PAPER NO. 39
And Its Application
Scripture on Clarity
- What may be known of God from the creation—his eternal power and divine nature—is clearly revealed so that unbelief (the failure to know and acknowledge God) is without excuse (Romans 1:20; Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 46).
- Left to oneself, no one seeks God; no one understands; no one does what is right, no, not one (Romans 3:11-12). Not seeking and not understanding what is clear about God is the root of not doing what is right.
- Man’s chief end (the good, eternal life) is to glorify God (to know his glory and to make his glory known) and to enjoy him forever. But all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (SCQ 1; Romans 3:23).
- The wages of sin—of not seeking and not understanding what is clear about God—is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). The inherent consequence of not seeking and not understanding is meaninglessness and boredom and guilt.
- The gospel calls all men, everywhere to repent (beginning with root sin), and to seek first the kingdom of God by which God is glorified. Because we all come short in seeking God, and resist acknowledging this, natural evil—the curse of toil, strife and old age, sickness and death—is God’s constant call back to all from moral evil.
- Christ is the eternal Word of God, the Logos incarnate, who makes God fully known (John 1:1-18). The Logos is in all men as the light of reason (4), in creation as general revelation (10), in history as Scripture (11). He sends the Spirit to lead the Church into all truth (John 16:13; Acts 15), to regenerate unbelievers (John 3:3) and to sanctify believers by his Word (17:17).
- The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus who is Christ, the Lord (John 6:23). He comes in the place of Adam to undo what Adam did (he is the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world—John 1:29), and to do what Adam failed to do (he is the Lord who rules to make God known).
The Principle of Clarity
- The gospel assumes the Principle of Clarity and with it, the inexcusability of unbelief. If there is no clarity, then there can be no inexcusability, no moral evil/sin, and no need for Christ in redemption.
- Clarity and inexcusability is the beginning of the foundation of Christianity. Foundation is bedrock, and clarity is cornerstone.
- The Principle of Clarity says: some things are clear; the basic things are clear; the basic things about God and man and good and evil are clear to reason.
- Some things are clear: there are no square-circles; no being from non-being; no uncaused events. If nothing is clear, then no distinction (between being and non-being, true and false, good and evil) would be meaningful. Skepticism and fideism (belief without proof based on understanding) assume that nothing is clear and end in nihilism—the loss of all meaning.
- The basic things are clear: we think of the less basic in light of the more basic: meaning in light of reason (meaning/reason), truth/meaning, the meaning of experience/basic beliefs, finite and temporal/infinite and eternal, conclusions/premises. If we agree on the more basic we will agree on the less basic. Reason as the laws of thought is most basic and is the test for meaning.
- The basic things about God and man (metaphysics) and good and evil (ethics) are clear to reason (epistemology).
One has to deny one’s nature as a human (rational) being—neglect, avoid, resist and deny reason—to fail to see what is clear to reason. To deny one’s nature is spiritual suicide (moral evil/sin), the inherent consequence of which is spiritual death: the darkness of meaninglessness, the burning of boredom in all forms of excess, and the torment of guilt, all without end.
- To fail to see what is clear about God is to take God’s name in vain (SCQ 55). God does not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Application of Clarity
- If one knows what is clear, one can show what is clear. If a person repents of root sin, they will seek and understand what is clear about God.
If one cannot show what is clear, one has not yet repented of root sin. Without repentance of root sin, one cannot go on to spiritual maturity. That person is not in a position to teach others the first principles of the faith (Hebrews 5:12–6:3).
- If one knows what is clear, one can go on to understand the other first principles (pillars of the faith) in the foundation.
Understanding the foundation brings maturity, fruitfulness, unity and fullness in Christ.
Without foundation, there is division and apostasy in the Church, and decay and collapse in the culture.
Since the Church is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the present state of the culture reveals the state of the Church—that clarity and foundation are lacking in the Church.
- If one knows what is clear, one can engage in spiritual war; one can demolish arguments and every pretension that is raised up against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
- If one knows what is clear, long standing disputes can be settled by consistently applying presuppositional thinking: if we agree on the logically more basic we can, should and will agree on the logically less basic. The logical is more basic than the psychological and the practical.