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Archive for the ‘R Scott Clark’ Category

R. Scott Clark has written a recent piece titled, “Why one should read before writing or the difference between is and must be” over at his blog on March 23rd, 2011.  It basically responds to TurretinFan, and TurretinFan’s response can be found HERE.  Paul Manata at his blog has also offered his thoughts on the same post made by Clark, in his entry titled, “How not to argue against a position Part III” and I think Clark should really read what Manata has to say and learn something there.

I have nothing to offer in terms of the same caliber compare to what these men have said.  Nor do I have the time presently.

But I wanted to point out one point, which Clark complained about TurretinFan:

why don’t Christian bloggers take personal responsibility for the things they write? My name is on every post. I’m held to account for every syllable. I don’t understand the ethos of anonymous Christian blogging. Doesn’t the 9th commandment entail taking such accountability?

My first thought at reading this was whether the 9th commandment entailed an “accountability” that goes against the idea of Christians blogging anonymously.  But I took the advice of an older man, and did not wanted to write anything until I read the ninth commandment first.

I looked over at the ninth commandment in my Bible and it states this in the NASB:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I just don’t know how the prohibition not to bear false witness against one’s neighbor would “entail” that one should not blog anonymously.  I scratched my head with that one.  Exodus 20:16 seems to be speaking about the truth claim of what one asserts about others instead of the protection of one’s identity.  It seems that it is possible that one can be anonymous to SOME people and yet obey this commandment and not bear false witness against someone.  I think of those in the business of law enforcement, such as my boss who was a former undercover officer, who can testify in a trial and not bear false witness concerning a suspect by speaking only the truth of the matter.  Yet, in some sense the witness he bears is anonymous to MOST people (for obvious reason because of the nature of his work).

In either case, I find it ironic that TurretinFan has said more than once he was willing to email R. Scott Clark his personal information (names, etc) provided that he agree to keep that information from being revealed publicly, for the sake of keeping him accountable to his church leadership if the need arise.  Clark’s blog post fail to acknowledge this.  But I digress.

My main point is this:  This incident is another example that when it comes to the Scriptures,

one should read before writing.

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R. Scott Clark is no stranger of being the subject of our blog post.

I sometimes wonder if everything is okay with the man. Here is a man who teaches at a seminary and involved with Pastoral ministry who’s idea of selling his “Radical-Two-Kingdom-Confesssionalism-brand-of-what-it-means-to-being-Reformed” theology is by means of knocking the other guys with cheap shots and getting attention from the sensationalism.  I don’t know if it always has to be that way, nor do I know how much of this kind of activity would help advance his cause.  It’s hard to advance a cause by being a sour grape.  He has a history of throwing out criticisms that are unhelpful, comments which tend to shed more heat than light, even downright sloppy in his reasoning.

An example that comes to mind of this sort of writing  is his comparison of Doug Wilson with the cult leader of Jim Jones.

Or the sloppy reasoning behind his objection of John Frame’s Triperspectivalism.

In a recent post titled “Young, Restless and Resistant to Horton’s New Systematic Theology?”, the title suggests that the Young, Restless and Reformed” camp has been resistant to Michael’s upcoming Systematic theology.

He cites only two individuals as an example of this “Resistance”, than goes on to say

I wonder if the initial response by two of the leading Young, Restless, and Reformed bloggers says a little something about the YRR movement? Both of them were at pains to note that The Christian Faith is a “Presbyterian” book. That’s interesting because Horton deliberately pitched this work beyond the pale of the Presbyterian and Reformed world. To be sure, it is certainly written by a Reformed writer, Horton rightly has a strong doctrine of the church, and he comes to Reformed conclusions but the title of the book is The Christian Faith. He’s presenting the faith as confessed by the Reformed but he does so only after biblical exegesis and after wrestling with the Fathers and after getting to grips with the wider Christian tradition.

