Classical Presuppositional Apologetics

Dr_Calvin_BeisnerI recently came across an introductory lecture on apologetics by Dr. Cal Beisner given at Knox Theological Seminary. I only wish there were more seminary lectures like this one. And not just because of Cal’s obvious admiration for Gordon Clark. The irrationalism he references in regards to Vantilian presuppositionalism is pervasive in so-called Reformed seminaries that any view that defends Christianity as the rational faith is a breath of fresh air. The influence of Van Til and his followers is so bad that men coming out of these things don’t even know what faith is. When young men ask me which seminary they should go to, I generally suggest they don’t. Maybe there are a few exceptions, but I think this lecture is a rare find and is noteworthy for a number of reasons, but primarily because Cal goes to great pains to distinguish presuppositionalism of the Vantilian kind with the “classical presuppositionalism” of Gordon Clark. Frankly, and to be kind, he destroys Van Til’s presuppositionalism completely. In addition, I have never heard Clark’s presuppositionalism called “classical” before, but it is an excellent way to distinguish Clark from the sad and sorry majority position of Cornelius Van Til and his many followers.

While you can read the entire lecture here, to whet your appetite here are a few choice bits:

No apologetic method that begins elsewhere than in propositional truths is capable of interpreting the surrounding world and our experiences in it in a manner that actually establishes the truth of any conclusions.

Frame has an aggravating habit of qualifying what he says but not defining the qualifiers. For instance, he writes over and over again (not only in this essay but also elsewhere) of “human reason” and “human logic”–a habit that he shares with Van Til. “The content of faith, Scripture,” Frame tells us, “may transcend reason in these two senses: (1) it cannot be proved by human reason alone; (2) it contains mysteries, even apparent contradictions, that cannot be fully resolved by human logic. . . .” But what purpose does that modifier, human, serve in these statements? Is there some other reason or logic that is not human? Perhaps Frame means not reason or logic in the abstract but the attempt at reasoning by particular persons–though if that is what he means, we might plead with him to say so. But what is reason or logic other than the way God’s mind thinks? The logic humans use includes the law of contradiction; does Frame have in mind some logic that excludes it, a logic that he would describe as “nonhuman logic”? Would that even be logic? Until Frame specifies the axioms of a nonhuman logic, or of a nonhuman reason, his qualifying reason and logic with human is meaningless.

…. the defining marks of Frame’s presuppositionalism (and in them Frame accurately reproduces Van Tilian presuppositionalism) are circularity and a disdain for logic. Those are not high recommendations.

Unlike Van Tilian presuppositionalism, classical presuppositionalism will not argue, “God exists, therefore God exists.” It will not argue, “The Bible is the Word of God,therefore the Bible is the Word of God.” Those are circular arguments. They fail to recognize that an axiom by definition cannot be the conclusion of any argument. Indeed, by treating the same statement as both axiom and conclusion, they violate the law of contradiction, and it is precisely this contradiction that makes every circular argument fallacious. Every circular argument calls one premise of an argument the conclusion of the same argument, but by definition conclusion and premise are not the same. Every circular argument therefore violates the law of contradiction.

In short, classical presuppositionalism is an apologetic method that (a) asserts Scripture (which includes the laws of logic) as axiomatic, (b) attacks competing worldviews and propositions at the presuppositional level where appropriate, and (c) defends logic and Scripture (and thus the whole of the Christian faith) against attacks by using noncircular arguments that include some theistic proofs and evidential arguments. Because the specific definition of this view arises in the context of modern debates, it would be anachronistic to ascribe it directly to premodern thinkers. However, it is generally true that all those who tended to see reason as dependent on faith, who would say, Credo ut intelligam (“I believe in order to understand”), are representative of this view. The most important among them was St. Augustine, and perhaps the most important statement of his thought in this regard was his De Magistro (Of the Teacher), in which he argued that God’s imparting logos to man as His image and enabling him thereby to recognize His voice in revelation was essential to all knowledge. Leading modern adherents of this view have been Gordon H. Clark, Carl F. H. Henry, Ronald H. Nash, John Robbins, and Robert L. Reymond. Clark’s is the name most commonly associated with it, although, sad to say, his views often are lumped together with Van Til’s.

No argument containing one or more probabilistic premises can validly yield an absolute conclusion. There is nothing inherently wrong with probabilistic arguments; we make most of our choices, including life-and-death choices, on the basis of them. But they should not be confused with demonstrative proofs.

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51 Comments on “Classical Presuppositional Apologetics”

  1. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, thank you for this entry. Cal Beisner came to Knox Theological Seminary when I was close to graduating, so I took a couple classes from him. I remember his work on apologetics and found it to be refreshing. He along with Robert Reymond were fond of Clark and I was able to benefit from this influence. Thank you for posting his lecture. I sat under Dr. R.C. Sproul for apologetics, but never heard anything about Clark, until I sat under Reymond. I went to my file (still use file cabinets) under apologetics and pulled out an article from Beisner’s course on Apologetics in 2002. The article was entitled, “Classical Presuppositional Apologetics: Reintroducing an Old Theme.” I have parts of it highlighted, but it has been over ten years since I looked at it. I will study it again and perhaps gain some new insight. This will hopefully bring about some good discussion.

  2. Stephen Welch Says:

    My copy was revised on February 5, 2002. I just noticed that that copy you posted was revised in 2005, so I will have to download this latest revision.

  3. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sorry, your copy is a 2006 revision; not 2005 as I mentioned in my previous comment.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    Keeps getting better every time 😉

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    Actually, I’m always hopeful that pieces like Cal’s might help cause self-righteous and puffed-up internet “theologians” like Steve Hays at Triablogue to realize they’ve been on the wrong side all along. Frankly, when you read Cal’s piece almost any other apologetic alternative is preferable to the irrationalism Hays embraces. God willing when and if I get back into blogging with any seriousness, which probably is not going to be for a while, I plan to clean up some of Hays’ little droppings like this:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-dilemma-for-scripturalism_1.html

  6. Mike Says:

    Van Til never said “God exists, therefore God exists” or “The Bible is the Word of God, therefore the Bible is the Word of God.” This is not what he meant by circular argument. He simply meant that you have to use reason to argue about which worldview allows for reason. Beisner doesn’t understand Van Til enough to argue against him.


  7. Dear Sean:

    Thank you for the link to Steve Hays’ post. : – )

    1. Steve Hays began his post with the thesis sentence:

    “In my experience, Scripturalist epistemology is infallibilist and internalist.”

    and that does not inspire confidence.

    If we identify “Scripturalist epistemology” with Gordon Clark’s view, then Clark is neither an infallibilist nor an internalist.

    Clark’s epistemology is an extension of his Reformed theology which in turn is a summary of and logical deductions from the Bible.

    Steve Hays raised his dilemma in a framework that is foreign to Clark’s epistemology and being distorted by that foreign framework, Clark’s view looks strange and implausible.

    But if we began with what the Bible teaches, then the problems Steve Hays raised simply do not exist.

    How can a person who believe in total depravity be an infallibilist?

    Sin has infected our mind or intellect.

    How can a person who believe the Bible is the Word of God be an internalist?

    The justification for our beliefs is not our access to our internal mental states which states somehow form an insoluble and infallible link to the world.

    Our mind is in touch with God and God’s creation (the external world) because the true light enlightens everyone. (John 1:9)

    2. When Steve Hays wrote: “Doesn’t this pose an intractable dilemma for the Scripturalist? His epistemology depends on having intellectual access to the word of God embodied in Scripture.”

    he badly misunderstood Clark.

    If the Bible is true, then there is no internalist problem.

    The Bible is true.

    Therefore, there is no internalist problem.

    Gordon Clark starts with the Bible as his axioms.

    Judging from his post, I don’t think Steve Hays appreciate the methodological dimension of Gordon Clark’s philosophy.

    3. Steve Hays wrote: “But given his general skepticism, how can a Scripturalist be internally justified in his belief if he can’t exclude the possibility that the ‘Bible’ on which he relies might be a hallucination? And how can he rule that out, given his epistemology?”

    Gordon Clark is neither a skeptic nor an internalist.

    If the Bible is true, then hallucination is the exception rather than the norm.

    The Bible is true.

    Therefore, hallucination is the exception rather than the norm.

    If the Bible is true, then Steve Hays got the epistemological burden reverse.

    The burden is not on someone to justify why he believes he is *not* hallucinating; the burden is on someone to justify why he believes he is hallucinating.

    4. Steve Hays wrote: “If he already had access to the Bible, that would be a benchmark. But he can’t appeal directly to the Bible to prove that he’s not self-deluded about his source of information, for that would be viciously circular. If he were self-deluded, if the ‘Bible’ he relies on is a hallucination, rather than the real Bible, then that can’t correct his delusion, for t hat’s the very source of his delusion! ”

    If the Bible is true, then we have epistemological access to the Bible and can appeal directly to the Bible.

    The Bible is true.

    Therefore, we have epistemological access to the Bible and can appeal directly to the Bible.

    Methodologically, we do not start with our internal mental states.

    We start with the Bible as truth.

    If we start with the Bible as truth, then there is no vicious circle.

