Archive for January 2013

Clark Quick Quote

January 30, 2013

Keeping with the epistemology theme of recent posts, the following is from Clark’s reply to George Mavrodes that can also be found in Clark and His Critics:

The point at issue is not whether somebody believes that David was King; the question is, How can we know that David was King? No secular historiography (as I hope to show in a future volume) can validly give us that proposition. Nor can secular or empirical epistemologies give us the Atonement. In answer to the question how we may know these things we can reply only that God has so revealed them. One sentence in the objection (unintentionally no doubt) reinforces my position. Mavrodes notes, “It is a common tactic of Christianity’s opponents to direct some of their first and most effective attacks against the Axiom.” In this tactic, so it seems to me, there is a satanic wisdom that passes by derivative propositions and fixes on the very basis of Christianity. These opponents know or perhaps dimly but rightly surmise that if they can destroy the foundation, nothing remains.

Biblical Epistemology 101

January 27, 2013

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

I find it strange how many who claim to hold to the biblical epistemology of Gordon Clark fail to understand even the first principles of his theory.  For Clark knowledge requires an account.  That is, for a proposition to rise to the level of knowledge it has to be justified.  Clark is not alone as Greg Bahsen writes:

Beliefs that are arbitrarily adopted or based upon faulty grounds, even when they turn out to be true, do not qualify as instances of ‘knowledge’ … What is the additional ingredient, besides being correct, that a belief must have in order to count as knowledge?  It must be substantiated, supported, or justified by evidence.  Knowledge is true belief held on adequate grounds rather than held fallaciously or haphazardly.  To put it traditionally, knowledge is justified, true belief. [Van Til’s Apologetics, pg. 178]

Where Clark differed from Bahnsen was on the question of evidence as Clark maintained that Scripture alone provides both the content and account for knowledge.  Apart from the axiom of Scripture knowledge is otherwise unobtainable and all secular epistemologies end in skepticism not knowledge. This includes even the widely esteemed claims of science; the crown jewel of empiricism.  Clark is not alone in this either as Karl Popper observed:

First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it. We have learnt in the past, from many disappointments, that we must not expect finality . . .But this view of scientific method . . . means that in science there is no “knowledge”, in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. What we usually call ‘scientific knowledge’ is, as a rule, not knowledge in this sense, but rather information regarding the various competing hypotheses and the way in which they have stood up to various tests; it is, using the language of Plato and Aristotle, information concerning the latest, and the best tested, scientific ‘opinion’. This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by ‘proof’ an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory – The Problem of Induction.

The inability to arrive at final truths is the definition of skepticism, which is why Clark concludes; “Instead of being the sole gateway to all knowledge, science is not a way to any knowledge.”

There are two basic objections to Clark’s theory. The first is that it begs all questions and that the axiom of Scripture is too broad and allows men to account for everything from the laws of logic, ethics, politics, metaphysics, soteriology, the principles of economics (see John Robbin’s excellent lectures “Introduction to Economics” and “Intermediate Economics”), and more.  Clark responds that is exactly what an axiom or a first principle should do:

It is their function to cover all that follows…  Euclidean geometry many have six axioms and a hundred theorems.  The axioms imply the theorems, to be sure; but the theorems are not axioms.  The distinction between axioms and theorems is for the purpose of arranging derivative truths under a basic or comprehensive truth… Thus an all inclusive axiom that swallows everything at one gulp is most desirable.  An Introduction to Christian Philosophy, 63.

Not surprisingly, this is precisely why so many Christians are attracted to Clark’s epistemology since it reflects in philosophic terms Paul’s affirmation concerning the truth of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16,17:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

It also is a theory of knowledge that best conforms with Peter’s affirmation that Scripture is “a light shining in a dark place” and is a principle that we would do well to heed even in epistemology.  Clark does this in spades; much to the chagrin of even many thoughtful Christians.

