Reiter Wins Clark Prize
John W. Robbins
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To honor Gordon Haddon Clark and to encourage serious scholarship in the field of apologetics, The Trinity Foundation began an annual essay competition in apologetics in 1986, open only to senior seminary students. No prize was awarded in that year, because no entries were suitable for receiving the honor. But in 1987 a student at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, won the first Gordon Haddon Clark Prize in Apologetics, which consisted of $1000 and an engraved plaque.
The student is David Dean Reiter, who at the age of 23 wrote an essay that, in the words of one of our judges, “could well qualify for publication in a standard philosophical journal.... [It is] a first-rate philosophical defense of orthodox Christianity against both skepticism and ‘the free- will defense.’ “
Titled Thinking About the Problem of Evil, Mr. Reiter’s essay is a meticulous discussion and refutation of Alvin Plantinga’s theory of free will. Mr. Plantinga, of both Calvin College and the University of Notre Dame, is well known for developing the anti-Christian theory in his books.
Seventy-five years ago J. Gresham Machen warned that “we may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which ... prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances what God desires us to do is destroy the obstacle at its root.... What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.”
Since Machen spoke, armies have moved and empires have fallen, and the end is not yet in sight. In all this turmoil, the church’s plight is desperate. The intellectual leadership in our battle ought to come from theological seminaries and universities. “Instead of making our theological seminaries merely centres of religious emotion,” Machen wrote,
”we shall make them battle-grounds of the faith where ... men are taught to fight their own battle ... and in the hard school of intellectual struggle learn to substitute for the unthinking faith of childhood the profound convictions of full-grown men.... The twentieth century, in theory, is agreed on social betterment. But sin, and death, and salvation, life, and God-about these things there is debate. You can avoid the debate if you choose. You need only drift with the current. Preach every Sunday morning your seminary course, devote the fag ends of your time to study and thought, study about as you studied in college- and these questions will probably never trouble you. The great questions may easily be avoided. Many preachers are avoiding them. And many preachers are preaching to the air. The Church is waiting for men of another type. Men to fight her battles and solve her problems. The hope of finding them is the one great inspiration of a Seminary’s life.”
In David Reiter, such a promising man has been found. Educated at Covenant College and Westminster Seminary, Mr. Reiter intends to pursue graduate studies in philosophy. His essay is an example of the sort of Christian scholarship needed in the closing years of the twentieth century. By making this award, The Trinity Foundation recognizes Mr. Reiter’s achievement and hopes to encourage other young men to undertake the difficult intellectual task of silencing the critics of Christ.
Developments at Westminster Seminary
In Trinity Review #58 we published essays criticizing Raymond Dillard’s and Tremper Longman’s views of Scripture. Both men are members of the faculty at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.
The first response to these essays was from a graduate student at Westminster Seminary who did not want his letter published, and we can understand why. But he did report that he had had a conversation with Mr. Dillard, and Mr. Dillard “doesn’t know whether to follow the scriptural mandate of Proverbs 26:4 or Proverbs 26:5.” That remark was the high point of the letter. Perhaps we should remind both the student and Mr. Dillard of Matthew 5:22.
Mr. Dillard himself wrote to say that I had a “wholesale misunderstanding” of his views. However, he wrote that “I do not plan to undertake a point by point rebuttal of your article in this letter.” In fact, he does attempt to rebut two points, and they occupy the main body of his letter. His entire letter, three and one-half pages single-spaced, is too long to reprint here, but here are the main sections of the letter:
(1) The section from which you quote most extensively is in the second half of the paper where I am describing some of the difficulties inherent in the harmonistic method. One of the difficulties with the method is that, in the ways it is usually applied, there are theoretical ambiguities which have not received adequate attention in the history of scholarship. In citing this section of the paper (“Its Adequacy”), you take no note of the introductory paragraph in which I comment on the fact that I intend to illustrate how the approach can become blurred and problematic. This statement alone should tell you that the argument that follows is not to demonstrate my own position, but to present an argument that leads to difficult complications. Whether you think it correct or not, it is the case that most evangelical theologians do not try to harmonize intracanonical citations as a facet of defending inerrancy. My point here was that the reluctance to do so where little is at stake can through a series of small incremental steps lead to serious historical difficulty. This problem has not received adequate attention among exegetes, and I conclude that section of the paper by calling for considerable further reflection on this problem. Once again the statement that ends this section of the paper should clearly indicate I am not presenting and defending my own position here, but rather pointing to a difficulty with which responsible exegesis must come to grips. I hope you can appreciate my dismay when you present this as something I believe and teach. I am not “offering his own alternatives to harmonization” as you allege. My goal is not “to convince his readers that this is what actually happened”: quite the contrary, it is to demonstrate a theoretical difficulty in the application of the harmonistic method as it is commonly done.
