John Robbins Quick Quote

If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words, then the Bible is a merely human book. If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then we have no knowledge of God whatsoever, which is, of course, exactly what Herman Bavinck teaches in his systematic theology. If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then man can know nothing, and we are all lost. On Van Til’s view, Christianity must be a cruel hoax, for it claims to be a revelation of divine truth in human words. — Can the Orthodox Presbyerian Church be Saved?

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70 Comments on “John Robbins Quick Quote”


  1. Good one. If God’s knowledge and my knowledge do not coincide at any point, and I know something, then I have knowledge God does not, and He cannot be omniscient. Otherwise, I can’t know truth. It’s really not that difficult a concept…

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    No, not difficult at all, but according to the men who are in charge of virtually all ersatz-Reformed theological training and who control virtually all of the ersatz-Reformed seminaries, men like Van Tilian R. Scott Clark, the above clear and biblical view of truth is in fact a sinful rejection of “the distinction between the Creator and the creature, which is fundamental to Reformed theology.”

    Can the battle lines be drawn any clearer?

  3. pat Says:

    Well, it might not be that simple. Scott Clark’s distinction, the archetypal/ectypal distinction has been maintained by Reformers throughout Reformed history. As I understand it, it is not so much about what God has revealed but what He hasn’t(we both know the proposition revealed, but God knows more); that God knows more than what He has revealed. It seems to also envision a God beyond propositions, thus making Him unknowable.

  4. Jim Butler Says:

    Admittedly I need to study the archetypal/ectypal distinction in more detail, but it seems that even if one accepts it, it does not necessarily follow that we only possess analogical knowledge.

    I am sure that Dr. G. Clark affirmed a distinction between the Creator and creature (what Christian doesn’t?), so it seems odd that this line of argument is used against his view of knowledge.

    Also, I’m not convinced that the reformed writers of the past (pre-20th century) would have maintained that the distinction necessitated analogical knowledge. If any of you have some references to that affect, I would appreciate if you shared them.

    jim

  5. pat Says:

    Well, if archetypal theology exists in the mind of God alone, then our ectypal theology will only be analogical to that which exists in the mind of God.

    But this is about our knowledge of God, not our knowledge of the propositions that God reveals of His mind. Both God and us do think that they are true. The knowledge is not analogous with respect to the propositions, but with respect to what we know and what God knows. Not only are there propositions that God has not revealed to us, but CANNOT reveal to us, according to the distinction maintained.

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    It is that simple and there is no benefit in muddying the water. Scott Clark’s understanding of the archetypal/ectypal distinction has absolutely no resemblance to the way the distinction has been understood throughout Reformed history. Reformed theologians have not historically held that “theologia ectypa” is analogous to “theologia archetypa” in the Van Tilian sense in that there is and can be no point of contact between theology as God knows it and theology as we know it and do it on the basis of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. Van Til’s unequivocal denial of any univocal point of contact between the thoughts of God and those thoughts given to us in Scripture and known by man is a modern innovation and is a warped perversion of the biblical Creator/creature distinction that Scott Clark reads back into his novel understanding of theological history.

    The Reformed have not had a Creator/creature distinction in the way CVT and Scott Clark understand it. They would, as all Reformed men currently should but do not, emphatically reject the idea that there is no point of contact, no coincidence, between the thoughts God knows within himself and those revealed to us in Scripture. That’s because the thoughts God has revealed in Scripture are still *His* thoughts. They are not, as Van Til maintained, *analogous* of God’s thoughts, they ARE God’s thoughts albeit and obviously fewer of them. This is, after all, the central theological issue in the Clark-Van Til controversy and why, theologically speaking, Scott Clark is on the wrong side of history, even if it is sadly the winning side.

    The fact is, Gordon Clark should have stayed in the OPC and continued his fight against Van Til and the WTS faction aligned against him despite their sinful actions against Clark’s supporters like Floyd Hamilton. By leaving the battlefield Clark created a big sucking sound where only Van Til’s aberrant and anti-Christian philosophy was allowed to grow virtually unabated and has now spread throughout all so-called “Reformed” seminaries and churches.

  7. Ryan Says:

    Ironically, I was JUST reading Robbins’ “Companion to the Current Justification Controversy” and was shocked to find a revered writer like Bavinck reject that Scripture is intelligible:

    “…the idea that the believer would be able to understand and comprehend intellectually the revealed mysteries is… unscriptural. On the contrary, the truth which God has revealed concerning himself in nature and in Scripture far surpasses human conception and comprehension. In that sense Dogmatics is concerned with nothing but mystery” (Bavinck, The Doctrine of God).

  8. Drake Says:

    For anyone interested the archetypal/ectypal distinction issue is discussed in Chapter 5 of Richard A. Muller’ Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics “The Parts or Divisions of Theology”.

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sure it does Slabbert. It speaks to Van Til’s deficient and sub-Christian understanding of the nature of truth. Further, it supports Clark’s contention that the acquisition of knowledge is dependent on, and received from, God alone as He has revealed his mind to us in Scripture.

  10. pat Says:

    I don’t think I’m muddying the water; nor do I see Scott Clark espousing anything different from many Reformed scholars throughout history, starting from 16th century Reformed theologian Francis Junius. Not that I agree with them. Again, our knowledge must be analogical if what God knows is never the same as what we know. Not that that implies no coincidence/correspondence of thought concerning a particular proposition. I think we should be careful not to overstate our case or to charge others with something they don’t actually believe; though I would agree that some of what is taught could imply some serious problems/destruction of Christian thought. Denying that both us and God view the same proposition equally as true would do just that. Maybe that it is the implication of some teachings. But that is not what is explicitly taught by Scott Clark and most other Reformeres.

  11. Sean Gerety Says:

    No one is overstating “our” case Pat, but you are certainly understating this one.

