Monday, November 7, 2016

Michael Butler on Gordon Clark

I was recently linked to Michael Butler's audio critique of Gordon Clark (link) and, at the request of the friend who had originally linked it to me, am reviewing it.

1. I agree with Butler that "logos" does not mean "logic" in John 1:1. At the same time and as I've noted elsewhere, while one can argue that the bad translation is a point of exegetical principle, that's only fine so far as it goes. In this case, for example, it doesn't go very far unless you disagree with a view of divine simplicity on which the divine attribute"s" are strictly identical. I do, but I wonder if Butler does as well. If not, then their actual theology might agree here after all, given that Butler later states God is logical.

2. Clark was not a rationalist. Butler cites the Clark-Van Til controversy, specifically the debate about whether the object of our knowledge must be the same as the object of God's knowledge at least at one point. Clark says yes, as otherwise men would necessarily be skeptics or God would necessarily not be omniscient - in my mind, a clear, simple argument.

Butler gives the typically stale Van Tilian objection that Clark denies the Creator-creature distinction. But Clark affirms God alone knows all things and God's knowledge alone self-originating rather than derivative (link). So for Clark, there is obviously a Creator-creature distinction, and we needn't even go into other distinctions like divine timelessness vs. human temporality, immutability vs. mutability, impassibility vs. passibility, etc. - all of which Clark also affirmed and further demonstrate he accepts a Creator-creature distinction. Butler's "critique" and the fact it is used to pin Clark as a rationalist - he really is accusing Clark of pantheism, not rationalism - is, to put it charitably, awful reasoning.

Butler says God's thinking is creative: God's thoughts about something makes that something what it is. In these kinds of conversations, I think Christians need to keep in mind a distinction between the mind of God and the will of God. I think it's imprecise to say that God's knowledge is itself creative. Rather, I would say some of God's thoughts are contingent on His will, like His knowledge of creation. God creates some truths; it doesn't at all follow that God's knowledge of said truths must be different "in kind" than our knowledge of them.

But let's leave that aside for now. The real issue is, what would Butler say about God's self-knowledge? Does God's knowledge of Himself make Himself who and what He is? Does God create Himself? Of course not. So why can't our knowledge of God be univocal with His self-knowledge, though limited in extent in respect to God's knowledge of Himself?

Butler returns to the Clark-Van Til debate about analogical knowledge later in the lecture. I believe it is during a Q&A. He misstates the charge of skepticism by representing it as a charge that the way God knows something is different than the way we know something. Rather, the charge is that because the object of knowledge is different for God and men, men must be skeptics. In the very words of the original complainants in their case against Clark:
Another possible objection to the foregoing might take the form that he does not draw a qualitative distinction between the knowledge of God and the knowledge possible for men since he freely recognizes a fundamental difference between the mode of God's knowledge and that of man's knowledge. God's knowledge is intuitive while man's is discursive (Cf. 18:5f., 18ff.). Man is dependent upon God for his knowledge. We gladly concede this point, and have reckoned with it in what has been said above. However, this admission does not affect the whole point at issue here since the doctrine of the mode of the divine knowledge is not a part of the doctrine of the imcomprehensibility of his knowledge. The latter is concerned only with the contents of the divine knowledge. Dr. Clark distinguishes between the knowledge of God and of man so far as mode of knowledge is concerned, but it is a tragic fact that his dialectic has led him to obliterate the qualitative distinction between the contents of the divine mind and the knowledge which is possible to the creature, and thus to impinge in a most serious fashion upon the transcendence of the divine knowledge which is expressed by the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God. (link)
The original complaint against Clark had nothing to do with the way God knows: eternally, intuitively, and self-sufficiently. Rather, it had to do with the "content," "object[s]," or "item[s]" of knowledge.

Butler says that in a way, the object of God's knowledge is the object of ours - in both cases, the referent is the same. God knows a rose, and we know a rose - but God creates that rose, whereas our relationship to the rose is passive or receptive. This is anachronistic, missing the point. The debate between Van Til and Clark was not about the alleged referents of or correspondents to knowledge, it was about propositions:
The far-reaching point of Dr. Clark's starting point, as observed under 1 above, is evident when we note that Dr. Clark hold's that man's knowledge of any proposition, if it is really knowledge, is identical with God's knowledge of the same proposition. If knowledge is a matter of propositions divorced from the knowing subject, that is, of self-contained, independent statements, a proposition would have to have to same meaning for man as for God. And since Dr. Clark holds that no limitation may be placed upon God's power to reveal propositions one at a time to men, there is no single item of knowledge in God's mind which may not be shared by the human mind.

