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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Clark’

The Death of Athaliah, 1870, by Gustave Dore.

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.

  • 2 Kings 11:1

“To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city, is repugnant to nature, contumelious to God, a thing most contrary to his revealed will and approved ordinance, and finally it is the subversion of good order, and of all equity and justice.”

To modern ears could a more offensive sentence be found in all of literature?  Not having read all of literature, this author does not pretend to be able to answer that question definitively.  Yet with that said, it is hard to imagine an idea more repugnant to 21st century readers than this quote from John Knox’s essay “The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women” (hereafter, TMR).

We have, all of us living in the West in the early 21st century, been steeped in feminist theory from our youth up to the point where, for most of us, Knox’s words are little more than noise from a bygone era with no relevance for us today, except perhaps as a cautionary tale to warn us about how bad the bad old days really were.

Liberal Democrats, were they to read Knox, would quickly be triggered, alternating between outrage, ridicule and calls to have his ideas removed from social media.  Conservative Republicans, on the other hand, would attempt explain away what Knox wrote by saying that he was a product of his age, that what he was really writing against was 16th century liberal women and that if he were alive today he would gladly support a female presidential candidate so long as she was pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and promised to fight against the Green New Deal. 

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Black Lives Matter protesters march through Portland, Oregon on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

  • Isaiah 1:7

Is America under the judgment of God?  Many Christians think so, this author among them. 

Some of our largest, most prosperous and best-known cities are literally burned with fire and will take years to recover, if they ever do. Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and New York have seen massive riots and property destruction on a level that few Americans could have imagined just six months ago.  On the internet one can view the daily, destructive handiwork of Antifa in Portland and Seattle.  The Portland riots have been going on for three months now and show no sigh of abating.  In fact, the riots may be spreading, as there are reports just today (8/23/2020) that the sort of disturbances that have been going in the Portland have spread to Denver.       

Our political system is a mess.  The Democrats have veered off in a radical socialist/social justice direction.  So overt is their radicalism that it has caused concern even among some of the older, mainstream liberals in the party.  The Republicans, relatively speaking a saner bunch, have nevertheless lost their moorings in many ways.  There was a time, not all that long ago, when Republicans at least pretended to be the party of fiscal restraint.  Yet under President Trump debts and deficits have exploded and almost no one says a word.  When Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) objected to the house passing the budget busting $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill without a vote, he was denounced by President Trump as a, “third rate Grandstander.”  Trump went on to say that Massie should be thrown out of the Republican party.  That was Massie’s reward for standing up for the Constitution.

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Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers, Isaiah 1:7

“…because of Western civilization’s love of material comforts, there is an unwillingness to face unpleasant realities.”

  • Gordon H. Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, p.53

Just yesterday, we celebrated the 244th anniversary of America’s independence from Great Britain, while, ironically enough, a substantial portion of the country found itself under house arrest due to dictates from various government officials.  It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle.

Actually, it seems as if we’ve come more than full circle.  Government was much smaller, and the tax and regulatory burdens were much less, under British colonial rule than they are now under own home-grown government.  This is not to suggest that it was wrong to have fought the Revolutionary War, but it does say something about how far America has drifted from its limited government roots.   

What has been the cause of this political sea change?

In his Forward to Gordon Clark’s A Cristian View of Men and Things, John Robbins explained it this way, “A Christian View of Men and Things presents the argument that the West is disappearing because Christianity, on which Western civilization was built, has already virtually disappeared in the West.” 

It needs to be pointed out there that when Clark and Robbins speak of “Christianity,” they are talking about the plain statements and logical implications of the 66 Books of the Bible, the centerpiece of which is the doctrine of Justification by Faith (Belief) Alone.  That is to say, they are talking about the Biblical Christianity of the Protestant Reformation. 

There are other systems of thought that claim to be Christianity, Roman Catholicism for example, but which are not Christian, because they teach that sinful man in some sense is able to put God in his debt, as if salvation were the rightful wages of the sinner’s good works.  These other systems are, in fact, not Christian at all, and their growing presence in the United States and elsewhere in the West are the collapse of the West. 

Western Civilization is rapidly disappearing from the face of the Earth, yet almost no one, even among those who lament its disappearance, understand, as did Gordon Clark and John Robbins, the connection between the disappearance of Christianity and that of Western Civilization. 