    It’s also funny that you mention Francis Junius (elder) because he is the only one that Scott Clark can point to in the piece he is always touting on his blog from the misnamed, The Pattern of Sound Doctrine, that even remotely supports his theory — and I’m not at all sure he even does that. The problem is the only published work I could find of his Opera Theologica is in Latin and I can’t read Latin. Besides, Junius is hardly a major theological figure in Reformation history. Clark utterly fails when he turns his attention to Luther and Calvin. That’s not to say that Van Til is particularly original, and as Ryan points out (as does John Muether for that matter), he drew heavily on Bavinck (who was only recently translated from the Dutch) and only a little less from Kuyper.

    So, if you want to give S. Clark Junius and Bavinck, I’m fine with that. It hardly supports his spurious claim that Van Til (and by extension S. Clark) was defending some long held historic Reformed tradition concerning the nature of God and revelation.

    The problem is, by eliminating GHC from the picture and thereby successfully protecting the very UN-Reformed independent parachurch status of WTS, Van Til and his followers were able to simply claim Van Til was maintaining this imagined “central Reformed doctrine” against the sinful “rationalism” represented by Gordon Clark. Besides, I think if you spend any time looking into the archetype/ectype distinction you’ll find it really plays a very small role in historic Reformed theology, which makes sense simply because you can’t say much about propositions you can’t know.

  12. Hugh McCann Says:

    RS Clark apparently also includes Berkhof:

    “In the 1920s controversy over the “Three Points,” [of Common Grace by the Christian Reformed Synod of 1924] there was a clear demarcation between those who accepted the traditional distinction and those who did not. While those who accepted the archetypal/ectypal distinction tended to favor the well-meant offer, those who rejected the analogical model of theology also rejected the well-meant offer. For example, Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology . . . restated the traditional position distinguishing between archetypal and ectypal theology.”

    p. 160, Pattern of Sound Words.

    Found at http://reformedreader.wordpress.com/category/archetypeectype/

  13. Hugh McCann Says:

    And RSC also saith:

    Johannes Wollebius wrote, “True theology is called archetypal or ectypal. Archetypal theology is the knowledge by which God knows himself, which in reality is no different from the essence of God. Ectypal theology is a kind of copy (effigies) of archetypal theology which is first of all in Christ the God-Man and secondarily, to be sure, in the members of Christ” (Compendium, 1).

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/what-can-we-know-and-how/

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

    And this guy* (nice gown!) found a raft of ’em:

    Auguste LeCerf, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof and Cornelius VanTil.

    Also he found S.G. De Graaf (1889-1955): “These thoughts together lead us to say that our knowledge of God is ectypal. The divine self-knowledge is the archetype (the image on the signet-ring), our knowledge is the ectype (the image in the wax). We will one day have a comprehensive knowledge of God, insofar as we are capable of understanding that subject (with the image of archetype and ectype people have intended to say, not that there is a direct and mechanical “printing,” but that our knowledge of God comes through faith in the Word of God.” (38 – translation mine*)

    Finally, F.M. Ten Hoor (1855-1934)…graduated from the seminary in Kampen on the same day in 1880 as Herman Bavinck and the two remained close friends…He writes,

    “4. Archetypal and Ectypal Knowledge of God.

    With the first we understand the knowledge of God as he is in himself. The second is an imprint from that. This is the knowledge given to us in revelation. The ectypal character of theology locks out the idea once and for all that we can have a complete and equivalent knowledge of God, and on the other hand the notion that the creaturely names of God are no more than symbols, products of the poetic imagination, a reflex of one’s inner life.

    This is what follows from the distinction of archetypal and ectypal (or analogical) theology:

    a. That all our knowledge has been given through God and is grounded on revelation.
    b. That God must descend to us, that his revelation will be our subject matter.
    c. That God can adapt the form of his revelation to the creation (which is finite), because this creation is his own work, and the embodiment of his thoughts.
    d. That our knowledge of God, being ectypal and analogical, is not an equivalent knowledge.
    e. That our knowledge of God is therefore true and sound, because it is an imprint of the archetypal knowledge, which God has in himself.” (9 – translation mine*)

    * Dr. Wes Bredenhof
    http://yinkahdinay.xanga.com/688406470/early-20th-century-dutch-reformed-theologians-and-the-categorical-distinction/

    G’night,
    Hugh


  14. Could someone give me the page numbers of Bavinck’s quote above (given by Ryan), as it is published in the new English translation of Bavinck ‘Reformed Dogmatics’ (published by Baker Academic) ? I would like to go and have a look at Bavinck in both the English and original Dutch.

  15. Sean Gerety Says:

    RS Clark apparently also includes Berkhof:

    “In the 1920s controversy over the “Three Points,” [of Common Grace by the Christian Reformed Synod of 1924] there was a clear demarcation between those who accepted the traditional distinction and those who did not.

    Proving once again that theologians can get away with literally anything once they can successfully remove the laws of logic from the study of Scripture. You can even get away with claiming that justification is by faith alone and by faith plus works and that both sides of this apparent contradiction are both true.

    Federal Visionist are the most recent champions of the tradition Scott Clark champions following in the footsteps of Klaus Schilder. The irony that S. Clark or any other Van Tilian are somehow the enemy of the Federal Vision is a joke. The Federal Vision is Van Tilian. What a glorious tradition.

  16. denson Says:

    Hi Hugh,
    “And RSC also saith:
    Johannes Wollebius wrote, “True theology is called archetypal or ectypal. Archetypal theology is the knowledge by which God knows himself, which in reality is no different from the essence of God. Ectypal theology is a kind of copy (effigies) of archetypal theology which is first of all in Christ the God-Man and secondarily, to be sure, in the members of Christ” (Compendium, 1).”

    Just what is a “copy of knowledge”?
    What is a “copy” of “1+1=2”?
    What is the “original” of which “Jesus is the Son of God” is a “copy”?

