- Paperback: 381 pages
- Publisher: Whitefield Media Productions (November 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937300005
- ISBN-13: 978-1937300005
- Package Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Escondido Theology: A Reformed Response to Two Kingdom Theology Paperback – November 1, 2011
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Dr. John Frame has taken up the theological issue of Two Kingdom Theology and demonstrated his qualifications in addressing this popular view currently being advocated by various Reformed professors at Westminster Seminary in California. Dr. Frame provides critical insight and analysis of each Professor s published views advocating this doctrinal teaching. The tone and attitude of Dr. Frame is distinctively Christian and his response is clearly Reformed. Whether you advocate for or against Two Kingdom Theology, this book must be read prior to making any final determination as to the biblical and Reformed teaching on the subject. --Dr. Kenneth Gary Talbot President, Whitefield Theological Seminary
Frame has lived to see a vocal segment of the robust, rich tradition in which he was educated transformed into a narrow sectarianism that anathematizes other orthodox, Bible-believing Christians; elevates theological and church tradition to near equal status with God s Word; and diminishes that Word as the norm for all of life and thought. This book is the agonizing jeremiad of an older prophet who sadly diagnoses a desiccating illness of a friend and offers a prescription for a wholesome healing. Dr. P. Andrew Sandlin President, Center for Cultural Leadership --Dr. P. Andrew Sandlin President, Center for Cultural Leadership
In these pages John M. Frame clarifies in rather crystal clear terms what many of us have suspected for years: that the Escondido theologians, though claiming the Reformed heritage, are nonetheless out of accord with many of its most fundamental tenets. Broad in treatment, penetrating in scholarly analysis, and avoiding ad hominem, Frame builds a persuasive case the entire Protestant church should take the time to investigate. The sections that scrutinize the two kingdoms perspective of the Escondido teachers show especially the extent to which they have compromised a staple of Calvin s thought: the Lordship of God over all things. Dr. John Barber Pastor, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church --Dr. John Barber Pastor, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church
About the Author
Dr. John Frame is presently Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He previously served as a Professor at both Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and then as a founding faculty member at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California.
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And I also avoided reading it for one other reason - many of the responses/reviews of this book portrayed it as a vindictive hit piece on the seminary (or at least some of its leading faculty) by a disgruntled former faculty member. One thing I have always admired about Dr. Frame is that he was charitable to a fault toward those with whom he disagreed. Always. He always gave the most charitable reading possible to his opponents. His ability to do that and yet still offer in-depth, substantive, and solidly biblical critiques sets him apart from most scholars in my estimation. And to read a book by him that reportedly came across as a vindictive hit piece sounded like just about the most un-John Frame-like thing that I could possibly imagine. In other words, I avoided this book for almost three years because I didn't want my personal esteem of the author to be diminished.
Well, fast-forward to 2014 and 2K has started to become more of a front burner issue for me. A lot of what I have read of it began to trouble me, and so I decided to avail myself of whatever materials I could find on the subject (both pro & con). There are a lot of blog posts offering critical analysis, but (as of yet) not many books. I decided that a book comprised of in-depth reviews of various books by 2K authors would be helpful, so I finally bought this one.
I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised. It is not the vindictive hit piece that many painted it out to be. He does make a very strong biblical case against the 2K position, and states that case in stark, but fair terms. He shows it to be in many ways out of line with the historic teaching of the Reformed faith (as taught in the Confessional standards of the Presbyterian & Reformed churches). He does have positive things to say about the authors that he critiques. He also goes out of his way to point out when he agrees with them on something (which he does in nearly every case).
This might be the first book I have ever read where I made it a point to read all of the end-notes. (Many of them are very helpful; some of them are downright humorous.) It is meticulously-researched.
If someone dislikes this book because of his stance against 2K (or his arguments for a Kuyperian view of Calvinism), that is fine. (Many of my friends, former classmates, and colleagues in ministry hold to 2K.) But to dismiss this book as nothing but a hit piece is downright dishonest, in my opinion. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars (would have given it 4.5 if possible) was that I found some of his statements about the RPW and preaching to be disagreeable. (But even then he sought to make his case from Scripture.) I do not agree with everything he says, but that is not really the point, is it?
I have also greatly benefited from the teachings of Mike Horton and Scott Clark in many ways and hold them both in high regard. I enjoyed their classes at WSCA very much, just as I enjoyed John Frame's classes. This book does not change that.
In summary, this book should be read by anyone who wants to know both sides of the 2K debate. I found it to be tremendously helpful and convincing.
