Gordon Clark

Gordon Haddon Clark 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 defending the idea of propositional revelation against empiricism and rationalism, in arguing that all truth is propositional. His theory of knowledge is sometimes called scripturalism.


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 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 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:
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 and Nancy Elizabeth. At the time of his death, Clark was survived by his two daughters and their husbands, 12 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
Clark was well known as a keen chessplayer. In 1966, he won the championship of the King's Men Chess Club in Indianapolis.


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:


Additionally, Ronald Nash edited a Festschrift The Philosophy of Gordon H. Clark, which presented a summary of Clark's thought, critiques by several authors, and rejoinders by Clark.