Posts Tagged ‘Trinity Foundation’

A Guide for Young Christians

A Guide for Young Christians

John W. Robbins

When God saves us sinners, he causes us to believe certain propositions about himself and about ourselves—ideas that we formerly thought were not true. In an instant, God resurrects us from the spiritual death of unbelief and makes us understand and believe the truth about both Jesus Christ and ourselves. Scripture refers to this event by using several figures of speech: being born again, being born from above, enlightening the mind, being resurrected from the dead, and giving us a heart of flesh for our heart of stone. What this figurative language literally means (and if you do not know what figurative language literally means, you do not know what it means) is that God affects our minds directly, causing us to accept as true, ideas we formerly thought were not true. He gives truth—figuratively called “light” in Scripture—directly to our minds.

The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession

The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession

Gordon H. Clark

Editor’s note: This address was originally delivered in Weaverville, North Carolina, August 17, 1955. It was first printed in the second edition of God’s Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (1987 & 1995). Although written 55 years ago, the content of this address is very applicable to the church today. There are many presbyterian denominations that claim to subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) and Catechisms, but by the decisions of their general assemblies and presbyteries, and by their practice, these churches deny the system of doctrine taught in these standards. Witness the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s (OPC) 2003 General Assembly decision to exonerate John Kinnaird, after the Presbytery of Philadelphia had found him guilty of teaching the error of justification by faith and works. Additionally, the OPC’s “Report of the Committee to Study the Views of Creation” presented to the 2004 General Assembly stated that widely divergent teachings on the nature and length of the days of creation in Genesis 1 all fall into the category of “literal” and “historical” interpretations; therefore, contradictory views of the days of creation can be held as orthodox within the OPC. Witness also the Northwest Presbytery of the Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC) and its recent report wherein it agrees with the OPC’s decision to overturn Elder John Kinnaird’s heresy charges. And most recently, witness the Pacific Northwest Presbytery (PNW) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and its exoneration of Federal Visionist Peter Leithart, and its refrain that the PNW committee “does not judge Dr. Leithart’s views to be out of accord with the WCF.” Do these churches and other churches that claim the Westminster Standards as the constitutional standards of their church truly subscribe to them, or merely pay lip service to them?


By the invitation of The Southern Presbyterian Journal I have the privilege of addressing this distinguished and consecrated audience on the subject of “The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession.” This title is not to be interpreted as introducing and exposition of the Confession’s thirty-three chapters with their several articles. Nor does it announce an historical account of the Westminster Assembly and the later role of its creed. On the contrary, I propose to speak of the significance of the Westminster Confession as an existing document, a document to which ministers and churches subscribe as defining their policy and stating their reason for existence, a document that distinguishes Biblical Christianity from all other forms of thought and belief. Moreover I hope to indicate, all too briefly, its significance with reference to contemporary circumstances. For this purpose it seems best to divide the document into two parts, Chapter I and all the rest.

Chapter I of the Westminster Confession asserts that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God written. Its sixty-six books are all given by inspiration of God. The authority for which Holy Scripture ought to be believed and obeyed depends wholly upon God, the author thereof. In these books the whole counsel of God for man’s salvation is either expressly set down or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from its statements. Therefore, concludes Chapter I, the Supreme Judge, by whom all decrees of councils and doctrines of men are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other than the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures.

One day I stood beside a small lake in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. Water flowed out of the lake from both ends. The water that flowed out one end descended into stifling canyons and blistering deserts of Utah and Arizona; the water that flowed out the other end of this lake went through the fertile fields of the Midwest. I was standing on the great continental divide.

Metaphorically the first chapter of the Westminster Confession is a continental divide. Although the written Word of God has been the touchstone of pure doctrine in all ages, the twentieth century shows still more clearly that this chapter forms the great divide between two types of religion, or to make it of broader application, between two types of philosophy. Perhaps it would be plainer to say that the acceptance of the Bible as God’s written revelation separates true Christianity from all other types of thought. In order to be specific and in order to face our immediate responsibilities, let us select two contemporary schools of philosophy, each of which in its own way contrasts sharply with the first chapter of our Confession.

Atheism

The first of these two – and the more obviously anti-Christian movement – is variously called naturalism, secularism, or humanism. These names are simply more complimentary titles for what formerly was bluntly called atheism. The purpose of this meeting may not seem to call for a discussion of atheism; with its denial of God and therefore of revelation, naturalism may appear to be a philosophical development that the church can afford to ignore. But a church that ignores secular humanism is simply shutting its eyes to the situation around about and failing to maintain the first chapter of the Confession against all opponents. Unfortunately brevity is required, and therefore without any reference to Communism, the most blatant form of atheism, mention will be made only of certain political and certain educational events on the American scene.

