Whitefield Follies

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Something is rotten at Whitefield Seminary.  There are a number of current and former students all claiming that the views expressed in Gordon Clark’s monograph, Faith and Saving Faith (re-released along with The Johannine Logos as What Is Saving Faith?)  are not Clark’s views of faith and saving faith, but rather are the views of the late John Robbins.  Jason Peterson, who I believe is a current student at Whitefield (he booted me from his Facebook group so fast as to make my nose bleed so I didn’t get the chance to confirm if he’s currently enrolled) posted the following:

I had a question earlier concerning a comment that I made about the trinity foundation:
“Which of the Trinity Foundation’s resources should we avoid?”

Answer:

First, Gordon Clark’s book, Saving Faith, was edited to express Robbins’ view that faith is merely intellectual assent rather than Calvin’s view (which Clark agreed with).

Second, John Robbins’ misrepresented Bahnsen on theonomy and was rather rude during their dialogue.

Third, John Robbins’ book on Ayn Rand is a rather uncharitable representation of Objectivism.

Most of what I have read on the Trinity Foundation website is good stuff. Hopefully the Trinity Foundation will release the original manuscripts of Clark’s works one day. The Gordon Clark Foundation, however has quite a bit of his works. I’d say that if you see something that looks strange, to cross reference the article on the Trinity Foundation with a related article on the Gordon Clark Foundation. One other consideration that must be kept in mind however, concerning the Gordon Clark Foundation’s unpublished works of Clark is that Clark might have changed his mind on some topics at a later date. Interpreting Clark’s thought is going to be really tricky unless the unedited version of Clark’s published works are released.

Leaving aside Petersen’s other comments regarding the imagined “rude” behavior of John Robbins in his “dialog” with Greg Bahnsen and his supposed “uncharitable representation of Objectivism” (is there a charitable representation of Rand’s Objectivism?), Petersen’s charge regarding F&SF is without merit as demonstrated in my previous post. But the question is, where is Petersen getting these ideas?

Recently I have been contacted by a number of current and former Whitefield students all telling me that Ken Talbot, the president of Whitefield, told them that Clark held to the traditional threefold definition of faith (that mystical stew of notitia, assensus and fiducia) and that it was John Robbins’ view of faith, not Clark’s, that we find in the book published under Clark’s name.

Make no mistake, that is a serious charge. I have tried contacting Talbot asking him to either confirm or deny the claims made by his students, but I have yet to hear back from him.  Suffice it to say anyone making that claim, whether it is Talbot or another professors at Whitefield, is just being silly to the point of absurdity. Clark unambiguously rejected the traditional threefold definition of saving faith and instead properly defined faith as understanding with assent.  Consider the following reply Clark gave in a lecture cited in my last post:

This student correctly saw what I was saying: that faith was a matter of assent. And not understanding by itself, but understanding plus assent….

… And I prefer John Calvin who talks about assent itself being pious. It is not something else added to the assent that is pious, the assent itself is pious. And so believing, and I really prefer the word believing, because the word faith is Latin, and I don’t like Latin, I like the Greek pistueo. And belief is assent. It is assent to an understood proposition … Now, the trouble, I think in contemporary civilization is, at least for the last couple centuries, is that some people have begun to think that assent is merely something verbal that you say out loud but perhaps you don’t mean. Of course, that is not assent, that is hypocrisy. But assent in its theological meaning is simply the fact that to believe you accept this proposition. As the Scripture says, you believe that Christ is Lord, you believe that he rose from the dead, and if you believe those things you are saved. That’s it. Now, I’ll repeat it, now the reason I don’t like that threefold analysis of faith is that the third part of it is just the word that you asked the definition for. And hence the addition of the word fiducia doesn’t add anything to your understanding of it.

What is particularly bizarre is that the transcript of this lecture is available at Ken Talbot’s own website, The Clark Foundation. Further, the date and place listed on that the transcript is;  “Believer’s Chapel Tape Ministry, 1977.” Assuming the date is correct, Clark was defending his view of faith as the intellectual assent to an understood proposition for nearly a decade prior to the publication of F&SF. Even if the date is not correct, it should be obvious to everyone except the most intellectually handicapped that Clark unequivocally rejected the traditional threefold definition of saving faith. A man is justified by belief alone.

In addition, the first edition of F&SF, the one that I own, was published by John Robbins and the Trinity Foundation in 1983 two years prior to Clark’s passing, which is more than enough time for Clark to have publicly protested and demanded Robbins correct any editorial altering of his views.  It’s not like Clark had become some dotty old invalid drooling in the corner in 1983.  Clark was hard at work up until the time Lord took him home when he had virtually completed a far more controversial work, his theologically earth shattering; The Incarnation.

There is more, but since some others have already picked up the gauntlet, and frankly have done an even better job than I have exposing some of the errors emanating from Whitefield, I thought I would share them here.

The first is a piece by Carlos Montijo and Tim Shaughnessy titled: “The Marks of a ‘True’ Clarkian.” The piece deals with both the absurd claim that Clark didn’t actually write F&SF and that Clark didn’t differentiate knowledge from opinion or true belief.  To put it another way, some at Whitefiled argue that Clark did not require an account for knowledge. That’s almost as silly and misguided as saying that Clark didn’t write F&SF. Haven’t the students at Whitefield, or at least their professors, read Clark’s Introduction to Christian Philosophy?

The second piece is by Luke Miner at Scripturalism.com titled; “Clark on Saving Faith in 1961.”  This second piece is important in continuing to establish a timeline because it demonstrates that throughout his long career, Clark consistently defended the idea that faith is understanding with assent and that saving faith is assent to the understood propositions of the Gospel.

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49 Comments on “Whitefield Follies”

  1. Luke Miner Says:

    Before a good theologian dies, he is misrepresented by his opponents to meet their agendas. After he dies, he is misrepresented by his proponents to meet their agendas. I don’t know what Talbot’s goal is in all this and why he thinks misrepresenting Clark will help him. Clark’s view on faith as intellectual assent is probably the first thing you learn about Clark’s theology after you learn his name.

  2. Hugh McCann Says:

    GHC: “Belief is the act of assenting to something understood.”

    We understand and assent to the proposition that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3, the gospel), and hence, have faith in/ believe the gospel, and are thereby saved.

    . . . Though a red stole & long grey beard DO carry *some* weight in theological arguments. 😛

  3. Hugh McCann Says:

  4. Paul Riemann Says:

    Petersen’s claims are stupid and asinine

    “Interpreting Clark’s thought is going to be really tricky unless the unedited version of Clark’s published works are released.”

    This begs the question and slander’s John’s name. On what basis does Talbot (or Petersen) claim a three fold definition of faith. If F&SF, and the 40 something other published volumes of Clark’s writings are not definitive on the subject, then what is? These men want to stir up controversy and imply a conspiracy.