The second major objection to Clark’s uniquely biblical epistemology is from the opposite direction and that is that the axiom of Scripture from which all knowledge is derived is simply too narrow and cannot provide an account for things we ordinarily believe to be true. Clark’s immediate reply to this objection is:

As has been shown, secular epistemologies cannot provide for any knowledge at all, therefore whatever revelation gives us, however restricted, is to be received with thanksgiving.

However, not being content with Clark’s answer (and evidently not particularly thankful for revelation as the sole source of knowledge either), this is where even those attracted to Clark’s theory chafe.  The reason is simple, and one that was constantly used to attack Clark throughout his career:  if knowledge is limited to Scripture as the axiomatic starting point and its necessary inferences or theorems, where does that leave everyday knowledge even those propositions with eternal consequences?  For example, can I even know that I am a saved man?  Well, the short answer is no.  I realize this is shocking to even many Christians, but assurance in one’s own blessed state is a psychological state of mind derived from the promises of the Gospel.  It is a confidence that as the Westminster Confession rightly observes may be “shaken, diminished, and intermitted.”  If “Sean Gerety is a saved man” could be inferred from the axiom of Scripture it’s hard to see how it may be “shaken, diminished, and intermitted” as it would as fixed and as final as the propositions of Scripture themselves.  Nothing could cause my knowledge that I’m a saved man to cease for even a moment, yet the WCF says my assurance may be “intermitted.”   Clearly assurance, as important as this doctrine is for the Christian life,  isn’t synonymous with knowledge.  So what happens to arguments like:

Whosoever believes in the Son has eternal life

x believes in the Son

x has eternal life.

The above argument is valid, but is it sound?  The major premise is true and is an object of knowledge since it is taken directly from John 3:36.  No argument here.  The problem lies in the minor premise which may or may not be true and is one that I like to think is true of me.  But, even if true, unless it can be accounted for it does not rise to the level of knowledge.  It should be obvious that if I start with Scripture as my axiom, and no matter how much I would like it to be otherwise, I cannot infer the proposition or theorem “Sean Gerety believes in the Son” from Scripture.  Of course, I could tell you that I so believe, but why should you believe me?  Even though my hope is that my name is written in the book of life, my name is nowhere found in Scripture (check your concordance).  Besides, didn’t the Lord say through His prophet Jeremiah; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  Couldn’t I just be deceiving myself?  This is why Paul implores us to examine and test ourselves to see if we “are in the faith.”  Federal Visionist and other heretics hate this kind of introspection and consider it morbid.  They want to know, objectively, that they and their congregations are saved so the solution they propose is not that of the WCF XVIII, their solution is “Look to your baptism.”  Of course, Paul also warn us to have “no confidence in the flesh” and he certainly had the pedigree to do so if such a thing were possible.   Besides, I’ve known plenty of people over the years who at one time claimed to be Christians, and who I even thought were Christians and suspect were even baptized too, but who turned out to be not what they appeared.

Recent examples would include professor and philosopher and one time winner of the Clark Prize in Apologetics,  Michael Sudduth, who revealed last year that he is now a Hare Krishna.  He fooled a lot of people over the years into believing that he was a Christian and I’m guessing he even fooled himself.  Another good example might be former PCA pastor Jason Stellman who led the prosecution against Federal Vision heretic Peter Leithart.  Not only did I believe that Stellman was a Christian minister dedicated to defending the truth of the Gospel,  I contributed financially to help in his failed prosecution of Leithart.  So you might say I put my money where my mouth is.  Not surprisingly, I was shocked and dismayed when he announced his rejection of sola scriptura and sola fide along with his defection to Rome immediately following the Leithart trial.

