Response to Steve Hays

Steve Hays has critiqued my critique of John Frame’s book here. I will respond to his points in order.

Firstly, Steve wonders what my disclaimer was intended to accomplish. My disclaimer was that I was not a WSC toadie. He doesn’t assume I am a toady. But he thinks the disclaimer is superfluous. My purpose in stating what I said was simple: I do not have a vested interest in defending WSC. Now, of course people may not believe that. I’d like to think that my readers wouldn’t have to be so cynical as not to believe that disclaimer. It would only be a superfluous comment (in my opinion) if all my readers were cynical.

As to discrediting whistleblowers, he may have a point. However, the last time I checked, I wasn’t an organization. I was simply stating what my impression of the book was. Secondly, as I think I made fairly plain (in stating that I agree with some of Frame’s critiques), I don’t discredit Frame’s opinions on this basis. I would rather state that I think the nature of the book has warped his recounting of WSC professors’ views.

Thirdly, he thinks I am being a bit one-sided as to whether people on WSC’s side are being gracious and fair. At this point, I must admit that I have not read enough of Darryl Hart’s work to get an idea of whether he is fair, gracious, irenic, etc. I have, however, read a fair bit of Frame, enough to know that he is normally gracious, irenic, and fair, but he isn’t in this book (and this is a bit more striking, in that the book is claimed to be gracious, irenic and fair). And maybe Hart (I will let him speak for himself) doesn’t wish to claim to be irenic and gracious. Maybe he wants to be a pugilist. My problem would not so much be with the lack of graciousness per se, but rather with the fact that the book is claimed (by George Grant, of course, but Frame allowed that part of the book to be published, so he most likely agrees with Grant’s assertions) to be gracious, and is not.

Fourthly, why would a “gentleman’s agreement” have morally invidious connotations? I’m afraid Steve lost me there.

Fifthly, I am not oblivious to the possibility of Frame being slandered by someone, even by Hart and others. If he has indeed been slandered by such, I would certainly not condone such behavior. Point me to such an instance, and I will research it. Even if that were true, however, one slander doesn’t justify another.

Sixthly, as to Meredith Kline, I was not offended nearly as much by what Frame said about him as what he said about Horton and Clark. I think what Frame said about Kline is a largely accurate statement of what Kline believes. Whether his critique of Kline is on target is a different story. But it is obvious that Frame respects Kline, even where he disagrees with him. I would certainly not want to claim a better knowledge of Kline than Frame has.

Seventhly, insider accounts can indeed be revealing. However, if personal bitterness gets in the way, cloudiness covers over everything. Bitterness tends to result in a narrow focus.

Eighthly, loss of respect is indeed a two-way street. The fact is, however, no matter what one might say about Frame, one would lose respect in some quarters. Is that why I am writing this? To gain respect? No, I am writing this because I feel that WSC has been unjustly attacked by Frame (I don’t believe that WSC is above criticism), and I wouldn’t want people to get their understanding of WSC from Frame’s account of it.

Ninethly, he worries about my use of time. I could ask the same question of Frame’s book. Was it the best use of his time to write this book? But he has written it. And despite its no-name publisher status, people will still read it. I am not going to defend what I write about. I am glad that Steve is concerned about how I spend my time. If he believes I am wasting my time (and I’m sure he is not alone in thinking that!), then it will surely be a waste of his time to either read my critique, or respond to it.

As to his questions: what would I say about these issues? In brief, I will respond.

1. The duties of the civil magistrate are primarily related to upholding justice, punishing criminals and praising upstanding citizens. I believe his purpose is to uphold the second table of the law, and that he should not force people to believe in Christianity, although he certainly should not shackle Christianity. This is brief, I know, and all my answers will be brief. However, I want to say something about each of these (definitely important!) issues.

2. The civic duties of American citizens are to obey the laws up until the point where they are forced to disobey God’s law. I believe that citizens should participate in the political process, and should seek to uphold natural law in the political arena. This will involve activism in such areas as abortion and marriage protection.

3. Should pastors preach on social ethics when such becomes politicized? I don’t know what Steve means by social ethics in this context. I believe the preacher should preach what is in the Bible and only what is in the Bible. He should not preach politics from the pulpit.

Then Steve raises some excellent questions about what I might say to people who have some issues regarding various things. I haven’t researched all the sermons I have on this blog with regard to these particular questions, but I think I have addressed some of these things in the Genesis and Ephesians sermons.

1. If a young man decides he wants to be in the military, I would tell him that he desires an honorable profession. I would certainly not seek to discourage him. However, I would tell him about some of the temptations that often come to people in the military.

2. I would counsel a young woman not to join the military, at the very least not to join in such a way that they might possibly be in the line of fire. Call me a chauvinist, but I firmly believe men should defend women, not vice versa. So, if she is bent on being in the military, and I could not dissuade her, I would tell her to join in such a way that she would not be in the line of fire, and I would also counsel her concerning the many temptations to which she would be exposed.

