Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Frame's Thirty-Two Point List ... and Dr. Godfrey's Response

These are the thirty-two points that Frame has identified as being associated with "Escondido Theology."
  1. It is wrong to try to make the gospel relevant to its hearers.
  2. Scripture teaches about Christ, his atonement, and our redemption from sin, but not about how to apply that salvation to our current problems.
  3. Those who try to show the application of Scripture to the daily problems of believers are headed toward a Christless Christianity.
  4. Anything we say about God is at best only an analogy of the truth and is therefore at least partly false.
  5. There is no immediate experience of God available to the believer.
  6. The only experience of God available to the believer is in public worship.
  7. Meetings of the church should be limited to the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments.
  8. In worship, we “receive” from God, but should not seek to “work” for God.
  9. The “cultural mandate” of Gen. 1:28 and 9:7 is no longer in effect.
  10. The Christian has no biblical mandate to seek changes in the social, cultural, or political order.
  11. Divine sovereignty typically eliminates the need for human responsibility.
  12. The gospel is entirely objective and not at all subjective.
  13. We should take no interest in our inner feelings or subjective life.
  14. Preaching should narrate the history of redemption, but should never appeal to Bible characters as moral or spiritual examples.
  15. Preaching “how tos” and principles of practical living is man-centered.
  16. To speak of a biblical worldview, or biblical principles for living, is to misuse the Bible.
  17. Nobody should be considered Reformed unless they agree with everything in the Reformed confessions and theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  18. We should not agree to discuss any theological topics except the ones discussed by Reformed thinkers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  19. Jonathan Edwards and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones were not Reformed.
  20. Theology is not the application of Scripture, but a historical investigation into Reformed traditions.
  21. There is no difference between being biblical and being Reformed.
  22. To study the Bible is to study it as the Reformed tradition has studied it.
  23. God’s principles for governing society are found, not in Scripture, but in natural law.
  24. Natural law is to be determined, not by Scripture, but by human reason and conscience.
  25. Scripture promises the believer no temporal blessings until the final judgment.
  26. We can do nothing to “advance” the Kingdom of God. The coming of the Kingdom, since the ascension of Christ, is wholly future.
  27. The Sabbath pertains only to worship, not to daily work. So worship should occur on the Lord’s Day, but work need not cease.
  28. Only those who accept these principles can consistently believe in justification by faith alone.
  29. Reformed believers must maintain an adversarial relationship with American evangelicals.
  30. Worship should be very traditional, without any influence of contemporary culture.
  31. Only those who accept these principles can be considered truly Reformed.
  32. These principles, however, represent only desirable “emphases.” There are exceptions.
Dr. Godfrey responded to the above list this way:
He introduces these bullet points by claiming: “Below are some assertions typical of, and widely accepted among, Escondido theologians.  Not all of them make all of these assertions, but all of them regard them with some sympathy” (p,xxxvii).  In response all of us on the WSC faculty wish to state clearly that we reject all of these thirty-two points as a fair or accurate presentation of our views.
At first glance, it looks like Dr. Godfrey is saying that each member of the faculty of WSC rejects each of the thirty-two points.  But Dr. Godfrey's qualification "as a fair or accurate presentation of our views," is key.  That characterization can mean that the objection is as trivial as "the list doesn't express the points the way we mean them."

So, for example, Dr. Godfrey continues:
We have the most sympathy with the bullet point which says “There is no difference between being biblical and being Reformed” (p. xxxviii). Yet we would state it differently: we are Reformed because we believe that the Bible is most faithfully understood and taught in Reformed Christianity. 
This seems like an actual affirmation of the point. But then how can "all" of the points be rejected as being unfair or inaccurate? Dr. Godfrey then asserts:
In relation to most of John’s bullet points we believe and teach the very opposite of what is attributed to us.
So, already we have moved from "all" to "most."  But which are the ones that the faculty teaches "the very opposite"?  We are left wondering, because Dr. Godfrey prefers to leave the reader guessing.  Dr. Godfrey does not even provide an example of a single point on which the faculty both believes and teaches "the very opposite."

Dr. Godfrey claimed that his purpose in writing a response was to set the record straight: " We do not wish to engage in a protracted discussion of these things with John, but we do find it necessary to set the record straight."  But what has been straightened or clarified?  Nothing except that point 21 is essentially on the money but just not worded the way that they would like.

Also, it is clear that the faculty of WSC does not appreciate criticism.  But love of criticism is a rare trait indeed.  One can hardly blame them for that.  In sum, Dr. Godfrey has swung and missed in his attempt to "set the record straight."  He has neither identified any errors in Frame's characterization, nor any errors in Frame's criticism itself.


P.S. Let me point out that I would agree with the WSC faculty about point 21, and even go a step further and say that one of the aims and strengths of Reformed theology is to be as biblical as possible.


Godith said...

Godfrey (?) "All of the ET (Escondido theologians) do not as a body agree with all 32 points as a whole."
If one ET disagrees with any one of the 32, then Godfrey is right. But, as you say, how does that clarify anything?
I think Frame makes a pretty strong case for his points, especially as he shows the ET technique of "overstate, scare, back off, make point."

turretinfan said...

And notice that Frame even makes allowances for exceptions in point #32.

R.A. said...

This shows that WSC is not concerned with being precise. Unfortunately, MH has made many claims over the years, against Osteen for instance, that corroborate Frame's findings. MH is better than that, but unfortunately he has made sweeping remarks over the years aimed at exposing what many of us would find wrong in the church. The problem is MH too often speaks in sweeping generalities that make no room for nuance or exception. Those bullets are a result of taking those sweeping generalities as true without exception.

