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.