Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Escondido Theology - Chapter 9

Frame spends chapter 9 examining the book Dual Citizens by Jason Stellman. Stellman is a blogger and pastor by trade. But as Frame points out that Stellman is a graduate of Westminster Seminary California and was completely in attendance there after the whole sale changes that ran out Professor Frame. Thus, he stands as an example of the kind of thinking one might could expect from WSC grads. Frame and Stellman disagree first on the definition of worship. Frame has a strict definition, which is the corporate gathering of the people of God, and then the broad definition that all of life is worship. It is this second definition that Stellman disagrees with. Stellman wishes to draw a distinction between the sacred and the secular. The Patriarchs are often used such as how Abraham interacts with the pagan rulers of the land in which he lives. He buys land from them, lived among them, and even fought along side of them. Frame counters with Melchizedeck at that fight blessing Abraham, and focuses more on the theocracy set up by Moses.

 But it is in the worship section that they really start to disagree. And while I am not sure I like all Stellman has to say about worship, Frame's arguments about worship just cannot be forced to fit into the Three Forms of Unity and the understanding of the Second Commandment at all. Frame argues here that anything that brings the gospel really is okay. Drum sets are mentioned, but he goes far beyond just instrument selection. Frame advocates video clips, power point presentations, and Frame really leaves no room to reject such things as puppet shows and drama although the last two are not specifically endorsed. How that fits wit the Catechism's desire that the people be instructed by the "lively preaching of the word" is beyond me. In fact, one thinks of Psalm 115:1-8 about the idols and how they have no ears, or eyes, or mouths, and so is everyone who trusts in them. The phrase comes up again in Psalm 132 if I remember correctly. The Bible seems quite clear that the teaching of God's people ought to be done how the Lord pleases, not according to our own fancies, lest we become like what we worship.

 Not all of Frame's arguments are bad. I do think Frame is right that Chapter 4 about Christianity working best as an underdog and a minority is not right. Frame rightly points to the blessing of Abraham and the countless number of the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. One could have also pointed to history. Christianity is in the minority now, and are we truly better off than when we were a majority say in Charlamagne's time? Hard to call all of history when the church dominated as bad simply by converting more than were unconverted or at least attending. Was the church doing something wrong by being the majority? I can't buy it.

 I would have liked to see Frame interact more with the book of Ecclesiastes. Stellman brings it up, but Frame just mentions a difference of opinion and goes no further into the matter. I think the book may have very helpful insights into this debate about Christian living in the culture. Yet, Frame gives no real exegesis to the book at all. A shame.

 The third use of the law comes up at the end of the chapter. I have trouble evaluating this section because I am not sure I understand Setllman to be saying the same thing Frame thinks he is saying. Frame paints it more as a complete denial of the third use, and mocks the important qualifiers such as "usually" that are often thrown in. I do wish Stellman had developed it more himself as the Heidelberg clearly has a section for the law under Christian living of thanksgiving. But I am not prepared to see the WSC men as completely denying the third use of the law. I just don't see it.