Tag Archives | John Frame

Van Til on Barth—and Doctrinal Sins

Those who are familiar with the writings of Cornelius Van Til are well aware of his strong criticism of Barth’s theology. He takes Barth to task in Christianity and Barthianism and The New Modernism: An Appraisal of the Theology of Barth and Brunner and avers that Barth’s theology is “in all fundamental respects . . . the same as the Modernism of Schleiermacher and his school.” In the theology of Barth we find “basically, the same sort of view of reality and of knowledge as marks the work of Schleiermacher or Ritschl” (The New Modernism, 2d ed.).1

One might infer from his severe criticism of Barth that Van Til considered him outside the sphere of God’s saving work. That’s what Richard Mouw thought—until Van Til himself set him straight.

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Footnotes

  1. Van Til mentions Barth 8,588 times (Barth [8,264x], Barthian [119x], Barthianism [140x], and Dutch variations like Barthiaansch and Barthianisme [65x]) and cites him 1,824 times based on the collection of his works available for Libronix.
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John Frame on Seminary

Ryan Burns, an MDiv student at RTS Orlando and the main guy behind the Going to Seminary website, posts his 17-minute video interview with John Frame on issues related to seminary education. The interview goes into Frame’s views on the traditional model of seminary as expressed in these two pieces: “Learning at Jesus’ Feet: A Case for Seminary Training” and “Proposal for a New Seminary.”

Here are the questions that Frame answers:

  • 00:08–03:31: “Can you discuss the pamphlet you wrote entitled, ‘Learning at Jesus’ Feet: A Case for Seminary Training’?”
  • 03:32–08:20: “You wrote an article entitled, ‘Proposal for a New Seminary.’ Can you discuss the article and your current thoughts on the subject?”
  • 08:21–10:36: “Do you know of any churches or seminaries doing what you proposed in that document?”
  • 10:37–13:50: “What advice do you have for those in seminary or those thinking about going to seminary?”
  • 13:51–17:13: “Many people don’t know this about you, but you play the organ. Would you play something for us?”

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Is the Trinity One “What” and Three “Who’s”?

James White summarizes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity this way:

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (The Forgotten Trinity, 26)

He goes on to talk about how important it is that we distinguish Being from person.

Note immediately that we are not saying there are three Beings that are one Being, or three persons that are one person. Such would be self-contradictory. I emphasize this because, most often, this is the misrepresentation of the doctrine that is commonly found in the literature of various religions that deny the Trinity. (27)

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John Frame on 1 Corinthians 15:28 and Eternal Subordination

In his section on the Trinity in The Doctrine of God,1 Frame gives four lines of explanation for texts that teach that the Son is in some sense less than or subject to the Father. He is commenting specifically on John 14:28; and 1 Corinthians 11:3; and 15:28.

In his first comment, Frame offers what strikes me as a potentially helpful perspective on the issue of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Complementarians and egalitarians agree that during the incarnation the Son was functionally subordinate to the Father. Where they disagree is (1) how long that subordination lasts and (2) on what basis it exists. Frame thinks it lasts eternally on the basis of His eternal humanity.
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Footnotes

  1. Cf. the Logos John Frame Collection.
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Dan Phillips on John Frame

Dan Phillips of Biblical Christianity (and TeamPyro) posted about his new appreciation for John Frame. One of Frame’s former students, Tom Chantry, a Reformed Baptist pastor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, chimed in with a lengthy appeal to “be very, very careful with John Frame.” I, of course, had to make a plug for the new Collected Works of John M. Frame, which I’m really looking forward to getting. But the interesting part was where John Frame responded to Tom. The exchange is worth a read.

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Are You a Practical Modalist?

I’ve been reading Robert Letham’s excellent book The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship. It’s a must for any serious study of Trinitarianism. In many ways Letham represents a mediating position when it comes to the debates regarding subordination in the Trinity. He differs from someone like Wayne Grudem and maintains that talk of subordination and hierarchy in the ontological Trinity is inappropriate—even functional.1 However, he also differs from someone like Kevin Giles (cf. this post) who flattens out all the distinctions among Father, Son, and Spirit. Letham rightly sees τάξις (in the sense of order, not rank) in the Trinity. The various functions and roles of Father, Son, and Spirit are not arbitrary or reversible. The Father’s acting through the Son by the Spirit expresses ontological reality; the economic Trinity reveals the immanent Trinity.

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Footnotes

  1. In an appendix where he responds to Gilbert Bilezikian’s article “Hermeneutical Bungee-Jumping: Subordination in the Trinity,” JETS 40:1 (March 1997): 57–68, he refers to subordination as “a term [he] never use[s] and steadfastly den[ies].” He continues, “[In my article] I never use subordination or hierarchy or their functional equivalents—indeed, I sedulously avoid them” (480). I’m open, but not yet convinced that he is correct, largely because Scripture speaks of the Son’s eternal ὑποταγή (τότε [καὶ] αὐτὸς ὁ υἱὸς ὑποταγήσεται τῷ ὑποτάξαντι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα) to the Father at the end of all things (1 Cor 15:28).
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