Unlatched Theism: An Examination of John Frame’s Response to “All That Is in God”
Classical theism is the biblical doctrine of God, and that is why it is the doctrine of God that one finds in our creeds and confessions. That is why it is the doctrine defended by orthodox Christian theologians from the early church to the twentieth century. I also believe that Dolezal has demonstrated conclusively that the doctrine of God taught by many contemporary evangelical and Reformed theologians is a departure from classical Christian theism. I think that is made clear even in Frame’s response to Dolezal.
There is no doctrine in Christian theology more fundamental or more important than the doctrine of the triune God. The very word theology is a combination of the Greek word theos, which is translated “God,” and the word logos, which can be translated “word” or “discourse.” Theology is a discourse about God, a word about God, and that means it involves the knowledge of God. Theology is the doctrine of God, and our concern in theology is the true knowledge of God.
The doctrine of God is fundamental because every other subject studied in systematic theology is connected to the doctrine of God and understandable only in relation to it. Scripture is the Word of God. Man is created in the image of God. Sin is a transgression of the law of God. Redemption is the salvific work of God. The church is the people of God. Eschatology is the final goal of God. And so on. If our doctrine of God is off, everything else will be off. This is why the current debates among evangelical and Reformed theologians regarding the doctrine of God are profoundly important. These are not debates over nonessentials. These are not debates over secondary or tertiary doctrines. These debates involve the nature of God Almighty, the One who created the universe and everything in it, who reveals Himself to us, who redeemed us, and who calls us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. A false doctrine of God results in idolatry. The stakes in these debates, therefore, could not be any higher.
Enter James Dolezal. Dr. Dolezal is a professor of theology at Cairn University. He received his Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary, writing his dissertation on the doctrine of divine simplicity. The dissertation has since been published under the title God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Pickwick, 2011). It is an outstanding work, but also a very technical and academic work because of its origin as a dissertation. In July 2017, Dolezal’s first popular-level book, All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism, was published by Reformation Heritage Books. I had the privilege of reading the manuscript prior to publication, and I also wrote a brief summary review of the book after it was published. The first time I read the manuscript, it became abundantly clear within only a few pages that the book was going to create some waves. Why? Because in this book Dolezal argues that a number of contemporary evangelical and Reformed theologians, whether wittingly or unwittingly, have rejected and/or wrongly redefined elements of classical Christian theism. In other words, they have rejected and/or wrongly redefined elements of the Christian doctrine of God. That is a serious charge, and if accurate, a devastating one that cannot be ignored or brushed aside. Not only does Dolezal argue that many evangelical and Reformed theologians have abandoned classical Christian theism, he also names names. Because some of these names are the names of very popular and influential figures in the contemporary evangelical world, it was inevitable that this book would ruffle some feathers.
Enter John Frame. Dr. Frame is now retired after teaching theology at several seminaries over the course of an almost fifty-year career. Frame has written extensively on the doctrine of God in a number of works, including his Systematic Theology (P&R, 2013) and The Doctrine of God (P&R, 2002), one of four volumes in his Theology of Lordship series. Frame is also the author of No Other God: A Response to Open Theism (P&R, 2001). Dr. Frame is loved by his students and respected by his former colleagues and critics. In fact, many of his former students, colleagues, and even critics contributed to Speaking the Truth in Love, the 1,200-page Festschrift published in his honor in 2009. Frame is one of the most popular and influential Reformed theologians writing today, and yet he is one of the men named by Dolezal as holding to significant errors regarding classical Christian theism. That is no small matter. If Dolezal is wrong, he has misrepresented the work of an important theologian. If Dolezal is right, then Frame’s widespread influence and popularity over the course of many decades may have had a profoundly negative theological influence on the church’s doctrine of God. Frame has, not surprisingly, written a lengthy response to Dolezal’s book in an online article titled “Scholasticism for Evangelicals: Thoughts on All That Is In God by James Dolezal.” Having read both Dolezal and Frame, I am convinced that there are some serious problems in Frame’s response that must be addressed. However, before examining Frame’s response more closely, we need to understand the issues that concern Dolezal as well as the charges that he has made.
ALL THAT IS IN GOD
In one sense, there is nothing remarkable about Dolezal’s book. Much of it is merely a restatement of the doctrine of God believed, confessed, and taught by orthodox Christians from the earliest centuries of the church onward—the doctrine of God they believed to be revealed by God Himself in Scripture. It is a restatement of the biblical doctrine of God found in the great creeds of the church. Furthermore, and equally relevant for our purposes, it is the biblical doctrine of God defended by the Reformed theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it is the doctrine found in the Reformed confessions of those centuries. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for example, clearly and concisely states the classical Christian doctrine of God in the following words:
Chapter II: Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.