    Petersen says: “Hopefully the Trinity Foundation will release the original manuscripts of Clark’s works one day.” This is incredibly laughable. Take for example the article on the Clark Foundation titled “His People”.

    http://thegordonhclarkfoundation.com/his-people-by-gordon-h-clark/

    In the subheading of the article it states:

    “[c. 1940s. Although the author of this document is not listed, this title (His People) and a section of the text was quoted as belonging to Gordon Clark by Herman Hoeksema in the Standard Bearer, published on pages 4-5 of “The Clark-Van Til Controversy”]”

    Notice that it is admitted that Clark nowhere signed the document. But that it is alleged to have been written by Clark based on the sole testimony of Hoeksema. A cursory reading of that article will demonstrate that the person responsible for posting it on the Foundation’s website either knows nothing of Clark’s beliefs, or is intentionally trying to muddy the waters on Clark’s teachings.

    The author of “His People” teaches common grace, universal atonement, and infralapsarianism!!! If this is the standard of care with which Talbot vets and publishes articles he has no credibility and no leg to stand on in charging John Robbins with anything.

  5. justbybelief Says:

    The bottom line is that the gospel is being attacked. First, they must discredit John Robbins. Next, The Trinity Foundation, Finally, a replacement: The Gordon Clark Foundation with its stable of unfaithful witnesses. The faithful witness is dead. In John’s absence they will seek to undermine the truth. When the last witness is gone they will have free reign to rewrite history. This sounds all very Catholic to me, even Pharisaical.

    They glorify Clark in their words, yet deny his teachings and persecute his adherents, especially the adherents to one of his central teachings from the Bible, belief:

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
    Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Paul – There is a good reason, even assuming the piece was written by Clark (and that’s a big assumption), that some things should remain unpublished. I fail to see how publishing a previously unpublished work of dubious origins and authorship reflects very well on the Clark.


  7. Dear Sean:

    Regarding the posts in “Writings of Gordon Clark” of The Gordon H. Clark Foundation:

    I have no insider knowledge about the website, but I know some of the posts in the “Writings of Gordon Clark” section are put there by Douglas Douma, who is writing a biography of Gordon Clark.

    Douglas Douma is making some of Gordon Clark’s unpublished writings available and as one who has an interest in Gordon Clark, I find those posts very interesting and am grateful to Douma.

    But readers of those posts must not read and treat the unpublished writings as if they were published.

    There are reasons Gordon Clark had not published them.

    As a biographer of Gordon Clark, Douglas Douma must read and evaluate those unpublished sources and see what light they throw on the life and intellectual development of Gordon Clark.

    In reading those unpublished writings, I also see glimpses into the life of Gordon Clark.

    But we are not Clark’s biographer and therefore must be very cautious when reading the unpublished writings.

    In terms of quoting any authors:

    (1) Any published writings are fair game as they are an author’s considered opinions.

    But with an author such as Gordon Clark who has published over decades, one should also note the date of the writings as there might be development in the author’s thoughts.

    (2) Audio lectures are not as authoritative as published writings as they are occasional.

    Quote audio lectures with caution and note the date, place and occasion of the audio lecture.

    (3) Blog posts are also fair game as they are also published writings.

    But many blog posts are occasional and should be quote with caution.

    (4) Unpublished writings are mainly of biographical interests or of interest in tracing the intellectual development of an author.

    They are not the considered opinions of an author and should not be treated as such.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  8. Paul Riemann Says:

    @Benjamin Wong

    You wrote:
    “But readers of those posts must not read and treat the unpublished writings as if they were published.”

    The Gordon H. Clark Foundation, by posting those previously unpublished articles, has, ipso facto, published them. The same goes for Doug Douma whenever he posts Clark’s previously unpublished articles anywhere on social media or elsewhere on the internet. In a digital age “publishing” is no longer relegated to the ink and paper of books.

    You wrote:
    “Audio lectures are not as authoritative as published writings as they are occasional…many blog posts are occasional and should be quote (sic) with caution.”

    How does the conclusion–“not as authoritative”–follow from your premises–“occasional”? Many authors only write and publish occasionally. How does a lack of frequency impute a lack of authority?

    The Gordon H. Clark Foundation should repent and make a public retraction for publishing the article “His People”…and foolishly claiming Gordon Clark as its author. Your absurd attempt at defending the Clark Foundation makes you implicit in their libel of Clark.


  9. Dear Paul:

    1. You wrote: “The Gordon H. Clark Foundation, by posting those previously unpublished articles, has, ipso facto, published them. The same goes for Doug Douma whenever he posts Clark’s previously unpublished articles anywhere on social media or elsewhere on the internet. In a digital age ‘publishing’ is no longer relegated to the ink and paper of books.”

    I agree with you that “[i]n a digital age ‘publishing’ is no longer relegated to the ink and paper of books.”

    But I disagree with you that “The Gordon H. Clark Foundation, by posting those previously unpublished articles, has, ipso facto, published them”.

    What The Gordon H. Clark Foundation did was make available to the public the unpublished writings of Gordon Clark; in doing so, they have not thereby “published” the previously unpublished writings.

    The rules of publishing and citation are still evolving in this digital age.

    Take, for example, the first post in the section “Writings of Gordon Clark” called “The Nature of Truth by Gordon H. Clark”:

    http://thegordonhclarkfoundation.com/the-nature-of-truth-by-gordon-h-clark/

    This post comes with this disclaimer:

    ” **Items from the unpublished papers of Dr. Gordon H. Clark should not be considered his definitive statement on the particular topic addressed. These papers are being provided for educational value. For Dr. Clark’s official positions consult his published writings.** ”

    In saying “[f]or Dr. Clark’s official positions consult his published writings”, did not the post implied that the unpublished writings are still considered unpublished?

    I can see people arguing both ways.

    But personally, I do not considered that by posting them on the internet these previously unpublished writings have thereby become published.

    2. Also, beside the transcription in the main body of the post, “The Nature of Truth by Gordon H. Clark” has two links:

    Unpublished 1. The Nature of Truth (original):

    http://thegordonhclarkfoundation.com/files/2014/10/Unpublished-1.-The-Nature-of-Truth-original.pdf

    Unpublished 1. The Nature of Truth (typed):

    http://thegordonhclarkfoundation.com/files/2014/10/Unpublished-1.-The-Nature-of-Truth-typed.pdf

    Noticed that the “original” was not signed by Gordon Clark but there were hand written corrections, presumably by Clark himself.

    Most of the posts in this section do not have a link to a scan of the original, but I have no reason to doubt that they are the unpublished writings of Gordon Clark.

    3. Please also take note of the “Copyright Notice” on the main page of the website:

    “All articles and photos on this website are the property of the Gordon Clark Family. Any reproduction, retransmissions, or republication of all or part of any article and/or photo found on this site is expressly prohibited, unless the GHC Foundation has explicitly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit, or republish the material. All other rights reserved.”

