Framing The Debate

How could I disagree with John Frame on almost every Reformed in-camp debate? I think he has been wrong about Dooyeweerd*, wrong about the regulative principle of worship, and wrong about the nature of doctrinal controversy itself, and many other important issues. I hope to offer my reasons for disagreement with him on these issues in the future. However, in a recent article he attempts to characterize two opposing sides in a debate about the Christian approach to civil government. I want to touch on this briefly, because it has culture-wide implications.

The larger question at stake is whether there is a distinctively Christian (ie, Calvinistic) perspective on and approach to culture. In other words, 1) is it possible to understand and do culture Christianly. If so, then 2) how and where can we discover, learn, and/or develop such an approach? And 3) what exactly is that approach, and what makes it distinctively Christian? Those who answer the first question in the negative must still address "how, then, shall Christians live culturally?" (if not in a distinctively Christian way). But those who answer the first question affirmatively (as most, if not all, genuine Calvinists do) may answer the second in reference to God's revelation.

Revelation is given in two basic kinds, often called "general" and "special" revelation. A lot can be said about these two kinds of revelation, and what is said has crucial implications for the third question. But basically, general revelation is what God reveals through the created temporal order, and special revelation is what God more particularly reveals by (what we now know as) Holy Scripture. The relationship between general and special revelation is decisive for the second and third questions too.

In any case, Frame says that there are Kuyperians and then there are Klineans. Klineans, he says, do not believe in the necessity of special revelation for civil government (nor, one can infer, for "Christian culture"). Now, as both a Klinean and a Kuyperian (a Kuyperian-Klinean, or vice versa, if you will) I cannot agree with Frame's mischaracterization. Kline is himself both "Vosian" and "Vantilian". Certainly there are some differences between Vos' and Kuyper's views, but not disagreements on this issue. And Kline follows both Vos and VanTil in agreement with Kuyper concerning the sufficiency of general revelation, the necessity of special revelation, and the correlation between both kinds of revelation. Dooyeweerd, by the way, also agrees with Kuyper, Vos, VanTil, and Kline on this.

The specific meaning of sufficiency of general revelation, necessity of special revelation, and their correlation, and how they are articulated is crucial. I hope to address this in detail at some point. There are, of course, differences and disagreements between the views of these important thinkers, and some of those are relevant to this debate. Historcial development of the issues should also be taken into account. But Frame's (mis)characterization is inaccurate and is a detriment to clarity and to moving the discussion forward**. Some comments on Hegeman's blog [1, 2].

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