    If he had simply said “ecytypal theology” is what God has revealed to man, I would agree. What God has revealed to man is a subset of what God knows!
    Why the obsfucating terminology, “archetypal” and “ectypal” for something so simple?
    No, it is because they mean to differentiate between two types of knowledge; what is known by God and what is known by man, which is different in “nature” or content, which is why Scott Clark says this is essential to keep the Creator/creature distinction! If there are two types of knowledge, then we never know what is in God’s mind, for the simple reason that we are creatures and not the creator, and if we do not know what is in the mind of God then we do not know anything for the simple reason that God is omniscient(knows all things). Further, why does Scott Clark’s “creator/creature” distinction ignore the image of God in man? Doesn’t the image suggest a point of similarity? And is this point of similarity not the ability to know; rationality, intellection?
    I hold to propositional revelation, from God to man, in human language, in which God communicates what is in his mind to the mind of man in sentences!
    Because this is so simple, the religious Scott Clark rejects it and prefers the “unpenetrable dark cloud of unknowing”!

    Denson

  17. pat Says:

    Sean, where are you getting “removing the laws of logic” from the block quote? No one appears to be doing that.

    From Hugh’s quote, we see what is meant by analogical knowledge. It is not regarding the revealed proposition per se, but about our knowledge of God. So again, there appears to be an overstating ofthe case, and imputing to all those who speak of analogical knowledge what they do not claim. Again, I find it hard to believe that anyone is denying that both us and God know that the propositions of Scripture are true, though it seemed that that was the implication of Van Til’s teaching.

    I’m not sure what you mean by (Scott) Clark’s theory. It seems to simply be that which has been stated for centuries. His articulation of Van Til’s view seems to be that traditional one also and thus unobjectionable on that score(p.149).

    BTW, in his book “Recovering the Reformed Tradition” Scott Clark refers to many theologians whom he claimed to hold to the archetypal/ectypal distinction, including Luther, Calvin,Owen,Kuyper and Turretin. Kuyper actually had much reservation about the distinction, claiming that as it had been defended it could not be maintained.

  18. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson. Bingo.

  19. Sean Gerety Says:

    Pat, what you don’t get and evidently don’t see is the Van Tilian equivocation on the word “analogy.” In their use of the word as it relates to the a/e distinction they have transformed its meaning in such a way that a rather minor theological point becomes the heart and center of the Christian faith and one that defines the Creator/creature distinction.

    I understand Van Tilian zealots like Scott Clark can’t see it, but I would have thought someone claiming to defend “our” position would.

  20. pat Says:

    Really Denson? The “religious” Scott Clark? You’re making him seem like he’s not even a believer. Cmon, let’s stop going overboard here.

  21. pat Says:

    Sean, I haven’t been dealing with Van Til but with Scott Clark and mainly with the point of saying that analogical knowledge means/implies that that there is no coincidence of thought between ours and God’s. That is what I think is not so clear.

    I wasn’t aware that Scott Clark is a Van Til zealot, nor that he advocates all that Van Til taught in this matter.

  22. denson Says:

    Hi pat,
    Well, whether he is a believer or not is not in my place to say. His language certainly places him with religious people who do not really care about the truth, as truth. He carries on about “reformed tradition”, but seems oblivious of the “reformed tradition” that only the scriptures are inspired and authoritative; bans Sean for having the temerity to question what Muether wrote! Is this not the characteristics of a graceless religion, where authority is vested in institutions and egos and one’s own vain fancies, rather than the truth? Where is the fear of God, before whom we will stand and give account, in what Scott Clark does?

    Denson

  23. Ryan Says:

    “Could someone give me the page numbers of Bavinck’s quote above (given by Ryan)”

    Robbins says it’s in the first paragraph of Bavinck’s chapter on God’s Incomprehensibility.

  24. pat Says:

    Denson,

    S.Clark believes that not only the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative? Really? I find that hard to believe.

    S.Clark bans Sean, and Sean bans me. Neither one is in the Spirit of Christianity, but I wouldn’t necessarily question their Christianity based on this.

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    I wasn’t aware that Scott Clark is a Van Til zealot, nor that he advocates all that Van Til taught in this matter.

    Evidently you haven’t been following what has been going on. I guess the better question is why then are you commenting on something you obviously know nothing about?

  26. Hugh McCann Says:

    Denson: Why the obsfucating terminology, “archetypal” and “ectypal” for something so simple?

    That’s what *I’M* sayin’!!!

    Wobbly prolly meant that the Arctype is God knowing AS GOD, and the Ecky is our knowing derivatively (right?) when he said, “Archetypal theology is the knowledge by which God knows himself, which in reality is no different from the essence of God. Ectypal theology is a kind of copy (effigies) of archetypal theology which is first of all in Christ…”

    Wollebius sounds proto-Clarkian!

    This by de Graaf is nice, and seems to contradict the radical disjunction of the Van Tillians: “We will one day have a comprehensive knowledge of God, insofar as we are capable of understanding that subject…”

    Ten Hoor isn’t as cool with his version of the
    “Archetypal and Ectypal Knowledge[s?] of God.
    “With the first we understand the knowledge of God as he is in himself. The second is an imprint from that. This is the knowledge given to us in revelation.
    {So far, so good!}
    “The ectypal character of theology locks out the idea once and for all that we can have a complete and equivalent knowledge of God, and on the other hand the notion that the creaturely names of God are no more than symbols, products of the poetic imagination, a reflex of one’s inner life.”
    {Yuck!}

    And this bit is icky, too: “d. That our knowledge of God, being ectypal and analogical, is not an equivalent knowledge.”

    It’s surely not “complete and equivalent” (how many times must we say it?!) in scope; but in revealed content it HAS to be “equivalent,” or else (to quote the sage),

    “If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then we have no knowledge of God whatsoever…”

    And, “If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then man can know nothing, and we are all lost.”

    Praise God for propositional truth! No hope without it!

    Hugh

  27. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, to help you get up to speed Pat, here is what Scott Clark just posted on his blog:

    If you’ll read John [Muether’s] book you’ll see that CVT was not much involved in the church politics. It was a difficult case. I’m not sure what I would have done. I really believe that Clark rejected an essential biblical truth (the Creator/creature distinction). See ch. 4 of RRC. It really is basic to Reformed theology going all the way back to the 1520s.

