Reply to T. David Gordon -- By: John M. Frame

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 56:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: Reply to T. David Gordon
Author: John M. Frame

Reply to T. David Gordon

John M. Frame

I would like to thank my friend Dave Gordon for his interest in my paper and for taking the time to reply.1 I shall respond here briefly to his major points. However, I have written another paper on the regulative principle which is longer, and I think more cogent, than “Some Questions.” It poses some additional questions and provides, I think, a few answers as well.2

Gordon first asks me to identify my opponents more precisely. I respectfully decline. I will say in general that my article was directed toward current discussions within the churches rather than toward the deliberations and writings of the Westminster Divines themselves. Gordon knows whom I am talking about, for he identified one of the individuals in private correspondence, and he admits in his article that I am “not entirely tilting at windmills” (p. 329). I suspect, therefore, that readers interested in these matters can also identify my targets. Beyond that, I will not “name names.” There is too much of that in the Christian community. If the shoe fits, anyone may wear it. If it fits nobody, then feel free to discard my article.

If I were writing a historical paper or a critique of the specific views of an individual, I would have supplied names and quotes. But in “Some Questions,” my purpose was rather to raise questions and tentatively to put forth a thesis. Academic niceties aside, I did not feel that for this purpose it was necessary for me to interact with anybody. As to whether I have been attacking straw men, I will leave it to the reader to decide.

Gordon says that this matter must be discussed “only within a history-of-doctrine framework” (p. 329). I disagree. I invite him and others to do historical studies, which doubtless will have their value. But mere historical studies do not tell us where the truth lies. For the Reformed scholar, the truth is to be found only through study of Scripture.

That point is an application of the very regulative principle we are discussing. In fact, I think that recent theology in orthodox Reformed circles has been too “historical” in its approach, to the point where the regulative principle has been lost sight of. I have more to say on that matter in my review article of Richard Muller’s The Study of Theology (included in the present issue of WTJ).

I will then set aside Gordon’s comments to the effect that the Divines themselves were not subject to my criticisms. I did not intend my paper to be a critique of the Divines. Evidently Gordon...

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