So, just a few days ago, an online acquaintance of mine put together a small reading group on Facebook, dedicated to the works of Christian Philosophical giant, Gordon Haddon Clark.
In my opinion, too few people today have ever even heard of Clark, and so I thought it appropriate to take up the task of learning from him while teaching others. This is what I plan to do here, as we read along and discuss the content in the reading group, I will give further thoughts here in my blog, hopefully to your benefit.
While not everyone in the reading group identifies as “Clarkian” (which is to say, they don’t share the same epistemological convictions as Clark), it should still be a fruitful endeavor with edifying discussion. Everyone is welcome to join, so long as the discussions are civil and, if at all possible, irenic.
For the last two years, I have read much of Clark’s work off and on. He is difficult to read at times, because the content of some of his work assumes the reader’s familiarity. However, Clark writes with immense clarity and, in my opinion, he was careful not to equivocate on language for this specific purpose. Clark is rigidly logical, and does not lend credence to paradox as a valid explanation for difficult propositions. Expect him to spell it out for you in detail. Take notes in the margins, or wherever you deem fit. Don’t get lost.
Clark was a genius who was, to plainly put it, mistreated by his peers, and not really given a fair shake by greater Evangelicalism. Though some of his students went on to do great things (e.g. Carl F.H Henry, John Robbins, Kenneth Talbot, et al.), Clark seems to have been relegated to obscurity. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Some say it’s because of the bandwagon fascination with Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen. Others say it’s the fault of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I believe it’s a combination of things; to include the aforementioned, and the decline of intellectualism in Christianity today — a topic worthy of its own blog series. Christians today just prefer not to think. With a consumerist attitude and high time preference, many just want immediate emotional gratification and psychological assurance. They don’t want the critical thinking of Biblical discipleship. They don’t want to love God beyond simple feelings of gratitude for offering a way of salvation. It’s just such a shame.
Unfortunately, space and time does not permit me to write a comprehensive account of past controversies concerning Clark and his seeming rivals (who, even as such, counted him as a brother in Christ), but I can recommend a couple of resources for those interested, so you won’t be tempted to take to the inane blogs:
- The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark by Doug Douma
- The Clark-Van Til Controversy by Herman Hoeksema
Also, if you’re interested, there’s a discussion group that focuses on Gordon Clark more generally. Join the Gordon H. Clark Discussions group, and fire off questions to some of the best Clark scholars alive today. Ask about philosophy, religion, history, or what have you. The guys there would be more than happy to answer.