Steve “Shapeshifter” Hays has responded in much the way I knew he would, which makes him a pretty predictable shapeshifter. Like all Van Tillians, especially those who are perpetually impressed with their own cleverness, even one who tells us there is “extrabiblical evidence” for the possible existence of shapeshifters (can Big Foot be far behind), Hays spends the bulk of his reply venting his infected spleen on all things even remotely related to the late Gordon Clark. He begins by citing the opening lines of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable…
Notice that that’s an appeal to natural revelation, including empirical evidence for God’s existence. So it’s actually a Clarkian like Sean who rejects WCF 1. But Sean is too dim to realize that he just contradicted himself.
Hays starts out his reply by simply lying. This makes sense since he believes in the probable existence of shapeshifters. One lying spirit deserves another. But, perhaps lying is too strong and I want to be charitable. I could say he’s just ignorant of Clark’s thoroughly biblical philosophy, but that would suggest Steve isn’t as smart as he thinks he is and I don’t want to insult him. First, neither Clark nor Robbins nor any Scripturalist I’ve ever met has any problems with the opening words of WCF 1; they simply refuse to impose empirical presuppositions on the text as Hays so foolishly has done. Instead, Clark writes in the opening pages of What Do Presbyterians Believe (which evidently would exclude Hays):
Is it not possible that knowledge of God is innate? May we not have been born with an intuition of God, and with this *a priori* equipment we see the glory of God upon the heavens? In this way we would not be forced to the peculiar position that the Apostle Paul was giving his advance approval to the Aristotelian intricacies of Thomas Aquinas.
… In the act of creation God implanted in man knowledge of His existence. Romans 1:32 and 2:15 seem to indicate that God also implanted some knowledge of morality. We are born with this knowledge; it is not manufactured out of sensory experience.
Not even Romans 1:14-20, the main prooftext to the WCF’s opening clause, supports Hays’ belief in the “empirical evidence for God’s existence.” The passage instead supports Clark’s view of the natural endowment in man created in God’s image. As Paul explains, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” First, Hays errs by not including man as one of the things that “have been made” and thinks he can see with the eyes in his head what Paul tells us is invisible. Second, this innate intuition of God is something God shows man and is not something man infers from observing the “empirical evidence.” Like most things, Hays has it precisely backwards.
The point conveniently ignored by Hays is that the Confession doesn’t begin with the “empirical evidence for God’s existence” at all. In fact, the “empirical evidence for God’s existence” is completely absent from the entire Confession. Rather, the Confession begins, in good Clarkian fashion, by positing the truth of the Holy Scriptures and then inferring God from them; along with the entire system of doctrine outlined in the Confession. More importantly, the evidence for the truth of Scripture highlighted in the first chapter of the Confession has nothing to do with what can be inferred by the so-called “empirical evidence,” rather the Divines assert the complete logical harmony of all that the Scriptures teach. As Clark explains:
If, nonetheless, it can be shown that the Bible — in spite of having been written by more than thirty-five authors over a period of fifteen hundred years — is logically consistent, then the unbeliever would have to regard it as a most remarkable accident . . . Logical consistency, therefore, is evidence of inspiration. — God’s Hammer, 16.
Since Van Tillians reject the logical consent of all the parts and maintain instead that all Scripture ends in a morass of “apparent contradictions” to which men must bow, they logically reject the WCF 1 and are non-Confessional from the get go. Or, to put it another way, their belief in biblical paradox, which are very real contradictions for us even if, or so we’re told, for God not so much, is the complete rejection of one of central evidences the Confession sites to support belief in the truth of God’s inerrant and non-contradictory Word. Starting from their faulty and destructive view of Scripture the Van Tillian ends up with any number of contradictory doctrines from God being both One Person and Three Persons (a heterodox belief advanced by Van Til and most recently defended by paradox monger James Anderson) to a contradictory understanding of the Gospel call where God simultaneously desires and does not desire the salvation of all men. For the Van Tillian beginning with their defective paradoxical view of Scripture the irretraceable web of what R. Scott Clark calls the “mystery of paradox” is all encompassing. It is the root of their faith and piety.
In the comment section of Hays’ post, one of his regular and most loyal defenders, a man who goes by the name “Annoyed Pinoy” wrote; “I don’t see why God couldn’t use apparent paradoxes to sift the elect and non-elect. Where does Scripture teach that there are no apparent contradictions in the teaching of Scripture?” Notice, according to this confused soul, the categorical and Confessional rejection of biblical paradoxes that are impervious to logical harmonization at the bar of human reason makes one a reprobate; one of the non-elect. Of course, the Scriptures do teach there are no “apparent contradictions in the teachings of Scripture,” for our Lord said; “The Scriptures cannot be broken” and the Confession similarly asserts the meaning of God’s word is not manifold, but one. If the Van Tillians were actually faithful to the Confession they would affirm that that all claims to “apparent contradictions” in Scripture falls squarely in the lap of interpreter who has failed to rightly divide God’s Word. They would recognize biblical paradoxes as red flags demanding they recheck their premises as they continue to study the Scriptures. But, instead these proud Van Tillians place the responsibility for their intellectual and exegetical failures squarely at God’s feet while piously claiming that “a paradox remains for us, though by faith we are confident that there is no paradox for God.” In their arrogance Van Tillians like Pinoy (who describes himself on his website as a “Filipino … Baptistic … Charismatic … Van Tillian”) think that acceptance of irresolvable paradoxes in Scripture is what separates “the elect and the non-elect.”
Further, too, the Confession rejects the Van Tillian theory of analogy and their denial of any univocal point of contact between God’s thoughts and man’s even in the propositions of Scripture. As Paul said concerning revelation of Scripture “we have the mind of Christ.” Besides, can anyone seriously imagine the Divines at Westminster contemplating the possible existence of the magic lizard people and using WCF 1 to justify their lunacy? Hays can, because he continues:
I assume “magic lizard people” is an allusion to M. Scott Peck’s report about two of his demonically possessed patients who manifested a serpentine or reptilian appearance during exorcism.
