Dr. Frame's Theistic Mutualism

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Semper Fidelis, Dec 3, 2017.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This is a really good critique from Dr. Mathison about John Frame. I recall years ago being very disappointed in Dr. Frame when he taught through the WLC as part of a Seminary course I downloaded. It got to the point where I was actually surprised when he agreed with the WLC on some point. What made matters worse was that he would distort the actual teaching of the WLC in order to show it absurd before offering his own view.

    Repeated things like this have me pretty much convinced he cares very little about historical theology:

  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    That is fundamentally dishonest that he persistently did this to make his view look better than the truth. Maybe should have titled it lectures refuting the WLC.
  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    As Dolezal explains, “In an effort to portray God as more relatable, theistic mutualists insist that God is involved in a genuine give-and-take relationship with His creatures” (pp. 1–2).

    But the historical process does change, and as an agent in history, God himself changes. On Monday, he wants something to happen, and on Tuesday, something else. He is grieved one day, pleased the next. In my view, anthropomorphic is too weak a description of these narratives. In these accounts, God is not merely like an agent in time. He really is in time, changing as others change. And we should not say that his atemporal, changeless existence is more real than his changing existence in time, as the term anthropomorphic suggests. Both are real. (Frame: Systematic Theology, 377)

    It is terribly disappointing to see this flirtation with open theism.
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  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I reject theistic personalism fairly strongly (and I got some savage memes I stole from Paul Manata to prove it). So Frame is wrong here. However, Dolezal has a tendency to see anyone who doesn't agree with Thomas Aquinas on this as "jettisoning simplicity." Basil the Great, for example, and Dolezal doesn't mention St Basil, does not view simplicity the way Thomas does.

    But more to the point. Dolezal says that Plantinga and Nash reject Simplicity. Nash does not. Plantinga just points to some difficulties in Thomas's formulation (e.g., God is a property).
  5. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Would this be the same as saying God is His attributes?
  6. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    How many and how much do our Pastors read Basil as much as Professor Frame. I know here in Central Florida Professor Frame is unbelievably influential, and any criticism to his teaching is rebutted with "Well you just have to read him to come to an understanding". I am glad Dr. Mathison and Dr. Dolezel have done the leg work to understanding Professor Frame for I have seen first hand the harm he has done to the cause of true reformed theology and practice.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I get that, but Dolezal's picture isn't entirely accurate. There are ways to affirm simplicity without becoming a Thomist.
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Roughly, yes.

    Edit: There are different ways that phrase can be taken. Jay Wesley Richards (Untamed God) lists six or seven.

    (1) all divine properties are possessed by the same self-identical God.

    (2) God is not composite, in the sense that he is not made up of elements or forms more fundamental than he is.

    (3) God’s essence is identical with his act of existing.

    (4) All God’s essential properties are coextensive.

    (5) All God’s perfections are identical.

    (6) All God’s properties are coextensive

    (7) God’s essential properties and essence are strictly identical with himself.

    (8) All God’s properties are strictly identical with himself.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  9. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    20 years at Westminster West will cause your theology to be off a bit.
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    No doubt, though the way Frame does it by denying he denies simplicity, and then goes on to "explain" his denial by affirming some type of mutable God. I am sorry but this is theology proper 101, and Professor Frame should not have been allowed to get to theology 202. BTW theology 101 is In my most humble opinion the most difficult to grasp, or to be accurate, the most difficult subject to understand that one cannot grasp the incomprehensible God. :)
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Though he (Frame) was pushed to the southeast from WW for some reason? :)
  12. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    All the above are clearly not the same esp. #1.
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's my point, and only 7 or 8 are Thomist, which is Dolezal's position.
  14. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Frame is his own man. Employing a genetic fallacy to broadly impugn others is beyond bounds.
  15. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    It is just my personal opinion/observation.
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    As I reflect on it:
    (1) Is generic monotheism
    (2) Rules out Platonism. The main reason we say God *is* Goodness is to deny that he participates in a higher Platonic form.
    (3) This is one of the areas where I don't have a problem with Thomas Aquinas.
    (4) This is Basil of Caesarea's position. It rules out Rob Bell. Love doesn't trump Justice.
    (5) This needs clarification.
    (6) So does this one. I'm not sure how God the Son's property of "Being-Human" is co-extensive with his property of Being Divine.
    (7) I see how this works ontologically. I'm not clear on how it could work epistemologically.
    (8) I don't see how this works. God the Son's property of being human is not identical with God the Son's property of being divine.
  17. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Just curious. Are there theological issues with Westminster West?
  18. GulfCoast Presbyterian

    GulfCoast Presbyterian Puritan Board Junior

  19. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    I can’t say.
  20. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    There are some issues that some have identified as distinctive focuses of the seminary. We tried to have a debate on three questions over several issues of The Confessional Presbyterian journal. I. Law and Gospel. II. Two Kingdoms Doctrine. III. Republication of the Covenant of Works. See issues 8 (2012), 9 (2013) and 10 (2014).

    On the other hand, outside of GPTS and PRTS who else has profs or had profs (Godfrey, Clark) as strong on the regulative principle, Sabbath? I don't know any seminary that had an elective just studying Gillespie English Popish Ceremonies outside of Westminster West.
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  21. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    I was aware that the Canadian pastor-theologian Joe Boot was critical of the two kingdoms doctrine of Westminster West but was unsure if this is a specific debate over theonomy itself.
    I get the impression that Mid-America is one of the serious Reformed Seminaries (I live in New Zealand so have to assess from the opposite side of the globe). But having read Reformed Covenant Theology articles/books by Dr C Venema and Dr M Beech, get the impression that Mid America is very confessional. I have, for example, been impressed with Dr Venema's critique of the Republication of the Covenant of Works doctrine.

