Thursday, February 20, 2014

Frame on Chantry

John M. Frame said...
I'm delighted to hear of all the interest my works have generated on this blog. Thanks for the kind words of many. Nice to hear from Tom C. again, despite disagreements. I wish you had shared those with me during your student years. I honestly think we could have made progress toward resolving them. Just a few comments:

1. It's true that a number of students started questioning my positions in their second year of seminary at Westminster. I attribute that mainly to their studying with colleagues of mine who presented ideas inconsistent with mine and implicitly called my orthodoxy in question. That doesn't happen at RTS, where I currently teach.

2. Tom makes the mistake of many, thinking that I equate the normative perspective with Scripture. So then when I say that the normative perspective is equal to the other two, they think I am making Scripture relative. That is not the case. The normative perspective is not identical with Scripture. It is, rather, the sum total of divine revelation, in Scripture, nature, and in ourselves as the image of God. Within the normative perspective, Scripture plays a unique role: the covenant document (and therefore supreme authority) for God's people. Further, Scripture is not limited to the normative perspective. It is also situational: the fact that definitively illumines all other facts; and existential: the part of my experience that illumines all others. The three perspectives are equal because they are ultimately identical: everything is normative; everything is part of my situation; and everything is part of my experience. But Scripture is not identical with any other source of knowledge. It alone is the infallible, inerrant word of God.

3. On the regulative principle, see the treatment of the second commandment in my forthcoming Doctrine of the Christian Life. My view is not entirely traditional, but I believe it is biblical.

4. As for Shepherd, I do not agree with many of his distinctive teachings. What I do agree with, I agree with because his positions are biblical in my judgment, not because we are friends. If you read the accounts of faith and justification in Salvation Belongs to the Lord, you will find that they are entirely traditional.

5. Sorry, Tom, that you hold the high grade on your paper against me! The fact is, I grade papers on the quality of thought displayed in them, not on their orthodoxy or traditional theological style. I've had some very bad papers that defended orthodox positions in traditional ways.

6. I have answered the relativism criticism a thousand times, probably scores of times when Tom was my student. If Tom doesn't buy my explanation after all that, I don't know what I can say. For the rest of you, please see the "Primer on Perspectivalism" that Mr. Mellen referred to. The main point is that the perspectives are perspectives on something objective, the real world as God has made it, and the objective revelation God has given to us. So truth is not relative, but absolute. What perspectivalism says is that only God's thought is perfect, always correct. If you're not God, you need to be humble, and to seek more and more perspectives. Usually when people call me a relativist, it is because they want to make some purely human document (a confession or a tradition) absolute.

Hope that is helpful.

John M. Frame said...
Tom, I'm not sure where you got that statement that "the normative perspective of Scripture is still our understanding of it." I doubt that I said that. If I did, I wouldn't say it today. I think it is confusing. But there is a problem in formulating the difference between truth and our understanding of it, whether you agree with perspectivalism or not. We don't have access to truth apart from our understanding. So every statement you or I make about the truth is a statement about our own understanding. The remedy for this seeming problem, of course, is to interact with perspectives broader than ours, and to be submissive (absolutely) to God's.

As for the rest of your comments, I take no offense. May God richly bless your labors for Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't seem like Chantry's recent comment noted Frame's own comment of his perspectivalism