Gordon Clark

Gordon Haddon Clark (August 31, 1902 – April 9, 1985) was an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian. He was a leading figure associated with presuppositional apologetics and was chairman of the Philosophy Department at Butler University for 28 years. He was an expert in pre-Socratic and ancient philosophy and was noted for his rigor in defending propositional revelation against all forms of empiricism and rationalism, in arguing that all truth is propositional and thus uses the laws of logic. His theory of knowledge is sometimes called scripturalism.

Gordon Haddon Clark
BornAugust 31, 1902
DiedApril 9, 1985
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
Christian Philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of Religion
Notable ideas


Clark was raised in a Christian home and studied Calvinist thought from a young age. In 1924, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in French and earned his doctorate in Philosophy from the same institution in 1929. The following year he studied at the Sorbonne.

He began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania after receiving his bachelor's degree and also taught at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia. In 1936, he accepted a professorship in Philosophy at Wheaton College, Illinois, where he remained until 1943 when he accepted the Chairmanship of the Philosophy Department at Butler University in Indianapolis. After his retirement from Butler in 1973, he taught at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and Sangre de Cristo Seminary in Westcliffe, Colorado.

Clark's denominational affiliations would change many times. He was born into and eventually became a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. However, he would eventually leave with a small group of conservatives, led by John Gresham Machen, to help form the Presbyterian Church of America (renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1938) and would be ordained in the OPC in 1944. However, in 1948, following the Clark-Van Til Controversy, he joined the United Presbyterian Church of North America. Following the UPCNA's 1956 merger with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (the same denomination from which the OPC had separated from in 1936) to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Clark joined the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod in 1957. Clark was instrumental in arranging a merger between the RPCGS and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to form the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod in 1965. When the RPCES became part of the Presbyterian Church in America in 1982, Clark refused to join the PCA and instead entered the unaffiliated Covenant Presbytery in 1984.

Clark was also elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1965.

He died in 1985 and was buried near Westcliffe, Colorado.


Clark's philosophy and theology has been summarized as:[1]

Personal life

Clark met his future wife Ruth Schmidt during his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania; she had actually been baptized by Gordon's father as a baby. They married in 1929 and stayed together for 48 years until Ruth's death from leukemia in 1977. They had two daughters, Lois Antoinette (later Lois Zeller, b. 1936) and Nancy Elizabeth (later Betsy Clark George, b. 1941). At the time of his death, Clark was survived by his two daughters and their husbands, 12 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.[3]

Clark was well known as a keen chessplayer. In 1966, he won the championship of the King's Men Chess Club in Indianapolis.[3]


Clark was a prolific author who wrote more than forty books, including texts on ancient and contemporary philosophy, volumes on Christian doctrines, commentaries on the New Testament and a one-volume history of philosophy:


  • An Introduction to Christian Philosophy (ISBN 0-940931-38-9), in which Clark's thought is well summarized in three lectures given at Wheaton College, reissued in Christian Philosophy (ISBN 1-891777-02-5)
  • Three Types of Religious Philosophy, reissued in Christian Philosophy (ISBN 1-891777-02-5)
  • Thales to Dewey, a history of philosophy (ISBN 1-891777-09-2)
  • Ancient Philosophy, Dr. Clark's section of a History of Philosophy, which he co-published with three other authors; also includes eleven major essays, including his doctoral dissertation on Aristotle (ISBN 0-940931-49-4)
  • William James and John Dewey (ISBN 0-940931-43-5)
  • Behaviorism and Christianity (ISBN 0-940931-04-4)
  • Philosophy of Science and Belief in God (ISBN 0-940931-85-0)
  • Historiography: Secular and Religious (ISBN 0-940931-39-7)
  • A Christian View of Men and Things, which develops Clark's Christian worldview (ISBN 1-891777-00-9)
  • A Christian Philosophy of Education (ISBN 1-891777-06-8)
  • Logic, a textbook on logic for students (ISBN 0-940931-71-0)
  • Essays on Ethics and Politics (ISBN 0-940931-32-X)
  • Lord God of Truth printed with Concerning the Teacher by St. Augustine (ISBN 0-940931-40-0)
  • Selections from Hellenistic Philosophy edited by Clark (ISBN 0-89197-396-6)
  • Readings in Ethics edited by Clark and T. V. Smith (ISBN 0-390-19545-6)
  • Clark Speaks from the Grave written just before Clark died and published posthumously, responding to some of his critics (ISBN 0-940931-12-5)