    Of course, S. Clark is just being disingenuous. I think we all know exactly what he would have done.

  28. pat Says:

    What has been going on?

    I may not know all about Scott Clark, but basing most if not all on his book “Recovering a Reformed Tradition”, but when he says ” [a sinful rejection] of “the distinction between the Creator and the creature, which is fundamental to Reformed theology,” I think that he is referring simply to the archetypal/ectypal distinction and not to a denial that there is no coincidence of thought between us and God regarding biblical propositions.

    Again, I find it hard to believe that anyone, including Van Til, would actually deny the coincidence of thought between God’s and ours re biblical statements, though maybe that is what they imply if they press their analogical archetypal/ectypal distinction.

  29. Hugh McCann Says:

    To his credit, Scott Clark said on ‘blog,

    ‘I’ve not hesitated to offer criticisms, even strongly worded criticisms of Van Til… I think CVT’s language about God being “one person” was a monumental mistake.’
    {Yep, especially if it misrepresents God. That’d be akin to blasphemy.}

    ‘It is utterly incompatible with the catholic faith confessed in the catholic creeds and Reformed confessions.’
    {Sounds like a charge of heresy!}

    ‘CVT made other pedagogical mistakes.’
    {O.K. we’re waiting…}

    ‘I’ve criticized his historical accounts as unreliable in important ways.’
    {Charges of falsehood here? No wonder the hard core VT fans get worked up! Scott sounds like he works for the Trinity Foundation!}

    ‘See RRC where I criticized him in print for this very thing.’
    {Hope CVT’s fans read it!}

    {Hugh}

  30. denson Says:

    pat,
    “S.Clark believes that not only the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative? Really? I find that hard to believe.”
    What is the purpose of carrying on about “reformed tradition” other than to present it as some kind of authority? Take for instance this matter of creator/creature distinction. Scott Clark applies it to knowledge in an unbiblical way simply because he thinks he has found something in “reformed tradition” that does so. Never mind that it is demonstratably the nonsense that it is! Reformed theologians are NOT inspired. Only the Bible is.

    Banning people must be for a good reason. I do not think questioning an unscholarly incompetent historian who makes up his own stories or writes from hearsay is good enough reason to ban any one.
    Even I am aware that in the controversies of the thirties and forties, some people were or became “fundamentalists” and people like Francis Schaeffer were part of that crowd(Schaeffer confesses so). Others were confessional(Westminster Confession) like Machen, Gordon Clark, van Til and others. Clark was one of the founding members of the OPC, a confessional denomination and hardly “general evangelical” as Muether would have us believe. Clark wrote, “What do Presbyterians believe?”, a commentary on the Westminister standards that demonstrates Clark’s confessionalism. Are people suppossed to be so stupid as to believe anything so obviously false, in deference to Muether’s papal dignity and bull who also happens to be one of Scott Clark’s friends I suppose? Why does Scott Clark believe that people should not know the truth? Is this not the arrogant religious spirit of Rome and the commmunist party? Muether should be called to account for bearing false witness. After all, this is not just any history, but a history of the people of God. Are there embellished stories in the bible? These people are constipated with ecclesiastical power and believe the truth is not as important as their egos and agendas! Scott Clark covers his dissimulation by alleging that Sean isn’t endowed with gentlemanly graces!! Why does he not take Sean’s query and embody it in his sanitised language and direct it to Muether? I would like to know what Muether has to say about his blantly false piece on Clark and equally gaping ommissions as Robbins pointed out those many years ago!

    Denson

  31. Sean Gerety Says:

    Again, I find it hard to believe that anyone, including Van Til, would actually deny the coincidence of thought between God’s and ours re biblical statements,

    You may find it hard to believe, but Van Til completely and unequivocally rejected ANY point of contact, ANY coincidence, between God’s thoughts and ours. This is Van Tilianism 101. He absolutely rejected any univocal point of contact between God’s thoughts and man’s *even* as God’s thoughts are revealed in Scripture. Besides the many works where Van Til repeated this claim, and being and idea completely central to his derelict doctrine of incomprehensibility, the rejection of any point of contact between God’s knowledge and knowledge possible to man is the centerpiece in Van Til and the faculty of WTS’s complaint against Clark’s ordination in the OPC in the 1940’s. I recommend you find yourself a copy of the Complaint and G. H.Clark’s Answer. Not only does Scott Clark defend Van Til’s view here, but it is the basis for his defense of any number of contradictory so-called “biblical truths” that make up doctrines like the incoherent, irrational, and Arminian “well meant offer.”

  32. denson Says:

    Hugh,
    “Praise God for propositional truth! No hope without it!”
    Amen to that! By the way, I did not imply that you are “one of them” or an “ectypal” head but that the language these theologians use is strained and has lead to the errors that we now have to contend with!
    Further, to understand these matters requires a measure of familliarity with philosophical underpinings to these issues. And many theologians being untrained in philosophy get themselves tangled up not knowing that they are making an ass of themselves! That is why Augustine and Godorn Clark aqcuited themselves well, I think, because of their philosophical backgrounds! Philosophy is unavoidable! Either one confronts it head on or risks unwittingly imbibing its false presuppositions!

    Denson

  33. pat Says:

    “What is the purpose of carrying on about “reformed tradition” other than to present it as some kind of authority? Take for instance this matter of creator/creature distinction. Scott Clark applies it to knowledge in an unbiblical way simply because he thinks he has found something in “reformed tradition” that does so. Never mind that it is demonstratably the nonsense that it is! Reformed theologians are NOT inspired. Only the Bible is.”

    Well, I think S.Clark’s point is that we take our Reformed heritage seriously and not quickly depart from it, that its teaching is likely correct.

    Again, I don’t know that his view is different than many Reformers, is that of Van Til and the complainants of Westminster. Again, I’m not fond of the archetypal/ectypal distinction and how it has been pressed (God CAN’T communicate certain things to us- I think this is what Kuyper thought could not be maintained). Again, this distinction is more than simply asserting that we are creatures and God is the creator. It is what is claimed based on that fact. I think historically it was mainly a quantitative difference in knowledge. Van Til and others (I don’t think S.Clark- at least I haven’t seen anything yet suggesting that) seemed to present the novel idea that it implies a qualitative difference respecting knowing the same biblical propositions.

