Gordon Clark and the “non-problem” of the One and the Many

In a letter from Gordon Clark to Cornelius Van Til, August 28, 1937, he writes: ;

“Perhaps you will admit this criticism so far as it goes, and reply that you rest your proposition on the necessity of solving the one and many problem. To this I would suggest that Christianity does not face the same difficulties here as does a pagan system. A pagan monism cannot logically derive its multiplicity. But Christianity does not have to derive multiplicity from logic. The creation is not a syllogism, but a voluntary choice. In paganism the supreme principle is deprived of volition to ensure continuity to the universe. Volition savors of anthropomorphism. Hence they have manufactured their one and many problem by insisting on logical derivation as opposed to volitional creation. Conversely, we do not have to solve a problem that is peculiarly theirs.”


About douglasdouma

I am a husband to beautiful wife, an ordained minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery, and founder of Sola - Appalachian Christian Retreat (www.discoversola.com). In addition to blogging at this site I am the author of The Presbyterian Philosopher - The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark (Wipf&Stock, 2017) and compiling editor of Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark (Trinity Foundation, 2017). I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering (University of Michigan), a master's in business administration (Wake Forest University) and a master of divinity (Sangre de Cristo Seminary). I'm an avid hiker, having completed a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian trail in 2013 and the first 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016.
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3 Responses to Gordon Clark and the “non-problem” of the One and the Many

  1. Ron says:

    I struggle with Clark at times because I have no idea what he is saying. Another challenge for you Doug. Re-write all of Clark’s book for dimmer of us.

    • douglasdouma says:

      Yes, like most Philosophers he uses an unusual vocabulary. But, unlike Van Til, he does use words with their proper meanings.

      You’ll be glad to know that I’m working on a summary of thought of Gordon Clark as an appendix to the biography. One difficulty in reading his 40+ books is that much of the material is a critique of other philosophers and rarely a construction of his own views. I hope to simplify everything in 40-50 pages.

  2. Cameron says:

    This was the most frustrating thing about Van Til, the self-satisfied and (so far as I can tell) historically and scripturally unwarranted way he uses Trinity to solve the problem of the one and the many. At least in A Survey of Christian Epistemology, he doesn’t even try to defend it; just calls it “the” theistic position. Clark’s position seems much more sensible.

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