    4. You wrote: “How does the conclusion–“not as authoritative”–follow from your premises–“occasional”? Many authors only write and publish occasionally. How does a lack of frequency impute a lack of authority?”

    The purpose is not to impute a lack of authority but to recognize how scholars operate.

    The distinction is between “considered” and “occasional”.

    Take, for example, Michael Dummett’s William James Lecture delivered at Harvard University in 1976 and published in an expanded and revised form in 1991 as [The Logical Basis of Metaphysics (1991)]:

    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674537866

    Which would you considered as the “authoritative” version of the lecture?

    Is it a transcript of the 1976 lecture or the 1991 published version?

    5. You wrote: “The Gordon H. Clark Foundation should repent and make a public retraction for publishing the article “His People”…and foolishly claiming Gordon Clark as its author. Your absurd attempt at defending the Clark Foundation makes you implicit in their libel of Clark.”

    My purpose is not to defend The Gordon H. Clark Foundation.

    I am not connected to that Foundation in any way.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    Benjamin, I have no problem with Doug or anyone publishing them. What I have problems with is Jason Petersen saying if you have a problem or question something found at Trinity Foundation you should crossreference it with those thing on Talbot’s site, but that is completely backwards. The Trinity Foundation is the authoritative source on all things Clark, not Talbot’s site. These kids are seriously confused.


  11. Dear Sean:

    1. You wrote: “What I have problems with is Jason Petersen saying if you have a problem or question something found at Trinity Foundation you should crossreference it with those thing on Talbot’s site, but that is completely backwards. The Trinity Foundation is the authoritative source on all things Clark, not Talbot’s site. These kids are seriously confused.”

    I could not agree with you more. : – )

    The only thing that I am uncertain of is the relationship between The Gordon H. Clark Foundation and Whitefield Theological Seminary.

    They may or may not be separate entities.

    2. Although I have not said so in my comments, let me say that I agree with your analysis in “Whitefield Follies” and “Faith Is Understanding With Assent”.

    I have always admire your tenacity in defending Gordon Clark.

    Please do keep us inform if Kenneth Talbot replies to your email.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  12. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    Hey Guys,

    I substantially helped Doug with his book. I can say from having worked with him, having proof-read three or four chapters, and having had numerous discussions of a philosophical and a theological nature last year, while he was at Sangre de Cristo seminary (Clark’s grandson is the seminary president) and doing his contract engineering work, that Doug with genuine sincerity of heart is trying to honor Clark and his legacy. He reached out to Trinity Foundation and I reached out to Tom Juodaitis to contribute to the biography. For his own reasons Tom chose not to. Please pray for Tom and his family as they are burdened not only with the work of the Foundation, but also have medical challenges. Doug loves Clark and it is not HIS intent that Clark, or Robbins, or the Trinity Foundation be maligned. Doug is a young man who avidly reads Clark, coming out of Lutheranism, and avidly hikes. He is now in Switzerland pursuing connections with L’abri. I also support Doug’s Christian pastoral retreat ministry. He is a committed Clarkian, but young, sincere and naive.

    Doug is a friend, and he wants Clark out there. I warned him that he should take care in his associations, but he does not care whether he is used or abused as long as Clark is disseminated. I know from personal experience after many hours of discussion concerning the unity of the Godhead, and Clark’s “Incarnation” as well as more philosophical discussions dealing with discursive thought as opposed to thought which characterizes a being of aseity, that Doug listened very attentively to Clark. Also, i wish Doug had been more careful in how and who he allowed to use him, because I knew he would be dragged into controversies based in imperious behavior, and extravagant claims as well as temperamental personalities.

    Please be kind to Doug who is STILL a good friend. I am 60 years old and have studied Clark for twenty years. I was privileged to know John Robbins in a time of need. John was my friend, even though we never met. We exchanged emails and conversed infrequently. I was not very familiar with John, because I was timid in taking up his time. I deeply respected him. John rescued me from insanity. The day John died I became very depressed and cried. Pray for Doug, pray for Tom and pray for Ken Talbot. God is cleaning up some things. Also Sean Gerety has been a friend for many years, and I trust his instincts and know that he is fearless and regards no man when it comes to defending the gospel and its fallen sons.

    You have got to understand that as a poor Canadian I could not afford to go to the States to meet John or attend his funeral. But because of John, I developed friendships with Kevin Reed who I deeply appreciate and Tim Kauffman who is Clarkian and excellent in Romanist apologetics as well as historicist eschatology. I heartily recommend both men as sincere servants of God, who want to serve not rule, who want to spread the gospel not unnecessarily controvert, and who want to be of service to Clark, his legacy, Robbins, and his legacy and thereby spread the gospel and maintain it against the errors of FV and other errors rampant in the ostensibly Reformed churches.

    Clark never spoke an unkind word about Van Til. Let us emulate him as he emulates Christ. I hold Doug Douma in the same esteem as Kevin Reed, Tim Kauffman, Tom Juodaitis, John Robbins and Gordon H. Clark. AND Sean Gerety.

    The Lord Jesus bless you,

    Dr. Gus Gianello
    Issachar Biblical Institute
    issachar.institute@gmail.com

  13. James Says:

    To put it another way, some at Whitefield argue that Clark did not require an account for knowledge. That’s almost as silly and misguided as saying that Clark didn’t write F&SF.

    Can someone refresh my memory – where exactly does Clark say or teach that in order for me to know X, roughly that,
    1. X is true
    2. I believe X
    3. I must have an account for/of X.

    I’m pretty sure that Robbins meant that when he said in order to know X I must have an account (I think he called it justified true belief).

    of course I admit to perhaps not grasping what is meant by “requiring an account for knowledge” in the sentence above so perhaps I am assuming too much….

    Thanks

  14. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    James,
    an account for knowledge=justified
    axiomatic =true
    mental assent =belief

    Clark used this definition and got it from Plato. In Clark’s system in order for it to be knowledge you must be able to give an account of how you arrived at that knowledge. The example Clark uses is of a schoolboy who arrives at the right arithmetical answer as a result of a arithmetic operation but cannot give account of why it is right.

    Dr. Gus Gianello
    issachar.institute@gmail.com

  15. James Says:

    On that Whitefield page there is a paper by Crampton/Talbot that concludes that, in his book The Incarnation, Clark maintained and defended the Chalcedonian formulation. What? I thought that Clark defended a two person theory in that book – Chalcedon was a denial of the two person theory correct? How can they make that conclusion? Am I missing something?