    5. Steve Hays is a fellow Reformed Christian and is familiar with presuppositonalism.

    I wonder why he misunderstands Gordon Clark so.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  8. Some Observations on Hayes on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 1)

    1. Pursuing Sean’s link to Steve Hays post “A dilemma for Scripturalism” (August 1, 2015) in “Triablogue”, I noticed that Hays has another recent post on Gordon Clark name “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015).

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/clark-on-1-john.html

    Having also read this post, I like to record some agreements and disagreements with Hays.

    2. Steve Hays began his post by quoting 1 John 1:1-3 in full and then told us: “I’m going to comment on Gordon Clark’s interpretation of 1 Jn 1:1-3, in Language and Theology.”

    Hays then made a lengthy quotation from [Language and Theology] without giving the necessary citation details.

    This is discourteous to the readers.

    When quoting an author, one usually gives as additional information the name of the publisher, the date of publication, and the page(s) quoted so that the readers can look up the quotation to see if there are errors in quotation or interpretation.

    There are more than one editions of [Language of Theology] by different publishers and Steve Hays should, as a courtesy to his readers, gave citations details.

    I have looked up the quotation and it is (Clark 1980, 134) in my copy of [Language and Theology].

    3. Then Steve Hays commented on his Clark’s quotation:

    “That’s reminiscent of William James’s ‘one great blooming, buzzing confusion.’ But Clark’s analysis suffers from a fundamental blunder: the observer doesn’t need to combine different sensations. For these sensations are already combined in the sensible object. These are structured sensations, not random, disconnected sensations.”

    I am glad I looked up Steve Hays’ quotation because his interpretation of Gordon Clark was wrong.

    (Clark 1980, 131): “… The perception of a Bible is somehow ordered and interpreted. The apologist must explain ‘how’. An empirical appeal, like the sight of a Bible, cannot be the beginning of an epistemological theory. If the apologist cannot show how perception of a Bible develops from sensation, he has no basis for his empiricism. …”

    Hays missed Clark’s point.

    Gordon Clark was engaged in ad-hominin argument against Kant and the empiricist.

    The (sense-) perception of a Bible is conceded to be ordered (structured) and interpreted, the question the theorist must explain is “how”.

    This the empiricist and Hays never did explain.

    4. Steve Hays then made another quotation from Clark without citation, which in my copy of Clark’s book is (Clark 1980, 136).

    Clark’s point was “induction never arrives at universals”.

    Steve Hays criticisms were:

    “That objection suffers from two basic flaws:”

    “i) Even if induction can’t prove a universal, it can, by his own admission, disprove a universal negation. But that’s an item of knowledge.”

    “ii) Clark overlooks the doctrine of creation. God created natural kinds. Therefore, a sample can be representative of the whole. For instance, all humans are of a kind. So you can reason from part to whole.”

    As to Hays’ first flaw, I simply do not understand why it is a flaw’s of Gordon Clark.

    Clark’s point was induction never arrives at universals.

    Hays made a different point that a universal negative proposition can be disprove.

    Why the second point is a criticism of the first I do not understand.

    As to Hays second flaw, Clark did not overlook the doctrine of Creation.

    Gordon Clark was arguing against the empiricist and not the Bible.

    We Bible believing Christians can appeal to the Bible to justify natural kinds.

    But the empiricists Clark criticized did not subscribed to (or started from) the Bible and therefore had not (and cannot) appeal to the Bible to justify natural kinds.

    Steve Hays got Gordon Clark’s dialectical opponents wrong.

    5. The next quotation without citation Steve Hays made from Clark is in my copy of Clark’s book (Clark 1980, 145-6).

    Steve Hays commented:

    “Clark is shadowboxing with empiricists like Locke and Hume, who think the human mind starts out as a blank slate. But disproving empiricism fails to disprove sense-knowledge, unless you assume the possibility of sense knowledge is equivalent to empiricism. But to say sensory perception is a source of knowledge does not entail that sensory perception is the only source of knowledge. Likewise, to say that sensory perception is a source of knowledge does not entail that the mind must start from scratch. The possibility of sense knowledge can make allowance for innate knowledge. Supplement innate knowledge. So Clark’s objection erects a false dichotomy.”

    What Steve Hays called Clark’s “shadowboxing with empiricists” I find to be very good criticisms.

    But that aside, if terms such as “sense-knowledge”, “sensory perception”, “source of knowledge”, “innate knowledge” are properly defined, I probably would agree with a lot of what Steve Hays wrote in this paragraph.

    But again, Steve Hays criticisms of Clark missed the mark.

    Clark’s objection did not erect a false dichotomy by equating sense-perception (sense-knowledge) with empiricism.

    It is just that Clark found Empiricism’s theory of sense-perception wanting.

    Remember Clark’s: “The perception of a Bible is somehow ordered and interpreted. The apologist must explain ‘how’.”

    Clark did not deny we do have perceptions and never had.

    That is a common misunderstanding of Gordon Clark but Clark never did made this mistake.

    What Clark was asking for were (1980, 144):

    “Philosophers who insist on giving a role to sensation in the acquisition of knowledge should first define sensation, then show how sensation can become perception, and presumably how memory images can produce universal concepts by abstraction. If this is not their scheme, and it might not be, then they should describe in detail what their scheme is. It is not enough to speak vaguely about some role or other.”

    This is a very tall order.

    Would anyone wants to try and gives a go at it?

    6. I am posting in the Comment section and this is already way too long for a normal comment.

    But I am only about halfway through Steve Hays’s post.

    I might continue with the comments in a few days when I have more free time.

    Reference:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1980. Language and Theology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  9. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, are you dreaming and hallucinating again 😉 I was completely lost in the entry you linked from Tribalogue. I have not a clue what Hays was saying. Who is to say he is not dreaming when he reads Scripture?

  10. Steve M Says:

    “Who is to say he is not dreaming when he reads Scripture?”
    Great question.
    Who is to say he was not hallucinating when he composed the post?


  11. Dear All:

    In a previous post, I wonder why Steve Hays misunderstands Gordon Clark so.

    I like to offer a conjecture as to the reason.

    Steve Hays began his post with the two sentences:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/a-dilemma-for-scripturalism_1.html

    “In my experience, Scripturalist epistemology is infallibilist and internalist. I think both have philosophical antecedents in Descartes.”

    There is a myth that has been going on for a long time, especially among Van Tilians, that Gordon H. Clark is a rationalist.

    Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is considered to be the first of the modern rationalists.

    My conjecture is that Steve Hays uncritically buys into this myth and then he attributed some of the common rationalist positions to Clark.

    But anyone who has read Gordon Clark’s [Three Types of Religious Philosophy (1973)] should know that Clark is neither an empiricist nor a rationalist nor an irrationalist.

    Gordon Clark is a well-known critic of empiricism.

    But rejecting empiricism does not make one automatically a rationalist.

    Rationalism and Empiricism are mutually exclusive but not jointly exhaustive.

    Gordon Clark is a thinker of the highest caliber but he is not sui genius; Clark himself acknowledged that he is an Augustinian of sorts and future historians probably would locate Clark within that tradition.

    (John W. Robbins has called Gordon Clark “America’s Augustine”.)

    My present estimation is that, following John W. Robbins opinion, Gordon Clark’s philosophical significance lies in his working out the philosophical implications of Reformed theology.

    And that is no small accomplishments.

    Reference:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1973. Three Types of Religious Philosophy. Nutley, New Jersey: The Craig Press.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  12. justbybelief Says:

    This is why Gordon Clark is called a rationalist by Van Tilians:

    Chapter 1. Of the Holy Scripture.

    1. …to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth,…,to commit the same wholly unto writing;…

    “6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…”

    They reject the plain teaching of the Westminster Confession. They don’t like that God has revealed Himself and they don’t like that we are made in His image and therefore think like Him.

    And, this is the reason that Lutherans give the Reformed this moniker as well.

    Eric


  13. Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 2)

    1. My purpose is to continue commenting on Steve Hays’ post “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015) in Triablogue.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/clark-on-1-john.html

    But in order to interact intelligently with the rest of Hays’ post, I need to explain two to three background issues so that readers may know where I am coming from.

    I will limit myself to one issue per post.

    My sincere apology to Sean for taking the Comment section of his Blog on a tangent with Steve Hays. : – )

    2. The first issue is:

    Must be start with our self in epistemology?

    That is, in epistemology, must we start with our subjective consciousness, sense-perception etc. and work our way out from there?

    The question is ambiguous between the order of knowing and the order of explanation.

    In the order of knowing, we must start with our self.

    In the order of explanation, we need not start with our self.

    (This is an extension of the time-honored medieval distinction between the Order of Being / the Order of Knowing to explanation.)

    The order of explanation is concerned with what is to be explained in terms of what.

    In constructing his theory, an epistemologist must decide what is the explanandum (i.e. that which needs to be explained) and what is the explanuns (i.e. that which contains the explanation).

    The theory provides the explanation (explaining the explanandum in terms of the explanuns).

    In Gordon Clark’s philosophy, the Bible is his Axioms (or explanuns).

    Everything is to be explained by the propositions asserted by the Bible, which is understood to be the Word of God and therefore true.

    The “everything” includes our knowing and knowledge.