- There is but one only, living, and true God: who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
- God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
It is obviously well beyond the scope of this article to define and defend all of the elements of the classical doctrine of God found in this confessional statement. Such an attempt would turn this post into a multivolume book. For those who are interested in the full biblical and theological case for the classical Christian doctrine of God, the great Reformed theological works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not to mention those of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, remain readily available. The point is that Dolezal’s book is saying nothing that was not believed and defended by every orthodox Christian up until recent centuries. And yet, his book is a controversial one at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Why? What has changed?
As Dolezal explains, our theology has changed. More specifically, our doctrine of God has changed, and Dolezal argues that this change has not been for the better. His book, therefore, begins by defining the basic differences between classical Christian theism and what he calls “theistic mutualism.” He argues that theistic mutualism has infiltrated evangelical and Reformed theology, gradually displacing classical Christian theism. But what are classical Christian theism and theistic mutualism, and what are the differences between these two doctrines of God? Here, we can only summarize the main ideas explained more fully in Dolezal’s work. As he explains, classical Christian theism “is marked by a strong commitment to the doctrines of divine aseity, immutability, impassibility, simplicity, eternity, and the substantial unity of the divine persons. The underlying and inviolable conviction is that God does not derive any aspect of His being from outside Himself and is not in any way caused to be” (All That Is in God, p. 1). We see this doctrine expressed, for example, in chapter 2 of the Westminster Confession of Faith quoted above.
Theistic mutualism, in contrast with classical Christian theism, tends to reject many of these teachings as defined historically. As Dolezal explains, “In an effort to portray God as more relatable, theistic mutualists insist that God is involved in a genuine give-and-take relationship with His creatures” (pp. 1–2). There is a tendency to reject or radically redefine divine attributes such as simplicity, eternity, immutability, and impassibility. John Frame, for example, is clearly not satisfied with the classical doctrine of immutability. He writes:
Theologians have sometimes described God’s relenting as “anthropomorphic.” There is some truth in that description, for divine relenting is part of the historical interaction between God and his people, an interaction in which God’s activity is closely analogous to human behavior. (Systematic Theology, 376–77)
Frame then goes on to reject the classical theistic understanding of divine eternality, immutability, and simplicity:
But the historical process does change, and as an agent in history, God himself changes. On Monday, he wants something to happen, and on Tuesday, something else. He is grieved one day, pleased the next. In my view, anthropomorphic is too weak a description of these narratives. In these accounts, God is not merely like an agent in time. He really is in time, changing as others change. And we should not say that his atemporal, changeless existence is more real than his changing existence in time, as the term anthropomorphic suggests. Both are real. (Systematic Theology, 377)
This is radically different from the classical theistic doctrine as expressed, for example, in the Westminster Confession.
Dolezal continues his explanation: “Theistic mutualism is committed to univocal thinking and speaking with regard to God and the world and thus conceives God as interacting with the world in some way like humans do, even if on a much grander scale” (p. 2). Dolezal observes that such ideas have been expressed in their strongest form by process theologians and in a slightly weaker form by open theists of various stripes. Dolezal recognizes that conservative evangelical and Reformed theologians who teach theistic mutualism rightly reject process theology and open theism. He argues, however, that despite their differences with process theology and open theism, they still share a similar divine ontology (pp. 3–4). All allow for some measure of change and/or duality in the very being of God. Frame expresses such change and duality of existence in the sentences quoted above and seems to recognize the point Dolezal has made when he says, “My approach bears a superficial resemblance to process theology, which also recognizes two modes of existence in God, transcendent and immanent, sometimes called the ‘primordial’ and ‘consequent’ natures of God” (Frame, Doctrine of God, p. 572, emphasis mine). It is important to emphasize that Frame says that the resemblance is only “superficial.” He clearly states that process theology is unbiblical and notes the differences between it and his own view (pp. 572–73). We cannot downplay these differences. They are real. Dolezal, however, observes that since both claim that there are “two modes of existence in God,” there are also troubling similarities. The remaining chapters of Dolezal’s book are devoted to defending the various elements of the classical Christian doctrine of God against the criticisms of the theistic mutualists.