  16. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    James,
    No you are not. Chalcedon opposed Nestorius. Clark concludes that Nestorius was wrongly condemned for being a heretic. His contention is that the use of homoousia, homousia, ousia, and hypostasis to designate the intertrinitarian relations and the relation of the human to divine in Christ is nonsensical. Vos in his acceptance of the Chalcedonian formulation gets into a convoluted discussion about the growth of the messianic consciousness in the earthly Jesus of Nazareth. These are all related questions. Further, Clark contends that the ancient creeds including the Athanasian were nonsensical. His ideas evolve from his theory on individuation which also appears in his work on the Trinity. I believe that he is correct. If we do not define person as a complex of propositions, it is difficult to conceive how the divine and human in the Messiah were related. If we do define it so, then the messiah was two personalities and the two natures one person formulation of the ancient creeds is wrong. This Chalcedonian formulation has actually helped in the Romanist conception of Mary as Theotokos, in opposition to her being Christotokos. Since Clark is correct, his formulation is the only way to avoid semi-docetism, where Christ becomes God who overwhelms the body, or a kenotic Christ, where the divine is in eclipse when conjoined with humanity as a result of normal human development. He was fully God, and fully man at all times. There were things that the son of man did not know such as “the hour, and the day that the son of man shall return” that being only in the knowledge of the Father, and yet the Logos who was pleroma in the flesh, sustained at all times the creation. How can this be? Only by formulating two persons in ONE existence. He was sui generis as well as in specie infima.

    Dr. Gus Gianello

  17. louiskbb Says:

    @James

    Apologies if this is changing track. However, I have the same problem with this conclusion; only I was too timid/intimidated to voice an opinion up to now.
    Thanks


  18. @James, you should check out the articles that Sean refers to:
    http://thescripturalist.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-marks-of-true-clarkian.html

    http://scripturalism.com/gordon-clark-and-knowledge-on-justification/

    And Clark didn’t contradict Chalcedon, he clarified and developed it by teaching that, since a person is a complex of propositions (Prov. 23:7), and since Christ is both fully God and Man, then he is both a human Person and divine Person–not two distinct persons, but a “superperson,” if you will. In other words, Christ has enough propositions in His complex or personhood to make Him both God and Man. He’s only a single complex of propositions, not two, and therefore one divine-human Person.

  19. brandonadams Says:

    For what it’s worth, E. Calvin Beisner notes that Talbot also does not seem to understand Clark’s presuppositionalism:

    What are the weaknesses of classical presuppositionalism [Beisner’s name for Clark’s position]? First, it is likely to be mistaken for Van Tilian presuppositionalism and therefore to be saddled with all the weaknesses of that view, as happens, for example, in Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsley’s Classical Apologetics. When that happens, classical presuppositionalism tends not to get the opportunity to set forth its case at all. Second, some of its lesser practitioners have both defined and defended it poorly, giving credence to the propensity of some of its critics to confuse it with Van Tilian presuppositionalism.29

    [29] 29An example is some of the argument in Kenneth Gary Talbot’s series of taped lectures on apologetics.

    http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/freearticles/ClassPresup.pdf p.19


  20. Dear All:

    1. Sean quoting Jason Petersen: “One other consideration that must be kept in mind however, concerning the Gordon Clark Foundation’s unpublished works of Clark is that Clark might have changed his mind on some topics at a later date. Interpreting Clark’s thought is going to be really tricky unless the unedited version of Clark’s published works are released.”

    As ordinary readers of Gordon Clark’s writings, we do not traced the development of his thoughts through his unpublished writings.

    We note the development of Gordon Clark’s thought in his published writings.

    Tracing the development of Gordon Clark’s thought through his unpublished writings is best left to Clark’s biographer or scholars on Clark.

    I think Clark is a very important author and we should read him and come to terms with his writings.

    But in my opinion, we should not be “exegeting” Clark’s writings as if it is the Bible.

    Beside the Bible, there are only a precious few authors or books that are worth the time exegeting them.

    An example from philosophy where a cottage industry developed exegeting the writings of an author is that of the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

    Of the few exegeting books and articles on Ludwig Wittgenstein that I have sampled, I felt they are on the main intellectually poverish.

    2. Sometimes, an author will tell you how he has changed his mind on a topic.

    Richard A. Muller is the outstanding authority on Reformed Orthodoxy, circa the period from 1520 to 1725.

    There are three prefaces to the 2008 printing of his book [Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins]:

    (a) “Preface to the 2008 Printing”;

    (b) “Preface to the 1988 Printing”;

    (c) “Preface to the 1986 Printing”.

    Muller noted some of the ways his views have changed in the “Preface to the 2008 Printing”.

    I will just quote two disjointed paragraphs from the 2008 Preface:

    “Second, to note a few specific shifts in my approach: I would not develop my arguments in the form of a comparative dogmatic model. Rather than attempting to match the christocentrism of the second-generation Reformers to the christocentrism of the early orthodoxy, I would identify the issue of christocentrism for what it is—an anachronistic overlay of neo-orthodox dogmatic categories—and set it aside as useless to the discussion. Neither Calvin and his contemporaries nor the later Reformed orthodox understood Christ as the epistemological principium of theology. They agreed that this principium was Scripture. All held that the center and focus of the work of salvation was Christ. The problem of so much of the older scholarship was that it read Calvin’s theology in a neo-orthodox manner and refused to extend this dubious honor to the writers of the seventeenth century. And, of course, since no one understood Christ as the epistemological foundation of theology, no one ever thought to replace Christ with predestination—as if an eternal divine decree often identified with the secret or hidden will of God could have been an epistemological foundation!”

    “My own thinking on the subject of Reformed orthodoxy has, in short, changed and developed since the publication of [Christ and the Decree]. I am gratified that the book still has a readership, and I have both the hope and the suggestion that its argument be read through the lens provided by my [Unaccommodated Calvin], [After Calvin], and the [Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics] volumes rather than vice versa.”

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  21. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    Dear Benjamin,
    If Clark were alive would he really appreciate having a mystery religion grow up around him. All of Clark’s rebuttals, whether of Mavrodes, or James, etc. were based on their published thoughts. You read his festschrift, and he interacts with WRITTEN critiques of his system–he never attempts to puzzle out what they really really really mean by alluding to unpublished works. Besides, I for one am deeply suspicious of men who write one thing and say another. Intellectual honesty demands written and published retractions to written and published positions. Clark was intellectually honest AND rigorous.

    This kind of silliness, could be the first stirrings of an apocryphal interpretation of Clark. There’s the Clarkians who believe what he wrote and there’s the REAL Clarkians who believe what he thought.

    Dr. Gus Gianello

    Issachar Biblical Institute
    issachar.institute@gmail.com

  22. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    Dear Carlos,

    Well spoken. Clark clarified Chalcedon by removing the nonsensical discussions about nature, substance, etc. that are embodied in Greek language. There is no such thing as attributeless form or substance and therefore the Nicene church became rapidly confused. It also did not help that the western church had latin fathers, and the eastern church had greek fathers. There was bound to be an almost infinite regression in clarifications. The L. “persona” is an example. What is its greek cognate, and do they have the exact meaning? Clark avoids all this Aristotelian talk by positing a different basis for individuation therefore short-circuiting such intricate and tedious discussions. I wonder, if the church had known what Clark knew, would there have been a split over the filioque clause?