    Our knowing and knowledge is to be explained in terms of the Bible.

    Thus, methodologically, Clark’s philosophy starts with the Bible as truth.

    3. If the Bible is true, then there is no inherent epistemological problem.

    That is, there is no inherent problem in the order of knowing.

    We know some truths because God knows all truths and God told us some of the truths he knows in the Bible.

    We can understand God and communicate with God because we are created in the image of God.

    This is the framework from which epistemological details are to be worked out.

    Not having a solution to a particular epistemological problem is only that — we do not presently have a solution to the problem.

    Not having a solution to a particular epistemological problem is itself a problem in the order of explanation and not in the order of knowing.

    Not having a solution to a particular epistemological problem does not imply we become skeptics in the order of knowing.

    We can be certain there will be an explanation because God created the universe according to his plan.

    It is just that we have partial knowledge of God’s plan for creating the universe.

    To repeat, in a Christian theistic universe, there is no inherent problem in the order of knowing.

    4. The following are the first two paragraphs of “Chapter 8: A Christian Construction” of (Clark 1980).

    Please keep the distinction “the order of knowing / the order of explanation” in mind as you read them.

    Gordon Clark is able to move between the two with ease but I think many of Clark’s critics confuse them or do not understand them.

    (Clark 1980, 131):

    “To prepare for a positive formulation of a Christian theory of language, the first thing is to clear the ground of empiricism. Many Christian evidentialists, unwilling to accept liberal or neo-orthodox positions, are nonetheless unwilling also to hack away and dig out the roots of non-Christian branches of learning. When a nonempirical apologetic is presented to them, they almost always reply with the boldest and most naive “petitio principii”: ‘Don’t you have to read the Bible?’ ”

    “A serious apologist cannot ask this question until after he has defined sensation and explained its relation to perception. Apologetics or Christian philosophy has the task of formulating a complete and consistent theory from beginning to — if not end, at least as far as one can go. But it must start at the beginning. When someone asks, ‘Don’t you read your Bible?’ he is assuming that a Bible is certain sensations of black and white without combination, arrangement, or intellectual interpretation. Now, this is clearly not the case. The perception of a Bible is somehow ordered and interpreted. The apologist must explain “how”. An empirical appeal, like the sight of a Bible, cannot be the beginning of an epistemological theory. If the apologist cannot show how perception of a Bible develops from sensation, he has no basis for his empiricism. He has no defense against a spiritual rationalism. The former, so we apprehend, lands him either into behaviorism or chaos — which are much the same thing. The latter provides for an intelligible message from God.”

    Reference:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1980. Language and Theology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  14. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, I heard this same objection recently about Clark being a rationalist. I simply responded he was not. There is a huge difference from being a rationalist and being rational. All Christians are rational when it comes to truth. How would you suggest responding to the allegation that Clark was a rationalist?


  15. Dear Eric:

    No one is above criticism including Gordon Clark.

    When I read criticisms of Clark, what is important to me is not whether the critic is sympathetic or hostile but whether the criticisms are good or bad.

    Good criticisms must be based on correct understanding of who or what is being criticized.

    What disappoints me about Steve Hays’ post “A dilemma for Scripturalism” (August 1, 2015) is not that he misunderstood Gordon Clark, it is that Hays’ understanding is not even within the ballpark of Clark’s position.

    Hays’ post “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015) is much better although I think he still did not get Clark right.

    I suppose that is because in the latter post, Hays’ comments were tied to the text he quoted of Clark and that limits his interpretative options.

    It is very difficult to understand correctly the person or position you are not sympathetic with.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  16. Corrections:

    RE: Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 2)

    “Must be start with our self in epistemology?”

    should be:

    “Must we start with our self in epistemology?”

    “explanuns” should be “explanans”.

    There are many other typos in my posts.

    I asked the readers indulgence when encountering them. : – )

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  17. Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 3)

    1. The purpose still is to comment on Steve Hays’ post “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015) in Triablogue.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/clark-on-1-john.html

    But in order to interact intelligently with the rest of Hays’ post, I need to explain two background issues so that readers may know where I am coming from.

    This post is on a second background issues.

    2. The second issue is on interpretation.

    The goal of exegesis is to explain the meaning of a text.

    A text is a syntactic unit of analysis of varying sizes such as a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, or something even larger.

    Another term for “explaining the meaning of” is “interpretation”.

    While exegesis has a text in view, interpretation is more general and can apply to things other than a text.

    The foundation of Biblical exegesis is grammatical-historical interpretation.

    In grammatical-historical interpretation, the meaning of the text of the Bible is explained in terms of the grammar that governs the various textual units and the history of the relevant periods that serve as background information.

    All interpretations are interpretations against some background information.

    A text needs interpretation because syntax by itself is meaningless.

    In interpretation, the appropriate meaning (or semantics) is supplied and assigned to the various syntactical textual units.

    Another way of putting this is that the meaning of a text is explained by interpreting it.

    3. Although grammatical-historical interpretation of the Bible is primary and foundational, it is not the only type of interpretations possible.

    (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.6a):

    “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.”

    Let p : “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3 ESV)

    According to the “good and necessary consequence” clause of (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.6a), what p logically implies is part of the meaning of p.

    (And there are many other logical relationships to consider.

    For example, what logically implies p maybe part of the meaning of p, etc.)

    So, depending on the ability of an interpreter to discern the logical implications of the Bible, the Bible may have many things to say about such subjects as religion, philosophy, psychology, sociology, politics, economics, cosmology, and even indirectly on the physical sciences.

    4. So exegesis are of two basic types, both aim to explain the meaning of a text:

    (a) The first basic type of exegesis is grammatical-historical exegesis of a text.

    (b) The second basic type of exegesis is explaining the meaning of a text by drawing out its implications.

    Both types are exegesis in the proper sense of the term.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  18. Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 4)

    1. After two detours, I will now continue to comment on Steve Hays’ post “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015) in Triablogue.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/clark-on-1-john.html

    This post will fill-in some background that are necessary to understand the last three quotations which Steve Hays made of Gordon Clark, which Hays did not explain to his readers.

    In the next post, I will substantiate the claim the Clark is testing the philosophical theory of empiricism against the Bible in (Clark 1980a, 142-51) by providing quotations.

    In the last post, I will directly engage with the rest of Hays’ comments.

    2. In the rest of his post, Steve Hays made three more quotations without citations from Clark.

    The order in which Hays quoted them is:

    (a) (Clark 1980a, 147): The last sentence of a paragraph of Clark’s, “Clearly the verb ‘to see’ does not always, perhaps not even usually, refer to sensation.”

    (b) (Clark 1980a, 145): The paragraph beginning with “In Greek the first word of I John …” the last sentence of which is omitted but the omission is inconsequential.

    (c) (Clark 1980a, 147-8): The quotation “But now I John. …” began at the third sentence of the paragraph .

    Three observations:

    (a) To repeat, Hays should gave citation details for his quotations.

    (b) Without informing his readers, Hayes commented on Clark out of page sequence.

    (c) This is very objectionable: Hays juxtaposed the second and third quotations as if they were continuous when in point of fact, over two pages separated the two.

    3. I will now filled in some background information which is crucial to understanding Hays’ last three quotations from (Clark 1980a).

    My copy of [Language and Theology (1980)] is 152 pages long.

    It is consisted of two parts of eight chapters each, making a total of 16 chapters.

    The last three quotations Steve Hays made from (Clark 1980a) are from the latter part of Part 2, Chapter 8, and the quotations were right from the middle of a polemical “war” between Gordon H. Clark and Robert L. Reymond!

    Nowadays, Robert L. Reymond is considered to be sympathetic to Gordon H. Clark and against Cornelius Van Til.

    But it was not always so.

    The issue is empiricism and the Bible and the sequence of exchange between the two is basically:

    (a) (Reymond 1979, 105-114): Reymond laid down the gauntlet against Clark.

    (b) (Clark 1980a, 142-51): Clark took up the challenge and rebutted Reymond.

    (c) (Clark 1980b, 9-23): Clark’s commentary on 1 John 1:1-3 with an eye to empiricism.

    (Reymond 1979) was originally a classroom syllabus.

    Although my copy was published in 1979, it was copyrighted 1976.

    My copy of (Clark 1980a) was copyrighted 1979.

    4. This is how Robert L. Reymond laid down the gauntlet (1979, 114):

    “All this arises from Clark’s particular kind of rationalistic idealism. But there are scores of biblical passages which teach by inference, if not directly, that sensory experience plays a role in knowledge acquisition (e.g. Matt. 12:3; 19:4; 21:16; 22:32; Mark 12:10; Rom. 10:14). It seems to me, before he will convince many Christians of his position, that Clark must explain satisfactory (in another way than is universally taken) literally hundreds of passages of Scripture which employ the words “see,” “hear,” “read,” “listen,” etc. At this time, I for one am not convinced that he is in accord with Scripture when he denies to the senses a role in knowledge acquisition and would hope that he would take the Greek skeptics less seriously and the implications in many of the “subsidiary axioms” of Scripture more seriously than he does.”

    In (Clark 1980a, 142-51), Gordon Clark took up Reymond’s challenge and exegete dozens of passages from both the Old and New Testaments and test them against empiricism.

