Recently, Sean Gerety was kind enough to show Van Til the door. Gerety's urbane behavior was seasoned with debonair speach towards some professed Van Tillians. In doing this he leads by example. Complaining about how certain unnamed persons have referred to Gordon Clark and John Robbins over the years, Gerety makes sure to avoid any charge of hypocrisy. Showing himself the better man, he referred to these Van Tillians as "deaf-dumb-and-blind," shattering the myth that he's a mean and nasty little cuss.
Alas, Sean's Sean. Can a leopard change his spots, an Etheopian his skin color, or a Gerety his gaucheness? So we'll move on, I'm interested in bigger things.
Gerety's latest post natters on about Van Til, irrationality, and paradox in Gerety's typically officious way. With minimal sublimity, Gerety bangs his symbol, playing to a meager crowd--most of who watch for the same reason one watches a train wreck, except that the sound eminating from Gerety's post is more dreadful than the tons of metal colliding at a hundred miles an hour.
However, my beef isn't with the civility of Gerety's tone. Nor is it with that slight problem always facing Gerety: He doesn't know that any of his critiques land since he has not deduced them from the Bible, nor are they so deducible. To the question: Is Van Tillianism irrational? Gerety must answer: I don't know. However much fun it is to point all of this out, that's not the goal here either. The goal is to simply interact with the YouTube post Gerety thinks is such a good critique of Van Til.
The man who Gerety lauds is apparently a pastor and his name his Mark Kielar. I happen to think his YouTube video is bad, and strikingly so. Here's a brief analysis:
0:01 Pastor Keilar sets up the motive for appeal to paradox as a "side stepping of biblical issues." Though this language will cause those who have their minds made up to unthinkingly cheer Kielar, as well as possibly dissuade those who are unfamiliar with this discussion by shaming them into agreeing with Kielar--for who wants to side step biblical issues?--the move is logically problematic. For example, if one has done any reading in this area, one will note that appeal to paradox arises precisely because one is not side stepping the biblical issues. For instance, no one who has read James Anderson's account of paradox can possibly claim that he appeals to paradox because he wants to side step biblical issues.
0:34 One wonders if Gerety even listened to his own reference since pastor Kielar claims that "if those who appeal to paradox really mean that the passages that appear to conflict are only a paradox, "then they would be correct." But Gerety cannot stomach such irrationality. Not only that, that the apparently conflicting passages are only paradoxical is precisely what all thoughtful, in Tuggy's terms, "mysterians," do say. Furthermore, to claim that there are paradoxes in Scripture is to say what "all" orthodox theologians and pastors have said. it is to stand in line with "Spurgeon and Edwards and Luther." However, they would not stand in line with Clark, Robbins, or Gerety. By endorsing this link, Gerety has indicted himself.
0:59 Pastor Kielar claims that the "new expositors" of Scripture who appeal to paradox do not go as far as the above. Their problem is that they claim that the paradoxes are "ultimately not reconcilable by even the regenerate human mind." He emphasizes "regenerate" so as to, again, shame or trick the benighted into accepting his view. Yet, though it is a possibility that some paradoxes could forever remain paradoxes, room is left for the possibility of later resolution.
1:50 The problem for those who appeal to paradox is definitional. Apparently, if you check "any" English dictionary, paradox is defined as "An apparent contradiction that is reconcilable." The problems here are numerous. Obviously, the paradox is reconcilable, at least by God. But why think we must be able to reconcile them? The dictionary says nothing about paradoxes needing to be resolved by us.
Secondly, not all dictionaries define 'paradox' the way pastor Kielar says that they do. For example:
1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
2. a self-contradictory and false proposition.
3. any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.
4. an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.
1 [C] a person, thing or situation that has two opposite features and therefore seems strange: He was a paradox—a loner who loved to chat to strangers. It is a curious paradox that professional comedians often have unhappy personal lives.
