Posts Tagged ‘God’s Hammer’

God's HammerGod’s Hammer: The Bible and its Critics by Gordon H. Clark (Unicoi, Tennessee: The Trinity Foundation, 304 pages, 4th Ed., 2011), $5.18.  Also available in E-Book format.

Chapters include: How May I Know the Bible is Inspired?; The Bible as Truth; Verbal Inspiration: Yesterday and Today; The Evangelical Theological Society Tomorrow; Special Divine Revelation as Rational; Revealed Religion; Holy Scripture; The Concept of Biblical Authority; Hamilton’s Theory of Language and Inspiration; What is Truth?; The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession.

According to the back cover of the fourth edition, “God’s Hammer is a collection of essays on the inspiration, authority, and infallibility of the Bible by one of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith in modern times.” These words, in the opinion of this reviewer, are an accurate summary of the book.

The title God’s Hammer comes from Jeremiah 23:29, “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?,” Here, Jeremiah contrasts the lying words of the false prophets of Judah with those of the Lord delivered through his true prophets. And what was true for the words spoken by God through Jeremiah are true for those set forth in the rest of Scripture

It may come as a surprise to some, the doctrine of Scripture is the most important of all Christian

doctrines. For the 66 books of the Bible are the very word of God and the only means by which man can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Apart from God’s gracious written revelation, we would have no knowledge of creation, the fall, or the atonement. We could never deduce the Trinity or man’s ultimate destination in heaven or hell from our own experiences or by using logic alone.


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This section breaks down into four main headings.

    I. The origins of the debate over progress (37).

    II. A historical sketch of the development of the idea of progress (37-39).

    III. A discussion of the main elements of the philosophy of progress (39-40).

    IV. A review of the main arguments used to establish progress as a law of history (40-41).

Years ago during a freshman level history class in college, a professor of mine made the point that the ancient Greeks had a cyclical view of history. For them, history was just a repetition of the same cycles over and over, much like the seasons. At the time, I thought it was among the most foolish things I’d ever heard. I was thoroughly steeped in the idea of history as progress. These many years later, I still don’t agree with the cyclical view, though I can at least understand why an intelligent person might take that position.

Of course, the Bible teaches that history will have an end, and that end was declared by God before the creation of the world. History, far from being a random series of events, has a purpose, which will culminate when Christ returns to judge the world in righteousness. In that sense the idea of progress in history is perfectly consonant with Christianity. But this is not the type of progress Clark has in view in this section. The philosophy of progress discussed here is of the purely secular sort.

The progress discussed here is the secular view. Clark argues that the Middle Ages, focused as they were on contemplation, showed little interest in worldly progress. This changed with the coming of such thinkers as Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza.


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This is the second in a series of posts commenting on the book God’s Hammer by Gordon Clark.

Bible critics, who at sundry times and divers manners attacked the inspiration and truth of the Bible, have in these last days continued to press their case.  This, of course, makes a defense of these ideas most necessary.  In this chapter, however, Clark addresses the issue of inspiration only, reserving a discussion of truth for later chapters.  Clark writes,

The question of this chapter concerns the inspiration of the Bible.  It must be clearly distinguished from another question with which it might be confused:  How may I know that the Bible is true?  These two questions are indeed related, but they are not the same question.  They have even been answered in opposite ways.  A contemporary movement in theology called Neo-orthodoxy claims that the Bible is inspired, but also asserts that it is not completely true.  And obviously some other book, such as Churchill’s The Gathering Storm, could possible be entirely true without being inspired.  Such a book might even be called infallible.  Truth and inspiration therefore must be distinguished. 

Many authors, Christian or not, fail to distinguish and define their terms.  Clark does not make this mistake, and this lends power and clarity to his writing.  He continues,

The two ideas, however, are closely related, especially in the case of the Bible.  The Neo-orthodox writers can hold to an inspired but mistaken Bible only because they have changed the meaning of inspiration.  When the Biblical definition of inspiration is used, there can be no inspiration without truth, even though there often is truth without inspiration.  For the Christian, therefore, the question of truth is a prior question, and unless the Bible is true, there is not much use in discussing inspiration.

A glaring problem with much of the theology written over the past one hundred years is that its  language is fundamentally dishonest. Those who rejected Christ, wanting to cloak their unbelief behind a veil of Biblical vocabulary, deliberately used historic Christian terms while attaching new meanings to them.  The Neo-orthodox theologians – of which we will have more to say later – were one such group.  These men in the same breath could claim that the Bible was indeed inspired by God and that it was full of errors.  They had a different definition of inspired than Gordon Clark.  So then, whose definition was correct?  Was Clark right or the Neo-orthodox?  What does the Bible claim for itself?  Does it assert its own inspiration? How does it define inspiration?  Is the Bible even the place to look to answer these questions, or is it circular reasoning to defend the Scriptures by appealing to the Scriptures?

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This is the first in a series of posts commenting on the book God’s Hammer by Gordon Clark.                                            

Necessity, authority, sufficiency, clarity.  Historically Protestants have considered these to be hallmark characteristics of Scripture, summing them up under the Reformation slogan sola scriptura.  But beginning in the 19th century, the reformed trumpet began to make an uncertain sound.  In 1893, noted Presbyterian minister and scholar Charles Augustus Briggs was suspended by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. for  teaching that the Bible contains error.  While this was a notable victory, the following decades were not so kind to the Fundamentalist cause, and by the end of the 1920s the PCUSA was firmly in the grip of Modernist ministers preaching a false gospel from a (supposedly) fallible Bible. 

Now the theological debates of a hundred years ago may seem far removed and unimportant to Christians today.  And while it’s tempting to dismiss the Fundamentalist-Modernist conflict over textual criticism, translations and Biblical infallibility as nothing more than a case of pointy headed professors wrangling over words, that would be a big mistake.  The transformation of the PCUSA from a Bible believing church to a tool of the modernists began with an attack on the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of God’s Word.  “Yea hath God said?,” was Satan’s first attack on verbal revelation, and his attacks continue in our day.  Writing in the introduction to God’s Hammer (GH), editor John Robbins comments,

The twentieth century may be a pivotal period in human history, for the doctrines of justification through faith alone and truth through the Bible alone came under such a severe and sustained attack.  That attack, which has been countered by only a few of the professed tens of millions of Christians in America, has come primarily from within the church itself.  It indicated that the wolves are within the sheepfold, and in many cases, are actually posing as shepherds. 

Gordon Clark was one of those few twentieth century theologians who undertook to counter the attacks on Scripture.  And in truth, he did more than simply counter the attacks, with devastating logic he demolished the critical arguments of both modernist and neo-orthodox scholars and demonstrated powerfully from the Scriptures the truth and authority of the Bible.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be blogging through God’s Hammer chapter by chapter to discuss Clark’s arguments in defense of the Bible.  If you haven’t yet, I urge you to buy and read a copy.  If you’re a long time Clarkian, I urge you to reread it, for God’s Hammer is an apologetic gold mine.  

Comments are welcome.

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