I overlooked the fact that two bloggers might be too small of a sample size but I did looked into the two evidences that Clark gave, Justine Taylor and Tim Challies, to see if there are any indication of any “resistance” going on but didn’t find any.  I thought these bloggers were favorable toward’s Horton’s work actually.

I don’t know why Clark would use the word “pains” to describe how the two bloggers mentioned that the book was written from a Presbyterian perspective.  It looks like they just simply noted the perspective Michael Horton was writing from.  Saying it’s a systematic theology from a Presbyterian perspective does not suddenly mean one is “resisting”  Horton’s new systematic theology, no more than if one were to  mention that Clark’s book “Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry” is written from a Reformed perspective.  To reason that way is absurd, for even Clark himself identifies his book as one of “resources on the classical Reformed approach” towards Law and Gospel distinction.  Certainly he’s not against his work is he?  Also, wrongly identifying Horton’s work as “Presbyterian” does not mean one is against the work also.

Then Clark goes on to write, “That’s interesting because Horton deliberately pitched this work beyond the pale of the Presbyterian and Reformed world. To be sure, it is certainly written by a Reformed writer, Horton rightly has a strong doctrine of the church, and he comes to Reformed conclusions but the title of the book is The Christian Faith.”  One wonders how Michael Horton’s targeted audience to persuade those outside the Presbyterian and Reformed world makes it anything less than it coming from a Presbyterian and Reformed perspective. Clark himself admits where Horton lands in the conclusion found in the book.  Having the title  “The Christian Faith” doesn’t mean one can not identify the theological persuasion of the book, and again, identifying the book’s perspective  does not imply one is resisting the book.

So I am at a loss of how Clark could have titled the blog post with the title that he had, and to think that the “Young, Restless and Reformed” crowd are resisting Horton’s new systematic theology.  To be frank, I think it’s a little premature of Clark to say what he said since the book is so new, and even then his evidences does not vindicate his conclusion.

I say be “Young, Restless and Informed.”  And get Michael Horton’s Christian Faith (A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way) book and read it.

But if Clark keeps up his tactic, he might get the “Young, Restless and Informed” resisting his unfair whining and perhaps his Confessionalism with it.

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Is R. Scott Clark truly Reformed according to his own reasoning? Or is it according to his own standard of the Confession, a caricature and a wannabe of the “Reformed” faith?

This is my comment over at his blog and Scott’s comment.  The only addition from the original is my own comment here in RED.  I’ve hyperlinked some of my comments to show that I’m trying to use his words and ideas.

Someone at my church has given Dr. Clark’s book “Recovering the Reformed Confession” as an early Christmas gift, so I do want to see his ideas flesh out more.

******

SLIMJIM, on November 28th, 2009 at 1:29 am Said:

Dr. Clark,

How do you respond to a theocratic confessionalists who read your comment:

“As you know the mainstream of confessional Reformed Presbyterian and Reformed churches have revised the WCF and the BC to eliminate the theocratic language. Of course you may not agree with those actions but they are historic facts.”

And then argue that you are not REFORMED in the following manner:

R. Scott Clark has no right to misuse the term “Reformed”. When exactly did the word “Reformed” come to denote both “believes in the historic Reformed view of the Establishment Principle vis a vie the Civil Government & Church” and “denies the historic Reformed view of the Establishment Principle vis a vie the Civil Government & Church”? If we, who have the original lease on the word since the 1540s, don’t consent then how is it not theft?

There is a connection between the word “Reformed” and a certain set of doctrines and practices. I don’t think that folk who reject those doctrines and practices are entitled to re-define that word.Just because there are 490,000 revisionaries in this country the fact of numerical superiority doesn’t give them a right to redefine us or the adjective “Reformed.”

I anticipated this criticism and answered it in the book, Recovering the Reformed Confession. The short answer is that there were internal tensions between our confession of the uniqueness of the Israelite state and implicit claim that post-canonical states could fulfill the same theocratic role. The collapse of Christendom gave us an opportunity to re-think theocracy. The same thing happened with geocentric astronomy. The collapse of geocentrism gave us opportunity to re-think how we understood the intent of Scripture.