2 [C, U] a statement containing two opposite ideas that make it seem impossible or unlikely, although it is probably true; the use of this in writing: ‘More haste, less speed’ is a well-known paradox. It’s a work full of paradox and ambiguity.
Third, a defender of paradox would also be free to define his view into the winner's circle.
Fourth, the problem of appealing to dictionaries to resolve substantive philosophical debate are legion, I won't rehash them here.
2:20 Pastor Kielar claims that if a paradox is irresolvable by "the human mind" then it would be a "contradiction." However, this claim is not argued for.
2:50 He claims that some pastors and theologians--we don't know who--try to avoid talk of the problems with paradox by claiming that "in heaven" they are reconcilable. So what's the problem? Didn't he just tell us that "belief in paradox is the majority report of the church" and it is fine to believe paradox so long as "you claim it is reconcilable?" Indeed that is what he told us.
3:33 He picks on some confused claim by a pastor about God's sovereignty and mans freedom being paradoxes. In doing so he again engages in cherry picking, avoiding a cogent critique of paradox and avoiding the most sophisticated attempts to defend their being rationally believed. Also, anyone can pick on some claim by a back woods pastor and use it to critique almost anything Christians have believed. Should we get an atheist to pick on some back woods pastor's butchering of the theory of evolution and then claim that we have done justice to how all Christians handle this issue?
4:50 Pastor Kielar slips and claims that those who defend paradox are claiming that God wants us to believe actual contradictions.
5:02 He then says that these people who believe that there are actual contradictions in the Bible believe that these actual contradictions can be resolved. But of course an actual contradiction cannot be resolved. His butchering of his opponents gets progressively worse. (And, by the way, the pastor he cited never even so much as hinted that we have an "actual contradiction" in the Bible regarding its teaching on sovereignty and freedom.)
5:36 He again claims that it is fine to believe apparently contradictory claims that can be reconciled. Clark would be rolling over in his grave if he knew Gerety, a professed Clarkian, touted pastor Kielar's video as a good statement on the issue.
6:02 Pastor Kielar continues with his critique and it keeps getting more odd. He claims that the pastors he is picking on, those who endorse "a new hermeneutic," admit that paradoxes are reconcilable in heaven yet he says that they claim that they are irreconcilable on earth. He then claims that this claim is logically equivalent to this claim: Paradox df = An irreconcilable apparent contradiction that is reconcilable. He thinks he has them affirming a contradiction when right in front of his face is the old Scholastic adage about making a distinction when faced with a contradiction. Furthermore, the dictionary never mentions that paradoxes must be reconcilable on earth, heaven being too late. This "critique" just gets worse and worse. It indicts Gerety since he put his stamp of approval on it.
7:45 Citing Reymond, he agrees with the claim that just because no one has reconciled a paradox doesn't necessarily mean that no one ever will. First, this is admitted. In fact, Van Tillians would admit that "someone" is able to reconcile them. Surely they wouldn't want to affirm this premise: If God is able to do something, man must too be able to do it. It stretches ones mental faculties how bad and how off Gerety is on this if he thinks pastor Kielar's video even remotely touches Van Tillianism. Not only doesn't it, it drops the ball when critiquing those with what I would wager is a less sophisticated take on paradoxes.
8:20 Continuing with Reymond, he affirms that one would not be able to tell the difference between a real contradiction and an apparent contradiction. However, this just seems false. But the fact that we can debate the issue of merely apparent vs. apparent but real contradictions show that the distinction can be, in principle, made. James Anderson also addresses this issue in his book I linked above, pages 220-230, 285-287. However, Anderson's work is not interacted with.
Overall, I'm unsure what's worse--the criticism of paradox or Gerety's thinking it shows Van Til the door? Probably the latter since the I never heard the former brag about his neural capacity and he never claimed to be analyzing Van Til. In the end, it was quite ironic for Gerety to make that swipe about being "deaf-dumb-and-blind," as it turned out to be simply psychological projection.
(P.S. I will ask that any response given by Gerety include the relevant deductions from Scripture to show that he knows that his critiques are spot on.)