I would think all this is an obvious and if it’s admitted that we cannot know who God’s elect are, the same applies to us even when we look in the mirror.  Yet, when George Macleod Coghill made this point on a “Clark” Facebook discussion group, even adding that “all knowledge has to be truth, but it is not the case that all truth has to be knowledge,” a number of self-styled “Scripturalists” went bonkers.  Even people like former Trinity Foundation Worldview Contest winner Ryan Hedrich, a young man who claims to be in “broad agreement” with Clark’s epistemological views, if not much else, took issue with Clark’s theory at this point (so much for any “broad agreement). Hedrich said: “I do have true knowledge about myself. ‘I am regenerate’ is a proposition I can and do know.”  Now, admittedly, this is assertion from a young man who has recently come out of the closet rejecting the Trinity and the doctrine of God.  Needless to say I tend to be considerably more skeptical concerning Hedrich’s claim even if I wish I could be more charitable.  Frankly, I find it hard to think of any Christian church that would find Hedrich’s profession of faith credible for membership. The point is, and despite his bravado, unless a person like Hedrich can provide an account for how he arrived at the knowledge of his own regeneration, it appears to me to remain an opinion, and, in this case, one I have little confidence in as should he.  Besides, how can anyone be so arrogant to ignore Paul’s warning to the Corinthians; “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”  I would think that would be enough to humble even a Trinity Foundation Worldview Contest winner.

Consequently, there are countless everyday propositions which we accept as true but for which we cannot account.   That doesn’t make them untrue, it only means they are not strictly speaking, knowledge.  As Clark explains:

What account shall be given of everyday “knowledge” that common sense thinks is silly to doubt?  Don’t I know when I am hungry?  Can’t I use road maps to drive to Boston to Los Angeles?  Indeed, how can I know what the Bible says without reading its pages with my own eyes? It was one secular philosopher criticizing another, who said that knowledge is a fact and that any theory that did not account for it should be abandoned.  But all such criticisms miss the point.  The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false.  The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished.  Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K.  But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle.  An Introduction to Christian Philosophy, 90.

To repeat; “all knowledge has to be truth, but it is not the case that all truth has to be knowledge.”  Scripturalist epistemology 101.

Clark Quick Quote

January 25, 2013

“Conservative theologians too will be interested in that body of opinions which no one except the most outrageously idealistic philosophers can doubt.  Ordinarily these theologians do not favor the completely negative results of the present analysis of Aristotle, Plato, and others.  They will be inclined to be somewhat dogmatic with respect to daily experience. As one of them said, You cannot obey the seventh commandment if you don’t know who your wife is.

Strictly speaking, this is not true.  However extreme the suggestion may be, one could of course remain celibate.

But the remark was intended to imply that a man could with certainty know who his wife is.  The example may seem silly, but if taken seriously, it is clear that the epistemological question is in order: How do you know?

There is a story that at the birth of Louis XIV, Marie de Medici gave birth to twins.  Father Joseph wrote a note to Richelieu, who imposed perpetual silence on the midwife.  But a Spanish plotter picked up the discarded note and kidnapped the second twin.  After training the younger twin, and after Richelieu’s death, the Spaniard managed to catch Louis XIV alone, put him in the Iron Mask, and the twin reappeared as Louis XIV.

Granted, it is unlikely that anyone should go to such extremes to substitute another woman for the wife of an unimportant theologian or philosopher. But how do you know?  So long as substitution is possible, certainty is impossible.  Nor is substitution the only danger.  For those whose philosophic preparation rises above the level of Alexander Dumas, there are always the prior difficulties of solipsism, subjective idealism, and, let us remember, Descartes’ malignant demon, who so potent and deceitful has employed all his artifice to deceive us.  Modern philosophers prefer to ignore rather than to confront him.

With this result the pervious question returns. What account shall be given of everyday “knowledge” that commons sense thinks is silly to doubt?  Don’t I know when I am hungry?  Can’t I use road maps to drive to Boston to Los Angeles?  Indeed, how can I know what the Bible says without reading its pages with my own eyes? It was one secular philosopher criticizing another, who said that knowledge is a fact and that any theory that did not account for it should be abandoned.  But all such criticisms miss the point.  The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false.  The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished.  Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K.  But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle.”  An Introduction to Christian Philosophy, 89,90.

Gun Control, Old Testament Style

January 11, 2013

By Steve Matthews

taking aim

Until just a few years ago I had never fired a gun. Mind you, it wasn’t that I was opposed to gun ownership. That was never the case. I understood and supported the constitutional right of Americans to keep and bear arms. It just seemed to me that the Second Amendment had little application to my life. It was for others to uphold, not for me.