God and Logic

God and Logic

Gordon H. Clark

In thinking about God, Calvinists almost immediately repeat the Shorter Catechism and say, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” Perhaps we do not pause to clarify our ideas of spirit, but hurry on to the attributes of “wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” But pause: Spirit, Wisdom, Truth. Psalm 31:5 addresses God as “O Lord God of truth.John 17:3 says,” This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God….” 1 John 5:6 says, “the Spirit is truth.” Such verses as these indicate that God is a rational, thinking being whose thought exhibits the structure of Aristotelian logic.

If anyone objects to Aristotelian logic in this connection-and presumably he does not want to replace it with the Boolean-Russellian symbolic logic-let him ask and answer whether it is true for God that if all dogs have teeth, some dogs-spaniels-have teeth? Do those who contrast this “merely human logic” with a divine logic mean that for God all dogs may have teeth while spaniels do not? Similarly, with “merely human” arithmetic: two plus two is four for man, but is it eleven for God? Ever since Bernard distrusted Abelard, it has been a mark of piety in some quarters to disparage “mere human reason”; and at the present time existentialistic, neo-orthodox authors object to “straight-line” inference and insist that faith must “curb” logic. Thus they not only refuse to make logic an axiom, but reserve the right to repudiate it. In opposition to the latter view, the following argument will continue to insist on the necessity of logic; and with respect to the contention that Scripture cannot be axiomatic because logic must be, it will be necessary to spell out in greater detail the meaning of Scriptural revelation.

Now, since in this context verbal revelation is a revelation from God, the discussion will begin with the relation between God and logic. Afterward will come the relation between logic and the Scripture. And finally the discussion will turn to logic in man.

The Trinity

The Trinity

Gordon H. Clark

In the New Testament the three Persons are clearly portrayed, and the people of God in this age must face the problem of how the three can be one and the one three. The Old Testament is by no means abrogated. We are not polytheists or tri-theists, but monotheists; and Gregory of Nazianzen well said, “I cannot think of the one, but I am immediately surrounded with the splendor of the three; nor can I clearly discover the three but I am suddenly carried back to the one.” Christians are monotheists and Trinitarians. As Calvin (Institutes, I, xiii, 2) said, “While he declares himself to be but One, he proposes himself to be distinctly considered in Three Persons, without apprehending which, we have only a bare empty name of God floating in our brains, without any idea of the true God.”

For this very reason it seems that Calvin overdoes his warnings against vain curiosity. No doubt some people waste time in idle curiosity; but they must be few in number, for the general populace spends very little time considering the Trinity or any other part of Christianity. Of course, it is also true that all of us make mistakes in our theology. No one is in errant. Therefore, as Calvin says, we should be prudent, careful, and reverent. We must consider every doctrine, not the Trinity only, from every angle. We must ask: Is our exegesis correct? Are our summaries as complete as required? Are our inferences valid? But with all due caution, it still seems that modern man should be urged to be more curious about the faith, rather than less.

The Cosmological Argument

The Cosmological Argument

Gordon H. Clark

Thomas Aquinas rejected the Platonic cast of Augustine’s theology and based his thought on Aristotle. Therefore he had no time for the ontological argument, but reconstructed the cosmological argument. To refer again to the question of knowledge, the difference between these two arguments is basically a difference in epistemology: For Augustine it was not necessary to start with sensory experience, for one could go directly from the soul to God; but Aquinas wrote, “The human intellect …. is at first like a clean tablet on which nothing is written” (Summa Theologica I, Q:97, 2). It is sensation that writes on the tabula rasa. The mind has no form of its own. All its contents come from sensation. On this basis, Thomas gave five arguments for God’s existence; but the first four are almost identical, and the fifth is so little different, that only the first will be reproduced here:

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain and evident to our senses that in the world some things are in motion. Now, whatever is moved is moved by another, for nothing can be moved except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is moved; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. Therefore whatever is moved must be moved by another. If that by which it is moved be itself moved, then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and consequently no other mover, seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are moved by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is moved by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at the first mover, moved by no other, and this everyone understands to be God.

Is The Bible A Textbook?

Is the Bible a Textbook?