That the above statement is a fair representation of Dr. Clark's reasoning is abundantly borne out by the record. See 2:22ff.; 18:23f.; 20:22ff.; 28:14-17ff.; 32:25-33:4; 50:11-21; 51:3-7. These include the following statements: “God can reveal any particular proposition to man, and if God can make sons of Abraham out of stones on the roadway, he can make even a stupid person understand a proposition” (2:22ff.). “. . . if we don't know the object that God knows, then we are in absolute ignorance” (28:16f.). In answer to the question, “You would say then, that all that is revealed in the Scripture is capable of being comprehended by the mind of man?”, Dr. Clark answered, “Oh yes, that is what it is given to us for, to understand it” (20:22ff.).

It would seem here that Dr. Clark is seeking to work out a theory of knowledge which, over against agnosticism and skepticism, will assure man of actual and certain knowledge. By appealing to the power of God reveal knowledge, and by resolving knowledge into detached items, he argues that man may be assured of true knowledge since his knowledge corresponds wholly with the divine knowledge of the same propositions.

While we appreciate the effort to arrive at certainty with reference to man's knowledge of God, in our judgment this is done at too great a cost. It is done at the sacrifice of the transcendence of God's knowledge. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are past finding out. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. If we are not to bring the divine knowledge of his thoughts and ways down to human knowledge, or our human knowledge up to his divine knowledge, we dare not maintain that his knowledge and our knowledge coincide at any single point. Our knowledge of any proposition must always remain the knowledge of the creature. As true knowledge, that knowledge must be analogical to the knowledge which God possesses, but it can never be identified with the knowledge which the infinite and absolute Creator possesses of the same proposition.
This is what implication Van Til and his cohorts ascribed to Clark and themselves believe is a "sacrifice" of "divine transcendence." This is the context in which they deny that God's "knowledge and our knowledge coincide at any point." Butler needs to spell out his position in the context of the true debate between Clark and Van Til, not a red herring - there is no mention of "roses" in the original complaint filed or Clark's answer to it.

Simply put, if the referent of knowledge is included in the "contents" of knowledge, then Van Til et al. would have denied that the referent of God's knowledge and man's is the same. If the referent of knowledge is not included in the "contents" of knowledge, then that is not what the debate was about.

3. I would have been interested to hear why Butler would choose music as the "highest form of art." Personally, insofar as anything can legitimately be described as artistic, I don't understand what it means to say that one form can be higher than another. On Clark's view, the purpose of art is "expression" which is "rational and intellectual" (link). Even if we accept this, one can well enough express himself rationally and intellectually through music as he can through literature, the latter of which Clark takes to be the highest form of art. In both cases, what one means to express can be encoded in the physical media he uses. Maybe God alone is able to interpret this expression - it would be irrelevant to the point.

4. At 9:14, Butler states that the Van Tilian apologist "goes into the Christian worldview, shows it provides the necessary preconditions of human experience, and therefore is true." This doesn't follow unless non-Christian worldviews cannot do the same. So Butler then says, "Deny the Christian worldview, show that that isn't possible, and you've established the Christian worldview."

Now, my friend who asked me to review this video should also remember that I've said on numerous occasions that it has been my experience that Van Tilian apologists more often than not try to use the transcendental argument in order to prove Christianity, and that the transcendental arguments they use do not begin with the self-authenticity of Scripture but rather attempt to isolate some feature unique to the Christian worldview to show why it must be true. "Deny the Christian worldview, show that that isn't possible, and you've established the Christian worldview" is clear example of that. No matter how Butler attempts to "show that that isn't possible," he's not beginning with the self-authenticity of Scripture. Rather, he explicitly says to deny Christian worldview in order to somehow show, through transcendental reasoning, it cannot really be denied. This is what I'm objecting to when I take issue with Van Tilian apologetics here, for instance.