  34. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yes, Pat, Scott Clark is presenting and defending an historic novelty that has no real basis in the Reformed Tradition. Even if it did, that tradition would be wrong.

  35. Sean Gerety Says:

    Also Pat, if you doubt that Scott Clark’s position is exactly the same as the one advance by Van Til, I suggest you read his piece in, The Pattern of Sound Doctrine. I hope to have a review of it published sometime in the near future, God willing.

  36. pat Says:

    what’s the name of Scott Clark’s blog?

  37. pat Says:

    The link that Hugh gave shows that S.Clark simply wrote a chapter in Van Drunen’s book “the pattern of sound doctrine” and it doesn’t show any connection with Van Til’s thought. Is there more?

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    Concerning the Creator/creature distinction R.S. Clark wrote on his blog and in response to Hugh:

    I’m not saying that Clark did all these things but I’m only trying to explain why the issue was so important and worth contesting.

    If it’s so important and worth contesting then why not contest it instead of banning me from his blog?

    Actually, I didn’t even contest it, I just questioned John Muether’s assertion that CVT was defending Reformed ecclesiology in his attack on Clark. This is a lie and Scott is a hypocrite. Scott is not interested in contesting anything. He’s interested suppressing dissent and silencing debate (one that he would most certainly lose).

  39. pat Says:

    Well, have you made the point of debate/contest the coincidence of thought between ours and God’s? Again, I have yet to see S.Clark even mention this.

    Yes, S.Scott wants to simply assert the archetypal/ectypal distinction, claim it as THE mark of being Reformed, and exclude G.Clark and anyone who denies the distinction as not being Reformed. That I would not agree with, unless one means to assert simply a creature/creator distinction. In any event, one needs to express what one means by it and/or how one applies it.

  40. Hugh McCann Says:

    Denson,

    Thanks for your latest post (all of ’em, actually).

    I loved this statement: “Why the obsfucating terminology, ‘archetypal’ and ‘ectypal’ for something so simple?” Like Latin, I guess such jargon is just too tempting for some.

    Big circle Archy, with littler Ecky circle within it?

    Also, “…to understand these matters requires a measure of familiarity with philosophical underpinings to these issues.”

    And this is where I am lacking. Though I have an MA in biblical studies, my philosophy background is shoddy. I own the requisite tomes by GHC and just needs read ’em!

    Et. al.,

    I quoted the gaggle of Dutch guys that I found to show that not all are as far out as Van Til and his successors.

    We all agree there is a qualitative difference in God’s and man’s knowledge; but HOW are these different? To fully get that, we’d need to be God, yes?

    I DO love Hoeksema’s _The Clark Van Til Debate_ and as a less-than-lay philosopher & wanna-be theologian, I can recommend that clear-headed work to those wondering about the issues.

    Yours,
    Hugh McCann

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

  41. pat Says:

    “We all agree there is a qualitative difference in God’s and man’s knowledge; ”

    No, we don’t. We all agree that there is a quantitative difference. That is, if we know something, it’s the same thing that is known. God knows more propositions, those which He has not revealed to us. But the ones He has, there is a one to one correspondence/coincidence of thought.

  42. Hugh McCann Says:

    Pat,

    Yes, we all know there has to be a quantitative difference, else we’d be God, and he, us.

    But are not God’s thoughts qualitatively different than ours as well, since his knowledge of propositions is inherent,* given that he is the origin of propositions? And our knowledge is derived.*

    These seem to bespeak a qualitative difference.

    Just as we cannot know all his thoughts, so we cannot know the way he knows, but by his blessed grace we can know some of what he knows.

    Hugh

    * Hey, y’all, are these the right terms?

    P.S. ~ This rocks: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/249-250_CVTContro.pdf

  43. pat Says:

    How we know does not affect that we are knowing the same thing. Thus, there is no qualitative difference in the content of knowlwedge.

    Once we know, once we are thinking God’s thoughts after Him, there is no qualitative difference. There is a one to one correspondence/coincidence of thought.

  44. pat Says:

    BTW, the following from the book should be helpful:

    “What,then, is the exact point of difference? According to the complainants, it is this, that, while they hold that the difference between the contents of the knowledge of God and the contents of our knowledge is both quantitative and qualitative, Dr. Clark insists that it is only quantitative.” p.7

  45. Hugh McCann Says:

    Yeouch! Ya mean I’m sounding like Van Til & Co.? 😦

    Thanks, Pat.

    I s’pose too, that I couldn’t know if/how my knowledge of a fact (e.g. ‘David was King in Israel’) was qualitatively different than God’s, could I?

    Food for thought this Pentecost Sunday. Again, thanks!

    Blessings,
    Hugh

  46. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hi! Back again. Just asked our ectypal* pals:

    “How do we know that God has ‘archetypal knowledge’?”

    Thanks,
    Hugh

    * @ Der Heidelblog: the-categorical-distinction-in-berkhof

    Personally, I prefer PayPal.

  47. Hugh McCann Says:

    The answer to my question, “How do we know that God has ‘archetypal knowledge’?”

    R. Scott Clark, June 5, 2010 @ Der H’blog (the-categorical-distinction-in-berkhof):

    Scripture tell us that something is so but it doesn’t tell us what that something is in substance. We know that God is. We know what is he to us (Deus erga nos) but not what he is in himself (in se). The Reformation inherited that distinction from Scotus, among other sources. It was basic to Protestant theology. Luther articulated it as the distinction between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross and between God hidden and God revealed. As H. Selderhuis shows in his work on Calvin’s commentary on the psalms it was basic to Calvin’s theology too. F. Junius articulated the distinction as archetypal v ectypal. It was adopted and advanced by the Reformed orthodox through the 17th century. Turretin wrote, “But when God is set forth as the object of theology, he not to be regarded simply as God in himself (for thus he is incomprehensible [akataleptos] to us) but as revealed and as he has been pleased to manifest himself to us in his word, so tha the divine revelation is the formal relation which comes to be considered in this object.” (1.5.4)

    (Sed quando Deus proponitur ut Obiectum Theologiae, non spectandus est simpliciter ut Deus in se, sic enim nobis est akataleptos (i.e., absconditus); sed quatenus revelatus et ut se in Verbo nobis patefacere dignatus est…)

    Oh…

    (anyone able to translate the Latin?)