    Dr. Gus Gianello

    Issachar Biblical Institute
    issachar.institute@gmail.com


  23. Dear Gus:

    I like your use of “mystery religion” and “apocryphal interpretation of Clark”. : – )

    In terms of the pattern of development, one more comparison maybe is with the Gnosticism that plagued second century Christianity?

    As always, Sean is very perceptive and identified an important issue.

    Sincerely,

    Benjamin

  24. James Says:

    Thanks for the replies – I don’t mean to appear stubborn – but I am deeply interested in these things -so any help is appreciated:

    I read the articles – ok, so the best they produce – I think – amounts to this,
    ” We believe them based on a “method” that is guaranteed to exclude error. He says above: “it is God who causes us to believe.”

    So, knowledge then is this:
    1. X is true
    2. I believe X
    3. God caused me to believe X

    but this (especially 3) does not seem to me to be JTB at all – I note that Clark does not call this justification of a belief. It is the cause of my belief – but not the justification of it. Assume that God causes all my truth-believings (John 1:9 epistemologically speaking) – how is this formulation really any different from my just believing a truth? Let it be true that God caused me to believe X – so what? I don’t have to be aware of God’s causation, and I certainly don’t have an account of X or even need to be aware of an account of X at all.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    “Only by formulating two persons in ONE existence.”
    what does that mean?

    “not two distinct persons -but a superperson”
    What does that mean?

    One of the main things in Clark’s book is that when talking about Christ we are talking about not just two different types of rational souls, but two different souls: one divine rational soul and one human rational soul – they are not the same type nor are they the same soul – and Clark defined the person as just the soul. So tell me what is two souls in one existence? what is a ‘supersoul’?

    Thanks,

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    James, I don’t know what article you’re referring to. I haven’t really been following this thread at this point as I’ve been traveling a lot for work, but what you write has no relationship to Clark’s theory. How do you even get your first premise? I have no idea where Clark claimed to have a method “guaranteed to exclude error”? While a case can be made for the perspicuity of Scripture, there are other things taught in Scripture that are not so plain and require extensive exegesis and even then we might be in error.

    Also, you seem to be confusing how someone comes to believe true proposition X with the method by which we can know proposition X is true. Clark was interested in a method by which we might distinguish knowledge from opinion. If knowledge was simply “God caused me to believe prop X” then I guess every Charismatic who claimed to get immediate revelation from God has come to know the truth, but I don’t see how that follows.

    Finally, a superperson is someone who wears a cape and usually has a colorful spandex costume.

  26. James Says:

    Sean, great replies!!!

    a cape and spandex hah!! 🙂

    the article is from Scripturalism.com web page -it what was given to me – by Carlos above as a reply. I don’t say they represent your viewpoint on Clark at at all there – I don’t even know if they’d say I represented them correctly – I did try though – here it is:
    http://scripturalism.com/gordon-clark-and-knowledge-on-justification/

    But what is interesting is that you see as I do the difference between a cause and a justification* -and in the present context I think justification involves “an account”- but my question was where does Clark say JTB (as in “an account”) is required for my knowing X.

    What I adduced from their webpage (in the formulation above) may be what Clark defined as knowledge – but it may not at all be what he defined as justification. If so, then maybe just maybe JTB is not required for knowledge per Clark (interesting that since Gettier – and believe me I’m no epistemologist (I was schooled/pwned many times by one on this) – although JTB and knowledge go together many times, it’s seems JTB may not be necessary nor sufficient for knowledge- but I may be off here too)

    oh and “God caused me to believe X” is not a ‘claim’ at all in this instance. It is meant, in this case, as a statement of fact. sort of like,
    if the conditions #1-#3 are met, then, I know X.

    Thanks again – especially for your patience and humor,
    J

    *(interestingly Greg Bahnsen on an obscure apologetics tape I have packed away somewhere drags Clark through the mud precisely on that quote from 3 Types of Religious Philosophy that Scripturalism.com uses there – Greg thinks Clark ought to have provided at that critical juncture a justification, not a cause, and then goes into why the TAG is required at that point but I leave that for another time)

  27. James Says:

    Gus wrote,

    The example Clark uses is of a schoolboy who arrives at the right arithmetical answer as a result of a arithmetic operation but cannot give account of why it is right.

    Where is this found?
    Thanks,

  28. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    Dear James,
    Now youre asking the near impossible. I dont catalog citations that are interesting…I would be cataloging the entire contents of Clark’s books! I may be wrong, but I’ll say look in Clark’s book on Logic. If not…anybody have any ideas? My memory is good, but not that good.

    Gus

  29. Sean Gerety Says:

    but my question was where does Clark say JTB (as in “an account”) is required for my knowing X.

    In Intro to Christian Phil Clark said,

    “A systematic philosophy must take care of epistemology. Knowledge must be accounted for [62].”

    A little later on he wrote:

    “What account shall be given of everyday “knowledge” that common sense thinks is silly to doubt? Don’t I know when I am hungry? Can’t I use road maps to drive from Boston or Los Angles? Indeed, how can I know what the Bible says without reading its pages with my own eyes? It was one secular philosopher criticizing another, who said that knowledge is a fact and that any theory that did not account for it should be abandoned. But all such criticism miss the point. The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K. But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps [or computer keyboards or 999 ravens], that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle.” [90,91]

    Clark proposed the axiom of Scripture as providing the method by which the two classes can be distinguished. I think that little lecture I posted by Cal Beisner might help too, assuming I even understand what’s causing you difficulties.

    *(interestingly Greg Bahnsen on an obscure apologetics tape I have packed away somewhere drags Clark through the mud precisely on that quote from 3 Types of Religious Philosophy that Scripturalism.com uses there – Greg thinks Clark ought to have provided at that critical juncture a justification, not a cause, and then goes into why the TAG is required at that point but I leave that for another time)

    I wonder if it’s transcribed somewhere on some Bahnsen site, because I’m starting to think I may not be understanding you after all.

  30. James Says:

    oh sorry -I will try to clarify –

    imo a good place to start is the quote above,

    “A systematic philosophy must take care of epistemology. Knowledge must be accounted for [62].”

    is about the requirements for a systematic philosophy -such must have a theory of epistemology (thus accounting for it). Clark most certainly did put forward an epistemological theory – no problems there.
    The problem (for me) comes in exactly what that theory is. What did Clark actually teach are the requirements for my knowing X? And that’s what I took your original quote to address:

    “…didn’t differentiate knowledge from opinion or true belief. To put it another way, some at Whitefield argue that Clark did not require an account for knowledge.”

    that seems to me to be about the requirements for my knowing X.
    That’s why I use the little equations I did:

    for my knowing X, Robbins would say Clark teaches (at the least) this:
    1. X is Truth
    2. I believe X
    3. I have an account for X

    some at Whitefield (by what you say above) would say Clark taught this:
    1. X is truth
    2. I believe X

    I adduced that the Scripturalism.com writers said this:
    1. X is truth
    2. I believe X
    3. God caused me to believe X

    I listened to the lecture by Beisner and never once does he mention “account” in this context. He says Clark taught that knowledge – my knowing X – is JTB. But in the main JTB is belief in Scriptures:

    1. X is scriptural (explicity or deduced)
    2. I believe X

    maybe Beisner is saying that Clark taught justification supervenes on the combination of those two conditions such that the result is knowledge? But he did not mention an account. Of course I may misread him – I am not good at this stuff –

    So what did Clark really say? I have not found anything in Clark about “account” or even ‘JTB’ in this context. That’s why Gus’ example was interesting to me – I can actually find Gus example – something very closely resembling it – in Crampton’s book on Scripturalism – – but I cannot find it in Clark (or Robbins) for that matter (despite Crampton’s footnotes)….

    no biggie really…just curious..where does Clark say that for my knowing X an account (in some fashion) is required? Or that JTB is required? I am not assuming even the latter in Clark’s case without proper citations….

