On Gordon H. Clark’s apologetic methodology

On Gordon H. Clark’s apologetic methodology

(In response to …)

There is no reason to see Clark’s thought on apologetics as ‘skeptical’ (the view that all epistemologies fail, and so no truth can be known). Central to his thought was the rejection and refutation of any epistemological position that when thought through carefully, ended in skepticism.

Skepticism to Clark, was an ultimate offense. Another reason that Clark rejected many traditional epistemological programs (“epistemology” meaning the way someone claims to know the truth, or the definition of truth itself) is because of his insistence on the Bible being the source of truth.

This of course implies that truth can really be known and that, negates skepticism.

To explain, Clark took “axioms” very seriously. At the root of every statement about truth, is some thing which one must “choose” to believe, but that cannot be proven from within that statement’s system of thought. Clark often used the axiom that a line is the shortest distance between two points, an axiom of geometry which cannot be proven, but must be believed in order to begin doing geometry, as an example of this kind of thing.

Every system has axioms, even atheistic systems, and none of them can be proven, because the axioms are the basis of proving everything else. This seems to be true by definition. An infinite regress of circular definitions doesn’t seem to end up anywhere very helpful (Coherentism). If we are going to know, we need to start somewhere. And where you start, is a choice. Something you cannot prove. Like the laws of logic, which must be used in order to try to prove them.

This didn’t mean that Clark held that systems of thought could not be falsified. He said that because God himself has shown through the revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture that He is eternally logical, and thus logic was an attribute of God, who always knows the difference between truth and falsehood, if anything is irrational, or illogical, or self contradictory, and this could be demonstrated, it has been shown to be false. Thus contradictory systems could be tested for veracity on the basis of coherence, or rationality. Thus axioms, though they cannot be proven true, could be proven false, by the fact that they don’t make any sense.

Thus all axioms are not created equal. And some axioms, while they cannot be proven true, can be shown to be obviously false.

So there is in Gordon H. Clark’s thought not only an axiomatic epistemological basis, being the special revelation of Scripture and those things deduced from Scripture (A view sometimes called Clarkian Scripturalism) but also a test for the veracity of Christianity, being “reason”, or the laws of logic, or deductive certainty, as applied to the contents of any system.

All the best,


More on Clark and Van Til

Neiswonger, Neiswonger, Neiswonger, Neiswonger, Gordon h. Clark, Gordon h. Clark, Gordon Clark, Gordon Clark

4 thoughts on “On Gordon H. Clark’s apologetic methodology

  1. Hi, my name is Todd and I am a Reformed Christian and in my web searches I came across this blog. I really like what I have seen here and I was wondering if you could take a look at my blog. It is forthetimethatispastsuffices.wordpress.com. I am trying to get the word out about it as one of the main purposes of my blog is to host an online Bible study. I was inspired to do so because I recently moved from my hometown and wanted to continue leading the guys I lead previously as they grow in my physical absence. However, I would like to make it available to as many people as I can. I am currently working through 1 Peter and am weekly posting notes and an audio file of myself going over the lesson. I would greatly appreciate it if you could look at this and offer comments and/or tell others about it. Thank you and good luck in continuing to spread God’s word through the understanding of what His word teaches.


  2. Jesus lights every man. Jn 1:9
    Gives to every man according to his works. Jer 17:10
    Is in communion with every baby from the emrbryo. Psalm 139
    Known and manifest in all Rom 1:19
    it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Heb 1:9
    The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:Rom 8:16
    Wayne Searfoss


  3. I think it was Clark who taught the late Dr. Ronald Nash (whose various courses can still be found at Reformed Theological Seminary online, as well as BiblicalTraining.org).

    As a layman, I have really appreciated Dr. Nash.
    Although I haven’t yet read Clark’s work, I am interested in learning more about both his and Van Til’s largely because of Nash’s praise of same.



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