I do see how your misreading of this section is possible in abstraction from the context. However, if the introduction and conclusion of that section has been given proper attention in your reading of the paper, I do not think you could legitimately use these quotes in the manner you chose to do.
(2) You also focus in on the quotation with reference to the place of the sermon on the mount in Matthew. You tell the reader to “make no mistake about it” that I think Jesus did not actually give the sermon there. Yet in this very statement you make a serious mistake yourself. I personally do believe that Jesus gave the sermon on a mountain. The point I am seeking to make here is that we must also appreciate why Matthew chose to report it this way, i.e., as a part of his overall effort to present Jesus to the Jews. Matthew chose those details available to him that portrayed Jesus as their second lawgiver.
Parenthetically I should also mention that I recognized the liability in the language that “Matthew placed” after writing the first draft of the paper and after discussing it with others. In the version of the paper to be published with other essays from faculty members here, I have clarified that language so it is less open to misunderstanding. However, if you had read the quote in its best light or had taken the time to ask me if you were reading this correctly, you would not have made a grave mistake yourself.
There are several clarifying comments that need to be made at this point. First, his opening paragraph, “in which I [Dillard] comment on the fact that I intend to illustrate how the approach [harmonization] can become blurred and problematic” reads in its entirety: “At first glance the practice of harmonization appears to be a simple and straightforward way to deal with historical difficulties, but in actual application the approach becomes occasionally blurred and problematic. Intracanonical biblical quotations provide a case in point.”
I submit that any intelligent reader would and ought to conclude from this paragraph that Mr. Dillard intends to illustrate the alleged inadequacy of harmonization in this section, and this in fact is what he does. There is not a whisper in the introductory paragraph that suggests that what follows are not Mr. Dillard’s views.
Second, the paragraph concluding this section, which Mr. Dillard says “should clearly indicate that I am not presenting and defending my own position,” reads in full: “The initial reluctance to harmonize intra-biblical citations leads inevitably to involvement in complicated historical questions. Considerable exegetical, theological, and hermeneutical work is needed to clarify the relationship between such intra-biblical citations and the doctrine of inerrancy.” Again, there is no suggestion that what preceded this paragraph are not Mr. Dillard’s views. This paragraph certainly states his own views, and it is a summary of what he had written in this section.
Third, on the question of reading in context, in my essay I quoted Mr. Dillard at length; I did not use snippets from his paper, but virtually whole paragraphs. For example, in his April 15, 1987, essay, Mr. Dillard wrote:
Often the difficulties that are the grist for harmonization [of different Biblical accounts] provide keys into the author’s larger purpose. A later biblical author may introduce modifications in order to portray an individual in a particular light. Matthew’s placing Jesus’ sermon on a mountain may reflect his portraying Jesus as a second Moses, a second lawgiver on a mountain. When the Chronicler assigns Huram-abi’s ancestry to the tribe of Dan, he is carefully molding Huram-abi as a kind of second Oholiab; it is just one of a number of changes he has made to perfect a parallel between the building of the temple and Israel’s original sanctuary, the tabernacle. The consistency with which the Chronicler portrays divine blessing through God’s giving righteous kings large armies speaks to basic themes he wants his reader to understand. Read in this way the “difficulties” are not so much problems as they are opportunities, open windows to the big picture.