    Thanks for your patience,

  31. Sean Gerety Says:

    OK, think I can see how you arrived at your little schematic from the Scripturalism.com piece for in it C.J. writes (I assume it’s C.J.):

    For Gordon Clark, knowledge of the axioms of revelation are justified. We believe them based on a “method” that is guaranteed to exclude error. He says above: “it is God who causes us to believe.” This justification makes our belief in the axioms of revelation more than just belief but knowledge.

    I would agree that what causes someone to accept, assent to, the idea that the Scriptures are true is ultimately God (not that there aren’t other evidences that might also induce us to that conclusion), but that is different from the method or account by which objects of knowledge might be identified among the large “number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false.”

    But to the question of providing an account and its role in the acquisition of knowledge, in that same piece Clark writes:

    Consider the philosophy of science outlined in the preceding lecture. There it was claimed and argued that experimental science produced no knowledge whatever of the processes of nature. The laboratory can devise no method for determining whether the Earth moves still while the Sun stands still or whether the Sun moves while the Earth stands still. Nor can the greatest amount of experimentation explain why two smooth pieces of marble adhere so stubbornly to each other. Neither can physics observe anything moving in a straight line. It is incorrect, therefore, to complain that the axiom of revelation deprives us of knowledge otherwise obtainable. There is no knowledge otherwise obtainable.

    Here we have an example (a summation) of Clark showing the failure of science to establish the truth of any of its conclusions in contrast to his method which posits the “axiom of revelation.” I don’t really know how the idea that knowledge requires an account can be any plainer. Do you think you just over complicate things? Or, is it me who just oversimplifies? Am I wrong to equate JTB with the idea that knowledge, if we’re going to call it that so that it might rise above the level of opinion, requires an account?

  32. James Says:

    I don’t really know how the idea that knowledge requires an account can be any plainer.

    Ok – hopefully this ought do it:
    If I believe that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    Do I know that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    or is something else required in order for me to know that?

    Thanks

  33. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    James–
    YES. IF you can account for it. You CAN because the Axiom says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Therefore it is a simple deduction from the axiom and is therefore a thesis that rises above opinion to the status of knowledge. The schoolboy could not account for how he got the answer right, that is, he could not demonstrate it. I can, as a deduction from scripture. That’s what Clark means and that is what the WCF means when it says, “good and necessary consequence”. It is good because it is justified, it is necessary because it follows the law of logic, therefore it is a consequence–another word for deduction. Any other kind of consequence is fallacious because the laws of logic are not applied properly and therefore you have a formal fallacy.

    To be precise to say “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is not a proposition because it is not the meaning of an indicative sentence in the declarative. The proposition would have to be expressed in universal declarative form. And I am too tired to do that now. I will leave the rest to somebody else.

    JTB=knowledge, which equals belief, which equals truth. Knowledge because it is justified. Belief because it is given mental assent to on the basis of the account. Truth because its value is that it coheres to external reality. (The coherence theory of knowledge). Reality is all the propositions existent in the mind of God, and revealed to us.

    Believing can be living faith or dead faith depending on whether the proposition believed is coherent with the truth. But we must carefully distinguish between the psychological act of believing, and the epistemological nature of that act. That is to say, as an example, a Mormon believes he is saved, and gives mental assent to the proposition that “Joseph Smith is a prophet”. But that proposition does not cohere with the axiom but contradicts it. Determining validity is called apologetics. Deductive apologetics primarily appeals to the axiom and to an ad hominem use of evidences, whereas empirical apologetics usually only appeals to evidences. Deductive apologetics is exclusively negative, in that it is in an apogogic formulation and it is ONLY interested in demonstrating incoherence with a deduction’s relation to the axiom. It presses incoherence until the enemy is silenced and then prays and proclaims the axiom by existential application derived by good and necessary consequence. Therefore, you may believe, but because what you believe is not coherent with the axiom it is “dead faith”, a metaphor for useless or only seeming faith and it therefore is not knowledge or truth. Jude tells us to “contend for the faith”, Paul warns us against knowledge falsely so-called, and the Old testament is replete with praise of God as the Lord God of Truth. Therefore, since truth is ontological, and logic has ontological status as the modus operandi to arrive at the truth, it must be so because truth is God. We must use logic not because it is formally right, but because it is the way God thinks. And therefore so is knowledge and so is belief, and that is why it is given supernaturally. (Which means that knowledge is given and truth is given. They are never discovered but are revealed which demonstrates why Augustine’s theory of illumination is the antidote to empiricism. See: Eph. 2:8-10; Jn. 1:1; John 17:5; Prov. ch. 8; John 14:6

    3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1 Sam. 2:3 ESV)
    4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. (Deut. 32:4 NKJ)
    6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, (Exod. 34:6 NKJ)
    5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. (Ps. 31:5 NKJ)
    15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Ps. 86:15 NKJ)

    To be more precise, the mind of God is truth, and since there is no difference between God [an empty form] and his attributes, His mind, which He has expressed in Scripture by way of theopneustia is truth.

    Boy! am i tired. Good nite

  34. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    one more thing…
    “It presses incoherence until the enemy is silenced and then prays and proclaims the axiom by existential application derived by good and necessary consequence.”

    Usually by reductio ad absurdum and the use of rhetoric. Attacking informal fallacies are one attempt to apply reductio ad absurdum by the use of ad hominem attacks, thereby rendering the opponent silent because he falls into an existential crisis out of which he cannot recover, and is thereby silenced so you can preach the gospel. Its not easy, I have done it, and the usual results are insults and rage. Obviously to cover up their epistemological crisis. This is what is happening right now on university campuses and this is why PC culture is so popular. THEY HAVE NO ARGUMENTS so they usually descend to argumentum ad bacculum, argumentum ad misericordia or an appeal to authority.