3. Reproductive technologies is a very broad term. I would probably want to get a bit more specific about that. I think some are unobjectionable (drugs to increase the number of eggs that a woman might drop cannot be objectionable), others are (I have a big problem with the morning after pill, as it can cause the death of a human being).

4. Sterilization I would definitely counsel against, because God may want a couple to have a child that has a disease. Why would that be the worst thing that could happen to a couple?

5. I think it is not permissible to lie ever. We need to tell the truth, and trust God for the consequences. What about someone in Holland hiding Jews when a German soldier comes knocking? I would hide the Jew (well!), and then tell the Germans to look, since they wouldn’t believe me whatever I said. I wouldn’t necessarily believe that everyone should be told all the truth all the time. But I think it is wrong to lie.

6. Regarding mothers working outside the home, I would suggest that their children need them, and that financially it is actually easier to have the mother at home (given all the hidden costs of two-income families). I would encourage mothers to be at home, although I would not go so far as to say that a mother is living in sin because she works outside the home.

Regarding education, parents are responsible for the schooling of their children. That is a decision they need to make. I think public schools are in general pretty awful. Their standards are generally very low. John Gatto’s book The Underground History of Public Education is a very eye-opening book. That being said, I don’t think that homeschooling is the answer for everyone.

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12 Comments

  1. truthunites said,

    March 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Green Baggins: “And maybe Hart (I will let him speak for himself) doesn’t wish to claim to be irenic and gracious. Maybe he wants to be a pugilist.”

    Darryl Hart, #504: “Tfan, bring it. Why is my interaction with Mark Van Der Molen worthy of your condemnation at your blog? It sure looks like pay back for our earlier scuffle here but it is entirely unrelated.

  2. truthunites said,

    March 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Green Baggins: “Eighthly, loss of respect is indeed a two-way street. The fact is, however, no matter what one might say about Frame, one would lose respect in some quarters. Is that why I am writing this? To gain respect? No, I am writing this because I feel that WSC has been unjustly attacked by Frame (I don’t believe that WSC is above criticism), and I wouldn’t want people to get their understanding of WSC from Frame’s account of it.”

    Folks don’t have to read Dr. Frame’s book to lose respect for Escondido 2K doctrine.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    March 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    TUAD, as to your first comment, if you don’t like my moderation, then get your own blog. I don’t allow people to whine about moderation on my blog. If you have a genuine question about it, then email me offline.

    As to your second post, since I was not claiming some kind of immunity for Escondido’s theology, your comment is both obvious and irrelevant. I wonder why you even said it.

  4. David Douglas said,

    March 18, 2012 at 3:19 am

    Lane:

    “it is not permissible to lie ever….. I wouldn’t necessarily believe that everyone should be told all the truth all the time. But I think it is wrong to lie.

    I am not sure I understand your absolutist position on the first (and action forbidden by the 9th commandment) and your less absolutist position in regard to the the second (and action required by the 9th commandment. After all the WLC with respect to duties required by the 9th commandment states: “…speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever…”

    Two classic examples of lying as (apparently) justifiable in scripture: The Hebrew mid-wives were rewarded by God for their defense by disobedience (hidden by deceit) of the Hebrew babies. (If lying to Pharoh was wrong, why was it ok to disobey him?). Rahab practiced deceit on her fellow countryman,and the spies seemed ok with it. (Again, lying to your countrymen is wrong, why was treason against them ok?).

    Less clear, but seemingly dishonest, was Jesus’ inquiry of the woman at the well about her husband. I mean he knew, right? Yet he certainly gave the impression he did not know. That had to be ok.

    Classic examples of withholding truth, even deception, as justifiable in scripture: Every military feint recorded in scripture, including stratagems employed by God. He told Israelites how to fight and he hid from his enemies, in plain sight, what the crucifixion of Jesus would result in. Are we to telegraph honestly (in keeping the letter of the WLC cited above) our battle tactics to our enemies?

    It seems that applying the 9th commandment is not as simple as an absolute “never lie/always tell the truth”. The antithesis seems to be centered around those we are at peace with (or have no reason to be at war with), and those who are warring against us. One PCA pastor years ago stated that there are those in certain circumstances who are not entitled to the truth. The Nazi’s at the door, Pharoh and the people of Jericho come readily to mind.

    As for Jesus and the woman at the well, it is clear the the “deceit” was for the purposes of blessing (by teaching) and the whole method including the “deceit” was honestly disclosed at the right time. I mean would it be wrong to have a surprise party that involved outright deception to accomplish?

    What do you think of these examples? If you don’t find them convincing, can you elaborate more on why lying is wrong but withholding the truth might not be?