  • In Defense of Theology (ISBN 0-88062-123-0)
  • Religion, Reason, and Revelation, Clark's major work on apologetics (ISBN 0-940931-86-9)
  • God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (ISBN 0-940931-88-5)
  • What Do Presbyterians Believe?, a commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith (ISBN 0-940931-60-5)
  • Predestination, the combined edition of Biblical Predestination and Predestination in the Old Testament; a study of the idea of election in the Bible
  • Karl Barth's Theological Method, a book critical of Barth (ISBN 0-940931-51-6)
  • Language and Theology (ISBN 0-940931-90-7)
  • The Johannine Logos, on John the Evangelist's use of the term Logos (ISBN 0-940931-22-2)
  • Faith and Saving Faith (ISBN 0-940931-95-8); reissued as What is Saving Faith? (ISBN 0-940931-65-6)
  • Today's Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine? (ISBN 0-940931-28-1)
  • The Biblical Doctrine of Man (ISBN 0-940931-91-5)
  • The Incarnation (ISBN 0-940931-23-0)
  • The Holy Spirit (ISBN 0-940931-37-0)
  • The Atonement (ISBN 0-940931-87-7)
  • Sanctification (ISBN 0-940931-33-8)
  • The Trinity (ISBN 0-940931-92-3)


  • First Corinthians: A Contemporary Commentary (ISBN 0-940931-29-X)
  • Ephesians (ISBN 0-940931-11-7)
  • Philippians (ISBN 0-940931-47-8)
  • Colossians (ISBN 0-940931-25-7)
  • First and Second Thessalonians (ISBN 0-940931-14-1)
  • The Pastoral Epistles on the first and second letters to Timothy and Titus (ISBN 1-891777-04-1)
  • New Heavens, New Earth on the first and second letters of Peter (ISBN 0-940931-36-2)
  • First John (ISBN 0-940931-94-X)

Additionally, Ronald Nash edited a Festschrift The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1968), which presented a summary of Clark's thought (viz., the Wheaton lectures mentioned above), critiques by several authors, and rejoinders by Clark.


  1. ^ An Introduction to Gordon H. Clark, by John W. Robbins.
  2. ^ Clark, Gordon Haddon. "A Christian View of Men and Things". The Trinity Foundation. p. 133.
  3. ^ a b Douma, Douglas (2017). The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 9781532607240

Further reading

  • Douma, Douglas (2017). The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 9781532607240
  • Hoeksema, Herman (1995). The Clark–Van Til Controversy. Hobbs, N.M.: Trinity Foundation. ISBN 0-940931-44-3

External links

  • The Gordon H. Clark Foundation Working with Dr. Clark's family and friends to release previously unpublished material. Scanned original sources included often.
  • The Trinity Foundation reprints Clark's works and publishes those of his followers. They have books for sale and articles and audio lectures available for free.
  • The Trinity Lectures in MP3 format free for download (but not streaming), including Clark's Lectures in Apologetics, Lectures on Theology, and Lectures on the Holy Spirit.
  • The Gordon Clark Papers, archived by the Presbyterian Church in America.
A Ghost Story for Christmas

A Ghost Story for Christmas is a strand of annual British short television films originally broadcast on BBC One between 1971 and 1978, and revived in 2005 on BBC Four. With one exception, the original instalments were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark and the films were all shot on 16 mm colour film. The remit behind the series was to provide a television adaptation of a classic ghost story, in line with the oral tradition of telling supernatural tales at Christmas.Each instalment is a separate adaptation of a short story, ranges between 30 and 50 minutes in duration, and features well-known British actors such as Clive Swift, Robert Hardy, Peter Vaughan, Edward Petherbridge and Denholm Elliott. The first five are adaptations of ghost stories by M. R. James, the sixth is based on a short story by Charles Dickens, and the two final instalments are original screenplays by Clive Exton and John Bowen respectively. The stories were titled A Ghost Story for Christmas in listings such as the Radio Times, although this never appeared on screen, where they were regarded as individual films.An earlier black-and-white adaptation of M. R. James's Whistle and I'll Come to You, directed by Jonathan Miller and shown as part of the series Omnibus in 1968, is often cited as an influence upon the production of the films, and is sometimes included as part of the series. The series was revived by the BBC in 2005 with a new set of adaptations that were produced intermittently over the next few years.

Alexandra Wedgwood

Lady Alexandra Mary Wedgwood FSA (born July 1938) is an English architectural historian and expert on the work of Augustus Pugin. She is the patron of the Pugin Society and the former architectural archivist of the House of Lords.