I quoted this entire paragraph, minus the first sentence, in criticizing Mr. Dillard’s views. My comment was as follows: “Make no mistake about it. Mr. Dillard is suggesting that Matthew placed Jesus on a mountain, not because that is where Jesus was, but ‘in order to portray an individual or event in a particular light’. This same sort of modification of the truth Dillard attributes to the Chronicler, who makes several ‘changes’ in history in order to perfect a parallel....”
I frankly admit that I may have misunderstood this paragraph. Mr. Dillard himself admits that he has since revised it because it was “open to misunderstanding.” I am also pleased to learn that Mr. Dillard does believe that Jesus gave the sermon on the mountain. But I did not learn that fact from his essay, for he did not write it there; I learned it only from the letter that he wrote to me. If my essay achieved nothing but causing Mr. Dillard to clarify misleading language in his essay, it was worth publishing.
However, there are other problems in this paragraph, and that is why I quoted virtually the whole paragraph. Mr. Dillard does not merely say that Matthew “placed” Jesus’ sermon on the mountain, he also says that the Chronicler “assigns” Huram-abi’s ancestry to the Tribe of Dan in order to perfect a parallel, and “portrays” God’s blessing on righteous kings by using large numbers for their armies that are difficult to reconcile with other passages.
The reader should keep in mind that the paper criticized was a paper formally presented to the Board of Westminster Seminary and intended for publication. Nowhere in that paper does Mr. Dillard say that he believes Jesus gave the sermon when he was on the mountain. What Mr. Dillard wrote is, “A later Biblical author may introduce modifications in order to portray an individual or event in a particular light. Matthew’s placing Jesus’ sermon on a mountain may reflect his portraying Jesus as a second Moses....” Placed in context, this sentence bears the meaning I understood, for Mr. Dillard, in the context, wrote about how the Chronicler also reshaped (and “reshaped” is also Mr. Dillard’s own word) history, “assigning Huram-abi’s ancestry to the tribe of Dan.” His words are “placing,” “assigns,” “portrays,” “changes” and “modification.” He does not say that either Matthew or the Chronicler “reported,” or “recorded,” or any of the ordinary words that one would use to describe a factual account. Rather, he uses words that strongly suggest that history is a creative art for some Biblical authors.
Mr. Dillard says that I should have read his words “in the best light.” I rejoin: Apparently Mr. Dillard did not put his best light in his essay. More seriously, Mr. Dillard is a seminary professor charged with the heavy responsibility of teaching future leaders in the church. He is also a published author. He must bear the burden of writing clearly, yet he has already admitted that at least some of his words are “open to misunderstanding.” And his interpretation of his writing, as illustrated by his comments about his introductory and concluding paragraphs quoted above, illustrates that what he says he means and what he actually writes seem to be somewhat unrelated. That is a grave problem for one who is required by Scripture to be “apt to teach.”
The task of a reader is to read words in context, and the context breathed not one word about Jesus actually being on the mountain. Mr. Dillard wrote that Matthew “placed” him there, just as the Chronicler “assigned” an ancestry to Huram-abi, “molded” Huram-abi as a kind of second Oholiab-and made “a number of changes ... to perfect a parallel.”
There are, however, further difficulties with Mr. Dillard’s views that I did not mention in the earlier essay. Let me illustrate them by quoting several paragraphs in their entirety. On page 18 of his April 15 essay Mr. Dillard wrote:
In those instances where no plausible harmonization offers itself, how should the theologian respond? Several avenues are open. E. J. Young wrote: “It may well be that there are some passages which save by strained and forced attempts, we cannot harmonize. If such is the case, by all means let us be sufficiently honest and candid to admit that we cannot harmonize the particular passages in question; for to employ strained and forced methods of harmonization is not intellectual honesty. If we do employ such methods, we shall only bring on our heads the deserved charges of intellectual dishonesty.... the mere fact that we ourselves are unable to solve every difficulty and to answer every question does not involve the conclusion that therefore these difficulties are incapable of solution.”