I share Dolezal’s commitment to classical Christian theism. Classical theism is the biblical doctrine of God, and that is why it is the doctrine of God that one finds in our creeds and confessions. That is why it is the doctrine defended by orthodox Christian theologians from the early church to the twentieth century. I also believe that Dolezal has demonstrated conclusively that the doctrine of God taught by many contemporary evangelical and Reformed theologians is a departure from classical Christian theism. I think that is made clear even in Frame’s response to Dolezal.
SCHOLASTICISM FOR EVANGELICALS: FRAME’S RESPONSE TO DOLEZAL
Frame’s response to Dolezal’s book is worth examining in some detail because it reveals a number of serious misunderstandings. I do not intend to respond to every line of his response, but there are several significant problems that simply cannot be ignored.
The Scholastic Bogeyman
One problem in Frame’s response has to do with the first word in his title and in the first word of the response itself: “scholasticism.” First, Frame’s definition of “scholasticism” is confused and confusing. He speaks of it initially as “a type of theology.” He then speaks of “the methods and conclusions of scholasticism,” “the doctrines characteristic of scholasticism,” and “aspects of the doctrine of God that were stressed in the scholastic tradition.” In a later section, Frame speaks of “‘classical Christian theism’ (i.e. the scholastic approach).” In short, more often than not, scholasticism is equated with a particular doctrinal content, specifically classical Christian theism. Second, throughout the response the reader observes a not-so-subtle attempt to equate “scholasticism” with something bad or dangerous (e.g., “a slippery slope that could end only in Roman Catholicism”). In short, he seems to equate classical Christian theism with scholasticism while also implying that scholasticism is a dangerous slippery slope to Rome.
Two points (at least) need to be made. First, scholasticism has to do with method, not any particular theological content. It is a method that involves careful and precise definition, distinctions, and argumentation, and it doesn’t always take an identical form. The scholastic methodology as applied by the Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard differs in some ways from the scholastic method as applied by the Reformed theologian Amandus Polanus. Both of their applications of the method differ in some ways from Francis Turretin’s use of it. In any case, the scholastic method does not determine or imply any particular theological content. It can be and has been used to teach Roman Catholic theological content, Reformed theological content, Lutheran theological content, and even nontheological content. This point has been demonstrated repeatedly over the last few decades (for a helpful and concise explanation, see Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 34–37).
Second, the idea that scholasticism equals Roman Catholicism (or a slippery slope to Roman Catholicism) is untrue and misleading. In the first place, Roman Catholics have used other methods (e.g., catechetical) in constructing their theology. In the second place, the Reformed and Lutheran theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who were the strongest opponents of Roman Catholicism and the strongest advocates of sola Scriptura used the scholastic method. There is simply no excuse for the continued perpetuation of these straw-man versions of “scholasticism.” Continuing to push these distortions in spite of the mountains of evidence demonstrating scholasticism’s true nature comes across as a scare tactic intended to frighten Protestants away.
The confusion evident in this misunderstanding of scholasticism provides as clear an argument as any for the necessity of historical theology in the work of systematic theology. If one’s systematic theology is going to involve discussions of scholasticism or any other concept with a long history, one needs good historical theology to ensure that those concepts are defined accurately. A disdain for historical theology can lead one to perpetuate errors and attack straw men.
A Consensus on Theistic Mutualism?
One of the most perplexing (and simultaneously ironic) statements found in Frame’s response is located close to the beginning of his article. He writes:
Dolezal thinks that “theistic mutualism” (TM) is very common among evangelical writers today and in the recent past. He cites as examples Donald MacLeod (21), James Oliver Buswell (23), Ronald Nash (23), Donald Carson (24), Bruce Ware (24), James I. Packer (31), Alvin Plantinga (68), John Feinberg, J. P. Moreland, William Lane Craig (69), Kevin Vanhoozer (72), Ryan Lister (92), Scott Oliphint (93), and, yes, John Frame (71-73, 92-95). Wayne Grudem joins the group later for his adherence to “eternal functional subordination” in the Trinity (132-33). This group brings together many of the most important thinkers in evangelicalism today, and I am honored to be included in it, though I do not agree with all of them on everything. Dolezal, I think, should be more respectful of this group than he is. Is it not even a little bit daunting to stand against such a consensus?