It would be nice if there could be discussion between the parties over the evidence for the bullets so that truth and acknowledgment of guilt can be brought to surface. Unfortunately, peace and unity (the gospel in practice) often takes a back seat to pride and survival.

Godith said...

Godfrey's response is to direct folks to a series of books, most of which are not under consideration for Frame. I believe the only book common to both Godfrey & Frame is Clark's Recovering the Reformed Confessions. Why do the ET (Escondido Theologians) invite us to examine (for the most part) their other books instead of showing where and how Frame is off base concerning the ones he delves into?

Natamllc said...

I just want to be one who adheres to this Truth, found in Jeremiah's Word and Wisdom and not pretend to not be slighted one wit in it:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

I suppose, at the end of the day, we are all just going to have to wait for the end of the day when God brings us before the Great White Throne and let the Judge of all the earth sort these things out?

And now, to the simplicity of the Gospel, have you not read, has it not been made know to you:

Psa 144:3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?
Psa 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Psa 144:5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Psa 144:6 Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
Psa 144:7 Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me from the many waters, from the hand of foreigners,
Psa 144:8 whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
Psa 144:9 I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
Psa 144:10 who gives victory to kings, who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.

...Psa 144:15 Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

I suppose there is a cruel sword, then?

However, this is my hope and prayer for all those called to the Eternal Glory in Christ by the God of all Grace:

Psa 149:1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Psa 149:2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Psa 149:3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
Psa 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Psa 149:5 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
Psa 149:7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
Psa 149:8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
Psa 149:9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

Natamllc said...

...#25 Scripture promises the believer no temporal blessings until the final judgment.

Could these promises counter #25? "...if they listen...if they do not..."?

Job 36:10 He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.
Job 36:11 If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.
Job 36:12 But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge.

Ken said...

Wow. I found myself disagreeing with most every point of the "Escandido Theology" - if that is truly what it is; and Frame is right.

John Frame disagrees with them, right?

Amazing that they don't think Jonathan Edwards was Reformed (why?); and it sounds like they don't think Reformed Baptists are Reformed at all. (Lloyd-Jones)

Most of those points, if carried out and lived out, will make for a very dry and dead and small churches, and seems almost like "hyper-Calvinism" - because many of those points say you don't do anything or make any effort to apply the Scriptures to everyday living.

That is the kind of Calvinism that will die, it seems to me.
It is discouraging to see this kind of thing happening.

I prefer the "Together for the Gospel" kind of unity that Piper, Mohler, Dever, Ligon Duncan, Sproul, C. J. Mahaney are striving for among the Reformed churches, even if Escondido things they are all wrong.

Ken said...

In the Together for the Gospel, I forgot John McArthur also. (although I strongly disagree with his pre-trib. rapture eschatology and radical distinction of Israel vs. Church.

Ken said...

Doesn't John Frame teach for Reformed Seminary in Atlanta? A few years ago I knew someone who took a course from him there.

Ken said...

I see that Frame is still at Reformed Seminary in Orlando; so sometimes comes to Atlanta to teach a course. It is amazing to me that 2 Reformed/Presbyterian groups can be that adversarial with each other. It is not a good thing.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

TurretinFan: "In sum, Dr. Godfrey has swung and missed in his attempt to "set the record straight." He has neither identified any errors in Frame's characterization, nor any errors in Frame's criticism itself."

A swing and miss! Strike Three, you're out!

ChaferDTS said...

John Mac Arthur is a dispensationalist but it is incorrect to call the dispensational view as radical. In general dispensatinal teaching says that there are about 24contrast between Israel and the Church and only about 12 common feature between them both. It would only seem radical if one comes from a " covenant theology " presuposition. It is safe to say that Mac Arthur would reject just about each and every point listed .

Point number 11 was very telling and caused me to believe that person is embracing hyper-calvinism. I personally disagreed with just about almost all of the 32 points. It ignores what Scripture teaches on the NT doctrine of the efficacious call to God's elect in such passages as John 6:44 and Romans 8:30 and the doctrine of human responsibility to believe when appeal is made to the human will though it is clearly divinely enabled to do so in such passages as Acts 16:30-11 and Revelation 22:17. The doctrine of the NT efficacious call and human responsibility stand together in Scripture and in human experience in our salvation.

Ken said...

yes, point # 11 seems like the heresy of hyper-Calvinism.

turretinfan said...

Yes, and like the error of Arminianism or heresy of Pelagianism.

turretinfan said...

It is good when teachings are placed under the spotlight. Unfortunately, Frame's targets have responded with rather extreme hostility, rather than light.

turretinfan said...

Keep in mind, though, that WSC has (to my recollection) at least one adjunct RB professor.

Ken said...

That's good to hear.

JB said...

A leading online E2K proponent reacts with extreme hostility in the comments here:


by describing a combox post by a respected visiting WSC OT prof (& also an ARP TE) as "seems beyond naive.", "borderline actively negligent." & a "tactic of those at the bottom of the socio-poitical heap, to swing for the groin."

They can be that adversarial with many, even to a well respected teacher

Coram Deo said...

WSC faculty to Frame: "Waaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!" *sniffle* "Neener, neener!!!" *cries softly*

turretinfan said...

And it is also worth noting that not everyone on the WSC faculty is in the "Escondido Theology" boat, while Zrim and Hart are examples of folks who are part of the movement but not at WSC.

JB said...

Thanks TF

The prof in question is not at all in the E2K camp, but WSC respects him enough to have him teach there

If they respect him that much, their adherents could also