About four years ago all that changed. I bought my first gun and since then have acquired more. I did this for both symbolic and practical reasons. Free men tend to be armed men, and as the attacks on gun ownership mounted over the years, I more and more felt called to support in practice what I have always believed in my heart. Further, I must confess that the temptation to engage in an activity so hated by the Obamas, Feinsteins and Bloombergs of the world is absolutely irresistible. Ah, the joy of bitterly clinging to guns and religion.

Of course, the practical case for gun ownership is at least as compelling. I hate the thought of living life as a victim. Street thugs and tyrants alike offend me, and I have no intention of being and easy mark for either. Few things say I’m serious about life, liberty and property like a loaded gun and the ability to use it if need ed.

It was for defense against crime, and in particular state-sponsored crime, that was the impetus behind including the Second Amendment in the Constitution. Economist Walter Williams, long a hero of mine, recently wrote a wonderful column in which he cites several American founding fathers, true patriots all, speaking with one voice on the relationship between an armed citizenry and freedom. You can read it here.

But Williams didn’t leave it at that. Not only did he quote those who defended the right of citizen’s to bear arms, but he also provided a few juicy statements from various and sundry tyrants who, with very good reason, preferred to keep their jackboots on the necks of the defenseless than take their chances with a nation of gun owners. One quote in particular stood out. It reads,

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to posses arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”

Now there’s insight for you courtesy of a true prince of tyrants, Adolph Hitler. But Der Fuhrer was in no way being original when he made this statement. Almost as if to prove Solomon’s point about there being nothing new under the sun, the Old Testament relates the story about a like minded gang in 1 Samuel, chapter 13. There we read,

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, ‘Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.’ But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.”

And there you have it, gun control Old Testament style. The Philistines enjoyed being in the driver’s seat did not want the Hebrews armed “lest they make swords and spears” and turn them on their Philistine “benefactors.” But as bad as the Philistines and Nazis were, in one respect they were better than contemporary gun grabbers: they told you the truth about why they were taking people’s weapons. Sentimental and sanctimonious propaganda was not for them. It was all about the power, the power, and, lest I fail to mention it, the power.


More Trinitarian Musings

January 9, 2013

Many readers of this blog are probably already familiar with Joel Parkinson’s excellent piece, The Intellectual Triunity of God, which he wrote as basically an appendix to Clark’s monograph on the Trinity.  In that piece Parkinson offers an additional and much needed defense to Clark’s realistic and generic view of the Trinity (as opposed to the faux theory of “generic” unity currently being offered up to the confusion of some by subordinationists Ryan Hedrich and Drake Shelton).  Parkinson writes:

The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to the orthodox Christian faith. Trinitarian thought pervades the New Testament and is presupposed in the central doctrines of the Incarnation (Luke 1.35), Atonement (Hebrews 9:14), Resurrection (Romans 8:11), and Salvation (1 Peter 1:2) as well as in the practices of water baptism (Matthew 28:19) and prayer (Ephesians 2:18). Consequently, there can be no doubt that failure to accept the Trinity will lead to fatal errors in the rest of one’s theology. However, the Trinity is often viewed as a difficult if not self-contradictory concept. Is the Trinity really incoherent? The present article seeks to respond to this question with an emphatic “No.”

In essence, the doctrine of the Trinity may be outlined by the following three propositions:

  1. There is only one God who is immutably and eternally indivisible and simple (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6).
  2. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each fully and co-equally God (John 20:17; John 1:1; Acts 5:3-5).
  3. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct and not one and the same (Mark 1:10-11; John 15:26; Hebrews 9:14).

Now each of these affirmations is essential to the doctrine of God. To deny (1) is to fall into the error of tritheism. To repudiate (2) is to embrace subordinationism. To reject (3) is to settle for modalism. The reader may note that the personality of the Three is not explicitly stated. This is because the word “person” is not a Biblical term but one of convenience in theology. Nonetheless the intent behind the word “person” is wrapped up in these three truths. Call them what you will – persons, consciousness, or selves – whatever the Father is, the Son and the Holy Spirit are as well.