  5. truthunites said,

    March 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    @Lane, #3,

    The first comment was not about the moderation of Green Baggins.

    The second comment did not say that you were claiming “immunity” for Escondido’s theology.

    I hope that you’re not bitter about Steve’s post reviewing your review because it seems as if bitterness is causing you to over-react or to misinterpret items. It’s not good.

  6. truthunites said,

    March 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    “Pastor Lane has responded to my questions. I appreciate his taking the time to do so.

    My motivation in asking him these questions is not so much to grade his answers based on whether I think he gave the right answers, but whether his answers are consistent with 2k. Whether his answers are justifiable by 2k principles. For the most part that’s how I’m going to evaluate his answers.

    Put another way, the question is whether Pastor Lane has a stable position. How does his position compare and contrast to Frame’s position?

    When introducing his review of Frame’s book, Pastor Lane said: “My political views are what I might call ‘mild’ two kingdoms. I would acknowledge the distinctions that the two kingdoms make without taking them as far as some WSC folks take them.”

    Just to set the stage, there are at least three different positions on social ethics and church/state relations. Actually, there are more than three, but I’m going to focus on three as a handy way to frame the basic alternatives:”

    Read the rest by Steve Hays at Living in the civil kingdom.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    March 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    TUAD, I’m not sure how you got the idea that I was bitter about Steve’s reviewing my review. I am not. I am merely seeking to answer his very legitimate questions. Steve and I usually get along. I have a great deal of respect for Triablogue, and the stand for truth that it has taken for quite a long time now.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    March 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    David, the Bible does not approve or disapprove of either the midwives or Rahab, in terms of their actions. With the midwives, we need to entertain the possibility (I would argue probability) that they were in fact telling the truth: that the Hebrew women did actually give birth before the midwives got there. Of course, the midwives may have told the Hebrew women not to call for them until later on in the delivery. But that would be justifiable civil disobedience, not lying. In fact, one can understand the text to say that the midwives made a great effort to arrange matters so that they would not have to lie, and yet they still disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders.

    As to Rahab, the Bible does not condone her lie. The act of faith for which she was praised was the help she had given to the spies. Calvin, if I remember correctly, did not condone her lie either, while still praising her for her faith. People who hold the views I do have certainly thought about these texts, and the many situations that can arise.

    Deception in warfare is trickier, I grant you. I confess that I have not thought this matter through. There seem to me to be rather a lot of different types of deception, which doesn’t help, either.

  9. truthunites said,

    March 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

    “TUAD, I’m not sure how you got the idea that I was bitter about Steve’s reviewing my review.”

    Maybe it was the title of Steve’s post?

  10. Reed Here said,

    March 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

    TUAD: that only shows something Steve thought, not something present in Lane. Leave it that Lane has answered you and you have acknowledged where the impression came from. There is nothing more of value to discuss along those lines.

    Postscript: someone pointed out to me that it appears I am suggesting that Steve Hays claimed Lane is bitter. That is not my intention and I apologize for any lack of clarity.

    My only point is that one cannot premise something of Lane based solely on something said by another. Nothing more.

  11. reformedsinner said,

    March 25, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hi, long time reader, good discussions as always.

    I must say, I am really shock at the critiques of Frame’s “Escondido Theology” book, and I’m equally shocked at the shallowness of the critiques, which pretty much boils down to “an old man with a grudge and score to settle, ad hominem and straw man book, not worth your time”, which does not do justice to the amount of scholarly work, Biblical investigation, and logical arguments that Frame puts forth in this book on why he has to write it out.

    Also, the call for Frame to repent from his “tongues” of this book, I must also say, based on the way most recognizable names of people have written in blogs nowadays, Frame’s book is pretty moderate in tone and content in my humble opinion. I guess others gotten away with it because there was always an element of humor built-in, which in today’s society seems to make borderline insults and patronizing ok, but Frame wasn’t as witty in his book, so he comes off looking like a crude old man purely with an axe to grind.

    I do not agree with Frame on every issue, and there are many points in the book that I do wonder about, but, to treat it with charity as we expect Frame to do to WSC, i really want this book, as explosive as it is, to help the Reformed community come out and make clear issues that he exposes, with careful exegesis and survey of Reformed doctrines, and whether he really has gone off the deep end based on personal grudge as so many people have quick to dismissed him off, or maybe he’s on to something but we are hesitant to grant him benefit of doubt because it’s really hard to go up against an entire school, let alone a school that many in the Reformed community has considered to be the “Truly Reformed Seminary” of our time. Frame isn’t making that up, I’ve heard it said again and again in Reformed communities.

  12. dghart said,

    March 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    reformedsinner, where do you live? It seems to me you need to take a number before taking a shot at the seminary in California that neo-Calvinists, transformationalists, and theonomists love to dismiss.

    As for Frame’s scholarship, I didn’t see it in his review of my work.


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