“Religion, Reason, and Revelation,” A Review                                                  by Jack Kettler


Religion, Reason, and Revelation

Gordon H. Clark

Publisher 1996 The Trinity Foundation

A review by Jack Kettler




Gordon Haddon Clark (1902–1985) was a distinguished American philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist known for his significant contributions to epistemology, philosophy, and systematic theology. Born on August 31, 1902, in Dober, Idaho, Clark spent his early years raised in a Presbyterian home and later attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1929.


Throughout his academic career, Clark showed keen interest in the relationship between faith and reason. Raised in the Reformed tradition, which embraced John Calvin's teachings, the Westminster Confession satisfied his quest for this. His commitment to a Reformed worldview profoundly influenced his approach to philosophy and theology.


Clark was a professor at several institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Wheaton College, Butler University, and Covenant College. He was a prolific writer, producing over forty books and numerous philosophy, theology, and apologetics articles. His works often tackled foundational questions about knowledge, ethics, and the Christian faith.


One of Clark's notable contributions was developing a presuppositional apologetic method, emphasizing the importance of starting with foundational beliefs or axioms when engaging in philosophical or theological discussions. Clark’s approach, rooted in the Reformed tradition, shaped Clark's defense of the Christian faith and influenced a generation of scholars and apologists.


In “God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics,” Clark defended the Bible's authority and inerrancy, engaging with critics and presenting a compelling case for its divine inspiration. This work exemplified his commitment to logical rigor and clear reasoning.


Throughout his career, Gordon H. Clark engaged with various intellectual challenges facing Christianity, consistently advocating for a robust and reasoned defense of the Christian worldview. His legacy endures through his written works and his impact on Christian philosophy and apologetics, leaving a lasting imprint on the Reformed theological tradition. Gordon H. Clark passed away on April 9, 1985, leaving behind a rich intellectual legacy that continues to shape discussions in philosophy and theology. He is buried near Westcliff, CO, in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.


A Review:


“Religion, Reason, and Revelation” by Gordon H. Clark is a compelling and intellectually rigorous exploration of the intricate interplay between religion, reason, and divine revelation. In this seminal work, Clark masterfully navigates the complex philosophical landscape, offering a profound analysis that captivates readers seeking a deeper understanding of the foundations of faith.


One of the standout features of the book is Clark's commitment to a presuppositional approach to apologetics. By emphasizing the fundamental presuppositions that underlie belief systems, Clark invites readers to engage with the core tenets of their faith with intellectual integrity. This approach adds a refreshing depth to the exploration of religious thought, challenging readers to critically examine their foundational beliefs.


Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that emphasizes the role of presuppositions in our understanding of the world. It holds that one must start with the truth of the Bible as the foundation for all knowledge and reasoning. In this view, the Christian faith is the only coherent worldview, and all other worldviews are inherently contradictory and self-refuting.


His emphasis on logic and reason characterizes Gordon H. Clark's approach to presuppositional apologetics and emphasizes the role of presuppositions or axioms in our understanding of the world. Clark maintained that if a worldview is going to start, it must start somewhere. Clark believed that the Christian worldview is the only one that can provide a rational basis for understanding reality. It holds that one must start with the truth of the Bible as the foundation for all knowledge and reasoning. Clark argued that non-Christian worldviews are inherently irrational and self-contradictory and that only the Christian faith can provide a coherent and consistent account of the world.


One of the most notable aspects of this book is Clark's insistence on the importance of reason in understanding and defending religious beliefs. Clark was rational and distinguished between rational and rationalism. In this book, Clark turns his guns on both rationalism and empiricism. Neither epistemological system fared well under Clark's rigorous logical analysis. Clark argues that reason is not antithetical to faith but a necessary tool for discerning truth and making sense of the world. Clark's perspective is particularly valuable in a time when many people view religion and reason as being in conflict.