Prof. Young’s approach was essentially to wait for better evidence and explanations, and the history of biblical studies has frequently ratified this approach.
A further avenue of addressing these problems is through genre criticism. After sober study one could conclude that a book of narrative prose in the Old Testament belongs to some other literary genre in which historical canons are suspended or modified.
Mr. Dillard goes on to quote a paragraph from The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics endorsing genre criticism.
One thing that is interesting about these two alternatives that Mr. Dillard says are “open” to the theologian is that they are thoroughly opposed to each other. One avenue preserves inerrancy; the other undermines it. E. J. Young’s approach is thoroughly Scriptural and shows humility before the Word of God. Young did not say, as some theologians are fond of saying, that there really are difficulties in Scripture “incapable of solution”-in fact he explicitly denies the existence of such “mysteries” and “paradoxes.” If we have difficulties, they stem from our own ignorance or stupidity and are not inherent in Scripture. This “avenue” certainly is “open” to the Christian theologian.
But the second “alternative” that Mr. Dillard offers is utterly destructive of the doctrine of inerrancy: “After sober study one could conclude that a book [a book, no less!] of narrative prose in the Old Testament belongs to some other literary genre in which historical canons are suspended or modified.” Please grasp the significance of that statement. What the church has understood as history for centuries, a book that purports to be history-say the book of Jonah or 2 Chronicles-may in fact belong to another literary genre, and may not be history at all, or, to use Mr. Dillard’s more academic language, “historical canons are suspended or modified.” This “avenue,” despite what Mr. Dillard has written, is not “open” to the Christian theologian.
For these reasons, I believe that Mr. Dillard’s charges of “wholesale misunderstanding” of his statements are incorrect. Partial misunderstanding, perhaps. After all, they are somewhat misleading. But we see no reason to change our opinion that “Mr. Dillard [has] expressed views that ... are incompatible with the doctrine of inerrancy and a high view of Scripture.”
Letters to the Editor
Editor’s note: Like many publications, we print some of the letters the editor receives. That policy has had some interesting consequences, for last year we published a few letters from readers who criticized seminaries. Those letters, plus the articles that appeared in our last issue, seem to have gotten the attention of some seminary presidents and faculty members.
Progress in the PCA
Dear Dr. Robbins-
Thanks for continuing to publish Trinity Review. The church certainly appears to be at a low point. I visited a PCA church I attended when I lived in Chicago, and they were having a special Christmas service with 2 people-one man and one woman, doing the preaching! Not even the man was an elder ... A Reader in Indiana
Editor’s note: Perhaps the woman was an eldress. Or is it elderette? But I should not joke, for this is not a laughing matter. Paul commands women to be silent in church meetings. The command is as clear as any of the Ten Commandments. Those who disobey Paul, disobey God.
Clark in Spanish
We are distributors of whatever Reformed literature we can find to promote (as well as publishers on a very small scale).
There have been some inquiries as to whether any of Gordon Clark’s writings have been put into Spanish. Is there anything in Spanish to your knowledge? If so, what? And, where can it be obtained? ... A Reader in Puerto Rico
Editor’s note: We know of no Clark books in Spanish. Does any of our readers? If so, please let us know. And if anyone knows Spanish, is familiar with Clark, and would be interested in translating Clark into that language, please contact us.
Learning at the PRC
Dear Dr. Robbins:
Some time ago I asked if you could recommend any churches in my area, and you sent me the name of the Hope Reformed Protestant Church in Redlands, California. I just wanted to thank you and to let you know that I am now regularly attending services there. As far as I can determine this is a true Calvinist church, and I learn more about true Protestantism, which is to say true Christianity, every time I go there. They seem to like Dr. Clark’s works; I have loaned out several of his books. The pastor of the church tells me that this is one of two (yes, that is right-two!) congregations that he knows of in all of southern California that can truly be called Calvinist, so again I just want to thank you for letting me know about it.