    There are two things a reader must keep in mind, otherwise he will misunderstand Clark as I believe Hays has.

    (a) Although Clark’s exegeses were based on grammatical-historical interpretation, such was not his purpose.

    He was testing the philosophical theory of empiricism against the Bible to see if it fits the Bible.

    This is also a form of explaining the meaning of a text of the Bible.

    (b) The reader must keep in mind that it is the philosophical theory of empiricism that Clark is testing against the Bible, not some naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    Almost all commentaries on the Bible operate on the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    But we need theories to explain what we take to be commonsense.

    Recall the distinction between the order of knowing and the order of explanation.

    In the order of knowing, I do not believe that Clark ever denied that we do have such things as sensations, perceptions, and concepts.

    But these items in the order of knowing need to be explained

    So we move to the order of explanation and find the philosophical theory of empiricism that claims to explain them.

    Empiricism is a family of theories that operates in the order of explanation.

    Although different versions of empiricism differ in details, Clark outlined some features that are common to a lot of these empirical theories of knowledge acquisition which I have quoted previously, (Clark 1980a, 144):

    “Philosophers who insist on giving a role to sensation in the acquisition of knowledge should first define sensation, then show how sensation can become perception, and presumably how memory images can produce universal concepts by abstraction. If this is not their scheme, and it might not be, then they should describe in detail what their scheme is. It is not enough to speak vaguely about some role or other.”

    In (1980a, 142-51), Gordon Clark took up the arduous task of testing empiricism, a philosophical theory that is not even well defined, against the Bible to see if it fits.

    It is of note that empiricism is an epistemological theory that begins with the self at both the order of knowing and the order of explanation.

    References:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1980a. Language and Theology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    ———-. 1980b. First John: A Commentary. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.

    Reymond, Robert L. 1979. The Justification of Knowledge: An Introductory Study in Christian Apologetic Methodology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  19. justbybelief Says:

    Benjamin,

    No one is above criticism including Gordon Clark.

    Who said that he was?

    When I read criticisms of Clark, what is important to me is not whether the critic is sympathetic or hostile but whether the criticisms are good or bad.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. If what is being critiqued is biblical then the the one critiquing is hostile to the word of God and the criticism is bad.

    Good criticisms must be based on correct understanding of who or what is being criticized.

    Moreover, if what is being critiqued is not erroneous then the criticism of the critic can hardly be called ‘good,’ at best the critic understands his subject, that’s all.

    Anyway, as I stated before the Reformed in general and Clarkians in particular are referred to as rationalists by their enemies, and yes, I said enemies.

    Eric


  20. Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 5)

    1. The purpose of this post is to substantiate the claim that Gordon Clark was testing the philosophical theory of empiricism against the Bible in (Clark 1980, 142-51) by providing quotations.

    In setting out to test empiricism against the Bible, Clark has set himself an impossible task.

    I think it was Ronald Coase (1910-2013), the Nobel laureate in Economics, which said something to the effect that you cannot refute a theory that is vague or imprecise.

    Empiricism is a family of theories whose theory of knowledge acquisition is vague and imprecise.

    As Clark repeatedly pointed out, key terms such as sensation, perception, and abstraction have never been properly defined.

    There are claims about their relationships but no theory to explain the claims.

    So it is impossible to refute and test the philosophical theory of empiricism because it is vague, imprecise and not well-defined.

    So how did Clark go about testing empiricism against the Bible?

    What Clark did was he reconstructed and stated what he took to be the common core of the majority of empiricism’s theories and use that as his sample for testing.

    He repeatedly asked any critics who disagree with his sample statement to come into the arena with their own theory.

    This quotation bears repeating many times, (Clark 1980, 144):

    “Philosophers who insist on giving a role to sensation in the acquisition of knowledge should first define sensation, then show how sensation can become perception, and presumably how memory images can produce universal concepts by abstraction. If this is not their scheme, and it might not be, then they should describe in detail what their scheme is. It is not enough to speak vaguely about some role or other.”

    Did Clark achieved the impossible and refuted empiricism from the Bible?

    I don’t think he has but that is no fault of his own.

    What Clark achieved in (1980, 142-51) is that he has shifted the burden of proof to the empiricists in the theological communities.

    Clark has been a critic of empiricism for decades and after (1980, 142-51), the onus is on the empiricists in the theological communities to prove their case.

    2. A personal aside:

    I have been a big fan of Gordon Clark for many years.

    Many of Clark’s positions are not ones one will naturally come to without reading him.

    Empiricism is one such positions.

    Before reading Clark, especially [Language and Theology (1980)], I have wondered why anyone would not be an empiricist.

    After reading Clark and having some realizations of what he has achieved, my wonderment became reversed: Why would anyone be an empiricist?

    3. Onwards with some documentations.

    (Clark 1980, 144):

    “Plato gave the senses the role of stimulating reminiscence. Presumably this role would not satisfy Dr. Reymond. St. Augustine, though he altered his views as he grew older, gave a different role to sensation: without too much distortion one might call it a stimulus to intellectual intuition. Would that satisfy Dr. Reymond? It is hard to say because Dr. Reymond himself does not give any role to sensation. No doubt he believes that there is some such role, but I must have missed the page on which he tells what that role is. Now, it is not necessary for a critic to explain his own view in order to reject the view he is criticizing. But if one writes on [The Justification of Knowledge], the readers expect a specific explanation.”

    It is clear from the quotation that Clark was dealing with theories rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    4. (Clark 1980, 145):

    “What did the Apostle John mean when he spoke of seeing with the eyes and handling with the hands? Did he man “aisthesis”, proper sensibles, common sensibles, sensation per accidens, or what?”

    It is clear from the quotation that Clark was dealing with theories rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    5. (Clark 1980, 145-6):

    “As for hearing, one should note that no one can ever hear a piece of music or a line of poetry. Our opponents, who insist on sensation as the origin of knowledge, cannot well object to an instance taken from experience. St. Augustine pointed out that to ‘hear’ music or poetry, one must at least ‘perceive’ the rhythm. But there is no rhythm in a single sensation. Even beyond perception it is necessary to have memory before a line of poetry can be recognized as poetry. A single sound has no rhythm or meter. The first sounds of a line must be remembered until the last sound occurs; note also that the first sound no longer exists when the last sound sounds. Therefore no one ever senses music or poetry. This Augustinian remark should satisfy any empiricist; but of course, it is not exegesis.”

    It is clear from the quotation that Clark was dealing with theories rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    Also, this quote agrees very well with the emphasis in the Philosophy of Science of the past fifty years or more that all observations are theory-laden.

    6. (Clark 1980, 147-8):

    “This must suffice for the hundreds of verses to which Dr. Reymond alludes. I hesitantly suggest that his exegesis is defective because of the imposition of an untenable epistemology. But now 1 John. As in the Gospel of John 12:40, here, too, there is no reference to empirical sensations. The object, namely, the Word of life, the Reason and Wisdom of God, is not a physical object and cannot be literally seen and handled. It does not have a color, nor any degree of hardness, wetness, or any quality of touch. Explicitly in 1 John the object is the truth or proposition, ‘God is light.’ This proposition cannot be seen in any literal ‘sense’. Therefore since words are arbitrary sign, whose meaning is fixed by ordinary language, the hundreds of scriptural verbs to which empirical apologists refer, do not support the role of sensation which presumably — though they are never clear on what this role is — those apologists desire to give it.”

    It is clear from the quotation that Clark was dealing with theories rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    7. (Clark 1980, 148):

    “To finish, once and for all, with the question, ‘Don’t you read your Bible?’ Abraham Kuyper in [The Work of the Holy Spirit] (I, 4, p.57), beginning with a quotation from Guido de Bres, says, ‘ “That which we call Holy Scripture is not paper with black impressions.” Those letters are but tokens of recognition; those words are only clicks of the telegraphy key signaling thoughts to our spirits along the lines of our visual and auditory nerves. And the thoughts so signaled are not isolated and incoherent, but parts of a complete system that is directly antagonistic to man’s thought, yet enters their sphere.’ The analogy may still be too behavioristic, but the main thought is sound.”

    It is clear from the quotation that Clark was dealing with theories rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    Reference:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1980. Language and Theology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  21. Some Observations on Hays on Clark on 1 John 1:1-3 (Part 6)

    1. This is the last post in this series.

    In this post, I will engage with the remainder of Steve Hays’ comments in his post “Clark on 1 John” (August 1, 2015) in Triablogue.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.ca/2015/08/clark-on-1-john.html

    Two points the readers should keep in mind when reading Hays’ comments:

    (a) Gordon Clark has never denied that we have sensation, perception and concept in the order of knowing.

    (b) In criticizing empiricism, Clark was dealing with the theory(s) of empiricism rather than the naive commonsense view of the empirical.

    2. Steve Hays wrote:

    “Here Clark distinguishes between the literal meaning of sensory verbs and the figurative meaning of sensory verbs. That distinction is unobjectionable in principle. It’s hardly a revelation to point out that words like “to see” can either denote physical visual perception or comprehension. Literal sense organs can be used as metaphors to denote understanding.”

