Choosing Paradox – Part Two

In part one of my review of James Anderson’s Paradox in Christian Theology we examined one of the central premises in the book and that  trinitarian orthodoxy entails paradox.  According to Anderson orthodoxy requires that we think of God as being in some sense both one person and three persons.  Anything less it turns out is to cross over into heterodoxy. As a result, Anderson simply chooses a contradictory conception of the Trinity and asserts that only by maintaining a strict numerical identity between the unity and plurality of the Godhead can any theory remain within the bounds of orthodoxy.  Therefore, the idea of a generic unity obtaining between persons of the Godhead, sometimes called the “social trinitarian” view, and a position advanced by theologians as diverse as Gordon Clark, Richard Swinburne, Thomas Morris and others, is dismissed as heterodox despite providing a biblical, rational, and non-contradictory solution to the problem of the Trinity.  As we examined in part one, only a very stilted and narrow reading of history would require the sort of numeric unity advocated by Anderson.  Besides, the strictures on orthodoxy that Anderson requires from his reading of history are not has hard and fast as he suggests.  As Gordon Clark observed:

The present writer has the impression that some theologians count species, that some have no clear notion of numerical unity, that some therefore oscillate, and that many are confused.  This judgment is justified because hardly any of them study the theories of individuation.  (The Trinity, 103)

Therefore, Anderson’s insistence on a contradictory understanding of the Trinity, where God is said to be simultaneously one person and three persons, is not a requirement of orthodoxy at all, and, in fact, is a position that orthodoxy positively prohibits. As previously mentioned, I think many Christians would be shocked to learn that according to Anderson Van Til’s well known assertion that “the whole Godhead, is one person” is not only acceptable, but is perfectly in line with Athanasian orthodoxy.  In short, when it comes to the Trinity and the argument that orthodoxy requires believing in paradox we judge Anderson’s claims to be a failure.

The next doctrine on the chopping block, and one that Anderson believes exemplifies one of the central paradoxes of the Christian faith, is the Incarnation.  Here the problems entailed in the doctrine of the Trinity are considerably magnified. Concerning the definition of Chalcedon where Jesus Christ is said to be one person with two natures Anderson puts the problem this way:

If the doctrine of the Trinity is inherently paradoxical . . . then the doctrine of the Incarnation necessarily inherits that paradoxicality. Here is the argument: if the Son assumed a human nature, and the Son is God, then God assumed a human nature; but if the Father did not assume a human nature, and the Father is God, then God did *not* assume a human nature; therefore, God both did and did not assume a human nature. (79,80)

I would agree, if the Trinity entails a paradox then any theory of the Incarnation would similarly entail a paradox as well.  On the other hand, I’m hard pressed to see how if one begins with a non-paradoxical, or, rather, a non-contradictory conception of the Trinity, that it would somehow necessitate a contradictory understanding of the Incarnation.  Anderson agrees and in a footnote states:

It might be objected that this presupposes an Augustinian model of the Trinity, whereas alternative models (e.g., social trinitarianism) would render the argument obviously invalid . . . This argument is correct.  However . . . my conclusions . . .  do not stand or fall on this point.

As we will see the difficulties that obtain in the traditional formulation of the Incarnation where Jesus Christ is said to be one person with two natures needs to be faced regardless if one begins with the untenable and admittedly contradictory notion of numerical identity that Anderson prefers, or the non-contradictory conception of generic unity along with a clear and unambiguous theory of individuation that we find in, say, Gordon Clark.  That’s because, the difficulty of the Incarnation is its difficulty.

To take but one of many examples of a paradoxical implication derived from Chalcedonian orthodoxy, Anderson provides the following:

(K1) Christ did not know1 every fact (by virtue of his humanity).

(K2) Christ did know2 every fact (by virtue of his divinity). (297)

Clearly, to say that Christ both knows and does not know every fact entails a contradiction and we know from Scripture that Jesus was ignorant of some things otherwise he could not grow in wisdom (Luke 2:40)  neither did he know the time and day of his return (Matthew 24:36).   Whereas, the omniscient Second Person of the Trinity cannot grow in wisdom nor can He be ignorant of anything without ceasing to be God.   Consequently,  how can one person be ignorant of some things yet be ignorant of nothing?  To get around this and other sticky problems concerning the person of Christ, Anderson constructs an elaborate system in order to minimize the force of maintaining such a blatant contradiction concerning the person of Jesus Christ.  While there are many aspects to Anderson’s detailed explanation that would be interesting to examine, like his use of Alvin Plantinga’s epistemological scheme of warrant in order to justify as “rational” the belief in inherently contradictory doctrines that, we are told, are found throughout the teachings of Scripture, I want to briefly focus on just one.  According to Anderson what makes the above example a paradox and not a contradiction is due to an “unarticulated equivocation among key terms involved in the claims,” or what Anderson anagrammatically calls a MACRUE. (222)

Concerning MACRUEs Anderson writes:

I have argued that the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the Incarnation should be interpreted as MACRUEs, that is, as merely apparent contradictions resulting from unarticulated equivocation.  On this view, some of the terms employed in those claims [i.e., (K1) & (K2)] should be construed as being related *analogically* rather than univocally. If the relevant semantic distinctions could be identified, the logical consistency of the claims could be demonstrated; but in the absence of information *specifying* these distinctions, formally consistent expressions of these doctrines (and their implications) can still be constructed by indicating their presence explicitly with suitable notation . . . In the statements (K1) and (K2) the terms  know1 and  know2 are such that both relate analogically (or one relates univocally and the other analogically) to the term *know* in a statement such as ‘John knows where Anne lives.’ Consequently, we can say that (K1) and (K2) should be treated as *semantically approximate* to what would be deemed the ‘ordinary” reading of those claims, that is, those interpretations in which each term is ascribed a univocal sense – just as the claim ‘God is wise’ should be treated as semantically approximate to a reading in which the term *wise* is univocal with the same term in ‘Socrates is wise.”   (297, 300)

According to Anderson, when we say Jesus does and does not know the time of his return we are simply recognizing an unarticulated equivocation on what it means to know in each of the claims. It could be that the sense of the term know could be understood in such a way “that the relevant distinctions could in principle be articulated and explained is sufficient grounds for distinguishing a MAC [merely apparent contradiction] from a genuine contradiction.”(222) On the other hand, it could be that we can never know the relevant distinctions so that we can harmonize (K1) and (K2).  Consequently, it would seem that attempting to distinguish a MAC from a genuine contradiction is a distinction without meaning.  Rather than Christians being rational for believing contradictory claims concerning the person of Christ or the Trinity, it would appear that Anderson’s MACRUEs are nothing more than an elaborate attempt to rationalize and deflect the charge that the Christian faith is as irrational and as absurd as the enemies of the Christian faith, and even some of its presumed “friends,” have always said it is.

As evidence that Anderson’s scheme is nothing more than a complex series of rationalizations designed to mitigate the force of the claim that Christianity is, at its heart, irrational (at least Anderson’s understanding of it), one only has to look at the implications Anderson’s scheme has for apologetics.  One of the central methods in apologetics, and one for example that Gordon Clark employs in his many books, is the use of the argumentum ad absurdum.  The goal in such cases, whether trying to refute Atheism, Neo-orthodoxy, Behaviorism, Romanism, Logical Positivism, or any other competing system setting itself up against the Christian faith, is to argue in an ad hominem fashion in order to demonstrate that beginning with their own presuppositions that a completing system ultimately refutes itself; i.e., that the competing system is not supported by its own underlying presuppositions or axiom.  However, if the truths of Scripture, which make up the underlying presupposition or axiom of the Christian system, can be show to be self-contradictory and hence self-refuting, where does that leave the Christian apologist?  The question arises; if Christians can point to MACRUEs to explain away contradictory claims in their own doctrinal formulations, couldn’t the proponents of other non-Christian religions and philosophies similarly assert that the contradictions inherent in their own systems are not really contradictions at all but are instead MACRUEs?  Couldn’t they also similarly appeal to “mystery” in their own defense when confronting attacks against their anti-Christian systems?  Also, what becomes of the Westminster Confession’s claim that one of the central evidences that the Scriptures are the Word of God rests on the claim that the Scriptures present to the mind a “consent of all the parts”?  Shouldn’t such bold claims be tempered in light of MACRUEs wrapped in mysteries that we are assured by Anderson are sprinkled throughout the Christian system?   It would seem so.

However, according to Anderson:

The most one need concede is that a non-Christian could *also* be rational in believing that the paradoxical doctrines of *his* religion are true.  Furthermore, the rationality of those beliefs would still be contingent on the *truth* of the religion in question; for according to the RAPT model, the rationality of Christian doctrinal beliefs depends on whether or not biblical theism is, in fact the case. (284)

Note carefully, the rationality of “Christian doctrinal beliefs” depend not on whether the belief in the Scriptures themselves are true, but on whether biblical theism is true.   This is a necessary move in Anderson’s scheme simply because if the truth of any given proposition is evidenced by its logical harmony to other true propositions, and not by MACRUEs, then the Confessional claims concerning the evidences and truth of Scripture, not to mention logic in general, must be curbed.  Anderson is left begging the question for according to him the central doctrines of the Christian faith derived from Scripture, including but not limited to the Trinity and the Incarnation, do not logically cohere, and, rather than there being a “consent of all the parts” we are left with apparent contradictions resulting from an “unarticulated equivocation” on critical terms central to our doctrinal formulations.  Christianity is therefore not unique among the religions and philosophies of the world and any apologetic method that seeks to demonstrate the self-refuting nature of any completing system on the basis of a reductio ad absurdum needs to be reconsidered.

Admittedly, Anderson tries to limit the force of his position and the use of MACRUEs along with the accompanying appeals to “mystery” to other “theistic religions whose teachings are grounded in special revelation from a personal deity.” While I am not at all convinced that he is at all successful in so limiting this objection, this still means that anti-Christian religious systems may also rationally appeal to MACRUEs and “mystery” when advancing contradictions in their  own systems.  According to Anderson this is a perfectly acceptable trade off:

If it turns out that adherents of the latter two religions [Judaism and Islam] can mirror the Christian’s appeal to mystery in defense of their own paradoxical teachings, then this is the price to be exacted for reconciling orthodox Christian doctrines with the rationality of Christian faith.  In my estimation, it is a price worth paying. (285)

Christians are simply hamstrung when confronting the contradictory claims of Islam, Judaism, and any number of competing anti-Christian religions.  Even if we grant for the sake of argument that an appeal to MACRUEs wrapped in “mystery” are warranted if and only if the religion is “theistic” and “grounded in special revelation from a personal deity,” then are Christians on equal epistemic footing with Roman Catholics when trying to expose the contradictory claims made by followers of this and other competing theological systems?  It would seem so.  Moving things closer to home, how about when confronting the contradictory claims made by Federal Visionists concerning doctrines as diverse as the covenant, election, reprobation, baptism, union with Christ, justification, imputation, not to mention the very nature of faith?  Can’t Federal Visionists currently disturbing the church likewise appeal to MACRUEs and “mystery” when pressed on their own contradictory doctrinal formulations?  Are not Federal Visionists similarly warranted in their assertions that the contradictions inherent in their own aberrant and deadly doctrines are not “real” but are instead the result of “merely apparent contradictions resulting from unarticulated equivocations” found in Scripture?  Again, it would seem so.

But, whether coming from Roman Catholics, Federal Visionists, apostate Jews, or even followers of Islam, where are these “unarticulated equivocations” derived?  From their respective reading of their own scriptures of course.  The Roman Catholic Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or any other “theistic religions whose teachings are grounded in special revelation from a personal deity,” real or imagined, are all on equal epistemic footing in regard to apparent contradictions inherent in their systems and are all warranted in their appeal to “mystery” in their defense.  For most Christians I would think this is a price too high to pay when trying to reconcile “Christian doctrines with the rationality of the Christian faith.”  I would think the preferred course of action, and one that we saw in part one that is supported by the Reformed confessions, is that if a particular Christian doctrine cannot be reconciled with the “rationality of the Christian faith,” then perhaps the doctrine is not really Christian at all, or, at the very least, needs to be reconsidered or revised.  As the Westminster Confession of Faith put it: “all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture,” therefore “All [and not just some] synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred” (WCF 1,10, 31.4).  There is simply no reason from a Christian perspective to think that if a particular doctrinal formulation or definition  cannot be reconciled with the rest of Scripture that the doctrine needs to be believed.

As we saw in part one there is no compelling reason to believe in a contradictory theory of the Trinity where it is believed, as it is by Van Til and his followers, that God is both one person and three persons and that this is the only view compatible with Athanasian orthodoxy.  If that were the case, and thankfully it is not, then we could safely conclude that Athanasian orthodoxy either needs to be revised or reconsidered in light of Scripture.  Thankfully, and apart from Anderson’s objections to the contrary, there is nothing in the orthodox creedal statement concerning the Trinity that requires Christians to affirm anything remotely like an “apparent contradiction” concerning the unity and plurality of the Godhead.  Further there is nothing magic concerning the length of time a particular creedal formulation has been held.  Time cannot determine either the validity or soundness of any creedal statement.  Neither can ecumenism determine its truth.

The question now is how can one navigate around the Incarnation and explain how Jesus can both know and not know all things (Anderson’s (K1) and (K2) above). Admittedly, the problem of the Incarnation is considerably more puzzling.  Gordon Clark put the problem this way:

The usual theological treatment of the problem is so self-contradictory that nearly any escape looks promising. After stating that Jesus was a man, a “true” man, the theologians continue by arguing that he was not a man at all — he was only a “nature.” For them the boy in the temple and the assistant carpenter in Nazareth was some set of qualities attaching to the Second Person. But this is impossible for two reasons. First, it attaches contradictory characteristics to a single Person. He is both omnipotent and frail; he is both omnipresent and localized; he is omniscient, but he is ignorant of some things. In the second place, closely related to the first, the characteristics of an ordinary man cannot possibly attach to Deity. The Logos never gets tired or thirsty; the Logos never increases in either stature or wisdom. The Logos is eternal and immutable. How then can these human characteristics possibly be characteristics of God? But by irresponsibly assigning such qualities to God, the theologians contradict their other statement that Jesus was a true man. Even the word true betrays the weakness of their position. Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay. The Scripture simply says, ‘The Man Christ Jesus.’” (The Incarnation,. 76-77)

The question is simply; how does Chalcedonian orthodoxy account for two contradictory natures residing in one person?  As we saw above, Anderson asks this question too but concludes that in the case of Jesus knowing all things and not knowing all things, along with a whole list of other contradictions resulting from the one person/two natures theory, that this is just an apparent contradiction resulting from an unarticulated equivocation.  But, an unarticulated equivocation derived first and foremost from God’s Word. God simply has not revealed enough information to us in Scripture so that we, as His finite human creatures, even enlightened by the Holy Spirit,  might harmonize these apparent contradictions at the bar of human reason.  In this case the so-called “biblical paradoxes”result from the insufficiency of Scripture to provide us with the information needed to eliminate contradictions found in the Incarnation and in a host of other central Christian doctrines.  It’s not that our theory may be in error or that it might need some overdue revision (recall Anderson maintains that the ecumenical creeds are in essence sacrosanct); any confusion or contradictions that might arise as we try to square the creeds with the biblical data are the direct result from the inadequacy of Scripture to provide a solution.   Anderson writes:

This does not at all imply that what is revealed is not *true* . . . It merely indicates that what is revealed is not the *whole* truth; while adequate for out needs, it will inevitably lack precision to a greater or lesser degree. (140)

Fortunately all is not lost.  After examining and dismissing as problematic the proposed solution advanced by defenders of the kenotic theories where Christ the Second Person is said to have laid his non-communicable attributes aside in the Incarnation, Anderson points to a way out specifically in the two-mind or dual centers of consciousness theory advanced by Thomas Morris and others. Concerning Morris’ theory Anderson writes:

. . . the Definition of Chalcedon does not explicitly endorse a ‘two minds’ or ‘two consciousnesses’ view of Christ, but neither does it explicitly rule out such a view. No doubt something approximating Morris’s view, albeit less clearly articulated, was favoured by Antiochene school of christology. Indeed, a dual psychological perspective is intimated by the Definition itself through its claim (echoed by the Athanasian Creed) that Christ’s humanity entailed the possession of a ‘rational soul’. . . It cannot be denied that Morris ‘divides’ the two natures in *some* sense, partitioning as he does the consciousness, experiences, and beliefs of Christ with respect to each nature. However, one would be hard-pressed to argue that Morris’s view falls outside the boundaries of orthodoxy laid down by Chalcedon, given the difficulty of determining with sufficient precision how the strictures of the Definition are to be understood. (93,94)

So what is this theory that falls within the “boundaries of orthodoxy laid down by Chalcedon”? Quite simply, and according to Morris:

There is first what we can call the eternal mind of God the Son with its distinctively divine consciousness . . . encompassing the full scope of omniscience.  And in addition there is a distinctly earthy consciousness that came into existence and grew and developed as the boy Jesus grew and developed.  It drew its visual imagery from what the eyes of Jesus saw, and its concepts from the languages he learned.  The earthy range of consciousness, and self-consciousness, was thoroughly human, Jewish, and first-century Palestinian in nature.

