Archive for April 2010

How About a Couple of Sticks of Dynamite?

April 21, 2010

Pastor Wes White has lit the fuse in his piece The Federal Vision in the PCA & The Strategic Plan, and the subsequent blast has revealed another pile of slag in the PCA.  White says; “I think that just as important as sending out people to preach the Gospel is ensuring that we have a Gospel to preach.”  Too bad more in the PCA don’t agree.

Lighting the second stick, White has exposed a literal rat’s nest by demonstrating that “New York Metro, which some consider to be the bright and shining star, the flagship of the PCA, is a safe haven for the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision.”

A while back I asked: Can the PCA be saved?  As the evidence continues to mount, I think there is only one answer that any sane person can come to.  I mean, this very week N.T. Wright is speaking at Tim Keller’s Redeemer church in NYC and it hardly raises an eyebrow.  On the other hand, men like White pointing this out and explaining why it’s wrong does.  Draw your own conclusion.

UPDATE:

Lane Keister has hurled a third stick of TNT at the Federal Vision and blasted away the shale exposing the core of their false gospel.  His “Hermeneutic and Ontology in Justification” is a must read.   Frankly, it’s so good I even violated the terms of my forced exile from his blog just to say kudos.

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W. Gary Crampton on the Incarnation

April 16, 2010

Below is a selection from the booklet, Christ the Mediator, by Dr. W. Gary Crampton dealing with the Incarnation.   I provided this selection here because (1) it provides a helpful exercise for me as I grapple with the problems entailed in the doctrine of the Incarnation, (2) I am interested in continuing to examine the contours of the solution proposed by the late Gordon Clark, (3) I just feel like fanning the flames,  and, (4) I enjoy watching Clark’s critics go bonkers.

Before jumping into Dr. Crampton’s theory of the Incarnation, I would like to preface the following remarks by stressing that I hold Dr. Crampton in the highest esteem.  Next to perhaps John Robbins, he has done more to further an understanding of Scripturalism than anyone I know.   His book, The Scripturalism of Gordon Clark,  is an excellent introduction to the thought of Gordon Clark, and, By Scripture Alone, should be mandatory reading for every seminary student and any Christian interested in defending the centerpiece of the Reformation, sola Scriptura, against contemporary attacks by some of Rome’s most able apologists. His articles which have appeared in the pages of Trinity Review and elsewhere provide a wealth of sound theology found almost nowhere else today.  As with virtually anything else from the pen of Dr. Crampton, Christ the Mediator is a smorgasbord of profound and beautiful truths concerning our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  Hopefully the selection below will provide a teaser prompting readers to explore the rest of Dr. Crampton’s well rounded and penetrating Christology.

Now, the first thing to notice about Crampton’s examination of the Incarnation is that he directly answers some of Clark’s critics (I wonder if any of Clark’s critics here will see themselves in Crampton’s discussion of the inadequacies of the “mainline” handling of the Incarnation represented by Louis Berkof and Augustus Strong). Next, he affirms Clark’s insistence that the solution to the problem of the Incarnation lies in carefully defining key terms, specifically “person.”  Crampton quotes Clark approvingly:

Dr. Clark asks some very relevant questions: “If Jesus was not a human person, who or what suffered on the cross? The Second Person [of the Trinity] could not have suffered, for deity is impassable. If then the Second Person could not suffer, could [an impersonal human] nature suffer?”

Dr. Clark continues: “On the contrary, only a person can suffer.” Moreover, he ponders, since the Bible teaches us that Christ possessed a human consciousness, mind, and heart, and will, how can He not be a human person? Is it possible for “a man to be a man without being a human person?” Is the salvation of the elect accomplished “by the alleged death of an impersonal [human] nature?” No, says Clark, “the one who died on the cross was a man, He had or was a soul, He was a human being, a Person.”

While the above quotations from Clark are commendable, there is something rather odd here as well.  In that last quotation from Clark, which is found on page 70 of The Incarnation, the sentence is rendered in the monograph as:

“the one who died on the cross was a man, he had or was a soul,  he was a human being, a person.”