    “It would, however, be heretical to suppose you can substitute a figurative meaning for a literal meaning whenever Scripture uses sensory verbs. That’s the hermeneutic of Mary Baker Eddy.”

    I agree with both paragraphs in principle.

    The second paragraph is obviously a rhetorical device suggesting (insinuating?) that Clark “substitute a figurative meaning for a literal meaning whenever Scripture uses sensory verbs.”

    Did Clark do that?

    The “[t]hat’s the hermeneutic of Mary Baker Eddy” bit we can ignored for now.

    3. Steve Hays wrote: ” i) To begin with, Clark’s interpretation is hopelessly equivocal. The object in Jn 1 and 1 Jn 1 isn’t the Son qua Son, but the Son qua Incarnate. …”

    The claim that “the object in Jn 1 and 1 Jn 1 isn’t the Son qua Son, but the Son qua Incarnate” is false.

    1 John 1:1-3 does not refer to the Incarnate Son of God only.

    Clark spend 11 pages (pages 9 to 19) in his Commentary [1 John: A Commentary (1980)] explaining the one verse 1 John 1:1.

    Although Steve Hays in his post limits his comments: “I’m going to comment on Gordon Clark’s interpretation of 1 Jn 1:1-3, in Language and Theology.”

    We are perfectly entitled to refer to [1 John: A Commentary (1980)] because Clark told us in (Clark 1980a, 143): “Now, I am willing to exegete such verses [i.e. 1 John 1:1-3], and I shall do so, briefly here and more at length in a commentary on 1 John that should appear shortly.”

    Even if Gordon Clark has not told us so, a fair-minded person, if he is made aware of the existence of the Commentary, would consult it.

    If the purpose is to criticize without regards for correct understanding, then by all means ignore Clark’s Commentary on 1 John.

    If the purpose is to criticize based on correct understanding, then do also read Clark’s Commentary on 1 John.

    I consider all 11 pages of Clark’s Commentary to be relevant to the question whether 1 John 1:1 refers to the Incarnate Son of God only.

    Since the issue is very involved and many of the linguistics considerations are beyond my competence, I ask readers to consult Clark’s Commentary and decide for themselves.

    4. Steve Hays wrote: “… The Son Incarnate is a sensible object. The Son Incarnation has empirical properties. Sure, you can’t physically perceive his Deity, but that’s not what John is referring to.”

    Clark did not disagree with the claim that there are physical objects and physical objects have sensible properties.

    (Clark 1980a, 148):

    “ … The object, namely, the Word of life, the Reason and Wisdom of God, is not a physical object and cannot be literally seen and handled. It does not have a color, nor any degree of hardness, wetness, or any quality of touch.”

    It is true that “you can’t physically perceive his Deity”, but we do know some truths about Jesus Christ’s Deity because the Bible tells us so.

    Contra “that’s not what John is referring to”, only God as God can be the “word of life”. (1 John 1:1b)

    5. Steve Hays’ wrote: “Take the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Batman. If I saw Batman, I saw Bruce Wayne–even though I failed to recognize his true identity behind the disguise.”

    Given: “Bruce Wayne” and “Batman” are co-referential and refers to the same person.

    Epistemologically, if you do not know that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person and if you see Bruce Wayne, then you see Bruce Wayne only and not Batman.

    If later on you come to know that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person, then you can refer to the person you see as either Bruce Wayne or Batman.

    Jesus Christ as a person is sui generis; he is in a class by himself.

    Since Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, any identity claims make about Jesus Christ must be made with extreme care.

    6. Steve Hays’ wrote:

    “ii) John’s first description denotes literal sight: ‘what we saw with our eyes.’ Not just a sensory verb, but the organs of sight. Likewise, ‘what our hands have handled’ is hardly synonymous with intellection.”

    “iii) To suggest that John is referring to intellectual apprehension to the exclusion of sensory perception, as if Jesus merely appeared to the disciples in their minds, like a dream, or idea, is heretical. 1 Jn 1 alludes to incidents like the public miracles of Christ (Jn 1:14; cf. 2:11; 11:40ff.), as well as the Resurrection accounts in Jn 20-21.”

    “Not the invisible God, but God made visible in the flesh. They saw Jesus. They could touch Jesus with their hands.”

    This is one big misunderstanding on Hays’ part.

    Clark has never excluded “sensory perception”.

    (Clark 1980b, 11):

    “Even the commentators, or some of them, who hold that the object referred to here is Jesus in the flesh, see something else here also. Note that the verb ‘see’ in this last sentence is not a literal seeing with the eyes. But, you say, does not John say explicitly, ‘we have seen with our eyes’? He surely did. No one can deny it. But at the very least, many commentators see more.”

    I suspect that Hays does not understand that Clark has never deny sensation, perception, and concept in the order of knowing, but he questions empiricism’s theory about them in the order of explanation.

    Since this is all a misunderstanding on Hays’ part, there is no heresy involved here.

    7. Steve Hays’ wrote:

    “iv) John’s discussion combines sensory perception with intellectual perception. They understood what they saw.”

    “For Clark to suggest these descriptions are ‘reducible’ to mental events …”

    Clark is no idealist but perception and understanding are properties of the mind and therefore are mental.

    Steve Hays’ claim that Clark “suggest these descriptions are reducible to mental events” is simply false.

    What Clark did suggested is that the objects of knowledge are truths and all truths are propositional.

    God knows all truths.

    Truths or propositions, being the objects of God’s thoughts, are mental.

    Propositions are the bearer of truth and falsity.

    True propositions refer to actual states of affairs.

    Depending on the semantic content of a proposition, the objects in a state of affairs refer to by a proposition can be of different ontological varieties.

    Examples are abstract entities such as numbers and sets, physical entities such as the sun and the moon, mental entities such as perception and concept, and so on:

    p : The number 2 is even.

    q : The sun is the center of the solar system.

    r : A red object is present to my mind.

    Gordon Clark never suggested that “these descriptions are reducible to mental events”.

    Actual states of affairs are referred to by true propositions but are not reducible to propositions.

    8. Steve Hays wrote:

    “For Clark to suggest these descriptions are ‘reducible’ to mental events is the hermeneutic of Valentinus, Basilides, and Mary Baker Eddy. That’s not remotely Christian. It’s appalling that his antipathy to sense-knowledge betrayed him into such a heterodox interpretation.”

    Since Steve Hays’ opinions are wrong and are based on incorrect understandings, and since the charges are very grieves, in all fairness to Gordon Clark, Steve Hays should retract this last paragraph.

    References:

    Clark, Gordon H. 1980a. Language and Theology. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

    ———-. 1980b. First John: A Commentary. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  22. Sean Gerety Says:

    Stephen wrote: “How would you suggest responding to the allegation that Clark was a rationalist?”

    Sorry Stephen, I was away on vacation (a much needed one). I would answer it just like you did. Or, I might press them to demonstrate their charge and not just by regurgitating VT or Scott Clark or Alan Strange or anyone else. I would demand they quote Clark and show me how he was a “rationalist.” I would also ask them to define “rationalist” since most who throw that old canard around don’t even know what the word means.

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    Some really excellent refutations of Hays. Nice job Benjamin. I’ve always like this quote from Clark so I guess it deserves repeating if only because it quotes the great martyr of the Reformation, Guido de Bres:

    “To finish, once and for all, with the question, ‘Don’t you read your Bible?’ Abraham Kuyper in [The Work of the Holy Spirit] (I, 4, p.57), beginning with a quotation from Guido de Bres, says, ‘ “That which we call Holy Scripture is not paper with black impressions.” Those letters are but tokens of recognition; those words are only clicks of the telegraphy key signaling thoughts to our spirits along the lines of our visual and auditory nerves. And the thoughts so signaled are not isolated and incoherent, but parts of a complete system that is directly antagonistic to man’s thought, yet enters their sphere.’ The analogy may still be too behavioristic, but the main thought is sound.”

    Hays just begs the question. He asserts “sense knowledge” as one of I assume a number of sources for knowledge, but he never demonstrates that there is anything that can be remotely called “sense knowledge.” He just assumes what it is he needs to prove and seems never to expect anyone to ever question his main premise.

  24. Sean Gerety Says:

    8. Steve Hays wrote:

    “For Clark to suggest these descriptions are ‘reducible’ to mental events is the hermeneutic of Valentinus, Basilides, and Mary Baker Eddy. That’s not remotely Christian. It’s appalling that his antipathy to sense-knowledge betrayed him into such a heterodox interpretation.”

    Since Steve Hays’ opinions are wrong and are based on incorrect understandings, and since the charges are very grieves, in all fairness to Gordon Clark, Steve Hays should retract this last paragraph.

    Amen. But, don’t hold your breath. My estimation of Hays is that he is a self-consumed prig and is incapable of admitting error particularly one as serious as this. Your citation from Clark’s commentary should be enough to cause Hays to repent:

    “Even the commentators, or some of them, who hold that the object referred to here is Jesus in the flesh, see something else here also. Note that the verb ‘see’ in this last sentence is not a literal seeing with the eyes. But, you say, does not John say explicitly, ‘we have seen with our eyes’? He surely did. No one can deny it. But at the very least, many commentators see more.”