John W. Robbins

”In Adam’s fall we sinned all” was the first line of the first textbook printed in North America, the Puritans’ New England Primer. Russell Kirk, writing in The Roots of American Order (Open Court, 1974), remarked on the position of the Bible in early America:

In colonial America, everyone with the rudiments of schooling knew one book thoroughly: the Bible. And the Old Testament mattered as much as the New, for the American colonies were founded in a time of renewed Hebrew scholarship, and the Calvinistic character of Christian faith in early America emphasized the legacy of Israel (45-46).

Daniel Boorstin, in The Americans: The Colonial Experience (Random House, 1958), pointed out that “For answers to their problems, they [the early Americans] drew as readily on Exodus, Kings, or Romans, [sic] as on the less narrative portions of the Bible” (19).

The Bible was the textbook of early America, as it has been for Christians throughout the centuries. Today, however, it is fashionable and sophisticated to assert that the Bible is not a textbook of biology, or of politics, or of economics, or of whatever discipline the sophisticate happens to be considering. Perhaps, implies the sophisticate, in the ignorant days gone by, the Bible was sufficient for learning, but in our advanced technological age we must turn to other books in order to supplement the Bible. “The Bible is not a textbook of….” is now a cliché that is usually uttered with an air of finality and profundity. The unspoken implication is: Who would be so ignorant or so foolish as to believe that the Bible is a textbook of anything, except, perhaps, of personal piety?

God’s Plan to Save His People

God’s Plan to Save His People

God Is Great and Good

There is only one living and true God, perfect, sovereign, holy, wise, eternal, invisible, almighty, unchangeable, just, merciful, everywhere present, and knowing all things. God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Angels and men, and every other creature, owe God whatever service, worship, and obedience he requires of them.

“Behold the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the balance…. All nations before him are as nothing. And they are counted by him less than nothing and worthless…. It is he who sits above the circle of the Earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; he makes the judges of the Earth useless…. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and their young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

“All the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing; he does according to his will in the army of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the Earth. No one can restrain his hand or say to him, ëWhat have you done?í”

Civilization and the Protestant Reformation

Civilization and the Protestant Reformation

Civilization as we know it began a few minutes before noon, October 31, 1517.

In the small east German town of Wittenberg, a 34-year-old Augustinian priest walked to Castle Church and nailed 95 theological propositions for debate on the door. The debate Martin Luther began nearly 500 years ago turned the world upside down. Democracy, civil rights and liberties, constitutional government, religious liberty, and the free market all find their roots in the Reformation.

A Religious Fundraising Scam

The occasion for the debate was the fundraising practices of the pope’s representatives in Germany. As a Catholic priest, Luther was concerned that a representative of the pope was telling his parishioners that they could purchase forgiveness for their sins. Luther knew that God alone could forgive sins, and that salvation could not be purchased for any amount of money: It was a free gift of God.

Are You Catholic?

Are You Catholic?

1. Do you believe that the grace of God in your heart is able to make you acceptable to God? _____Yes _____No

2. Does God justify a person by putting Christ’s righteousness into his heart? _____Yes _____No

If you answered yes to either of these questions, please read on.

Three Aspects of Salvation

Justification by faith is the heart of the Gospel. As sinners we are all condemned before God; we deserve whatever punishment he is pleased to give us. But Christ died for the sins of his people; they are justified, rather than condemned. How can God, who is just, forgive the guilty?

The Bible presents three aspects of God’s work of salvation:

1. God the Father planned the salvation of his people before time began.

2. God the Son came to Earth in Jesus Christ and accomplished salvation for his people by living a perfect life and dying an innocent death.

3. God the Holy Spirit gives the gifts Christ earned to his people.

Counterfeit Gospels

Counterfeit Gospels

Counterfeit money looks like genuine money; it has to, if it is going to fool anyone. Counterfeit gospels look like the real thing, and they fool many people.

Paul warns about false gospels in two of his letters to churches in Greece and Asia. In his second letter to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinth, he condemns preachers and evangelists who “preach another Jesus whom we have not preached…or a different gospel which you have not accepted.” And in his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul wrote, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ.”

Paul became angry at what some men were preaching, and he warned the Galatians: “But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

That warning should make preachers think twice about the gospel they preach, but many continue to preach false gospels. Many religious leaders are confused about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They think that the Gospel is “You must be born again.”

It isnít. Nor is it the Gospel, “You must be filled with (or baptized by) the Holy Spirit.”

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