Parkinson then offers an easy to follow argument from omniscience that successfully demonstrates that

… separability among the three is absolutely impossible. If there were to be a rift within the Godhead, then each of the Persons could no longer immediately know the thoughts of the others. But this could only occur if these thoughts were never known (denying that they were ever omniscient) or if they were to forget something (denying their immutable omniscience). So we see that the unique case of divine omniscience is only possible for the three Persons if they are utterly inseparable. Or, to put it another way, the fact of divine omniscience makes divisibility among the three thinking Persons metaphysically impossible.

This  goes to the heart of a problem Clark raises in his discussion of the Trinity and one that Hedrich has repeatedly raised in opposition to Clark’s theory arguing instead that “generic unity” requires three individual beings or essences, not one.  Clark explains the problem this way:

A more substantial objection is that unity in the Godhead cannot be the unity of a species or a genus. The three Persons are one in a stricter, deeper, more inexplicable sense than the sense in which three or thirty men are one. Whether this objection is plausibly true or not depends on the sense in which men are one and the sense in which the Trinity is one. Those who make this objection should define the two senses (if indeed they are two) and point out the distinction. Unless we know how the Persons are one and how men are one, we cannot tell whether the unity is the same or different. But the objectors hardly define specific unity and disclaim ability to define divine unity. Their wording, however, suggests that they are using Aristotelian terminology and have misunderstood Plato.

Parkinson recognizes this problem too and puts the problem in terms similar to the ones Hedrich has used:

For instance, one could say that God is three Persons with one divine nature. But though this is true, if it is left unqualified it implies tritheism. Three men clearly share a common human nature but are not indivisible. One man could be killed without necessarily endangering the existence and identities of the other two. So there must be something unique to the divine nature precluding such divisibility.

Of course, the ontological subordinationism Hedrich argues for (i.e., the rejection of Parkinson’s point #2 above) puts him outside of biblical trinitarianism no matter how conceived  and no matter how many pre-Nicene fathers may appear to support his view.  Regardless of his protests, and regardless of how he tries to frame his arguments, Hedrich’s subordinationism places him in the same heretical camp along with Unitarians, Arians and semi-Arians (take your pick).

I recommend readers carefully study Parkinson’s argument from omniscience in The Intellectual Triunity of God.  I also recommend on a related theme Clark’s discussion of Traducianism that you can find here.

Even More Twisted Fruit From A Poisionous Mind

January 3, 2013

Dake Monad Shelton

I’m hard pressed to spend any time examining the unstable thoughts bouncing around the fevered mind of Drake Shelton. It’s like trying to take the ravings of some lunatic howling in the asylum seriously. The only reason I have even ventured onto his blog was because I was shocked to learn that some men, even one or two thinking themselves Scripturalists, take this man’s ravings seriously.  It really is amazing, because besides denigrating the Son this guy is easily the vilest racist I’ve ever come across and one who dreams of deporting Blacks, along with “other necessary persons such as inter-racial spouses,” into a handful of separate self-governing Northern states. Admittedly, the logistics of his plan are a little fuzzy. For example, I wonder if Asian women in interracial relationships will be exempt from Shelton’s one-way forced busing plan since he maintains that White men like Asian women (just not Black women). I wonder too will he even employ buses to transport Blacks, inter-racial couples, and other “necessary persons” to these Northern “set-aside” enclaves or will Shelton just march them there at the end of a gun barrel in leg irons and chains? Being a “superior” White man I have to think Shelton has already thought through these questions in his master plan.

Now, I know that some sensitive souls are either offended by my even mentioning any of Shelton’s racist rants or they do not see the relevance to his so-called “triadology” and fail to make the connection. Yet, people do need to  realize that for Shelton the subjugation of the Son to the Father as his superior in being and power is foundational to his racism. He hopes that if you buy the one you’re eventually buy the other. It’s a package deal.