We can view the two ranges of consciousness (and, analogously, the two noetic structures encompassing them) as follows: The divine mind of God the Son contained, but was not contained by, his earthly mind, or range of consciousness.  That is to say, there was what can be called an asymmetric accessing relation between the two minds. Think, for example, of two computer programs or informational systems, one containing the but contained by the other.  The divine mind had full and direct access to the earthly, human experience resulting from the Incarnation, but the earthly consciousness did not have such full and direct access to the content of the overarching omniscience proper to the Logos, but only such access, on occasion, as the divine mind allowed it to have. There thus was a metaphysical and personal depth to the man Jesus lacking in the case of every individual who is merely human. (The Logic of God Incarnate, 102, 103 – emphasis added)

Here we have a theory of the Incarnation that is within the boundaries of Chalcedonian orthodoxy that “allows us to avoid the absurdities to which orthodoxy has always seemed vulnerable.” (LoGI, 103)  Morris’ theory explains how Jesus could grow in wisdom, thirst, be ignorant of some things, be tempted, die, etc.  Morris’ theory seems to answer Clark’s objections above and explains how one person can have two contradictory natures while avoiding Anderson’s charge of paradox.  So, what could be wrong?  Well, a problem arises when we ask the question, what is a person?  Anderson puts the situation this way:

If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features *without* those features being necessarily owned by an particular person.  Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out. If experiences are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of *one* person with *two* distinct consciousnesses (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other). (97,98)

I think this is a reasonable objection and one I believe is in sympathy with concerns raised  Gordon Clark.  For example, in advancing his own theory of individuation Clark writes:

Accordingly the proposal is that man is a congeries, a system, sometimes an agglomeration of miscellany, but at any rate a collection of thoughts.  A man is what he thinks: and no two men think precisely the same combination. (The Trinity, 106)

And, again:

Therefore, since God is Truth, we shall define *person,* not as a composite of sensory impressions, as Hume did, but, rejecting with him the meaningless term *substance,* we shall define person as a composite of truths.  A bit more exactly, since all men make mistakes and believe some falsehoods, the definition must be a composite of propositions.  As a man thinketh in his (figurative) heart, so is he.  A man *is* what he *thinks.* (The Incarnation, 54)

Now, admittedly, Clark answers Anderson’s objection and agrees that a person is his mind, his consciousness, or simply the thoughts of his (figurative) heart.  And, since no two persons have precisely the same set of thoughts we can then individuate the Persons of the Trinity and one man from another.  Interestingly too, when thinking on the two-person theory advanced by Clark in The Incarnation prior to reading Morris, I conceived of the relationship between the divine and human persons in Clark’s theory exactly the same way Morris describes the relationship that obtains between the divine and earthly minds in Christ as  “an asymmetric accessing relation between the two minds,” or, in Clark’s case, between the two persons.  Simply, if a person is a given set of propositions (which are the meanings of declarative sentences and not the sentences themselves), I would think the two person theory could perhaps be pictured as a smaller circle expanding (i.e, as in growing in wisdom, ignorant of some things, etc.,) within a larger circle represented by the sum total of true propositions in the Second Person.  Further, since Jesus was also born without sin, his thoughts, as opposed to the thoughts of every other man who has ever come into existence, including the inspired thoughts of the Apostles and prophets, and as they are completely contained within the thoughts of the Second Person, could only be true all of the time (there are many other additional implications of this theory, like the relationship of the doctrine of eternal generation to the human person so that Jesus could rightly see himself both as the human son of Mary and Joseph and as the eternal Son of the Father).

Also paralleling Morris’ theory are John Robbins’ concluding thoughts in The Incarnation written due to the death of Clark prior to finishing the manuscript:

The relationship that obtains between the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Jesus is unique, unlike that between the Logos and every other man who comes into the world (see John 1:9). The Logos did not merely light the mind of Christ; the Logos Himself is fully in Christ. Christ could therefore say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” No mere prophet could make such an astounding claim. Prophets, inspired by God, possess some of the divine propositions. Christ, however, possess them all, as the author of Hebrews argues in the first chapter. *All* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

If, as seems to be the case, we now have a solution to the puzzles of the Incarnation, a solution that avoids the contradictions and meaningless words of the traditional formulations, a solution that is supported by Scripture itself, we are obliged to accept it. Jesus Christ was and is both God and man, a divine person and a human person. To deny either is to fall into error. Once the key terms are defined and clearly understood, the Incarnation is an even more stupendous and awe-inspiring miracle than the Church has hitherto surmised. – J.W.R.

However, since Clark explicitly advances a two-person theory of the Incarnation (where a person is defined as his thoughts or mind) , whereas Morris theory merely implies a two-person theory (where a mind is thought to be something a person has as opposed to something a person is), can it be that in successfully avoiding paradox that both Clark and Morris have fallen into the two-person error of Nestorianism? The answer on both counts has to be, no.

In the case of Clark where the charge of Nestorianism appears to be easily made, Clark faces this charge and answers it head on:

Some unfriendly critics will instantly brand the following defense of Christ’s humanity as the heresy of Nesorianism.  Nestorius, you remember from the early pages of this study, taught, or was supposed to have taught, that the Incarnation of the Logos resulted in two persons.  This view of Nestorius, with its accompanying condemnation, cannot be sustained either logically or historically. As for the history, several scholars assign the heretical view of his followers, who supposedly developed his suggestions beyond his approval.  Nor can the charge of heresy be logically stantiated.  The reason should have become obvious pages ago.  Neither Nestorius nor his opponents had any clear idea of what a *person* is. They used the word but attached no meaning to it. In their discussion and writings the term was as much nonsense syllables as *substance* and *nature.* However distasteful it may be to those students whose knowledge is confined to fifteen minutes of a broader lecture in the Systematic Theology class, and all the more distasteful to the professor who knows little more than those fifteen minutes, they must be forced to acknowledge that the Chalcedonian bishops and the later theologians were talking non-sense, because their terms had no sense at all.

To remedy this disgraceful situation, I have not only denounced the use of and expurgated the term *substance,* but in an attempt to be occasionally positive, I have offered a definition of the term *person.* Most people will find it queer.  Most theologians will find it unacceptable.  Well and good, let them formulate and propose a different definition.  That is the honest and logical thing to do.  Then there will be an intelligible subject of discussion. One can reasonable suppose that it could be a better definition than mine.  But even if not, it could not be branded as meaningless nonsense. (The Incarnation, 75,76)

Thankfully, it looks like Clark’s defense can be sustained as even a theologian as unfriendly and as hostile to Clark’s theory and Clark in general, James Anderson, agrees with Clark here and on multiple counts, including finding Clark’s definition of person both queer and unacceptable.  Anderson writes:

As for the paradox of the Incarnation, Clark’s solution is to reject the positive statements of the Definition of Chalcedon as vacuous and to offer his own definition of ‘person’ as a composite [or complex] of propositions.” On this view, Jesus Christ turns out to be two persons: “a divine person and a human person”.  This proposal is designed to alleviate the logical difficulty of attributing both omniscience and partial ignorance to Christ. I concur with Clark that it wouldn’t be fair to charge him with the heresy of Nestorianism, since Nestorius clearly didn’t employ anything like Clark’s definition of ‘person’. (Who does?) (A Response to W. Gary Crampton, 12, 13)

Anderson’s objection to Clark is that he considers his proposed solution “incoherent,” but coming from a man who believes that the Scriptures teach any number of “truths” that are irreconcilable at the bar of human reason, and perhaps even irreconcilable to divine reason as well, I think we can let his objection pass.  And, while perhaps it can be maintained that no one, or almost no one,  employs Clark’s definition of person it would seem that at the very least the Scriptures do, for according to Proverbs 23:7a;  “For as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.”   However, even if no one defines person as Clark does, this should not, in and of itself, disqualify Clark’s definition.

So, what becomes of the two-mind theory of Morris and others who also seem to successfully navigate around the charge of paradox and who have the distinct advantage of remaining within the bounds of Chalcedonian orthodoxy? While I agree with Anderson that two minds implies two persons (at least as far as Clark’s definition person is concerned and evidently Anderson’s as well), how does Morris circumvent this seeming insurmountable objection raised by Anderson?   In a nutshell, Morris’ argument, which is taken from Thomas Aquinas (for his complete argument see The Logic of God Incarnate, 153-158), is that a person is not properly defined by one of its parts but  by the whole:

On the account just given of human nature, it would seem that wherever there is a complete instantiation of the set of properties constitutive of human nature, there is a human person; more simply, wherever there is a human body and a human soul, there is a human person . . . The implication is that nothing, in so far as it is part rather than the whole qualifies as a *suppositum,* *hypostasis,* or person.  Aquinas goes on to suggest that there are cases in which a combination of ingredients in one context will constitute a whole, and thus individuate a *suppositum,* but in another context will constitute only a part of a larger whole and therein will not alone individuate a *suppositum.* (LoGI, 156)

Since a suppostium is any complete generic individual thing whether animate or inanimate, therefore according to Morris:

In Christ the human body and soul were not an independent whole, but were joined to the divine person of God the Son, as the human nature in which the divine *suppostium* dwelt. Not being an independent whole, but only part of that greater whole which was God Incarnate, they did not alone constitute a person or characterize a *suppostium* distinct from that singe person who was the Christ . . . .” (157)

I confess, I find this explanation highly strained.  First, if a human person is “wherever there is a human body and a human soul” then the word person is just as much attached to the idea of a body as it is to the soul.   However, since God consists of Three Persons and has no body, to say that the divine Logos is a person and that a human is a person would be to equivocate on the word person since the term person could not mean the same thing when predicated on the word “Logos” or “divine” as when its attached to the word “human.”

Second, it is not at all clear how the divine Second Person can be a suppostium, a hypostasis, or a person in eternity, yet also be a suppostium when joined to a human body and a human soul (or, simply, a human person)?  It would seem that given Morris’ explanation we would have three suppositums; the eternal divine suppositum of the Second Person, the human suppositum defined as the combination of a human body with a human soul, and the suppositum consisting of a combination of the Logos with the human person (body and soul) in the Incarnation.

Third, where in Scripture do we see a human person being defined as a suppostium of a human body and a human soul?  Of course, Genesis 2:7 comes to mind, but doesn’t the person survive the destruction the body?  When our bodies return to the dust do we cease being a human person in that intermediate state between shedding our earthly bodies and when we are robed, by God’s grace, with a heavenly one (see 1 Corinthians 15:42ff)?

Needless to say, I find Morris’ reply unsatisfactory.  However, if the question is one of faithfulness to Chalcedonian orthodoxy  then I think Morris has provided a solution to the paradox of the Incarnation.  Admittedly, his theory does seem to imply a two person theory and I really don’t think his discussion of person and its supposed relationship to a suppostium actually relieves the confusion, rather it compounds it.  But, perhaps it is the best anyone can do.  On the other hand, if the definition of Chalcedon is not as inviolate as some seem to think and as is implied by the Reformed confessions, then I think perhaps Clark has provided a way out of the dilemma of the Incarnation that avoids paradox and one that faithfully explains the biblical data.  The other option would seem to be is that we simply admit that Anderson is right and that orthodoxy, at least in the case of the Incarnation, requires the affirmation of an insoluble paradox at the very heart of the Christian faith.  Perhaps it goes without saying that I find this last option the most unsatisfactory of all.  Of course, there could always be another option out there yet to be discovered or one that I overlooked that will allow us to abandon all three options, but I’m not holding my breath.

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126 Comments on “Choosing Paradox – Part Two”

  1. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    Anderson’s objection to Clark is that he considers his proposed solution “incoherent,” but coming from a man who believes that the Scriptures teach any number of “truths” that are irreconcilable at the bar of human reason, and perhaps even irreconcilable to divine reason as well, I think we can let his objection pass.

    I don’t think Anderson’s objection can be dismissed quite so easily. He raises some very good points as to why Clark’s proposed solution is 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”). In any case, how can a composite of propositions think in the first place? Aren’t propositions objects of thought rather than subjects of thought, as Clark himself recognized?[5]… The difficulties don’t end there: Clark’s apparent identification of propositions with human thoughts is undermined by the observation that two people can think one and the same proposition. Clark must either distinguish propositions and thoughts, or else conclude that persons share proper parts. Furthermore, Clark’s attempt to distinguish persons on the basis of first-person indexical propositions suffers from explanatory circularity.[7] (What does the ‘I’ in the proposition “I was incarnated” refer to if not a person whose existence is logically prior to that proposition?) (Response to Gary Crampton)

    In making these points, Anderson is absolutely correct. Moreover, if “a person is the propositions he thinks,” then every time a human person thinks a new proposition (which happens practically every moment of every day) he becomes a completely new or different “person.”

    Thus, I don’t see how Clark’s “quirky” definition can possibly stand. It is clearly incoherent. Rather than a “complex of propositions,” a person is simply “an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions.” Since the incarnate Logos possesses both a divine and human nature, He (the Person) is a unique individual with the capacity for both divine (unlimited/immutable) and human (limited/mutable) “thoughts, intentions, and actions” in accordance with His two distinct natures. This is neither impossible nor contradictory. Nothing needs to be resolved.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    In making these points, Anderson is absolutely correct. Moreover, if “a person is the propositions he thinks,” then every time a human person thinks a new proposition (which happens practically every moment of every day) he becomes a completely new or different “person.”

    Thus, I don’t see how Clark’s “quirky” definition can possibly stand

    Hi Roger. You’re evidently easily impressed. Anderson’s charge of incoherence is trivial. It’s akin to asserting an unconscious consciousness. A mind apart from the thoughts it thinks is not a mind. Further, the idea of a blank mind is similarly a contradiction in terms. As far as the propositions that make up a person increasing I hardly see why that would be an issue, unless you happen to think that what defines a person necessarily implies immutability. I’m very comfortable with the idea that people change. And, as far as becoming a “new” or a different person, is it not the case that when someone comes to know the propositions of the Gospel they are said to be that very thing, even a “new creation”?

    Also trivial is the claim that Clark’s view is “undermined” because “two people can think one and the same proposition.” Actually, it is only on the basis that two people can think the same propositions that unity of any kind between man and man and man and God is possible. Christian unity after all is not premised on some mystical ineffable experience, but precisely on the propositions or doctrines believed. But, even though men can think the same propositions they cannot think exactly the same set of propositions, hence Clark’s theory of individuation stands. So, again, what you take as “absolutely correct,” I consider trivial.

    Since the incarnate Logos possesses both a divine and human nature, He (the Person) is a unique individual with the capacity for both divine (unlimited/immutable) and human (limited/mutable) “thoughts, intentions, and actions” in accordance with His two distinct natures. This is neither impossible nor contradictory. Nothing needs to be resolved.

    Clearly not in your mind. But in the minds of most I would think asserting that a person is both limited and unlimited and mutable and immutable would cause some difficulties. I guess it really is true and that ignorance is bliss. Stay happy Roger. :)


  3. Has anyone answered Anderson’s argument concerning the apparent circularity of “A person is what he thinks”?

    At first glance this sentence seems to answer the question, “How can one person be distinguished from another person?”, but not “What is a person (fundamentally)?” Isn’t Clark including the thing defined in his definition? This seems so obvious that I’m sure I’m missing something. Anyway, I want to be clear that I’m not stating agreement with Anderson; I loathe the idea of paradox.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    If Anderson’s argument concerning circularity holds against Clark, then it holds against Anderson as well. About a million comments back Ryan pointed out that Anderson defines a person as as “an individual with the capacity for thoughts, intentions, and actions.” However, since “intentions and actions” presuppose thought, I think Clark’s definition not only gets rid of the extra baggage, it is considerably more elegant.

    Since I asked Ryan, I guess I can ask you. Would you consider Prov. 23:7a circular? 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 tries to poison the well. What else can he do? If the paradoxes implied in the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation can be eliminated, what else does he have? Apart from any success here, his entire professional career is a sham. I mean, what’s left, Anderson’s belief that responsibility requires a free will?

    Besides, as Clark says above, if a theologian, even one as seemingly hopelessly confused as Anderson, doesn’t like Clark’s definition

    Well and good, let them formulate and propose a different definition. That is the honest and logical thing to do. Then there will be an intelligible subject of discussion. One can reasonable suppose that it could be a better definition than mine. But even if not, it could not be branded as meaningless nonsense.

    And, FWIW, I only loathe the idea of paradox being advanced by men like Anderson, Scott Clark, and other followers of Van Til. GHC didn’t loathe the idea of paradox, he solved them.

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, let me just add, since Anderson’s entire argument against Morris’ two-mind theory rests on the notion that a mind, or a center of consciousness, is what “our concept of a person” requires, then isn’t this a prima facia endorsement of Clark’s definition?


  6. I’m not much interested in Anderson’s definition of person; I reject it for the same reasons you point out. I only ask because in my own process of thinking through Clark’s theory, I asked myself the same question.