Writing about the Northern Kingdom in his day, the prophet Hosea commented, “Aliens have devoured his [Ephraim’s] strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.  The kings and rulers of the Northern Kingdom, for which Ephraim was another name, lacked the discernment to realize the precarious position of the nation and to see that its collapse was nigh.  Some scholars believe Hosea wrote from about 750 BC until just a few years before the dissolution of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC, when the Assyrians conquered the capital city of Samaria and took the inhabitants of the nation into captivity. 

So why did the Northern Kingdom fall to Assyria?  That is a very simple question to answer, one requiring no speculation: “[T]hey left all the commandments of the LORD their God” (2 Kings 17:16).  It was because of this that “the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight” (2 Kings 17:18).

It is this author’s contention that we in the West, the heirs of the Reformation, are in a position not entirely different from that of ancient Israel.  We have forsaken the Lord our God, his law and his gospel, and have followed after strange gods, which are not gods at all, but the work of the vain imaginations of men’s sinful hearts.  John Robbins put it like this, “the collapse of the West can be viewed as the collapse of the of the attempted Thomistic (Roman Catholic) synthesis of human philosophy and Christ, and the West’s fatal choosing of non-Christian philosophy, not Christ” (A Christian View of Men and Things, 12).   

It’s one thing to read about the collapse of the Hebrew Republic as documented in the pages of the Old Testament, or even about the collapse of the Roman Empire as recounted by Edward Gibbon.  It’s altogether another thing when the civilization in collapse is your own and you have the opportunity to watch it live streamed in high definition.

In the opinion of this author, it is high time that American Christians, and Christians in other nations of the West, face the reality of the situation we are in, as unpleasant as it is, and prepare themselves for the likely further collapse of the West. 

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2020

Once again, I find myself looking back at the year past and peering forward at the one to come.   As is no doubt the case with many, this is for me a bittersweet annual experience.  By God’s grace, I can say that I have been partially successful in redeeming the time.  But a little honest reflection convicts me that I could have, and should have, done better.

Sin, it would seem, is ever present with me, tainting even my best works.

But thanks be to God, for it is not my own works that justify me.  Rather, I am acceptable to God “only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to [me], and received by faith [belief] alone.”

Truly, the grace of God is amazing toward sinners! It’s as if God were to say to us wretched rebels, “All your guilt, all your hopelessness, all your fear of death and of righteous judgment and of eternal punishment, these things I have taken away in my Son.  Only believe in him and be saved from the wrath to come.”

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Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

    Proverbs 22:3

US Slaps New Tariffs On China; One Minute Later China Retaliates,” was the headline on ZeroHedge this morning. This, of course, is in reference to the US/China trade war which has been ongoing for the past two years.

Just last week, US stock markets rallies on reports that China was going to be “calm” in its response to the trade war. But in this headline we see that China immediately retaliated when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports. Whether China’s response, a decision to place higher tariffs on $75 billion of imports from the US, will be considered “calm” by American financial markets when they reopen on Tuesday after the Monday closure for Labor Day is a matter of opinion.

In the view of this author, come Tuesday the moves by the US and China to impose a new round of tariffs on each other likely will put downward pressure on US stocks, force money into bonds, drop long-dated US treasury yields further inverting the already inverted yield curve, and cause gold and silver to spike. This opinion comes with the usual caveats that things could change between now and Tuesday morning and that past performance does not guarantee future results.

I bring up the trade war, not because it’s the focus of this post, but just by way of warning that there is a lot of uncertainty in the financial markets, a great deal of which is caused by the geopolitical stresses in the world today, none of which seems likely to be resolved anytime soon.

And geopolitical stresses are not the only things that pose a threat to the well-being of private citizens of the US and the West generally. The Western financial system is in a state of collapse. Deficits and debts are out of control, yet there is no political will to address these issues. To date, politicians and central bankers have largely been able to hide the destructive effects of out of control spending government spending has had on the lives of average citizens, but this will not go on indefinitely.

Speaking of debtors, Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount that, unless they settled with their creditors, they would be thrown in jail and not get out until they paid the last cent. In God’s economy, the books always balance in the end. Put another way, no debt goes unpaid. The once Christian West has managed to rack up the greatest debts in the history of mankind, and these debts most certainly will be paid in full. That payment will come in the form of currency devaluation, loss of standard of living and, probably, a loss of personal freedom as well.

