what? Reymond is faced with the same problem as is Engelsma concerning the presumed finality and defacto infallibility of (certain) creedal formulations. By what standard can Reymond assert that Chalcedon provided the final word, the “terminal point,” concerning Christ being one person? Why would it be acceptable to examine, say, Christ’s two natures, but not the idea of what constitutes a person? Last I checked Chalcedon doesn’t define what they mean by person. Although, winning the day the Confession of Chalcedon does maintain that Mary is the “Mother of God.” Ironic, eh?

    I do not know why you keep calling me contentious when I am actually making a valid argument.

    I called you contentious because you were repeatedly twisting my words and shifting the terms of the debate/discussion which I find particularly frustrating. What’s even more frustrating is that I actually agree with what I thought was your original criticism of Crampton’s review which was essentially that Clark’s was not providing a “rational solution” to the traditional Trinitarian and Christological formulations at all, but was instead modifying and changing them (which is what he did).

    Finally, I never said that Clark thought “substance” was intelligible. He outright denies that it is.

    Here is another good example of what I mean. You said: “Clark notes that even if Clark is wrong in his definition or if he doesn’t further any new understanding of the Trinity, that it is still intelligible….” Of course the “old understanding of the Trinity” includes and includes absolutely the idea that God is one *substance.* Therefore the “old understanding” cannot both be intelligible and unintelligible at the same time even for Clark.

    Perhaps you can see now why some might think you were being intentionally contentious? Again, you may not intended to be, but that’s the way you come across at least to me and at least in this thread. Perhaps the reason why you think it is “never friendly here” has something to do with you?

    I would like it if next time you wouldn’t say that I “of course” didn’t provide a cite as if to imply some deception on my part.

    If you don’t want to give the impression that you’re tying to slip something by then it’s incumbent upon you to do the work and support your own assertions. Please don’t blame me for your own failure to do so.

    I didn’t provide a cite since you seem to be so well versed on his book. I guess you’re not.

    Perhaps not, but then I don’t recall Clark ever saying that the traditional Trinitarian formulation “is still intelligible.” That’s something you said and I deny Clark said any such thing. That’s why a citation in support of your assertion would be nice. 🙂

  31. speigel Says:

    I point out, again, that it was you who quoted Reymond to garner help to reexamine Chalcedon as to the one person of Christ when Reymond later expressly says not to do. I don’t care if Reymond is right or wrong in that opinion. It’s not about if Reymond is right or wrong. It’s about your usage of Reymond. I pointed out that you can’t use Reymond on one hand when you disagrees with you on the other. It’s misrepresentation (and sometimes I wonder if there aren’t more). Everyone else, read the entire section by Reymond. It’s in the sections titled “Analysis of the Definition of Chalcedon and its Christology” and “Departure from the Definition.”

    The old definition to which I was speaking of was “God is one in one sense and three in another.” It’s in the cite in the Trinity. Clark says that is still intelligible and something which agrees with you. I have never said, nor implied contextually when I wrote it, that “substance” was intelligible to Clark.

    Generally, I think I haven’t given you any reason to think that I would deceive you in saying something about Clark. My failure to cite was based on your failure to know what Clark actually wrote. Again, I shouldn’t assume that you know what Clark actually wrote.

    How can you say that Morris or Buswell didn’t think Chalcedon was the last word as to the person of Christ? Morris and Buswell wrote their theories presupposing the one person of Christ. As I stated before, Morris says he wrote his book so that he would avoid the Nestorian heresy. Clark on the other hand did write a book to reexamine if Christ was one or two persons. The authors wrote about the psychology of Christ, not the number of persons of Christ.

    As this will be my final post about this since no new light is being shed: “Substance” is unintelligible to Clark. Reymond thinks Chalcedon is the terminal point as to the one person of Christ. Other authors mentioned think the same since their new theories presupposes the one person of Christ in Chalcedon. Engelsma seems to say the same. Engelsma doesn’t think Westminster got it right on everything. Crampton agrees with Clark on the incarnation but tries to fit it in with Westminster. It’s not sure if he is successful. Is Clark’s theory successful? Not sure. No one has given an answer as to whether Clark’s theory solves whatever problems of the Nestorian heresy – in particular, the mediatorial atonement problem that Clark says the heresy has.

    I find this place unfriendly at times because sometimes the fanboys flock here in order to vent about whatever is on their mind. They forget that there are people who agree with them. It’s like walking around with a group of teenagers looking for any reason to fight. I get it enough at the PB.

  32. ray kikkert Says:

    Speilgel, do not get worked up with Sean, this is Sean … you should be used to it by now 🙂

    You bring up some interesting points with respect to the Incarnation of Christ … at the right time of year …no less 🙂

    As you know , I have a healthy respect for both Prof. Engelsma and Dr.G. Clark. It’s good that Engelsma took Clark to task on his terminology … I wonder if Prof. Engelsma and the dear J. Robbins ever got into it for a matter of clarification … that .. I think would have been a good conversation to listen in on 🙂

    Regardless, both men were bound to judge based on what the pertaining reformed confessions teach on the matter first and foremost (this is what we are supposed to confess after all), then, check out the history concerning the definitions with repect to the Incarnation of Christ, and the errors and heresy they were rejecting in coming up with the Confession … and square these all with the ultimate axiom of the Gospel.

    Prof. Engelsma in his critique of Dr. Clark puts it this way:
    “As though it clinches his argument that Christ is also a human person, Clark repeatedly raises the question, “Who suffered and died in the suffering and death of Jesus?” “On the cross Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ No trinitarian Person could have said this because the Three Persons are pure incorporeal spirits . . . Who then, or what, thirsted on the cross?” (p. 73). “Let us then take it for granted that God cannot die. Now, if Christ be one divine person, no person was crucified and died. What then died on the cross?” (p. 69) Clark supposes that Chalcedonian orthodoxy has no answer to this question. Clark is mistaken. The answer is, “The person of the eternal Son of God suffered and died in the human nature.” This is the wonder of the passion of Jesus Christ. This is also the reason why that suffering is of infinite worth and value, as the Canons of Dordt teach in II/3, 4. On the answer of Clark and Nestorius, that it was the human person of Jesus that suffered, the divine person was not involved, in which case the humanity of Jesus could never have endured the suffering of the infinite wrath of God. Also, even if the human person of Jesus did manage the suffering, that suffering does not have the worth that is necessary to satisfy the justice of God.”

    So Prof. Engelsma cites a few things;

    Canons of Dortrecht, 2nd Head, articles 3 and 4 state:
    “Article 3. The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.

    Article 4. This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations, because the person who submitted to it was not only really man, and perfectly holy, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute him a Savior for us; and because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin.”

    Prof. Engelsma also rightly states …”On the answer of Clark and Nestorius, that it was the human person of Jesus that suffered, the divine person was not involved, in which case the humanity of Jesus could never have endured the suffering of the infinite wrath of God. Also, even if the human person of Jesus did manage the suffering, that suffering does not have the worth that is necessary to satisfy the justice of God.”

    The Belgic Confession , article 18 states regarding the Incarnation of Christ: “Article 18: Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
    We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his mother) that Christ is become a partaker of the flesh and blood of the children; that he is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; made of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary, made of a woman, a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham, since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and became like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us.”

    …and of course, the confession in question …

    “CHALCEDONIAN CREED
    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the unity, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.”

    As for Dr. Clark … he states “On the cross Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ No trinitarian Person could have said this because the Three Persons are pure incorporeal spirits . . . Who then, or what, thirsted on the cross?”
    The 3 persons are pure incorporeal spirits? So … how is this used to refute the idea that Christ thirsted? Take all the different times that God visited with man. Which person of the Trinity was visibly seen in the Old Testament by say Adam, Eve, Abram( who made ready and sat down to eat with 3 “men”), Sarah, who else … Joshua, Gideon, Moses,…. are there more instances?

    Now who was it that visibly was represented to each of these patriarchs? answer …Christ … the pre incarnated Christ. This should help mold our defintions with respect to the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ.

    I really have no problem with Dr. Clark taking terms to task if no definition is being put forth. I commend that. We do not blindly follow tradition … we search the Scriptures and make those definitions reality in our lives, that they have practicality.

    That is enough for now … please come up with some questions and comments as to what really are the main reasons Dr. Clark is being questioned. I think mainly because he maintains 2 persons, not 1.

  33. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Ray. I hope you don’t mind a couple of quick questions from an unfriendly meany? 😉

    Englesma writes:

    The answer is, “The person of the eternal Son of God suffered and died in the human nature.”

    What does it mean to say the eternal Son of God died “in the human nature”?

    Does he mean a person didn’t die on the cross?

    Or does he mean the Second Person in some unspecified sense died, and, if so, what does that mean and how could that happen? (FYI appeals to mystery won’t help 😉

    Also, even if the human person of Jesus did manage the suffering, that suffering does not have the worth that is necessary to satisfy the justice of God.”

    How so?

    I don’t know if you follow Hoeksema on the Covenant of Works, but suppose Adam did not sin and fulfilled his probationary period according to the CoW and was confirmed in righteousness. Would his act of covenantal faithfulness as the representative head of all mankind been enough to confirm his progeny in righteousness as well?

    And if Adam, who was certainly a human person, could confirm his progeny in righteousness (after all, we all know Adam’s sin as a very human person was enough to plunge all mankind into sin), why couldn’t the human person of Jesus who knew no sin satisfy the justice of God and on behalf of those He represents as the federal head of all the elect?

    I see the need throughout Scripture for the perfect unblemished sacrifice in order to propitiate God’s just wrath against sin and that such a sacrificial lamb had to be “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” which required the incarnation, but human persons are tempted to sin and in fact do sin. The Second Person cannot be tempted to sin (see James 1:13). So, wasn’t it a human person who was tempted “in all things as we are”? Or, to put it another way, how can a “human nature” be tempted?

    Anyway, I’m having trouble with this argument.

    by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man.

    Isn’t someone who has a “true human soul” and is “a real man” also a real human person? If not, why not?

    Again, no one has trouble saying that a real divine Person took on flesh and dwelt among us, the problem is that the God/man also grew in wisdom, did a person grow in wisdom or just a nature? The God/man also was ignorant of the time and date of His return. I can’t imagine you think the divine Second Person was ignorant of that time and date, so was a human person ignorant of that time and date or just an impersonal nature? And, if a nature, how can a nature (which I assume is just a collection of attributes) be ignorant of anything, much less grow in wisdom, etc.?

    Anyway, I fail to see how Engelsma answered Clark.

  34. Joe Says:

    Logically speaking, isn’t it kind of simple? If we grant that the second person of the Trinity is omniscient and cannot suffer, and if we grant that he who died on the cross was a person, isn’t the two-person view unavoidable? Unless, of course, a bare nature suffered, died, and grew in wisdom…..

  35. Cliffton Says:

    Clark provided a definition of person. His definition was intelligible.

    Engelsma appears to offer a definition of person as well. Is his definition intelligible?

    Engelsma says:

    “What Jesus lacks to be a human person is not a human intellect or a human will, which belong to a human nature…”

    According to Engelsma thus far, the intellect and will belong to the human nature. As belonging to the human nature, they cannot be that which distinguishes a human person from a human nature. So what does distinguish a human person from a human nature according to Engelsma?
    What the human nature was lacking in order for Jesus to be constituted a human person was:

    “…a human subsistance in His rational, moral nature, or, to put it differently, a human self-conscious subject of all his thinking, willing, and doing.”

    According to Engelsma then, the human nature was not a human person because He (or I guess it would be an it), did not have a human subsistance. Or to put it differently, the human nature did not have a human self-conscious subject. This would imply per Engelsma’s attempt at an intelligible definition of person, that a rational, moral, thinking, willing, and doing nature is not self-conscious. Indeed it cannot be because a human nature is not a human person.

    Because Engelsma’s definition of person hinges on the phrase “human subsistance”, Engelsma must now provide an intelligible definition of this phrase. He appears to give a hint as to how he is using this phrase when he says, “a human self-conscious subject.” However, now he is obligated (that is if he wants to provide an intelligible definition of person, and one that can be distinguished from the definition provided by Clark), to explain how one can distinguish between self-consciousness and intellection/volition. And it is at this point that we are able to determine whether or not Engelsma has provided us with an intelligible definition of person.

    Because ideas belong to the intellect and therefore the human nature , and the intellect is to be distinguished from self-consciousness (per Engelsma), ideas cannot be that which distinguishes a human nature from a human person. The consequence of this is devastating for Engelsma’s definition of person. For now we are left with an irrational, or non-intellectual, self-consciousness. We are left with a knowledge without any intellectual content, or, an intellect with no cognitive value.

    All this to say, I do not believe Engelsma answered Clark. This is certainly not to say that Engelsma isn’t a good theologian. I actually think he is quite excellent. And I also think his book “Trinty and Covenant” is a must read. He is also one of the few ministers today who has, and still is, defending the Faith once delivered.

  36. Eric Says:

    Cliffton,

    “For now we are left with an irrational, or non-intellectual, self-consciousness. We are left with a knowledge without any intellectual content, or, an intellect with no cognitive value.”

    In other words, Jesus is not really a man!

    “He is also one of the few ministers today who has, and still is, defending the Faith once delivered.”

    So, if Engelsma doesn’t believe Jesus was a man, according to the definition you provided, how can he be a defender of the Faith? The conclusion that you provided of Engelsma’s theology of Christ doesn’t fit with the statement that he is a defender of the faith once delivered. I’m saying this not to be argumentative but because I find the two statements incompatible. The apostle states that anyone who denies the Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-christ.

    Eric

  37. speigel Says:

    Thank you Ray for you encouraging words and your answers. I like to see more of that. Sometimes I wonder why Clark doesn’t get a fair and larger hearing outside Clarkian circles (something I wish to see happen). But then I remember why when I enter those circles.

    Ray, I also share your healthy appreciation for Clark. As to him and his book on the incarnation I find two disappointments. First, he deals with the two consciousness (or two-minds) view offhandedly on page 25. Morris’ book “The Logic of God Incarnate” should be read on his description of the two-minds view. The book as a whole isn’t that great since much of it is speculative. But the section on the two-minds view is very good. His description fits with how Christ is described talking and acting in the Bible. In addition, Morris answers some of Clark’s questions such as: how the Second Person of the Trinity relates to himself in the human nature as opposed to how the He relates to all other people; and how it is that Christ grew in wisdom yet is omniscient. Note that Morris answers these questions generally and not to Clark in specific. I have no idea if Morris even knows who Clark is or Clark’s view on the Trinity.

    My second disappointment is with Clark’s complaint on Hodge’s argument from silence on page 45. Hodge says we have no biblical data that Christ interacts with himself as two persons would interact with each other. Hodge makes a truthful statement here. But Clark says that there is no biblical data showing that they didn’t interact like that. Clark says it may have happened, but we have no idea; and so Clark complains about Hodge.