    As far as Proverbs 23:7a, until I read GHC I always took this to mean that a man’s thoughts (as opposed to what he says out loud) determine the kind of man he really is. It never occurred to me that the verse was intended as a logical definition of “person”. However, I appreciate GHC’s devotion to proving his position from Scripture; I’m just trying to understand how a definition which includes the thing defined can be called a definition.

    I loathe charley-horses, be they in my calf, torso, or between the ears. Just trying to massage this one into oblivion.

    As for Anderson unintentionally endorsing Clark’s definition, why ask me? I’m not defending Anderson here…

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    As far as Proverbs 23:7a, until I read GHC I always took this to mean that a man’s thoughts (as opposed to what he says out loud) determine the kind of man he really is. It never occurred to me that the verse was intended as a logical definition of “person”.

    Well, you’re right concerning what the passage is teaching in context, but if the thoughts determine what sort of a man a person really is, doesn’t that imply that a person is what he thinks and provide us with a workable definition of what a person is in the process?

    However, I appreciate GHC’s devotion to proving his position from Scripture; I’m just trying to understand how a definition which includes the thing defined can be called a definition.

    Again, and perhaps this is a blind spot in my own thinking, but I don’t see how Clark defining a person as a congeries of propositions or thoughts is self-referential or circular?

    As for Anderson unintentionally endorsing Clark’s definition, why ask me? I’m not defending Anderson here…

    I realize you’re not defending Anderson, but it seems to me that, sans baggage, Anderson’s “everyday” definition is exactly the same as Clark’s and both would necessarily infer a two person theory from Morris’ two-mind theory. Of course, Clark would identify two-minds as two-persons and open himself up to the slander of Mann, Ray and others that he is a “Nestorian” and a “heretic,” whereas Anderson would eschew the force of logic and instead employ the two-person = two-mind argument in order to justify his entire theory of biblical paradox.


  8. I guess my question is, if a person can be defined as a collection of thoughts, who/what is thinking those thoughts? If a person is thinking the thoughts, how can he *be* those thoughts? Wouldn’t that be like saying “A person is the thoughts the thoughts think?” So the thoughts are thinking themselves?

    I’m laughing at myself as I type this because I’m surely missing something here…

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Again, it seems to me that there is no who/what that is thinking, because a mind without propositions – a mind not thinking thoughts – is a contradiction in terms. IMO that the force of Anderson’s objection, something I suppose any Philosophy 101 student might think of when first exposed to Descartes, is nothing more than an illusion similar to when empiricists have historically advanced the idea that the mind at birth is a tabula rasa.

    Now, if what constitutes a person is something prior to the mind, or something antecedent to the thoughts themselves, then “the honest and logical thing to do” is to provide another definition of what it means to be a “person.”

    And, since I mentioned Philosophy 101, I recall Aristotle defining God as pure activity, or, simply, as thought thinking itself.


  10. I agree that a non-thinking mind is a contradiction. But if Christians can be said to have the mind of Christ, doesn’t that imply that Christ possesses a mind? I understand if someone was to say that “a person’s mind is the thoughts he (the person) thinks.”

    At this stage I’m holding out hope for Clark’s definition. Yet what would be the problem in defining a person as a rational entity, i.e. a being that possesses a mind?

    Forgive me if these are stupid questions, but I never took Philosophy 101 :P

  11. enieves Says:

    I don’t think Clark’s definition of person is circular because it requires that a person be defined by all of their thoughts. A man, as he thinks, does not know all of his past thoughts, nor any of his future thoughts, but only some of his past and his present one. But God knows them all (our human thoughts as well as His own) in an eternal intuition. Hence God is the only one that can know a person. To construe Clark’s definition as circular, we would have to have him defining a person as only some of their thoughts. But Clark’s definition in my opinion, seems to require them all.

    I think this is in line with the rest of Clark’s philosophy as well: Persons cannot be known by created persons because they are individuals. The principle that individuate’s them (which is all of their thoughts)requires omniscience. Neither can individual inanimate objects and other individual living things be known by created persons, because the propositions known about them refer to a class. That is, the characteristics that define them apply to more than one of them. Hence individually, they cannot be known. Created persons can know their own present thought, their past thoughts as far as they can remember and other persons thoughts (created or divine) in so far as that other person chooses to reveal them. (See 1st Corinthians 2:11). But to define an individual person, to say what that person is requires a knowledge of all the propositions that they will ever think, and this is comprehended only by the mind of God.

    I hope what I’ve said is helpful. If I’ve messed up somewhere, I’m sure someone will point it out. Difficulties are often raised concerning his definition of person, but the main difficulty for followers of Clark (myself included) is in my opinion a defense and explication of propositions as epistemologically basic (which has been done) as well as real.

  12. Cliffton Says:

    Perhaps the problem that some may be having with the Scriptural definition of person comes from an incorrect understanding of the relation between the intellect and the will probably resulting from the acceptance of an equally faulty faculty psychology.

    The will is a function of the intellect. In making this claim however, it does not follow that there can be intellection without volition.

    The Scriptures declare that its words are spirit and life. This could not be true if the definition of God was not identical to the thoughts/propositions whereby God is defined.

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, they’re not stupid questions and I think defining a person as a rational being that possesses a mind is essentially how Morris would define a person. For Morris a mind is something a person has rather than is.

    On the face of it, this would seem to work in that it appears that we could think of one person having two minds or two centers of consciousness so as to account for Jesus knowing and not knowing among other things (like being simultaneously mutable and immutable). The problem is that I think Anderson’s objection above is correct. Further, Anderson also cites Alvin Plantinga in this regard:

    Can we say that Christ qua human being (according to his human nature) suffered while Christ qua divine (according to his divine nature) did not? … I’m inclined to think this suggestion incoherent. There is this person, the second person of the divine trinity who became incarnate. It is this person who suffers; if there really were two centers of consciousness here, one suffering and the other not [or one knowing and the other not knowing - SG], there would be two persons here (one divine and one human) rather than the one person who is both human and divine. – Warranted Christian Belief, 319.

    Notice, per Plantinga we have the Second Person becoming incarnate, so it would seem Jesus can’t also be a human person for then you would have two persons, one divine and one human, and if not a human person, how can Jesus be said to be like us in every way excepting sin? It seems to me that if the two-mind theory is the best anyone can do in order to make sense out of the contradictory natures we see exhibited in Jesus while remaining within the confines of Chalcedonian orthodoxy, then defining the mind as something a person has really doesn’t seem to solve anything. Two minds would still imply two persons. Whereas, Clark’s definition could account for the humanity and divinity of Christ without confusion or contradiction but at the expense of the one person/two natures view. Again, I think Morris does stay within the bounds of orthodoxy and seems to solve the paradox, but I just don’t know how he can overcome the charge that one person can have two minds without also being two persons? He does try, but I’m not convinced that he’s successful.


  14. enieves, I gotta admit I didn’t follow your last comment. Perhaps we are talking about slightly different issues; individuation & description of persons vs. definition of the term “person.” I would agree that what distinguishes a particular person from another is the thoughts he thinks. Is that what Clark meant? If so, my confusion is cleared up. If not, then I’m left looking for a dictionary-type definition of “person.”

    Cliffton, I agree with you, but I’m still having difficulties ;) Unless of course, I’ve misunderstood what Clark was intending to define (what defines a specific person, and not the definition of the term “person”, see my reply to enieves above.)

    Sean, that helps. I haven’t read Morris; I’ll add him to my list. I’ve been kicking around ideas that seem to be different than Clark, Morris, and Anderson, but I’m not sure if they make sense to me yet, so I’ll wait before posting.

    Thanks to all!

  15. enieves Says:

    Sorry if I went off topic Patrick. What I had in mind were the questions:

    “I guess my question is, if a person can be defined as a collection of thoughts, who/what is thinking those thoughts?”

    I think the answer to this would be, if I’m correct and it’s all the thought’s they’re ever going to think, is God.

    “If a person is thinking the thoughts, how can he *be* those thoughts? Wouldn’t that be like saying “A person is the thoughts the thoughts think?” So the thoughts are thinking themselves?”

    The thoughts, while the they’re being thought, are successive. And if what defines them are all of them together, then a person isn’t what they’re currently thinking, so that this doesn’t apply.

    The Biblical statement “Man is what he thinks in his heart” is not an adequate definition by itself. A synonym of the term being defined occurs in the definition. I would assume that Clark appeals to this passage for support, not as his technically precise definition itself.

    Thanks.


  16. enieves, wouldn’t that mean that people (indeed, all of creation) are just God’s thoughts, and not corporeal creations? Or are those somehow the same thing? Or am I just way off base? I don’t want to misunderstand you…

    As for Clark, I believe that *is* his definition, but I could be wrong. (Wow, I’m not sure of a lot these days…)

  17. Cliffton Says:

    Patrick: …wouldn’t that mean that people (indeed, all of creation) are just God’s thoughts.

    Cliffton: Truth is the content of God’s mind. Consequently, this includes the truth concerning reality. That is, the explanation or meaning of all reality is found in the mind of God. To state it bluntly, something is real because God has so thought.

  18. enieves Says:

    Tough questions. I’m gonna think about it for a while and get back to you, probably tomorrow.

    Thanks.


  19. Cliffton, I understand and agree, but I’m not sure if that’s exactly what enieves was saying (unless I’m mistaken).

  20. denson Says:

    “I guess my question is, if a person can be defined as a collection of thoughts, who/what is thinking those thoughts?”
    This question ought to be applied to God first and then to man as the image of God.
    It is a deliverance of scripture that God IS truth( or perhaps more precisely, Truth is God?)Skeptics who say “There is no truth”, nevertheless wish this statement to be taken as true! If the statement is true then it is false! Denying that there is truth is self contradiction and so God’s existence cannot be denied! Truth is immutable or eternal and hence God’s eternality and immutability is because God is truth. Jesus said His words are spirit and life. The Bible also says God is Spirit. Therefore truth is spirit and life or God is spirit and life.
    The highest object that God can know is God Himself.
    There is nothing “before” or “behind” God. And so, there is nothing “before” or “behind” the truth. Then God is truth “thinking” truth.
    Man being the “likeness” of God would then be`defined as Clark did.
    To posit something “behind” the propositions/thoughts is to appeal to something that cannot be known! Asserting the unknowable is self contradictory and hence false!

    denson

  21. 1WilliamFarel Says:

    Dear Sean,

    I whole-heartedly agree with you in your condemnation of Anderson’s contradiction in asserting a one-person/three person paradox. It’s irrational. However, proposing a “social trinitarianism” instead, I think, presents its own problems. How does it avoid the charge of tritheism, for example?

    As someone who spends a great deal of time sharing the gospel with Mormons, I find that questions re. the true nature of the Trinity constantly come up. As you know, Mormons hold that Jahweh, Elohim, and Michael (the pre-Incarnate Christ) formed a Quorum and together fashioned the Universe from pre-existing matter. In Mormon theology, there are three separate persons in the Trinity. Of course, there are numerous other points of departure between the orthodox Christian doctrine of God and that of the LDS. However, the notion that there are three separate persons in the Trinity – as Mormonism teaches – is not orthodoxy, but polytheism.

    So, as someone who is asking without malice but simply a genuine desire to better understand the issues, what do you mean by “social trinitarianism?” Please know that I ask this question as someone who is a fan of Dr. Gordon Clark and a subscriber to “The Trinity Review.” I’ve read your articles there and they have been helpful and informative. I’m asking this question without hostile intent, therefore. It’s just that the idea of a “social trinity,” smacks of polytheism. And polytheism is, of course, unbiblical and unorthodox.

  22. Sean Gerety Says:

    I addressed this in part one. First, I don’t think all “social trintarian” solutions are equal and it would seem some very much leave themselves open to the charge of tri-theism. Second, and beyond Clark’s arguments from The Trinity that I provided, I think Joel Parkinson’s argument from omniscience in The Intellectual Trinunity of God and Morris argument from ominpotence in Logic of God Incarnate more than satisfactorily overcome the charge of tri-theism. Or, to put it another way, three omniscient, omnipotent gods is a logical impossibility.


  23. Denson, I don’t think the statement “God is truth” is reversable to “Truth is God.” Similarly, we say that God is love, but love cannot be equated with God. We do not worship love, but a God who is eternally perfect in loving; love is an attribute inherent in Him which He expresses to its fullest.

    Thus, I interpret “God is Truth” to mean that He eternally knows all true propositions, is never in error, and that any true propositions we know are necessarily a subset of what He knows. I’m not asserting the unknowable, for God knows Himself.

    1WilliamFarel, you said that “the notion that there are three separate persons in the Trinity – as Mormonism teaches – is not orthodoxy, but polytheism.”

    To assert the doctrines of Mormonism is unorthodox, certainly. But this does not mean that asserting three Persons in the Trinity is unorthodox.

    “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” -Westminster Confession of Faith, 2.3

  24. 1WilliamFarel Says:

    Patrick,

    Let me be very clear. I’m not denying the Trinity. To do so would be heresy. But the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity teaches that in the one God there are three distinct, but not separate Persons. The key here is the word “separate.” Christians do not believe there are three Gods. On the contrary, as a Presbyterian, I wholeheartedly affirm right along with you the words of the Westminster Confession, 2.3. At the same time, though, let’s not forget what the Confession teaches before that in 2.1:

    “There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute;. . . .”

    Patrick, you are quite correct when you say that asserting three Persons in the Trinity is not unorthodox. I agree. However, that wasn’t what I said. My concern lies in how one understands the nature and relationships of these three Persons. Any doctrine holding that the three Persons of the Trinity are three separate Beings (and I emphasize the word “separate”) clearly lies outside the limits of the Westminster Confession, and of orthodoxy itself. Such an assertion would not be Christianity. It would be polytheism.


  25. 1WilliamFarel, thanks for the clarification. Sorry I jumped the gun. :)

  26. enieves Says:

    Patrick, the conclusion, though hard to explain and understand, seems to me inescapable. Perhaps I’m seriously misunderstanding Clark somewhere, being that I’m currently reading through all of his works and haven’t finished. So guys, take what I’m saying with a grain (or rather a heap) of salt. But for now, I’m willing to accept the inference with the following suggestions for further reflection:

    Granted, epistemology controls all other subdivisions of philosophy and any other cognitive discipline. Accordingly, the basic objects of knowledge for us are propositions, not concepts, for among other things concepts cannot be true and therefore cannot be known. To deny this is to admit MACRUE’s (minus the M.A.) concerning the terms “knowledge” and “truth” throughout our whole system, because truth is a quality of propositions only, and propositions are the objects of knowledge. This being so, the excluded middle rules out an approximation to truth in any one of them by itself; it’s either true or false. (However, I suppose approximation may be applicable to human systems of thought counted as wholes [meaning those whose propositions known are not exhaustive] but definitely not God’s. This is not the Van Tillian schema, but does raise a side question: can individual objects be regarded as little systems of propositions within the system of the mind of God?)

    But back to topic, those propositions which are true are propositions thought to be true by the mind of God. The reason for the awkwardness of this last sentence is not because God has some standard of truth outside Him with which His thoughts correspond, but rather because coherence with God’s thoughts is our standard of truth and God is omniscient. Therefore we recognize that God is not ignorant of false propositions, so that true propositions cannot be differentiated from false merely by the quality of being thought or known by God, for He knows false propositions to be false and thinks them as such. But (I hesitatingly suggest) the additional qualities of being chosen for creation or brought to pass or revealed by God can distinguish them. What I mean is that true propositions are the ones chosen by God out of an infinite set of possibilities to be created, brought to pass and/or revealed for His own good pleasure.

    These chosen true propositions, since they’re the objects of knowledge, are also real. But this leads me into a similar difficulty encumbered in Platonism by supposing the Ideas to be real. What does the word “real” mean when applied to a proposition in the mind of God, corporeal? That would be unacceptable for a Christian, so then how do we account for corporeality in this schema? Perhaps for epistemology the way would be to assign to corporeality a stimulative use in the eternal plan of God for mankind, making it a stimulus for us to think propositions. But as it turns out unless we abandon epistemology, corporeality is shown to be a sensation. Is there anything behind the sensation for us besides thought? So what I’m really struggling with here is metaphysics. Since all things are propositions in the mind of God (and God is a pure Spirit), what are the metaphysics of these propositions? How do these unchanging spiritual propositions account for the world of changing sensations? I’ve read numerous people balk at Clark’s philosophy because it makes people and things propositions, and I think this is where some work needs to done, perhaps we could explain it better. I’d like to see some work from a Clarkian in this area, or perhaps someone can recommend a book for me.

    BTW, has anyone taken up Anderson’s refutation of Crampton?


  27. “But as it turns out unless we abandon epistemology, corporeality is shown to be a sensation.”

    I agreed with you up to this point. Material things are not propositions, though they are defined by them. This has to be true, for while God has always known all true propositions, the story of creation indicates that, within the first 6 days, God had created some things, and had not yet created others. Thus, creatio ex nihilo is a process employed by God to assign corporeality to certain propositions.

    I think it’s important to remember that just because we cannot know truth from sensation, it does not follow that nothing we sense is real. I think Scripture indicates the reality of things. Man was created from the dust of the earth; God used prior creation to fashion something new.