5. Butler says Clark is a coherentist. That is false. Clark is a foundationalist. For example:
Logically the infallibility of the Bible is not a theorem to be deduced from some prior axiom. The infallibility of the Bible is the axiom from which several doctrines are themselves deduced as theorems. Every religion and every philosophy must be based on some first principle. And since a first principle is first, it cannot be “proved” or “demonstrated” on the basis of anything prior. As the catechism question, quoted above, says, “The Word of God is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify Him.” (What Do Presbyterians Believe?, 1985, pg. 18)
Clark did argue that a true worldview must be coherent, but that's not what it means to be a coherentist. A coherentist believes epistemic justification is circular. Clark believed epistemic justification bottoms out in self-authenticating axioms or first principles:
This disjunct faces two replies. First, it assumes that a first principle cannot be self-authenticating. Yet every first principle must be. The first principle of Logical Positivism is that a sentence has no meaning unless it can be verified (in principle at least) by sensory experience. Yet no sensory experience can ever verify this principle. Anyone who wishes to adopt it must regard it as self-authenticating. So it is with all first principles. (Christian Philosophy, 2004, pgs. 46-47)
So when Butler says Clark intends to establish the truth of Christianity by arguing that it is coherent whereas all non-Christian views are not, he's conflating Clark's apologetic with his epistemology. He argues that Clark hasn't and can't internally critique the infinitude of non-Christian views, so Clark can't establish the truth of Christianity. But for Clark, although it is a useful apologetic tool in that it shows Christianity satisfies a necessary precondition for the possibility of knowledge, coherency alone cannot establish the truth of Christianity. Clark always rejected that it could:
The substantive point needing discussion is whether the law of contradiction is the one and only test of truth. 
Ideally or for God this seems to be the case. Since there is nothing independent of God, he does not conform truth to an alleged reality beyond truth and beyond him. Since there is no possibility of “vertical” (to use Carnell’s terminology) coherence, the “horizontal” test, or, better the horizontal characteristic of logical consistency seems the only possible one. 
Weaver correctly notes that I do not claim for human beings the ability to apply this test universally. In this sense it is a “negative” or, better, an incomplete test. For this reason it must be supplemented some way or other... 
Undoubtedly I hold that truth is a consistent system of propositions. Most people would be willing to admit that two truths cannot be contradictories; and I would like to add that the complex of all truths cannot be a mere aggregate of unrelated assertions. Since God is rational, I do not see how any item of his knowledge can be unrelated to the rest. Weaver makes no comment on this fundamental characteristic of divine truth. 
Rather, he questions whether this characteristic is of practical value, and whether it must be supplemented in some way. It is most strange that Weaver here says, “I must agree with Carnell,” as if he had convicted me of disagreeing with Carnell by providing no supplementation whatever. Now, I may disagree with the last named gentleman on many points, but since it is abundantly clear that I “supplement” consistency by an appeal to the Scripture for the determination of particular truths, it is most strange that Weaver ignores my supplementation. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pgs. 287, 290)
Butler later says Clark contends that all non-Christian systems are incoherent. He then says Clark can't know that because he hasn't tested all of them. I'm sure Butler will be much surprised to learn Clark would agree that he hasn't tested all of them, that there might be one which he could not discover to be inconsistent, and that there might even be one which isn't inconsistent (which would be very strange if Clark actually thought coherence alone established truth or is the only consideration when examining worldviews, on which see point 7 below):
I do not deny a that secular philosophies often attain a degree of consistency. Bertrand Russell was certainly consistent in deducing despair from his cold, dead, purposeless world. But Bertrand Russell is a very poor example if one wishes to mention a fully consistent secular philosopher. He has contradicted himself more often than Ayer and Wittgenstein. Even beyond this, I admit that there might be a secular system so carefully constructed that I could not discover the inconsistency. This in no way proves that error is consistent or that truth is inconsistent. How could my limitations imply that consistency is not the test of truth? And, I may add, my critic has not shown, nor even tried to show, that a given secular system is completely consistent. (Clark and His Critics, pg. 291) 
So far as one may surmise, it may be possible for a non-Christian system to be free from contradictory pairs. Spinoza made a determined attempt, but seems not to have succeeded. Euclidena, Riemanian, and Lobachevskian geometries are each alone free from contradiction. The reason is that they are geometries and nothing else. But a comprehensive non-Christian philosophy, such as Kant’s or Hegel’s, without internal contradictions, would be hard to find. Remember the quip: Without the Ding-an-sich one cannot get into the Kantian system, and with it one cannot stay in. If the God of the Bible is Truth, one can at least expect that somewhere a non-Christian system will run into difficulties. It is worth one’s while to search for them. For example, Logical Positivism with its denial of all non-observational propositions is based on the non-observational proposition that all truth is observational. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pg. 387)
Once again, Clark's apologetic argument - that no non-Christian systems have been shown to be consistent or coherent - while practical and useful, is not the basis for his knowledge that the Christian system alone is consistent or coherent:
But if there is a revelation, there can be no criterion for it. God cannot swear by a greater; therefore he has sworn by himself. One cannot ask one’s own experience to judge God and determine whether God tells the truth or not. Consider Abraham. How could Abraham be sure that God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac? Maybe this suggestion was of the devil; maybe it was a queer auto-suggestion. There is no higher answer to this question than God himself. The final criterion is merely God’s statement. It cannot be tested by any superior truth. (Today’s Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine?, 1990, pg. 113)
6. Butler says that in order for Clark to establish the coherence of Christianity, he basically must show that each allegedly specially revealed proposition is coherent with every other. Now, this as much applies to Butler as to Clark, if Butler indeed wishes to establish the coherence of Christianity. So I don't really see how this is an objection.