So what are Christians, in particular, Western Christians to do in the face of the challenges facing our nations? In the first place, we must remember who it is we serve. The Lord Jesus Christ is our king and it is in his name we put our trust. Jesus never promised his people that they would have lives of perfect, uninterrupted bliss. On the contrary, he repeatedly warned his hearers that following him came at a cost. But Christ has promised that he will always be faithful and that our Father in heaven will supply our needs.

In the opinion of this author, barring the near-term return of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no possible way for the West to avoid a major financial and political crisis in the next few years. But in light of the promises of Scripture – for example, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (food and clothing) shall be added unto you” – Christians have no business falling into despair.

This leads me to my second point. Rather than falling into despair, we Christians need to get to work. That is to say, we need to get prepared for what is coming. We want to be the prudent man in the verse from Proverbs quoted at the top of this post and not as the fool who ignores all warnings signs and is punished for his failure to take reasonable action.

Put another way, recognizing potential dangers and making prudent preparations against them is part of the Christian enterprise.

In today’s post, beginning with Noah I’d like to begin exploring some of the major examples in Scripture of prepping and what applications these examples have for Christians in the early 21st century.

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2018

As once again we find ourselves at the end of one year and the start of another, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to serve him and his church through this blog.

In March 2018, I will celebrate nine years in the blogosphere, and that’s a pretty long time in blog years. That raises an interesting question, So just what is the average lifespan of a blog anyway? Well, as is often the case, it depends on whom you ask.

According to one post, most blogs die after 100 days. Yikes! That makes Lux Lucet something like 1000 in human years! Another post puts the average blog lifespan at 33 months. Whatever the actual average number is, it appears that this space has continued to be active well past the time when most blogs have become internet history.

And that’s a credit, not to the skill or to the perseverance of the blogger, but God who has graciously provided the opportunity, the desire, the knowledge, the wisdom and the strength to continue.

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The Annunciation_Fra Angelico_15th c.

The Annunciation, Fra Angelico, 15th cen.

 

One of the many reasons I have long admired the work of John Robbins was his insistence on holding, and skill at handling, question and answer sessions after his talks.

As brilliant as his lectures were, some of his best recorded comments came in the discussions that he had with audience members after he was finished speaking.

A few years ago, Tom Juodaitis was kind enough to send me recordings of a number of sermons preached by Dr. Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi, TN.

Among the sermons was a two part series on John 3:1-17. At the end of part 2, there is a discussion among Dr. Robbins, an individual whose identity I don’t know, and Tom Juodaitis concerning the incarnation.

In this discussion, Dr. Robbins explains Gordon Clark’s teaching on the incarnation. Clarks mature thinking on this subject is found in the final book he wrote just before his death in 1985, The Incarnation. Clark’s work was at the time, and continues to be, controversial. For at its heart is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is not, as is commonly taught, one person in two natures, but two persons in one individual, one a divine person and the other a human person.

This really shouldn’t be controversial. Just recently I heard a preacher say, correctly I would add, that Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. If this is the case, and it is, then we are logically driven to the same conclusion Clark reached.

Yet many people are offended at Clark’s thought, dismissing it as Nestorianism while ignoring the logical force of his argument.

John Robbins was one theologian was persuaded by Clark’s argument and had no problem saying so. In the discussion below, Dr. Robbins is at his best, brilliantly, simply and persuasively summarizing Clark’s argument.

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HurricaneSurvivalGuide“I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesnt (sic) care about them.” Thus tweeted sociology professor Ken Storey shortly after Hurricane Harvey had ravaged Texas. This raises the question, just what were the sins of Texas that called for such dreadful punishment? Apparently, it was the voters of Texas’ decision to support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Shortly after his unfortunate tweet, Storey was fired from his teaching position at the University of Tampa.

As a Christian, I reject the mechanistic concept of Karma. But I do find it supremely ironic that, even as I write this post, Hurricane Irma is ravaging the gulf coast of Florida, the very region where the city of Tampa is located and, presumably, where Ken Storey makes his home. But unlike the good professor, I take no delight in his suffering or that of other people of Florida. May God grant them safety while the storm lasts and a quick recovery thereafter.