  28. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “Thus, I interpret “God is Truth” to mean that He eternally knows all true propositions, is never in error, and that any true propositions we know are necessarily a subset of what He knows. I’m not asserting the unknowable, for God knows Himself.”
    Augustine, in refuting skeptics went on to show that truth must be eternal and superior to our minds and concluded that Truth is God. What I mean is that the properties of truth can be shown to be the properties of God and so “Truth is God” is correct!
    Check out this link: http://christiantheology.wordpress.com/2007/12/06/gordon-clarks-argument-for-the-existence-of-god-from-truth/
    and this discussion http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2008/03/argument-from-truth-gordon-clark-style.html


  29. I don’t know about Augustine, but Clark’s #6 from the first link is based on an unspoken premise, namely, that “mind” is synonymous with “person”. I’m not convinced of that, so I’d rather say that “God’s mind is truth” or perhaps “God’s mind = the entirety of true propositions,” which are really saying the same thing.

  30. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “..an unspoken premise, namely, that “mind” is synonymous with “person”. I’m not convinced of that, …” It all depends on how you define mind and person. I am not aware of your definitions of these!
    Here is an interesting link including a hand written letter from Gordon Clark to the author! http://www.truthdefined.com/

    Just one more thought! Since the object of knowledge is a proposition, if we will know anything about “corporeal” things or anything at all, it will be in the form of propositions. If God created the universe from His mind, the created things are no more puzzling than God’s thoughts about those things. It is what is in the mind of God that we wish to know. If one knows the truth, is there anything else beyond or behind the truth called “the thing in itself”, and what could it be? Is this not Kant’s “das ding un sich” all over again?

    Denson


  31. Denson, I’m still working through my definitions of “mind” and “person.” In the above comments I suggested “A rational entity, i.e. A being possessing a mind” as possible definitions of “person.”

    As for “mind,” I’m more inclined to think of it as something a person has, which according to Sean is close to Morris’ theory. I suppose I’d say that a mind is a collection of propositions thought by a person.

    I’m not 100% committed to these definitions; I realize they have issues, which is why I’m thankful to be able to bounce ideas off people here.

    I don’t know about Kant (I need more philosophy in my diet). I’d say that propositions can describe a chair, but the propositions themselves are not chairs. A proposition is a thought in a mind, and human thoughts never gave somebody a bruise in a wrestling ring. This presents no problem (e.g. oh no, we’re asserting an unknowable reality behind propositions, etc.) because otherwise we’d be saying that its possible to think something other than propositions. I don’t think a chair, I think propositions about that chair.

    I don’t think a person, I think about him.
    When I tell my wife she’s on my mind, I mean that I am thinking about her, not that she (a person) is literally in my mind.
    I don’t think God, I think about Him.
    Whenever I think true propositions, I am to some degree sharing in the mind of God. This doesn’t mean that I (the person) become God, but my mind is being conformed to His.


  32. Denson, FWIW, I checked out the link, and it seems that rather than define truth, he has redefined it. To say that some propositions are “neither true nor false” is to deny the law of excluded middle. Also, he treats the nonsense sentence “This sentence is untrue” as a proposition, misunderstanding the difference between a proposition and a sentence. These are just things I noticed in the first 5 minutes.


  33. Wow. The guy tries to cite John Robbins in support of rejecting the law of excluded middle here: http://www.truthdefined.com/37-NeitherTrueNorFalse.htm

    John said “As I said earlier, single words without context are neither true nor false.”

    Obviously, this is because true and false are categories of propositions, not single words. To quote John like that seems at best extremely confused, at worst dishonest.

  34. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “I’d say that propositions can describe a chair, but the propositions themselves are not chairs. A proposition is a thought in a mind, and human thoughts never gave somebody a bruise in a wrestling ring. …. I don’t think a chair, I think propositions about that chair.”
    This is imprecise language. Just what is “describing a chair”? A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. A declarative sentence is one in which a subject is modified(affirmed or denied) by a predicate.
    e.g. This chair is brown! The meaning of this sentence i.e. the proposition, if true, is the reality! If, as you seem to think, the meaning is not the reality, then we never know anything! Communication is reduced to just noise! The meaning(the proposition)of “Jesus is the Son of God!” is the reality!

    Denson

  35. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “The guy tries to cite John Robbins in support of rejecting the law of excluded middle”
    Not at all! He uses mathematical “propositions” and propositions derived from senses as neither true nor false!
    I only disagree with him when he says there is only one proposition that is true i.e. “Truth is God”(He calls it 1-Truth Theory of truth).
    Well, how about all the propositions in the Bible?

    Denson


  36. “If, as you seem to think, the meaning is not the reality, then we never know anything! Communication is reduced to just noise!”
    A chair is not an object of knowledge. We cannot know a chair. Propositions are the only objects of knowledge. I know propositions such as “This chair is brown.” This is a proposition which describes a physical, created chair. God never intended us to know something other than propositions. It does not follow that we cannot know anything. Again, I think the proposition “There is a chair in the room.” I don’t think an actual chair; a chair is not an object of thought.

    Communication is not reduced to noise. Like God, we think and communicate propositionally. It is one thing for me to think about throwing a chair at you ( :P ), another thing to say “I’m throwing a chair at you,” and still another thing entirely for me to actually pick up and throw a chair. Now, if I thought/said #s 1&2, without throwing the chair, I’d be thinking/communicating false propositions. But if I thought/said them while throwing the chair, they would be true propositions, but they would still be propositions which described the reality of me throwing the chair.

    If all reality is is propositions, thought by God, then I don’t see how that system is much different than some sort of panentheism.


  37. “Not at all! He uses mathematical “propositions” and propositions derived from senses as neither true nor false!”
    Who are you referring to? Propositions cannot be derived from the senses.

    I quote from the link I provided:

    “The ‘Law of Excluded Middle’ states that every proposition must be
    Either True or False.
    This ‘law’ must be discarded.
    Its acceptance hinders the study of meaningful propositions, and is incompatible with the Nature of Truth.”

    Then, under the heading “Quotations on the necessity for a third category,” he quotes Robbins:

    “As I said earlier, single words without context are neither true nor false.”

    Therefore, as I said, he quotes Robbins in order to support his own rejection of the law of excluded middle.

  38. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “A chair is not an object of knowledge. We cannot know a chair.” I am at a loss as to where I said a chair can be an object of knowledge. I said propositions are, and even defined a proposition. And just in case I was not clear, I gave an example of a proposition. That does not seem to have helped! .. Oh well. Propositions are not about nothing. A chair is a bundle of propositions. Knowledge of those propositions is knowledge of a chair. To say, “a chair cannot be known”, without further explanation would imply that nothing can be known, for I could even say, “God cannot be known” and yet Jesus prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
    Since all that can be known are propositions, then propositions are the reality. There is nothing “behind” or “beyond” the proposition!

    Denson


  39. A. Propositions are objects of knowledge.
    B. A chair is a bundle of propositions.
    C. A chair is an object of knowledge.

    This is how I’m interpreting what you’re saying. You definitely said A & B in your last comment. Now, if you don’t hold C, tell me how it doesn’t follow from A & B. I’m perfectly willing to accept the possibility that I’m just not getting it.

    I’m *tentatively* arguing that true propositions communicate and describe reality, but that reality does not consist of nothing but propositions.

  40. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “Who are you referring to? Propositions cannot be derived from the senses.”
    Sensations invite us to say certain propositions like “It is warm today” when someone with a fever may be wrapped up in a blanket. Such statements are neither true nor false.

    Finally, “We will say that the propositions of arithmetic are neither true nor false, but only compatible or non-compatible with certain conventions.

    Friedrich Waismann; Introduction to Mathematical Thinking – p120 “

  41. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “A. Propositions are objects of knowledge.
    B. A chair is a bundle of propositions.
    C. A chair is an object of knowledge.”
    That is precisely what I mean!
    As long as one explains what they mean by what they say, one can intelligently object or agree. I have defined what I mean by objects … a bundle of propositions. If propositions can be known, well, surely one can know a bundle of propositions. Further, we do say, “He knows his bible”. What is meant is that the individual exhibits knowledge of the content of the Bible.
    I see nothing wrong with that!

    Denson


  42. The sentence (not the proposition) “It is warm today” is intended to communicate a proposition, namely, that the speaker feels warm, which is a true proposition (unless the speaker is lying). If the sentence is intended the communicate a different proposition, namely, that today’s weather is causing all living beings to experience a sensation of warmth, then that proposition is false. The sentence itself is just a string of words. It is the meaning of the sentence which is to be judged true or false.

  43. enieves Says:

    Interesting exchange. I’d like to respond to it after I read it carefully, but perhaps we’re getting to far off topic.

    For now, I grant that what I said in my last is incomplete, unclear and perhaps confused because as I understand it, Clark makes the propositions revealed in the Bible the only objects of knowledge for us. I don’t think this involves a deniel of the truthfulness of the propositions concerning history or created things, but for us it’s only the Biblical propositions and their valid implications that give us knowledge. Accordingly, those propositions about history and creation revealed along with their valid implications amount to knowledge(keeping in mind that the terms involved must have a clear signification to be succeptible to understanding, communication and logical deduction, which is where I’d question Patrick’s concern to guard “corporeality”) but the propositions unrevealed about creation and history do not always. We just won’t know if they’re true until glory. That’s why for us beliefs and knowledge are not identical. Beliefs about unrevealed propositions for us do not always amount to knowldge, except maybe by accident (and even then we won’t know until glory) but for God, beliefs and knowledge are identical.

    Also, one of the difficulties I alluded to was to account for change. If propositions in themselves and in God’s mind do not change, then what changes? The propositions in our mind change but not, I don’t think, in themselves as individual units and God knows all of them. But then to account for “sensation” or to maintain “corporeality” as being something other than a singular or collection of propositions seems necessitate the ding an sich.

    That said, I remain undogmatic in my opinions and would easily change them. But my concern with all this is about the same objection to what I’ll call the metaphysics of propositions made against Clark over and over again. I’m trying to understand him. I just started reading Plotinus’ Theory of Sensation and will go on to Phantasia in Plotinus because in them, I believe Clark discusses these difficulties. To quote “Unless the Ideal world and the sensible world can be united, Aristotle’s criticism that the Ideas are a useless duplication of objects will be justified.” And “Because the theory of sensation [from Plotinus] was a part of Augustine’s borrowings, and because of its strategic importance to the justification of spiritualism, one would expect that historians of philosophy had by this time produced many and prominent dissertations on the subject. Such, however, is not the case.” (Ancient Philosophy, 400,401) I presume Clark attempted to fill this gap to the glory of God.

    Thanks for listening.


  44. Denson, I’m confused. Earlier you said “I am at a loss as to where I said a chair can be an object of knowledge.” I took this to mean that you didn’t agree with it. But now it seems that you do? Perhaps you could clarify where you stand regarding this issue. Thanks again for the dialogue.

    enieves, thanks again to you as well. It is truly a blessing to have iron to sharpen our minds against.

  45. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “I’m confused. Earlier you said “I am at a loss as to where I said a chair can be an object of knowledge.” ” Of course I was at a loss as to where you got that from in what I had said, since I had not said so! What is confusing about that? Read it over again and you will see that I defined what can be known — propositions and even gave an example! Who or what were you responding to in what I had said when you carried on about a chair not being an object of knowledge?
    In any case, we do say, “I know that gentleman” or “That woman teaches history” or “The school needs a chemistry teacher — someone who teaches chemistry”. “That gentleman”, “history” or “chemistry” refers to “bundles of propositions” not just a single word. The single word “chemistry” is not a subject of knowledge! Teaching or knowing chemistry means knowing that “Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidising agent”. Similarly, knowing God means knowing that “God is love.” etc etc.

    Denson.

  46. Beth-Anne Says:

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  47. Denson, ok, let’s back up. Somewhere we’ve misunderstood each other.

    I know you never made the statement “A chair is an object of knowledge.” I was trying to show how your position would *lead* to that conclusion.

    I’m arguing that a chair is *defined by* a bundle of propositions, but it itself is not a bundle of propositions.

  48. Cliffton Says:

    Patrick: If all reality is is propositions, thought by God, then I don’t see how that system is much different than some sort of panentheism.

    Cliffton: The implication of rejecting that “all reality is is propositional” is to assert that reality is extra-propositional, or more fundamentally, extra-rational. Besides the above statement being self-refuting, the scriptural *proposition* “God created the heavens and earth” and the scriptural *proposition* “God created man in His image” distinguish Christianity from pantheism. It is the proposition itself (that is, the truth itself) that distinguishes one from the other.

  49. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “I’m arguing that a chair is *defined by* a bundle of propositions, but it itself is not a bundle of propositions.”
    Your position seems to require that we can know a chair APART FROM PROPOSITIONS to which we “apply” propositions. How would we know that the propositions describe a chair? If we have a knowledge of a chair without propositions, then we have no use for propositions. No, the definition of a chair is the chair!
    The words are the reality! That is why God gave us His word! There is nothing “behind” or “beyond” or “apart” from propositions! The truth is the thing! The propositions are the reality!

    Denson


  50. Cliffton, I’m referring to Panentheism, not Pantheism.

    Denson, no, I don’t think we can know a chair apart from propositions, because propositions are all we can know.

    What I’m saying is (and here I’ll try to clarify my Panentheism comment), that if physical objects such as the chair I’m sitting in right now are propositions, and propositions are thoughts, and God thinks all true thoughts, then my chair, keyboard, even myself are merely thoughts in God’s mind; even more, we ARE God’s mind.

    If I may quote from Wikipedia: “Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all”; ἐν (en) “in”; and θεός (theós) “God”; “all-in-God”) is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe.”

    So, if all we are are collections of true propositions, and God thinks all true propositions, and some true propositions belong only to God, then it seems that we are distinct from God in that we do not possess all true propositions, but we are one with God in that we are propositions existing in His mind. If we go further and posit that God IS a mind, then that makes us actually part of Him. This sounds like a version of Panentheism, which I would reject.

    NOW, having said all that to clarify my comments above, I’m in the process of rethinking my understanding of what a proposition is, so I’d like to stop my argument for the time being, and just ask some questions.

    To start off, if Truth is God (i.e. God is the sum of all true propositions), and we are smaller bundles of true propositions, then wouldn’t it follow that we are part of God? I get an image of a circle within a circle. Thanks guys.

  51. denson Says:

    Patrick,
    “…then my chair, keyboard, even myself are merely thoughts in God’s mind; even more, we ARE God’s mind.”
    Thoughts are not ‘mere thoughts’. Jesus said if a man looks at a woman lustfully(thoughts) that is adultery.
    Besides, even if one posited something “behind” thoughts, that something was created by God, which means He must have thought it first! Thoughts are first, before creation! If I know a (TRUE)thought about something, that is all there is to know!

    Denson

  52. Cliffton Says:

    Patrick: Cliffton, I’m referring to Panentheism, not Pantheism.

    Cliffton: They are fundamentally the same.

    Patrick: …if physical objects such as the chair I’m sitting in right now are propositions,

    Cliffton: Propositions are the meaning of declaritive sentences.

    Patrick: …and propositions are thoughts,

    Cliffton: False. Propositions are not merely thoughts. Thoughts require definition and definitions require propositions.

    Patrick: …and God thinks all true thoughts,

    Cliffton: We ought rather to say that God is omniscient, that is, He knows all propositions.

    Patrick: …then my chair, keyboard, even myself are merely thoughts in God’s mind;

    Cliffton: The meaning of those terms, the definition of those terms, are propositions in the mind of God.

    Patrick: …even more, we ARE God’s mind.

    Cliffton: This does not follow. We must not confuse logical necessity with ontological identity. Because it is true that God necessarily (that is, eternally and immutably) knows man does not imply that God is man, or, that man is God.


  53. Cliffton, “Propositions are not merely thoughts.”

    Ok, here was where my problem was. I was under the impression that Clark defined a person as the propositions he thought, “A man *is* what he *thinks*.” Have I misunderstood Clark?

  54. enieves Says:

    Brothers,

    I really think the heart of the quarrel is the ontological status of propositions, or rather the metaphysics of Clark’s realism. If we say that things are something other than propositions and that propositions define those things, then this would contradict the assertion of realism (that the object known is the real thing) and assert an unknowable ding an sich to which propositions refer. This is an unnecessary inference requiring a justification that propositions in question are actual representations of or refer to these unknown things, which can’t be done. OTOH, realism is an attempt to avoid the skepticism that follows from this.

    Also, I think it’s more accurate to say that all things are meanings in the mind of God than to say all things are propositions in the mind of God, because a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence and there’s no distinction between what God thinks and what he means in His mind. Therefore, declarations by God and what they mean to God are identical, but for us this is not the case. Still, to ask ‘What is a meaning in the mind of God’ is the same ontological question and doesn’t solve anything.

    Patrick, I think you have misunderstood Clark about his definition. I referred to this above in my first comment. Page 54 of The Incarnation states: “…we shall define person as a composite of truths. A bit more exactly, since all men make mistakes and believe some falsehoods, the definition must be a composite of propositions.” Clark then quotes the Bible in the next sentence, but I believe this was only for a biblical support of his exact definition and not a verbally different rendering of the same. The chief reason for this interpretation is his modification of his first statement to account for the falsehoods men believe. There’d be no reason for this if men are simply the thoughts they think, because that would include falsehoods. And finally, since God is a person and not a man: All men are persons but all persons are not men. Consequently, “Man is what he thinks..” cannot be an adequate, or Clark’s definition of person.