Clark Foam

Clark Foam was a Californian manufacturer of surfboard blanks — foam slabs, reinforced with one or more wooden strips or "stringers" — cast in the rough shape of a surfboard and used by surfboard shapers to create finished surfboards. Founded in 1961 by Gordon "Grubby" Clark, Clark Foam established a near-monopoly on the American market, and a strong presence in the international market, which it held until the company's unexpected closure in 2005.

Cyril Hare

Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark (4 September 1900 – 25 August 1958) was an English judge and crime writer under the pseudonym Cyril Hare.

El C.I.D.

El C.I.D. is an ITV television crime drama comedy that ran for three seasons from 7 February 1990 until 2 March 1992. The series starred Alfred Molina as Bernard Blake, a C.I.D. officer who takes early retirement and moves to Spain where he and his work partner, Douglas Bromley (John Bird), a retired records officer, keep an eye on the ex-pat community of British gangsters. As well as settling into life on the Costa Del Sol, storylines featured the pair helping out a local private eye, Delgado (Simón Andreu) to investigate cases.The series was highly publicised following criticism of Spain's extradition treaty with the UK, which was featured heavily in the newspapers during the series' run. Before the third series, Molina left the cast, and was subsequently replaced by Amanda Redman, who joined the series as the daughter of Bird's character, Bromley. The series also co-starred Kenneth Cranham as a notorious British gangster who fled to Spain. Notably, scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern wrote episodes for both the first and second series. The title is a play on El Cid.

Gordon Clark (activist)

Gordon Clark is an American activist and politician. He has served as the National Executive Director of Peace Action, and was a 2008 Green Party candidate from Maryland for the United States House of Representatives in 2008.

Gordon Clark (disambiguation)

Gordon Clark (1902–1985) was American philosopher and theologian.

Gordon Clark may also refer to:

Gordon Clark (footballer) (1914–1997), English fullback

Gordon "Grubby" Clark, surfboard blank manufacturer

Gordon "Nobby" Clark (born 1950), Scottish pop singer and Bay City Rollers member

Gordon Clark (activist), American activist and politician

Gordon L. Clark, professor of geography at the University of Oxford

Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978), American artist

Gordon Clark (footballer)

Gordon Vincent Clark (15 June 1914 – 18 October 1997) was an English professional footballer who played as a full back. He later undertook various managerial, coaching and scouting positions.

Holy Fire (2018)

The Holy Fire was a wildfire that burned in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange and Riverside Counties, California. The wildfire started on August 6, 2018 at around 1:15 PM PDT, in the vicinity of Trabuco Canyon. The suspected arsonist, Forrest Gordon Clark, has been booked into the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, California. The blaze burned 23,136 acres (94 km2) and destroyed 18 buildings, before it was fully contained on September 13, 2018. While the fire was actively spreading in early and mid-August, residents of the nearby cities of Corona, Temescal Valley, and Lake Elsinore were placed under evacuation orders.

John Gordon Clark

John 'Jack' Gordon Clark (1926–1999) was a Harvard psychiatrist known for his research on the alleged damaging effects of cults.He was the target of harassment from the Church of Scientology after he testified against it to the Vermont legislature in 1976.The Psychiatric Times, when naming him 1991 psychiatrist of the year, described him as "a quiet, courageous man of conviction, who was fighting an all-too-lonely and unappreciated battle against well-financed, ruthless organizations."

Lawrence Gordon Clark

Lawrence Gordon Clark, also known as Laurence Gordon-Clark, is an English television director and producer, perhaps best known for his A Ghost Story for Christmas series of mostly M.R. James ghost stories, which were broadcast annually by the BBC throughout the 1970s.These are:

The Stalls of Barchester (1971)

A Warning to the Curious (1972)

Lost Hearts (1973)

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (1974)

The Ash Tree (1975)

The Signalman (1976)

Stigma (1977)He also directed two other ghost stories: an adaptation of James' Casting The Runes in 1979 for Yorkshire Television, and an adaptation of K. M. Peyton's novel A Pattern of Roses in 1983, which was the acting debut of Helena Bonham-Carter. Elsewhere, Clark has directed four episodes of the 1979 series Flambards, which starred Christine McKenna, and later went on to be a director of continuing dramas for BBC One including Casualty, Pie in the Sky and Dangerfield.

In the 1980s he directed every episode of the television series Harry's Game (1982) and Jamaica Inn (1983), and in the 1990s two spy films in the Frederick Forsyth Presents series, as well as two more spy firms based on Jack Higgins's novels - Midnight Man (1996) and On Dangerous Ground (1997).

A collection of Clark's original short stories entitled Telling Stories was published late 2011 by Avalard Publishing.

Martin Wedgwood

Sir Hugo Martin Wedgwood (27 December 1933 – 12 October 2010) was a British stockbroker and linguist.