But let's say Clark or anyone else who has read all of Scripture concluded it was internally consistent. Apologetics is a practical business. Is Butler really suggesting it is more practical to write thousands or millions of pages and take decades of time to write everything out - things that even the simple-minded can see - than it would be to simply ask unbelievers where they think there is a contradiction and go from there?

Or given Clark's axiom is the infallibility of the Bible, why can't Clark simply deduce the coherence of Scripture from that? Indeed, Butler says he knows the Bible is coherent because it tells us that. But then, I can only suspect Butler's objection stems from his confusion about how Clark thinks we know Christianity is true and how he argues for Christianity. In short, he conflates Clark's epistemology with his apologetics. Not all knowledge is the result of argumentation, whereas how to properly argue should be taken from our axiom[s].

I might add that Butler never bothers to cite where Clark says pure coherence or logic is how we establish the truth of Christianity. In fact, throughout the process of burning various straw men, Butler never quotes Clark at all. Why? I wouldn't be surprised is if the answer is that he's only bothered to read about Clark through critical secondary sources like Bahnsen.

7. Butler says that Clark didn't care about how rich or how many implications a system has, only whether a system is logically consistent. That's false:
…if one system can provide plausible solutions to many problems while another leaves too many questions unanswered, if one system tends less to skepticism and gives more meaning to life, if one worldview is consistent while others are self-contradictory, who can deny us, since we must choose, the right to choose the more promising first principle? (A Christian View of Men and Things, 2005, pg. 34) 
While consistency is one of the basic reasons for adopting a world-view, from a more proximate standpoint the world-view must function as a practical postulate...
When now the theist speaks of theism as a practical postulate, he is not indulging in any “as-if” philosophy. He means that God exists and that one should conduct his daily life by that belief. It is called a postulate because it is an indemonstrable first principle and not a theorem derived from more ultimate premises. (A Christian Philosophy of Education, 1988, pgs. 42-43)
Clark does chastise people for lamenting that his epistemology does not allow them to know as many things as they should like to know, but that is quite a separate point. Personally, I have written numerous posts which outline what various questions Clark would say a worldview must be able to answer, posts on the means by and source from which we acquire knowledge, posts on logic, language, revelation from an omniscient person, etc.

8. Butler says he can know his date of birth. But surely, the nature of his justification for "knowing" that would be either fallible or externalist. He mentions testimonial evidence, but would he not admit that his parents could have lied to him? He mentions the general reliability of the senses in enabling us to track truth. But this sort of knowledge is not the sort of knowledge Clark is interested in defending. Clark is only interested in knowledge which is both infallibly justified and deducible from a self-authenticating axiom, which he believes to be Scripture (thus, I would argue in contrast to many emerging Scripturalists - for example, see here and here - justification for Clark is internalist in character). I do think the knowledge Butler describes has its place, and I will say I would give it more prominence in apologetics than Clark would (and should) have.

9. Butler argued that for him to be consistent, Clark must either collapse mathematics into logic or admit we don't know anything about mathematics. This is a false dichotomy. Clark believed math could be deduced from the Bible:
Scripture does indeed teach a bit of arithmetic. Numbers, additions, and subtractions occur: After Judas hanged himself, there remained eleven disciples. Multiplication occurs and there are divisions by five, seven, and ten. If, now, mathematics can be logically developed out of its principles, then mathematics can “by good and necessary consequence” be deduced from Scripture. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pg. 146)
10. Butler argues that personal salvation is not revealed in Scripture. I think Clark, consistently acknowledging the difficulty of the subject, both denies and affirms self-knowledge in various places (link). Personally, I defend it (link) and believe it to be as necessary to Clark's epistemology as logic or language. All of the points Butler makes, I address in that post, including that I needn't know my name to have self-knowledge, that the meaning of "I" can be gathered from Scripture, that there are various books of Scripture addressed to the elect in general, and that one must know he is a believer if he is to know Scripture comprises the extent of God's special revelation. There is no incompatibility between self-knowledge with the idea a certain kind of knowledge (i.e. infallibilistic, internalistic) must be divinely revealed, explicitly or implicitly. There is incompatibility between the impossibility of self-knowledge and the concrete revelation of Scripture, which just is the axiom by which we can know anything in an infallibilistic, internalistic sense. Therefore, self-knowledge is legitimate.

