Gordon Clark on the Virgin Birth of Christ

The following are my comments on some Gordon Clark quotes taken
from his book, “What do Presbyterians believe?”:

Clark:

==In the middle of section ii the Confession states the method God chose to accomplish the Incarnation. Christ became man by the Virgin Birth. On this subject one cannot afford to overlook The Virgin Birth of Christ by J. Gresham Machen. This amazing scholar has dealt with just about everything pertaining to the subject, from the genealogies in Mathew and Luke to the claim that Buddha and the Greek gods were virgin born also. In this twentieth century the ordination of unbelieving ministers and the declination from the faith in the larger denominations was initiated chiefly through an attack on the Virgin Birth.

Why this miracle should be harder to accept than any other, such as the floating axe head or Christ’s walking on the water, is a puzzle hard to solve. But for some strange reason the Virgin Birth was singled out for special attack. Candidates for the ministry told their presbyteries that they could not affirm the biological miracle of a virgin birth. The modernists defended these candidates on the ground that a belief in the Virgin Birth is not essential. Such a statement is ambiguous and obscures the issue. Doubtless it is possible for some heathen to accept Christ’s sacrifice for his sin and be saved without knowing of the Virgin Birth. In this sense belief in the Virgin Birth is not essential.==

Chris: First, I will quote a passage from the Bible:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world. By this know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God; and this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

Chris: Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Now does it matter what ‘kind’ of flesh? Of course. Now what kind of flesh would this heathen necessarily ignorantly believe Christ came in, being ignorant of His Virgin Birth? Would it not be sinful flesh, just like every other son of Adam? If the heathen is ignorant of the Virgin Birth, then who does he believe Christ’s Father is? The heretic Clark should have read about the Holy Spirit’s work to glorify Jesus Christ in the hearts of His people (John 16:13-14; 17:3). Clark will go on to say that professing belief in the Virgin Birth is essential for ministers, but not for ignorant heathen. Ministers are not allowed by Clark to knowingly profess belief in a false christ, but he allows the ignorant heathen a free pass to profess belief in a false christ due to ignorance.

The Arminian and Roman Catholic both profess adherence to the doctrine of Christ’s deity. And they both deny that Christ is a perfect Savior. Their affirmation that Christ shed His blood for the reprobate is a denial of His deity. In a similar manner, the heathen’s profession of Christ’s sacrifice for his sin while remaining ignorant of His Virgin Birth, is a denial of His deity. One cannot truly believe in the deity of Christ and be ignorant of the Virgin Birth at the same time, not even by a “blessed inconsistency.” Why? For pretty much the same reason that one cannot be ignorant of His Virgin Birth while affirming His sinlessness. Why people like Clark (Machen too) like to make up these hypotheticals for denying essential doctrine is beyond me. Anyways, the main thing is that Clark believes that hypothetically, it is possible for one to be saved while believing in a false christ who was not virgin born.

More from Clark:

==But it is a different question to ask whether or not belief in the Virgin Birth is essential for a Presbyterian ordination. In this latter case it is not a matter of unfortunate ignorance but of deliberate rejection of the Word of God. There is still another question: is the Virgin Birth, the Virgin Birth itself, not a belief in it, essential to God’s plan of salvation? Contrary to the modernist attempt to confuse three questions in one, an intellectually honest Christian will avoid ambiguity and will take his ordination vows seriously” (Gordon H. Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe?, pp. 95-96).==

Chris: Of course, to Clark, the statement is only “ambiguous and
obscures the issue” because at the end of the day, he agrees with the
modernists. Clark concedes their argument but is quick to qualify it
in *certain cases only.* Clark makes an exception to essential gospel
doctrine in the case of the “poor ignorant heathen.” The Westminster
Standards make exceptions for the heathen and infant as well in
Chapter XIV “Of Saving Faith.” Clark comments:

“The second point is that this work of God in our minds, causing us to believe, is ordinarily, one might say always, accomplished by means of the Word. We do not deny that God can regenerate an imbecile, an insane person, or a dying infant. In these cases the person is mentally incapable of the activity of faith so that he must be saved apart from an understanding of the Word. But this is not so where the usual mental operations are not impeded. A sane man must believe the Gospel; the Gospel contains events of history and the explanations of those events; all of this is good news; and one must be told the news before he can believe it. As the apostle says, “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” Since saving faith comes only through the Word of God, one can easily understand why we place such a great emphasis on the Word and on its being preached; for the apostle adds, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Gordon H. Clark, What Do Presbyterians Believe?, p. 144).

Chris: Gordon Clark and the Westminster Confession of Faith contradict the Word of God:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Chris: Clark and the wily WCF deny that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone believing. The power of the gospel “to everyone believing” dies the death of a thousand qualifications. Well, in this case it’s only about three or four.

Advertisements