That said, Shelton did have a moment recently of semi-clarity, but even then he got his facts completely backasswards and for some strange reason started to make my arguments for me. I realize it was unintentional on his part, but it is just more proof (as if anyone really needed any) that Shelton has no idea what he’s talking about.  But before we get to that momentary clear spot in Shelton’s mental swamp, he prefaced some otherwise interesting quotes (made by other people of course) by arguing:

Sean Gerety demands that Orthodoxy affirms only one being shared between the three divine persons.  He demands that the Orthodox position denies that the divine persons are each individual beings. When will he admit then, that he rejects the Nicene Creed?

Of course, unlike Shelton and his tiny band of miscreant Internet followers, the Nicene creed affirms that the Three Persons of the Godhead are of one homoousios or substance. WCF II:3 affirms this too: “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.”

Othodoxwiki (a source one would think would be sympathetic to Shelton’s subordinationism) has the following under their entry for homoousious:

Homoousios is a Greek word meaning “same substance” or “same essence.” It is used in the Nicene Creed to say that Jesus Christ is of one essence with the Father. Although it does not appear in the Bible, the fathers of the First Ecumenical Council ultimately decided that this was the best language to use concerning the Holy Trinity.

The competing term at that council was homoiousios meaning “similar essence”; it was favored by the moderates among the Arians, the Semi-arians. Because of how close these two words are in the Greek, it has been said that there was only “one iota” of difference between them.

Wikipedia has the same definition except it includes “ousía” and  “being”  along with “substance” and “essence” and adds that homoousios

is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homooúsios with God the Father — that is, they are of the “same substance” and are equally God. This term, adopted by the First Council of Nicaea, was intended to add clarity to the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead.

Notice, the word homoousios doesn’t mean three “individual beings” or even three “individual beings” sharing a similar essence, for that would be semi-Arian. The word means that the Father, Son, and Spirit share one being or substance and was a term “adopted by the First Council of Nicaea” to clarify the relationship between the Son and the Father “within the Godhead.” No three individual beings here.  So, it was bizarre for me to read Shelton supporting citations by authors that agree with me confirming that “Orthodoxy affirms only one being shared between the three divine persons.”

For example, he first quotes Leo Donald Davis as follows:

“However, homoousios was at the time a notoriously slippery word and could have three principal meanings. First, it could be generic; of one substance could be said of two individual men, both of whom share human nature while remaining individuals.

Secondly, it could signify numerical identity, that is, that the Father and the Son are identical in concrete being. Finally, it could refer to material things, as two pots are of the same substance because both are made of the same clay. Constantine himself explained that “homoousios was not used in the sense of bodily affections, for the Son did not derive His existence from the Father by means of division or severance, since an immaterial, intellectual and incorporeal nature could not be subject to any bodily affection. These things must be understood as bearing a divine and ineffable signification.” The point was that the third meaning of homoousios, with its connotations of materiality was not the meaning used in the creed. That left the two previous meanings. It seems that the Council, intent on stressing the equality of the Son with the Father, had the first meaning explicitly in mind. Father and Son are homoousioi in that they are equally divine (The First Seven Ecumenical Councils. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1983. Pg. 61).

Now, I appreciate this quote if only because it is a nice foil to James Anderson’s contention in Paradox in Christian Theology that Trinitarian orthodoxy necessitates numeric as opposed to generic unity whereas Davis says it’s the reverse (you can see my review of Anderson here and here). That’s because Gordon Clark’s theory of unity among the divine persons is generic. The problem for Shelton is that neither numeric or generic unity has any similarity to his Unitarian or semi-Arian scheme where only the Father is the one true God. That’s because in his subordnationist scheme there is no need to unify anything as the Son and Spirit emanate like appendages from the Father. Three equals are not unified as one, but one superior concrete person, the Father, unites the two inferior persons within himself (see Shelton’s goofy illustration above). I don’t recall who it was, but someone commenting on Shelton’s loony “triadology” called it “Monarchal modalism” and I think that is a pretty good description. Heresy is another.

Notice too that according to Davis the intent of the Council was to stress “the equality of the Son with the Father” and not the Son’s imagined subordination to the Father.    (more…)

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