Dr. Gordon Clark - NeoNestorian?

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AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read in a number of places that Gordon Clark toward the end of his life declared that Christ existed in two persons espousing a form of Nestorianism, though he had been orthodox on that point theretofore. If I have it right he said so in the book "The Incarnation," published posthumously by the Trinity Foundation. I believe I've read the very quote (here, no less but I can't spot it via the search function!) but am at a loss to find it again. Regardless, I have a another question to accompany. So my questions:

1) Do you have that quote and reference handy and does it in fact confirm that he turned to Nestorianism?
2) Do you know (assuming in fact he did hold this heretic view) if he repented of said heresy (though if this work was published posthumously, that would seem irrational)?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The infamous quote is from a book published posthumously by Robbins. I don't put too much stock in that one quote for the following reasons (and note: I am defending Clark, not Robbins or the Trinity Foundation)

1. It's one quote.
2. It was put in a book form after he died
3. There really isn't a good definition of "person."
4. Whether Clark said two persons or not, that's not actually what Nestorius taught. Nestorius said the hypostasis of the Word is formed by the coming together of the two prosopa (Nestorius is still wrong, but it isn't the crass two-person theory).
5. In his commentary on the Confession he attacks Nestorianism.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
The infamous quote is from a book published posthumously by Robbins. I don't put too much stock in that one quote for the following reasons (and note: I am defending Clark, not Robbins or the Trinity Foundation)

1. It's one quote.
2. It was put in a book form after he died
3. There really isn't a good definition of "person."
4. Whether Clark said two persons or not, that's not actually what Nestorius taught. Nestorius said the hypostasis of the Word is formed by the coming together of the two prosopa (Nestorius is still wrong, but it isn't the crass two-person theory).
5. In his commentary on the Confession he attacks Nestorianism.

That's helpful - #5 was my strongest hope when examining the matter. In terms of #3, it seems to be axiomatic more than a definable issue, so he may have gone off of the orthodox usage of the term in his quote (again, I strain to find it.) Not unlike the difficulty of defining the Trinity, each composite person of Godhead does put us humans in a unique position when trying to put Him into any other words than the ones He's given us via supernatural revelation.

Others?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's mentioned about half-way through this podcast by Scott Oliphint, and he accuses Clark of rationalism and heresy:

http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc163/

I honestly don't know much about Clark myself, and if you took Van Til the wrong way for calling God a Person - you could end up accusing Van Til of rationalism and heresy. Van Til is here defended on that point by Oliphint.

You'd have to study what Clark and Van Til say to see if they're moving theology on in a nuanced way, by using the word person in a different way to the creeds, or whether they're moving onto heretical territory.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
My philosophy prof in college (who studied with Clark as an undergraduate but is not a Clarkian) says that Clark tended to view persons as collections of propositions (a la Leibniz).
 

HaMetumtam

Puritan Board Freshman
So was Robbins at fault here in publishing this work ?

I thought was he his greatest defender and son in law, doesnt make much sense.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So was Robbins at fault here in publishing this work ?

I thought was he his greatest defender and son in law, doesnt make much sense.

A lot of prominent Clarkians, from what I've heard, begged Robbins not to publish the mss on the Incarnation. He did it anyway.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
So was Robbins at fault here in publishing this work ?

I thought was he his greatest defender and son in law, doesnt make much sense.

A lot of prominent Clarkians, from what I've heard, begged Robbins not to publish the mss on the Incarnation. He did it anyway.

That's remarkable - personally, that is one level of comfort that I have in this. For reasons of which I'm unaware, he never sent this to print. Now, a privately held heresy is damning and one who holds an office is held to a much greater responsibility and more severe damnation. But, if he withheld it in order to better clarify the position or because he felt it an error, there is reason to hope for the best. I had not heard that there were attempts to keep this information out of the public eye.
 

PatrickTMcWilliams

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read The Incarnation four times, and the same for Clark's The Trinity, which lays important groundwork for the former. Clark predicted that "unfriendly critics" would label his two-person(!) view as Nestorian heresy, but he denied that these claims could be substantiated. Clark did not disagree with Chalcedon so much as he simply criticized it for using vague language. His goal was to clarify and refine, not reject and depart. It does not surprise me that Oliphint accuses Clark of rationalism (how many times must that slander be refuted?) given the former's affinity for Van Til's thought regarding Scripture & logic, etc. It also comes as no surprise that Clark is accused of heresy in spite of careful, explicit definition of his terms, while Van Til's "Three Persons - One Person" formula is guilty only of being misunderstood. This is why men must be allowed to speak for themselves. Unfortunately, Clark went to be with the Lord before he completed The Incarnation, so we are left without his defense of his view. As it stands, The Incarnation is a short work which enumerates several philosophical, theological, and logical difficulties with traditional terminology and explanations of Christ's duality and unity. It should not be treated as a complete work, and critics (friendly or unfriendly) would do well to remember two things: What Clark did say regarding his uncommon definitions of terms, and what he did not say - that is, the actual defense of his view. Let us avoid false witness.