    I find this odd since Clark himself uses argument from silence in some of his books and articles. (Must I cite them all?) I also find this complaint by Clark inconsistent with his usual thinking since he bases his thought on the actual, positive biblical data. We know that God is three persons since we have biblical data of three persons. But no such parallel evidence exists to the alleged “persons” of Christ. Clark agrees with this. Yet when we have no such parallel evidence of one person (Second Person of the Trinity) talking to another (the alleged human person of Christ) Clark complains when someone brings this lack of data up. This is weak coming from Clark, especially when he thinks that Scripture is sufficient.

    Clark does state that perhaps the relationship of the “two persons” of Christ didn’t require any (audible?) talking or interaction between the two. But first, this lack of conversation or interaction can and does fit under the one Person theory of the Incarnation. And second, this answer from Clark doesn’t fill in the gap that there is still no biblical data on two persons interacting.

    Lastly, I think McMahon has some good criticism against the two person theory.

    I don’t believe Clark held to the Nestorian heresy in that Clark defines his terms differently. His view of person is not the same as others. But I do think that
    Morris’ two-minds view can actually be harmonized with Clark’s definition of “person”. And in doing so, it could be argued that Clark does hold to the traditional understanding that Christ is one Person with two natures. I want to think that had Clark more time to think this through and had he reflected more on the two-minds view instead of brushing it aside, he would have accepted it. Crampton and Reymond both mention Morris but only in passing. I hope they would have devoted more time in dissecting the two-minds view. Whoever has Crampton’s email, send him a note asking him for a detailed answer as to what he thinks of the two-minds view.

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t believe Clark held to the Nestorian heresy in that Clark defines his terms differently. His view of person is not the same as others. But I do think that Morris’ two-minds view can actually be harmonized with Clark’s definition of “person”.

    You might be onto something. Not having read Morris (Anderson lists others who have made similar attempts in his book), it would seem if Christ had two minds and Clark defines person as basically an individual mind which is a congeries of thoughts or propositions, and since no two minds or souls are the exact same collection thoughts or propositions, this individuates one person from another. However, unless I’m missing something, you’re just back at a two person theory unless Morris or someone else can provide a different definition of person.

    That said, I think Clark has a distinct advantage in that he not only defines “person,” but does so in light of Scripture and the idea as a man thinketh so is he.

    And in doing so, it could be argued that Clark does hold to the traditional understanding that Christ is one Person with two natures.

    That still wouldn’t rescue Clark, because he has already provided us with his theory and can no longer modify or retract it.

    But, I did think of one other thing that touches on your original notion that Crampton agrees with Clark in The Incaranation only that you didn’t think Clark’s view could be harmonized with Chalcedon. It may have been in a personal email that I can no longer locate, or perhaps somewhere else, but I recall Dr. Crampton saying that if Clark held to a two-person theory of the Incarnation (and he did) he was a heretic who is now burning in hell. Which would also mean that John Robbins is in hell right now with him.

    FWIW I discussed Crampton’s comments with John, but since I can’t locate my source right now, you can take it with a grain of salt.

  39. Cliffton Says:

    Eric,

    The issue that was being dealt with in my post was Engelsma’s definition of person and whether or not it was intelligible. I was not dealing with his definition of man. While these two ideas are very closely related, they are not identical. The Father is a person but not a man. Abraham is a person and he is a man.

  40. speigel Says:

    It’s best to read Morris on his own. However, I will include that he states that a person has a mind, rather than is his mind. This implies that a person may have more than one mind. He then discusses what this means and what it may look like in the book. Morris also talks about how persons are individuated. Though his book “The Logic of God Incarnate” isn’t online, his other book “Our Idea of God” has a section dealing with the incarnation. I have no idea how complete the section is as compared to the original cited book. Here is the section in the second cited book >>> http://books.google.com/books?id=GrpqsXnin_wC&lpg=PA3&dq=inauthor%3AThomas%20inauthor%3AV%20inauthor%3AMorris&as_brr=3&pg=PA166#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    As I said before, IF(!) Clark’s definition could be harmonized with Morris’ theory, then Clark can be said to have held to the traditional “one Person two natures” view of Christ. We would then say that Clark had an incomplete definition of person.

    I was under the impression that Crampton agreed with Clark’s view of the Incarnation since all cites from Crampton about the book were positive. Does Crampton publicly state his disagreement with Clark’s view? If this has been stated before, forgive me for the oversight.

  41. lawyertheologian Says:

    Interesting discussion. One might also consider reading my blog regarding Clark’s view of the incarnation. But basically, if one defines Nestorianism as simply Christ being two persons, then Clark was Nestorian. Chalcedon’s two nature view is at best unintelligible, as Clark showed, and at worse, fails to express that Christ is God and man, which only a two person conception does.

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    That was frustrating. Page 173 is missing from the book preview which was right at the point where Morris’ argument was getting interesting. I guess that’s the whole point of a book “preview.”

  43. Eric Says:

    Cliffton,

    I think that if the following statement is true: “For now we are left with an irrational, or non-intellectual, self-consciousness. We are left with a knowledge without any intellectual content, or, an intellect with no cognitive value.” then not only is this not a person, it is not a human nature, and thus, not a man.

    If we are to affirm that Jesus was fully man then we must affirm that he is like us in EVERY way excepting sin.

    Eric

  44. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean, I had a reply made up, but I hit the wrong button and lost it all. I was peeved:) But nothing happens by chance … and I had more time to study once again… oh yeah … and I will not appeal to mystery either 🙂 only those who come to a discussion with pampers strapped on can do so… they will need them 🙂

    I found these definitions helpful … first … regarding the term “person”:
    1 : human, individual —sometimes used in combination especially by those who prefer to avoid man in compounds applicable to both sexes
    2 : a character or part in or as if in a play : guise
    3 a : one of the three modes of being in the Trinitarian Godhead as understood by Christians b : the unitary personality of Christ that unites the divine and human natures
    4 a archaic : bodily appearance b : the body of a human being; also : the body and clothing
    5 : the personality of a human being : self
    6 : one (as a human being, a partnership, or a corporation) that is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties
    7 : reference of a segment of discourse to the speaker, to one spoken to, or to one spoken of as indicated by means of certain pronouns or in many languages by verb inflection

    Personhood in theology
    A Human Being and Person are not the same thing. A Human Being is the living soul embodied in the body of a man(woman) whereas Person is a legal concept meaning where rights and attached to a persona or mask but not all human beings are persons as is the case in Old England or the America where there were slaves.

    Persons and personhood are also concepts used in the early Christian theological tradition, during the first centuries A.D. by the Church Fathers. The very concept of person (prosopon in Greek) was the result of a theological dispute, how God, according to the Christian (Orthodox) teaching, can be One and three at the same time. Further explication of the problem led to the formulation that there is one substance (or being) and three subsistences (hypostases): God Father, God Son and God Holy Spirit, but still just one God, not three. This theological concept of the person as something that has a specific identity and holds the fullness of being, was applied to the human being as well. The Church Fathers interpreted the “icon of God” in man as human ability to exist as a person, having his/her own unique identity in communion with other persons. Later in the West the concept was translated into Latin as persona and was explained by Boethius and St. Augustine as something characterized by rational capacities.[3]

    Then … also the term “nature” …

    1 a : the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing : essence b : disposition, temperament
    2 a : a creative and controlling force in the universe b : an inner force or the sum of such forces in an individual
    3 : a kind or class usually distinguished by fundamental or essential characteristics
    4 : the physical constitution or drives of an organism; especially : an excretory organ or function —used in phrases like the call of nature
    5 : a spontaneous attitude (as of generosity)
    6 : the external world in its entirety
    7 a : humankind’s original or natural condition b : a simplified mode of life resembling this condition
    8 : the genetically controlled qualities of an organism
    9 : natural scenery

    A nature is something’s “what-ness”, secondary substance, essence, sort, or kind, which can be held by different things (some separable and some inseparable). Without one’s nature, one could not exist. One’s nature is the most basic thing that can be said about something. If the nature allows for change or growth, then one’s nature stays with itself throughout each of its stages of development. For example, an acorn and an oak tree are two different stages of development within the nature of “oak-ness”. Humans, for example, may go from, say, a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, child, teenager, adult while remaining human throughout. This shows that whatever is attained through an exercise of free agency is not one’s nature. Jesus in Christian categories has two natures simultaneously – eternally divine and as of two thousand years ago, human.

    The biggest thing we are hung up on is the 2 person/1 person definition of the Incarnate Christ. What is the creed of Chalcedon trying to say and what errors was the creed militating against and why? Why did those forefathers come up with the language they used and what errors did they insist must be rejected.

    Prof. Engelsma critique of Clark’s view from what I can gather is …if Christ was truly 2 persons … then
    1. how is it that the human person was able to endure the wrath of God against sin, because we confess, as in the Heidelberg Catechism … THE SECOND PART–OF MAN’S DELIVERANCE
    V. LORD’S DAY.

    Question 12. Since then, by the righteous judgment of God, we deserved temporal and eternal punishment, is there no way by which we may escape that punishment, and be again received into favor?
    Answer. God will have his justice [a] satisfied; and therefore we must make this full [b] satisfaction, either by ourselves, or by another.

    Question 13. Can we ourselves then make this satisfaction?
    Answer. By no means; [c] but on the contrary we [d] daily increase our debt.

    Question 14. Can there be found anywhere, one, who is a mere creature, able to satisfy for us?
    Answer. None; for, first, God will not [e] punish any other creature for the sin which man hath committed; and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin, so as to [f] deliver others from it.

    Question 15. What sort of a mediator and deliverer then must we seek for?
    Answer. For one who is very man, [g] and perfectly righteous; and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is also very [h] God.
    [a]: Ex. 20:5
    [b]: Deut. 24:16; 2Cor. 5:14,15
    [c]: Job 9:2,3; Job 15:14,15,16
    [d]: Mat. 6:12; Isa. 64:6
    [e]: Ezek. 18:20
    [f]: Rev. 5:3; Psa. 49:8,9
    [g]: 1Cor. 15:21; Rom. 8:3
    [h]: Rom. 9:5; Isa. 7:14

    VI. LORD’S DAY.

    Question 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
    Answer. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which hath sinned, should [a] likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, [b] cannot satisfy for others.

    Question 17. Why must he in one person be also very God?
    Answer. That he might, by the power of his Godhead [c] sustain in his human nature, the burden of God’s wrath; and might [d] obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

    Question 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man?
    Answer. Our Lord Jesus Christ: [e] “who of God is made unto [f] us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

    Question 19. Whence knowest thou this?
    Answer. From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise; [g] and afterwards published by the patriarchs [h] and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices [i] and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled it [j] by his only begotten Son.
    [a]: Rom. 5:12,15
    [b]: 1Pet 3:18; Isa. 53:11
    [c]: 1 Pet. 3:18; Acts 2:24; Isa. 53:8
    [d]: 1John 1:2; Jer. 23:6; 2Tim. 1:10; John 6:51
    [e]: Mat. 1:23; 1Tim. 3:16; Luke 2:11
    [f]: 1Cor 1:30
    [g]: Gen. 3:15
    [h]: Gen. 22:17,18; Gen. 28:14; Rom. 1:2; Heb. 1:1; John 5:46
    [i]: Heb. 10:7,8
    [j]: Rom. 10:4; Heb. 13:8

    Also I cited The Belgic Confession earlier in article 18. Article 19 now deals with the 2 natures of Christ …

    Article 19: Of the union and distinction of the two Natures in the person of Christ.
    We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties. As then the divine nature hath always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also hath the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body. And though he hath by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he hath not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while. Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.”

    So basically Sean, I think, Prof. Engelsma is staying true to his confessional belief. Did he answer Clark , yes, in that he answered as per what our confessions stand on the issue. What I would like to see is some simple break down, so that this doctrine has reality and practicality in what we confess about our Redeemer and Him crucified. You know how much has been written thus far on the subject, I mean… I went through Rev. H. Hoeksema’s reformed dogmatics on this doctrine and wow, alot of terminology that while helpful, proves to be confusing for me at times. I get the same from Clark as well.

    As per your questions using the supposition of Adam and his progeny … I will have to pass on rendering an answer … because … as with the doctrine we are discussing and with respect to Adam and Christ … God’s sovereignty is first and foremost on any given subject, and man’s accountability, man’s definitions and discussions must be subservient to that sovereignty. So … I cannot “suppose” something that in effect … has no reality and never played out in history as the Lord purposed and determined and revealed in His Word. It is hypothesis at best, and I dislike hypothesis when discussing the things above. Reality is …that Adam did sin.

    …you asked some good question’s Sean:

    “Does he mean a person didn’t die on the cross?

    Or does he mean the Second Person in some unspecified sense died, and, if so, what does that mean and how could that happen? (FYI appeals to mystery won’t help)”

    response: I laughed when I read that last part 🙂 Jesus Christ, a real person, did die on the cross … yes … for reasons stated above… both in the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession, article 19.

    “So, wasn’t it a human person who was tempted “in all things as we are”? Or, to put it another way, how can a “human nature” be tempted? ”

    response: nature defined as “1 a : the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing : essence b : disposition, temperament” would lead me to maintain that both His “person” and his “human nature” were both tempted because is that not the point of the creed of Chalcedon … that they cannot be taken to task independantly, both must be dealt with together , from the get go. Chalcedon – without mixture/without change/without division/without separation.

    “Isn’t someone who has a “true human soul” and is “a real man” also a real human person? If not, why not? ”

    response: Yes, and the reason why it was stated thus was because “For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both.” If both were in bondage to sin, then atonement must be made for both, and as our confessions teach, no mere man is able to withstand the wrath of God against sin. Yet God in His determinate counsel, from before the foundation of the world deemed that He Himself would become a real human person, in Jesus Christ, and in doing so, made atonement for His chosen elect. I guess the kikker 🙂 for me here is also the fact the Jesus Christ was like unto us in all things “sin excepted” … that’s a pretty big exception, and a needful one as well.

    “Again, no one has trouble saying that a real divine Person took on flesh and dwelt among us, the problem is that the God/man also grew in wisdom, did a person grow in wisdom or just a nature? The God/man also was ignorant of the time and date of His return. I can’t imagine you think the divine Second Person was ignorant of that time and date, so was a human person ignorant of that time and date or just an impersonal nature? And, if a nature, how can a nature (which I assume is just a collection of attributes) be ignorant of anything, much less grow in wisdom, etc.?”

    response: I do not see the need to separate the human nature from the person, and I cannot by confession, nor is their evidence from Scripture that we must make Christ out to be 2 persons in order to answer these questions. In fact Chalcedon’s intent (without mixture) is to reject the mixing and fusing of the natures – calling this Pantheism. It is sufficient to me that Jesus Christ truly as you relay here, did thirst,John 19:28 (King James Version)

    28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
    John 19:28 (King James Version)

    … wept, grew in wisdom, relayed that only the Father knew the time of His return … et al … both in His person and in His human nature … and yes… I see your point … well what about His “divine nature” was not this nature also within the person of Jesus Christ not privy to wisdom, since we know what the Lord writes regarding wisdom in Proverbs 8 … Christ was there… at creation, yea before the foundation of the world, in eternity yes …how can these things be? Well … I would answer that is the point of the Lord within Scripture when He writes …” Philippians 2:5-8 (King James Version)

    5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

    6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

    7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

    8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

    Check out that first verse. Jesus knowing that all had been accomplished, and that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. You have the divine and human nature in play, within the person of Jesus Christ, yet that divine nature was made subject to the human nature, that God’s own Word might be fulfilled and that God’s determinate counsel would stand, regardless of the devices of men.