Actually, I was informed that the magic lizard people, which is not original to me, is an allusion to the old TV series, V. I never watched V and am more familiar with the flying monkey man tormenting William Shatner in the Twilight Zone.
From there Hays switches to defending his favorably citing of Michael “Hare Krisha” Sudduth and his lifelong fascination with the occult even while still pretending to be a Christian. But, even here, Hays uses this as an attempt to attack Gordon Clark (Hays may actually be a shapeshifter as he seems to be a one trick pony):
How does a Clarkian like Sean distinguish real belief in Jesus from feigned belief in Jesus? Didn’t Sean’s idol, Gordon Clark say “Assent can never be hypocritical, for it is the voluntary act of according belief to a given proposition” (Today’s Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine?), 69.
That one is easy and the question itself belies Hays rejection of the Reformed doctrine of perseverance of the saints and a proper understanding of the Confessional doctrine of saving faith. Whether someone holds to the traditional and tautological threefold definition of saving faith, or Clark’s biblical two-fold alternative, it’s not always easy to tell the true believer from the feigned variety. So this question has really nothing to do with Clark at all. However, we do know that Jesus said of those given to Him by the Father; “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” That includes Sudduth’s demonic Lord Krishna. Or, as John would say; “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”
It’s not always easy to tell those “who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit” from God’s real children for whom Christ died. Hypocrites are everywhere, which is why the Confession makes the distinction between those who not only assent to the truth of the promise of the gospel with those who also assent to the imputation of Christ and his righteousness for the pardon of sin and by which we are accounted as righteousness. So, while hindsight might be 20/20, the signs of Sudduth’s sure apostasy have been a long time coming. I started suspecting it many years ago when he first took a job at a Roman Catholic university. John Robbins was understandably critical of Sudduth’s decision and from what I understand privately counseled Sudduth against taking the job. Something Sudduth didn’t receive very well. I remember Suddth publicly flying off the handle years ago on a Yahoo Clark discussion group at Robbins. It was like watching an insolent teenager lashing out at his father who had taken away his car keys. I just thought it was bizarre for someone who was even published in Trinity Review and who had won the Clark Prize in Apologetics to take such offense at the suggestion that he shouldn’t use his talents in the service of the pope and the Roman church/state.
Interestingly, Hays claims to have seen the writing on the wall too after Sudduth’s public rejection of the one true Lord Jesus Christ. Hays writes:
To my knowledge, Michael has never been biblically oriented. His Christian faith has always been more philosophically oriented. Now, there’s nothing wrong with philosophical theology. But Christianity is ultimately based on historic revelation. Unless your faith is moored in Scripture, you’re adrift.
Hays also suspects that one reason for Sudduth’s defection from the good things of God in favor of his new found love for some Hindu demon stems from his lifelong fascination with the occult. Hays explains; “I think he’s been under some degree of occultic bondage for most of his life. Never able to shake free of that.” Sudduth, despite his religiosity and feigned belief in Jesus Christ, even once identifying himself as a Protestant and a “Reformed” Epistemologist, was never a really a Christian; never really born again. No one can be in Christ and freed by the power of the Holy Spirit yet remain in bondage to the occult. Either Sudduth was a liar when he claimed to be a Christian, or Jesus was a liar and Sudduth’s demonic Lord Krishna did in fact snatch him from Christ’s hand. You can’t have it both ways.
So, yes, I am critical of Hays favorably quoting Sudduth, a man who subjected the name of Jesus Christ to public ridicule and shame. Hays’ defense: “I quote Sudduth’s experience of living in a haunted house.” Oh, brother. It also seems Hays does think the Amityville Horror is real too, writing:
There’s a difference between the horror film and the alleged experience on which it was loosely based. I haven’t studied that in-depth. But why does Sean react to reports of occult entities with the same knee-jerk derision and disbelief as an atheist? Evil spirits are part of the biblical worldview. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising if some people encounter evil spirits. Sean is a functional atheist.
I have to laugh at this one. My friend who first pointed me to Hays’ examination of the reality of the magic lizard people said; “If you want to troll him, tell him you think the Amityville Horror was fake and see if he calls you an atheist.” There you have it. When I shared Hays’ remarks with my friend he said; “If denial of magic lizards is functional atheism, is belief in lizards a necessary proposition of orthodoxy?” It seems for Hays it is.
Now, it’s not all complete lunacy and lizard people. Hays did provide some clarification regarding his favorably quoting Sudduth:
No, I wouldn’t say Sudduth’s experience provides evidence of shapeshifters. Rather, that provides evidence for the existence of occult entities (of which shapeshifters might be a subset).
Of course, Sudduth’s experience provides no evidence at all. According to Sudduth the “paranormal occurrences” he claims to have experienced are traced back to 1969 “the year resident Walter Callahan Sr. committed suicide in the home.” This poor delusional soul believes Walther was coming back to spook him and his former wife. Now, I have no problem saying that Sudduth has a long history of flirting with demons and demonic forces, he does, but the dead do not roam the earth and what Sudduth experienced, and evidently continues to experience, supplies no evidence whatsoever for “postmortem survival.” With the possible exception of the transfiguration, Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus should have been enough to settle that question even for someone who once pretended to be a Christian. What Sudduth claims to be valid evidence for life after death, Jesus said is impossible (Luke 16:26). As for the magic lizard people, Hays needs to keep on trying. Who knows, maybe one day I will see Hays and Suddth both dressed in orange playing bells and banging drums while begging for change in the San Francisco airport. Happy hunting.