In neither case has the actual THEOLOGY changed. The substance of the Reformed faith is unchanged but we are more consistent now. Our approach to astronomy is more consistent now with our confession of the condescension of God in revelation.

On this see Machen’s essay on “Creeds and Doctrinal Advance”

http://genevaredux.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/your-weekly-machen-fix-the-creeds-and-doctrinal-advance/

There’s are several sections in the book on this.

Look, we get it in the neck from the biblicists for being static. We get it in the neck from theocrats and fundamentalists (on geocentrism) for maturing.

This isn’t proof that we were right about these issues but given the quality of the criticisms, I can live with the tension.

Dr. Clark,
Thank you for your response as it gives me more of an idea of where you are coming from. I must admit it’s rather intriquing but I must also be honest that I do have some questions about all of this.

Assuming the theocratic confessionalist position, I can see how someone from that camp respond to you in their defense using the same line of reasoning as you have employed, and insist that Dr. Clark is not truly “Reformed”:

1.) “I anticipated this criticism and answered it in the book, Recovering the Reformed Confession. The short answer is that there were internal tensions between our confession of the uniqueness of the Israelite state and implicit claim that post-canonical states could fulfill the same theocratic role.”

A Theocrat Confessionalist Response: I appreciate this, of course, but it doesn’t really advance the discussion much except to suggest that mainstream Presbyterians have tried to hide from what the Confession really says. Is it a legitimate observation that there were internal tensions within the confession? Sure, and so we get it in the neck from some who use the label “Reformed” who are not theocratic for being static. This isn’t proof that we were right about these issues but given the quality of the criticism, I can live with the tension. Afterall, the Confessions themselves contain that tension. If you don’t like someone’s tension don’t go change it and say you are one of them.

2.) “The collapse of Christendom gave us an opportunity to re-think theocracy.”

A Theocrat Confessionalist Response: But does that grant people to throw out any concept of theocracy out of someone else’s confession and then squat on being “Reformed” when they are not?

You can claim historical development til you’re blue in the face but those of us Theocrats are truly Reformed since we still confess the SAME FAITH we confessed in the 16th and 17th centuries. Popular abuse of an ecclesiastical term doesn’t change the essential meaning of that term.

3.) “In neither case has the actual THEOLOGY changed. The substance of the Reformed faith is unchanged but we are more consistent now.”

A Theocrat Confessionalist Response: This is the most interesting part of your response. You state that actual theology has not changed (from the Confessions?) in the first sentence then the next you state that the you and those in your camp are more consistent (consistent to what? to the Confessions? internally consistent within your own beliefs?) now. And in what ways are you more consistent, in faith (theology) and practice? Do note that your theology has changed from those who are truly Reformed by the absence of theocratic doctrines. Theocratic beliefs are theological in character, so to change this belief and call yourself Reformed is actually making a change away from the original Confessions that is theological in nature (unless you have a different taxonomy of theology than I am assuming). You state that “we are more consistent now,” but are you assuming “we” (including you) to be those who are Reformed? Surely this seem to be question begging, for how can you be Reformed if you do not hold to the first through the last articles? You are right that “the substance of the Reformed faith is unchanged,” even though 499,000 people hijack the term “Reformed” but now we (the 1,000 theocrats) are more consistent with rediscovering the rich heritage of our Reform Confession.

4.) “Look, we get it in the neck from the biblicists for being static. We get it in the neck from theocrats and fundamentalists (on geocentrism) for maturing.”

A Theocrat Confessionalist Response: Doesn’t this dilemma arise from the fact that those of your camp have set up quite an arbitrary choice of calling yourself Reformed and then decide what stays and what goes from the confession? You selectively are static with some aspects of the Reformed Faith but then deviate from it in some areas. Can you be arbitrary and pick and choose what you want to believe and not believe from the Confessions? Sure, don’t misrepresent me I believe you are entitled to your own beliefs but that does not give you the right to call yourself “Reformed”.

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