Again, at least two points need to be made. First, I have read Dolezal’s book more than once, and I do not detect any disrespect. Obviously, he believes that the doctrine of God being taught in the works of these writers is wrong, but to equate disagreement and critique with disrespect is mistaken. Calvin disagreed with Luther on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, but there is no evidence of which I am aware indicating that Calvin disrespected Luther. If theistic mutualism is unbiblical (and I believe it is), it would be disrespectful to Christ and His church to remain quiet. Second, there is some irony here considering the names of the proponents of classical theism from the last two thousand years. We are not speaking only of Augustine and Aquinas. We are talking about the consensus of all the orthodox Reformed theologians and confessions as well. These were many of the most important theologians in the history of the church. Could we not ask Frame his own question? Is it not even a little bit daunting to stand against such a consensus?
In fact, it raises a question concerning Frame’s view and its relation to the teaching of the Westminster Confession on this subject. The WCF clearly expresses the classical Christian doctrine of God, including the doctrine of divine immutability. Presumably, as one ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, Frame subscribes to the WCF. But how can one who holds to the views Frame expresses subscribe to chapter 2 of the WCF? These are two different doctrines of God.
Charges of Docetism
A seriously problematic part of Frame’s response is found in his suggestion that Dolezal (and by extension all classical Christian theists) advocates a docetic view of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. In the section of his response explaining why he rejects the classical theistic understanding of immutability, Frame writes:
Christ came to be with us in space and time, to take to himself our sins, and to bring us new life in him. He came to be our covenant Lord. This is the Gospel, and I determined not to accept any metaphysical premise that compromised this covenantal relation between God and man.
This is an odd statement given that classical Christian theists have been discussing for centuries how and why the incarnation does not contradict the doctrine of immutability. None of them believed divine immutability compromised the reality of the incarnation or God’s covenants with man. It’s worth reminding ourselves that the very theologians who developed covenant theology were classical theists who believed and defended the doctrine of divine immutability.
Frame continues by explaining that in his view, God’s relationship with His people involves “a kind of ‘change’” in God. He then states, “But if we say that God only appears to change in these contexts, must we also say that God only appears to enter time, that the Son of God only appeared to become man (that is the textbook definition of Docetism), that he only appeared to die on the cross and rise again?” Again, the assumption is that the incarnation requires some kind of divine mutability and that to affirm divine immutability entails incarnational Docetism. However, the incarnation does not mean that the divine nature of the Son transformed into the human nature as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Nor does it mean that the divine nature empties itself of attributes, as kenotic Christology teaches. I do not believe that is what Frame believes or intends to communicate, but when “the Word became flesh” is opposed to divine immutability in the way Frame opposes them, one is left wondering what he does mean. Certainly, classical Christian theism has never denied either and has defended both. The Definition of Chalcedon guards both the immutability of the divine nature and the reality of the incarnation. Orthodox Christians have always defended both because both are taught in Scripture.
Frame continues by saying something that is baffling. Concerning Dolezal’s view, he states:
It implies that Jesus did not “literally” become man, suffer, and die for us. He was not literally born of a virgin. He did not work literal miracles. Of course Dolezal confesses that there is “something true” about these doctrines of the faith, but every heretic in the history of Christianity has been willing to say that much.
These sentences suggest that Dolezal himself says that there is merely “something true” about the doctrine of the incarnation, virgin birth, suffering, and death of Christ and that these are not things that “literally” happened. However, Dolezal says nothing like this. On page 20, which Frame notes is the source of the phrase “something true,” Dolezal is discussing anthropomorphic language. It is necessary to quote what Dolezal wrote in full to avoid any misunderstanding.