A Reader in California
The Hoax of Scientific Creationism
Dear Dr. Robbins:
I read with interest your assessment of the Louisiana scientific creation approach. I thought your article was very straightforward and almost harsh with the scientific creationism approach. However, I feel you have done a very fine job in analyzing the issue and approach creationism from the proper standard-biblical.
Your article has interested me in your organization. I would like to learn more about the Trinity Review and any organization that is connected with it. I would also be interested if you hold conferences in various areas of the country or in Maryland. I would also be interested in seeing the itinerary. Any information that you could provide me would be greatly appreciated.
Again let me say thank you for your straightforward presentation of the issues that are so important.
A Baptist College
Editor’s note: Dr. Henry Morris, a name well known to those in creationist circles, blasted The Hoax of Scientific Creationism (Trinity Review #56) in a newspaper called The Biblical Evangelist and in his own Institute’s Acts and Facts.
In his attack Dr. Morris inadvertently concedes the truth of one of our contentions: The law in Louisiana and the arguments supporting it have nothing to do with Christianity. He refers to the law as a “de-Biblicized law.” He argues that “the Louisiana law, and attorney Wendell Bird’s defense of the law, were so worded as to avoid use of Biblical terminology.” (With one exception, of course. The law and the arguments retained the Biblical term “creation,” but they redefined the word and emptied it of Biblical content. It was, as Mr. Morris wrote, “de-Biblicized.”)
Mr. Morris wrote that “the Court majority rejected the law specifically because creation implies a supernatural God, even though the law and its defenders scrupulously avoided saying so.” Not only did they scrupulously avoid saying so, they explicitly denied it: Here is one of Wendell Bird’s statements to the Supreme Court: “In none of that [creation science] is there any concept of a creator, and certainly no concept of Genesis.” (This is a Christian witness? What does Christ say about denying him before men?) The notion of “creation” defended by the scientific creationists is atheistic.
It is tragic that some Christians are so confused that they spend enormous quantities of time and money enacting and defending “de-biblicized” laws. The problem is that they do not know how to defend Christianity, so they actually defend an atheistic theory of origins in the name of creation
Dear Dr. Robbins,
I would like for you to know that as a Christian I appreciate very much the presence of a doctrinally based group of persons such as the “Trinity Foundation.” I consider the honest, clear thinking you and your associates exhibit in the books and essays your organization make available to be a genuine “port of refuge” in this present evil world. We live in an age of compromise and “fuzzy lines.” Thank you for some good “mental hygiene.”
The man-made unity within modern Christian congregations-at the expense of doctrinal purity-has surely been determined to fail by the wise counsel of God. I look for ward to the cleansing of the “visible” Church, and true unity to manifest itself prior to the next advent of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. The unity surely must be based on a knowledge of doctrinal truth. “Until we all attain the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God....” Personally I see this Scripture as having prophetic eschatological significance; -a logical “must be.” I see your work at the “Trinity Foundation” as being an instrument towards that outcome....
A Reader in North Dakota
The Disappearance of the Gospel in America
Dear Mr. Robbins,
After 41 years of stumbling in the darkness, the Lord has opened by eyes and now “I see.”
I can see many things. I do not remember ever hearing The Gospel and I have gone to “church” all of my life. I can see that The Gospel is no longer preached, for the most part, in America. I can see that the Lord used many things and events to show me the Truth. One of the things he used was “The Trinity Review.” I can see that you “possess” the Truth. That brings me to my reason for writing you.
The “church” we now attend does not preach The Gospel. As far as we know, there are no churches in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, that do preach justification by faith alone. Do you know of any churches here? Can you come to teach us? Can you send someone to teach us? Our children 16, 12, 8 have been taught wrong, in matters of faith, all of their lives....