    I have a question for all. What were the errors and heresies that were rejected by the creed of Chalcedon and what briefly did they teach and why the forefathers at Chalcedon needed to act upon rejecting them?

  45. Cliffton Says:

    Eric,

    I do not wish to defend Engelsma’s critique of Clark, his definition of person, nor his definition of human nature. As should have been obvious from my first post, I disagree with Engelsma’s critique.

    And certainly there are implications to an unintelligible definition of person. And because the biblical idea of person and the biblical idea of man are so closely related, an incorrect definition of either idea would more than likely, if not certainly, have a bearing on one another. And because Truth is one, they must have a bearing on each other.

    But if Engelsma defines human nature as a rational, moral creature, and identifies Christ as having a human nature, then you cannot make the claim that Engelsma denies Christ (as one having a human nature), is a rational, moral creature. Again, my criticism, and that which you have twice referenced, has to do with his understanding of “person.”

    Now you may, if you would like, attempt to work out Engelsma’s definition of person so as to draw the conclusion that he cannot consistently maintain that Christ was fully man and still hold on to his definition. But to spare you some time, Clark has essentially done this in The Incarnation.

  46. Cliffton Says:

    Robbins stated,

    “Prophets, inspired by God, possess some of the divine propositions. Christ, however, possesses them all…” (The Incarnation, pg.77)

    In view of this truth, could we say that comprehended within the set of propositions that define the second Person of the Trinity also included the propositions that pertain to the man Christ Jesus? In this way, possibly, we could maintain Clark’s definition of person as a set of propositions and also maintain that Christ was one person??

  47. Cliffton Says:

    Apologies. I should have put this all in the same post.

    The second Person of the Trintiy is omniscient. He knows all propositions. Therefore, He also knows the propositions that are unique to Him, that is, that distinguish Him from the Father. Some of those propositions that distinguish Him from the Father, propositions that make him an individual, are the propositions that address the truth that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that He would atone for the sins of the elect, etc…

    Some of the confusion may be that we speak of a “divine” person and “human” person. Strictly speaking, can there be such a thing as divine propositions and human propositions (keeping in mind that a person is a set of propositions)? There is a definition of man, there is a definition of God, there is a definition of the Son.

  48. Sean Gerety Says:

    Wow Ray, you gave me a lot to chew on. I know how you feel about having a post you’ve worked on simply disappear, pampers or not. I always attribute events like that to providence. It keeps me from throwing the PC through the window =8-P

    Anyway, I’ll try and get back to you soon.

  49. ray Says:

    When time permits… I had to cool down a day after loosing my first response to one push of the wrong button on the keyboard. You would think after all these years I would have learned my lesson , but no, just had to think it would all be ready to go when I was through … providence indeed 🙂

  50. Eric Says:

    Cliffton,

    “I do not wish to defend Engelsma’s critique of Clark, his definition of person, nor his definition of human nature. As should have been obvious from my first post, I disagree with Engelsma’s critique.”

    I understood this.

    “Now you may, if you would like, attempt to work out Engelsma’s definition of person so as to draw the conclusion that he cannot consistently maintain that Christ was fully man and still hold on to his definition. But to spare you some time, Clark has essentially done this in The Incarnation.”

    I’ve already affirmed this.

    “And certainly there are implications to an unintelligible definition of person. And because the biblical idea of person and the biblical idea of man are so closely related, an incorrect definition of either idea would more than likely, if not certainly, have a bearing on one another. And because Truth is one, they must have a bearing on each other.”

    This is where I was intrigued. The definition of a ‘person’ that Engelsma gives, and I believe your assessment of him is correct, negates any current, or proper understanding of the God-man, Jesus Christ. If ‘person’ is understood in Engelsma’s way it does violence to either the human nature or divine nature, or both.

    My question then was this: How is he orthodox if he can’t get the doctrine of Christ right?

    Eric

  51. Cliffton Says:

    Eric,

    Because Truth is systematic any error would corrupt the whole system. And because theology has to do with God any deviation has a bearing on the doctrine of God. Therefore, all theological error is idolatry. Does this imply that all theological error makes one unorthodox? Maybe so.

  52. Eric Says:

    Cliffton,

    “Does this imply that all theological error makes one unorthodox?”

    I believe some doctrines are more fundamental than others, and therefore, have greater consequences associated with their misunderstanding; for example, a paedobaptist who believes justification is by faith and works, like many in the OPC and PCA, will be in hell, while a credobaptist who believes in justification by faith alone will be in heaven all, other things being equal and orthodox.

    Since Engelsma’s definition of ‘person’ was warped and this affects directly the doctrine of the person of Christ, a fundamental doctrine, I was intrigued.

    Eric

  53. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Prophets, inspired by God, possess some of the divine propositions. Christ, however, possesses them all…” (The Incarnation, pg.77)

    Cliffton: In view of this truth, could we say that comprehended within the set of propositions that define the second Person of the Trinity also included the propositions that pertain to the man Christ Jesus?

    No, precisely because, as Clark indicated, none of the propositions that define the Second Person can define the man Christ Jesus. As you point out in a later post, the definitions of God and the definitions of man are a wholly different set of propositions. Therefore, they must be two persons; for every man is a person, and the 2nd Person of the Trinity is and always was person apart from his being incarnated.

  54. lawyertheologian Says:

    Cliffton: And because theology has to do with God any deviation has a bearing on the doctrine of God. Therefore, all theological error is idolatry.

    This doesn’t follow unless one defines idolatry as including any false conception, which is not how the Bible uses the word. Idolatry is presented as a conscious violation of God’s Commandment.

  55. lawyertheologian Says:

    ““For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both.”

    Where is the warrant for claiming that the body was lost? And though clearly Jesus had a body, being a person doesn’t have to do with having a body.

    “You have the divine and human nature in play, within the person of Jesus Christ, yet that divine nature was made subject to the human nature,”

    Why is not possible to say that you have the Divine person and the human person in play, with the Divine person being made subject to the Human Person?

    Ray: I have a question for all. What were the errors and heresies that were rejected by the creed of Chalcedon and what briefly did they teach and why the forefathers at Chalcedon needed to act upon rejecting them?

    You can find all this in chapter 2, “The Heresies” in Clark’s book “The Incarnation.”

  56. ray Says:

    Well that is a little odd … lawyer theologian … if we are going to use terminology to define what we actually mean … then one who is a human person … also has a body. That is part of the definition of being a person … that they have a body.
    Can a human be a person without a body? No.
    As I stated earlier lawyer theologian … I adhere and confess the 3 forms of unity on the subject at hand. In fact , I think the Belgic Confession articles 18 and 19 to be clearer than the creed of Chalcedon. In doing so… I would reject your hypothesis of both a divine person and human person. It does not square. At least with what you have mentioned thus far. You would have to find a way to do this so not to contradict the confessions and the Scripture texts used in the confessional exegesis.
    Also I do not have Clark’s book, but neither did I ask the question to be told where to find it in a book. I asked so that they could be brought here, defined and explained somewhat to help understand.
    Could you help in this regard?

  57. qeqesha Says:

    Hi ray,
    Sorry to jump in, you wrote, ¨… then one who is a human person … also has a body. That is part of the definition of being a person … that they have a body.
    Can a human be a person without a body? No.¨

    The Bible says Moses appeared at the Transfiguration with Jesus. The Bible assures us Moses died and God buried his body. Was Moses NOT a person when he appeared at the Transfiguration without his body which God buried a thousand years or so before?´ Are the disembodied spirits of the saints awaiting the resurrection not persons?
    Further, man is made in the image of God. Just what constitutes this image? Does it include the body? But God does not have a body. If, as it would seem, we are God´s image without our bodies, but are not thereby persons according to you, God, who is without a body cannot possibly earn the classification of a person.

    Denson

  58. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sorry I don’t have time to interact now, but I just wanted to add to Denson’s point that there is also the “intermediate state” to consider. Does a person cease being a person when they leave their earthly body?

  59. Cliffton Says:

    Pat defines idolatry as a conscious violation of God’s commandment.

    That’s brilliant! So what commandment is consciously being violated? The commandmnet not to engage in idolatry??

    I see now. Idolatry is the conscious violation of engaging in idolatry. Thanks Pat.

  60. lawyertheologian Says:

    Sean and Denson, thanks for jumping in and saving me the time to deal with Ray’s response.

    Cliffton, God’s Commandment against idolatry is “You shall have no other gods before Me,” not “do not engage in idolatry.” Nor was I even defining idolatry, but describing its nature. Violating that Commandment as with any of God’s Commandments is done consciously. Having a false idea is not sin (though having false ideas seems to stem from our fallen sinful nature). It is not a violation of the 1st Commandment to have a false idea; idolatry is the conscious exalting of something above God and the truth He proclaims.

  61. ray Says:

    Hey Qeqesha …what’s up? 🙂

    you asked…

    “The Bible says Moses appeared at the Transfiguration with Jesus. The Bible assures us Moses died and God buried his body. Was Moses NOT a person when he appeared at the Transfiguration without his body which God buried a thousand years or so before?´ Are the disembodied spirits of the saints awaiting the resurrection not persons?”

    response:Moses was indeed a person with both a body and a soul. Glorified saints have both a body and soul, not just a soul. Elijah was there at the tranfiguration as well. Christ response to the disciples after His resurrection in the glorified body was …”Luke 24:39 (King James Version)
    39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”

    It seems Satan … the prima accuser himself… questioned the whole event of Moses’ body as well.

    John Calvin in regards to the event at the Transfiguration and Moses … states in his commentary …
    “3. And, lo, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah. It is asked, Were Moses and Elijah actually present? or was it only an apparition that was exhibited to the disciples, as the prophets frequently beheld visions of things that were absent? Though the subject admits, as we say, of arguments on both sides, yet I think it more probable that they were actually brought to that place. There is no absurdity in this supposition; for God has bodies and souls in his hand, and can restore the dead to life at his pleasure, whenever he sees it to be necessary. Moses and Elijah did not then rise on their own account, 478478 “Moise et Elie ne sont pas lors ressuscitez pour eux, et pour le regard de la resurrection derniere;” — “Moses and Elijah did not then rise for themselves, and with respect to the last resurrection.” but in order to wait upon Christ. It will next be asked, How came the apostles to know Moses and Elijah, whom they had never seen? The answer is easy. God, who brought them forward, gave also signs and tokens by which they were enabled to know them. It was thus by an extraordinary revelation that they obtained the certain knowledge that they were Moses and Elijah

    But why did these two appear rather than others who equally belonged to the company of the holy fathers? It was intended to demonstrate that Christ alone is the end of the Law and of the Prophets; and that single reason ought to satisfy us: for it was of the utmost importance to our faith that Christ did not come into our world without a testimony, but with commendations which God had formerly bestowed. I have no objection, however, to the reason which is commonly adduced, that Elijah was selected, in preference to others, as the representative of all the Prophets; because, though he left nothing in writing, yet next to Moses he was the most distinguished of their number, restored the worship of God which had been corrupted, and stood unrivaled in his exertions for vindicating the Law and true godliness, which was at that time almost extinct.

    And they conversed with Jesus. When they appeared along with Christ, and held conversation with him, this was a declaration of their being agreed. The subject on which they conversed is stated by Luke only: they talked of the decease which awaited Christ at Jerusalem This must not be understood to refer to them as private individuals, but rather to the commission which they had formerly received. Though it was now a long time since they had died and finished the course of their calling, yet our Lord intended once more to ratify by their voice what they had taught during their life, in order to inform us that the same salvation, through the sacrifice of Christ, is held out to us in common with the holy fathers. At the time when the ancient prophets uttered their predictions concerning the death of Christ, he himself, who was the eternal wisdom of God, was sitting on the invisible throne of his glory. Hence it follows that, when he was clothed in flesh, he was not liable to death any farther than as he submitted to it of his own free will.”

    I fail then to see the injustice of defining a human as having a body … but do see the injustice of defining a human as without a body.

  62. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray, no one is defining a human as without a body. “Person” is what is being defined. A human is a person not because he has a body but because he has a spirit.

  63. ray Says:

    yes … yes

    Well let’s get the definitions right here then shall we? That is why I brought the “definitions” of “person” and “nature” in my previous post. It is the idea of 2 persons/2 natures that we are discussing in the first place.

    “A human is a person not because he has a body, but because he has spirit?

    Say what? 🙂

    A spirit defines a person, but not the body? What theopedia bong are you toking from? 🙂

    You better help clarify what you are trying to say here.

  64. Cliffton Says:

    Pat stated,

    “…and the 2nd person of the Trinity is and always was person apart from his being incarnated.”

    Clark seems to think that the Truth of the incarnation of the Son is one of the propositions that distinguish the Son from the Father and the Spirit. He states,

    “Neither the complex of truths we call the Father nor those we call the Spirit, has the proposition, ‘I was incarnated.’ This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex. Other examples are implied. The Father cannot say, ‘I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho'” (The Incarnation, pg. 55).

    Clark argues that it is propositions such as the ones indicated above that are comprehended in the definition of the person of the Son. And further, it is propositions such as the ones indicated above that distinguish the definition of the person of the Son from the definition of the person of the Father.

    Rather than saying what Pat says, that is, that the “2nd person of the Trinity is and always was person apart from being incarnated”, we ought to say that because of the definition of the person of the Son, the incarnation is necessary. Absolutely necessary.

  65. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray,

    Maybe you should read Clark’s “The Incarnation” where he defines person and what it means to be a human person. Yes, spirit indeed does define what a person is: “As a man thinks, so is he.” A man is his spirit, that is, his thoughts. A man HAS a body, not IS a body. A man is still a man, without having his body, as the intermediate state shows. And as Clark has shown, the image of God has to do with man’s mind/spirit, for God does not have a body. Also, angels and God are persons, and they do not have bodies. But to be truly and fully human is to HAVE a body.

  66. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Neither the complex of truths we call the Father nor those we call the Spirit, has the proposition, ‘I was incarnated.’

    Who is the “I?” Is it not the 2nd Person of the Trinity. HE is the one who became incarnated. In fact, He could also have said “I WILL be incarnated.”

    “This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex. Other examples are implied. The Father cannot say, ‘I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho’” (The Incarnation, pg. 55).”

    Clark continues, “Nor can the Spirit say, ‘I begot the Son.’ Hence the Godhead consists of three Persons, each omniscient without having precisely the same content.” Clearly, the Son is omniscient and eternal. But the man Christ Jesus is neither. He is another person distinct from, though specially associated/linked with the 2nd Person of the Trinity. For the man Christ Jesus both learned and came into being and died. The logos never learned anything, is eternal and never died.