    Gus

  35. James Says:

    “The schoolboy could not account for how he got the answer right, that is, he could not demonstrate it.”

    and just to clarify,
    you -Gus – are saying that Clark said that the requirements for my knowing X are:

    1. I believe X
    2. X is Scriptural
    3. I can demonstrate that X is Scriptural

    is that correct? is #3 ‘can’ or ‘must’?

    What if I haven’t demonstrated it or can’t demonstrate it? Then I don’t know/cannot know it correct?

    where does Clark say that because the student could not demonstrate it he did not/could not know it? I have never found this in Clark. Please help me find it since it’s so important,

    Thanks for your help, good nite!

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ok – hopefully this ought do it:
    If I believe that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    Do I know that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    or is something else required in order for me to know that?

    Nope, nothing else is required and that is a great example of knowledge that cannot be acquired by any other means apart from revelation. But if someone asks you how do you know that, what would you say? How you answer depends on your epistemology.

  37. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, just to be clear, per Clark there are no other means by which we might acquire knowledge apart from revelation and the axiom of Scripture.

  38. James Says:

    Great reply
    Thanks

  39. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    James,
    Sorry for taking so long to answer. You asked:
    ——————————————-
    and just to clarify,
    you -Gus – are saying that Clark said that the requirements for my knowing X are:

    1. I believe X
    2. X is Scriptural
    3. I can demonstrate that X is Scriptural
    ———————————————–

    THAT IS CORRECT. That is why a proposition is knowledge and not opinion. It is opinion that the sky is blue, it is knowledge that David was king of Israel. The first is discovered by use of the senses and therefore cannot rise to knowledge, because of the fallacy of induction. Therefore there can be no account, it cannot become justified true belief.

    The 2nd is a proposition arrived at by direct deduction–not through the use of a syllogism. It is knowledge because it is not discovered, it is revealed, and THEREFORE i can justify it, as truth. It rises to the level of knowledge because it is justified, assented to and true–it is coherent with the mind of God. Remember, Clark adapted Neoplatonism and for the world of ideas he substituted propositions in the mind of God.

    That is why often people ridiculed Clark by saying that he could not know his wife. Clark responded by saying he did not even know himself AND you cannot just assert that sense evidence is knowledge, you must demonstrate HOW it is knowledge. Since there are multiple definitions of “sense” empiricism cannot even hope to arrive at giving an account for knowledge. For a proposition to be knowledge it must be justified because it is deduced from scripture, which is the infallible word of God, and therefore the mind of God inscripturated. To think the thoughts of God [His propositions] is to hold in the mind reality. That is why Clark is a realist and not a nominalist, and why Clark believed that you could not have knowledge of particulars, only universals. You cannot know that you are saved, you can only have a very good opinion, that almost rises to knowledge. It is only your opinion because your name is not mentioned in Scripture. We can KNOW Paul was saved because in Scripture he says he goes to his reward–there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness. I just gave an account of why my opinion of Paul’s salvation, is actually knowledge. Since no where in Scripture is Canada mentioned, I have a very good OPINION that i live there. Empiricism gives no knowledge, therefore it gives no truth and should not be believed. IT RISES ONLY TO PROBABILITY NOT CERTAINTY. It is in the realm of the phenomenal world that we must see science not as normative but as indicative, and that the only philosophy of science that works is Operationalism. Karl Popper came to the same conclusion about science. A hypothesis and thesis can only be falsified, never proven, because experimentation never rises to certainty, and therefore there can be no scientific knowledge. He did so, being an atheist. Ludwig Von Mises, father of the Austrian School of Economics also arrived at the conclusion that only by divine revelation or illumination can you have certainty and therefore knowledge. His opinion was that capitalism was better because it was more efficient. He did not have an answer to the objection “I don’t want efficiency, I want redistribution of wealth”. I can say with certainty, and therefore knowledge that socialism or any anti-capitalist economic theory is theft. Why? I justify that knowledge by saying, “God speaking is saying that “thou shalt not steal” This is a formal proposition. This is justified true belief. That’s why Augustine’s theory of learning by divine illumination was central to Clark’s epistemic thesis.

    Dr. Gus Gianello
    issachar Biblical Institute
    issachar.institute@gmail.com


  40. Can you quote where Clark said we can’t truly know we’re saved? I don’t think he taught that; it undermines the Reformed doctrine of assurance, especially because John says he “writes these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

  41. James Says:

    Gus –
    thanks for the clarification.
    As you may realize, Sean (just above) says something different – as do the persons at Scripturalism.com, etc…for example Sean does not say that, in addition to my believing scriptural props, I have to or can account for my belief (by deductions) in order to know those props. So, if you both are equating knowing X with JTB concerning X – I think it means your ideas of Justification are different-right?

    and my original question was about what Clark actually has said on the matter. Again, I cannot even find where Clark equated knowing X with having JTB concerning X. Do you have textual evidence for that? For instance where does Clark define ‘justification’ relevant to this context?

    To be honest, I find all of the takes above- yours too – interesting, but I see differences in them, and just wanted to know which is really Clark’s view. To be honest, I thought I had a grip on what Clark taught on this, but I am not so sure anymore.

    Thanks,

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    Carlos:

    Can you quote where Clark said we can’t truly know we’re saved? I don’t think he taught that; it undermines the Reformed doctrine of assurance, especially because John says he “writes these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

    Clark certainly fleshed out his system to a great detail, but then even he couldn’t work out every implication of his system. For example, he didn’t write very much on either politics or economics. John Robbins and Steve Matthews (see the latest Trinity Review) have taken Clark’s theory further than Clark did in those areas.

    But, how does it follow that if you can’t know you’re “truly” saved that this somehow undermines the doctrine of assurance? I know (see how flexible that word is) you are familiar with WCF 18. I assume you are, but some people aren’t. So tell me, if we can know we are saved why is it that “a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it”? I mean, a simple deduction should settle the question, right? Also, if this truth is so deducible, how then is it possible that assurance may be in various ways “shaken, diminished, and intermitted”? Remember Clark argued:

    The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato, too, granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K. But to dispose of the whole matter by an appeal to road maps that we can see with our own eyes is to ignore everything said above about Aristotle.

    The question is how do you arrive at the proposition “Carlos Montijo is saved”? Is this proposition found in Scripture? I don’t recall the chapter and verse? Is it a necessary inference deducible from Scripture? I’ve never seen anyone deduce any prop like it even if this is a perennial objection to Scripturalist epistemology. Biblically speaking, if we already know “Carlos Montijo is saved” then what’s the point of Jesus reading the names in the book of life in Revelation? Seems like it would be a waste of time. The other thing is that the word “know” has a range of meaning and the bible isn’t a textbook on epistemology and the word is often used in a looser or colloquial sense. For example, I might say I know it will rain in Virginia Beach tomorrow, but then it may not as even the best meteorologists are often wrong. Then again, I think our assurance doesn’t rest on whether or not I can know, in the strict epistemic sense, that I am saved, but rather on the truth of the promises of God and those things deducible from Scripture alone (i.e., those things that I can know in the strict empistemic sense). Now that I think about it some more, Clark does discuss the meaning of the Confessional phrase “this infallible assurance” in some place or another. He argues that our opinions about ourselves are hardly infallible and insists that this phrase is a reference to the Scriptures which themselves are infallible. You or someone else will need to track this down, but I think this is where Clark does address your question.