    I’m also reminded of Luke’s discussion of the disciples encounter with the risen Christ in Luke 24:13-32 and how “they were kept from recognizing him.” That alone should cause militant anti-Clarkians like Hays to pause as this so-called “sense knowledge” isn’t the given they think it is.

    What or who kept Cleopas from recognizing the man he walked with, a man he knew, followed, heard speak, and broke bread with? They spent the night with Jesus and didn’t recognize him (recognition is clearly an act of intellection). Yet, after all that; “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Again, if “sense-knowledge” is just given as Hays assumes, who or what opened the eyes of their mind so that now they realized who it was they were talking to.

    I’ve learned to not expect any answers from Hays. He is a man who is performing for the sycophants who litter his combox. To admit his grave and serious errors in his endless attacks on Clark would hurt his image, including the inflated one he has of himself.

  25. Stephen Welch Says:

    Thanks for the response, Sean. Most critics of Clark can never articulate what they are refuting or what he actually says. I hope you had some great R&R.


  26. Dear Sean:

    Thank you for your comments. : – )

    I have always considered you a senior and better.

    It is very good to have your corroboration.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  27. Sean Gerety Says:

    Nice of you to say Benjamin, but I’m certainly not your better . . . although at 56 I’m quickly becoming a senior 😦

  28. LJ Says:

    Understanding Gordon H. Clark” – E. Calvin Beisner, PhD (The Cornwall Alliance)

    https://gregbahnsen.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/the-bahnsen-conference-2013/

    My friend, Dr. Calvin Beisner, will be giving his very able explanation and defense of GHC at our church conference. Many of us are Clarkians from way back at our church and I’m looking forward to the conference.

    Come on out and join in! I’d love to meet any of the God’s Hammer regulars.

    LJ

  29. markmcculley Says:

    but if you are looking for something about indwelling and incomprehensibility, look no further than WTS http://faculty.wts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2002-Fall-FunctionPerichoresis.pdf

  30. James Says:

    Ben wrote,
    ———————–
    “In my experience, Scripturalist epistemology is infallibilist and internalist.”
    and that does not inspire confidence.

    How can a person who believe in total depravity be an infallibilist?

    Sin has infected our mind or intellect.

    How can a person who believe the Bible is the Word of God be an internalist?

    The justification for our beliefs is not our access to our internal mental states which states somehow form an insoluble and infallible link to the world.
    —————————

    So Ben are you saying that Scripturalist epistemology is fallibilist and externalist? please clarify,
    Thanks,


  31. Dear James:

    It is good to be able to interact with you again. : – )

    Let it be very clear the following are only my personal opinions.

    1. The questions of (a) epistemological fallibilism and (b) internalism / externalism are two different questions.

    I think the Bible and Reformed theology have committed us to fallibilism.

    To be fallible is to be liable to error; that is, it is possible that we are in error in some instances.

    To be fallible does not mean that we are in actual error in every instances.

    I think the doctrines of sin and total depravity do commit us to a fallibilist epistemology:

    It is possible for us to be in error in some instances in the knowledge acquisition process.

    2. George Pappas in his “Internalist vs.. Externalist Conceptions of Epistemic Justification” in [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] distinguishes at least three issues:

    (a) “access” to the basis for knowledge or justified belief;

    (b) the nature of the basis for a justified belief; and

    (c) the concept of justification, i.e. whether it is deontological.

    My response to Steve Hays was framed in turn of “access” and I will briefly explain why I do not believe the problem situation for internalism / externalism has been adequately stated by contemporary epistemologists.

    Therefore, I am neither an “access” internalist nor externalist.

    The basic problem is that as I understand the Bible, our access to our own internal mental states is not “privileged”; that is, we are not the only ones whom have accessed to our own internal mental states.

    In analogy with computer programming, I will distinguish between “read access” and “write access”.

    My understanding is that God has both read and write access to our internal mental states.

    Certain Bible passages about temptation by the devil and his cohorts seems to imply that these evil spirits have a limited amount of write access to our internal mental states; I do not believe they have read access.

    The fact that these external agents having read and write access to our internal mental states must bear on the epistemological question of “access” internalism / externalism.

    I have no idea how.

    For example, can we by reflection alone (i.e. internal access) tells whether an idea was put into our mind (i.e. write access) by some evil spirits as temptation?

    Similarly, can we by reflection alone (i.e. internal access) tells whether an idea was put into our mind (i.e. write access) by the Holy Spirit to guide us?

    How do these two examples bear on the basis of our knowledge or justified belief?

    Anyone has an opinion on this?

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  32. James Says:

    Thanks Ben,
    let’s talk one thing at a time and leaving aside the thorny issue of the inability to deduce myself in the Bible,

    I think the Bible and Reformed theology have committed us to fallibilism.

    let me sharpen my question: is Scripturalist epistemology committed to fallibilism (let’s define that as the possibility of error)? How so? There are many alleged Scripturalists who actually *defend* infallibilism in reference to the epistemology-
    From the Axiom (Truth), the theorems are deduced in strict logic, where is there possibility of error?
    Look: I deduce from Scripture my own depravity/noetic effects of sin – but is that process of deduction from Scripture ever in error?

    If so, then your opponent may have a point: how can you know you’re depraved at all? If the method does not preclude the possibility of error, then perhaps you’re wrong on the whole sin issue?

    Thanks


  33. Dear James:

    1. You wrote: “From the Axiom (Truth), the theorems are deduced in strict logic, where is there possibility of error?”

    The possibility for human errors are at least twofold:

    (a) Understanding or interpreting the Bible correctly; and

    (b) Making deduction from the Bible correctly.

    Incorrect interpretation of the Bible is called an exegetical error or fallacy.

    Incorrect deduction or inference from the Bible is called a formal or informal logical fallacy.

    2. You wrote: “Look: I deduce from Scripture my own depravity/noetic effects of sin – but is that process of deduction from Scripture ever in error?”

    It is *possible* the human process of deduction from the Bible be erroneous.

    Consequently, it is *possible* that our believes about the Bible are erroneous.

    But the fact that it is possible does not imply that it is actual.

    That it is possible that I am erroneous does not imply that I am actually erroneous.

    3. Your wrote: “If so, then your opponent may have a point: how can you know you’re depraved at all? If the method does not preclude the possibility of error, then perhaps you’re wrong on the whole sin issue?”

    Perhaps I am wrong does not imply that I am actually wrong.

    Perhaps I am right after all.

    After the amount of exegetical and theological discussions that have gone on centuries before, the burden is on the critics to show that the doctrines of sin and total depravity are erroneous.

    I think those who affirm the doctrines of sin and total depravity have already discharge their burden to show that these two doctrines are affirmed by / logically follow from the Bible.

    I suspect the claim to human “infallibility” is tied to the psychological need to exclude doubt and for certainty.

    A human person can be certain of that which is infallible.

    But I am psychologically certain of the truth of the Bible not because of some infallible processes, but because of the witness and comfort of the Holy Spirit inside me per the Bible.

    Only God alone is infallible, i.e. not possible to be in error.

    Personally, I have come to terms with fallibility when I accepted that I am a finite creature created by God, i.e. I am not God.

    (Let it be very clear that I have never aspire to be God. : – ) )

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin


  34. Dear James:

    One more point concerning knowledge and psychological certainty.

    It is conceded that in traditional western philosophy, knowledge implies psychological certainty.

    I think this conception of knowledge as implying psychological certainty is erroneous and Biblically unwarranted.

    Another gem of Gordon H. Clark is that he characterizes knowledge as the possession of truth and rid it of the psychological element.

    Knowledge, in general, although excluding doubt does not require psychological certainty.

    There are many intermediate psychological states between the poles of doubt and certainty.

    It is also conceded when we know the Bible as truth we are also certain that the Bible is true.

    But that psychological certainty is not a consequent of the infallibility of our knowledge acquisition processes but is an independent phenomena wrought in our heart and mind by the Holy Spirit.

    The relation between knowledge and psychological certainty of the truth of the Bible is one of concomitant and not cause and effect.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  35. James Says:

    Ben,
    Thanks, but I don’t think you’ve shown the Scripturalist epistemology is committed to fallibilism. That you or I may make a mistake in employing the method is not the same as that epistemology being committed to the possibility of making those mistakes.

    “It is *possible* the human process of deduction from the Bible be erroneous.”

    Where does Clark say anything like this Ben?

    “Perhaps I am right after all.”

    but that doesn’t follow Ben – not even close.

    further, how can you know that all those exegetes weren’t *actually* wrong? You are now into the world that Dr. Robbins called ‘opinion’. Is that what Scripturalist epistemology is committed to?

    Only God alone is infallible, i.e. not possible to be in error.

    what about the human man named Christ Ben? Was he ever possibly in error when making deductions from Scriptures? And please focus on the humanity of Christ.

    Thanks,


  36. Dear James:

    1. You wrote: “Thanks, but I don’t think you’ve shown the Scripturalist epistemology is committed to fallibilism. That you or I may make a mistake in employing the method is not the same as that epistemology being committed to the possibility of making those mistakes.”

    Although not those particular mistakes, but the possibility of error in general.

    While what is possible needs not be actual, what is actual must be possible.