    Yes, the incarnation is absolutely necessary for that always was the thought of God. That is, “I begot the Son,” “we sent the Son” and “I was incarnate” are eternal truths. But this does not change that the “2nd person of the Trinity is and always was person apart from being incarnated.” One can say though that the logos is the particular person that He is precisely because He was incarnated. My statement only indicates that the incarnation per se is not what makes/made the logos a person. And the statement in context (preceded by a statement that every man is a person) is meant to indicate that Jesus must be 2 persons, as Clark taught, because the propositions regarding man cannot be those that the logos can truly think (before the incarnation, the logos even more obviously was not thinking “I have a body” or “my stomach aches.”).

  67. qeqesha Says:

    Hi ray,
    Thanks for the sermon on the Transfiguration. I’ve never had such a good one! I’m willing to let Moses and Elijah go! One can argue that they were in their glorified “bodies”! Let it pass! But that still leaves us with the “intermediate state” and the three persons of the Godhead, who do not have bodies as Pat has been rubbing it in! Should we not refer to these as persons?

    Denson

  68. ray kikkert Says:

    Greetings 🙂

    Let’s try again. Jesus Christ was truly human …that is my point … the Word became flesh … and the definition of a human person is one who has a body, not just a soul. It should go without saying as to why Christ determined to become flesh.

    This is what defines Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity, not apart from it. The proposition that Jesus Christ truly is a human person who has a body and soul. Why does this trouble Clark? It should not … it’s the same person … and Clark, you and me, will have a hard time gleaning from Scripture any supposed exegetical interaction between 2 person’s of Jesus Christ. I mean think about it … really … one divine person Jesus Christ and another human person Jesus Christ? God the Father, God the Son Divine, God the Son Human, and God the Holy Spirit? No. The 3 are one, not the 4 are one.

    Where does Clark exegete from the principle axiom of Scripture the interaction between the 2 supposed person’s?

    Pat stated,
    “…and the 2nd person of the Trinity is and always was person apart from his being incarnated.”

    According to Clark’s standard’s this is not true. If Clark rightly wants to set forth propositions in order to define rightly and truly the second person of the Trinity, then he MUST defend the proposition that includes the second person of the Trinity being incarnated, human in that definition of the second person of the Trinity. Scripture, the principle axiom states it time and again. To state a definition of the second person of the Trinity apart from the Incarnation is to contradict Scripture.

    As the Godhead reveals Himself in His Word is how we are to take it. Is anything too hard for the Lord? No. He reveals Himself to us and by the gift of faith we take that knowledge for what it is, nothing wavering, in language we can understand and comprehend.

    Then the intermediate state is brought up:

    “But that still leaves us with the “intermediate state” and the three persons of the Godhead, who do not have bodies as Pat has been rubbing it in! Should we not refer to these as persons?” … and …”A man is still a man, without having his body, as the intermediate state shows.”

    What is the intent of using the immediate state to shore up defense of the 2 persons used to define Jesus Christ? What is the purpose? We cannot say that human elect men on earth are separate persons from those who are in the intermediate state like say Moses or Elijah. I would at least want to see the exegetical warrant that proves this.

  69. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray,

    You keep misunderstanding. The definition of a human person is NOT one who has a body. The definition of a human being is one who has a body. There is a difference between a human person and a human (being). As I said “to be truly and fully human is to HAVE a body.” Again, what makes men persons has nothing to do with our bodies, but all to do with our minds. “As a man thinks, so is he.” Person or personhood is defined as a congerie of propositions.

  70. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray:This is what defines Jesus Christ as the second person of the Trinity,

    Pat: No, what define Jesus Christ as the 2nd Person of the Trinity is the particular propositions He thinks, all of which are all propositions of Deity.

    Ray: To state a definition of the second person of the Trinity apart from the Incarnation is to contradict Scripture.

    Pat: Not exactly sure what you mean, but the 2nd Person of the Trinity was incarnated. There is/was a Person who became incarnated. Thus incarnation, the propositions thought regarding this event, are not per se what defines the 2nd Person of the Trinity.

  71. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray:What is the intent of using the immediate state to shore up defense of the 2 persons used to define Jesus Christ? What is the purpose?

    Pat: The intent/purpose is to show that we are still men, that is, persons, apart from our having bodies. Our bodies have no life in them. But we continue to be (persons, i.e., thinking beings)apart from our bodies. Paul said he knew a man, regardless as to whether he had a body or not, who was brought up to the 3rd heaven. Again, we remain men in the intermediate state.

  72. ray Says:

    Your definition of what constitutes a human person does not square with Scripture’s use of the term “person”. Nothing to do with the body?

    I’ll have what your drinking 🙂

    Consider the link below where Scripture defines and interprets a “person” … there are 107 examples where Scripture uses the term “person”

    http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=person&version1=9&searchtype=all&limit=none&wholewordsonly=no

    As for your reference to the apostle Paul, that is found in 2nd Corinth. chapter 12 … how is it you can tell for a surety, with repect to you posing this in regards to the intermediate state… that the man the apostle speaks of was out of the body … yet the apostle cannot tell… yet you can? This man was in the 3rd heaven and paradise. Where is the intermediate state? Regardless… in the intermediate state… the souls of elect persons are found, their human bodies shall be raised and that the soul would be united with the glorified body in the glory of heaven.
    Philippians 3:21
    Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
    Philippians 3:20-21 (in Context) Philippians 3 (Whole Chapter)
    John Calvin states thus:
    “21 Who will change By this argument he stirs up the Philippians still farther to lift up their minds to heaven, and be wholly attached to Christ — because this body which we carry about with us is not an everlasting abode, but a frail tabernacle, which will in a short time be reduced to nothing. Besides, it is liable to so many miseries, and so many dishonorable infirmities, that it may justly be spoken of as vile and full of ignominy. Whence, then, is its restoration to be hoped for? From heaven, at Christ’s coming. Hence there is no part of us that ought not to aspire after heaven with undivided affection. We see, on the one hand, in life, but chiefly in death, the present meanness of our bodies; the glory which they will have, conformably to Christ’s body, is incomprehensible by us: for if the disciples could not endure the slight taste which he afforded in his transfiguration, (Matthew 17:6,) which of us could attain its fullness? Let us for the present be contented with the evidence of our adoption, being destined to know the riches of our inheritance when we shall come to the enjoyment of them.

    According to the efficacy As nothing is more difficult to believe, or more at variance with carnal perception, than the resurrection, Paul on this account places before our eyes the boundless power of God, that it may entirely remove all doubt; for distrust arises from this — that we measure the thing itself by the narrowness of our own understanding. Nor does he simply make mention of power, but also of efficacy, which is the effect, or power showing itself in action, so to speak. Now, when we bear in mind that God, who created all things out of nothing, can command the earth, and the sea, and the other elements, to render back what has been committed to them 207207 “Qu’il leur auoit donne en garde;” — “What he had given to them to keep.” , our minds are imrnediately roused up to a firm hope — nay, even to a spiritual contemplation of the resurrection.

    But it is of importance to take notice, also, that the right and power of raising the dead, nay more, of doing everything according to his own pleasure, is assigned to the person of Christ — an encomium by which his Divine majesty is illustriously set forth. Nay, farther, we gather from this, that the world was created by him, for to subject all things to himself belongs to the Creator alone.”

    Clark … in my firm hope…is a person who will have his soul united to his glorified body in Christ alone, but your here so I put the question to you… in having to explain how in his/your view their is:

    God the Father
    God the Divine Person
    God the Human Person
    God the Holy Spirit

    Also you will have to explain for me regarding your use of person … how I can simply deal with another person in mind only without reference and consideration to the person’s body, since the ramification is that Christ’s body died on the cross … shall I then not to concern myself about His body, the mind is what makes a person after all.

    Propositions did not hang on the cross and died … Christ’s human body did, for which… this worm… is most grateful.

  73. qeqesha Says:

    Hi ray,
    Does the “trinity” ring a bell? 🙂 (I can’t get those laughing icons on my computer!!!!)
    Are the three in “trinity” not three persons?

    Was there a “before” the incarnation or not or do you consider “before” the incarnation the unspeakable?
    John starts with the Word “in the beginning”(before the incarnation) and then says the Word “became flesh”(became incarnate).
    Jesus prays in John 17:5 “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Surely, “before the world was”, the Son was not yet incarnate, and right here is Jesus speaking about Himself “before” the incarnation.

    Denson

  74. qeqesha Says:

    Hi ray,
    You wrote,
    “Also you will have to explain for me regarding your use of person … how I can simply deal with another person in mind only without reference and consideration to the person’s body, since the ramification is that Christ’s body died on the cross … shall I then not to concern myself about His body, the mind is what makes a person after all.

    Propositions did not hang on the cross and died … Christ’s human body did, for which… this worm… is most grateful.”

    Very funny!!!
    Well, Clark’s point first of all was that the august bishops did not define their terms and so one simply cannot tell what they were on about, in particular, their use of the terms “substance”, “nature” and “person”!
    Clark then laudably defines his terms and then takes it from there. The result is that, “substance” is meaningless and is discarded. “human nature” and “divine nature” should just be specified as “human person” and “divine person” because humans and any member of the trinity are persons in their “nature”.
    Now, the trinity are persons, — without bodies! Our minds then must be the divine image, the person, — without bodies, unless we deny person hood to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
    This does not imply as you seem to think, denial that the mind of the creature, the person, God “breathed” into a body. It simply means one is talking intelligibly, scripturally and accurately wherever this may lead!

    What about death? In order to suffer death, He had to be like us in everyway(except sin), and thus it is written, Heb.8:3 “Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.” Heb.9:11-12″When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,[b] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb.10:4-5″..because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
    “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me; ”
    Some one is talking, objectively about a body being prepared for them(the incarnation — for the purpose of sacrificing it), which means they were as yet without it(before the incarnation). It is perhaps safe to surmise that only persons have the “nature” to speak!:)
    One could carry on, but enough for now! Therefore, defining persons as Clark did does not vitiate the concept of persons possessing bodies, but, in fact, accords very well with the Biblical material on its portrayal of Christ’s incarnation.

    Denson

  75. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Ray. I had some time and I didn’t want to beat a dead horse, but since you did all that work…twice!

    A nature is something’s “what-ness”, secondary substance, essence, sort, or kind, which can be held by different things (some separable and some inseparable)… Humans, for example, may go from, say, a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, child, teenager, adult while remaining human throughout. This shows that whatever is attained through an exercise of free agency is not one’s nature. Jesus in Christian categories has two natures simultaneously – eternally divine and as of two thousand years ago, human.

    Again, did a “what-ness” die on the cross? How does a “what-ness” grow in wisdom? I’m not saying that Jesus didn’t have a human nature, but when we consider the man Jesus is that all he was? It seems to me that the traditional formulation while maintaining the fullness of deity, does some injustice by limiting Jesus’ humanness. I think some of the problem is that what we end up with is Jesus not being really a man at all, but rather God in a body which doesn’t capture the fullness or uniqueness of the Incarnation.

    Prof. Engelsma critique of Clark’s view from what I can gather is …if Christ was truly 2 persons … then
    1. how is it that the human person was able to endure the wrath of God against sin, because we confess, as in the Heidelberg Catechism … THE SECOND PART–OF MAN’S DELIVERANCE
    V. LORD’S DAY.

    I realize that, but I don’t understand (and he didn’t say) why a sinless human person could not endure the wrath of God against sin on our behalf? Didn’t the required sacrifice have to be a man who is like us in every way except without sin? And, if a man, why can’t the man Jesus also be a person? After all, we are persons? At a certain point it does seem to be a matter of semantics, however when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” who was being forsaken? Was there a 3 day rift in the Godhead where the Second Person was severed from the other two persons? Someone was being forsaken and I don’t think it makes sense to say a “what-ness” was forsaken.

    So basically Sean, I think, Prof. Engelsma is staying true to his confessional belief. Did he answer Clark , yes, in that he answered as per what our confessions stand on the issue.

    I realize that, but the failure of his answer to actually address the objections Clark raises in the book merely point to the deficiencies in the confessions at this point and suggest, at least to me, that perhaps Chalcedon, which is what the Reformed confessions are merely repeating concerning the nature of Christ, needs to be revisited.

    As per your questions using the supposition of Adam and his progeny … It is hypothesis at best, and I dislike hypothesis when discussing the things above. Reality is …that Adam did sin.

    Yes, it is a hypothesis rooted in the CoW, but it only took the sinful actions of one human person to plunge all man-kind, all human nature if you prefer, and every human person descending from Adam into sin. However, and since I was just reading Dave VanDrunen’s contribution to the Strimple festchrift, he writes concerning the CoW:

    [The CoW] posits a promise of eschatological life to Adam and his posterity upon the condition of perfect obedience to God, as well as a threat of death upon disobedience. This covenant is one of “works” because Adam’s righteous work would have earned or merited him life.

    Jesus being conceived of the Holy Spirit and not Joseph broke the line of sin and as the Second Adam, fulfilled the CoW meriting “eschatological life” for all those for whom He died as their federal head. I’m not saying that Jesus Christ didn’t have to be the God/man in order to fulfill the CoW and in order to provide the perfect sacrifice, but I don’t see why Jesus the man cannot also be a human person? He certainly seems to be a human person in Scripture as well as a divine one.

    Why is it OK to say Jesus in his human nature grew in wisdom, etc., but not Jesus in his human person? I realize the former is orthodox and the latter heterodox, but that’s not really an argument. Actually, it’s generally the end of the argument for most people.

    response: nature defined as “1 a : the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing : essence b : disposition, temperament” would lead me to maintain that both His “person” and his “human nature” were both tempted because is that not the point of the creed of Chalcedon … that they cannot be taken to task independantly, both must be dealt with together , from the get go. Chalcedon – without mixture/without change/without division/without separation.

    Again, it is not at all being denied that the divine and human persons were one, they were, just as the Three Persons that make up the Godhead are one. But, if Jesus is a man and has the “the inherent character or basic constitution of a person” then why not call him a person when we see him growing in wisdom, thirsting, is ignorant of the time and day of his return, etc.? What is gained by saying that Jesus Christ was a Divine Person, but an impersonal human nature? A Divine Person and an “it”?

    I understand the other christological heresies that Chalcedon were seeking to avoid, but I also see that it was very much a battle over the nature and identity of Mary as the mother of God. Now, I suppose you can say that Mary was the mother of God in a very restricted and limited sense. If you mean it in the sense that all good Romanists mean it, then it’s idolatry. I don’t think it a coincidence that the creed includes that contested Marian identification. But, if the creed is defective because it did not guard against Marian idolatry and, instead, actually encourages it, perhaps it is similarly defective concerning the person and nature of Christ?

    “Isn’t someone who has a “true human soul” and is “a real man” also a real human person? If not, why not? ”

    response: Yes, and the reason why it was stated thus was because “For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both.” If both were in bondage to sin, then atonement must be made for both, and as our confessions teach, no mere man is able to withstand the wrath of God against sin.