Wedgwood was the eldest son of Sir John Wedgwood, 2nd Baronet. He was a great-great-great-great-grandson of the master potter Josiah Wedgwood. Sir Martin was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford Over the course of his life, Wedgwood mastered 20 languages.

He worked in the family pottery firm in the UK and Canada. In 1973 he joined the Stock Exchange, remaining there until retirement.[1]

In 1963 he married the architectural historian Alexandra Gordon Clark (known as Sandra), daughter of the judge and crime novelist, Alfred Gordon Clark. They had one son, Ralph (born 1964) and two daughters, Julia, and Frances, a doctor married to Gareth Edwards (producer).

He inherited the Wedgwood Baronetcy and title on the death of his father on 9 December 1989. On his own death in October 2010 the Baronetcy passed to his son, the 4th Baronet, Professor Sir Ralph Nicholas Wedgwood, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, now Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California.He lived for many years at Pixham Mill, Dorking, and is buried at Mickleham.

Matthew Clark

Matthew Clark is a United Kingdom based drinks distributor, owned by C&C Group. Founded in 1810, the business primarily serves public houses, restaurants, bars and hotels within the mainland UK.

Maurice Gordon Clarke

Maurice Gordon Clarke (born May 2, 1877) was an American football and baseball player and coach. The Omaha, Nebraska native served as head football coach at the University of Texas at Austin in 1899, at Western Reserve University—now a part of Case Western Reserve University—in 1900, and at Washington University in St. Louis, compiling a career college football record of 15–6–2. He was also the head baseball coach at Texas in the spring of 1900, tallying a mark of 14–2–1. Clarke was a graduate of the University of Chicago and played quarterback for the Chicago Maroons from 1896 to 1898 teams under Amos Alonzo Stagg. He also lettered in baseball at Chicago.

Paul Clark (politician)

Paul Gordon Clark (born 29 April 1957) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gillingham from 1997-2010. During his time in government, Paul Clark served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Derry Irvine, Charles Falconer, John Prescott, and Ed Balls, before being promoted in 2008 to the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. At the 2010 general election Clark was defeated by the Conservative Party candidate Rehman Chishti in the newly formed constituency of Gillingham and Rainham.

Roderick Snell

Roderick Saxon Snell is a British electronics engineer, born 1940, who co-founded Snell & Wilcox in 1973, working full-time for it from 1988. The company grew to about five hundred people in the late 1990s. Snell remained on the board during the period 2002-2008 when for financial reasons the company contracted, became part-time after that and left the new company in 2011.Snell is a visiting professor at the Business School of the University of Kingston, Surrey, a fellow of the Royal Television Society, and a governor of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

He received the SMPTE highest award, the Progress Medal, in 2006 for his numerous contributions to television technology, and the British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society has presented him their presidential award in 2000.

Snell, a keen amateur helicopter pilot, co-founded Snelflight in 1998 as designers of indoor model flying machines. Recent models include the world's first jump jet and the world's smallest remote controlled flying novelty.

Snell is the great grandson of the architect Henry Saxon Snell. He married Cecilia Gordon Clark, daughter of Alfred Gordon Clark in 1972; they had three children. Cecilia Gordon Clark died in 1999 and he subsequently married Helen Paul. Snell's second son, Arthur Snell, was British High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago from 2011 to 2014.

Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (also known as the Smith School) is an interdisciplinary hub of the University of Oxford directed by Professor Cameron Hepburn that focuses upon teaching, research, and engagement with businesses & enterprise and long-term environmental sustainability.

The Smith School was founded through a benefaction from the Smith Family Educational Foundation and officially opened in 2008. From 2008 to 2012 Professor Sir David King served as the founding director of the Smith School followed by Professor Gordon Clark from January 2013 to October 2018.

The Smith School is part of the School of Geography and the Environment.

Stigma (1977 film)

Stigma is an episode of the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series, made in 1977. It was the first of only two stories set in the actual year of its making, and the last which mainstay Lawrence Gordon Clark would direct. It was first shown on BBC One on 29 December 1977 (postponed from its original scheduled broadcast date of 28 December), and was repeated on 29 May 1978. Scripted by Clive Exton, the thirty-minute piece stars Kate Binchy, Peter Bowles and Maxine Gordon.

The Stalls of Barchester

The Stalls of Barchester is the first of the BBC's Ghost Story for Christmas strand, first broadcast on BBC 1 at 11pm on 24 December 1971. Based on the story "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" from the 1911 collection More Ghost Stories by M.R. James, it was adapted, produced and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark.


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