    The actuality of errors implies the possibility of errors.

    Excluding the possibility of errors makes Clark’s epistemology entails a methodology that is impossible to fulfill, which makes that epistemology vacuous and useless.

    I counsel extreme caution in claiming infallibility for anything, especially Biblical interpretation.

    Reformed theology claims that its interpretation of the Bible is (actually) true, but not infallibly true.

    And those truth-claims are subject to criticisms and revisions.

    Ecclesia semper reformanda est (“the church is always to be reformed”).

    Claiming Infallibility of interpretation precludes any possibility of the church being further reformed by the Word of God.

    2. You wrote: “It is *possible* the human process of deduction from the Bible be erroneous. Where does Clark say anything like this Ben?”

    A moment reflection should convince anyone that it is possible that the human process of deduction from the Bible be erroneous.

    Any logically incompatible interpretation of a particular verse (or a set of verses) of the Bible can serve as an example.

    The closest Clark’s commentary on hand is his [First Corinthians, 2nd Edition (1975 / 1991)].

    Commenting on 1 Corinthians 1:5-6, Clark criticizes F.W. Grosheide (Clark [1975] 1991, 12):

    “Though this may seem at first glance to support Grosheide, it actually does not. First, a ‘mystery’ is not a ‘mystic feeling.’ as the present volume points out elsewhere. It is a secret, and usually quite understandable. Further, Arndt and Gingrich specially refer to the ‘mystery cults’; … ”

    The point is not whether Clark is right and Grosheide is wrong.

    The point is that they hold logically incompatible interpretation of a verse and so both cannot be right; one or both must be in error.

    Since one or both must be in error, therefore it is possible the human process of deduction from the Bible be erroneous.

    3. You wrote: ” ‘Perhaps I am right after all.’ but that doesn’t follow Ben – not even close.”

    Unless you claim that I must be wrong on this point, then perhaps I am right after all.

    Are you prepare to substantiate the thesis that it is necessary that I am wrong on this point?

    4. You wrote: “further, how can you know that all those exegetes weren’t *actually* wrong? You are now into the world that Dr. Robbins called ‘opinion’. Is that what Scripturalist epistemology is committed to?”

    I know that some interpretations of the Bible must be right because some interpretations form contradictory pairs.

    And one of a contradictory pair of claims must be true and the other must be false.

    But more to the point, you are still vying for infallibility and psychological certainty in knowledge while I am not.

    My view is that for human beings:

    (a) knowledge does not entail that the knower infallibly knows the known, which is a divine prerogative; and

    (b) knowledge excludes psychological doubt but does not imply psychological certainty.

    5. You wrote: “Only God alone is infallible, i.e. not possible to be in error. what about the human man named Christ Ben? Was he ever possibly in error when making deductions from Scriptures? And please focus on the humanity of Christ.”

    Why focus on the humanity of Christ alone when Jesus Christ is a Divine-human person?

    Jesus Christ is sui generis.

    Reference:

    Clark, Gordon H. [1975] 1991. First Corinthians: A Contemporary Commentary. 2nd Edition. Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  37. James Says:

    Ben,
    let’s try again,

    let’s say infallibilism is that when the conditions of the epistemology are met (by whomever) then there can be no possibility of error.
    fallibilism is when the conditions are met (by whomever) there still exists the possibility of error.

    I am fallible – but are the Scriptures? Not at all – but then deductions from Scriptures cannot be fallible. And if I, as fallible as I am, indeed meet the conditions of the Scr epist – how is there possibility of error?
    I am not claiming infallibility for myself – I am claiming the Scriptures and deductions therefrom are infallible. And I may stumble upon them from time to time and actually believe them- agreed? Can I possibly be in error in that case?

    Thanks,


  38. Dear James:

    1. You wrote: “let’s say infallibilism is that when the conditions of the epistemology are met (by whomever) then there can be no possibility of error. fallibilism is when the conditions are met (by whomever) there still exists the possibility of error.”

    By this characterization, you are predicating “fallibilism” and “infallibilism” of an epistemological method.

    2. You wrote: “I am fallible – but are the Scriptures? Not at all – but then deductions from Scriptures cannot be fallible. And if I, as fallible as I am, indeed meet the conditions of the Scr epist – how is there possibility of error?”

    I agree that human beings are fallible.

    I also agree that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible.

    (By the way, I have a prefer usage for the terms “inerrant” and “infallible” when applying to the Bible.

    Infallible is the modal counterpart of inerrant.

    To claim the Bible is inerrant is to claim that the Bible is actually without errors.

    To claim the Bible is infallible is to claim that it is not possible for the Bible to have errors.)

    Let me rephrase your question:

    Is the result of a fallible agent following an infallible epistemological method fallible or infallible?

    The output is no stronger than the weakest link in the input:

    (a) The result of an infallible agent following an infallible method is infallible.

    (b) The result of an infallible agent following a fallible method is fallible.

    (c) The result of a fallible agent following an infallible method is fallible.

    (d) The result of a fallible agent following a fallible method is fallible.

    Can a fallible person make valid deductions from the Bible?

    Of course he can.

    But he makes the valid deductions fallibly and not infallibly.

    3. You wrote: “I am not claiming infallibility for myself – I am claiming the Scriptures and deductions therefrom are infallible. And I may stumble upon them from time to time and actually believe them- agreed? Can I possibly be in error in that case?”

    You (and I and everyone else) can possibly be in error in that case.

    The reason being that although the Bible is infallible, it is not possible for a fallible agent to follow an infallible method infallibly.

    4. As aside:

    What you characterize as an infallible epistemological method is akin to an “effective method” or “effective procedure” in the formal sciences.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  39. James Says:

    “Can a fallible person make valid deductions from the Bible?
    Of course he can.”

    Ben, are those deductions therefore in error? Are they even possibly in error?

    Thanks,


  40. Dear James:

    1. You wrote: ” ‘Can a fallible person make valid deductions from the Bible? Of course he can.’ Ben, are those deductions therefore in error? Are they even possibly in error?”

    In this instance, the deductions are putatively assumed to be valid and therefore not erroneous.

    An infallible person could only make valid deductions.

    For a fallible person:

    (a) It is possible for a him to make valid deductions; and

    (b) It is also possible for him to make invalid deductions.

    Whether the deductions a fallible person make are valid or invalid can only be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    2. Do not be psychologically threatened by fallibility or the possibility of error.

    Fallibility is only the possibility of error, not the actuality thereof.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  41. James Says:

    Ben,
    Scripturalism is not a person. Scripturalism is a method, an epistemology, a definition of knowledge that limits knowledge to infallible Scriptures [Truth] and [valid] logical deductions therefrom.
    The resulting propositions are thus also infallible and Truth (sound) and free from error and free from possibility of error.

    By so restricting knowledge to this definition, it’s obvious to me that Scripturalism is committed to infallibility – not of any person, but of the knowledge obtained, and the way it is obtained.

    I see no problem thinking a fallible person like me can get into contact with infallible knowledge without thus rendering that knowledge fallible.


  42. Dear James:

    1. The intuition that knowledge must be infallible and certain is a very strong intuition and has a long history in western philosophy.

    If not for the Bible and the Reformed theological understanding of the Bible, I too would assume that knowledge must be infallible and certain.

    Human fallibility is not an implication of finitude but of sin and total depravity.

    It is the Reformed understanding of the Bible that human beings are both sinful and totally depraved.

    Total depravity implies that every aspect of a human person is tainted by sin and therefore subject to error.

    The “total” or “every aspect” includes the intellect.

    If the human intellect is subject to error, then it is fallible.

    If the human intellect is fallible, then the human knowledge acquisition process must also be fallible.

    If sinful and totally depraved and therefore fallible human beings do know some truths, then knowledge must be compatible with fallibility.

    And the Bible does affirm that sinful and totally depraved human beings do know some truths.

    Therefore, knowledge must be compatible with fallibility.

    2. Fallibility and infallibility are not properties of propositions.

    A proposition can be true or false, necessary or contingent, but neither fallible nor infallible.

    3. The intuition that knowledge must be infallible and certain is a very strong one.

    The fact that fallible human beings cannot obtain infallible and certain knowledge is one reason why after 2500 years, western philosophy still cannot agree on a definition of “know” and “knowledge”.

    I have been spending time during the last month re-thinking Clark’s philosophy.

    This discussion has helped me clarify certain aspects of Clark’s epistemology.

    I thank you for this round of discussion. : – )

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  43. James Says:

    -Fallibility and infallibility are not properties of propositions.

    “The first sentence, which ascribes infallibility to God alone, may or may not be true. First, one must distinguish between persons and documents. If infallibility is ascribed to persons, and if infallibility means that the person has never made and never will make an error, then infallibility belongs to God alone, unless we wish to include the righteous angels also. On the other hand, if infallibility is asserted of a document, then it means merely that that document teaches no error. Believers believe that such is the case with the Bible. Believers do not believe that Isaiah and Paul never made false assertions. Paul clearly made many before his conversion; nor do we say he never made any afterward. We do not attribute infallibility to Paul. It is the Biblical text that is infallible. Nor need one insist that the Bible is the only infallible book. A first-grade arithmetic book may be infallible or inerrant. There is no reason to insist that a few pages of elementary arithmetic must contain a mistake simply because they were written by a human being. – See more at: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=281#sthash.NrHwXJG4.dpuf

    -If the human intellect is fallible, then the human knowledge acquisition process must also be fallible.

    becomes

    -If the human intellect is fallible, then Scripturalism must also be (or committed to) fallible.

    and in regards to what I’ve defined Scr to be, that strikes me – fallible as I am – as false.