By identifying the human being or person who died on the cross as He or Person is to identify the Second Person as the one who died on the cross. Yet, that is not what Clark was saying or even implying. For example, Clark writes:

Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this view: “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man.

For Clark, the man who died on the cross was a human person, not the Second Person in a human nature, whatever that might entail.

Interestingly, Crampton also agrees with John Murray who argued:

It may be that the term “Person” can be given a connotation in our modern context, and applied to Christ’s human nature, without thereby impinging upon the oneness of His divine-human Person. In other words, the term “nature” may be too abstract to express all that belongs to His humanness and the term “Person” is necessary to express the manhood that is truly and properly His.

Oddly, Crampton seems to think that the connotation of the term “Person” that is “necessary to express the manhood that is truly and properly His” is to simply assert that the human nature in Christ is “personal.” Rather than a human person with a human nature joined with a divine person with a divine nature, Dr. Crampton argues that “there is one Lord Jesus Christ, one God-man (i.e., the one Person), who possesses two distinct and inseparable natures, both of which are to be considered ‘personal’ in that He is fully divine and fully human.”  Then he avers:  “There is nothing impersonal about the divine or the human natures.” (more…)

Clark Quick Quote

April 13, 2010

While considering an upcoming review of Van Tilian James Anderson’s ode to irrationality in his, Paradox in Christian Theology, and in light of recent discussions on this blog concerning Gordon Clark’s solutions to the problems entailed in the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit Clark’s monographs on these extremely difficult doctrines.  Below I’ve included  a couple of selections from Clark’s devastating discussion of Bavink and Van Til in his treatise on the Trinity plus one or two other helpful quotes.   You’ll notice in this first citation in reply to Bavink, Clark’s solution to the question of the Trinity is clearly present even if some prideful professors at Reformed Theological Seminary are too confused or obtuse to grasp it.

In explaining the persons of the Trinity by opposing their intertrinitarian relations to the relations among human beings, Bavinck (op.cit., p. 298) argues, “The concept ‘human nature’ is a universal concept . . . it is real and present in each individual human being, but it is differently and finitely present in any single man.  It is never fully and infinitely present in any single man.”  The term infinitely has no meaning here.  The quality succulent is in every cactus, but it is not so much false as it is nonsense to say it is or it is not infinitely in a suguaro.  But it is in each suguaro fully or completely.  So also with man.  Unless the definition of man is fully in a single object, that object is not a man.  As a cactus has five characteristics, so a human being has a fixed number of characteristics. If anyone one be absent, the thing is not a suguaro or not a man.  Any argument denying the presence of the complete definition in its particular examples denies that the full definition of Deity is applicable to the Son.  Bavinck, because of his faulty philosophy, distorts the doctrine of the Trinity.

Building on Bavinck’s distortions of the Trinity, Clark turns his attention to Van Til:

When opponents have objected that the doctrine of the Trinity is logically self-contradictory because it makes three equal to one, Christians have usually replied that there are many examples of situations that are three in one sense and one in a different sense.  Hence there is no contradiction.  Here Van Til rejects this defense of the Trinity and asserts that the Trinity is both one and three in the same sense: not one substance and three Persons, but one Person and three Persons.  This is indeed contradictory and utterly irrational [note: James Anderson contends in a piece on Triablogue and by implication in his book that Van Til is not only correct in asserting that God is one person and three persons, but that this is also a faithful expression of Christian orthodoxy -SG].  Look at his words again: “We do assert that God, that is the whole Godhead, is one person.”  He defends this irrationalism on the ground that “each attribute is co-extensive with the Being of God.” Now, some attributes apply equally to all three Persons; for example, omnipotence and omniscience. But the attribute of the Fatherhood and Sonship are not “co-extensive with the Being of God.”  Sonship is not attributable to the Father, nor to the Spirit. (more…)


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