    Page 64 of The Incarnation says: “Some pages back person was defined as a complex of propositions.” Two important questions to be asked are: Is Clark defining the species man or is he defining individual persons? Obviously it’s individuals because of what I said above and because the book is dealing with the individuation of Christ. Second, what type of definition is he giving? I think it’s a connotative definition, but I’m gonna do a little reading and think about that one for a bit, but perhaps someone else knows.

  55. enieves Says:

    I’d like to change the first sentence above to:

    “I really think the heart of the quarrel is the ontological status of the propositions that have been created, brought to pass, or chosen to be brought to pass by God, or rather the metaphysics of Clark’s realism.”


  56. enieves, I think you’ve figured me out! After reading your last comments a few times, I felt many proverbial lightbulbs turning on above my head. I knew I had to be misunderstanding something, turns out it was two things:
    A)What a proposition is. I knew it was “the meaning of a declarative sentence,” but I guess I didn’t understand what that meant until now. Thanks for beating it into me, Denson & Cliffton!
    B) Clark wasn’t providing a dictionary definition of person; he was writing about individuation, what differentiates a person from another.

    Now that that’s been cleared up, I definitely agree with Sean & Anderson that Morris’ two-mind theory implies two persons, if one defines person as Clark does. I really need to read Morris myself though. Thanks again guys, while this may have been maddening (especially for you, Denson), it has been tremendously edifying for me.

  57. Cliffton Says:

    Enieves: There’d be no reason for this if men are simply the thoughts they think, because that would include falsehoods.

    Cliffton: It certainly may include falsehoods. In heaven, we will forever be praising the Lamb that was slain. And we will do so without entertaining falsehoods. Nevertheless, in contemplating the Lamb who was slain, we would necessarily be conscious of the reason why He was slain? This reason, sin, would most certainly include our falsehoods that we once entertained?

    Enieves: And finally, since God is a person and not a man:

    Cliffton: False.

    Enieves: All men are persons but all persons are not men.

    Cliffton: You are using the term man in the plural (“men”), that is, individuals who are participate in the definition of man. The second half of your statement above is true for the essential reason that the definition of “person” is to be distinguished from the definition of “man.” This must be kept in mind. For not to be conscious of the distinction between the two definitions (not men and person, but man and person) could leave one to conclude…

    Enieves: Consequently, “Man is what he thinks..” cannot be an adequate, or Clark’s definition of person.

    Cliffton: As was said before, when considering individuals we are no longer talking about what those individuals share in common. We are talking about what distinguishes one from the other. That said, when discussing “men”, we are speaking about individuals who participate in the definition of man. When speaking about these individuals, we would not be speaking about their common humanity. We would be speaking about the set of propositions unique to each one, which is Clark’s definition of person.


  58. Cliffton, why do you say that Enieves’ statement “God is a person and not a man” is false?

  59. enieves Says:

    Clifton,

    I don’t understand your first comment, or what your trying to establish.

    Are you defending the point that “Man is what he thinks” is an adequate, and Clark’s definition of person?

    If so, I didn’t quite follow you, but that’s what I gather. Could you write it out more fully?


  60. Nevermind, I’m confused again. *sigh*

  61. Cliffton Says:

    Enieves: I don’t understand your first comment, or what your trying to establish.

    Cliffton: It appeared to me that you were claiming the reason Clark made the following clarification…

    “…we shall define person as a composite of truths. A bit more exactly, since all men make mistakes and believe some falsehoods, the definition must be a composite of propositions”

    …was because according to you, “if men are simply the thoughts they think” it “would include falsehoods.” The implication of your statement is that because a person thinks falsehoods, falsehoods cannot be included in the set of propositions that define a person. My first comment was in opposition to the implication of your statement. Unless, that is, you were “simply” claiming that because a person thinks falsehoods, falsehoods may in fact be included in the definition of a person. I understood your use of the term “simply” to be pejorative and therefore as an implied objection. I was objecting to what I believed to be your implied objection.

    Enieves: Are you defending the point that “Man is what he thinks” is an adequate, and Clark’s definition of person? If so, I didn’t quite follow you, but that’s what I gather.

    Cliffton: I am claiming that Clark’s definition of person (“a composite of propositions”) is correct.

  62. enieves Says:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    For a quick response, I think we’re aiming the same thing. I’ll read over more carefully what I wrote and your response and leave it there for now.

    Thanks Clifton.

  63. Sean Gerety Says:

    Interesting. I posted links to my review on Anderson’s website and my post with the links weren’t approved.

    http://proginosko.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/response-to-gary-crampton/#comment-303

    Go figure.

  64. enieves Says:

    I was just perusing Anderson’s blog and he really has it in for Clark. I just don’t understand why if, as he says, Clark is paradoxical and he’s (Anderson) advocating paradox.

    I guess it’s because Clark is one of the few that says Christianity is not paradoxical and if he’s correct, Anderson’s presented a false dilemma between heresy and paradox. So, he’s got to construe Clark as paradoxical.

    So, anything we say here to the contrary is going to be ignored or twisted with the most wild, implausable interpretations he can conjure up, else his whole thesis doesn’t stand. That’s why he won’t allow a link to a response on his blog. He knows that if people believe there’s a plausible alternative to irreconcilable paradox, even if they don’t understand the in’s and out’s of it, it’s going to be psychologically more persuasive. For they can’t understand paradox either and there’d be no reason to study if there’s not even the possibility of understanding.

    Cliffton, I re-read what we wrote and will post a response soon. Not that you or I are in substantive disagreement, but I hope to answer Anderson’s blog snippets a bit in that response as well.

  65. enieves Says:

    FYI, I haven’t read Anderson’s book but trust Sean’s review as substantive and correct. I’m just thinking of Anderson’s internet posts, not his book per se.

  66. Drake Says:

    Sean,

    Not to disturb the conversation here but I could use some help if you can. In reference to imputed righteousness. Is Clark a nominalist on this point? I can’t remember reading anything he said on this. I am trying to understand Scholasticism’s influence on Protestant theology and I must admit the nominalist influence through Ockham seems strong. We are declared righteous though not really righteous. I know Clark to be an avid realist and I wonder what he would say here. I have read his Scholasticism section in Thales to Dewey and I will continue to reread it in the next week or so. Get at me if you can help.

    Drake

  67. denson Says:

    Drake,
    “We are declared righteous though not really righteous”
    I am interested in understanding this view as I am not familiar with it!
    First of all, we are condemned sinners by nature, and so we are ‘really not righteous’! Upon hearing and believing the gospel, a sinner is justified, declared righteous, not guilty, on the basis of the righteousness of Christ(His obedience and death as a substitute). This gift of righteousness puts one in right standing with God! One who is justified is really righteous, since they have the real righteousness of Christ accounted to them and are really restored to favour with God! Christ is our righteousness and that’s real enough! That is my understanding of justification! Could you elaborate further on this “nominalism” on justification?

    Denson

  68. Drake Says:

    The One Person/Metaphysical/Hypostatic Incarnation does not need to be a paradox per se. It simply requires a Eastern View of God.

    In my endeavors to understand the hypostatic union and how it was understood by the people who penned it I have taken it upon myself to fully understand the Eastern Church and I think I understand what they mean.

    “Indeed, in Christ, His two natures-so precisely defined at Chalcedon as both “inseperable” and “unconfused” – remain distinct. Therefore, deification or communion between divinity and humanity does not imply a confusion of essences or natures. It remains nevertheless real communion between the Uncreated and His creature, and real deification- not by essence, but by energy.”

    Gregory Palamas, The Triads, ed. John Meyendorf pg. 19

    The East’s understanding of the union is metaphysical, yet it is not a union of essence. Is this not the exact point we have been trying to understand? How can this be? An Eastern view of God, that is how it can be. The Eastern view posits an Essence and Energy distinction. The energies being uncreated light and the nature of salvation in their doctrine of Theosis. So when they are asked how the hypo union is metaphysical and at the same time not a union of essence they have an answer, yet the consequences are disastorous. Is this not the understanding of Cyril’s construction? If so, how can Protestant’s believe the hypostatic union without taking the rest of the East’s theology? It is in light of such considerations that at this point my conscience can only accept the Clarkian view of Christology, filled in with the Bazaar of Nestorius.

  69. drake Says:

    “about a million comments back Ryan pointed out that Anderson defines a person as as “an individual with the capacity for thoughts”
    LOL

    In reference to the quarrels about God’s mind. This is my understanding:
    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/theology-proper/the-essence-of-god

    God’s mind and our minds are different in their attributes. A hard drive and a piece of paper can store the same information yet their attributes are different. In God we live in move and have our being in the eternal aspect but in the temporal aspect we are outside of God’s mind and we have to be for the divine mind is eternal and unchangeable. A temporal reality is impossible in the mind of God. The creation of the world is the eternal propositions taking form in time. Time begins with Genesis 1 with the creation of the heavens and the earth. We as human minds are in the mind of God and have contact with these rationes aeternae as Augustine described:[2] The eternal thoughts of God that he affirms about himself, goodness, justness, etc. Our mind and God’s mind overlap or have a common area or coincide in certain propositions. This does not mean our minds pantheistically or existentially partake of God’s mind, in essence. Our minds being contents of God’s mind are accidental to God’s mind, the rationes aeternae are essential. “God is his thinking. God is not a passive or potential substratum; he is actuality or activity…God is a living God…Hence logic is to be considered as the activity of God’s willing.”[3] The (infima species, hypostasis) persons of the Trinity are also in the mind of God as eternal propositions. He is one in the sense of being one static set, yet each proposition has a distinct meaning. This construction does retain the simplicity of God yet allow for distinctions between the persons in the Trinity. Though men are propositions in God’s mind we are also created and outside of God’s mind. That the eternal may be subject to time, the creation was necessary.

    In reference to what things liek chairs are: From my reading of Clark I tend to remain silent on the issue. Gus and I have discussed these things and he would refer to the creation as “physical.” I ask him what physical means and he says, that which is measurable. That satisfies my mind.

  70. drake Says:

    enieves

    I was just about to write something against Anderson. I have given the metaphsyical issues quite a bit of thought and I think Clark gives some pretty devastating answers in the Atonment book about the impossibility of metaphysical terms that refer to constituted objects (per Aristotle) being applied univocally to theological matters. Nathaniel Culverwell has a great section in his Elegant Discourse on the Light of Nature on the same issue. The false premise they present is in describing the Essence of God with metaphysical terms used to describe the material world, or Aristotle’s constituted objects. per Aristotle, three men share one form or nature and have three wills, yet the persons of the trintiy share one nature and have only one. That’s a problem for the Aristotelian theology as a whole. That’s a problem for Aristotle’s defintion of nature being used in theological matters carte blanche and it actually ends up positing a tri theistic construction. I have a bit on this on my new Scholasticism essay. http://sites.google.com/a/thekingsparlor.com/the-kings-parlor/epistemology-and-metaphysics/scholasticism-explained-and-compared-by-drake-shelton

  71. drake Says:

    Denson,

    “Drake,“We are declared righteous though not really righteous”I am interested in understanding this view as I am not familiar with it!”……………………………………………………………………………………………
    First of all, we are condemned sinners by nature, and so we are ‘really not righteous’!

    Is appears you are familiar with it.

  72. drake Says:

    Sean,

    I am curious to get a word for your view of the union. I think the little circle growing into the large one is super cool. As far as you explain things I agree with your view but I am not sure it goes far enough, but I would have to know how you label it. Is then the union or overlapping of the minds metaphysical, ontological, existential, a conjuntion, a physis, sonship or what?

    Drake

  73. enieves Says:

    Great Drake.

    I’m engrossed in so much study on the issues that I was going to attempt something very limited. It’s just important that somebody answer him and I can’t wait to see it.

    And since this is the case, I’ll try to clarify myself to cliffton in a short while, though with nothing too deep.

  74. olivianus Says:

    Enieves,
    Now that I think about, Anderson isn’t worth the time. His adherence to the One person view of the Incarnation is his weakness with the Trinity stuff. This has pretty much 100% convinced me of Clark’s view of the Trinity. I just left this post on Anderson’s blog against Clark’s view of the Trinity. In my opinion this is the spear in the heart of all One Person Protestants:

    Do you believe that there is one will in the Trinity? (Monergism, One determining will )

    If yes

    Do you believe that there are two wills in Christ (per, 6th Council)? [I believe there are two wills as well, per Gethsemane "Not my will but thine be done"]

    If yes

    Do you believe in the One person view of the Incarnation per hypostatic union?

    If yes

    Does this not posit two wills in the Second Person and therefore two wills in the Trinity and therefore eliminate the possibility of monergism and therefore, Reformed faith carte blanche?

    If yes, would you be willing to believe Clark’s view as a solution?

  75. olivianus Says:

    I meant to say 100% convinced me of Clark’s view of the Incarnation.

  76. olivianus Says:

    This is Drake, I go by Olivianus on wordpress.

  77. olivianus Says:

    Charlie Ray is trying his best to answer me over at:
    http://proginosko.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/gordon-clarks-paradoxical-view-of-the-trinity/

    He understands about 10% of the issues involved.

    Drake

  78. Sean Gerety Says:

    Drake, I can’t say I can always follow where it is you’re going, or even if I want to follow, but Charlie is clueless (as is Roger Mann who can’t seem to even understand the implications of what he writes, which means he’ll be a Vantillian in short order).

    I especially liked the argument you posed to James Anderson, re:

    1. I think it should be noted that the revealed world of Theological propositions that make up the defintion of “godhood” in Clark’s system cannot be paralleled with the “manhood of peter james and John.” In Clark’s book on the Atonement, If I can remember its page 117 Clark shows that godhood and manhood cannot be paralelled [sic] for this reason: Many men participate in a certain nature and are yet called three men, yet the three Persons of the Trinity participate in a certain nature and they are only one God. Yet, the three men have three wills, but the Trinity has one will. Therefore, the metaphysical dilema[sic] is equivocation.

    2. Do you believe that there is one will in the Trinity? (Monergism, One determining will).

    If yes

    Do you believe that there are two wills in Christ (per, 6th Council)?

    If yes

    Do you believe in the One person view of the Incarnation per hypostatic union?

    If yes

    Does this not posit two wills in the Second Person and therefore two wills in the Trinity and therefore eliminate the possibility of monergism and therefore, Reformed faith carte blanche?

    I had to read it a couple of times, but it is brilliant. I noticed that Anderson didn’t answer you. Big surprise.

    Is it too much of an imposition to ask for the actual citation from Clark above? If so, I’m sure I can look it up (just being lazy) ;).

  79. Sean Gerety Says:

    And just to clarify the above and why I was struggling:

    The Sixth Council of Constantinople III – 680-81

    The saga of the dual nature of Jesus continued in this council. The council researched the question that if Jesus had two natures; did he have one or two wills? If Jesus was genuinely human, then he must have possessed authentic human freedom. The fourth council gave Jesus two natures, and the sixth council gave him two wills; a divine will as well as a human will. http://www.usislam.org/69ecum.htm

  80. Drake Says:

    I am at work right now but I will get it to you later tonight.

    Drake

  81. Sean Gerety Says:

    FYI, I should point out that the above website is probably not to be trusted, but it’s one that came up when I looked for the Sixth Council of Constantinople. Interestingly, the site is called “United States of Islam – The Truth about God and Religions.”

  82. Sean Gerety Says:

    Here is an interesting piece by William Craig who, besides being an Arminian, is a monothelite. However, I found his reasoning interesting and relevant. Particularly to the point is his observation:

    By contrast, it seems to me almost obvious that the will is a faculty of a person. It is persons who have free will and exercise it to choose this or that. If Christ’s human nature had its own proper will so that Christ had literally two wills, as the Council affirmed, then there would be two persons, one human and one divine. But that is the heresy known as Nestorianism, which divides Christ’s person into two. I cannot understand how Christ’s human nature could have a will of its own, distinct from the will of the Second Person of the Trinity, and not be a person.

    Good point. I can’t either.

  83. Drake Says:

    Sean,
    be cautious with that. Will is not a property of person but of nature. If will was a property of person, the Trinity would have three wills.

    Drake

  84. Drake Says:

    Sean,
    clark quote
    “naturally the persons of the trinity are one inthe sense that all men are one,and all horses; but it does not follow that the three persons are only one in that sense. For example, three human beings have three wills ; but the three persons have but one will. Hence the diversification of the persons, for which reason we cannot assert that the two unities are completely identical.”
    the atonement pg 117
    t foundation 1987

  85. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Drake for the citation. I confess, I’m not so much interested in dissecting the Incarnation as I am in merely solving the paradox created by the historic formulation, which I think Clark’s solution, as unacceptable as it is to the minds of most people, does. I also think Morris’ two-mind theory avoids the charge of paradox as well, only that Clark’s solution seems more consistent and squarely faces the objections rightly raised against Morris.