    OK, then why do theologians resort to saying things like “Christ in his human nature” died since it is impossible for the Second Person to die? The problem I have is that if you look at most theologians it was an *IT* that died. Not a person; a nature. I think there is just so much biblical data that makes the one person, two natures theory difficult to sustain. I’m open to argument. Also, if Jesus Christ is one person with two natures as Chalcedon maintains, then why is it acceptable to identify the divine nature as a person, but not the human nature as a person? The Second *Person* took on a human nature and became a man, but didn’t a human person also take on a divine nature? Or, are we left saying that Second Person “wore” a human nature like a costume and that when we see the man Jesus ignorant of his return, etc., it was just a nature that was ignorant? How can an impersonal nature be ignorant? I just don’t find this very satisfying. I don’t see how anyone can?

    Yet God in His determinate counsel, from before the foundation of the world deemed that He Himself would become a real human person, in Jesus Christ, and in doing so, made atonement for His chosen elect. I guess the kikker 🙂 for me here is also the fact the Jesus Christ was like unto us in all things “sin excepted” … that’s a pretty big exception, and a needful one as well.

    Agreed. Like I said, Jesus had to be fully God and also fully man to solve not only the sin problem, but the propitiatory one as well. A human person had to die on the cross. In order to accomplish this Jesus had to be both fully God and fully man. I just don’t think the one person/two natures satisfactorily covers all the biblical data. Jesus was tempted. God cannot be tempted. So what was tempted? A person or a nature? That’s all Clark sought to answer. I’m not completely sure that Clark’s solution solves the problem either, but I do find his arguments compelling. So consider this me just being the devil’s advocate (some might even take that literally). 😉

    Check out that first verse. Jesus knowing that all had been accomplished, and that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. You have the divine and human nature in play, within the person of Jesus Christ, yet that divine nature was made subject to the human nature, that God’s own Word might be fulfilled and that God’s determinate counsel would stand, regardless of the devices of men.

    Why couldn’t you say per the above “you have the divine and human person in play”? The Second Person didn’t cease to be a person by also becoming a man. Only, the man Jesus is not really a human person. I find this odd.

    Finally, from a different post,

    I fail then to see the injustice of defining a human as having a body … but do see the injustice of defining a human as without a body.

    While some of this has be answered, a human person doesn’t cease to be person when he leaves this “mortal coil.” 2 Cor 5:2-4;

    “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

    Consequently, if a person is still a person when he sheds his earthly tent, then the “tent” per se cannot be essential to defining “person.”

    Also, and as has been suggested by others, if a man to be a person requires a body and God has no body yet is three persons, then aren’t you equivocating on the word “person” when applying the term to both God and man?

    Blessings – Sean

  76. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Also, if Jesus Christ is one person with two natures as Chalcedon maintains, then why is it acceptable to identify the divine nature as a person, but not the human nature as a person?”

    Yes, hardly anyone has ever suggested that the two natures combined make up the one person, for that would deny the preexistence of the Logos. But that would seem more consistent. Otherwise, we have a person taking on impersonal nature, an “it” as Sean says. And an “it” is hardly a man or vice versa. Thus, I find Clark’s logic inescapable: If you have a man, then you have a person. It is the MAN Christ Jesus, who is our mediator (2 Tim.2:15), who himself fulfilled God’s law and died and made atonement for sin.

  77. lawyertheologian Says:

    Sean: Or, are we left saying that Second Person “wore” a human nature like a costume and that when we see the man Jesus ignorant of his return, etc., it was just a nature that was ignorant? How can an impersonal nature be ignorant? I just don’t find this very satisfying. I don’t see how anyone can?

    Pat: Me neither. Yes, most discussions/depictions of Jesus as two natures seem to devolve into “God in a body” or God, that is, the Logos, in “a costume.” They refer to “Him” as being both omniscient and ignorant, both omnipotent and sufferning, etc. This is impossible just as much as something impersonal, something without thought (not being a person)being ignorant, or suffering, getting hungry and thirst, etc.

  78. ray kikkert Says:

    Hello Denson… have you picked out my Christmas present yet … it’s better to give than receive … you know 🙂

    gift giver 🙂 … you asked:
    “Are the three in “trinity” not three persons?

    response: Yes they are, and that was my point above… about supposing 2 persons of Christ because now instead of the 3 are one, you have the 4 are one.

    Was there a “before” the incarnation or not or do you consider “before” the incarnation the unspeakable?”

    response: Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, did exist in eternity before His incarnation in time. He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+13:7-9&version=KJV

    what does this mean? … well John Gill says this …’cause Calvin didn’t 🙂

    “and this is called the Lamb’s book; that is, Christ, who is compared to a Lamb for its harmlessness, meekness, and patience, and was typified by the lambs in the legal sacrifices; and this book is called his, because he was present at the making of it, and was concerned in putting down the names in it, ( John 13:18 ) , and he himself stands first in it as the elect of God, and the head of all the elect, who, as members, were chosen in him: the act of election was made in him, and stands sure in him; and he is the author and giver of that life, which men are chosen unto both here and hereafter: and he may be said to be “slain from the foundation of the world”; in the decree and purpose of God, by which he was set forth, or foreappointed to be the propitiation for sin, and was foreordained, before the foundation of the world, to redeem his people by his blood, and in the promise of God immediately after the fall of man, that the seed of the woman should have his heel bruised, and he himself should bruise the serpent’s head, which made it as sure as if it was then done; and in the sacrifices, which were immediately upon this offered up, and were types of the death and sacrifice of Christ; and in the faith of the saints, which brings distant things near, and considers them as if present; and also in his members, in Abel, and others, in whom he suffered, as he still does in his people; to which may be added, that such is the efficacy of the bloodshed and death of Christ, that it reached to all the saints from the beginning of the world, for the justification of their persons, the atonement of their sins, and cleansing from them; for the remission of sins, that are past, and for the redemption of transgressions under the first testament; for Old Testament saints from the beginning are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, as New Testament ones are. Something like this the Jews say F5 of the Messiah upon ( Genesis 49:11 ) ,

    “he washed (amle yrbtad amwym) , “from the day that the world was created”; who is he? this is the King Messiah.–It is written ( Genesis 1:2 ) ; “and the Spirit of God” This is the Spirit of the King Messiah; and from the day that the world was created; he washed his garments in wine;”

    which the Jewish writers F6 understand of blood, which for its redness is like to wine; though they interpret it of the blood of the slain, with which the garments of the Messiah will be stained. Now such whose names are not written in this book of the Lamb, who have no interest in electing grace, nor in redemption by Christ, the slain Lamb of God, nor any right unto eternal life, who are reprobate persons, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, who are foreordained to condemnation, and are given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned, these are the followers and worshippers of antichrist.”

    You also brought forth:

    “Jesus prays in John 17:5 “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Surely, “before the world was”, the Son was not yet incarnate, and right here is Jesus speaking about Himself “before” the incarnation.”

    response: Thank you for that passage, it is a good one.

    Calvin comments on the above …

    “He now declares that he desires nothing that does not strictly belong to him, but only that he may appear in the flesh, such as he was before the creation of the world; or, to speak more plainly, that the Divine majesty, which he had always possessed, may now be illustriously displayed in the person of the Mediator, and in the human flesh with which he was clothed. This is a remarkable passage, which teaches us that Christ is not a God who has been newly contrived, or who has existed only for a time; for if his glory was eternal, himself also has always been. Besides, a manifest distinction between the person of Christ and the person of the Father is here expressed; from which we infer, that he is not only the eternal God, but also that he is the eternal Word of God, begotten by the Father before all ages.”

    … so I would say that the person, the 2nd person of the Trinity… Jesus Christ,very God and very man… prior to His incarnation … was able to take human form when the Godhead determined it to be so. For example… Jacob wrestled with a “man” in Genesis 32. Who was this “person” “man” that Jacob wrestled with?
    Jacob did not wrestle with a proposition (this is our unfortunate lot it would seem :)) … he had hand to hand combat with another human person.

    Calvin says thus … ( note: I quote from commentaries of supralapsarian forefathers so as not to reinvent the wheel of exegesis … which is okay … because Dr. Clark did this as well 🙂 )

    ( another note… 🙂 … I commend it when people bring the principle axiom of Scripture to the discussion … this is great as well, cause Dr. Clark did this too 🙂 )

    “Jacob knew, then, that the combatant with whom he had wrestled was God; because he desires a blessing from him, which it was not lawful simply to ask from mortal man”

    There are other examples in the Old Testament where God meets with the patriarch’s in the form of a man. Do we call this a person or a nature? I would say a person, because Scripture reveals in the way of person.

    …also you stated …
    “Now, the trinity are persons, — without bodies! Our minds then must be the divine image, the person, — without bodies, unless we deny person hood to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
    This does not imply as you seem to think, denial that the mind of the creature, the person, God “breathed” into a body. It simply means one is talking intelligibly, scripturally and accurately wherever this may lead!”

    response:Regarding the Godhead, the Trinity … what is your Scriptural exegesis to prove each person of the Godhead was/is/ever was… without a body?
    For example … when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan … the person Jesus was in human form, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the Father spoke from Heaven. Matthew 3
    … about this Calvin states:

    “16. And, lo, the heavens were opened to him. The opening of the heavens sometimes means a manifestation of heavenly glory; but here it means also a cleft, or opening, of the visible heaven, so that John could see something beyond the planets and stars. The words of Mark can have no other meaning, he saw the heavens cleft asunder296296 “Il vid les cieux mi-partir, ou se fendre.” — “He saw the heavens divided in the middle, or deft.” An exact inquiry into the way in which this opening was made, would be of no importance, nor is it necessary. It is sufficient for us to believe, that it was a symbol of the Divine presence. As the Evangelists say that John saw the Holy Spirit, it is probable that the opening of the heavens was chiefly on his account. Yet I do not hesitate to admit that Christ also, so far as he was man, received from it additional certainty as to his heavenly calling. This appears to be the tendency of the words of Luke: while Jesus was praying, the heaven was opened, (Luke 3:21:) for, though his prayers were always directed towards the benefit of others, yet as man, when he commenced a warfare of so arduous a description, he needed to be armed with a remarkable power of the Spirit.

    But here two questions arise. The first is, why did the Spirit, who had formerly dwelt in Christ, descend upon him at that time? This question is answered by a passage of the prophet Isaiah, which will be handled in another place.

    “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord God hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,” (Isaiah 61:1.)

    Though the grace of the Spirit was bestowed on Christ in a remarkable and extraordinary manner, (John 3:34,) yet he remained at home as a private person, till he should be called to public life by the Father. Now that the full time is come, for preparing to discharge the office of Redeemer, he is clothed with a new power of the Spirit, and that not so much for his own sake, as for the sake of others. It was done on purpose, that believers might learn to receive, and to contemplate with reverence, his divine power, and that the weakness of the flesh might not make him despised.

    This was also the reason why he delayed his baptism till the thirtieth year of his age, (Luke 3:23.) Baptism was an appendage to the Gospel: and therefore it began at the same time with the preaching of the Gospel. When Christ was preparing to preach the Gospel, he was introduced by Baptism into his office; and at the same time was endued with the Holy Spirit. When John beholds the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ, it is to remind him, that nothing carnal or earthly must be expected in Christ, but that he comes as a godlike man,297297 “Un homme rempli de Dieu;” — “a man filled with God.” descended from heaven, in whom the power of the Holy Spirit reigns. We know, indeed, that he is God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16:) but even in his character as a servant, and in his human nature, there is a heavenly power to be considered.

    The second question is, why did the Holy Spirit appear in the shape of a dove, rather than in that of fire? The answer depends on the analogy, or resemblance between the figure and the thing represented. We know what the prophet Isaiah ascribes to Christ.

    “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench,” (Isaiah 42:2, 3.)

    On account of this mildness of Christ, by which he kindly and gently called, and every day invites, sinners to the hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the appearance of a dove And in this symbol has been held out to us an eminent token of the sweetest consolation, that we may not fear to approach to Christ, who meets us, not in the formidable power of the Spirit, but clothed with gentle and lovely grace.

    He saw the Spirit of God That is, John saw: for it immediately follows, that the Spirit descended on Christ There now arises a third question, how could John see the Holy Spirit? I reply: As the Spirit of God is everywhere present, and fills heaven and earth, he is not said, in a literal sense, to descend, and the same observation may be made as to his appearance. Though he is in himself invisible, yet he is spoken of as beheld, when he exhibits any visible sign of his presence. John did not see the essence of the Spirit, which cannot be discerned by the senses of men;298298 “A parler proprement, il ne descend point, et semblablement ne peut estre veu.” — “Strictly speaking, he does not descend, and in like manner he cannot be seen.” nor did he see his power, which is not beheld by human senses, but only by the understanding of faith: but he saw the appearance of a dove, under which God showed the presence of his Spirit. It is a figure of speech,299299 “C’est une maniere de parler par Metonymie, (ainsi que parlent les gens de lettres.”)—”It is a way of speaking by Metonymy, (as learned people talk.”) by which the sign is put for the thing signified, the name of a spiritual object being applied to the visible sign.

    While it is foolish and improper to press, as some do, the literal meaning, so as to include both the sign and the thing signified, we must observe, that the connection subsisting between the sign and the thing signified is denoted by these modes of expression. In this sense, the bread of the Lord’s Supper is called the body of Christ, (1 Corinthians 10:16:) not because it is so, but because it assures us, that the body of Christ is truly given to us for food. Meanwhile, let us bear in mind what I have just mentioned, that we must not imagine a descent of the thing signified, so as to seek it in the sign, as if it had a bodily place there, but ought to be abundantly satisfied with the assurance, that God grants, by his secret power, all that he holds out to us by figures.

    Another question more curious than useful has been put. Was this dove a solid body, or the appearance of one? Though the words of Luke seem to intimate that it was not the substance of a body, but only a bodily appearance; yet, lest I should afford to any man an occasion of wrangling, I leave the matter unsettled.

    17. And, lo, a voice from heaven From that opening of the heavens, which has been already mentioned, a loud voice was heard, that its majesty might be more impressive. The public appearance of Christ, to undertake the office of Mediator, was accompanied by this announcement,300300 “Avec ce tesmoignage et recommandation;” — “with this testimony and recommendation.” in which he was offered to us by the Father, that we may rely on this pledge of our adoption, and boldly call God himself our Father. The designation of Son belongs truly and naturally to Christ alone: but yet he was declared to be the Son of God in our flesh, that the favor of Him, whom he alone has a right to call Father, may be also obtained for us. And thus when God presents Christ to us as Mediator, accompanied by the title of Son, he declares that he is the Father of us all, (Ephesians 4:6.)