A Reader in Indiana
Justifying Calvin Seminary
Editor’s note: In our last Letters issue (#57) we published a letter from a student at Calvin Seminary who requested copies of The Trinity Review on Justification by Faith (#53) to hand out to fellow students. Our reader criticized the Seminary, or at least the Soteriology class, for confusing the doctrine of justification. Below is a letter we received from the President of Calvin Seminary. We are publishing it at his request. We are not at liberty to say what happened to the student since he criticized the powers that be.
I discussed with our professor of soteriology a letter which you printed in your September issue concerning teachings on justification by faith at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has graciously formulated the following three paragraphs, which address the matter raised by a student and by your commentary.
Re your conclusion (drawn from a student letter) that Calvin Seminary teaches “an insignificant difference between the Roman Catholic and Biblical doctrines of justification,” I am pleased to reassure you that both the student report and your conclusion drawn from it are entirely in error.
In soteriology we do teach, of course, that “justification” is a much broader term in Tridentine than in Calvinist us age-and that superficial estimates of Catholic and Reformed differences on justification sometimes overlook this fact. Further, we teach that in recent years Catholic theologians have declared a number of striking “convergences” with Protestant views of justification. This is particularly evidenced in “Justification by Faith,” the report of the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue Group published in Origins, October 6, 1983.
Possibly the student writer overestimated the significance of these facts. For naturally we also teach that critical differences remain and that, on them, the Reformed view is right and not the Catholic one. Indeed, the main difference we note is the very one you mention: justification on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ alone. We are enthusiastic about the fact that, following Scripture, Calvin understands justification forensically, and then distinguishes justification and sanctification (without separating them) because he wants to highlight the sheer grace of salvation based on the work of another, namely Jesus Christ. Calvin can accordingly anchor our assurance of salvation, since it rests in Christ alone.
I would be grateful if you would publish this letter of correction and clarification in the next issue of The Trinity Review. Thank you for your courtesy in this regard and for your interest in representing the school’s teaching fairly.
James A. De Jong
You and the Foundation are to be thanked for steadfastly defending Biblical revelation against the attacks of secular and religious unbelievers. Your materials are vital to an apostate age. I continually look forward to receiving your essays.
I write you this letter, though, because I have been thinking over an issue concerning which I would like your opinion. You are undoubtedly familiar with the group of theologians who advocate “theonomy,” and proclaim that the true fulfillment of the great commission is to apply the Old Testament theocratic laws to modern society. Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, R J. Rushdoony, et al., are advocating this concept.
As far as I can make out, what they are saying is that every single stroke of the law given to the Israelite theocracy is to be applied to American society, and once America is transformed, then the whole world. (Whether or not this also means the Levitical ordinances I do not know.) To put it straight, I have never before heard such a thing, not even in the Calvinistic and Reformed circles with which I am familiar. The early church did not try this, and if it were applied to modern society, what would be the result?
Would we get a society much like that of the Middle Ages, dominated by Romanism? (And I seem to detect, from the mailings I receive from North’s disciple, Gary DeMar, that these theonomists are starting to take steps back to the Roman Catholic Church, insofar as they believe in “Dominion.”) For that matter, religious freedom in the United States would be at an end, for if they intend to apply the theocratic civil laws fully, then they must put to death anyone who is not a Christian (Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 13:6-13).
What do you think of theonomy and the “Dominion” movement? From what I’ve read in your essays, and the writings of Dr. Clark, the two of you do not seem to favor it. At least, you do not talk about it much at all. And the theonomists are postmillennial to a man, whereas Dr. Clark, in his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, heavily favored premillennialism (which I also favor).
I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this subject, and any information, pro or con, on this matter would be deeply appreciated.
Thank you very much.
A Reader in Florida
The State of the Clergy
Dear Mr. Robbins,
Greetings to you again in the strong name of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Once more it has become obvious that the quest for truth has been abandoned by even “conservative” churches and their representatives. In a recent meeting with a pastor of a PCA church, in discussing the possibility of coming “under care” of the presbytery for continued study toward the Gospel ministry, I was told that I was too theologically oriented. I was told that there was no use for “that sort of thing” in the pulpits of America. Preaching is to be “personal” (whatever that means) since doctrine would inevitably empty the church. Further, the abstract hardly relates to the practicality of everyday living. My request for consideration, though not denied, was put on ice.