    As I mentioned to you earlier, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the question. But,that said, I’ll be careful ;)

  86. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean, be cautious with that. Will is not a property of person but of nature. If will was a property of person, the Trinity would have three wills.

    Since will is the property of nature rather than person, it follows that mind is likewise the property of nature rather than person, since will is simply the mental power of volition. Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity equally possess one divine mind and will in accordance with the divine nature, just as the incarnate second Person possesses both the divine mind and will in accordance with His essential divine nature and a human mind and will in accordance with His assumed human nature (which is always in complete submission to the divine mind and will). That is the only biblical, confessional, and logical position one can take.

  87. Drake Says:

    Roger,
    “since will is simply the mental power of volition.”

    How does that mean that mind is a property of nature? You seem to be clearly distinguishing between mind and will. I think it is better understood that the will is the power of the the mental act.

    “Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity equally possess one divine mind and will in accordance with the divine nature”

    But on your view the mind and will of the human nature of Christ are hypostatized into one person. So when human Jesus says, “Let this cup pass from me” this is not the mind of the Second Person.” Therefore, you have multiple minds in the trinity, on your view here. It is inconsistent.

    “which is always in complete submission to the divine mind and will”
    That does not mean it is the same mind.

    I notice you don’t even touch the two wils argument.

    Drake

  88. Roger Mann Says:

    How does that mean that mind is a property of nature?

    Will is the power of choice or volition, which is clearly a mental act — an aspect or function of the mind. Therefore, if will is the property of nature rather than person, it follows that mind is likewise the property of nature rather than person. This is basic logic.

    But on your view the mind and will of the human nature of Christ are hypostatized into one person. So when human Jesus says, “Let this cup pass from me” this is not the mind of the Second Person.”

    No, in my view it is the human mind assumed by the second Person in the incarnation that thought that thought. The second Person did not think that thought in His divine mind but rather His human mind. Remember, mind and will are properties of nature rather than person. As Vincent Cheung points out:

    The proper formulation is to state that God the Son took up a human nature, including a human mind, in such a manner that the human mind is contained by the divine mind, although the two are not in any way mingled or confused. Whereas the divine mind has complete control over the human mind, the human mind does not have free access to the divine mind, but it receives special information and capabilities only as granted by the divine mind.

    In the Trinity, there are three systems of consciousness working in unison [i.e., within the one divine mind/nature -- RM], each fully participating in the divine attributes. When God the Son took up a human nature, he also took up a human center of consciousness [i.e., within the assumed human mind/nature -- RM]. But there remains only three centers of consciousness in the Trinity, because the human nature of Christ was not deified. It was not added to the Trinity as such, since what is human cannot become divine. (Systematic Theology, pg. 142-144)

    Therefore, you have multiple minds in the trinity, on your view here. It is inconsistent.

    Nope. I only have one mind within the divine nature of the Trinity.

    “which is always in complete submission to the divine mind and will.” That does not mean it is the same mind.

    Of course not. I never claimed that the human mind assumed by the second Person in the incarnation was “the same mind” as the one divine mind of the Trinity. What are you reading?

    I notice you don’t even touch the two wils argument.

    There was no need to address it. Christ possesses two minds and wills in the incarnation — one divine and one human. There’s nothing incoherent or contradictory about that.

  89. Sean Gerety Says:

    “Christ possesses two minds and wills in the incarnation — one divine and one human.”

    No argument. But how is having two minds and wills, one divine and one human not two persons? If a person is not as Clark defined, how do you define “person” so that one of them can posses two-minds and two-wills?

  90. drake Says:

    “Will is the power of choice or volition”

    You keep making this mistake. Will is not jointly exhaustive with volition. Volition is the mental act of willing. It is not the will. Will is the efficient cause of the volition.

    I understand their is overlap between the two. Clark clearly says in Biblical Doctrine of Man that mind is a section of the defintion of human nature. But Clark’s view of person is mind in a certain way.

    Drake

  91. olivianus Says:

    Roger
    define ” assume” and “took up”

    show the difference between “system of consciouness” and “mind”

    you said the” three persons of the trinity equally posses one divine mind”
    then you object to me objecting that the human and divine mind are the same. If they are seperated minds and the three persons have one mind and the second person has two minds is your solution to introduce another another nature instead of another person? So now the trinity is 3 persons and 2 natures? This is a mess.

    Your answer to the two wills argument convinces me more that you are wrong. With answers like that my job is almost complete.

  92. olivianus Says:

    Sean
    good question. His construction can’t even get off the ground.

    Drake

  93. olivianus Says:

    Cheung clearly contradicts the 6th council in the definition of faith. It clearly says the human nature is deified.

    Drake

  94. Sean Gerety Says:

    “I only have one mind within . . . the Trinity.” & “the three Persons of the Trinity equally possess one divine mind”

    If a person is not his mind and there are not three omniscients in the Trinity, but one omniscient, explain why the above isn’t modalism?

    Roger, are you a Sabellian?

  95. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    But how is having two minds and wills, one divine and one human not two persons?

    Do you and Drake even take one second to contemplate what I’ve written before you respond? Or are you just so convinced that I’m an imbecile that you don’t even bother to try? I clearly stated that a mind and will are properties of nature rather than person. In other words, a “mind” denotes something a person has rather than simply something that a person is. So it’s not difficult to grasp how one Person (the eternal Logos) can possess both a divine and human mind and will, since He possesses both a divine and human nature.

    By the way, the fact that mind and will are properties of nature rather than person is quite evident, for the simple fact that mind and will are attributes that are common to all rational beings. That which makes us differ is the unique personal qualities that cause us to think and will our own particular thoughts and desires.

    If a person is not as Clark defined, how do you define “person” so that one of them can posses two-minds and two-wills?

    A “person” is a “self-conscious substantive entity” or an “individual substance in rational nature,” while “nature” is a “complex of attributes or properties” that define what is common to being or thing. Thus, since a “person” is a principle in its own right not to be deduced from “nature,” the divine second “Person” can possess a divine mind and will in accordance with His essential divine nature, and a human mind and will in accordance with His assumed human nature. Robert Reymond makes this quite clear:

    While it is true that the Definition [of Chalcedon] denies that the Son of God, already a person within the Trinity, took into union with himself a human person, insisting rather that he took into union with himself a full complex of human attributes (the doctrine known as the anhypostasia, literally, “no person”), these fathers would never for a moment have thought of Jesus, as a man, as being an impersonal human being. Jesus was personal, as a man, by virtue of the union of his manness in the person of the Son. In other words, as a person, the Son of God gave personal identity to the human nature which he had assumed without losing or compromising his divine nature. Never for a moment did the man Jesus exist apart from the union of natures in the one divine person, but then this means as well that the man Jesus from the moment of conception was personal by virtue of the union of the human nature in the divine Son. (Systematic Theology, p. 610)

  96. Roger Mann Says:

    Drake wrote,

    You keep making this mistake. Will is not jointly exhaustive with volition. Volition is the mental act of willing. It is not the will. Will is the efficient cause of the volition.

    The dictionary defines volition as “The power or faculty of choosing; the will” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2009). This is precisely how I’m using the term. So the mistake is yours not mine.

    Clark clearly says in Biblical Doctrine of Man that mind is a section of the defintion of human nature. But Clark’s view of person is mind in a certain way.

    Then Clark contradicts himself, and his position in incoherent. If the “mind is a section of the definition of human nature,” then it is properly an attribute of human nature not personhood.

    That’s all I have time for right now, I’ll try to answer the other questions posed by you and Sean later today or tomorrow.

  97. Roger Mann Says:

    Drake wrote,

    define ” assume” and “took up”

    The way I have been using it is quite clear. It means “to voluntarily take upon oneself.” In the context of the Incarnation it means that the second Person of the Godhead voluntarily took upon Himself (i.e., into union with His Person) “the full complex of human attributes” or more simply a human “nature” (to include a rational finite soul/mind and mutable human will).

    show the difference between “system of consciouness” and “mind”

    The phrase “systems of consciousness” is Vincent Cheung’s not mine. However, I take him to mean that within the one divine nature or being of God (which includes the attributes of an omniscient mind and immutable will) there exists three personally distinct “centers of consciousness” or self-aware egos or subjects or persons. Thus, while all three centers of consciousness or persons possess omniscience (in their unity with the one divine nature/omniscient mind), only the Father subjectively thinks “I am the Father,” and only the Son subjectively thinks “I am the Son,” and only the Holy Spirit subjectively thinks “I am the Holy Spirit.” It is one God — one omniscient mind — that eternally exists in three personally distinct ways.

    you said the” three persons of the trinity equally posses one divine mind” then you object to me objecting that the human and divine mind are the same. If they are seperated minds and the three persons have one mind and the second person has two minds is your solution to introduce another another nature instead of another person? So now the trinity is 3 persons and 2 natures? This is a mess.

    Yes, what you are implying with your convoluted questions is a “mess,” but it bears no similarity to the actual position I have outlined. I have explained it adequately above, so I won’t repeat myself at length here. I’ll only say that the reason the human and divine minds are not the “same” mind is because “mind” is a property of nature not person, and the second Person possesses two distinct natures — one divine and one human.

    Your answer to the two wills argument convinces me more that you are wrong. With answers like that my job is almost complete.

    If you say so. Just let me know when you return from “Wonderland” so we can have a rational debate.

  98. Sean Gerety Says:

    Do you and Drake even take one second to contemplate what I’ve written before you respond? Or are you just so convinced that I’m an imbecile that you don’t even bother to try?

    I would never try to speak for Drake, since half the time I can’t follow him, but I certainly don’t consider you an imbecile.

    A “person” is a “self-conscious substantive entity” or an “individual substance in rational nature,” while “nature” is a “complex of attributes or properties” that define what is common to being or thing.

    Since I’m quite convinced that Clark is correct and substance is a meaningless word and that a “self-conscious substantive entity” is therefore nothing more than a “self-conscious entity.” Then, seeing that “substantive” only is window dressing, why isn’t “self-conscious entity” synonymous with mind? Therefore it would seem to follow that a person is his mind.

    I can’t help but think you are doing everything in your power to avoid the obvious.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Morris’ two-mind theory (which is considerably more developed than anything you’ve put forward) avoids the charge of paradox, however I don’t think it can be sustained that a mind is something a person “has” rather than what a person “is” which explains why you are reduced to meaningless word play (like “self-conscious substantive entity” or an “individual substance in rational nature”).

    As mentioned above in my review of Anderson, I think there are any number of objections to the two-mind theory, yours included, quite beyond semantics and your seeming obfuscation. I hate to agree with Anderson, but I think he is correct when he argues:

    If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features *without* those features being necessarily owned by an particular person. Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out. If experiences are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of *one* person with *two* distinct consciousnesses (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other). (97,98)

    See also Drakes argument above dealing with the question of monergism and its relationship to the question of the Incarnation. The more I mull it over, I think it is devastating argument.

    And, finally, you write concerning the Trinity:

    Thus, while all three centers of consciousness or persons possess omniscience (in their unity with the one divine nature/omniscient mind), only the Father subjectively thinks “I am the Father,” and only the Son subjectively thinks “I am the Son,” and only the Holy Spirit subjectively thinks “I am the Holy Spirit.” It is one God — one omniscient mind — that eternally exists in three personally distinct ways.

    Aside from the fact that minds will to do this or that, the above appears to be an attempt to use Clark’s theory of individuation while ending up with nothing more than crass modalism.

    Don’t minds think? If so (and I certainly hope so), how can the Holy Spirit think anything if He doesn’t posses His own mind, but rather is just some kind of personal subjective expression of the one divine mind? A mind, I might add, that includes two other divine Persons. Here it would seem you are left saying that person is something a mind “has,” rather than mind is something a person “has.” That’s quite a knot. =8-)

  99. drake Says:

    Roger,

    “A “person” is a “self-conscious substantive entity” or an “individual substance in rational nature”

    This would mean that the Trinity has three substances. Yet the Ecu creeds read one substance. This is why someone like Dr Clark had to come along in the history of Christianity.

    Drake

  100. drake Says:

    Roger,
    “The dictionary defines volition as “The power or faculty of choosing; the will” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2009). This is precisely how I’m using the term. So the mistake is yours not mine.”

    disintinctions in the philosophy of the conversation?

    What other concepts overlap with will: nature, heart, free agency, choice.

    What matters is how Clark-ians are using the terms in their construction.

    “Then Clark contradicts himself, and his position in incoherent. If the “mind is a section of the definition of human nature,” then it is properly an attribute of human nature not personhood.”

    You are still not touching the argument Roger. Clark’s view of personhood is mind in a certain way. Individuated by infima species.

    “The way I have been using it is quite clear. It means “to voluntarily take upon oneself.” In the context of the Incarnation it means that the second Person of the Godhead voluntarily took upon Himself (i.e., into union with His Person) “the full complex of human attributes” or more simply a human “nature” (to include a rational finite soul/mind and mutable human will).”

    Wow. What is the nature of the union or the taking upon oneself? You are not even touching the issue here Roger and you haven’t even climbed the mountain top to enter the conversation. I know of three tenable reponses to this question in the history of the Church 1. The Oritenal Orthodox say it is a taking up or union of essence. 2. The mainstream Eastern Orthodox say it is a metaphsyical union of energies, but since the nature of the Godhead IS BOTH ESSENCE AND ENERGY they can call it metaphysical and also escape the union of essence. 3. Nestorius’ position in the Bazaar of Heracleides which was left out of the ecu council debates is a union of eternal Sonship that the human entered at conception. A union of Sonship.

    So Roger your response shows me you are where I was about about 4000 pages ago.

    “The phrase “systems of consciousness” is Vincent Cheung’s not mine. However, I take him to mean that within the one divine nature or being of God (which includes the attributes of an omniscient mind and immutable will) there exists three personally distinct “centers of consciousness” or self-aware egos or subjects or persons. Thus, while all three centers of consciousness or persons possess omniscience (in their unity with the one divine nature/omniscient mind), only the Father subjectively thinks “I am the Father,” and only the Son subjectively thinks “I am the Son,” and only the Holy Spirit subjectively thinks “I am the Holy Spirit.” It is one God — one omniscient mind — that eternally exists in three personally distinct ways.”

    So then you individuate the minds by determing mind in a certain way. You even use almost identical wordsm “that eternally exists in three personally distinct ways.” I have said over and over Clark’s view of person is mind in a certain way, and then you say your is “one omniscient mind — that eternally exists in three personally distinct ways”.

    Now you are positing the same construction you were arguing against earlier.

    “Yes, what you are implying with your convoluted questions is a “mess,” but it bears no similarity to the actual position I have outlined. I have explained it adequately above, so I won’t repeat myself at length here. I’ll only say that the reason the human and divine minds are not the “same” mind is because “mind” is a property of nature not person, and the second Person possesses two distinct natures — one divine and one human.”

    Ok, so what you mean here is that another mind is not introduced into the Trinity because mind is a property of nature and not person. And another will is not introduced into the Trinity because will is a property of nature and not person. I see your point. The only way to make this work though would be to reject the metaphyscial union of the ecu councils and adopt Nestorius’ conjunction. Another issue would be the fact that Jesus’ human mind has a certain way to it that is more than generic humanity. I see your solution though; its not totally off the wall as much I first thought upon first broach.

    Sean
    I have read you a couple times now saying that you can’t follow what I say sometimes, I am guessing in part because I write unclearly and in part because you just don’t agree. I wish you would make that known to me when it happens.

  101. drake Says:

    Some of my post up above got mangled.

    Under my first quote of Roger I made the point that there are many definitions of volition and he should have included them all instead of picking one and trying to make everyone think his defintion is the exact one everyone has to take in Christology.

    My bad

  102. drake Says:

    Sean said,

    “A mind, I might add, that includes two other divine Persons. Here it would seem you are left saying that person is something a mind “has,” rather than mind is something a person “has.” That’s quite a knot. =8-)”

    It sounds like the living mind of Plato’s world of Ideas.

  103. drake Says:

    In reference to the deification thing.

    6th ecu council def of faith acts session 18
    “for as his most holy and emaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in it’s own state and nature so also his
    human will although deified was not surpressed but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory theologis ‘his will is not contrary to God but altogether deified.”

  104. Roger Mann Says:

    Drake wrote,

    “A “person” is a “self-conscious substantive entity” or an “individual substance in rational nature.” This would mean that the Trinity has three substances. Yet the Ecu creeds read one substance. This is why someone like Dr Clark had to come along in the history of Christianity.