  43. Sean and Gus:

    I urge you to review Clark’s commentary on WCF Chapter 18: Of Assurance of Grace and Salvation, in What Do Presbyterians Believe? (http://www.trinitylectures.org/MP3/l1._XVIII_Assurance.mp3; http://www.trinitylectures.org/what-do-presbyterians-believe-p-61.html). He in fact says that only Calvinists can have true assurance–in contrast to Arminianism and Roman Catholicism.

    And “how does it follow that if you can’t know you’re ‘truly’ saved that this somehow undermines the doctrine of assurance?” Because that’s exactly what assurance is! To know that you’re truly saved!

    I think John Frame’s lecture on Gordon Clark is where I first heard about Clark supposedly having an “existential crisis” because his name wasn’t in the Bible, so he couldn’t know he was truly saved (https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/christian-apologetics-dr./id537705979). That’s nonsense and a caricature of what Clark taught:

    “False assurance is a common thing. Yet it is possible to have a true assurance and a hope that will not disappoint. The Scriptures say it is possible and urge us to attain to that state. John wrote his first epistle especially to teach us this lesson.” (What Do Presbyterians Believe?, p. 176).
    …………………………………
    “So too we may upset the perfect balance of the Bible: one man is too loose on one side and another on another. This happens with views of assurance. Some men, perhaps most, vainly deceive themselves with a false assurance that they are worthy of heaven. Because of this others jump to the conclusion that assurance is impossible. Since, however, it has already been shown that the Scripture teaches the assurance and grace of salvation, the remaining question is how we may attain that assurance.” (p. 178)

    Clark then gives an excellent discussion of how we can have assurance, making a helpful distinction that “Indeed, while it is impossible to lose one’s faith or salvation, assurance may be shaken, diminished, and intermitted…. Assurance of salvation, like other blessings, does not come to all Christians; but it is a part of the fulness of God’s grace which we may legitimately and consistently hope to enjoy” (p. 179).

    Obviously this is not something I can explicitly read in the Bible, but I can still know certainly, by good and necessary consequence, that I am saved.

  44. Sean Gerety Says:

    Obviously this is not something I can explicitly read in the Bible,

    Then obviously you’re just begging the question.

  45. Sean Gerety Says:

    Not to give you short shrift Carlos, but I found the section I was looking for. It’s on page 245 of What is the Christian Life. Here Clark discusses the Confessional phrase “infallible assurance” and WCF 18:2:

    Though the wording is very clear, it may be necessary in this age to point out two places where a misunderstanding may arise. First, the infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible. This would be a reversal to the Romanish position that a supernatural revelation is necessary. All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation. Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.

    Aside from the question that I have no idea why anyone would confuse assurance with knowledge, other than the fact that the latter may give rise to the former, in order for you to know — in the epistemic as opposed to the colloquial sense — that you are saved, the argument would have to go something like:

    1. All who believe in Jesus are saved
    2. Carlos Montijo believes in Jesus
    :. Carlos Montijo is saved

    You say knowing that you’re saved is “exactly what assurance is,” but that is precisely what assurance is not. Assurance is a psychological state of mind. Not one of your quotes from Clark says that assurance includes knowledge of your own salvific and blessed state. He said it is “part of the fullness of God’s grace which we may legitimately and consistently hope to enjoy” and indeed it is. However, “Carlos Montijo is saved” is neither a deliverance from Scripture nor one of it’s necessary inferences. If it were then the minor premise would be simple to account for according to Scripture. As Clark said; “The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted.” Consequently, it would appear that in order to arrive at 2 as an object of knowledge, as opposed to “common opinion” requires a theory that includes “an additional revelation” and a misreading of the Confessional doctrine of assurance, neither of which Clark would have accepted.

    I hope that helps.

  46. Gustavo P Gianello Says:

    Sean and Carlos,
    The position outlined by Sean is exactly what the divines meant. When the WS were published, with them was published “The sum of saving knowledge”. We find in that document the following argument based on “good and necessary consequence”:

    Hence let the penitent, desiring to believe, reason thus:
    “What doth suffice to convince all the elect in the world of the greatness of the sin of not believing in Christ, or refusing to flee to him for relief from sins done against the law, and from wrath due thereto; and what sufficeth to convince them that righteousness and eternal life is to be had by faith in Jesus Christ, or by consenting to the covenant of grace in him; and what sufficeth to convince them of judgment to be exercised by Christ, for destroying the works of the devil in a man, and sanctifying and saving all that believe in him, may suffice to convince me also: But what the Spirit hath said, in these or other like scriptures, sufficeth to convince the elect world of the foresaid sin, and righteousness, and judgment: Therefore what the Spirit hath said, in these and other like scriptures, serveth to convince me thereof also.”

    The language is somewhat anachronistic but it should be mentioned that the penitent is told to “reason” that is, DEDUCE. Then propositions are stated, all of them premises. With the conclusion at the end “THEREFORE WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH…SERVETH TO CONVINCE ME THEREOF ALSO.

    1. This is how to embrace the covenant of grace.
    2.This is how you deduce that you have embraced the covenant of grace.
    3. You have believed because the Spirit has convinced you. That is, the Spirit witnessing with your spirit.
    4. The witnessing of the Spirit with your spirit is by the promises.
    5. Therefore assurance arises from your being convinced by the Spirit as he witnesses to the promises of God in your heart.
    6. Therefore it is an infallible assurance because it is NOT based on your knowledge of what has been supernaturally revealed to you, i.e. that your name is in the book of life; but the assurance is infallible because you believed in the infallible promises and by good and necessary consequence meet the requirement of that class of people to whom the covenant of grace is promised. That class is called the elect.

    Dr. Gus Gianello
    Issachar Biblical Institute
    issachar.institute@gmail.com

  47. douglasdouma Says:

    Regarding the tract “His People,” this was one of a number of tracts found in a collection of Clark’s papers, others which were definitely authored by Clark. Though no author is given on the document itself, the fact that it was among his papers (where there were few if any items not written by Clark) along with the comment by Hoeksema regarding the tract as Clark’s, makes it, in my opinion quite likely that the tract is authored by Clark.

    I’m interested in how Paul thinks the tract “teaches common grace, universal atonement, and infralapsarianism.”

    The entire tract is repeatedly and adamantly supportive of limited atonement. The one statement on Christ dying for all “only in a vague, general sense” is, granted, itself vague.


  48. […] has been alleged by some, however, that Clark held not to the former view, but to the latter. See: https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/whitefield-follies/ How this mistake could be made is difficult to determine, for Clark’s view is clear and frequent […]


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