John Frame – Evangelical Reunion (free online book)

In this 145 page book, available in pdf form here – http://www.frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FrameJohnEvangelicalReunion1991.pdf

John Frame

John Frame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John M. Frame traces the history of denominationalism way back to Jeroboam of the Old Testament, recounts it throughout the last 2 millenia and then speaks about the road back to unity:

even if complete unity is delayed until the return of Christ, we ought to be able to see the beginnings of that unity in the church today.

and how it might apply to our times:

We can be thankful then, that God’s sovereign power stands behind the movement toward church unity, weak as it may appear from a human viewpoint. God will surely bring it to pass, in his time. What of our time? God’s eternal intentions are secret to us. I do not know how much unity God intends to give to the church in this age, any more than I know what degree of moral maturity God intends to bestow upon the church in the next ten years. Yet in both cases, I believe God blesses efforts to achieve, when those efforts are rooted in his grace. He honors those who seek his goals, even when, for his mysterious reasons, he withholds from them success in their own time (cf. Deut. 29:29). Protestants honor Wycliffe and Huss, though their movements were unsuccessful by human standards. Thus, I believe that God honors those who work for church unity, even when their efforts bear no apparent fruit. As I argued earlier, God’s sovereignty is not opposed to human responsibility. Rather, the former undergirds the latter. We are encouraged to seek God’s kingdom, because we know that God himself is bringing his kingdom to the earth. We also know that God’s sovereign plan regularly makes use of human agents to accomplish the divine goals. So it is evident that God wishes us to do what we can to rid the church of its divisions. In the coming chapters I shall be making suggestions as to what human beings can do. But let us never
forget that the work is „not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).

click to read book

so if you are a ‘scholar’ of church history, or if you enjoy reading about it, the first part of the book looks very intriguing- considering that for myself, this is the first book (and free at that) I have come across (as a layperson) that deals with the history of denominationalism, going back as far as the Old Testament. Whether you agree with the later premise of an attempt for church unity or not,(some will see this or any attempt at church unity before the coming of Christ as ecumenism) you will still find this book a worthwhile read.

An interesting thing to note is that Frame also left his PCUSA denominationin 1958 because of its liberal leaning:

…back to 1958, when I was just starting college. In that year, the
denomination of my childhood, the United Presbyterian Church of North America,
merged with the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. The UPNA had been relatively
conservative in theology, the PCUSA strongly liberal, though with
some conservative congregations. Just about that time, the conviction began to
dawn on me that „liberalism” was not the Christian Gospel at all. I came to the conclusion that I could not remain in the PCUSA, especially since my PCUSA
presbytery at that time was demanding that its ministerial candidates receive
training (which I interpreted „brainwashing”) at liberal seminaries. I joined
an independent church at that point. But many of my closest friends and
respected teachers (notably John H. Gerstner) made other choices, forcing me to
rethink and rethink. So my earliest years of theological self-consciousness were
focused upon denominational and church questions: what is a true church? What
obligations are involved in church membership? In what sort of church would
God want me to minister?

This book was published in 1990, after the collapse of communism, having been born in one of those communist regimes that fell- Romania- and having seen the hand of God wake up the masses, I can see John Frame’s hope in the faith that church unity (in some small form) is not unachievable by the sovereign hand of the God who brought down communism. However, here we are 22 some years later when the world is a very differet place and christians are lamenting the downward slide away not only from christianity, but from any moral responsibility.

Limitation on our Knowledge of God

John M. Frame in his book (textbook) p 20 ‘The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God‘:

Our limitations are of several kinds. First (as we have mentioned), sin motivates fallen people to distort the truth, to flee from it, to exchange it for a lie, and to misuse it. This is one potent source of falsehood and ignorance in our thinking, even in the redeemed mind. Because of Christ, Christians have that problem under control (Rom. 6:14), but it will not completely disappear until the Last Day.

Second, errors in our knowledge arise from immaturity and weakness. Even if Adam had not fallen, the acquisition of knowledge would not have taken place all at once. It would have been a historical process, part of the „subduing of the earth” (Gen. 1:28; cf. 2:19f.). Even Jesus „grew” in wisdom and stature (luke 2:52) and „learned” obedience (Heb. 5:8) in His life as a perfect man. Certainly then, even apart form sin, human knowledge may be incomplete; we may be ignorant in comparison to what we may know later.

Frame then gives a list of ‘discontinuities’ ways in which our thoughts are not like God’s thoughts on p.22. Here are a few of them:

  • God’s thoughts ultimately determine, or decree, what comes to pass
  • God’s thoughts, therefore, are self validating; they serve as their own criteria of truth. God’s thoughts are true simply because they are His… Our thoughts are not necessarily true, and when they are true, it is because they agree with the thoughts of someone else, namely God, who furnishes the criteria for our thinking.
  • God does not need to have anything ‘revealed’ to Him; He knows what He knows simply by virtue of who He is and what He does. But all of our knowledge is based on revelation. When we know something, it is because God decided to let us know it, either by Scripture or by nature.
  • God has not chosen to reveal all truth to us. For example, we do not know the future, beyond what Scripture teaches. We do not know all of the facts about God or even about creation.

You can listen to the first chapter in mp3 format here – John_Frame_Doctrine_of_the_Knowledge_of_God_chapter_1.mp3

You can access or download a study guide for this book here – http://thirdmill.org/newfiles/joh_frame/frame.he2005.studyguidetodkg.pdf

You can find dozens of articles and some mp3 messages from John M. Frame at the monergism website  at this link – http://www.monergism.com

Books by John M. Frame – http://www.monergismbooks.com

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