Office Hours January 4, 2010: Horton Talks to Clark

In the latest episode of Office Hours Mike Horton inteviews yours truly about the role of church history in the Christian life, about the federal vision controversy, and about Recovering the Reformed Confession.  You can hear more episodes of Office Hours at the WSC Office Hours site. You can browse All Office Hours Episodes here. Subscribe to Office Hours in iTunes or via RSS. You can contact Office Hours via email. Thanks to Mike for filling in and for doing the interview. Happy New Year from Office Hours.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Scott,
    I hope you being in the hotseat and all, that your buns didn’t get too burnt!

    I enjoyed the interview. I didn’t hear you mention the Ecclesiastical Latin class!

    I used to think that theology is great, but I didn’t get why some of my friends were so adamant about reading Church History literature. “What’s the big deal, Calvin’s human,” I’d ask Then I got to thinking about it, and came up with a parallel. What would a doctor be without patient and treatment histories? Pretty much stuck and perhaps doing stuff more in the order of what a witch doctor does e.g. Oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, walla-walla-bing-bang, etc.

    So theologians would be stuck without history. The Church would be stuck. Passing on the faith wouldn’t exist. Fathers would be to themselves and so would the sons. History may happen but wouldn’t matter. Mistakes wouldn’t matter for people to learn from them. Neither would the truth.

    Recovering the Reformed Confession helped me work through some of these problematic views.

  2. Dr. Clark:

    1. Top leadership by you again, LBE, “leadership by example.” The great military leaders I served with–Navy Admirals/Captains and Marine Corps Generals/Colonels–“led from out front.” I can still see a Navy Captain on a Aegis Cruiser, about midnight, taking slow rolls, standing aft talking to a lowly lookout, a seaman…stationed aft on the midnight watch…a 24/7 watch established to always watch for men that go overboard. (Lost about eleven during my sea days.) The Captain, whom we called “The Senator,” loved his men…talked to them, cared for them, and the troops knew it. There he was on that dark night, talking to Seaman Schuckatelly. Good leaders do that. You’re out front with good leadership. You’re teaching, writing, PASTORING, and broadcasting. Good stuff for the young troops. I didn’t see that in the east during my time. It’s a wonderful model for the young Pastors or Rectors that you are teaching. I love it. This is not the hunker-down-in-the-office-away-from-the-troops-writing-geewhizzardry-stuff. This is not gee-whiz-reveries apart from Churchmanship. It’s engaged and engaging. Again, leaders are always out front….NEVER in the “rear with the gear.” That is the smell of death to any military officer…in the rear. Academia meeting us folks in the pew. You have your acronyms, e.g. QIRC and QIRE. Mine is LBE, leadership by example.

    2. Many thanks.


  3. Dr. Clark:

    1. While waxing a bit long here, a question: “What do old Marines and Sailors do when they retire?” They gather and tell old sea and field stories. They really are historians of a certain sort. The local shop where I get the haircut is a gathering spot of old Marines. They stop everyday though not needing a cut. As true as I tell it, as it were. They sit around for an hour or two and tell stories. “Back in the day…” “Back in Nam…Saigon…,” etc. The young Marines are all ears. Baby jarheads. They sit and laugh at us old timers. And, rightly, they just smile and keep silent unless addressed. Oh yes, all the barbers are retired Marines. But the story: honour, courage, committment, rigour, duty, and more gets passed on. History lessons about the Solomons, Pelielu, Guadacanal, Iwo, Nam, Gulf, Iraq. Military guys are, by nature and training, constantly doing and recalling history. We have a 2nd MARDIV meeting monthly to talk about the Second Division (the division here at Camp Lejeune) of longstanding history. The lads don’t dare chime in. They are too young and they are privileged, repeat, priveleged to sit in silence and hear the “old goats” wax long and labouriously (no Biblical metaphor intended, just a military one). BTW, there’s never lecture notes. Memories being passed on, generation to generation, as it were. The barber shop is a wonderful place to be in this town.

    2. Same here. The role, necessity, and duty to hear of and from the titans of the past. “Liking” the old histories might be optional; remembering and conserving those old stories is NOT optional. We must press on.