But professor Storey wasn’t alone in blaming hurricanes on the deplorables. Actress Jennifer Lawrence also got in on the act, opining that the storms were “Mother Nature’s rage and wrath,” in response to climate change deniers’ refusal to confess, as it were, their environmental sins. This led one person on Twitter to raise the question about the current wildfires raging in Los Angeles. If Mother Nature is angry with Texans and Floridians for dismissing the sacred doctrine of man-made climate change, why is she angry at reliably environmentalist LA? Or what about the terrible drought that California suffered for several years? Or the earthquakes? Maybe Mother Nature is confused. Maybe she has multiple personality disorder. Maybe the wrath of Mother Nature is a figment of Lawrence’s imagination.

 

Houston flooding

Houston flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

 

In all fairness, it’s not just liberal professors and Hollywood types who make prophetic pronouncements without any sound basis. In the aftermath of 911, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson found themselves in hot water for suggesting that God permitted 911 to take place because of America’s support for abortion and homosexuality. Just how Falwell and Robertson knew American support for homosexuality caused God to strike the US, they did not say.

In the Bible we find examples of people making the same type of error as professor Storey, Jennifer Lawrence, Falwell and Robertson. For instance, In John chapter 9, the disciples, referring to a man who was blind from birth, asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of some specific sin, but their assumption was misguided. Jesus responded to their question by stating, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

Job’s friends made the same mistake, attributing Job sufferings, without warrant, to some secret sin on his part, which they demanded time and time again that he confess.

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WIPFSTOCK_TemplateDoug Douma’s recently published biography of Gordon Clark titled The Presbyterian Philosopher has garnered a lot of positive attention.

I’ve just started reading it, so I’m not in a position to write a review. For reviews of the entire book, please see here for David Engelsma’s, here for Sean Gerety’s, and here for Tom Juodaitis’.

But having just read through the Introduction, I was very favorably impressed with Douma’s summary of Scripturalism, the name given to Clark’s philosophical system by John Robbins. Writes Douma,

The philosophy of Gordon Clark has been called Scripturalism because of his reliance on the truth of Scripture as his fundamental axiom or presupposition. Stated simply, his axiom is “The Bible is the Word of God.” Scripturalism teaches that the Bible is a revelation of truth from God, who Himself determines truth and is the source of all truth. In this theory, the prepositions of Scripture are true because they are given by inspiration of God, who cannot lie. For Clark, the Bible, the sixty-six books accepted by most Protestant churches, is a set of true propositions. All knowledge currently available to man are these propositions along with any additional propositions that can be logically deduced from them.”

Among the key terms in this paragraph is “axiom.” An axiom is an unproven first principle. All systems of thought, including Christianity, have unproven first principles. Both Clark and Robbins held that the axiom of Christianity is, “The Bible alone is the Word of God.”

Some Christians may be disturbed at that thought that one cannot prove the Bible is true. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right to say this. It almost seems tantamount to casting doubt on the Scriptures and denying the entirety of the Christian faith.

I asked John Robbins about this once in an email, which (unfortunately!) I no longer have. But I recall quite well the gist of what he told me.

He explained that all thinking – this includes every philosophical system ever devised, secular or religious – must begin somewhere. That is to say, all systems of thought must have first principles, axioms, and that these axioms, because they are the starting point from which a system of thought is deduced, are by definition unproven and unprovable.

A moment’s reflection reveals why this is so. If one could prove an axiom, a first principle, then it would no longer be a first principle, whatever argument used to prove the original axiom would take over in this role.

Getting back to the axiom of Scripture, if we attempted, as some do, to prove that the Bible is the Word of God, the Bible would not be the foundation of our faith, but our own argument used to prove the inspiration of Scripture.

We would be lending more credence to our own ideas than to God’s revelation. And to do this would be impious, for there is nothing more sure than a word from God, who cannot lie.

In the end, the Christian’s belief in the inspiration 66 books of the Bible does not rest on any argument devised by man. But rather, as the Westminster Confession puts it,

[O]ur full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our hearts.

In other words, the Christian’s belief in the Bible is the product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who causes us to understand and agree with the propositions – a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence – in the Bible.

This is not to say that the inspiration of the Bible cannot be defended. Clark wrote quite extensively in defense of the inspiration of Scripture. See God’s Hammer
for Clark’s devastating critique of various modernist theologians who sought to deny the doctrine of Scripture.

But what it does mean is that as Christians we do not have the burden of proving our first principles to unbelievers. Instead, we assume the truth of the Scriptures and use them to tear down the many high things in our day that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.


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