The Author’s Preface

Most of the rest of my review will not be as negatively phrased as the initial post was. Some of the chapters have some very thoughtful interaction with the WSC folks, and are less full of vitriol. I will acknowledge that, and take those chapters more seriously.

I am not actually going to write a long blog post on the author’s preface. WSC has already responded to these bullet points (pp. xxxvii-xxxix) by saying that they agree with none of the bullet points except one as a fair description of their positions, and even in that one case, it has to be understood correctly. Now, it is possible for a person to say that they are being misunderstood, when in fact they are being understood very well (the FV comes to mind). The Ninth Commandment can be just as much abused by the supposed victim as by the supposed offender. The question is this: is that what is happening here?

Take the first bullet point, for instance: “It is wrong to try to make the gospel relevant to its hearers.” As we will see when we get to the appropriate place, this claim involves equivocation on the word “relevant.” As I read Horton when he attacks “relevance,” what he means by “relevance” is an attempt to water down the Gospel in order to communicate it. As Frame himself notes, Horton is trying very hard to make the Gospel relevant in the other sense of simply trying to communicate the Gospel clearly and effectively. Frame is not clear as to which definition of “relevance” he is dealing with, or that Horton is using.

Take another bullet point, “The Gospel is entirely objective and not at all subjective.” Now, maybe this is just my subjective (!) view of what is going on in the WSC writers, but it seems to me that WSC writers have a specific target: an over-subjectivising tendency in modern evangelicalism, a sort of navel-gazing, which it cannot be denied does in fact exist. Surely, WSC folks would not claim that all evangelicalism does this. But are WSC folks really saying that there are no subjective aspects of the Gospel at all? I find that really hard to believe. Would WSC folks really deny that regeneration, for instance, is a Holy Spirit-induced change in the person’s heart? I have never seen them deny this.

The bullet points seem to be much more extremely worded than any WSC professor would himself express. Furthermore, the things that are typically taught at WSC seem to be either missing or only tangentially mentioned. Where is the Law-Gospel distinction in this list? Where is an explicit mention of the Two Kingdoms doctrine? The 26th bullet point hints at it, but does not come out and say it. Where is the Framework Hypothesis? Where is the Klinean definition of grace? Where is republication? This does not appear to be an exceptionally accurate list of what WSC actually teaches. This leads me to believe that the seminary is right in its estimation of the bullet points: they are off the mark.