This is, however, an area where is it also useful to note that Scripture also warrants extra-biblical means of knowing. Now, what "knowledge" means in those contexts and how we can come to know are questions of exegesis, and it is possible to "know" something in more than one sense. The word "know" can bear more than one meaning. These are points Scripturalists ought to acknowledge. Clark's views can be developed more consistently than he was able to do himself, not to disparage his attempts by any means. So there is room for growth and discussion. But a partisan critique is more likely to hurt than help, so I am by no means crediting Butler either.

11. Butler attacks Clark's thoroughgoing occasionalism. He argues that Scripture is known only via sensation, so Clark, who rejects that sensation as a means of knowledge, must resort to a Platonic view on which any knowledge of special divine revelation is merely a recollection of sorts. There are a few different issues at play here. While I agree with Butler that Clark held to occasionalism (link, cf. link) - and wrongly so - I don't see how this implies that Clark should logically have agreed with Platonic "reminiscence," as Clark himself states:
But though there may be Ideas of some sort, when Plato leaves mathematics for politics the plausibility of reminiscence vanishes. The slave boy was easily able to remember the square on the diagonal, but neither the Athenians nor the Syracusans could remember justice, not even with the lengthy stimulus of the Republic. 
Justice, of course, is a matter of ethics and politics; and more will be said about ethics later. But the definition of man as a two-legged animal without feathers is another case where reminiscence did not work too well. The difficulty is that, after one grants the existence of suprasensible Ideas, sensation stimulates different notions in different people. Whether the subject is justice or piety or the planetary spheres, Plato had to reply on procedures of ethics and science that cannot be completed. 
The failure of Platonism to descend from Heaven to Earth, or, if you wish, to ascend from Earth to heaven, leaves the theory ineffective. Man before birth may have been omniscient, but here below the Platonic cave in which man is a prisoner actually has no opening. Platonism therefore cannot be accepted as the solution to our problem. (Clark and His Critics, 2009, pg. 30)
Instead, I think Clark identified his view with Malebranche and certain Islamic philosophers who thought that the knowledge of men is immediately or directly caused by God, perhaps on the occasion of sensation - that is, while we experience sensation during this causal process, it's only incidental to the causal process:
The Logos is the rational light that lights every man. Since man was created in the image of God, he has an innate idea of God. It is not necessary, indeed it is not possible, for a blank mind to abstract a concept of God from sensory experience or to lift sensory language by its bootstraps to a spiritual level. The theories of Empiricism, of Aristotle, of Aquinas, of Locke, are to be rejected. 
The positing of innate ideas or a priori equipment does not entail the absurdity of infants’ discoursing learnedly on God and logic. To all appearances their minds are blank, but the blankness is similar to that of a paper with a message written in invisible ink. When the heat of experience is applied, the message becomes visible. Whatever else be added, the important words refer to non-sensuous realities. (Christian Philosophy, 2004, pg. 203)
In other words, for Clark, experience, which can involve sensation, is the occasion or incidental history upon which God can illuminate our minds regarding truth. I argue against thoroughgoing occasionalism elsewhere on my blog, and most Scripturalists, in my experience - whether consistently or inconsistently - affirm secondary causes in epistemology. I happen to be on the side which suggests that such a position is inconsistent with Clark.

If we wish to simply consider the defensibility of our beliefs, I think that the causes of our beliefs aren't relevant except insofar as our beliefs are defensible only if we must admit they were caused in a certain way. Must we admit, then, that they were caused through either sensory or non-sensory means? I haven't seen a Scriptural reason to think so, so I would say no.


Joshua Butcher said...

That was a helpful post, Ryan. I'll confess that I haven't followed your position on self-knowledge and salvation. I had always (perhaps carelessly) been of the opinion that Clark's position self-knowledge with regard to salvation was that one's salvation was revealed directly to one by God through effectual calling (cf. WCF X). Thus, the proposition "I am one who is united to God in Christ" or some equivalent would not be deduced from Scripture, but revealed by God to the individual who understands (sooner or later, considering the reality of many infants being effectually called) from Scripture that those who are united to God in Christ have been forgiven their sins.

