Sunday, March 25, 2012

Joel McDurmon Reviews "The Escondido Theology"

Mr. McDurmon has provided a very interesting review of "The Escondido Theology," as well as of some of the responses and context of the work.  McDurmon made an excellent observation relative to Godfrey's comment: "All of us on the faculty of Westminster Seminary California are shocked and saddened by John Frame’s book, The Escondido Theology."  McDurmon points out: "Most of the chapters in Frame’s book have been posted as review articles online for months, even years."  It's hard to see how the book could "shock," given that it is consistent with the criticism that Frame has been making for a while.



Djbeilstein said...

Interesting how the author continues to rally against this so called Escondido Theology. There has been just as many well done reviews taking Dr Frames's book apart, Turretin Fanatic. But you didn't post them. Why? And this review gets its wrong. It has been demonstrated quite clearly through Professor David Vandrunen's book, "Natural Law & The Two Kingdoms", that mild to robust 2k view has been the norm in Reformed Theological social thought. Over the last hundred years, however, the norm has been more or less, a Neo-Calvinistic or Neo-Kuyperian model, which is considered Orthodox. That is fine but there is room for more views and it appears quite clear the 2k view has longer legs. Meanwhile, the President of Westminster California is not a 2k proponent but a proud Kuyperian; that's right W Robert Godfrey. There are also several 2k proponents at Westminster East. Many Confessional Lutherans hold to a Two Kingdoms Theology too.

James_Swan said...

Thanks for the link. Frankly, I have not had a chance to keep up with this debate. Given that some some of the key players are members of my denomination (URCNA), I think I'm going to have to pick up Frame's book. At some point, the controversy will probably filter down from a classis to a synod, sort of like the Federal Vision issue did.

I'm not familiar with Mr. McDurmon, but the "American Vision" folks spammed my e-mail so frequently I had to unsubscribe to their mailings. This group concerns me because they appear to "wink" at the blatant heresies of Hyper-preterism. Partial preterism is one thing, but those who go all the way are quite another. While this is an entirely different subject, they appear to not give much concern to who their friends are when it comes to eschatology. I sent an e-mail awhile back to Mr. DeMar as to his affiliations with hyper-preterists, and never received a response.

Yes, I know this sort of thing isn't a valid argument against what Mr. McDurmon posted. While his article made great points, I could not shake the feeling of "...But these are the guys who play fast and loose with heresy." Again, it's a feeling, but one that I had a hard time suppressing while read the McDurmon article.

Godith said...

What I like about Frame is that he shows from Scripture where the Escondido theology is off. For him, even if it is the "norm" doesn't make it right. I guess if what you say is true, then Godfrey is the exception that proves the rule.

Lee Gerrietts said...

I've seen all 3 of the main writers at American Vision speak out against Full Preterism. In fact Mr. McDurmon is debating the subject and taking a Partial preterist position against the Full preterist position. You are right though, many hyper preterists hang around that place and post in the comment sections regularly. My larger concern is their association with FV guys. They have posted a few articles from James Jordon and referenced him on a few occasions.

As far as this topic goes, Bojidar Marinov regularly posts articles critical of Escondido 2k theology and similar positions.

Natamllc said...

About McDurmon,

the jury is certainly not in yet with me, but saying that I am saying this about McDurmon, "he's got guts"!

"...The reaction from Horton and Escondido so far is unfortunate, even pitiful, lame, but expected. I have realized for some time now they are playing a very pointed PR game that relates back to the Lee Irons church trial (and loss) involving the Ten Commandments."

What concerns me is the phrase, "a very pointed PR game".


Ok, now we have sides?

I ask that especially when the first thing we read: "It’s best not to accuse others of being motivated by old grudges when you yourself are leading a whole movement based on one.

Something I once heard about splinters and planks. . . .".

I can humbly say shamefully I know something about both splinters and planks!

I rest in the ubiquitous arms of Him. Without this living Hope, no one will see the Lord. No, no one:

Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

When will this ever end?

Ok, I vented. There you go. Now back to McDurmon hopefully I will see Light when I am finished?

Isa_2:5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Tom said...

"Meanwhile, the President of Westminster California is not a 2k proponent but a proud Kuyperian; ..."

This comment demonstrates how WSC/Escondido folks have redefined terms for the entire Reformed community. Of course Godfrey is 2K, he's just not a Horton/VanDrunen/Clark 2Ker. Calvin was 2K and even Greg Bahnsen was 2K in some sense. They simply were not what we have come to know as ES2K with its radical church/state distinctives.

Natamllc said...

"...This (in itself) does not mean that they agreed with everything that Irons taught, but it does mean that they viewed him as being orthodox and within the bounds of the Reformed faith as summarized in the Westminster Standards (the doctrinal standards of the OPC). ...".

Have you ever been punched in the stomach so hard you could not breathe?

"impact, cough, breathe, cough, breathe, dizzy as I go to regain some composure!"

Natamllc said...

TF, thanks for publishing that. Maybe you realize it or maybe you don't? I take what I just read personally; this was quite an eye opening experience for me to read that!

