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Friday
Feb102012

Horton on Frame's New Book

Since I work with Mike Horton with the White Horse Inn, am a WSC alum (class of 84), and former student of John Frame, some of you have asked me to weigh in on the issues surrounding Frame's latest book, The Escondido Theology.

Mike Horton has responded to Frame here, in Mike's usual charitable way.  Click here

Admittedly I have had no contact with Professor Frame in recent years.  He was helpful to me when I was working on my dissertation, and I have nothing against him personally.  And so far as I know, he's never said anything negative about me or my work--if he even remembers me.  I have not yet read Frame's recent book, and am seriously wondering whether to spend the time and money on it.  When WSC speaks officially on this matter with such collective ire, that, in my humble opinion, says a great deal about the book's worth. Click Here

I will say that I find it very disconcerting when a professor of Frame's repute spends so much time and energy trashing the work of some of his best former students.  Horton, Clark, and VanDrunen all studied under Frame.  Yet, it seems to me, because they find John's views problematic or unconvincing in certain areas, Frame takes personal affront.  Given what these men have accomplished, he should be glowing with a professorial pride.  But he's not.

I say this based on Frame's down-right mean-spirted and petty review of Horton's Christless Christianity.  And now Frame lets it fly toward his old institution and his former students and colleagues in his Escondido Theology in such a way that they do not recognize their own theology in his hands, nor do they have anywhere near the same recollection of events that he does.

Frame's recent theological texts are an important contribution to the Reformed world.  But John Frame passes himself off as a fair-minded and reasonable statesman-like figure who seeks to rise above so many of the issues which unfortunately divide Reformed and Calvinist Christians.  No doubt, that sounds noble, and indeed it would be, if that was Frame's track record. 

Yet this is the same man who throws out the pejorative label "Machen's warrior children," and who actually sides with Joel Osteen over Horton when reviewing the latter's Christless Christianity.  This is the man who who seeks to pick a fight with a yet another shot across WSC's bow with his Escondido Theology

On this matter, John Frame has sure not risen above controversy.  He's stooped to create it.

Reader Comments (7)

My hope is that the responses being generated regarding this new book will humble Prof. Frame's pride and soften his arrogance. He is capable of some excellent work - and indeed has contributed some very fine scholarship in certain places - but these sorts of tirades really cut off the branch on which he stands.

Imagine the sorts of contributions he could make with a humble and teachable spirit ... he, Horton, VanDrunen and Clark would certainly not agree on everything, but collectively, charitable and honest interaction would no doubt result in some fine work, especially since time would not be wasted (as it is now) lighting or putting out these sorts of fires ....
February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Compton
I was around WSC only on a limited basis. I audited as many classes (for free!) as I could while my husband studied there, and I've read only a few of the books their professors have written. Even with such limited exposure, it is obvious to me that WSC does not teach what Frame is saying they teach.
February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPamela
This is just all so ugly and embarrassing to the reformed church. Yours, Mike's, and VanDrunen's books are actually trying to help people who would like to discern the role of Christ and culture. To turn this all into a caricature without responsibly critiquing the honest view of the position you teach is really shameful. And I wonder, who is going to be purchasing this book--the students at seminary? Will they just take Frame's word for it on the basis of his name and position? Living on the east coast, I find the ordinary people don't know much about this theology at all, and in interacting briefly with a WTS student from this side of the country, they look at 2k teaching as "controversial" based on an article Frame wrote. I was blown away by the lack of personal responsibility in learning for themselves the history and teachings of the doctrine.
February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAimee Byrd
I'll take Aimee's point one step further - our unsaved neighbors and friends and relations will take this as one more reason not to bother with even trying the church in general, much less a Reformed church. Why would they, when they have more than enough pointless conflict in their daily lives? And other Christians who may honestly want to know what being Reformed does and doesn't mean, will throw up their hands as well.
I don't know Frame except by name and based on this I don't expect to go further.
February 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpb
This adds to my confusion to know what is and is not a part of the Reformed tradition. I've heard Reformed people say that something is not Reformed and then I hear that it is or is allowed. And how can it be expected for some of us, who are not theologians or have the time to look through almost 500 years of history to identify it? All this makes me ask, will the real Reformed tradition please stand up?

Sadly, I've lost much trust in even men I respect to lead me truthfully.
February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto
Alberto:

The Reformed confessions define what it means to be "Reformed." Not Horton, not Frame. Not even Calvin. Ministers in Reformed churches are judged by the the Three Forms of Unity, while Presbyterians are held accountable to the Westminster Standards. This is because the confessions are faithful summaries of biblical teaching.

This is what makes Frame's recent diatribe so egregious (and ridiculous). He's attacking a seminary and its professors who are seeking to be "confessional." There is no such things as an "Escondido Theology." But there is a seminary and its professors, however, seeking to be faithful to its confessions.
February 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
I read Christless Christianity, and then I read John Frame's review. I agree with Frame 100%. Although I agree with some of Horton's assessments, I disagree with his solutions. I also think it was a tad strange to utilize an introduction that ridiculed American consumerism, when Horton's book is nothing more than an appeal to (a very small segment of) American consumerism, starting with his title and continuing with his arrogantly stated survey of the church in America. Personally, as a Reformed church member, I received more help from the old charismatic gentlemen volunteering at a local hospital than I did from Horton's book - but who needs help when at the hospital. It's all about justification by faith. Boy, I keep forgetting that. Too bad life is so full of - living - just like the Bible.
May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRandy in Tulsa

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