    Such, too, is the import of the epithet beloved: for in ourselves we are hateful to God, and his fatherly love must flow to us by Christ. The best expounder of this passage is the Apostle Paul, when he says

    “who hath predestinated us into adoption by Jesus Christ in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath accepted us in the Beloved,”
    (Ephesians 1:5,6)

    that is, in his beloved Son. It is still more fully expressed by these words, in whom I am well pleased They imply, that the love of God rests on Christ in such a manner, as to diffuse itself from him to us all; and not to us only, but even to the angels themselves. Not that they need reconciliation, for they never were at enmity with God: but even they become perfectly united to God, only by means of their Head, (Ephesians 1:22.) For the same reason, he is also called “the first-born of every creature,” (Colossians 1:5;) and Paul likewise states that Christ came

    “to reconcile all things to himself, both those which are on earth, and those which are in heavens,” (Colossians 1:20.)”

    As I stated before … I can truly confess and believe that in the person Jesus Christ … is a Divine and Human Nature and that in the purpose and determinate counsel of the Lord … the Divine nature can and is made subject to the Human nature that His purposes and counsel may stand and that He alone may receive the honor and glory in all His creation, everything, every jot and tittle … even in a fella we know as Denson 🙂

    Do you long to see a proposition … or do you long to see and be with Jesus 🙂 … well I cannot read your mind Denson, and your not even in front of me in person of all things … but would wager you long to see and be with Jesus and you would even admit to wanting to see a logical/Scriptural proposition ………. in the course of theological discussion that is 🙂
    I have tried my best in that regard. Behold how large a letter I have written unto you 🙂

  79. lawyertheologian Says:

    Ray: response: Yes they are, and that was my point above… about supposing 2 persons of Christ because now instead of the 3 are one, you have the 4 are one.

    Someone gave this response before, or at least I’ve heard it before. But no, there are not 4 in one in the Trinity. The 4th person is not and did not become part of the Trinity. His union is only with the Logos. Since he has no Deistic thoughts, he in no way can be a person in the Godhead.

  80. qeqesha Says:

    hi ray,
    Whew!!! Indeed, it IS the season for giving!! Thanks for the epistle!:)
    You wrote: “Who was this “person” “man” that Jacob wrestled with?
    Jacob did not wrestle with a proposition ”
    Defining a person as a “congeries of propositions” or what is the same thing, the mind or spirit, does not exclude the mind or spirit being in a body as the case may be, as I said above. And yes, it is minds that were wrestling. A body without the spirit is dead. The body is a tool that the mind controls. It is the thoughts, that were the source of the wrestling. If Jacob had not thought to wrestle with God, the body alone wouldn’t have suggested it! In fact the physical wrestling was an expression of something in Jacob’s mind. What we do is what we believe, the content of our minds!

    Further, “God is a spirit and those that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth!” That should answer your seeming lingering suspicions that God might have a body! He is without body, without emotions or feelings(West Minster Confession of Faith)! The Bible says “God is truth”(propositions)! “As a man thinketh, so is he!” So, we are our thoughts! Once more, this is NOT a denial that we possess bodies! We are simply not conflating distinct ideas, the body and the mind!

    You wrote, “Do you long to see a proposition … or do you long to see and be with Jesus :)”

    Remember that those who crucified him and shouted, “away with him” had seen him and been with him! When he hung on Calvary’s cross, many saw him, yet they did not recognise Him. Without the theology of redemption, the truth, the propositions, there is no Jesus to long for, just an unfortunate nice guy who got killed by a jealous Jewish religious posse! You see, truth is first, and subsidiary to that we speak of the supremacy of the mind. You quoted a passage about, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. This means God decreed, had the idea, the thought, in His mind before the Historic events recorded in the gospels! The gospels record the implementation of the mind of God!

    Jesus said “I am the truth!” We have not “seen” Him yet we believe propositions about Him and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory as the apostle Peter puts it. The apostle Paul says “we have the mind of Christ!” I cannot long for Jesus more than my theology allows. So yes I long for the fulfilment of promises Jesus made for all that love Him, but that is only because I have heard some propositions about Him and believed them first! And my longing for Him is for(because of) the theology(propositions), not without it! Therefore there is no either/or between Jesus and propositions.

    Denson

  81. Aarib Says:

    Hello brother. I pray that you are well. I am a public school teacher in Camden, NJ and have been studying, “A Christian Philosophy of Education”, by Gordon Clark and other related writings. As a public school teacher I am not able to speak about God in an effort to persuade my children. Is it sin then to teach a subject without the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7) or to tell my children something is wrong without the law of God? In short, is it sin to teach in a public school without Scripture? If it is, I think I must quit my job becuse it is illegal as a representative of the state to prefer any religion over another. And if I stay, I can’t honor Christ properly so quitting seems the only option. Your cousel would be appreciated.

    Thank you so much,
    Aaron Winthers

  82. Aaron Says:

    Oops. Mispelled my name in the last post. It’s Aaron rather than Aarib.

  83. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Aaron. That’s a tough question that I’m not in any position to even try to help you answer. For myself, I don’t think it is a sin for a Christian to teach in the public schools, but of course there are times when conscience and faithfulness to God’s Word may place you at odds with the civil authorities. Daniel is probably as good an example as one could hope for.

    FWIW, my wife is a permanent sub at our local elementary school, so if you can think of a good biblical argument why such employment is sinful, I’d love to hear it.

    Of course, if your conscious is troubling you, then perhaps you should look for an opening in a private Christian school somewhere.

    Blessings – Sean

  84. speigel Says:

    Sudduth has a new book out. Can we email Crampton to have him write a review on it? Or maybe you can write a review, Sean!

  85. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ve been hearing about his book for what seems like a decade. I would love to read it but I’m not going to pay that price tag for the pleasure (nearly $100 for 250 pages).

    I did write him and asked if it’s on gold leaf etched by monks? I also asked him if it would be possible for me to get a review copy. He sent me back a flier with an offer of 35% off. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Obviously his publisher is not looking to reach an wider audience of more than 2 wealthy academics.

  86. qeqesha Says:

    Sean,
    I think you missed the opportunity to get a free copy when Sudduth offered it to people for comment many years ago in manuscript form at the Reformed Epistemology list. That was when I took his introduction to it and replaced a few phrases with ¨ghouls and ghosts¨ and incurred George´s(the Scotsman) wrath! Meanwhile, Sudduth´s interest in ghouls and ghosts and weired beliefs seems to grow in leaps and bounds. Checkout what he lists as a fan of at his facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Sudduth/530206050
    and here is his Natural Theology web page http://naturaltheology.homestead.com/

    Finally at http://philofreligion.homestead.com/OxfordFiles2.html
    his paper on the Tredentine Decree on Justification is marked:

    The Tridentine Decree on Justification – Censured
    (Too controversial for public presentation)

    I wonder what was ¨too controversial¨ about it. Just who thought it was ¨too controversial¨? Did Sudduth not remove it for the respect of his employers for some time, the Roman Catholics? or was the paper Roman Catholic? I would love to read it!

    Denson

  87. speigel Says:

    I think I can understand the high price tag of what looks like an academic textbook. I’ve paid close to $200 for a small textbook. Those academic publishers really push the price as high as they can.

    Either way, I hope a review will come out at some point. Crampton’s review of Anderson’s book came months after the book’s release.

  88. Bob Suden Says:

    Aaron and Sean, re. yours of Dec. 28

    My problem with govt. schools is exactly that. They are not truly public with the compulsory attendance laws. If they were public, one would be free to patronize or finance them as one pleased. Rather they inculcate the secular government line and no one can opt out of paying. Dabney goes into it in his “Secularized Education” (Discussions, Vol. 4, Sprinkle, 1997, pp.225-47). Education is inherently religous and moral – vocational education is really training in manual dexterity, not education in the classic sense – and it is not the state’s job, nor the church’s, to usurp the family’s responsibilibities.

    The only version available on the web, is Google’s version lightly edited by Wilson – yes that Wilson of Moscow FV infamy – here.
    It’s worth a read.

  89. Bob Suden Says:

    “edited by Wilson” in ’96 which was before the FV leprosy surfaced. (In other words, he wasn’t yet unclean.)

  90. speigel Says:

    Don’t know how many on this blog know, but Gary Crampton has recently become a Baptist. He will have a soon-to-be published book on baptism.

  91. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hmmm, odd. Where did you hear that?

  92. speigel Says:

    Is Paul M Elliot a Baptist too? His comment on Crampton’s shift seems to indicate so as well. Can anyone corroborate?

    Apologies to Gerety if this is the wrong place for me to ask the question.

  93. Sean Gerety Says:

    No apologies necessary. I had no idea about Elliot too. Strange.

  94. bsuden Says:

    I thought Crampton’s switch was old news. Elliot used to be OPC, right?

  95. Sean Gerety Says:

    It was new to me. And, yes, Elliot is former OPC.

  96. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Speigel. I take it from the little interview that Crampton has always been a Reformed Baptist, unless I’m misreading him when he says:

    “As to my church affiliation, I am a Reformed Baptist, and an advocate of the teachings found in the London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Reformed Baptist Shorter Catechism. Over the last twenty-five years I have pastored three churches and have had the opportunity to preach and teach at a number of other churches. My wife and I are currently members of the Reformed Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia.”

    I do want to read his book, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Arminianism.

  97. speigel Says:

    A member from PB stated that Ken Talbot had told the PB member in 1994 that Crampton was thinking of the shift. From my personal reading of his works, Crampton was presbyterian. I think in the quoted portion Crampton is simply stating his current status, mixed in with his past teaching posts.

    The book you mention is basic but very good.

  98. Bob Suden Says:

    “A5: Yes, I do believe that the practice of infant baptism is a violation of the “regulative principle” of worship. I explain this in some detail in my forthcoming book on the subject, but (as cited in my book) basically the problem is this: If there is no express command given in Scripture to baptize infants, and if there is no direct evidence for the practice of infant baptism, then to administer infant baptism in the worship service is a violation of the regulative principle. I would suggest that those interested in finding out more on this matter see what I have said in my book. Fred Malone also deals with this issue in his The Baptism of Disciples Alone.”

    1.The gentleman unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what the RPW is:
    Whatsoever is not commanded explicitly or implicitly (WCF 1:6) in the worship of God is forbidden. IOW it is the good and necessary consequences of the Second Commandment.
    2. Baptism is to be administered in the worship service. As to whether infants are to be baptised that is the real question, the question of the RPW is at a remove and somewhat of a red herring/immaterial.
    3. But if Abraham received the sign of circumcision “a seal of the righteousness of the faith (Rom.4:11)” as well that Abraham’s seed was also circumcized, whether they believed or not – and we know Ishmael, if not Esaus didn’t – and baptism replaces that bloody sign, then connect the dots.

    Genesis 17:7  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.


  99. Their reasoning is as follows. Since the creature owes all obedience to God, and since there is an infinite distance between God and man; therefore, man’s obedience cannot merit anything from God. As Lusk writes, “The creature is indebted to the Creator for his very existence; the creature can never indebt the Creator, no matter how much he serves or obeys” (Auburn Avenue, 121-122). In other words, since man owes God everything, man can never make a claim on God. Consequently, Lusk, Shepherd, and many others reject the idea of a covenant of works.

    The problem with this is that they have not really rejected the covenant of works. They have rejected the idea of merit in the covenant of works, but so did the classic Reformed theologians. Thus, Francis Turretin writes, “Hence also it appears that there is no merit properly so-called of man before God, in whatever state he is placed. Thus Adam himself, if he had persevered, would not have merited life in strict justice…” (Institutes, XVII:v.7). This is clearly the doctrine of the Reformed confessions. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that man “could never have any fruition of [God] as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension” (7.1). The Formula Consensus Helvetica states that God “in this covenant freely promised [Adam] communion with God, favor, and life, if indeed he acted in obedience to his will” (emphasis mine, Canon 7). Whatever “different theologians” might have said, they agreed that this reward of eternal life was not a matter of simple justice.

    From: Wes White at http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2007/12/merit-covenant-of-works.html

  100. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m with you Bob. I suppose like a lot of other issues, it would have been nice if the Scriptures would have provided a clear instruction sheet. But then what would we have to argue about. 😉

    I am interested in reading his book only because Crampton is a man I have a lot of respect for and he didn’t come to his conclusion lightly. I’m curious to see his arguments. It may make me question some of my own. Frankly, his book on Scripture alone is mandatory reading as far as I’m concerned.

    OTOH I sometimes think too much weight (and even superstition) is placed on the sacraments.

  101. Bob Suden Says:

    Sean,
    Got no quarrel with the Crampton’s book. Could be pretty good for all I know. And to his credit, I certainly appreciated his review of Reymond’s Systematics which I went out and got almost immediately because of what he said. (Augustine said something to the effect that a genuine teacher not only loves what he teaches, but also inspires a love for it in his students.)
    But to become a baptist? On the basis of the RPW? After his special pleading re. psalmody and the Westminster Assembly/Standards? Nah. That’s one Brooklyn Bridge too far for me wherever other people might end up.

    cordially

  102. speigel Says:

    Part 3: http://www.mctsowensboro.org/mcts-blog/part-iii-interview-with-dr-crampton-from-paedobaptism-to-credobaptism/

    Please note that the blog quotes small portions at any one time. It seems uncharitable to critique Crampton’s view based on such a short postings. In addition, Crampton is very aware of the Westminster Principle (good and necessary consequences) and well as what RPW means. It’s skeptical to say otherwise.

  103. Bob Suden Says:

    speigel

    “It seems uncharitable to critique Crampton’s view based on such a short postings.”

    This is not the first thing I’ve read of Crampton on G&NC and the RPW.
    Two, the argument contra infant baptism is secondary at best. Why bring it up? Maybe because he hopes to score points or snow somebody on it.
    If he is serious about refuting the practice, he has to deal with it at the level of covenantal theology. And when that happens, he’s going to find it is not easily dismissed. More like impossible without discarding a lot more than infant baptism.
    IOW if he wants to break a lance, it’s fine by me, but I am not holding my breath.

  104. Bob Suden Says:

    Speigel
    If part 4 is clarification for Crampton it ain’t much.
    He needs to tell us what the Cov. of Grace is, for starters.
    Further if infant baptism is not of the essence, would he say baptism is? I doubt it, but who knows.
    Rather baptism, like circumcision is considered one of the ordinances of the covenant WCF 7:5,6
    I think Gen 17:7-10 is of the essence of the promise of the covenant along with Rom. 4:11. But don’t baptists deny that even the unbaptised seed of believers are not members of the visible church before conversion/confession. I don’t think you can find that taught in the bible, but baptists evidently do. Fine, but I t find the exegesis and theology less than compelling.

  105. speigel Says:

    @Suden: Thanks for your thoughts. Please note that when I said “thanks for the clarification” I was referring to your thoughts prior to my last post; I was NOT referring to Crampton’s interview. Also note that I am not posting the links as to indicate that I am agreeing with Crampton. I am only posting the links because some people are interested in Crampton as he shares GHClark’s philosophy.

    As Crampton notes in his short interview, more will be said in his book. I think we all (or just some) are looking forward to it. In the meantime, I’ll post excerpts of his interviews when they come up.

  106. Bob Suden Says:

    Speigel
    Thanks for the clarification.
    I missed mention of his upcoming book on baptism. Will be interesting to see (- what I think will be some more special pleading on his part!)

