Hi Benjamin, as you know we discussed this issue on the GHCL (e.g. for a summary and listing of other posts re: analysis of Robbins claims re:CVT allegedlyMessage 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2006View Source
Hi Benjamin, as you know we discussed this issue on the GHCL (e.g. for a summary and listing of other posts re: analysis of Robbins’ claims re:CVT allegedly heretical views about Trinity see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GHClark_List1/message/1168),
….. but I could not help noticing two comments on the CVTL that another wrote in reply to you regarding Clark. They really show yet again why such misrepresentations, misunderstandings and animosity continue to be perpetuated.
MW wrote, >>I know Clark did not intend to undermine God's omniscience, but that is what his view of God having three distinct minds but no unity of mind would entail.<<
Contrast MW’s above comments to what Clark *actually* wrote quite explicitly, e.g. >>Hence, one must assign an eternal intellect [or mind] and an immutable will [or volition] to the Godhead" (The Holy Spirit, pgs. 22-23, 1993)<<
Or again Clark speaks of “God willed to create, willed to save some, willed to make a covenant … God’s free will … God did not have … a blank mind… God’s mind is, or better, includes … To suppose that God sometime or other finally made up his mind to create is to deny both his immutability and his omniscience. These fatal implications follow from the Arminian introduction of time into the Godhead, which wreaks devastation upon Scriptural theology.” (111, T)
*NB: The Godhead has one mind and one will thinking eternal and immutable truths or thoughts or propositions, and not three minds and three wills merely acting in unison, or even having a unity of mind!* Clark most adamantly affirms and agrees with “one of Augustine’s most fundamental theses [to wit, ‘God is truth’]”, and speaks of a single mind and will of the Godhead.
Also contrast Clark’s view with what MW wrote, quoting CVT, >>"Charles Hodge says: 'As the essence of the Godhead is common to the several persons, they have a common intelligence, will and power. There are not in God three intelligences, three wills, three efficiencies. The three are one God, and therefore, have one mind and will.'" (IST, p. 225) … Mike<<
Clark, like Hodge and CVT (one presumes) all say that God (or the Godhead) is one Person, with one mind and one will, the sum of all truths, i.e. The Truth, on Clark’s *connotative definition* of what a ‘person’ is. That is why in the past, and as is so typical for most, e.g., Forrest simply refused to give his connotative definition, so that he could continue going around and around in circles talking about “person/s” but never saying what he means.
It is amazing how people will continue making mistaken and even false claims about Clark (and Van Til) despite seeing the evidence to the contrary regarding what the Godhead is…..
Which is of course vastly different to Clark also agreeing that GtF, GtS and GtHS as three *distinct* Persons all have their own *distinct* set of eternal and immutable thoughts or truths or propositions, and individual mind and will. With the Person of Jesus Christ the analysis gets even more complicated. However, no matter how closely related, these are all entirely different discussions, and do NOT change the fact that we are speaking of Persons. “Even those who posit a fourth person do not deny that the Father, Son and Spirit are three in some sense,” Clark notes. (109, T)
Indeed, on Clark’s own connotative definition of a ‘person’ the Godhead is and must be a real Person, (i.e. a set of truths or thoughts or propositions with one mind and one will); the Godhead is *not* some Platonic or Abstract Idea _above_ the three Persons of the Trinity, or an “operation” or an impersonal generic concept or principle or genus. “Instead of abstract ideas, [Augustine] has truths. The present [Clark’s] treatise follows Augustine on this point: There are no such things as abstraction and abstract ideas.” (108, T)
So, on such a connotative definition of a ‘person’ the Godhead is a real Person with a mind and will; a thinking thought. Further, for Clark truths or thoughts or propositions necessarily entail a consciousness, a mind and will thinking, or in other words, a Person. “For thoughts cannot be unconscious,” Clark writes… or “Is a person to be considered unconscious, mute substance?” he asks rhetorically (106, T).
Of course, as noted already, for Clark GtF, GtS and GtHS also are each distinct persons (i.e. each Person is a set of truths or thoughts or propositions each with one mind and one will); they are all omniscient, immutable, and eternal etc.; the three Persons are the one, the great I AM, the Godhead, and the one Godhead is three Persons.
