Prior to the series of articles on presuppositionalism that appeared in THE BIBLE TODAY, there was about a year earlier another series begun by Dr. Buswell when he reviewed A CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY, by Dr. Gordon H. Clark. This series of exchanges between Buswell and Clark will include the following:
Articles in the Buswell-Clark Series :
1. “A Christian Philosophy of History: A Book Review,” by J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., The Bible Today 41.1 (October 1947): 3-15.
2. “Dr. Clark Comments,” by Gordon H. Clark, The Bible Today 41.3 (December 1947): 67-70.
3. ”Dr. Clark’s Comments—Editorial Note,” by J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., The Bible Today 41.3 (December 1947): 70-74.
4. “Does the Bible Sanction Apologetic?,” by Vernon Grounds, The Bible Today 41.3 (December 1947): 84-89.
4. “Concerning System and Demonstration,” by Gordon H. Clark, The Bible Today 41.4 (January 1948): 109-114.
5. ”Editorial Comment,” by J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., The Bible Today 41.4 (January 1948): 114-118.
6. “System and Induction,” by Gordon H. Clark, The Bible Today 41.6 (March 1948): 173-177.
On a related note, see also these articles by the Rev. David S. Clark, father of Gordon H. Clark :
1. The Philosophical Basis of Christianity, by Rev. David S. Clark, The Presbyterian 94.50 (11 December 1924): 6-7.
2. Modernism and the Higher Criticism, by Rev. David S. Clark, D.D., The Presbyterian 95.1 (1 January 1925): 8-9.
“A Christian Philosophy of History”
A BOOK REVIEW BY DR. BUSWELL
Dr. Clark is a competent scholar of outstanding achievements, and a well informed, devout Bible-believing Christian. His B.A. and Ph.D. degrees were taken at the University of Pennsylvania. Of unquestioned loyalty to Christ and the Bible, his teaching and his writings have exemplified a high order of learning which does honor to his Phi Beta Kappa key.
It has been remarked by prominent teachers of philosophy, and Dr. Clark calls attention to the fact (p. 6), that whereas the Roman Catholics have presented their philosophy in a fairly well integrated form, based upon the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, the Protestant philosophy has not been presented (at least not as a technical system of metaphysics) in any compact body of philosophical writings.
To meet this need in part Dr. Clark has undertaken to write not a Protestant philosophy in general, but a philosophy of education which, as he says, is one of the important branches of the field.
Dr. Clark has indeed made a noteworthy contribution. Whereas, so far as bulk is concerned, this review may seem critical, I should like to urge that the excellencies of his work so far outweigh the points which I criticize, that there is no comparison. It is hoped that the book will be widely read and circulated not only by school teachers but especially by parents who seriously care to fulfill their obligations in bringing up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” I have heard that someone in conversation once criticized Charles Hodge for the bulk of negative material in a certain portion of his writings. Thereupon Hodge produced a marine map and showed that by far the larger number of notations were to be found in the shallow waters near shore. The great open stretches of the ocean where the sailing is clear were generally characterized by absence of comment. So it is with my review of this product of the workmanship of my good friend and former colleague.
My most basic criticism has to do with Dr. Clark’s theory of evidences. He is one of a group of earnest Bible-believing younger professors who do not regard the traditional arguments for the existence of God as valid, and who give entirely inadequate logical place to the historical data of the Christian message. He denies that we have any common ground, in facts and rationality, with unbelievers. His constructive view is given in the following words:
Persuasion therefore is not an appeal to a common ground or [should read of (?)] non-Christian experience. Persuasion must be regarded as a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The faithful Christian presents the Christian faith to an unbeliever, he explains it and shows it in all its fulness. Then the Christian prays that the Holy Spirit regenerate his auditor, renew his mind, open his eyes, and enable him to see the truth of what was said. This is not an appeal to a common ground ; it is an appeal to God. (p. 164)
I thoroughly agree with the affirmations in the above quotation. It is the denial of a common ground in factual and reasonable material to which I strongly object. Indeed in our proclamation of the Gospel we are utterly dependent upon the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. No word of ours would have the slightest effect were it not for the fact, promised by the Lord, that the Holy Spirit “will convict the world.” (John 16:8) In this, however, we have a constant principle of all Christian activity. In explaining our dependence upon the Holy Spirit in evangelistic activities, Paul used the obvious illustration of agriculture. “I planted, Apollos waters ; but God gave the increase.” (I Cor. 3:6) Is the farmer not on some common ground with his crops, because he trusts God for the increase? The Apostle Paul in his own ministry constantly assumed a direct transitive interaction between his proclamation of the Gospel and the mind of the unbeliever. “Knowing . . . the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” (II Cor. 5:11)
Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, Volume III, p. 79f.) points out that the denial of a common rational factual ground between believers and unbelievers is found in certain historical Lutheran writings, but is contrary to the Calvinistic position. Dr. Clark is a “High Calvinist.” It is strange that in our generation several prominent “High Calvinists” have take a distinctly non-Calvinistic position in denying common intellectual ground between believers and unbelievers. Continue reading “Buswell Reviews Clark (1947)”