Now, I am by no means ignorant of proper methodology with regard to the homiletical application of dogma. Reading a systematic theology from the pulpit, though certainly a better approach than “soda-pop” theology so often heard, is not the wisest path in educating the public. However, doctrine can be made understandable to a wide range of people, without being overly technical.
It should be noted that I have witnessed this phenomenon quite often. Thus, rather than being accepted as a candidate for the ministry, I have been forced to study on my own until able to start a teaching center. To this end I continue to value the writings of Gordon H. Clark, your articles, and your book recommendations. These supplement my studies nicely and are thus a blessing in this age of hedonistic theology.
Post Tenebras Lux,
Should Women Vote?
Dear Mr. Robbins,
I just finished reading your book “Scripture Twisting in the Seminaries.” I appreciate your stand for the faith. I am a graduate of Westminster Seminary (Class of ‘72) and lately have been concerned about the direction of the seminary.
I recently met a friend of yours I believe. His name is Rob Maddox. Rob is looking at East Tennessee for his medical residence. He spoke very highly of you.
A topic that I am interested in which relates to your book is the woman’s suffrage movement in America and how the Reformed community responded to it. In your view does the Scriptures allow women voting in congregational elections of elders and deacons? Also, is the position of the women in relationship to man to be restricted to the church or is it normative for relationships in society as a whole (in the marketplace)?
I would appreciate any help you might be able to offer.
Editor’s note: The explicit commands for women to be silent and in subjection to men in church meetings seem to me to eliminate woman suffrage in churches. We tend to forget how recent a thing woman suffrage is. Women did not generally vote in churches until the nineteenth century-only yesterday in terms of church history-and it was not until 1920 that the nineteenth Amendment was added to the U. S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. As for a broader application of these principles of church government, civil rulers are also described in the Bible as ministers of God. I believe the principles apply to civil government as well. But in economic affairs there seems to be greater latitude for women. The woman of Proverbs 31 must negotiate with other merchants. Again, however, in this day of women’s lib, there is a danger of reading too much into Proverbs 31. All the woman’s activities were home-centered; it was her husband who sat in the gates.
Clark Speaks-Or Does He?
Dear John Robbins,
Having received the book Clark Speaks from the Grave today, I picked it up with eagerness. The question in my mind was: How can a man of Dr. Clark’s stature consent to take last crack at his opponents when they would be unable to respond until they joined him in Heaven? I was, in a sense, happy to see that he had not written the book. I was not happy to have been duped.
You ought to have learned from his gentle, yet forthright manner. The book is outright deception. You can only defame the name of the man who has already solved all of his philosophical and theological questions before the throne of his Maker.
I strongly suggest you make a public confession of your wrongdoing in this matter. Whatever your original intent (I may not judge), it has come off as a cheap and dirty trick. Not what one would expect from a man associated with Dr. Clark.
God the Educator
I definitely wish to remain on the mailing list for the Trinity Review. Enclosed please find a small contribution towards printing and mailing costs. I have purchased a number of Dr. Clark’s books from you recently, and will avail myself of others in the future. I especially am glad for the reissuance of What Do Presbyterians Believe? I would also like to complement you on the attractiveness of the bindings of these books; a factor which might make some open them who do not have the incentive of knowing the quality of their contents in advance.
I first saw a book of Dr. Clark’s as a student at Houghton College, (NY)... about 1968. A Christian View of Men and Things was used as a text in a philosophy class and I was impressed with it. The fact that it was chosen by the professor at all seems quite remarkable since neither he nor the college subscribed to a Reformed viewpoint. Houghton in fact is a Wesleyan school! This particular Arminian Baptist found his way to a Biblical understanding of Scripture and theology through such sovereign interventions of God in my education.
M. A. R.