  107. Derek Ashton Says:

    I’m a little late on this thread, but I want to register a mild complaint. Although it’s nice that Dr. Crampton took the time to read and respond to Dr. Anderson’s book, calling the review a “refutation” is far from accurate. I found Dr. Crampton’s review to be little more than a re-hashing of the same unconvincing arguments that have been presented to me over and over again by those Scripturalists I’ve encountered in various places. I approached the review looking forward to some intellectual stimulation and challenge, but walked away saying “Is that it? Is that the best you can do?” Dr. Crampton basically ignored what Dr. Anderson said in the book, and I can’t help but wonder why. Honestly, I was disappointed.

    On another note, can you point me to a place online where I can find Dr. Clark’s articulations of the Trinity and the Incarnation. I’m rather curious about the claim that he removed the supposed paradoxes from those doctrines. If it’s true, I want to see it for myself.

    Blessings,
    Derek

  108. Sean Gerety Says:

    See Clark’s treatises The Trinity and The Incarnation at trinityfoundation.org. They’ll be under the “books” tab to the left.

    FWIW I read Anderson’s book and came away thinking many of the contradictions he sees exists are more in his own mind then in actual fact. That’s not to say that there aren’t problems with the traditional formulas, just not the ones Anderson thinks there are. OTOH, I agree that I would have liked to see Dr. Crampton engage Anderson some more, but even as written, it was still a sound refutation.

    Who knows, maybe if I get the itch I’ll write my own review of Anderson’s attack on the Christian faith. There was plenty in it that was profoundly damaging to the Christian faith and he should be ashamed. Frankly, if he really believes what he writes, I have to wonder why he’s not a raging atheist. If I believed him, I would be.

  109. Ryan Says:

    FYI: Mr. Anderson has just responded to Crampton’s reviews.

  110. Sean Gerety Says:

    BTW funny Chris. I guess you’re not a boxing fan and have never heard of the Ali Rope-a-Dope! ;-P

  111. theoparadox Says:

    Who’s Chris??????

  112. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sorry, I meant Derek.

  113. qeqesha Says:

    Hi Mr Manata,
    Nice to see you “air punching” and getting all bouyed up by Anderson’s objections to Clark’s definition of a person, at Anderson’s blog.
    But your celebration might be just premature. First, Anderson does not provide us with any definition of his own. That is OK, if he does not have any. But does this not make his book unintelligible, where he discusses “persons”, whether divine or human for not even Anderson knows what he is talking about?
    Anderson does not interact with Clark’s question as to how a “human nature” cannot be a human person and a “divine nature” cannot be a divine person.
    If the “orthodox” formulations contain unintelligible language, how can belief based on them be said to be “orthodox”? Isn’t nonsense just that, nonsense?
    Anderson’s objection to Clark’s definition of a person implies an unknowable “I” who is the knower.
    Of course asserting the unkowable is all par for the course for you guys!

    Denson

  114. Ryan Says:

    qequesha: “Anderson does not provide us with any definition of his own.”

    Actually, it would seem he did:

    “…the biblical writers weren’t working with anything like Clark’s quirky notion of personhood. Rather, they were working with the everyday notion of personhood reflected in personal pronouns: an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions.”

    He doesn’t define a nature, though, and such would be requisite in an examination as to whether or not his understanding is both “orthodox” and intelligible.

  115. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ryan, have you read Anderson’s book? I only wonder because it seems to me that he views the doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation through rather dark Vantilian glasses. Not surprising, I admit, but he examines a number of views that avoid the contradictions (contradictions for the human existent of course) that he claims are inherent in traditional formulations (even Manata admits that Clark avoids any charge of contradiction, real or imagined, even if Anderson doesn’t think Clark “sophisticated” enough for any serious thought), but for various reason rejects them all. Basically, it seems, because these alternate views are not in lockstep with the “traditional” view, they’re ruled out of bounds. The standard Anderson uses for orthodoxy is not which alternative best comports with Scripture, but rather which best comports with the traditional orthodox formulations. He ends up poisoning the well because any alternatives to the traditional position, no matter how sound biblically, will be out of bounds, by definition, because it they will be “alternatives” to traditional orthodoxy.

    For example, and not that I think even the traditional Trinitarian formulation is contradictory, but Clark’s rejection and elimination of the idea of “substance” would be enough to place him outside of the “orthodox” position and thus must be rejected. His argument is basically; the trad. doctrinal formulation defines orthodoxy [good so far], the trad. doctrinal formulation is inherently and logically paradoxical [I’m not convinced], therefore any solution that attempts to solve these so-called logical paradoxes and deviates in any way from the trad. doctrinal formulation is deemed “unorthodox” and eliminated. I mean, reading the book I couldn’t help thinking his conclusions were all forgone and the deck is rigged.

    Then, when he has the playing field cleared of all challengers, his next attempt is to demonstrate that Christians are rational for believing what he claims are logical paradoxes (contradictions for you and me that Anderson says “may” be resolved some day, but basically, don’t count on it) inherent in the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Frankly, and on a positive note, Anderson’s book is really a refutation of the whole RE movement. These men are not interested in epistemology in the sense of how someone might arrive at a knowledge of the truth, rather they’re interested in appearing “rational.” What a useless enterprise and one that hardly deserves the name “epistemology.”

  116. Ryan Says:

    No, I have not read the book, but having read Anderson’s brief remarks on Scripturalism, I was impressed with the same thoughts you were. The references to the “Definition of Chalcedon” and his gratuitous, question-begging remark that Clark’s definition was “novel” seemed to imply that.

    There may, however, be something to the criticism that “a man is what he thinks” is circular, although I do not see that Anderson’s own definition is less circular (viz. what is an individual?). I’ll have to think about it.

  117. Sean Gerety Says:

    Would you consider Prov. 23:7a circular? Maybe I should read his argument again, because I don’t see how Clark (or Scripture) defining a person as a congeries of propositions or thoughts is self-referential or circular. Also, just because it might be “quirky” to some ears isn’t an argument. A lot of people whine that Clark’s defining Logos as Logic in John 1 is quirky, yet even Michael Sudduth once wrote: “In the beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was with God, and the Logic was God.” Again, IMO that Anderson disingenuously stacks the deck and tries to poison the well.

    And, it would seem to me that Anderson’s “everyday” definition of person as “an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions” can be reduced to a person is their thoughts, since thinking thoughts (propositions) presupposes “intentions and actions.”

    I confess, and on a different note, I don’t see how Anderson’s and Sudduth’s publishers can get off charging what they do for their books! No, wait a minute, I do. They’re just gouging the taxpayers as these books become required textbooks at ersatz-Reformed seminaries like RTS and universities where students fund their educations through federally funded subsidized student loans. What a racket.

  118. speigel Says:

    Clark’s definition may not be circular, but his definition cannot be had by using Proverbs 23:7. I would like someone to give me a commentary on Proverbs 23:7 and extract the metaphysical claim “a person is a collection of propositions” from it. The verse seems to be talking about one thing and it’s not some metaphysical claim of personhood.

    This is not to say that Clark’s definition is wrong, but it’s to say that if it’s right, it’s not because of Proverbs 23:7.

  119. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ok, you lost me Speigel. How is Clark’s definition not supported by Prov 23:7a: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”? It would seem to me that another way to phrase it is that man what he thinks.

  120. Ryan Says:

    Anderson’s definition seems to follow the Descartes’: man is a thinking thing (rather than what he thinks).

    Any misunderstanding I have can be cleared up if you could answer the following question for me: Given that Clark would say “I am my thoughts,” to what would the possessive pronoun “my” in the predicate refer? When one says “my thoughts,” is the reference not reflexive? But isn’t the definition of “I” supposed to determine what the reflexive self is? So wouldn’t the use of “my” be circular?

  121. Sean Gerety Says:

    But isn’t the definition of “I” supposed to determine what the reflexive self is? So wouldn’t the use of “my” be circular?

    If I were to say “I am my thoughts” I would agree, but the definition that Clark uses elsewhere is a person is a congeries of thoughts or propositions. I might be dense, but I don’t see how that is circular? I can see how if I were to apply that definition to myself that it is perhaps circular, since I’m referencing myself, but maybe I’m not following?

  122. Ryan Says:

    Clark’s other definition is clearer, but then again the other definition (“a person is a congeries of thoughts or propositions”) doesn’t specify how such an aggregation is pinpointed non-arbitrarily. Then again, to say the aggregate of thoughts in question are “my” thoughts would fall suspect to the circularity objection, which is (I think) what speigel was getting at. To be honest, I don’t understand why Anderson’s/Descartes’ definition of person could not be appropriated by a Clarkian, except maybe that how one justifies one’s own existence might be a little messy. Again, this is all rather new to me, so I’ll have to think about it some more.

  123. speigel Says:

    I’m not so concerned about circularity. I’m more concerned that Proverbs 23:7 is being misused as a verse to establish a metaphysical claim. Can you truly extrapolate from the verse the claim “a person is a collection of propositions”? While it may be true that “a person is a collection of propositions” I fail to see how from the verse. The passage wherein the verse is found speaks of something other than providing a metaphysical claim.

    In addition, if a person is a collection of propositions, then a new numerically different person exists when tomorrow the person obtains a new proposition. Yesterdays collection of propositions is different from today’s collection (despite a large overlap of propositions), and hence a numerically different person. But is this true? Clark’s definition has the problem of the enduring self – the problem is that Clark’s definition has no enduring self.

    But again, the first problem is that Proverbs 23:7 makes no metaphysical claim of personhood. Even if this is so, I believe Clark can establish his definition with other verses. But it’s prooftexting to use Proverbs 23:7.

  124. mqeqeshi Says:

    Ryan,
    “…the biblical writers weren’t working with anything like Clark’s quirky notion of personhood. Rather, they were working with the everyday notion of personhood reflected in personal pronouns: an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions.”
    Does this really qualify as a definition? Suppose I were to say “A cat is a fury pet with the capacity for dog hate.” That may be true, but it certainly is not a definition of a cat. I am certain Clark would have been aware of “everyday notion of personhood ..” but obviously did not consider these notions as possesing the precision required of a definition and hence he provided one of his own. Anderson may be right that the bible writers employed “everyday notion of personhood ..”, but how does that constitute an argument against providing precise definitions?
    And how does calling Clark’s definition “quirky” constitute an argument against it?

    However it would seem Anderson thinks he has found at last an intelligible objection against Clark’s definition, over and above his inane quips, in the link provided by Ryan at http://proginosko.worpress.com, Anderson’s blogspot. It is a section on Clark’s view of the trinity extracted from a lengthier response Anderson wrote on Crampton’s review of his book.
    In it he writes,
    “However, the problem with Clark’s formulation isn’t that it is heretical. The problem is that it’s downright incoherent.

    After offering his novel definition of ‘person’ Clark explains: “As a man thinketh in his (figurative) heart, so is he. A man is what he thinks.” Leaving no doubt as to what he means, he later adds: “a person is the propositions he thinks.”[4] But this is obviously incoherent, since it presupposes a distinction between the thinker (“he”) and his thoughts (“the propositions”). It’s no more coherent than the claim that a person is the clothes he wears! In fact, Clark’s definition is circular, because the definiendum (“a person”) is referred to in the definiens (“the propositions he [i.e., the person] thinks”).”

    Since Clark gets his definiton from or rather believes he has support for his definiton from scripture, which he quotes, Anderson’s objection would have been weightier if he had simply provided exegesis of that verse and shown that it does not have the meaning that Clark attaches to it. Anderson’s glaring omission leaves his objection insubstantial and only a little more than just a tribalistic outburst(Why I am not a Clarkian) On the other hand, if the scripture quoted has the meaning that Clark believes it has, Anderson’s charge of incoherence must apply to the scripture as well! Since Anderson believes that there is apparent incoherence in scripture, which he calls paradox, one must ask what are the grounds upon which Anderson bases his seeming demands for coherence from this particular one?
    The charge of incoherence and circularity needs to be answered. Any definition must ultimately be circular, for otherwise, one needs to define further terms and define further terms and so on ad infinitum. A cat is a cat is not incoherent! It is a simple tautology. But all definitions must ultimately satisfy this tautological requirement, for otherwise no definition can be had.
    God for example, can only be defined by himself since there is nothing “outside” God that can be used as a frame of reference. Yet this should not make the idea of God incoherent, as Anderson charges.
    Further, Anderson’s objection would imply that self knowledge is not possible. For, self knowledge
    must “presuppose(s) a distinction between the thinker (“he”) and his thoughts (“the propositions”).” and at the same time “the definiendum (“a person”) is referred to in the definiens (“the propositions he [i.e., the person] thinks”).” The implications of this objection to God would mean that either God cannot know himself or if He does, He cannot make Himself known for fear of Anderson’s charges of incoherence and circularity. If God cannot know Himself then He is not omniscient for there would be something He does not know and if He cannot make himself known, He is not omnipotent for there would be something He cannot do, for fear of Anderson.

    Denson

  125. Sean Gerety Says:

    Speigel, perhaps you could see what you say you can’t if you would answer my question rather than just restating your objection.

  126. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t understand why Anderson’s/Descartes’ definition of person could not be appropriated by a Clarkian,

    I don’t think there is anything objectionable about it, but perhaps Clark was also interested in answering the question of individuation.

    I also think it might be significant that becoming a new creature entails a change of mind and progressive sanctification entails the renewing of the mind. As Paul states in Ephesians 4:

    That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

    Consequently, it would seem the propositions we think does determine who we are.

  127. Sean Gerety Says:

    For those who might be wondering what happened to my exchange with Paul, I removed it and privately apologized to Paul for my hateful and sinful behavior towards him. I also apologize to my readers as I deeply regret my behavior toward him which was, in every sense, to tear him down.


  128. […] post titled “Why I am not a Clarkian”.   Ryan, over at Sean Gerety’s blogspot [https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/crampton-refutes-anderson/#comment-2840] provided the link to Anderson’s comments about Clark’s treatment of the trinity and […]

  129. Ryan Says:

    mqeqeshi, I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from my posts. I am not defending anyone’s definition of person; I am simply trying to understand the respective positions and why one can or cannot be encompassed by the world-view of the other.

    Sean, thanks for the thoughts. I haven’t read Clark’s “Sanctification” yet, but I think after I do I will have a better idea of how Clark would substantiate his definition of personhood.

  130. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, thanks for the thoughts. I haven’t read Clark’s “Sanctification” yet, but I think after I do I will have a better idea of how Clark would substantiate his definition of personhood.

    That’s a good idea, I’ll check it out too, although I don’t know how much help it will be? I was thinking more in terms of what constitutes a new creation/creature/person in Scripture and it’s a shift from believing one set of propositions to another, specifically the propositions of the Gospel. Clark does discuss Paul’s conversion to the effect that the propositions Paul understood concerning the Christian faith didn’t change from one moment prior to the moment after his dramatic conversion (of course, he would come to know many additional true propositions later on), but the reason he was no longer “Saul the persecutor” was now he believed what he formerly rejected. The propositions believed are what transformed Saul into Paul. Therefore, it would seem to me that it’s the propositions believed that make a person who he is.

