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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fwd: New Book by Dr. John Frame "A Reformed Response to Escondido Theology"




Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." (John 18:36 NKJ)

(See the ad from TheNiceneCouncil.Com which inspired this article here:  The Escondido Theology, by John Frame.  Charlie).


It looks like the neo-legalist Van Tilians and theonomists are up to more contumelious attacks against the doctrines of grace and the Gospel promises.  Legalists, being obsessed with their own ability to transform themselves and society, seem to think that only their efforts and thoughts and logic can possibly be correct.  I got a huge chuckle out of the following ad I received by e-mail from The NiceneCouncil.Com site concerning the new book by the multiperspectivalist "Reformed" writer, John Frame, The Escondido Theology We are told in the ad that, "Dr. Frame's insight and analysis clearly represents the Reformed Christian World and Life View because it is historically rooted in Calvinistic theology."

What is amusing about this bare assertion is that it makes a fallacious argument.  Simply asserting the conclusion that Frame's view "represents the Reformed Christian World . . . View" does not make it so.  If the premise is wrong then the conclusion is wrong as well.  First of all, the premise is that Frame's view "is historically rooted in Calvinistic theology."  But what does this mean?  Even the imminent church historian Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia has acknowledged that there is no reified "Reformed tradition".  So how can Frame represent the entire Reformed Christian worldview if there is no such thing?  The fact is the Reformed tradition has from the beginning had competing factions and taken as a whole the movement is diverse and often at odds, including the divisions between modernists and traditionalists, between theonomists and two kingdoms theology, between confessional Reformed theology and the Federal Visionist/Auburn Avenue theology, between the advocates of neo-Kuyperian common grace and those who uphold classical Calvinist theology, and between the followers of Cornelius Van Til and the followers of Gordon H. Clark's Scripturalist presuppositional apologetics.

My advice to my readers is the same advice I received in college and seminary.  Do not trust secondary sources in forming your opinions about any position.  In other words, if you want to understand the two kingdoms theology then read the primary sources like Meredith Kline, Michael Horton, or R. Scott Clark.  Only after reading the primary sources can you then critically read the secondary source criticisms of the two kingdoms view.  I would say the same about Frame.  If you want to critique Frame, read Frame's works first and then read the criticisms made of Frame's work.  Unfortunately, John Frame's triperspectivalism or multiperspectivalism opens the door to subjectivism and relativism, which implies that Frame's views are less than biblically based propositional truth claims.  Although Frame places Scripture as the first premise of triperspectivalism, that is Scripture is the normative basis for the other two premises, the problem is that for Frame Scripture is not the final word on any matter at all. Obviously interpreting the Bible through the lens of triperspectivalist presuppositions like situational ethics and semi neo-orthodox existentialism as the the other two points of his theory makes Frame's presuppositional approach relativist and not Scripturalist. 

Gordon H. Clark's apologetics method is far superior since for Clark the logical propositions in Scripture are univocally God's thoughts on all matters of faith and practice.  Frame's approach, however, is inherently liberal since in the final analysis Frame makes the three branches of triperspectivalism equal in authority.  That is, for Frame Scripture is not the final authority but is simply one of three equals:  1) Scripture as the normative perspective, 2) Situational ethics as the situational perspective, and 3) Existential experience as the existential perspective.  It is this sort of thinking that has changed the focus of popular Reformed theology from the hereafter and transcendent theology to the here and now, this world, and transforming society.  Sound familiar? 



Yes, the social gospel, although on the left, had a similar emphasis on transforming society to make it more fair and equitable to the poor.  In doing so the doctrines of grace relating to the hereafter and where the soul would spend eternity were left by the wayside and a socialist, materialistic mentality took over to the point that Christianity for all practical purposes became simply an agnostic, atheist political organization rather than a metaphysical religion.

Although theonomists, reconstructionists, neo-legalists, and neo-Kuyperian Calvinists consider themselves as transforming society and fighting liberalism, they are in fact a right wing theocratic version of liberalism.  Ironically, the emphasis on the here and now, theology from below, and transforming society rather than preaching the Gospel and where the individual soul will spend eternity winds up leading in two undesirable directions.  On the one hand such thinking leads back to Rome and the papist mentality of ruling the world as vicars of Christ on earth.  On the other hand, theonomy, reconstruction, and neo-legalism leads to the very liberalism that theonomists "think" they are fighting against since ecumenicalism and co-belligerency in the political realm trumps the doctrines of grace (Galatians 1:6-9) and the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20).  These unforeseen consequences are indeed ironic. 

I would contend that transforming society has never been the focus of classical Reformed theology.  Jonathan Edwards' classic sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is evidence enough of that.  The real question is, "Where will you spend eternity?"  (Matthew 16:15, 16).  The attempt to marginalize classical Calvinists and the biblical focus on the promises of God and eternity is a telling indictment against theonomy/reconstruction and its theological offshoot, the Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue heresy.

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