Clark writes, “[Augustine] treats the terms _person_ and _substance_ as synonymous... However, he is neither confused nor trapped into a contradiction, for he clearly says that the Godhead is one in one sense and three in a different sense … one could say that God is one person [substance] and three substances [persons] … Augustine himself … made it unmistakably clear that _three_ and _one_ have different referents.” (52-53, 96-97, T)
Or again, “the Trinity is one God in three Persons. The Persons are not to be confounded nor the Substance divided… the Athanasian Creed asserts that the Godhead is both one and three. It neither confounds the Persons nor divides the substance; it acknowledges that every Person by himself is God and Lord, yet there are not three Gods, but one God; one Father, not three Fathers; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts… Who can be so obtuse as to deny that _Substance_ and _Person_ are intended to have different meanings? And if the meanings are different, all appearance of contradiction vanishes from a normal mind.” (61-62, 96-97, T)
So, Clark’s connotative definition of ‘person’ can be IDENTICAL for all persons, and the sense of the ‘person’ also can be IDENTICAL in all usages (for Clark and CVT), yet, because the set of truths or thoughts or propositions for each Person is distinct, individual and unique, therefore the Persons are all different. Hence, there is NO contradiction whatsoever to say that God is one Person and also three Persons, as the “_three_ and _one_ have different referents”, i.e. they are all distinct and unique sets of truths or thoughts or propositions, though the sense of the “person” i.e. the connotative definition is identical. GtF, GtS and GtHS are Persons in exactly the same way as Ben, or KJ or Augustine or The Godhead are all Persons; the referent is always different, and there is no contradiction.
Further, Clark (and I am sure Van Til would wholeheartedly agree) we must insist that “there cannot be a fourth person in the Godhead” (108, T); to repeat with added emphasis, there are NOT four persons *in* the *Godhead*, but only three Persons as per the Bible’s teaching; these three are ever only one God and not three gods.
Yet, too, the Godhead is The Person, The great I AM, in whom there are the three Persons of the Trinity; i.e. the Godhead is one Person just as the three Persons of the Trinity are also Persons, exactly as CVT said, once we realise his formulation too has in view different referents, _particularly_ when we use Clark’s own connotative definition of what a ‘person’ is.
Clearly, individuation of Persons is in effect throughout (i.e. a different referent via a different set of truths or thoughts or propositions), albeit the idea is expressed differently (and more or less clearly) by each author, whether by Clark, Van Til, Augustine or by the Athanasian Creed.
But, not only that; on Clark’s connotative definition also “in” the Godhead there are *all* the _temporally created_ persons (i.e. sets of truths or thoughts or propositions each with its own mind and will) that the *Godhead* thinks eternally and each of whom in time the Godhead created --- it is an inescapable conclusion for Clark on his own connotative definition, since God knows all truths, nay, is The Truth. (After all, it is a cardinal tenet of both Clark’s and Van Til’s thought that there is no such thing as an autonomous created anything, whether inanimate, human or angelic. Therefore, all created persons have their very existence and being solely and exclusively in and from and dependant on God’s thought, and exactly as the Bible teaches it is and must be.)
Yet, there is no confusion, conflation, confounding or mixing up of the individual created persons individually or in God’s mind. Further, under any charitable interpretation of CVT, just as with Augustine or in the Athanasian Creed, there is no contradiction, apparent or otherwise. Nor is such a view pantheism, materialism, obscurantism, mysticism etc., since all these “persons aka truth-sets” (using Clark’s definition) are distinct and unique, exactly as God in eternity thought and determined each created person to be in due time.
BTW, the truths or thoughts or propositions, with the mind and will, that are the Godhead, and so the truths of GtF, GtS and GtHS, are in many ways the “same” truths, thoughts or propositions. But naturally, the sets are also “different” as they are truths of or about different and distinct persons, and therefore they all have a different “spin” or relationship to all the other Persons.
E.g. Consider when a person knows [1+1=2], i.e. [Ben knows ‘1+1=2’] and [God knows Ben knows ‘1+1=2’] and [God knows ‘1+1=2’] and [Clark knows ‘1+1=2’] and [Van Till knows ‘1+1=2’] etc. etc. and vs vs we all know the same truths, and yet also ‘different’ truths, since the respective pronouns “I”, “you” and “he” refers to different person according to the relevant relationship or perspective; so there are many same, common and shared truths, as well as many different truths. Naturally, the Godhead knows all the truths as the great I AM.
Or again, GtF knows the truth, e.g. [I sent my own Son to the Cross] and GtS knows the truth [My Father sent me to the Cross] and so on and so forth. Clark gives other examples of individuation, such as the first Person thinks, “I or my collection of thoughts is the Father,” and the second Person thinks, “I or my thoughts will assume or have assumed a human nature.”
“The Father does not think this second thought, nor does the Son think the first,” Clark continues. (106, T) This ought to be obvious, and it should clearly point the way to the solution regarding the individuation of the Persons in the Trinity, the Person of the Godhead, The Truth, and that there is no contradiction in asserting what CVT claimed, since it meets Clark’s own connotative definition of a ‘person’. If the Father did think the second thought and the Son did think the first, then we would be faced with a blatant contradiction in the Bible, which asserts that Father did not assume a human nature, but only the Son did.
So, all the relevant truths that GtF knows, GtS and GtHS also know, but each from their own unique personal perspective. Of course, as Clark notes, there are also truths they think of themselves respectively, which the other Persons of the Trinity cannot think of themselves (as they would not be true, but false --- and in God, The I AM, there are only truths, or better, He is The Truth).