Thursday, March 01, 2012

Escondido Theology Chapter 5

Chapter 5 I am just going to briefly touch because I will admit I have never read Meredith Kline's Kingdom Prologue. This is easily the most scholarly chapter as Frame shows a great deal of respect for Kline. Frame also views Kline as the fountain head of the Escondido Theology.

Interestingly despite a great deal of respect for Kline, Frame believes the Absolutizing (rejecting other views as Reformed) even comes from Kline. He explains that Kline's reaction to the Shepherd Controversy and opposing the Theonomy of Greg Banshen. This is the beginning of the problem for Frame. Kline goes to Escondido, and the faculty ends up preferring Kline's view of things to Frame and the acceptance of divergent views that was characteristic of Philadelphia.

One can see the influence of Kline in Escondido. The acceptance of Framework hypothesis for example. Frame argues that the Two Kingdoms owes a lot to Kline, and maybe so, but even Frame admits it was around with Luther, so Kline is hardly a lynch pin in that equation. Kline held to a post-fall split between Cult and Culture (cult being worship). Culture was a common activity for both the believer and the unbeliever, cult was only for the follower of Christ. This is how Kline ties into the Two Kingdoms, and Frame rejects it claiming "We can find no passage (or biblical principle) that suggests that our cultural labors are anything other than an offering, a living sacrifice, to the glory of God." (pg.171).

Frame rejects Kline's reading of Genesis 9. Kline does not believe Genesis 9 reinstates the Cultural Mandate. Frame, of course, disagrees. Frame's argument really has two prongs. One is that he believes it is simply the natural reading to see Genesis 9 linked to Genesis 1. The main part of the argument (at least here) is that holiness is a matter of degrees. This is a concept I had not really thought of before. Frame uses the illustration of the temple. There was the Most Holy Place where the Ark was kept. And in relation to that everything else is profane. However, the room next to it was known as the Holy Place, and there the was altar of incense and the showbread. And of course the temple itself was seen as a holy place as a whole. He points out that holy ground occurs where God makes an appearance like the burning bush. Thus, for Frame holiness is a matter of degree. This goes against Kline who sees a strict difference between sacred and profane, cult and culture. Frame uses it to claim that everything must be done for God's glory, and everything is in some sense then a holy activity. This really seems to be the underlying point of much of Frame's chapter. The sharp distinction is rejected in favor of degrees of holiness and spirituality.

Again, this chapter is probably better if you had read Kline's work, but I am not planning on doing that so you have to just bear with me. This chapter makes the most effort to interact in a scholarly way. And it is done with a pleasant tone with the obvious exception of the Appendix. This could be seen as a funny joke, but considering the rest of the book, it comes off more as mocking. It is a chart to help you come up with your own Klinian Terms. Just mash any two terms together and viola! Apparently Kline must have been big on this. It adds nothing, and I would have thought a decent editor would have taken this out.

For me (remembering my limitations) the chapter hinges on the discussion about holiness as degrees. And while I am ready to concede that Judaism has degrees of holiness, I am not sure that it is right. The temple may indeed have a Most Holy Place and the Holy Place, but the temple itself is a type pointing to Christ. The question becomes whether or not there is any holiness outside of Christ? And then whether or not that means our service in daily jobs is a degree of holiness simply because the temple had holy places? Frame pushes the idea often of a strict and broad definition of worship with the broad definition being basically equal to service. That way by definition all of life can be said to be worship. This sort of requires a view of degrees of holiness because that statement is only true if we take the broad definition of worship. It also requires a rejection of 2K and Kline's theology because with the broad definition of worship there can be no separation of anything in worship. But if we just agreed to use a different term for the broad worship category (like maybe service), would this rejection still be so mandatory? I feel a little like his terms lead him into certain conclusions.
And just as importantly if the Heidelberg Catechism says even my best works are stained with sin in this life, can they rightly be considered sort of holy? Would we not be able to look at one another say, "I am more holy than you"? Because holiness is a matter of degree and thus the statement is completely possible.

I will say this that Frame has given me something to think about in this chapter. And again, if you have read Kingdom Prologue you will probably benefit more from the discussion.


Anonymous said...

I hope you keep going in this.