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The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark – A Review

February 22, 2017

clarkDoug Douma has done a masterful job.  This book is must reading for anyone even remotely interested in discovering one of the greatest minds Christianity has ever produced. That’s not hyperbole.  According to John Robbins; R. C. Sproul was once asked what 20th century theologians people would be reading in 500 years, and he answered, ‘Gordon Clark.’ I have it on tape.”  Perhaps the section that will interest most readers is the one dealing with the controversy that arose between Clark and Cornelius Van Til and assorted faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary who, unsuccessfully, attempted to block Clark’s ordination in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Douma carefully and extensively documents the entire sordid affair from start to finish and corrects the record regarding some of the fairytales that have come out of the Van Til camp over the years (I have to think he’s going to take some heat over this).

As an extra bonus, pay close attention to the article Douma includes by Clark in the appendix; “Studies of the Doctrine of The Complaint.” Clark does a great job showing that even the Van Til faction’s lukewarm attempt at a concession after their complaint was denied and Clark exposed the group as un-Reformed epistemological skeptics, was no concession at all.  Even in their backpedaling, Clark destroys his opponents a second time so thoroughly that only the frank and open admission that Clark was right and the Van Til faction was completely wrong would have sufficed. It should not be surprising that when it comes to Van Til and his many followers through the years that what they often give with the one hand they take away just as quickly with the other. That’s because when someone believes (all) Scripture is paradoxical and contradictory propositions not only can be but are in in fact both true, it’s easy to justify speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth.

The one possible and admittedly very small bone I would pick with the author is that I don’t see the passage cited from Van Til’s; An Introduction to Systematic Theology (161) as providing any genuine agreement between Van Til and Clark. Instead of Van Til “almost coming around to Clark’s position,” what I see it as a subtly worded evasion of the force of Clark’s devastating critique of The Complaint.  As far as I can tell Van Til provides nothing more than a restatement of Acts 17:28 while conceding absolutely nothing.  Consider these passages in light of the question of the incomprehensibility of God from An Introduction to Systematic Theology:

“For man any new revelational proposition will enrich in meaning any previous given revelational proposition. But even this enrichment does not imply that there is any coincidence, that is, identity of content between what God has in his mind and what man has in his mind . . . There could and would be an identity of content only if the mind of man were identical with the mind of God. It is only on the assumption that the human mind is not the mind of a creature but is itself the mind of the Creator that one can talk consistently of identity of content between the mind of man and the mind of God (270,271).”

“[Man] never has and never can expect to have in his mind exactly the same thought content that God has in his mind (295).”

“. . . the Christian position with respect to man’s not knowing at any point just what God knows is based upon the presupposition of the self-contained God of Scripture. And this presupposition is the death of both rationalism and irrationalism. It is the death of both because it alone maintains the full dependence of the mind of man upon the mind of God . . . To say therefore that the human mind can know even one proposition in its minimal significance with the same depth of meaning with which God knows that proposition is an attack on the Creator-creature relationship and therewith an attack on the heart of Christianity. And unless we maintain the incomprehensibility of God as involved in and correlative to the idea of the all-controlling power and knowledge of God, we shall fall into the Romanist and Arminian heresy of making the mind of man at some points as ultimate as is the mind of God (297, 298).”

This minor caveat aside, this really is an outstanding biography of really a wonderful elder brother in Christ and one of the greatest minds of any generation. The book nicely captures a sense of the man and not just the controversies that often defined his life. Clark’s dedication to painting later in life, albeit ever so badly, really speaks to Clark as what was once called a true “Renaissance” man. The sadness expressed at the loss of his wife Ruth was particularly touching. It was also interesting and sad that his only seeming respite from controversy was during his long tenure as the head the philosophy department at a Butler University, a secular university. I suppose the blessing is that leaving the ugliness of ecclesiastical politics aside Clark was able to focus on writing and leaving his ever-expanding number of eager students with plenty to read and digest.

Now Available: “The Presbyterian Philosopher” – The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark

January 25, 2017

clark

Doug Douma’s bio on Clark is now available.  Read about it below…

______________________________________________________

I’m glad to announce that my book The Presbyterian Philosopher – The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark is now available for purchase!

After four years of effort researching and writing this book, I’m thrilled to see it come to publication. This book incorporates Dr. Clark’s personal letter collection, information from unpublished papers and sermons, letters from a half dozen archives, and interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues to detail the history of his life and give context for understanding his philosophy and the controversies in which he was involved.

The preface is written by Dr. Clark’s two daughters, Lois A. Zeller and Betsy Clark George. Endorsements for the book are from John Frame, Jay Adams, Kenneth Gary Talbot, D. Clair Davis, David J. Engelsma, William Barker, Erwin Lutzer, Frank Walker, Dominic Aquila, and Andrew Zeller.