I didn't know!


Well, we shall see about tomorrow, cause this evil of today is just about as much as one mind and heart, mine, will endure.

I am off to pray and sit in His Loving Presence, to rejoice before Him, to worship and bow down in Him exalting His Name which every Called and Elect creature should do continuously!

I do have to exclaim, though, I am finding it very difficult to accept the matter of Irons as a pivotal hinge upon which this debate is turning? This is what gives me pause, in that, what other shoes will be dropping in the near or distant future?

How can one singular event (Mr. and Mrs. Irons taint) do so much damage in light of the Gospel's progress in many places in the world during the 1990s? I did extensive travel on all seven continents during the nineties and it is my testimony as Epaphras' was to the Apostle Paul in those days to these days where this Gospel of the Kingdom seems to be red hot in the whole world now? Could there be too much being made of this pivotal hinge by this?

Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I had read this review by Joel McDurmon prior to TFan posting it, and I am very glad that TFan is helping to give it a more widespread attention.

Given that I have not yet read Dr. Frame's book, I benefited much from this section of the review:

"Frame exposes some of this in his Preface, and is very candid about his involvement in the seminary before these factitious partisans created division and eventually gained control of the Seminary. It is out of this bad experience that Horton and others now wish to condemn Frame’s book as the work of a bitter former professor. What they ignore, or suppress, is the fact that Frame was very candid about this, and that he wished to avoid being the one to have to write the critiques:"

Natamllc said...


care to expand on this: "...And this review gets its wrong. It has been demonstrated quite clearly through Professor David Vandrunen's book, "Natural Law & The Two Kingdoms", that mild to robust 2k view has been the norm in Reformed Theological social thought. ...".

turretinfan said...

Where are these well-done reviews? I have addressed and linked to about a half dozen from Hart, I addressed the one by Godfrey first, and I am linking to one from Stellman tomorrow.

Horton's was addressed in the review I linked to above.

Are there any others worth considering?

"It has been demonstrated quite clearly through Professor David Vandrunen's book, "Natural Law & The Two Kingdoms", that mild to robust 2k view has been the norm in Reformed Theological social thought."

I doubt DvD would put it that way. He knows very well that E2k represents a significant discontinuity with the Westminster Confession as originally drafted, and I think he's aware of the debt E2k owes to Kline's innovations.


turretinfan said...

Mr. Swan,

Not sure about American Vision's view on hyper-preterism. Do you have any examples in mind? (I know you're busy, so it's ok if you don't.)


Djbeilstein said...

Greg Bahnsen being 2k is laughable, Tom. Please man.

Djbeilstein said...

Certainly, Natamllc.

Read Professor David Vandrunen's "Natural Law & The Two Kingdoms" for your answer. Moreover, peruse Dr Vandrunen's helpful "application" book of 2k thought, "Living in God's Two Kingdoms". Both volumes will demonstrate that 2k thought was the norm in terms of dual ethic for "pilgrims on the way." How that is applied, by the reformers, and folks at Westminster California is – of course – going to have elaborations and variations.

Djbeilstein said...

Dr Frame is simply firing shots at a former employer. It's human. I did it once. It does not compute that he is, therefore, right on this issue.

Djbeilstein said...

I'm not entirely convinced your obession with the original Westminster Confession Of Faith is pertinent to the topic, Turretin Fanatic. It was rewritten in 1789 and DVD, Dr Hart, and other 2kers took subscription vows on the 1789 revision. Are these men's views divergent from the 1789 WCF is the question?

You SHOULD confine your points to the WCF 2k folks take subscription vows on within the Church (and in this debate). If the 1789 WCF revision is unBiblical, that should be the point you make instead of simply assuming the original Confession, and then saying these 2kers views are out of step with it in terms of the role and duty of the Civil Magistrate.

You are within your rights and conscious to prefer the original Confession –– but that is not what these men have subscribed too in their vows (when it comes to the Civil Magistrate).

BOTH sides seems that both sides are shouting past each other. On the 2k side, they are coming from the notion that in the history of American Protestantism, when the Church ceases to be seen through a "Spirituality of the Church" viewfinder, the Gospel is soon lost. This drove Dr Machen and Oldschool Presbyterians in past generations –– and it drives loyal Old Schooler's today, like Dr Hart. Given the landscape of Protestantism today, I would say quite proudly these 2kers fears are legitimate. The Neo-Calvinists among us and their transformational worldviewism fear 2k antinomianism –– or, a "secular" Christianity.

I lean on the side of the OldSchool Presbyterians because in our day Christianity, by friend or foe, is hardly known for its historical redemptive root (which is the essence of the faith) but for a generic "mere Christian" therapeutic value, scratching penultimate itches. I would say this is not the gospel and I believe 2k protects the Gospel and the Church by defining it precisely; by drawing a line in the sand against its American populist expression, and also protecting the important of Chapter XX of the Confession, on Christianity Liberty & Conscious on matters the Bible is either indifferent on, or silent.