Ryan said...

I would have to see a quote. As I said in the post, Clark at different points affirmed and denied self-knowledge. For instance:

Christian Philosophy, 2004, p. 169

"In the Psalms and the prophets the heart designates the focus of personal life. It is the organ of conscience, ***of self-knowledge,*** indeed of all knowledge. One may very well say that the Hebrew heart is the equivalent of the English word self."

Modern Philosophy, 2008, pgs. 273-274:

"The one piece of ignorance that Reymond seems most anxious to press against my view is knowledge of oneself. Self-knowledge has indeed been a philosophical ideal ever since Socrates said, GnĊthi seauton. But it is very difficult. Plotinus’ Enneads, the extreme difficulty of which philosophers all acknowledge, can be understood as a gigantic attempt to achieve self-knowledge. Even those who think the ideal is possible of attainment must wonder whether anyone has succeeded. Now, Dr. Reymond laments that, on my theory, “Reymond is unknowable to himself and to everyone else except God” (110). He very correctly and adequately explains my reasons for saying so. I might add that I would be delighted to know Reymond myself, for he is a most interesting and gracious conversationalist. But two factors preclude this desideratum. First, “Reymond” is not a simple object of knowledge. “Reymond” is a name given to a very lengthy complex of propositions. On Reymond’s position it must be possible to know some of these propositions without knowing others. On his position, if I dare guess at it, this must be the case. It is only a guess because he never says who or what he is. So perhaps Reymond does not know himself. This is not too surprising. Pendennis did not know himself. Or if this literary reference is not sufficiently classical, neither did Oedipus Rex. But these are only irritating ad hominem remarks. Like the Duchess’ little boy, I only do it to annoy, because I know it teases.

Second, the Scripture says, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Did Peter know himself when he said, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I”? Did Dr. X, who as a young man strenuously championed the truth in his epistles, know himself? Did Mr. Y, a good seminary student, know that he would die an alcoholic? Did tragic Z, a most faithful servant of the Lord for many years, know that he would be a suicide? Who can know himself? Maybe God is merciful in not revealing that knowledge to us.

In addition to the two Scriptural references in the precious paragraph, consider Psalm 139:6. The Psalm as a whole extols the knowledge of God; but in doing so casts doubt on a man’s knowledge of himself. “O Lord, you have searched me and known me…. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” If anyone dislikes this verse, or to put it more politely, dislikes my use of this verse, he should set down on paper the knowledge of himself he claims to know, and then demonstrate conclusively how he obtained that knowledge. Otherwise, objections to my view a simply begging the question."

Ryan said...

I happen to think self-knowledge is not only possible but necessary for a coherent apologetic which is what Scripture commands believers - and, thus, God can enable them - to provide. The argument I attempted to communicate in this post and others, then, is something like this:

1) if Scripture and what is deducible from it is currently our sole source of knowledge in an infallibilist, internalist sense (roughly, Scripuralism), and

2) if Scripture states we can, in fact, defend such knowledge (which it does, i.e. apologetics), and

3) if self-knowledge is consistent with our ability to defend such knowledge whereas a denial of self-knowledge is not (reasons for which I touch on here and links provided therein, basically amounting to that only a believer can know - and thus defend -the canon or gospel or hope that is within him), then

4) a Christian who would defend the knowable hope within him must, if he is going to be consistent, know himself to be a Christian (conclusion) - and this is a revelation which I would not see as extra-biblical.

John Bradshaw said...

Hi Ryan,
Much appreciate this post. It helped me understand some of Dr Clark's positions more clearly.
Your point about different kinds of knowledge was important, "Now, what "knowledge" means in those contexts and how we can come to know are questions of exegesis, and it is possible to "know" something in more than one sense. The word "know" can bear more than one meaning."

Even in your answer 2 above Clark is surely recognising different kinds of knowledge, or am I misreading that?

Ryan said...

He potentially recognizes different kinds of knowledge elsewhere, but not here. That would be the opposite of his point, which is that our knowledge and God's knowledge are the same, although the way in which each person knows is different. Different modes or means of knowledge does not imply different kinds of knowledge. It's like saying that the fact we can get ice cream in different ways (store bought vs. home made vs. ice cream chain) does not imply that the ice cream itself is different.