    This forum is a ray of light in darkness. Many, many thanks, from another old story-teller. Just not as good as you. RRC is a wonderful read, BTW.


  4. Dr. Clark:

    One more postscript and I’ll bow out here. As ruthlessly cheap, rigourously cheap and frugal by intent, committment and solid distinction in that area (which produces good results in other areas…8th commandment of the Little Catechism), am glad to have purchased RRC. $21 including S & H through HC. A must have for all hands, IMO. Will be getting your other books as well through the HB site.

    I despise salesmen of any kind, place or sort. Yet, here, unabashedly, a direct pitch. Purchase and digest RRC. And, no, Dr. Clark didn’t put me up to this and there are no kickbacks. The straight scoop.

    I rarely–most rarely– purchase moderns, given the library here and the grand classics of the Reformation already in possession, my own as well as the library inherited from my godly father. As a general rule, IMO, the moderns are rehashes and dreary compared to the old divines.

    Hereafter, this affiant avers nothing further other than “Many thanks” for RRC. Bowing out and thanking the forum for the indulgence of too much speech. Back to reading.

  5. Dr. Clark and others:

    1. One more sea story? Please? I believe it goes to the heart of WSC, HB, HC and the efforts at conversation with the wider world. It’s important. LBE as evinced here which I, being retired, have occasion to reflect on and, if possible, advance and encourage. LBE as evinced by the Office Hours.

    2. I will be posting all HC and Office Hours to my contacts.

    3. Sea story. A big oiler, USS Kalamazoo (AOR-6). About 700 men when the helicopter crews were with us…always when at sea rather than in port. The oiler had “fighter and attack Pilots” as Captains or Skippers. Strange, yes. But these “pilots,” frequently Navy Acad grads, came from the carriers. They went then to surface and nuclear schools. They were in the pipe line for Carrier Commanding Officers of carriers. The Navy sent these pilots to learn how “to drive” deep draft vessels, e.g. oilers, food ships, etc. Hence, a tour aboard deep drafts. A unique breed, the “the brown shoes” (pilots) versus the “black shoes” (surface Navy). The Skipper’s name was Captain “Fast Eddy” Fahey, a real flame with the ladies and sported a corvette. A mover and a shaker. A F-14, F-18, A-6 and A-7 man. A thinker too, but with the meanest temper I’ve ever seen, before or since. (He went on to be the CO of the USS KENNEDY, a carrier, and on to be a three-star Admiral, like his dad and grandfather.) CAPT Fahey, well, he got the drift amongst the young officers, fellow Academy boys. Self-servers. Laddies. Not really interested in the troops other than a ho-hum approach. “Fast Eddy” (his pilot call-sign) gathered the 30 officers or so in the wardroom–where you eat. In all my days, I never saw a man more angry…so help me God on this. Tis’ true. There we were by order of the XO, the number two man. The threats he, Fast Eddy, uttered against those self-serving, self-absorbed, nubile, juvenile, young, non-involved officers cannot be repeated here. The language was colourful (and not the usual intelligent style he had otherwise). This was a throw down and the young officers were getting reamed. The veins in head and neck were bulging. We would be “hung from the yard-arm, the mast, and he’d ruin every young officer `who did not care or get involved’ with his troops. He demanded they know every man, every wife, every child, every problem, and every difficulty with every family…or else. No more elitism, no more sequestration from the life of the troops, nada, zippo. I could say more on this good story.

    4. We don’t see that anger here and that’s not the point. What we do we get here is concern for the Church. A Pastor or co-Pastor of a church. That comes through and I am a son of a manse. Email interactions from the pew, church, or students. Where do we get that elsewhere? Like this? We don’t have a nerd sequestered in a safe haven with gee-whiz-I’m-clever-non-contacts with Churchmanship and the issues of the day. We have interaction with issues of the day. We get engagement. We get academics. We hear of pastoral concerns. It’s LBE.

    Dr. Clark isn’t ADM “Fast Eddy” Fahey, but the involvement with the troops is present, as it must be for any Pastor or Theologian worth his salt.