Lastly, I would submit Westminster California is not so much in discontinuity with the history of Reformed Theology – but out of harmony with contemporary Reformed Theology's penchant for transformational worldviewism. Westminster California is simply standing on a Theological perch that they see as important in our day of what Christianity is –– and is not –– against the immense confusion of the faith particularly in its American expression. This American expression has uprooted massive bulwarks to the outward means of grace and Church polity, as well as Church membership; all crucially important to the converted Christian.

I am a layperson and have only been a Confessional Presbyterian for two years and general reformed since 2005. I sit under the authority of many 2k proponents and have not caught a whiff of antinomian tendencies or the fear tactics anti-2k folk like to sling. While I always seek to be irenic, I do sense that the anti-2kers have a head of steam for no reason. And see Westminster California as problematic. I believe the opposite is true. I think they are a breath of fresh air to a decidedly anemic response from evangelicalism and some generically reformed corners when it comes to issues like Christ & Culture. Having come from a Bible-believing Christian background (Christian & Missionary Alliance) before I became reformed, I see a lack of 2k principals (amongst a thousand others) as the major collapse of my former church in Vermont. Rather than being a Sacred Institution proclaiming an eternal message of salvation by grace to all who believe, it was morphed into a boy scouts league, no different than the local Elk Club.

But that is my opinion. I am open to being corrected –– but not easily.

Djbeilstein said...

I'm Amillennial –– that make me e2k. Why can't it just be 2k. And who gets to define where 2k is radical?

Djbeilstein said...

Sorry, Turretin fanatic. I did not see where you posted these reviews. I did read them from the original sites they were posted on. Most of them did an able job refuting Dr Frame's mistakes.

DvD goes into your last point. Luther and Calvin were men of their time(Christendom) and so their realization of their "two kingdom" theology was not practised consistently. What I meant to say, is, DvD argues in his book that the notion of the two kingdoms is not decidedly opposed to Reformed Theology –– neither is it simply Lutheran. It has deep and strong roots in both Lutheran and Reformed thought. DvD's book demonstrates this well with exacting detail. The good doctor Kline's innovations were indeed helpful but please elaborate where Dr Kline's innovations are wrong and UnBiblical.


Godith said...

If Frame were "simply firing shots" at a former employer, they would miss.
His are on target, which means the "former employer" needs some defense.
So far I have not seen any.

turretinfan said...

You wrote: "It has been demonstrated quite clearly through Professor David Vandrunen's book, "Natural Law & The Two Kingdoms", that mild to robust 2k view has been the norm in Reformed Theological social thought."

Then you wrote: "I'm not entirely convinced your obession with the original Westminster Confession Of Faith is pertinent to the topic, TurretinFan."

It's pertinent to what "has been the norm." One would think you could follow that.

"It was rewritten in 1789 and DVD, Dr Hart, and other 2kers took subscription vows on the 1789 revision. Are these men's views divergent from the 1789 WCF is the question?"

No, the primary question is whether they are Biblical. The secondary question is whether they conform to the ecclesiastical norms of their various denominations. But the answer to both questions is no. E2k is not only contrary to Scripture, but also contrary to the American revisions to the Confession.


Andrew McKinley said...

What, would you say, is the difference between Reformed 2K and Escondito 2K?

turretinfan said...


See here:


Natamllc said...


I take it then you would not accept this quote from Bojidar Marinov?

"...If we ignore the fact that “nature” contains no identifiable moral or judicial law for government, this looks like a very sound system, theoretically, if both the church and the state accept the theology of the two kingdoms and act accordingly. But here is the problem for the Two-Kingdoms Theology: There has been no state in history that has subscribed to a two-kingdoms theology. Civil rulers are always one-kingdom in their ideology. That one kingdom, if they are Christian rulers, is the Kingdom of Christ, and therefore they look for the source of law and justice in the Word of God, working to submit their kingdoms to Christ. If they are pagan rulers, their laws are the laws of men, and they seek to subjugate everyone in their realms – including the Church – to those laws of men. A two-kingdoms state is a delusion, and the deluded party are the church leaders who believe that it is possible to establish boundaries for the state power once the state is declared a kingdom independent from the revelation given in the Bible. "

Natamllc said...

Oh Dj, I was hoping you would expand on McDurmon getting it wrong?

How so?

Tom said...

"Greg Bahnsen being 2k is laughable, Tom. Please man. "

Bashnsen was clearly able to distinguish between role of the church and state and their appropriate separation. There is no doubt of that. He was certainly 2K in the traditional Reformed sense of the term. Again, you comment only proves my pojnt re: Escondido's effectiveness in redefining the term.

Andrew said...

Come across this, recentish, lecture by Vandrunen on my travels. It has the beginnings of a constructive theory;

Not sure if any one else has read, it's new to me.

Godith said...

Andrew, A quick look shows that he believes that the covenant with Noah was a "common" covenant. Frame shows adroitly that that is not so.

Ace Man said...

I recommend that everyone stay clear of the likes of Joel McDurmon, American Vision, Chalcedon, and Jeff Durbin at Apologia Radio in light of their open support for the unrepentant heretic Mr. Bojidar Marinov.