He wrote in the Preface to this 2011 book, “This book is a critical analysis of a theological movement that I call ‘Escondido Theology.’ I choose that name because this movement developed mainly among faculty members of Westminster Seminary California which is located in the city of Escondido, California. Some members of this school of thought, such as Michael Horton, Meredith Kline, and Darryl Hart, are well-known to students of Reformed theology. But to my knowledge these figures have never before been discussed as composing a distinctive school of thought… But they are not simply Reformed, they hold views that are quite distinctive.” (Pg. xxxvii) After stating a number of propositions that he suggests characterize these men, he adds, “I do commend these writers for their genuine desire to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is found in Reformed theology… But I think that their distinctive teachings detract from their exposition of Scripture and that in the end their teaching is harmful to Evangelicalism and Reformed Christianity.” (Pg. xxxix-xl)
He further explains, “I would not be writing this book if it were not for another distinctive of the Escondido theology to which I have already alluded: the view that those who disagree with them are not orthodox, not to be considered Reformed… The distinctive views of this movement are not found in Reformed confessions, or in the writings of its chief theologians, so they cannot be made tests of orthodoxy… I hope this book will remove forever the perception that the Escondido theology is a standard of orthodoxy, or more orthodox than other forms of Reformed theology.” (Pg. 16)
He argues, “Salvation in the bible is not only justification, being declared righteous for Christ’s sake, but also sanctification, being transformed from within by the Spirit of God…unlike justification, sanctification is not simply given to us once-for-all. Scripture does not tell us merely to receive passively the gift of sanctification. Rather, there is a race to be run and a battle to be fought. Scripture constantly exhorts us to make efforts, to make the right choices… God energizes our efforts and brings them to fruition. We work out our own salvation, knowing that God is working ‘in’ us. Scripture refers over and over again to sanctification and the inner life. But Horton’s references to it are almost entirely negative… it seems to me that Horton’s own focus needs rethinking.” (Pg. 43)
He criticizes R. Scott Clark’s book Recovering the Reformed Confession: “Clark says that the Westminster Standards… were theocratic, but not theonomic: that is, they accepted ‘the civil enforcement of the first table of the Decalogue’… but did not believe that the civil government should enforce every detail of the biblical civil law… it appears that Clark’s two kingdom theology trumps his confessionalism… Theocracy is inconsistent with two kingdoms, since ti charges the civil magistrate with the enforcement of true religion. At the end of the book he says more explicitly that ‘Christendom was a mistake.’ But it was a mistake that was only corrected in the eighteenth century. Clark doesn’t see any need to revise his general definition of confessionalism to accommodate that kind of correction.” (Pg. 86-87)
He suggests, “If a believer is Reformed… the focus of his life should not be on his denomination or tradition. It should be on Christ and the Scriptures. He should feel deeply the errors of Reformed chauvinism, the attitude that celebrates and seeks to preserve the distinctiveness of Reformed Christianity from the influence of other branches of the church…. His church home… is the whole body of God’s elect… A Reformed community that maintains its biblical heritage while seeking to grow in its love for the church as a whole is well worth supporting and recommending to others. That is not Clark’s vision of the church… But it is one I heartily recommend to my readers.” (Pg. 118)
He says of Meredith Kline, “Kline’s work has personal significance for me as well… as his student at Westminster Theological Seminary … between 1961 and 1964. Kline was one of my heroes then… I do believe, however, that a change came over him in later years. By the mid 1970s he had developed a system of thought that he considered unassailable, and he had little sympathy for those who differed with him in any significant way. He came to believe, further, that his distinctive (and often innovative) positions were essential to Reformed orthodoxy…in the 1950s and 1960s… he was a defender of innovation and freedom of thought. But later, when others sought to innovate in ways that contradicted his own ideas, he became the defender of tradition… In 1981 Kline joined the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in California… We had a number of disagreements during that time… In the end, our students and colleagues found his teaching more persuasive than mine, even to the point of being convinced that his teaching demonstrated my unorthodoxy. I could not continue to teach in a school where my Reformed commitment was not respected, and … I joined the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary… At RTS my Reformed orthodoxy has never been challenged.” (Pg. 152-153)
While many Reformed Christians will not necessarily agree with Frame’s labeling of these theologians as a “school,” and even more may not agree with all of his criticisms of them, this is still an important book that will be important reading for anyone concerned with contemporary Reformed theology.
Drunen clearly lacks Biblical support and Kline's effort to base it on the Noahic covenant is out of harmony with the great bulk of Biblical and Calvinistic scholarship. While I could not agree with all of Frame's thinking here, I feel he provided a valuable service to the church in alerting us to some theological weaknesses at Escondido.