    Hugh

  48. Hugh McCann Says:

    Things have come to a pretty pass
    Our romance is growing flat,
    For you like this and the other
    While I go for this and that,
    Goodness knows what the end will be
    Oh I don’t know where I’m at
    It looks as if we two will never be one
    Something must be done:

    You say either and I say either, You say neither and I say neither
    Either, either Neither, neither, Let’s call the whole thing off.

    You like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto
    Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Let’s call the whole thing off

    But oh, if we call the whole thing off, Then we must part
    And oh, if we ever part, then that might break my heart…

    (From “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” by Louis Armstrong.)

  49. Bob Suden Says:

    “(anyone able to translate the Latin?)”

    ??? Please. Clark gives you the the translation above the Latin in his quote of Turretin. It’s standard academic practice/protocol to put the original in the footnotes and the translation in the text.

    Which is to respectfully say, is it any wonder why consequently criticisms of what properly should be the application of the archetypal/ectypal distinction to the question/doctrine of the free offer (not the A/E distinction itself, though that is also criticized) are seen as the ignorant knee jerk reactions of partisan camp followers of GHC?

    Thank you.

  50. Hugh McCann Says:

    Bob,

    I can’t read Latin, and was heretofore unaware of “standard academic practice/ protocol,” so, thank you for the help.

    Bein’ kinda ignorant, I don’t quite understand your respectfully said point.

    Can anyone translate Scott Clark’s English? 🙂

    Back to the issue: the Turretin quote doesn’t seem to be saying anything that any of us (Clarkian or Van Tilian) wouldn’t say. What is especially A&E about it?

    Hugh

  51. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sent to Dr Clark this AM ~

    I reframe my question thusly, Is God’s “archetypal” knowledge his immediate, original/ innate knowledge of things (including our all thoughts), whereas ours is mediated, obtained/ derived, yet we both know some of the same facts/ propositions?

    Would you agree with this statement?:

    “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words, then the Bible is a merely human book. If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then we have no knowledge of God whatsoever… If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then man can know nothing, and we are all lost.”

    Again, of course, we know but a we bit of what God knows, but we do know something of the everything that he knows.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

  52. Hugh McCann Says:

    Oops: We know but a wee bit of what God knows, but we do know something of the everything that he knows.

  53. Hugh McCann Says:

    Scott Clark* answers:

    No, we have only analogical knowledge. Period. Our intellects do not intersect with God’s. Yes, {G.H.}Clark did take issue with Turretin. Read the essay in the Strimple festschrift and the chapter in RRC on this topic.

    {Argh! Gotta buy more books?! Thanks, Scott. But I still think I think some of God’s thoughts after him.}

    Clark, Hoeksema and others departed from the historic Reformed view on this question. They sided with Thomas Aquinas (and, ironically, Jacob Arminius).

    {Do the Strimplefest or RRC reveal/ explain the Clark & Hoeksema/ Aquinas & Arminius connection? I know that Gerstner was an embarrassingly avid fan of St Tom, but was unaware that C&H were, too.}

    CVT didn’t invent the doctrine of analogical knowledge. He inherited it (whether he knew it or not) from the 16th-century orthodox (e.g., Junius).

    * I give RSC’s his take b/c he’s a well-read, avid A&E Van Tilian, and can prolly read Dutch in addition to Latin…

  54. Hugh McCann Says:

    How it now all makes sense:

    R. Scott Clark, on June 7, 2010 at 10:41 am Said:
    Hugh, Yes, the essay in the Strimple festschrift shows the connection. I’m not claiming that they did so intentionally, at least not in every case, but that they ended up in the same place for similar reasons.

    Hugh McCann, on June 7, 2010 at 11:17 am Said:
    Thanks Scott. However, as my brother has said (in reading this exchange): ‘If this is true: “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s,” then God doesn’t know everything because He doesn’t know my thoughts.* Plus, everything RSC wrote below is only analogically true. Therefore I can reject it and not have any worries… Who cares who “sided” with whom?’ Amen.
    * Would you say that God DOES know our thoughts? Then either you contradict yourself, or God knows our thoughts analogically?
    Grace & Peace, Hugh

    R. Scott Clark, on June 7, 2010 at 11:27 am Said:
    Hugh, God is omniscient. We are not. I think you learned that in sem. God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.

    Hugh McCann, on June 7, 2010 at 11:32 am Said:
    Scott, “God can know what I know”? ~ Then our intellects do intersect with God’s at some points.
    You are apparently (w/ an antimony/paradox?) contradicting yourself: “Our intellects do not intersect with God’s.” vs. “God can know what I know without my knowing what he knows.” Sadly, neither of us were taught logic in sem. Hugh 😦

  55. denson Says:

    Hi Hugh,
    Scott Clark’s logic skills seem in need of an extreme makeover! But then, being a good van Tillian, I suppose he cannot let logic get in the way of a good paradox! This explains his appeals to “Reformed tradition” for authority, never mind that “reformed tradition” may be illogical and plain wrong! In any case, it does not seem to me that the reformers in positing the ectypal/achetypal distinction meant what Scott Clark and van Til mean by those terms!
    The charge of Arminianism and Thomism is laughable and amounts to no more than gratuitious insult and slender! Thomy boy is Mr Analogy himself. G Clark and Hoeksema opposed analogous knowledge! How does this make them Thomists? Is this another van Tilian paradox?
    Granted Aquinus and Arminius may have believed in the coincidence of God’s and man’s knowledge, they were right on this point, even if we disagree with the rest of their theology! We all think according to the rules of logic first discovered by Aristotle, but this does not make us Aristotelians or pagan Greeks!

