Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Debating Rules for Clarkians

As a proponent of Reformed theological paradox, I've found my most vocal critics and philosophical opponents (aside from atheists, agnostics and Pelagians) are Clarkians. One of their popular bloggers has kindly referred to me as "the poor soul who runs THEOparadox." He has also recommended people Google "THEOparadox" to find an example of horribly bad theology. Yep, you got it. Look no further than Bible-believing, orthodox, Gospel-centered, conservative, essentially Reformed THEOparadox for some horribly bad theology. Has anybody seen my pitchfork?

Ironically, I've learned a few genuinely helpful things from Clarkians. I'm not going to discuss those things in this post. Instead, I'm publishing my tongue-in-cheek observations about their debating techniques. Don't get bent out of shape, this is just for laughs. By God's grace, I can honestly say I love these guys more than I disagree with them (and we disagree rather thoroughly on some topics). In those disagreements, I've observed that these are the rules by which they play the game . . .
Debating Rules For Clarkians

1. If you insult the other guy, you've won.
We are of peace. Always.
2. If you quote Gordon Clark, you've won.
Surely he's the smartest guy who ever lived. Never made a mistake, either. Like Superman without the cape.
3. If you link the other guy's position to something in Roman Catholicism, no matter how contrived or unrelated, you've won.

Those Catholic heretics think the Trinity is a paradox, too. So it can't be true.

4. If you endlessly repeat the same argument he's already answered 20 times, you've won.

Pretend he didn't just wipe out your argument, and say it again as if it's the first time. If that doesn't work, try playing dumb. And repeating yourself. Repeating yourself is a good strategy. Repeating yourself is a good strategy. Repeating yourself is a good strategy (I must be winning!)
5. If you say he's irrational or illogical, you've won.

There are, after all, only two kinds of arguments. Perfectly sound Clarkian arguments and total irrationality. Only read Clarkian books and blogs. You can read other stuff if you're looking for something to attack, but not to learn anything.

6. If you quote John Robbins, you've won.

He's smaller than Guru Clark, but still a guaranteed winner. He works especially well with the Pope Card.
7. If the other guy responds to your argument, you've won. Same as if he doesn't respond.

Cover your ears whenever the heretic speaks!
8. If you declare him to be a Van Tillian, you've won.

Sure, Van Til was a genius who was firmly committed to Reformed orthodoxy. But why should that garner any respect? Never say his name without showing your utter disdain.
9. If you cite lopsided articles from the Trinity Review, you've won.

It's everything you'd want in a tabloid, minus the doctored up pictures of the people being tattled on.

10. If you can't derive everything you claim to know directly from Scripture, you've lost.

So if you don't happen to have a Biblical name, we don't know what to call you. In fact, you may not even exist.

Based on #10, they lose every time. But watching #1-9 keeps it entertaining.


  1. I like #10. I've seen whole posts on many doctrinal topics where Scripture isn't mentioned at all. Of course, if you quote Scripture then you'll be accused of negative proof texting.

    I can understand not liking Calvinism. I didn't used to. The soteriology isn't "fair". But to say it's bad theology is in that manner is rather strange.

  2. Well I didn't know Clark was a Calvinist so I'm rather confused.

  3. Jeff,

    The Clarkians are Reformed believers who hold to the unique view of knowledge articulated by their hero, Gordon H. Clark (now deceased). Long ago, Clark and Cornelius Van Til (also deceased now) got into a big argument that split a lot of Presbyterian and Reformed folks into separate camps.

    Clarkians follow a philosophy called Scripturalism. This philosophy essentially says you cannot have any real and valid knowledge apart from the actual propositions of Scripture and propositions directly derived from those propositions. So, it's a closed system that views the Bible as not only the sole authority for faith and practice, but the sole source of accurate knowledge. As a consequence, Scripturalists reject all other sources of knowledge, particularly sense knowledge. They tend to emphasize the comprehensibility of the knowledge we gain from Scripture, and tend to downplay the incomprehensibility of God, the mystery aspect of theology, and anything paradoxical.

    Below is a link to a Clarkian blog. Visit this site and poke around a little, especially in the comments, if you want to learn more about them:



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