The Rev. George W. Marston reread the statement which Mr. Hamilton had prepared and with which Dr. Clark had expressed himself in agreement, and asked the complainants to comment upon it. The Rev. Leslie W. Sloat objected that an answer had been prepared by the committee but that the committee had made no attempt to have its printed answer considered for adoption; instead, a wholly hew document which no one had an opportunity to study had been introduced by one individual, and the complainants were now being asked to discuss it as representing Dr. Clark’s position.
The Rev. Franklin S. Dyrness said, “We should be sane and sensible in facing this matter.” He declared that the presbytery was not in session to consider the answer but to examine the complaint. The presbytery had really been indulging in a re-examination of Dr. Clark. He referred to Mr. Hamilton’s allegation of fifty-seven errors in the complaint and to a previous speaker’s statement that they were not in reality of central importance. “If those items were not important,” he asked, “why did the complainants put them in the complaint?” He cited Dr. Clark’s denial that the complaint gives a fair representation of his position, and pled for fairness and honesty.
Mr. Marston felt that, while the complaint and the answer had been widely circulated, the presbyters had never had what they really needed most—an opportunity for each one to have his own copy of the transcript of the record of Dr. Clark’s theological examination, on which both the complaint and the answer had been based. “Without it,” he asked, “how can we judge?”
After recessing for dinner, the presbytery voted down a motion to postpone further consideration until after mimeographing and circulating the written speeches which had been delivered by several of the complainants and by Mr. Hamilton.
Mr. Hamilton then again arose to deliver another paper on the relation between regeneration and human understanding, which again he said had received Dr. Clark’s approval. Confusion was injected, however, by the interpolation of some of Mr. Hamilton’s own observations which had not been approved by Dr. Clark. In the course of the speech, Mr. Hamilton declared that notitia (knowledge) and assensus (assent) could be possessed by the unregenerate man but that fiducia (trust) could not. These are three theological terms to designate the three elements of saving faith. Mr. Hamilton was promptly challenged for holding that the unregenerate man possesses two-thirds of the elements of saving faith. On this position, said the complainants, the only thing wrong with the unregenerate man is that his saving faith is one-third incomplete. Moreover, since the answer terms assent the central element in faith, the unregenerate man might then, on Mr. Hamilton’s position, be said to possess the central element of saving faith.
Mr. Hamilton then said that he had just been told that Dr. Clark would not agree that the unregenerate man was in possession of the first two of the three elements, but only of the first. It then became clear that this portion of Mr. Hamilton’s speech was his own interpolation and had not received Dr. Clark’s agreement. It seemed also that Mr. Tichenor, chairman of the committee, held to a different conception of the subject from that which had been defended by Mr. Hamilton.
The supporters of Dr. Clark’s theory made valiant efforts to defend the statement of the answer that “regeneration. . .is not a change in the understanding of these words (Christ died for sinners).” Mr. Kuschke, on the other hand, defended the position of the complaint and pointed out that, when content is injected into the sentence, the unregenerate man must invariably inject the wrong content and the regenerate man the true content.
The complainants contention that Dr. Clark apparently was reluctant to characterize the free offer of the gospel as “sincere” was discussed after Dr. Clark had left the meeting. In the course of debate Mr. Tichenor said that in his own opinion Dr. Clark would probably interpret as referring only to the elect the following two passages: “God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” () and “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” ( ).
Dr. Edward J. Young of Westminster Seminary gave a detailed and carefully worked out exegesis of many of the Old Testament passages dealing with the doctrine of incomprehensibility, but lack of space forbids an inclusion of them in this report.
The question was again called for. Professor Woolly had already reminded the presbyters that they should vote for the motion to dismiss the complaint only if they were completely satisfied that Dr. Clark’s theology was a proper presentation of the Reformed Faith.
A roll call vote was taken, showing a tie vote of twenty to twenty, which meant that the motion to dismiss the complaint was lost.
Since there was obviously little chance of completing the business of the presbytery at this session, the meeting was adjourned until 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 29th.
After reading the above report, we are still of the opinion that the issues involved in the Clark controversy are matters for discussion by a theological conference rather than grounds of complaint against the licensure and ordination of a candidate for the ministry.