    Denson

  56. Bob Suden Says:

    Hugh,

    You don’t need to know latin per se. You ought to be able to figure it out from akataleptos being in parentheses in both statements and the cognate terms in latin that parallel the English.

    Read the previous posts. Some people dissed the A/E distinction from the get go. There is nothing wrong with the distinction. Only the misuse of it.

    RSC in the Puritanboard thread does qualify things – which if I remember correctly, he didn’t do in Pattern Sound Doctrine – we can’t know what God knows the way God knows it. Hence our knowledge is analogous to God’s. But who quarrels with that? Not GHClark. He affirms the intuitive/derivative differences in knowing.

  57. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey Bob,

    Good (I think) discussion @ Heidelblog, too, under “The Categorical Distinction in Berkhof,” where I said on June 8, 2010 at 11:18am:

    D.,

    You said, “Guys like Berkhof are simply saying that God Himself cannot be reduced to a mere set of propositions (contra Gordon Clark). Propositions are containable and controllable. God isn’t.”

    Of course God cannot be so “reduced” existentially, nor is he “containable & controllable.” No one says he is.

    But how do we speak of & think about God? We think and speak ectypally/ analogically. And hence, we have no other way to think & speak about God _except_ through propositions. Hence, our creeds & confessions, and endless arguments, books, & blogs!

    As you well put it: “God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand.” He’s not reduced or diminished or contained or controlled, but he is really understood!

    He lisps, as you remind us Calvin said. That’s all the “reduction” we need — if you want to use that word — his lisp.

    Or, as you say: “He [God] sees stereoscopically, with infinite depth, while we see with an eye patch called “creaturehood” making Truth look flat. Since we are so limited, God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand (Calvin’s “lisp”), language that is necessarily limited (but not false or uncertain).

    That “flat-screen look,” or “lisping language” is precisely what our statements (“propositions,” if you like) about God are.

    Hugh

  58. Hugh McCann Says:

    This is a quote and should have been closed with quote mark:

    “He [God] sees stereoscopically, with infinite depth, while we see with an eye patch called “creaturehood” making Truth look flat. Since we are so limited, God reduced His thoughts into language that we can understand (Calvin’s “lisp”), language that is necessarily limited (but not false or uncertain).”

    (By Derek Ashton at H’blog)

  59. Hugh McCann Says:

    One more gem to share:

    A H’blog:

    {Quoting D. Ashton:} “Guys like Berkhof are simply saying that God Himself cannot be reduced to a mere set of propositions (contra Gordon Clark).”

    {Jason Loh Said:} Precisely! Sory to say this, this was what Clark was SO mistaken! (that is UNORTHODOX). This has triadological, christological and anthropological implications. For Clark, person is reducible to propositions. This is not biblical, Chalcedonian and Reformational. Yes, Derek has hit the nail!

    *Hugh McCann, on June 9, 2010 at 10:04 am Said:

    That sounds kind of funny: “This is not biblical, Chalcedonian and Reformational”

    when all these are nothing if not…

    …propositions…

    God to us
    in our creatureliness,
    with our analogical apprehension of him,
    by our ectypal understanding of him,
    is revealed to us in a series of propositions.

    Infallibly in Scripture, and more-or-less infallibly (wink) in creeds, confessions, etc.

    Hugh

  60. Cliffton Says:

    Hugh: But how do we speak of & think about God? We think and speak ectypally/ analogically. And hence, we have no other way to think & speak about God _except_ through propositions. Hence, our creeds & confessions, and endless arguments, books, & blogs!

    Cliffton: It is not merely that we have no other way to think and speak about God. This leaves room for thinking that there are other possible ways to think about God, but just not available to man. This would be false…and blasphemous. We have no other way to think about God because THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. God necessarily thinks logically. That is, His mind is structured according to the laws of logic and the content of his mind, or rather, His mind itself is Truth. Truth is only propositional, otherwise it is non-cognitive. I would be cautious anytime someone brings up this notion of an A/E distinction. They do not mean by it simply that God is God and man is not. The issue of how we know is irrelevant when discussing the content of knowledge. It may however be relevant to the question why something is true. And yet, even here, the “why something is true” is itself Truth and therefore necessarily propositional.

  61. pat Says:

    Very good Cliffton.

    Again, the main issue with the A/E distinction seems to be how it has been historically applied, which according to Kuyper cannot be maintained, which I believe refers to this idea that God is beyond propositions, an unknowable God, who, even if He wished, could not reveal Himself to us. This seems to be what RSC and others are maintaining.

    The other issue is how God thinks of the statements/propositions He reveals. CVT would say He thinks of them as true “as far as it goes.” That is, there is more truth connected with the biblical statements that He has not revealed. But again, that is a matter of quantity rather than quality of knowledge. For we are all thinking the same thing, one for one, regarding each biblical statement.

  62. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey Clifton,

    I agree. I have quoted you at H’blog today.

    I am using their language to try to prove a point, but I am aware of the dangers. I’m lisping, being A&E to our ecty-pals that I might by any means win some to thinking outside their boxes. (Have had modest success thus far.)

    “We have no other way to think about God because THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. God necessarily thinks logically.” Agreed.

    But here’s the Berkhof quote that got me asking “How do we know that God has archetypal knowledge?” No one can answer this of course, but are we not all trying to grapple with how a necessary, holy, infinite, eternal Being thinks and shares His thoughts with fallen, finite, temporal beings?

    Louis, Louis: “Alongside of the archetypal knowledge of God, found in himself, there is also an ectypal knowledge of Him, given to man by revelation. The latter is related to the former as a copy to the original, and therefore does not possess the same measure of clearness and perfection. All our knowledge of God is derived from His self-revelation in nature and in Scripture. Consequently, our knowledge of God is on the one hand ectypal and analogical, but on the other hand also true and accurate, since it is a copy of the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself” (Berkhof, ST, 35).