    Now you are just being petty. In context I obviously wasn’t using the term “substance” to refer to God’s one divine essence or nature as the Creeds do. I was clearly using the term to refer to the three hypostases (Greek) or persona (Latin) or subsistences within the Godhead. As Calvin points out:

    “The fair inference from the Apostle’s words is, that there is a proper subsistence (hypostasis) of the Father, which shines refulgent in the Son. From this, again it is easy to infer that there is a subsistence (hypostasis) of the Son which distinguishes him from the Father. The same holds in the case of the Holy Spirit; for we will immediately prove both that he is God, and that he has a separate subsistence from the Father. This, moreover, is not a distinction of essence, which it were impious to multiply. If credit, then, is given to the Apostle’s testimony, it follows that there are three persons (hypostases) in God. The Latins having used the word Persona to express the same thing as the Greek ὑπόστατις, it betrays excessive fastidiousness and even perverseness to quarrel with the term. The most literal translation would be subsistence. Many have used substance in the same sense. Nor, indeed, was the use of the term Person confined to the Latin Church. For the Greek Church in like manner, perhaps, for the purpose of testifying their consent, have taught that there are three πρόσωπα (aspects) in God. All these, however, whether Greeks or Latins, though differing as to the word, are perfectly agreed in substance.” (Institutes, 1.13.2)

    So can we please stick to the substance of what I wrote, rather than playing silly little semantic “gotcha” games?

    Moreover, I concur with Calvin who goes on to say:

    “Where names have not been invented rashly, we must beware lest we become chargeable with arrogance and rashness in rejecting them. I wish, indeed, that such names were buried, provided all would concur in the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God, and yet that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that each has his peculiar subsistence [or "individual substance in rational nature" to use my words from above --RM]. I am not so minutely precise as to fight furiously for mere words.” (Institutes, 1.13.5)

    And since the proper definition of “person” has continuously been wrangled over during this debate, I’ll quote Calvin at length here as I wholeheartedly agree with how he defines the term:

    “But to say nothing more of words, let us now attend to the thing signified. By person, then, I mean a subsistence in the Divine essence,—a subsistence which, while related to the other two, is distinguished from them by incommunicable properties. By subsistence we wish something else to be understood than essence. For if the Word were God simply and had not some property peculiar to himself, John could not have said correctly that he had always been with God. When he adds immediately after, that the Word was God, he calls us back to the one essence. But because he could not be with God without dwelling in the Father, hence arises that subsistence, which, though connected with the essence by an indissoluble tie, being incapable of separation, yet has a special mark by which it is distinguished from it. Now, I say that each of the three subsistences while related to the others is distinguished by its own properties. Here relation is distinctly expressed, because, when God is mentioned simply and indefinitely the name belongs not less to the Son and Spirit than to the Father. But whenever the Father is compared with the Son, the peculiar property of each distinguishes the one from the other. Again, whatever is proper to each I affirm to be incommunicable, because nothing can apply or be transferred to the Son which is attributed to the Father as a mark of distinction.” (Institutes, 1.13.6)

    Now that the term have been clearly defined, I’ll ask you and Sean point blank: How many hypostases, persons, or subsistences (since they are all synonymous) are involved in the Incarnation, one or two? If you say one, you are doctrinally accurate and orthodox (remember, the orthodox doctrine maintains the anhypostasia of Christ’s human nature). If you say two — one human and one divine — then you are doctrinally false and heretical (it’s historically called Nestorianism whether you like it or not). So what say you? Are you orthodox or heretical? Answer the question head on and unambiguously.

    Sorry, but that’s all the time I have right now. I’ll try to address some of the other points raised later if I have time.

  105. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean
    I have read you a couple times now saying that you can’t follow what I say sometimes, I am guessing in part because I write unclearly and in part because you just don’t agree. I wish you would make that known to me when it happens.

    Don’t take it personally and it’s not that you don’t write clearly, but you’ve spent a lot more time studying early church history than I have. If I ever have a specific question, don’t worry I’ll ask. :)

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, have you read my review above? All you have to do is scroll up.

  107. drake Says:

    Roger,
    I already dealt with Calvin’s view in detail. I wrote a paper on it, and he doesn’t touch the major issues.

    “Now you are just being petty. In context I obviously wasn’t using the term “substance” to refer to God’s one divine essence or nature as the Creeds do. I was clearly using the term to refer to the three hypostases (Greek) or persona (Latin) or subsistences within the Godhead. As Calvin points out:”

    You need to read a history of scholasticism. This is the exact reason that Aquinas did not believe the Trinity could be philsophically demonstrated. This reflects the divisions between theology and philosophy that created even more problems. This is not pettiness, this is someone who just finished reading 1500 pages on the period and who can easily identify someone who doesn’t understand what he is commiting himself to.

    “Where names have not been invented rashly, we must beware lest we become chargeable with arrogance and rashness in rejecting them. I wish, indeed, that such names were buried, provided all would concur in the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God, and yet that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that each has his peculiar subsistence [or "individual substance in rational nature" to use my words from above --RM]. I am not so minutely precise as to fight furiously for mere words.” (Institutes, 1.13.5)”

    Yet he leaves out all of the epistemic consequences that resulted from such inprecision. Again you need to do some serious homework on the scholastic period. Calvin likes to warn people about prying into mysteries and being too curious, yet I think he misuses the idea of mystery and for someone who is normally so precise i think he may have been the victim of some haggard anchoretics. Who knows.

    Calvin says,

    “By subsistence we wish something else to be understood than essence.”

    First, the subsistence language is highly metaphysical and a metaphysical union seems the clearest consequence from it and deification. I don’t think he saw the connection between the constructions of the Patristic religion and the incompatibility of them with the system he was constructing.

    Second,”yet has a special mark by which it is distinguished from it.” That’s a fine asertion but no defintion is given to show the difference.

    Third, Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius, Book II
    page 253, in footnote 1073 says,

    ““Essence, substance, οὐσία. Most of this controversy might have been avoided by agreeing to banish the word οὐσία entirely from this sort of connection with the Deity. Even Celsus the Neo-platonist had said, “God does not partake of substance” (οὐσίας). “Exactly,” Origen replies, “God is partaken of, viz., by those who have His spirit, rather than partakes of anything Himself. Indeed, the subject of substance involves questions complicated and difficult to decide; most especially on this point. Supposing, that is, an absolute Substance, motionless, incorporeal, is God beyond this Substance in rank and power, granting a share of it to those to whom according to His Word He chooses to communicate it? Or is He Himself this Substance, though described as invisible in that passage about the Saviour (Coloss. i. 15) ‘Who is the image of the invisible God,’ where invisible means incorporeal? Another point is this: is the Only-Begotten and First-Born of all Creatures to be pronounced the Substance of substances, the Original Idea of all ideas, while the Father God Himself is beyond all these?” (c. Cels. vi. 64). (Such a question as this last, however, could not have been asked a century later, when Athanasius had dispelled all traces of Neo-platonic subordination from the Christian Faith. Uncreated Spirit, not Invisible First Substance, is the mark of all in the Triune-God. But the effort of Neo-platonism to rise above every term that might seem to include the Deity had not been thrown away. Even “God is Spirit” is only a conception, not a definition, of the Deity; while “God is substance” ought to be regarded as an actual contradiction in terms.)””

    “Now that the term have been clearly defined”
    You’re kidding right?

    ” If you say one, you are doctrinally accurate and orthodox (remember, the orthodox doctrine maintains the anhypostasia of Christ’s human nature). If you say two — one human and one divine — then you are doctrinally false and heretical (it’s historically called Nestorianism whether you like it or not). So what say you? Are you orthodox or heretical? Answer the question head on and unambiguously.”

    This is a howler. You need to read at least a thousand pages on the eastern view of Christology and epistemology and theology proper, then you will know what was meant by the words they used in the ecu councils. Nestroius’ doctrine wasn’t even touched in the ecu councils and I have a question for you Roger, did you read Nestorius’ Bazaar of Heracleides?

  108. drake Says:

    1. Calvin does not deal with the arguments for icon in his dealing with images 1.11. The Catholic Catechism says in question1159:
    “The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ. It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible God, but the incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new “economy” of images: Previously God, who has neither a body nor a face, absolutely could not be represented by an image. But now that he has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of God . . . and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled.” St. John Damascene, De imag. 1, 16: PG 96: 1245-1248

    The Institutes don’t even touch this.

    2. The subsistence and substance language comes straight from Aristotle’s empirical theology and to be consistent his books need to added into the canon to hold to sola scriptura. Today, people sneer when I say such things, not knowing the history of scholasticism. There was a day when that very thing was attempted. In Victor Cousin’s Course of the History of Modern Philosophy, Volume2 pg. 29, Cousin says in reference to the middle ages,

    “It must not be forgotten that at a later period the order of the Jesuits, which opposed the progress of the new spirit, was intimately connected with the Dominicans…The summing up, and as it were, the characteristic trait of this second epoch of scholasticism, was project which, for a moment promising success, finally miscarried. Can you guess what it was? it was to canonize Aristotle as the philosopher par excellence.”

    The Jesuits and the Dominicans were consistent.

    3. In reference to the generic human nature thing, I wonder how Roger takes this quote from Calvin,

    Calvin says in 2.12.3:

    “Therefore, our Lord came forth very man, adopted the PERSON of Adam, and assumed his name, that he might in his stead obey the Father; that he might present our flesh as the price of satisfaction to the just judgment of God, and in the same flesh pay the penalty which we had incurred.”
    (John Calvin, Institutes, Ethereal Christian Library Site, April 2010, available at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.xiii.html, Internet; accessed April 2010)”

    Calvin gives no attention whatsoever to the problems of a generic human nature in 2.13.

    4. In 2.14 he doesn’t even come close to defining the hypo union. He simply denotates by pointing out scriptures.

    5. It has yet to be demonstrated how a single substance can have two different natures. Anna Zhyrkova in A Philosophical Explanation of Hypostatical Union in John Damascene’s Fount of Knowledge says,
    “Thus, Damascene claims that “it is impossible for one compound nature to be made from two substances, that is to say, from two natures, because it is impossible for logically opposed constituent differences to exist in the same thing. It is possible, however, for one compound hypostasis to be made from diverse natures, which is how man is made up of body and soul”(Dial. 42, 16-20). Thereby, the actual existence of hypostasis allows explaining not only the problem of man in whom two natures are united to each other hypostatically, but also the question of Christ whose hypostasis assumes an additional nature:”

    The issues remind of that section in Dr Clark’s Ancient Philosophy text about corporeal monism. Parmenides asked how everything is one substance when there are contradictory natures in the world. How can fire and water, hot and cold, etc. be the same substance?

    6. In 2.14.8 Calvin says,

    “For if the flesh were the Godhead itself, it would cease to be its temple. Now, the only Redeemer we can have is He who being begotten of the seed of Abraham and David according to the flesh, truly became man. But he erroneously insists on the expression of John, “The Word was made flesh.” As these words refute the heresy of Nestorius, so they give no countenance to the impious fiction of which Eutyches was the inventor, since all that the Evangelist intended was to assert a unity of person in two natures.”

    Here he shows Nestorius’ argument on this passage. In a devastating argument Nestorius refutes Sophrinius and shows him that Aaron’s rod becoming a snake and the water of the Nile becoming blood is an example of something metaphyscially becoming something else. Those who take John 1:14 to be metaphysical do not believe in an incarnation, they believe in a metamorphosis.

  109. drake Says:

    For yet another complain on Calvin in the incarnation, his sections on the sacraments does not deal with the issue of the incarnation and the sacraments and how the ancient and protestant view differ. In giving the patristic view of the sacraments Pope Leo XIII in His Encyclical Mirae Caritalis
    “The Eucharist, according to the testimony of the holy Fathers, should be regarded as in a manner a continuation and extension of the Incarnation. For in and by it the substance of the Incarnate Word is united with individual men, and the supreme Sacrifice offered on Calvary is in a wondrous manner renewed … all laws of nature are suspended; the whole substance of the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.” (Pope Leo XII, The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII. Pg. 524)

    Their view of the sacramanets is in keeping with the metaphysical union of the ecu councils. Roger simply has not read enough about the system behind the ecu councils to recognioze what it is he is commiting himself to.

    To be fair though Francis Turretin goes into detail about all these issues in his Institutes Vol 2 Section 13. I have read it and plan to do a review of it. It is by and far the best representation of a Protestant One Person view I know of.

  110. speigel Says:

    @Roger: Please email me at: speigel dot s at gmail dot com. Thanks.

  111. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, please don’t email me privately, but if Jesus Christ has two minds and two wills as you claim above, please tell me, pursuant to Clark’s definition of “person,” assuming you understand it (it’s not difficult), in what way Clark’s two person theory is in any way substantially different from a two-mind theory and why Clark, in your mind, is a heretic?

    Is it just that any two person theory, REGARDLESS OF HOW ONE DEFINES “PERSON” OR IF ONE DOES NOT DEFINE IT AT ALL, is Nestorian and Nestorianism is heretical, therefore definitions are irrelevant and tradition and the so-called “ecumenical creeds” right or wrong determines the truth?

    Thanks in advance.

  112. Drake Says:

    Above I meant to say that Calvin shows he did not know nestorius” take on John 1: 14

  113. Drake Says:

    After chewing over Turretin’s construction I think the same thoughts the has of the abstract and the concrete apply here. Roger wants to make mind mean the same in nature as our view of person. Yet our view of nature methinks is mind in the abstract but in person mind inthe concrete.

  114. Drake Says:

    Roger
    you ask us how many substances/subsistence

    at this point I can only say two. How can their be an incarnation if the substance of God and the substance of flesh are not both there? They must both be there for an incarnation and at this point I know of no other union of the two that sustains an incarnation and avoids adoptionism than a union of eternal sonship begun At Conception. I am willing to consider another take but I know of no other. You say there is one and therefore deny an incarnation and posit a metamorphisis. Behold the failure of ancient anchoretic christianity. The ecu councils do not even touch this stuff.

  115. Drake Says:

    In refernce to James’ Statement,

    “If the doctrine of the Trinity is inherently paradoxical . . . then the doctrine of the Incarnation necessarily inherits that paradoxicality. Here is the argument: if the Son assumed a human nature, and the Son is God, then God assumed a human nature; but if the Father did not assume a human nature, and the Father is God, then God did *not* assume a human nature; therefore, God both did and did not assume a human nature. (79,80)”

    Turretin goes into detail about this in Vol 2.13

    On page 305 Turretin comments on the relationship of
    the entire Trinity to the human nature. He denies that the entire Trinity became incarnate. The human nature is incarnate, “mediately and in the person of the Son…Thus the incarnation is a work not natural, but personal, terminating on the person, not on the nature.”

    He denies that this is a paradox and then he solves it. This is also particularly applicable to Roger’s statements trying to escape the assertion that the Person attained another will in the incarnation because will is not a property of person. Yet this is exactly what he must believe for the incarnation terminates on the Second Person of the Trinity and not on the divine nature as Turretin proves. The only way out of this is to say that the entire trinity was incarnated.

  116. Drake Says:

    In reference to the act of the wil and its relationship to nature and person.

    Turetin says, Institutes, Vol 2.13, question 7, Eutychianism

    “two wills are ascribed to him. Nor does it follow that there are two willing because the will belongs to the nature, while willing belongs to the person; nor is it evident that the will follows personally forthwith because in God there are three persons, but only one will.”

    Now I am not saying he is explicitly affirming a two person theory obviously. What I think is interesting is that he akowledges the act of the will being of the person while the will in the abstract is of the nature.

  117. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    If Jesus Christ has two minds and two wills as you claim above, please tell me, pursuant to Clark’s definition of “person,” assuming you understand it (it’s not difficult), in what way Clark’s two person theory is in any way substantially different from a two-mind theory and why Clark, in your mind, is a heretic?

    Sean, it really doesn’t matter how (or if) one precisely defines person in the end. Any “two-person” theory suffers from the same fatal flaw — the divine second Person of the Godhead never truly becomes a man and suffers for our sins. Redefining the term “person” changes nothing. The divine subject (i.e., hypostasis, persona, subsistence, person) always remains separate from the human subject that suffered in the flesh and died on the cross, which explicitly contradicts Scripture:

    “And I [the Lord/Yahweh] will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

    “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

    “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

    I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer. Nevertheless, it is an extremely grievous and deadly heresy.

    As John Gill rightly points out, if only a human “person” experienced death on the cross, we have no redemption, no hope, and no salvation:

    “If the two natures in Christ were two distinct separate persons, the works and actions done in each nature could not be said of the same Person; the righteousness wrought out by Christ in the human nature, could not be called the righteousness of God: nor the blood shed in the human nature the blood of the Son of God; nor God be said to purchase the church with his blood; nor the Lord of life and glory to be crucified; nor the Son of man to be in heaven, when he was here on earth: all which phrases can only be accounted for, upon the footing of the personal union of the human nature to the Son of God, and his having but one Person; of which these various things are predicated. Besides, if the human nature of Christ was a person of itself, what it did and suffered could have been of no avail, nor of any benefit to any other but itself; the salvation wrought out in it, and by it, would not have been the common salvation, or common to elect men; but peculiar to that individual human person; and the righteousness he is the author of, he would only have had the benefit of it, being justified by it, and accepted with God in it; whereas, it being wrought out in the human nature, as in personal union with the Son of God, this gives it an enlarged virtue, and spread; and so it comes to be “unto all, and upon all them that believe.” (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, 5.1.2)

    Thus, Clark’s view is a soul-destroying heresy that is rightly condemned by the Chalcedonian definition — and every orthodox branch of Christianity, to include the Westminster Standards! Now, will you answer the question that I posed earlier:

    How many hypostases, persons, or subsistences (since they are all synonymous) are involved in the Incarnation, one or two? If you say one, you are doctrinally accurate and orthodox (remember, the orthodox doctrine maintains the anhypostasia of Christ’s human nature). If you say two — one human and one divine — then you are doctrinally false and heretical (it’s historically called Nestorianism whether you like it or not). So what say you? Are you orthodox or heretical? Answer the question head on and unambiguously.