Please contact me if you would like to review the book in your journal, or desire to interview me regarding the book for your newspaper, blog, podcast, or radio program.

Soli Deo Gloria,

-Douglas J. Douma

 

Book Details:

Douma, Douglas J.
The Presbyterian Philosopher
Wipf and Stock
ISBN 13: 978-1-5326-0724-0
Retail Price: $37
Pub. Date: 1/24/2017

Ordering options:

Wipf & Stock Customer Service: Available Now! – Call 541-344-1528 to order.
http://www.wipfandstock.com: Available estimated 2/7/2017. (to be updated)
Amazon: Available estimated 2/7 – 2/21/2017. (to be updated)
E-book: Available in 8-10 weeks.

Taking advantage of my author discount, I can sell you books at $28 a piece for US orders. To order your copy (or copies) email me at douglasdouma at yahoo dot com. Then I will provide you with an address to send check or money order. I do not currently accept PayPal. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Source: Now Available: “The Presbyterian Philosopher” – The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark

Gus Gianello 1955-2016

December 14, 2016

As readers of God’s Hammer know Dr. Gus Gianello was a regular contributor to this blog. Sadly I received word this week that Gus had returned home to be with his Lord. Over the years Gus and I knew each other in the “virtual world” as he was a regular commentator here and he and I had many email conversations over the years. Gus was always a great encouragement to me and to many others. He will be greatly missed. I look forward to meeting him in person one day in Glory.

Gus’ family has set up a “Go Fund Me” page to help pay for funeral expenses, retire some outstanding debt so it won’t be a burden on his family, and bury him near Pheonix, Arizona. Please consider donating to this effort.

Biblical Economics : The Siege of Samaria, Part 5 (Conclusion)

July 5, 2016

Lux Lucet

Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria's SiegeElisha Prophesies the End of Samaria’s Siege by Nicolas Fontaine, 1625-1709.

Inflation – What it is and what it isn’t (continued)

In the last installment of this series, I mentioned that the big takeaway point was the definition of inflation. As you may recall, we defined inflation a bit differently than is commonly understood. Most people, when they talk about inflation, mean to say that prices – the amount we pay for items such as gas or bread or rent – have gone up.

The most common statistic used to report rising prices is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI measures the cost of a representative basket of goods and services, comparing the average price of these items in one period with their average price in the following period.

When the CPI shows average prices going up from one reporting period to the next, the rising prices are reported…

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Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 4

July 5, 2016

In our last installment, we discussed opportunity cost using the example of the four lepers at the gate of Samaria (2 Kings 7:3-5).   The prospects facing of these gentlemen were all seemingly…

Source: Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 4

Biblical Economics: The Siege of Samaria, Part 3

June 25, 2016

In part 3 Steve Matthews discusses the importance of the economic principle of “opportunity cost.” If you’re late to the game, proceed to part 1 and forgo jumping right into part 3. That’s the cost of admission. 🙂

Lux Lucet

Elisha Prophesies the End of Samaria's SiegeElisha Prophesies the End of Samaria’s Siege by Nicolas Fontaine, 1625-1709.

My goal in this series is to demonstrate that many of key concepts of economics are either explicitly or implicitly taught in Bible’s account of the siege of Samaria as found in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20.

In Part One, we looked at 2 Kings 6:25 and what we could learn from the exorbitant prices people were paying for undesirable food under siege conditions. In Part 2, we looked at the relationship between two economics and politics. Especially, we considered how economic hardship is frequently brought on by the ill-conceived policies of politicians, who, being loath to take the blame themselves, often will attempt to find a scapegoat to divert public dissatisfaction away from themselves.

Today, I would like us to look at another important economic concept demonstrated in 2 Kings: opportunity cost. But before diving into that, perhaps it would…

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Facts and Myths for the PCA on Racial Reconciliation

June 22, 2016

PCA is at it again. Let the self flagellation begin. Thankfully, not everyone has been drinking the PC Kool-Aid. Bob Mattes really nails it.

“When the PCA repents of anything, that carries through to the every communicant in the pews, which causes them to violate the 9th Commandment when they have not sinned in that way. It’s logically a package deal.”

Reformed Musings

The PCA will consider a host of overtures at the 44th General Assembly that purport to deal with racial/ethnic reconciliation, although most merely parrot Overture 4.  I believe that all but a couple of the reconciliation overtures are seriously flawed. I hope to briefly explain a few of the issues.

Let me make clear up front that racism is sin. Exegesis that states or implies that ALL men do not equally bear God’s image is wrong and self-serving, not God honoring. Not loving ALL of our brothers and sisters in Christ as John admonished in his first letter is sin. Let’s get that off the table up front.

The Ninth Commandment

Westminster Larger Catechism Q/A 144 says that the 9th Commandment requires in part:

A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor…

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