    Thanks,

  44. James Says:

    one last point gleaned from the Clark quote above:

    (c) The result of a fallible agent following an infallible method is fallible.

    If this was true then the Bible itself would be fallible, could not be infallible –
    Paul, a fallible agent, following an infallible method (God’s inspiration) penned, as a result, many of the texts we assert are infallible.

    thus (c) is false.

    Thanks


  45. Dear James:

    1. I have just demonstrated my own fallibility by making the mistake of thinking our discussion has ended. : – )

    I will respond to your two posts in sequence.

    You have chosen a very good quotation for our purposes from Clark’s “Beegle on the Bible: A Review Article” (1977).

    Before plunging into a response, I like to inform you that I am aware that on the main point of this post I do not follow Clark, namely: “infallible” and “inerrant” refer to different claims.

    This is a conclusion I came to a few years ago and not during this discussion.

    (That is why I have informed you that I have a prefer usage for “infallible” and “inerrant”.)

    I think my formulation is a slight improvement over Clark and was inspired by reading Clark.

    I have on one or two previous occasions disagreed with Clark on some minor points and each time I have to “eat my own words”.

    Let’s see if I have to retract myself this time around.

    2. There are two claims in question:

    Claim A: The Bible is actually without any errors.

    Claim B: It is not possible for the Bible to have any errors.

    I use the term “inerrant” to refer to Claim A and “infallible” to refer to Claim B.

    I do not believe Clark has make a distinction between the two claims in your quotation.

    3. Clark wrote: “First, one must distinguish between persons and documents. If infallibility is ascribed to persons, and if infallibility means that the person has never made and never will make an error, then infallibility belongs to God alone, unless we wish to include the righteous angels also.”

    The distinction between persons and documents is a very good one which I will follow-up later.

    Infallible is the modal claim that it is not possible to have / make any errors.

    “Infallible” is a modal term and is concerned with necessity, possibility, contingency, etc.

    Clark’s hypothetical that “if infallibility means that the person has never made and never will make an error” is true of infallibility but is not what it means.

    A righteous angel may have never made a mistake and will never have make a mistake but a righteous angel is still fallible if it is possible for a righteous angel to make a mistake.

    Actually not making a mistake for any length of time is not a sufficient condition for infallibility.

    On this understanding of infallibility, God alone is infallible.

    4. Clark wrote: “On the other hand, if infallibility is asserted of a document, then it means merely that that document teaches no error.”

    Clark has not distinguish between Claim A and Claim B.

    On the distinction between Claims A and B, a document that teaches no error is “inerrant” but not “infallible”.

    5. Clark wrote: “Believers believe that such is the case with the Bible. Believers do not believe that Isaiah and Paul never made false assertions. Paul clearly made many before his conversion; nor do we say he never made any afterward.”

    Agree perfectly.

    6. Clark wrote: “We do not attribute infallibility to Paul.”

    This is true of Paul on both the modal and non-modal understanding regarding not making any errors.

    7. Clark wrote: “It is the Biblical text that is infallible. Nor need one insist that the Bible is the only infallible book. A first-grade arithmetic book may be infallible or inerrant. There is no reason to insist that a few pages of elementary arithmetic must contain a mistake simply because they were written by a human being.”

    In these sentences, Clark is using “infallible” and “inerrant” as synonym and its usage is non-modal.

    I agree perfectly with Clark that “[t]here is no reason to insist that a few pages of elementary arithmetic must contain a mistake simply because they were written by a human being.”

    Notice the modal force of “must”.

    The possibility of error does not imply the actuality of error.

    8. What does infallibility a predicate of when we claim the Bible is infallible?

    There are three main possibilities for the predication:

    (a) The person(s) who wrote the Bible.

    (b) The processes of writing the Bible.

    (c) The Bible as a document.

    The Bible as a document is infallible if it is not possible the Bible makes any false claims.

    (It is the “making” of truth-claims that is evaluated as either fallible or infallible.

    The truth-claims themselves are either true or false, necessary or contingent.)

    Why is it that it is not possible for the Bible as a document to make any false claims?

    It is not possible for the Bible to make any false claims because the Bible has an infallible God as author.

    The Bible is infallible because God is infallible.

    Fallibility or infallibility are primarily predicated of actions and processes and the agents that carry them out and only secondarily of the results of those actions, processes and agents.

    9. You wrote: “If the human intellect is fallible, then Scripturalism must also be (or committed to) fallible. and in regards to what I’ve defined Scr to be, that strikes me – fallible as I am – as false.”

    Scripturalism as a propositional truth-claim is evaluated as either true of false, necessary or contingent, not fallible nor infallible.

    10. You wrote: “If this was true then the Bible itself would be fallible, could not be infallible – Paul, a fallible agent, following an infallible method (God’s inspiration) penned, as a result, many of the texts we assert are infallible.”

    Your conclusion is false because one of your premise is false.

    God’s inspiration is not a method the human authors of the Bible followed to write the Bible.

    Whatever Inspiration is, it is a Divine operation on the human mind.

    Because Inspiration is a Divine activity, it and it’s result are infallible relative to the Divine intention for that activity.

    Our understanding of Divine inspiration is still very meager.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  46. Sean Gerety Says:

    I am fallible – but are the Scriptures? Not at all – but then deductions from Scriptures cannot be fallible.

    It seems to me you guys are talking about two different things and probably past each other. James, don’t you need to qualify what you mean here? Even if a deduction is valid that doesn’t mean it is necessarily sound, right?

    While I would stress the perspicuity of the Scriptures, it’s not always so easy to determine if an inference drawn from Scripture is both valid and sound. Think of all the passages of Scripture that people still stumble over like 1 Corinthians 13:12.

  47. James Says:

    Ben –

    “The output is no stronger than the weakest link in the input”

    also,

    “Whatever Inspiration is, it is a Divine operation on the human mind.”

    the human mind – fallible – is a link in the input,

    therefore the Bible is fallible.

    Sean –

    I thought the definition/conditions of Scripturalism was making valid deductions from Scriptural Truths – obviously that results in sound arguments. How could that not so result? As such Scr is not committed to fallibility. Sure I may make mistakes, but Scr is not committed to me making those.

    In contrast, think of empiricism/sense perception – it isn’t committed to infallibility because the conditions could be met and still there’s the possibility of error. Not so in the case of Scr.

    Thanks,

  48. Sean Gerety Says:

    I thought the definition/conditions of Scripturalism was making valid deductions from Scriptural Truths – obviously that results in sound arguments. How could that not so result?

    That would be the result, but the question I think Benjamin is addressing (and correct me if I’m wrong Ben) is that one must first have these Scriptural truths as one’s premises first and that requires some degree of exegesis.

    As such Scr is not committed to fallibility. Sure I may make mistakes, but Scr is not committed to me making those.

    Your logic may be solid (I don’t want to say sound) and your conclusion valid, but your understanding of a particular passage (i.e., one of your premises) might be open to revision in which case it is hardly infallible. That’s why I referenced 1 Corinthians 13:12. I cringe now when I see people using that verse in support of ignorance or as a reference to the parousia. I might also point out a long argument John and I had with Karel over the exclusive use of psalms. It’s been a while, but I don’t recall arguing that Karel’s argument was invalid, only his exegesis was inadequate making his argument unsound. Not normally a big deal – especially when you consider it’s just over a question of whether or not hymns are permissible in worship — but the fallout was Karel said John and I were both idolaters and broke off all fellowship.

    But, beyond that I agree, valid deductions from Scriptural truths yield infallible conclusions.


  49. Dear Sean and James:

    1. Sean wrote: “That would be the result, but the question I think Benjamin is addressing (and correct me if I’m wrong Ben) is that one must first have these Scriptural truths as one’s premises first and that requires some degree of exegesis. ”

    Thank you for the comment and you understand me perfectly. : – )

    It still seems odd that Karel would break-off fellowship over Exclusive Psalmody, but that was from before the beginning of the God’s Hammer blog and many current readers may not know of that discussion.

    (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV): “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

    2. James, when I thought our discussion has ended I thought we understood each other and I thought let’s agree to disagree.

    Let me relate an experience that has left a very big impression on me.

    Many years ago I got stuck on a point for some years that in retrospect, should be easily understood by a 7 years old.

    Since then, I usually am satisfy with having my say in a discussion and will not insist that the other persons agree with me.

    But I enjoy frank and vigorous discussions and dialoguing with you have been a pleasure. : – )

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  50. James Says:

    Sean –
    thanks –
    Karel – wow haven’t heard that name in a while.

    you ever hear from G M Coghill?
    Ben,
    Thanks,
    James

  51. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yes, George is on Facebook and is alos on a FB Clark page, but he doesn’t engage much anymore.


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