    So, on the one hand, acc. to LB et. al., our knowledge (of God, etc.) is less clear than God’s, imperfect, derived, ectypal, analogical, while being “also true and accurate.”

    I guess that DOES sound dangerously akin to a contradiction! Hmmm…

    Hugh


  63. “I guess that DOES sound dangerously akin to a contradiction! Hmmm…”

    That’s why I prefer GHC over Berkhof, I suppose. Let Scott or whoever else call me a Clarkian fanatic if he wants; the man just makes sense.

  64. Hugh McCann Says:

    Patrick,

    Yes & amen.

  65. denson Says:

    Nice posts guys!
    The mind boggles at the views of some “reformed” theologians! How can we even know that there is Archetypal knowledge and what it is, if all we are capable of is ecytypal knowledge? Asserting the unkowable is self-contradictory and just plain insanity!
    The word of God says God is truth, and that we shall know the truth, not an analogy or “copy”. In any case just what is a “copy” of the truth? Jesus praying in John 17 said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know thee the only true God!” Knowing God is knowing the truth and this knowledge is eternal life. God is NOT “behind”, “under, “more than” or “above” the truth. He IS the Truth! And truth is only and only propositional, otherwise God cannot be known! Christ is called the Word! How anyone can express no objection to the bible calling God the Word, the Logos, the Truth but huff and puff when it is pointed out to them that truth is propositional is hard to explain! To say Clark was mistaken shows that these people do not read their bibles at all or if they do, they do not believe it and oppose anyone who does, such as Gordon Clark! They have no understanding of the truth!

    Denson


  66. Ok, so I was thinking about this yesterday and I was wondering what you guys thought. I’ll try to make it coherent…

    We can know the same propositions that God knows, but not the same way He knows them, not with the same depth and understanding. Example, both God and I think the same propositional thought: “Jesus walked around in Jerusalem.” Obviously, this is something that I can know.

    However, contained (implied?) within the proposition “Jesus walked around in Jerusalem” is a vast number of other propositions, detailing the meaning of the words “Jesus” (Who is He, what does He look like, etc.), “walked” (*exactly* where did He walk in Jerusalem, etc) and “Jerusalem” (God knows the exact dimensions of Jerusalem throughout history, including every event and movement of dust inside its walls). I’m thinking this is similar to assuming “The Bible alone is the Word of God” as the axiom. Every word in the axiom is “loaded;” it has a definition that is assumed.

    So, now what I’m confused about is this: If the above is true, then is that a quantitative or qualitative difference? One the one hand, it seems quantitative: Both God and I know that Jesus walked, but God knows many other propositions, attached to that one, that I don’t.

    On the other hand, I can see how it could be considered qualitative as well, since it deals with how God and I know the same proposition, “Jesus walked around in Jerusalem.” His understanding is infinitely more than mine; my grasp of that proposition only scratches the surface of its full meaning.

    Either way, there is definitely *some* correspondence between God’s thoughts and mine! I just know a tiny bit of what He knows. I fail to see how this violates the Creator/creation distinction, either. If I have a pet cat, and I paint an image of the cat onto canvas, I now have both the real thing and an image. They are two very different things, one made of flesh and bone, the other of paint and canvas. Yet they both share a certain quality: They both look like a cat (one in 3D, the other in 2D).

    In the same way, if we are the image and likeness of God, certainly we are not God! This upholds the C/c distinction. Despite this, there are certain things we share. I believe this to be the rational mind, which thinks the same thoughts God does, albeit without the same depth of understanding (like the 3D and 2D cats).

    *whew* Hope that made sense, let me know what you guys think.

  67. pat Says:

    “On the other hand, I can see how it could be considered qualitative as well, since it deals with how God and I know the same proposition, “Jesus walked around in Jerusalem.” His understanding is infinitely more than mine; my grasp of that proposition only scratches the surface of its full meaning.”

    When it comes to viewing the statement “Jesus walked around in Jerusalem,” again, both God and us are attaching the same meaning to it; the proposition is the objective meaning of a declarative sentence (i.e., a statement). Knowing/understanding more about the terms in the statement again is a matter of quantitative knowledge/understanding. Again, knowledge has to do with the truth of a statement’s objective meaning, not about how one views a statement in relation to other statements one knows.

  68. Hugh McCann Says:

    I have given up on “the_categorical_ distinction_in_Berkhof_blah_blah_blah” @ H’blog.

    Thank you Patrick, Brandon, and of course, Sean, for your help. Sorry to have let down the side, but I am way out of my league.

    Profiting by reading G.H. (not R.S.) Clark,

    Hugh

  69. Hugh McCann Says:

    And the beat goes on…..

    On June 15, 2010* I asked:

    Brandon, does Bavinck actually SAY this sort of thing (below), or was Robbins overstating the case?

    “If the human words of Scripture are not also God’s own divine words, then the Bible is a merely human book. If the truths revealed in Scripture are not what God really thinks, then we have no knowledge of God whatsoever, which is, of course, exactly what Herman Bavinck teaches in his systematic theology. If man does not and cannot know what God knows, if there is and can be no identity of content between God’s knowledge and man’s, then man can know nothing, and we are all lost.” [from _Can the Orthodox Presbyterian Church be Saved?_ by John Robbins]

    Thanks,
    Hugh

    On June 15, 2010 Brandon Wilkins replied:

    Hi Hugh,
    I don’t think that I have come across Bavinck talking about the necessity of an “identity” of content between God and man, but I also have not been looking for it, per se, as I have been reading Bavinck.
    However, I have found him reaffirming the classic archetypal/ectypal distinction… Regrettably, it appears I have misshelved my copy of Bavinck’s Prolegomena. When I find it I will post that passage.

    *”Bavinck Contra Biblicism” @ A Pilgrim’s Theology ~ See http://theologiainvia.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/bavinck-contra-biblicism/#comment-339 for fun Bavinck quick quotes!

    Hugh


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