Another commendable aspect of the book is Clark's clarity of writing. Despite dealing with complex philosophical and theological concepts, Clark clearly presents his ideas, making them accessible to a wide range of readers. This clarity is crucial in fostering meaningful dialogue and understanding, making “Religion, Reason, and Revelation” an excellent resource for scholars and those new to the subject matter.


Furthermore, Clark's work demonstrates a profound respect for the role of logical reasoning in matters of faith. Instead of pitting reason against religion, he skillfully argues for their compatibility, highlighting the rational foundations of belief in divine revelation. Clark’s perspective contributes to a more complete understanding of the relationship between faith and reason, challenging common misconceptions and fostering a more robust intellectual engagement with religious beliefs.


Gordon H. Clark presented several arguments against atheism. Here s an example of one of his arguments:


The Argument from Logic:


Clark argued that the laws of logic are universal, abstract, and unchanging. They are not material or temporal and cannot be derived from the physical world. According to Clark, the only way to account for the existence of these laws is to accept the existence of a transcendent, immaterial, and unchanging mind, which he identified as God.


Clark's argument can be summarized as follows:


·         The laws of logic are universal, abstract, and unchanging.

·         The physical world cannot account for the existence of these laws.

·         The only way to account for the existence of these laws is to accept the existence of a transcendent, immaterial, and unchanging mind.

·         Therefore, God exists.


As seen above, Clark believed that atheism, which denies the existence of God, cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for the existence of the laws of logic. In his view, only theism can account for these laws, as it posits the existence of a transcendent, immaterial, and unchanging mind.


“God and Evil,” the last chapter in this book, is a thought-provoking exploration of the age-old philosophical dilemma surrounding the existence of God and the problem of evil. Clark, a distinguished Christian philosopher, presents a compelling argument that seeks to reconcile the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent God with the existence of evil in the world. Clark’s approach is grounded in a rigorous analysis of language, logic, and the nature of God, offering readers a systematic and coherent solution to the perceived contradiction between God's attributes and the presence of evil.


Clark's solution to the problem of evil is that God is not responsible for evil because there is no one above Him to whom He is responsible. If there were a moral law structure above God, that structure would be God. Clark argues that God is the ultimate or remote cause of everything, including evil, but He is not the proximate cause or author of sin. Clark believes that man has free agency but not free will and can still be held responsible for his actions even if he could not choose to do otherwise. The will makes choices that are determined by a man's nature, either fallen or redeemed. ​Clark's solution to the problem of evil is based on his belief in God's sovereignty and man's ultimate responsibility to God.


Clark was faithful to the Westminster Confession that summarizes the Scriptures on this topic:


“I. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass, (Eph 1:11; Rom 11:33; Hbr 6:17; Rom 9:15; Rom 9:18): yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (Jam 1:13; Jam 1:17; 1Jo 1:5); nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, (Act 2:23; Mat 17:12; Act 4:27-28; Jhn 19:11; Pro 16:33).” (emphasis mine)


Clark addresses the role of revelation in religious belief, asserting that the Bible is the ultimate source of truth and understanding for Christians. He argues that the Bible should be interpreted literally and that any attempt to reinterpret it to fit modern sensibilities is misguided and dangerous. Overall, “Religion, Reason, and Revelation” is a well-written and engaging book that challenges readers to think critically about their beliefs and the role of reason in religious belief. While some readers may not agree with all of Clark's conclusions, his arguments are thought-provoking and well-reasoned, making this book a valuable contribution to the ongoing conversation about the intersection of faith and reason.


In conclusion, “Religion, Reason, and Revelation” is a significant contribution to philosophy and theology. Gordon H. Clark's thoughtful exploration of the connections between religion, reason, and revelation enriches the intellectual discourse within these disciplines. Clark’s book is a must-read for anyone seeking a comprehensive and intellectually stimulating exploration of the foundations of faith.


Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife, Marea, attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of 17 books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at Amazon.