  131. speigel Says:

    The context of the passage seems to suggest that Proverbs 23:7 isn’t a metaphysical claim of personhood. Perhaps some commentaries on the passage will help you see what the verse means within its own context. I believe Cheung wrote a commentary on the passage would also say that the verse isn’t a metaphysical claim of personhood. “As a man thinks so he is” can be taken several ways. For example, it could mean that a man becomes what he thinks such that if he thinks that he is good, he will be good. There are several other meanings. But it’s prooftexting to say that Proverbs 23:7 means that a (human) person is a collection of propositions.

    Is Saul a numerically different person than Paul? This is the problem of the enduring self. According to Clark, if a person is a specific collection of propositions, when such a collection is changed by an addition or subtraction of a proposition then the person must be numerically different. Is this not the conclusion of Clark’s definition? One Clarkian told me that the conclusion was wrong. Saul and Paul are not numerically different. But how is that logically possible when Saul and Paul are two different collections of propositions?

  132. mqeqeshi Says:

    Ryan: No, I did not think you were taking Anderson’s or Clark’s definiton.
    Spiegel: I would agree with you that the scripture seams to mean we live according to our thoughts or beliefs. In other words, this scripture is concerned with our actions rather than metaphysics.
    Clark infact arrived at his definition via Hume’s argument that it is vacuous to posit a mind “behind” our thoughts. The thoughts are the mind. From which it follows that if we are our minds then we are our thoughts. Clark of course, following Augustine, believed in truth not just ideas. Since truth is a property of propositions Clark’s definition “a congeries of propositions” follows.
    As for your worry that propositions would destroy
    individual uniqueness, positing a proposition “I am spigiel” will take care of that.

    Denson

  133. Sean Gerety Says:

    The context of the passage seems to suggest that Proverbs 23:7 isn’t a metaphysical claim of personhood. Perhaps some commentaries on the passage will help you see what the verse means within its own context. I believe Cheung wrote a commentary on the passage would also say that the verse isn’t a metaphysical claim of personhood. “As a man thinks so he is” can be taken several ways

    No doubt the verse can be taken several ways. The verse in context has to do with being particularly cautious in certain social settings and contexts because people aren’t always as they appear, but rather they are what they think. As Gill says; “He is not the man his mouth speaks or declares him to be, but what his heart thinks; which is discovered by his looks and actions, and by which he is to be judged of, and not by his words….”

    As for Cheung, I did find a piece dealing with, from what I could tell, some New Age applications of this verse (the power of positive thinking prosperity non-gospel charismatic nonsense). I couldn’t find anything where he takes issue with Clark using this verse to support his definition of the word person. In fact, Cheung says: “In one sense, the Bible teaches that a person is what he thinks (even in Proverbs 23:7) and that he becomes what he thinks (but not in Proverbs 23:7).”

    But it’s prooftexting to say that Proverbs 23:7 means that a (human) person is a collection of propositions.

    Again I’ll ask, since you still haven’t yet answered: How is Clark’s definition not supported by Prov 23:7a: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”? How is it incorrect to say the verse means, at the very least, that a man, a person, is what he thinks?

    You charge Clark with “prooftexting,” by how was he prooftexting in his definition of person? It seems to me that your objection comes down to, like Anderson’s, that you just don’t like Clark’s definition, but so what and who cares? What definition will you offer instead? Do you prefer Anderson’s “everyday” definition and that a person is “an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions” or something else? If Anderson’s “everyday” definition then I’ll take Clark’s simply because it is considerably more elegant than Anderson’s and because Anderson’s can be refined to Clark’s anyway because thinking thoughts (propositions) presupposes “intentions and actions.” Ergo, a person is the thoughts he thinks.

    Is Saul a numerically different person than Paul? This is the problem of the enduring self.

    In one sense Paul is very much a different person, thank the Lord, and as we all are when we come to Christ, but even as a new creation Paul still can think “I persecuted the Church, I ordered the death of Christians (Stephen most notably) ” etc., which is why Paul is Paul and not someone else. This is, after all, how Clark would individuate the persons of the Trinity as the Holy Spirit and the Father can’t say, “I took on flesh, became a man, was a carpenter, went to the cross” etc.

    According to Clark, if a person is a specific collection of propositions, when such a collection is changed by an addition or subtraction of a proposition then the person must be numerically different.

    That doesn’t follow.

    Is this not the conclusion of Clark’s definition? One Clarkian told me that the conclusion was wrong. Saul and Paul are not numerically different. But how is that logically possible when Saul and Paul are two different collections of propositions?

    Saul and Paul aren’t two different collections of propositions. At the moment of conversion Paul now believes propositions that he formerly did not. Again, a person is a congeries of the thoughts he thinks. I suppose we could add to this a person is the thoughts he thinks and believes, but at the very least a person is the collection of the thoughts they think. No two people think the same set of thoughts, hence no to people are the same.

    Again, I don’t know why this is difficult or why, as you argue, this is not a biblical definition of the word “person”?

  134. speigel Says:

    First, I’m not arguing that Clark’s definition is wrong. I am arguing that even if Clark is right, Proverbs 23:7 doesn’t support his definition. Perhaps my issue is how we address the word “as” in the verse. But at least some have noticed that the verse is dealing with an issue different than a metaphysical claim of personhood. As per Denson, I think it’s easier to argue that Clark’s definition of personhood came by other verses and ideas of truth and mind.

    Second, Saul cannot say that he was converted since his collection of propositions are not the same as Paul’s. Your second to last paragraph assumes an enduring self. Yes, Paul has propositions that overlap with Saul collection, but Paul has additional propositions that Saul does not have. Clark would agree with this since he says that two people can have the same thoughts. The persons of the Trinity have many overlapping propositions yet are differentiated from each other because of propositions not held by others. Clark would also say that even with similar thoughts, no two collections are the same. Therefore Saul and Paul are two numerically different people. In order for Saul and Paul to be the same numerical person, there has to be a self such that when the collection changes, the metaphysical self endures. I am unsure as to how you call this a non-sequitur.

  135. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am arguing that even if Clark is right, Proverbs 23:7 doesn’t support his definition.

    Then why do you persist in avoiding answering my question? Deal with the verse, just don’t assert Clark is “prooftexting.” Prove it. Explain why the verse cannot be used as a basis for Clark’s definition of “person.”

    Perhaps my issue is how we address the word “as” in the verse.

    When you figure out what *as* means in the verse get back to me. Until then your charge that Clark was “prooftexting” is without warrant.

    Second, Saul cannot say that he was converted since his collection of propositions are not the same as Paul’s.

    That’s just silly.

    Yes, Paul has propositions that overlap with Saul collection, but Paul has additional propositions that Saul does not have.

    Again, incorrect. This is why I used Paul the moment before and after his conversion for my example. Maybe you weren’t following? His relationship to the propositions he understood changed, I’ll grant you that, but what the actual propositions the moment prior and after is conversion conversion did not change.

    Clark would also say that even with similar thoughts, no two collections are the same. Therefore Saul and Paul are two numerically different people.

    Saul was given a new name. A new name does not a different person make, i.e., in the sense that he is now a brand new collection of propositions. In the sense that Paul was now a different person, as in a new creation by virtue of his new birth and now believing the propositions he previous rejected, that I’ll grant you. Other than that, it seems you’re now just grasping at straws Speigel and for what purpose?

    But again you did not answer my question.

  136. Derek Ashton Says:

    The persons of the Trinity have many overlapping propositions yet are differentiated from each other because of propositions not held by others.

    There, in one fell swoop, goes the doctrine of omniscience! Right out the window. Also, the doctrine of he co-equal divinity of each Person of the Trinity, since only ONE of them could be truly omniscient in such a scheme of thought. The others would have to be contained WITHIN whichever One is truly omniscient, since they hold all the same propositions, minus whatever they don’t know.

    On the other hand, if a “person” is nothing more than the congeries of his thoughts, and the three persons of the Trinity are truly co-equal and truly omniscient (I think WCF said something on this?), then you have three exactly equal persons who are nonetheless individuated. One would be tempted to call such a formulation a paradox.

    If one desires to avoid arriving at such a paradox, one might consider (for starters) booting Clark’s misguided eisegesis of Proverbs 23:7 and coming up with something different (ideally, something exegetically deduced from Scripture and reason).

    On the other hand, one might simply follow the example of Jonathan Edwards and admit that the glorious Godhead is at least partially incomprehensible.

    Just a thought.

  137. speigel Says:

    First, it seems to me that you think my arguments against Clark’s (or is it the Clarkians’) view is new. It’s not. It has been argued since Clark was alive. Carl Henry tried to defend Clark’s view against similar arguments by, what it seems to me, modifying Clark’s view. So to say that I am grasping at straws is simply asserting that I am wrong and you are not.

    Second, I’m only using two names for temporal simplification. Third, you can look up the meaning of Proverbs 23:7 in several commentaries, none of which speak to some metaphysical claim of personhood. So why should I be burdened to show what the verse means? Since Clark and Clarkians say that the verse means something else or an addition to the original meaning, the burden seems to rest with the Clarkians. Fourth, Paul’s relation to the propositions changed, therefore the propositions changed therefore collection changed, therefore the collection is different, and hence there is a numerically different person. I repeat myself only because the problem is still a problem. Fifth per your previous post to the last, the Son cannot say that that he was made flesh, became a man, was a carpenter, went to the cross, etc. since, according to Clark and Clarkians, the Son wasn’t made flesh or did any of the actions just mentioned. The Son was “united” with another who was made flesh, became a man, etc.

    Perhaps, I’ll continue to do my research elsewhere and hopefully find an asnwer there.

  138. speigel Says:

    @Derek: Clark defends himself against the notion that Godis not omniscient if persons hold to propositions not held by the others. It seems you are making an argument without reading the material – something I think Anderson would like others to do with regards to his own book.

  139. Derek Ashton Says:

    As I’ve noted previously on this thread, I haven’t read Clark’s version of things yet (other than the excerpt of Clark in Anderson’s post). I’m simply interacting with your statement, as it strikes me given all of the propositions I currently hold. I’d love to hear the way Clark defended this position, assuming what you stated is in line with his formulation. It seems one would have to re-define omniscience, or co-equality, or both, in order to make a case that the three divine Persons hold different sets of propositions. I’m not referring to Christ in His humanity, I have in view here the absolute and eternal omniscience of the three Persons of the Trinity from all eternity.

    I’m primarily reading this thread to get a better understanding of Clark’s view, but I feel compelled to point out the apparent logical problems with a statement that seems unbiblical and indefensible – if for no other reason than to discover I’ve misunderstood what’s being said.

    Admittedly, my tone in the previous comment was too antithetical. I’ll try to behave myself. 😉

  140. Derek Ashton Says:

    Would Clark’s defense go something like this:

    [The propositions not held in common are those directly relating to the other persons of the Trinity. i.e., the Father ALONE can say “Christ is MY Son.” The Spirit and the Son cannot also hold this proposition, yet this would not make them any less omniscient. The Son, likewise, can say “MY Father is God.” The Spirit and the Father could not hold this exact proposition, yet they obviously understand the relationship just as well as the Son does.]

    If this guess is correct, I think it begs the question, since the objective proposition “The Father’s Son is Christ” would sum up the proposition held by all three divine persons – and all three persons could hold this proposition equally, the above propositions being derived from it and strictly subjective. Or do those subjective propositions actually help to define the person, thus guaranteeing every person’s inherent individuation? As I said, I’m only guessing how Clark might defend the idea that different sets of propositions are held by three omniscient persons.

  141. Sean Gerety Says:

    you can look up the meaning of Proverbs 23:7 in several commentaries, none of which speak to some metaphysical claim of personhood.

    Besides the point. You’ve cited NO commentaries, the only reference you made, without citation I might add, was from Vincent Cheung and that was of no help to you since he says, in a very “Clarkian” sense, “the Bible teaches that a person is what he thinks.” Therefore, you remain grasping at straws. And, if that means I’m right and you’re wrong, so be it.

    So why should I be burdened to show what the verse means?

    Because you made the spurious charge that Clark was “prooftexting” and have provided NO arguments to prove your point.

    Paul’s relation to the propositions changed, therefore the propositions changed therefore collection changed

    You’re wrong and this, well, argument, doesn’t follow. The set of props remain the same, but rather than just understanding and disbelieving props A, B and C Paul now believes props A, B and C. The actually sum total of the propositions haven’t change. You need to try harder Speigel.

  142. Sean Gerety Says:

    It seems one would have to re-define omniscience, or co-equality, or both, in order to make a case that the three divine Persons hold different sets of propositions. I’m not referring to Christ in His humanity, I have in view here the absolute and eternal omniscience of the three Persons of the Trinity from all eternity.

    Good point, but I think Joel Parkinson in his piece, The Intellectual Triunity of God, addressed this objection quite well. I think he makes a good case differentiating between what he calls subjective and objective knowledge while preserving both the individuation of persons and the unity of the Godhead.

    I’m primarily reading this thread to get a better understanding of Clark’s view

    It would make a lot more sense if you were actually interested in finding out what Clark thought to read him for yourself.

  143. Sean Gerety Says:

    Would Clark’s defense go something like this:

    Yes, I think you’re on the right track.

    On the other hand, one might simply follow the example of Jonathan Edwards and admit that the glorious Godhead is at least partially incomprehensible.

    As long as by incomprehensible you don’t mean what Van Til meant then I would perfectly agree.

  144. speigel Says:

    Actually, Cheung doesn’t use Proverbs 23:7 as a text to define personhood. In fact when he says that “the Bible teaches that a person is what he thinks” he means other than “a person is a collection of propositions.” You should read his entire piece to understand the meaning of Cheung’s statement.

    I thought since we’re all reformed here, that the commentaries I generally refer to mean standard reformed commentaries. I cited Cheung only because he’s more Clarkian than other commentators. As to these commentaries, they basically agree as to the general meaning of the verse. If that’s so, then the burden is on the Clarkians to show that Clark’s take on the verse is also valid. So I don’t need to provide an argument. It’s the Clarkians that do and until then I have no burden to provide an answer. It’s a burden of proof issue. You have it, not I. If and when you prove your burden, the burden shifts to me to answer you. But since you haven’t proven your case (unless by your continual assertion that Proverbs 23:7 means “a person is a collection of propositions” is a proof) I don’t have to give an answer. I doubt you will see the burden of proof point clearly, so I will not stress you for an answer. I am sure, however, that you will continue assert that I have to give an answer.

    I believe that it’s best to part ways at this juncture with regards to the definition of personhood. I think I may find it better to reread Clark over and over again while reading works by other authors.

  145. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am sure, however, that you will continue assert that I have to give an answer.

    Yes, I’m funny like that. I believe those making charges against others need to be able to defend those charges. I am however encouraged that you will recheck your premises and reread Clark. 🙂


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