Also, Robbins was not Clark's son-in-law.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I've read The Incarnation four times, and the same for Clark's The Trinity, which lays important groundwork for the former. Clark predicted that "unfriendly critics" would label his two-person(!) view as Nestorian heresy, but he denied that these claims could be substantiated. Clark did not disagree with Chalcedon so much as he simply criticized it for using vague language. His goal was to clarify and refine, not reject and depart. It does not surprise me that Oliphint accuses Clark of rationalism (how many times must that slander be refuted?) given the former's affinity for Van Til's thought regarding Scripture & logic, etc. It also comes as no surprise that Clark is accused of heresy in spite of careful, explicit definition of his terms, while Van Til's "Three Persons - One Person" formula is guilty only of being misunderstood. This is why men must be allowed to speak for themselves. Unfortunately, Clark went to be with the Lord before he completed The Incarnation, so we are left without his defense of his view. As it stands, The Incarnation is a short work which enumerates several philosophical, theological, and logical difficulties with traditional terminology and explanations of Christ's duality and unity. It should not be treated as a complete work, and critics (friendly or unfriendly) would do well to remember two things: What Clark did say regarding his uncommon definitions of terms, and what he did not say - that is, the actual defense of his view. Let us avoid false witness.

Also, Robbins was not Clark's son-in-law.

That's what I took from it (and I don't think Clark was a Nestorian). The concept of person defied easy or clear definition throughout history. I don't necessarily agree with Clark's definition, but I don't fault him for trying.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
I've read The Incarnation four times, and the same for Clark's The Trinity, which lays important groundwork for the former. Clark predicted that "unfriendly critics" would label his two-person(!) view as Nestorian heresy, but he denied that these claims could be substantiated. Clark did not disagree with Chalcedon so much as he simply criticized it for using vague language. His goal was to clarify and refine, not reject and depart. It does not surprise me that Oliphint accuses Clark of rationalism (how many times must that slander be refuted?) given the former's affinity for Van Til's thought regarding Scripture & logic, etc. It also comes as no surprise that Clark is accused of heresy in spite of careful, explicit definition of his terms, while Van Til's "Three Persons - One Person" formula is guilty only of being misunderstood. This is why men must be allowed to speak for themselves. Unfortunately, Clark went to be with the Lord before he completed The Incarnation, so we are left without his defense of his view. As it stands, The Incarnation is a short work which enumerates several philosophical, theological, and logical difficulties with traditional terminology and explanations of Christ's duality and unity. It should not be treated as a complete work, and critics (friendly or unfriendly) would do well to remember two things: What Clark did say regarding his uncommon definitions of terms, and what he did not say - that is, the actual defense of his view. Let us avoid false witness.

Also, Robbins was not Clark's son-in-law.

Simply that is why I am here. I'm well aware of and disheartened by the politics of the debate and the unmitigated Clark hate. Hoeksema himself (no friend of either, I believe) came out hard against the handling Clark was treated to. I would call myself somewhat Clarkian and I know how uneven-handed the criticisms go. BUT, as one called to try the spirits, I'm hitting the streets to find out what can be brought to this so that know and so that I can not bear false witness whether it be contra or pro Dr. Clark.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
BUT, as one called to try the spirits, I'm hitting the streets to find out what can be brought to this so that know and so that I can not bear false witness whether it be contra or pro Dr. Clark.

The man to talk to about Gordon Clark, if you're interested, is a gentleman by the name of Bill Higgins, who lives on Lookout Mountain. Message me and I'll see if I can find his contact information.
 

AlexanderHenderson1647

Puritan Board Freshman
BUT, as one called to try the spirits, I'm hitting the streets to find out what can be brought to this so that know and so that I can not bear false witness whether it be contra or pro Dr. Clark.

The man to talk to about Gordon Clark, if you're interested, is a gentleman by the name of Bill Higgins, who lives on Lookout Mountain. Message me and I'll see if I can find his contact information.

Haha, you needn't. I'm an acquaintance of his and he'll be preaching at our chapel in a month :) I may shoot him a FB message in advance, though. But I must thank you in that I wasn't aware he was a good resource for Dr. Clark. Thanks!
 

PatrickTMcWilliams

Puritan Board Freshman
So was Robbins at fault here in publishing this work ?

I thought was he his greatest defender and son in law, doesnt make much sense.

A lot of prominent Clarkians, from what I've heard, begged Robbins not to publish the mss on the Incarnation. He did it anyway.

I'm curious as to the hearsay. Which prominent Clarkians so begged Robbins?

I took it from this thread.

A word to the wise: While I can't speak to the truth or extent of his claim (although I don't doubt his statement about Dr. Talbot, at least), I will say that Drake Shelton ("Olivianus") is not a reliable source of information.
 
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