    5. I just reviewed a youtube interaction between RC Sproul, Sr. and Mark Driscoll. RC’s greatest regret was his late entry into the pulpit ministry at St. Andrew’s. He wishes he had done that earlier in his career. The memories are carried on by small-unit leadership and the best leaders understand that.

    6. One more sea story. Genoa, Italy. Sunday morning. Church call finished. But a port-a-call. Most officers and most Chiefs had gone ashore to go on a tour. The Captain, Doctor, myself and one other officer went to Church. One or two Chiefs. Church finished. We got aboard the small craft and went ashore. On the radio the Skipper had (always had), a Presidential “911” call to steam immediately to the Gulf. The four officers returned to the ship. We left all officers and chiefs–0n their tour–on shore. Hoisted anchor and got underway steaming full flank down the western Italian coast. Who sailed the ship? Junior blue shirts, enlisted men. The worker-bees. Here’s the point. The Pastors are the back-bone of the memories and skills of His Majesty’s Church. There are Skippers, but they don’t make that ship run. So, the Pastoral-Theological, top and bottom interactions are rock solid here.

    BTW, we left them all ashore. The Italian Navy gathered the forlorn, landlubbing officers and chiefs together and put them on trains. Sent them south immediately through Sicily. As we rounded the horn of Sicily, the officers and chiefs were flown aboard by helicopter. We entered the Suez, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and got to the Gulf a few days later. But we didn’t need the officers or chiefs, were it to come to that.

    Let Pastors and Churchmen in the pews be encouraged. We are the ones who sail and steam the ships. Thank God we have one good Skipper here. I know leadership when I see it. And I like it.

    Enough rambling, but old sea stories from old sailors. LBE.

  6. Again, Dr. Clark is not putting me up to this. He might even be blushing at my comments. He may think it too much.

    I must say this once only. I don’t care. I like leadership when I see it. I hate it when I don’t see it. Let the Pastors and Churchmen, small unit leaders as it were, never blink in war. You guys steam the ships and you younger men are the hope of the future.

    “Keep a sharp lookout, boys!” (General Buford, USA, day one, west side of Gettysburg, which held the town until reinforcements arrived on Cemetery Ridge and as they engaged probing pickets from Confederate advances from the west, Chambersburg, PA. Buford took a hit and died later of complications.)

    Some day I may tell a good story about Rev. Mr. John Murray, Westminster east, and Dr. Theophilus Herter, REC. A story about theology, pastors and day-to-day ministry. Both men were on the same page.

      • I was hoping for some more juicy tid bits though. For instance, what does the ‘R’ in RSC stand for? Reformed? Also wondering where you were baptised, etc.

        • 1. Robert

          2. Hadley Memorial Hospital. I was born something like 6-8 weeks early. It was small town. My mom’s doctor was not able to care for her or me in those circumstances but there happened to be a visiting Ob- Gyn who specialized in premature births. I was in an isolette (which was high tech then) and they thought I would die so my Dad, a member of the United Lutheran Church, found an LCMS pastor willing to baptize me and I was baptized on day 1 or 2 in anticipation of my death. Much to the disappointment of Federal Visionists, theonomists, and KERUXers, through the agency of 24-7 nursing care, some blood transfusions from my dad, at least one resuscitation, and prayer) everywhere I survived. The pictures are not pretty (then or now!).

          I was almost (re-)baptized (as if it were possible) in c. ’76 in an SBC but my Dad objected so I was not. I’m grateful for the irregular administration of the sign and seal of the covenant the promise of which, sola gratia, come to fruition 15-16 years later.

          • “Much to the disappointment of Federal Visionists, theonomists, and KERUXers, through the agency of 24-7 nursing care, some blood transfusions from my dad, at least one resuscitation, and prayer) everywhere I survived.”

            This is silly, particularly because I have heard from the lips of someone in one of the groups listed how they love you and pray for you (and they were not being facetious).

            Yes, you are using rhetoric, but this is bad form, even for you.


  7. Yes, fascinating interview. I don’t always agree with you, but I very much appreciate your work here at the HB and elsewhere. I’ve learned a lot!

  8. If you weren’t being facetious, then you are saying you have grounds to believe that KERUXers are disappointed you are alive. Somehow I don’t think this is true, and that is why I think your comment was bad form.

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