    Apologies for distracting from the main thrust of the thread. Just wanted few clarifications.
  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    No problem; if further issue, someone can start a new thread. Dr. Strange may be able to comment on the course work as far as worship at MidAmerica; I'm not familiar how puritan it is (which was what I was getting at); I should have also noted RPTS in Pittsburgh.
  23. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Really? Frame has been one of the most prominent critics of WW and vice versa. Frame got hammered for his RPW views when he was there and it always seemed a very uneasy match. I don't care much for some of the WW "distinctives", at least in their extreme form, but most of Frame's issues are his own and he has much closer affinities to WE theologically. He even shares his website with Poythress who developed "triperspectival" theology with him.
  24. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    For those who are well-acquainted with John Frame, would you think that some of his distinctive conclusions or at least ways of expressing himself are fundamentally arising from a distinctive method? In other words, if he developed or adopted an unusual theological method, that may have lead to idiosyncratic patterns of argumentation and even material changes. If that method has served him well (at least in the sense of enabling him to answer difficult questions to his own satisfaction and garnering praise from peers), one can understand him remaining invested in it.
  25. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "Understand" yes, but I do believe being to charitable towards any method that is not forthright can be simply maddening. Is there not enough evidence to know his unreformed views on God proper and the RPW? I believe the motive (good or bad) is mute if the result of his "method" causes confusion or worse leads people away from truth.
  26. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable Staff Member

    I consider myself relatively knowledgeable about Dr. Frame's writings, having read all of his major systematics (other than his Word of God volume which is not yet in ebook format), numerous shorter works, blogs, etc. That he is idiosyncratic is not in dispute. In fact, Frame's tri-perspectivalism makes me apoplectic at times, seeing "threes", often tortuously so, in virtually every matter of doctrine.

    I have tried to appreciate his methods and have mined much gold from his materials. That said, his obvious disagreements with not a few of the historical views concerning theology proper topics (my primary area of focus and study) regularly gives me pause.

    I appreciate Dr. Frame's desire to leverage the open theist's views of God "who enters into relationships" with human beings as something that has not been given enough thought in Reformed theological circles. But Frame's pointing to covenantalism as the foot in that door, so to speak, misses a great deal of some of the important aspects of covenantalism. Within covenantalism there are binding of the recipient, bindings of God, and even appearances of unilateral and bilateral aspects. Frame's motives to lend an ear to the openists he rightly cavils in his No Other God yields too much to their cause and leverages covenantalism in a way that it should not be so leveraged.

    Moreover, Dr. Frame indignation often leads to fanciful reasoning, as when he writes in response to Dolezal,
    He {nb: God} is not a temporal being, but most certainly Scripture presents him as coming into time. He is the creator of time and space, and there is no principle that can keep him out. He is not a changeable being, but he really enters the changing world. In that world, he participates in the drama of redemption. On Monday he judges; on Tuesday he blesses. I have called that a kind of “change,” understanding the problems that creates with our general doctrine of God. Should we call that merely the appearance of change? That is a possible formulation we should consider, and it seems to be what Dolezal wants to say. But if we say that God only appears to change in these contexts, must we also say that God only appears to enter time, that the Son of God only appeared to become man (that is the textbook definition of Docetism), that he only appeared to die on the cross and rise again?​

    Unfairly, Frame makes a leap from the proper use of "appearance of change" that should accompany any hint from Scripture that God actually changes, to the root fallacy claiming that same word appearance is now required when God is didactically shown as acting within Scripture. It was a nice rhetorical flourish, but he should know better. Unfortunately, Dr. Frame presses onward, locked in this fallacious argument because he has an obvious bone to pick with scholasticism, pigeonholing Dolezal into Frame's own special definition of scholasticism.

    I get the tendency of academics seeking novelty to stand above the crowd. I used to be one and the temptation is great not matter what the academic field of endeavor. Unfortunately, Dr. Frame's full-on embrace of novelty has painted him into a corner from which he cannot escape, given the welcome attention to the "old paths" of theology proper rising up within Reformed academic circles of late.
  27. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for this, Patrick. Novelty is great if you're Henry Ford or Bill Gates. Not so good if you're bucking orthodox Christianity.......
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  28. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    I don’t want to derail this thread but do you consider the gap theory or theistic evolution to be novelties that should not be tolerated?
  29. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    Bill- good question. There are several factors in play: 1) my own lack of study on the matter, 2) education/understanding and, as of late, 3) real time to put into the study. At this point, I believe in six literal days. In <briefly> speaking with others more astute and studied than me, there seems to be some difference in language in Genesis 1 & 2 that may allow for a different understanding than mine of six, 24 hr days. I do plan to engage some of the good men of my presbytery on this matter as it has been on my mind more as of late. To answer directly, I am generally not for any types of novelties. I also realize there may be a different, legitimate understanding of various things, but any paradigm shift must meet certain criteria and have good exegesis and good and necessary consequence to be even considered....:2cents:.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Frame's tri-perspectivalism can be found in Van Til's Christian Theistic Ethics. Frame applies it differently, to be sure, but he didn't make it up.

    I'm not trying to stir up CVT debates (who, one should note, did call God 'One Person'), but there is a genealogy.
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