  118. Drake Says:

    Roger

    your last post is answered in detail in my posts above. In reference to the acts 20 and 1 cor 2 passages the bazaar goes into some detail here. These are homynyms. To the objection about the logos becoming flesh I answered this in detail with the metamorphisis arg. I answered the two substances thing as well. You have shown yourself completely unable to get off the ground Roger. Your view cannot support an incarnation at all. Come back after you have read a few thousand more pages. I would be glad to email you a bibliography.

  119. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, it really doesn’t matter how (or if) one precisely defines person in the end. Any “two-person” theory suffers from the same fatal flaw — the divine second Person of the Godhead never truly becomes a man and suffers for our sins.

    Thanks, I see where you’re coming from.

    Definitions are irrelevant.

    This explains why you continue to use words like “substance” and is a word which you have not defined, and, I dare say, cannot define – even defining “person” as an “individual substance in rational nature.” Therefore, defining a man as “a congeries, a system, sometimes an agglomeration of miscellany, but at any rate a collection of thoughts,” or more simply, a person is “a composite of propositions,” is not so much incorrect in your mind as it is irrelevant.

    You have a conception of the Incarnation and regardless of the biblical data, such as the fact that the Second Person is immutable, impassible and eternal, yet we see the man Jesus who is mutable and subject to suffering, pain, temptation and death, the definition of Chalcedon is an infallible deliverance of the Holy Spirit even if it makes no sense of the biblical data. So, not only are definitions useless in this discussion, but so is the question of the coherence or incoherence of any proposed solution including your own. Got it.

    Therefore, and in short, any attempts to reason together are futile and I’m just wasting my time.

    Thanks for clearing that up Roger. I’ll try and remember that.

    Redefining the term “person” changes nothing. The divine subject (i.e., hypostasis, persona, subsistence, person) always remains separate from the human subject that suffered in the flesh and died on the cross, which explicitly contradicts Scripture:

    “And I [the Lord/Yahweh] will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

    “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

    “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

    I’m not sure why you are unable to see this necessary implication of the two-person theory, but I don’t know how to explain it any clearer. Nevertheless, it is an extremely grievous and deadly heresy.

    Don’t get me wrong, all these verses would have force against Clark’s theory IF Clark at any point were to deny that Jesus Christ was also fully God. But that is not Clark’s theory. Jesus was both fully God (immutable, impassible, eternal) and fully man (mutable, passible, and temporal). While Jesus was a man as the Scriptures proclaim (1 Tim 2:5), a real human person, Jesus could also say that “before Abraham was, I am.” Now, how can that be?

    Well, if you read my review or even read Morris’ The Logic of God Incarnate, in order to avoid asserting a blatant contradiction as Anderson has and as you have done (for example when you assert above that Jesus was unlimited and limited, mutable and immutable), Morris posits an asymmetric accessing relation in the Person of Christ between the human and divine minds. Frankly, I think this is a brilliant move and avoids asserting a blatant contradiction while, strictly, remaining within the bounds of Chalcedonian orthodoxy.

    But, as brilliant as it is, the question remains: does this solution avoid the charge of being incoherent? I don’t think it does for a whole slew of reasons that I’ve already stated and that you, with all your many citations, have not even ONCE squarely faced, much less overcome. My guess is that you just either don’t understand what is being said or just don’t want to understand what’s being said (FWIW, since I don’t think you’re an idiot, I think it’s the latter).

    So, to repeat one last time and again from Anderson:

    “If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., [i.e., two distinct minds] are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features [or minds] without those features being necessarily owned by an particular person. Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out. If experiences [i.e., thoughts] are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of one person with two distinct consciousnesses [i.e, two distinct minds] (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other).”

    Furthermore, to say that Jesus had two minds (and He did), and two wills (and He did), yet is only divine Person necessarily implies that there is more than one will in the Godhead. I confess, I’m at a loss as to why none of this doesn’t cause you to even pause. It seems to me that your method of dealing with the difficulties of the Incarnation is avoidance.

    As John Gill rightly points out, if only a human “person” experienced death on the cross, we have no redemption, no hope, and no salvation:

    Whether Gill is right or not remains to be seen. So, let me see if I get this, when Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” the Second Person of the Trinity was being forsaken by the other Two Persons of the Trinity and then shortly thereafter when He died on that Cross, for those three days prior to the resurrection the Trinity ceased to exist? The Godhead was a bianity? That would seem to be the necessary implication of the proposition God the Second Person died. And to think all this time I thought Clark was right and God could not die. I stand corrected, Nietzsche was right.

    Thus, Clark’s view is a soul-destroying heresy that is rightly condemned by the Chalcedonian definition — and every orthodox branch of Christianity, to include the Westminster Standards!

    So, tell me, in your mind both Gordon Clark and John Robbins souls have been destroyed and both men are now burning in the fires of Hell. Have I got it?

    Now, will you answer the question that I posed earlier:

    I have Roger and I told you exactly where to find it. I gave my answer in the concluding paragraphs in my review above. Do I need to cut and paste it here for you or don’t you have a scroll bar on your computer?

  120. Roger Mann Says:

    Drake,

    The only thing your above posts have demonstrated is a lack of reading comprehension and the inability to formulate a coherent argument. Come back when you have learned to do both.

    By the way, the proper understanding of Acts 20:28 and 1 Corinthians 2:8 is quite apparent to those who are not attempting to twist Scripture to suite their own purposes:

    “Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself: yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature, is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.” — WCF 8.7

    “But because the speech which Paul useth seemeth to be somewhat hard, we must see in what sense he saith that God purchased the Church with his blood. For nothing is more absurd than to feign or imagine God to be mortal or to have a body. But in this speech he commendeth the unity of person in Christ; for because there be distinct natures in Christ, the Scripture cloth sometimes recite that apart by itself which is proper to either. But when it setteth God before us made manifest in the flesh, it doth not separate the human nature from the Godhead. Notwithstanding, because again two natures are so united in Christ, that they make one person, that is improperly translated sometimes unto the one, which doth truly and in deed belong to the other, as in this place Paul doth attribute blood to God; because the man Jesus Christ, who shed his blood for us, was also God. This manner of speaking is caned, of the old writers, communicatio idiomatum, because the property of the one nature is applied to the other. And I said that by this means is manifestly expressed one person of Christ, lest we imagine him to be double, which Nestorius did in times past attempt; and yet for all this we must not imagine a confusion of the two natures which Eutychus went about to bring in, or which the Spanish dog, Servetus, hath at this time invented, who maketh the Godhead of Christ nothing else but a form or image of the human nature, which he dreameth to have always shined in God.” (John Calvin’s Commentary, Acts 20:28)

    “A very great character is here given of Christ, “the Lord of glory”, or the glorious Jehovah; reference seems to be had to Ps 24:7 where he is called, “the King of glory”, and is an argument of his true and proper deity: he is so called because possessed of all glorious perfections, and is the brightness of his Father’s glory; the same honour and glory are due to him as to the Father; and the same ascriptions of glory are made to him by angels and men. This is an instance of what the ancients call a communication of idioms or properties, whereby that which belongs to one nature in Christ, is predicated of his person, as denominated from the other: thus here the crucifixion of him, which properly belongs to his human nature, and that to his body only, is spoken of his person, and that as denominated from his divine nature, “the Lord of glory”; and he being so, this rendered his crucifixion, sufferings, and death, in human nature, efficacious to answer all the purposes for which they were endured.” (John Gill’s Commentary, Acts 20:28)

  121. Roger Mann Says:

    Sean wrote,

    Thanks, I see where you’re coming from. Definitions are irrelevant. This explains why you continue to use words like “substance” and is a word which you have not defined, and, I dare say, cannot define – even defining “person” as an “individual substance in rational nature.”

    Now you’re being as petty as Drake. Of course I defined “substance” (it most often refers to “nature” or “essence”), and even clarified that I was using it in a different sense in my definition of “person.”
    “In context I obviously wasn’t using the term ‘substance’ to refer to God’s one divine essence or nature as the Creeds do. I was clearly using the term to refer to the three hypostases (Greek) or persona (Latin) or subsistences within the Godhead.”

    Moreover, there is nothing novel or unusual about using the term in that fashion, as Calvin noted some 500 years ago:

    “The most literal translation would be subsistence. Many have used substance in the same sense. Nor, indeed, was the use of the term Person confined to the Latin Church. For the Greek Church in like manner, perhaps, for the purpose of testifying their consent, have taught that there are three πρόσωπα (aspects) in God. All these, however, whether Greeks or Latins, though differing as to the word, are perfectly agreed in substance.” (Institutes, 1.13.2)

    So apparently being honest about what people have written is what’s “irrelevant” to you.

    So, not only are definitions useless in this discussion, but so is the question of the coherence or incoherence of any proposed solution including your own. Got it.

    That’s funny. You absurdly argue that the Logos is a separate divine Person and nature from the human person and nature of Christ, yet “Jesus Christ was also fully God.” And you call me irrational!

    But that is not Clark’s theory. Jesus was both fully God (immutable, impassible, eternal) and fully man (mutable, passible, and temporal). While Jesus was a man as the Scriptures proclaim (1 Tim 2:5), a real human person, Jesus could also say that “before Abraham was, I am.” Now, how can that be?

    That can’t be under Clark’s (and your) heretical and absurd “two-person” theory, for under any “two-person” theory “The divine subject (i.e., hypostasis, persona, subsistence, person) always remains separate from the human subject that suffered in the flesh and died on the cross, which explicitly contradicts Scripture.” But apparently absurdity is the new norm under so-called “biblical rationalism” on this blog.

    Well, if you read my review or even read Morris’ The Logic of God Incarnate, in order to avoid asserting a blatant contradiction as Anderson has and as you have done (for example when you assert above that Jesus was unlimited and limited, mutable and immutable), Morris posits an asymmetric accessing relation in the Person of Christ between the human and divine minds.

    First, I have read and understand The Logic of God Incarnate quite well. Second, it is not a blatant contradiction to assert that Jesus was “unlimited and limited, mutable and immutable” in light of the union of the divine and human natures (substances) in the second Person (hypostasis) of the Godhead. The fact that you think this is a logical contradiction merely demonstrates your own lack of clear thinking, not mine. Third, Morris’ asymmetric accessing relation is no different than Cheung’s explanation I provided earlier, with which I agree:

    “The proper formulation is to state that God the Son took up a human nature, including a human mind, in such a manner that the human mind is contained by the divine mind, although the two are not in any way mingled or confused. Whereas the divine mind has complete control over the human mind, the human mind does not have free access to the divine mind, but it receives special information and capabilities only as granted by the divine mind. (Systematic Theology, p. 144)

    So what’s your point? How does that in any way mitigate my position?

    So, to repeat one last time and again from Anderson…

    Anderson’s point is only valid if “mind” is viewed as a proper attribute of person rather than nature, a position that I disagree with. If “mind” is properly viewed as an attribute of nature, then it obviously isn’t incoherent to say that one Person thinks thoughts from a different perspective with respect to His unique relationship to the divine omniscient mind/nature and limited human mind/nature.

    Furthermore, to say that Jesus had two minds (and He did), and two wills (and He did), yet is only divine Person necessarily implies that there is more than one will in the Godhead.

    No it doesn’t, for the simple reason that “two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion” (WCF 8.2). As proper attributes of “nature,” the human mind and will always remains distinct from the divine mind and will. Come on Sean, try thinking a little.

    And to think all this time I thought Clark was right and God could not die.

    The second Person of the Godhood cannot die in His essential divine nature, but He most certainly experienced death in His assumed human nature, as Zechariah 12:10, Acts 20:28, and 1 Corinthians 2:8 clearly demonstrate. The fact that you vigorously deny this exposes your infidelity to Scripture and heretical belief for what it truly is.

    So, tell me, in your mind both Gordon Clark and John Robbins souls have been destroyed and both men are now burning in the fires of Hell. Have I got it?

    If they didn’t repent and still believed this grievous heresy when they died, then yes they are now suffering in Hell. Clark clearly implied that this was his final position in his book, and Robbins explicitly declared: “Jesus Christ was and is both God and man, a divine person and a human person” (The Incarnation, p. 78). If that is what he truly believed, then he was no more worshipping the Christ of Scripture than Mormons are.

  122. Sean Gerety Says:

    If they didn’t repent and still believed this grievous heresy when they died, then yes they are now suffering in Hell.

    That’s what I thought you’d say.

    We’re done.

  123. drake Says:

    “Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself: yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature, is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.” — WCF 8.7

    I agree Amen. You fail to show how denominated is different than homynym. The only view of the union I know of that supports an incarnation is eternal sonship. So the suffering is predicated of the Sonship in the concrete but not the divine nature in the abstract. So for God here in Acts 20 and 1 Cor 2, this is meant the human nature as he is in union with the divine. Your quotes show nothing Roger. Just like every other person I have debated with on this issue, you deal with about 5% of what I say. The fact is you didn’t read the Bazaar of Heracleides. Read it and find out like every other person I know that has read it, Nestorius was not Nestorian!

    Roger wrote,
    ““The most literal translation would be subsistence. Many have used substance in the same sense. Nor, indeed, was the use of the term Person confined to the Latin Church. For the Greek Church in like manner, perhaps, for the purpose of testifying their consent, have taught that there are three πρόσωπα (aspects) in God. All these, however, whether Greeks or Latins, though differing as to the word, are perfectly agreed in substance.” (Institutes, 1.13.2)
    So apparently being honest about what people have written is what’s “irrelevant” to you.”

    He has yet to show how is view of the union posits and incarnation. His lack of defintions is the reason he omits such. He ends up hitting his head up against the same wall as Francis Turretin did when he said,”the mode of the hypostatical union is positively unspeakable.” Roger, you need to be consistent and acknowledge that the hypostatic union as you understand it is not propositional, it is an imaginative object of knowledge that is in keeping with Eastern Orthodox Religion. You are clearly on your way to Van Tilism which if taken consistently, is right on the way to the hesychasm of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    “The second Person of the Godhood cannot die in His essential divine nature, but He most certainly experienced death in His assumed human nature, as Zechariah 12:10, Acts 20:28, and 1 Corinthians 2:8 clearly demonstrate. The fact that you vigorously deny this exposes your infidelity to Scripture and heretical belief for what it truly is.”

    Cyril would say that you are distributing natures here and you are a heretic for rejecting the communication of attributes.

    Clark and Robbins are in hell huh?

    Roger can you demonstrate to me your criteria for determing what heresy is and what doctrines are positively required for heaven and what doctrines negatively to go to hell? Then show me how your answer is commensurate with the thief on the cross. (per Free Disputation by Samuel Rutherford)

  124. Drake Says:

    Roger’s attempts to escape the two wills in the trintity argument is actually an answer to the objections that Christ is two persons. His answers may demonstrate that, the fact Christ has two wills does not mean he is two persons. That’s fair and I agree. That does not answer my argument though. My argument is that on his view, he must posit two wills in the One Person of Christ and therefore introduce a second will in the Trinity.

  125. Drake Says:

    I want to flesh out more the two will sargument to make sure there is not a shadow of a doubt that Roger’s system of Christology and the two wills of Christ is wrong.

    I quoted a passage from the 6th council beofre but I want to quote the preceding sentences as well for good context:

    The Sixth Council states in its Definition of Faith:

    “And these two natural wills [in Christ] are not contrary the one to the other (God forbid!) as the impious heretics assert, but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will. For it was right that the flesh should be moved but subject to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For as his flesh is called and is the flesh of God the Word, so also the natural will of his flesh is called and IS THE PROPER WILL OF GOD THE WORD, as he himself says: “I came down from heaven, not that I might do mine own will but the will of the Father which sent me!” where he calls his own will the will of his flesh, inasmuch as his flesh was also his own. For as his most holy and immaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in its own state and nature (ὄρῳ τε καὶ λόγῳ), SO ALSO HIS HUMAN WILL, ALTHOUGH DEIFIED, was not suppressed, but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory Theologus: “His will [i.e., the Saviour’s] is not contrary to God but altogether deified.”

    Take note, by their admission, “IS THE PROPER WILL OF GOD” THEY DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF THE BIND SAYING THAT WILL IS A PROPERTY OF NATURE AND NOT PERSON. They assert that the human will is deified, and is the will of the Second person. And if you continue to read in Maximus the Confessor (6th-7th century Eastern Theologian) you see them fully rejecting the monergistic view of Augustine and the Reformation saying that there is synergy in Christ for this very reason, that the will of the human is deified in the Second Person. So Roger’s only place to run is into the arms of the anchoretics who deny justification by faith and assert the theosis deification salvation. That I believe will serve as the last nail in his theological coffin.

    Semper Reformanda!


  126. [...] Go to Choosing Paradox – Part Two [...]


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