Those who subscribe to the softer version of theistic mutualism are usually willing to deny that the Bible speaks literally or properly of God when it speaks of Him possessing body parts (e.g., Ps. 18:7–9; 89:13; Isa. 65:5), moving about locomotively in space (e.g., Gen. 11:5; Ex. 3:8), or even changing His mind (e.g., Ex. 32:14). But when the Bible speaks of God as experiencing changes of relation, affection, or agency, we are told that these changes are properly in God and that the text would be meaningless or even untrue if this were not so. But it is not at all obvious that this is the case. The classical theist simply regards these as yet further instances of the Bible’s anthropomorphic (or anthropopathic) language, revealing something trueabout God—such as His true opposition to sin, His gracious compassion, or His providential guidance of historical affairs—progressively in time and under a modality (viz., change) that is improper to His plenitude of being. Such improper or nonliteral forms of attribution do not obscure the truth about God any more than talk about God’s right arm or nostrils obscures the truth about Him. (pp. 20–21, emphasis mine)
Notice how and where Dolezal uses the phrase “something true” and compare that to the way Frame says that he uses it. Frame writes: “Of course Dolezal confesses that there is ‘something true’ about these doctrines of the faith.” Frame takes the phrase “something true” out of its context and uses it to suggest that Dolezal denies the literal incarnation, virgin birth, suffering, and death of Christ. Dolezal, however, is not discussing “these doctrines” (the incarnation, virgin birth, suffering, and death of Christ) when he uses the phrase “something true.” Frame’s comment is, therefore, extremely misleading. In the following paragraph, the same misleading idea about what Dolezal is saying continues when Frame asks, “Why should we believe literally that God is changeless, but not that God literally became flesh in Jesus?” The false dilemma appears repeatedly throughout Frame’s response, and the clear suggestion that is being made is that Dolezal and other classical Christian theists choose immutability and deny the reality of the incarnation. However, neither Dolezal nor any other classical theist denies the reality of the incarnation or the historical reality of His life, death, and resurrection.
Biblicism and Historical Theology
There are a number of other problems that could be addressed here, including but not limited to the apparent misunderstanding of the classical Christian doctrine regarding essential properties and personal properties in the Trinity as well as the implicit move toward a social Trinitarianism. But I want to conclude by focusing on the issue of theological method revealed in Frame’s response. I believe that issues related to this theological method underlie many of the theological aberrations that we are witnessing in contemporary evangelical and Reformed theology.
Frame has made it clear in a number of places in his writings (e.g., Speaking the Truth in Love, p. 17) that he follows the theological method of John Murray (1898–1975), professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary for thirty-six years. Frame says that Murray’s method was basically the exegesis of Scripture. Frame’s views on the matter are most clearly expressed in his essay “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism: Reflections on Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method.” His main goal in that essay is to call theologians back to sola Scriptura in their work. This in itself is a laudable goal and one reflected in the work of Reformed scholastic theologians who taught that Scripture is the principium cognoscendi externum, the external principle of knowing in theology. The exegesis of Scripture is certainly required in order for it to serve as the external principle of knowing in theology, and such exegesis was done by these theologians. All Protestants heartily embrace the doctrine of sola Scriptura, but there are significant differences in the way it is understood.
The significance of the issue of methodology is in the background of Frame’s response, but it comes to the fore on at least one occasion. Near the conclusion of his response to Dolezal, Frame writes:
Like [Richard] Muller, then, he [Dolezal] tries to make systematic theology totally subordinate to historical theology. But this is to put the cart before the horse. We can learn much from the theologians who have preceded us in history, but sola Scripturarequires us to test everything they say by the direct study of Scripture.
There is not space to get into the debates that have occurred between Frame and Muller. Suffice it to say that these debates have apparently left Frame very wary of historical theology. Evidence of this has already been noted in the confusion about the meaning of the word “scholasticism.” In order to assert what Frame is asserting about the nature of scholasticism, one has to remain unaware of the relevant research that has been done by historical theologians over the last several decades. Looking to the past, however, in an attempt to determine what scholasticism actually was is not subordinating systematic theology to historical theology. It is making sure that when we discuss scholasticism in systematic theology we define it accurately. The same goes for any other theological concept in the history of the church.
This is nowhere more directly relevant than in the discussion of sola Scriptura itself. If one is going to appeal to the sixteenth-century principle of sola Scriptura, one must make the effort to understand what the sixteenth-century doctrine of sola Scriptura was. By going back and actually studying the Reformers and the theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—in other words, by doing historical theology—we discover that sola Scriptura was not what contemporary advocates of biblicism confidently assert that it was. In addition, by studying history, we discover that all manner of heretics have defended their false doctrines by appealing to what they claim is the Reformation sola Scriptura principle. Theology is not as simple, then, as merely quoting a chapter and verse of Scripture and attacking historic orthodox biblical doctrines that “make the least sense to modern thinkers.” The Socinians did that. We can do better.
In their introduction to the book From Heaven He Came and Sought Her (Crossway, 2013), David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson make a helpful distinction between being “biblicist” and being “biblical” (p. 38). The original advocates of the sola Scriptura principle were profoundly biblical, but they were not biblicist in the modern sense or in the sense Frame describes in his essay. The original advocates of the sola Scriptura principle were all classical Christian theists, for example. They worked within the boundaries of orthodox doctrine. They had no difficulty teaching doctrines that were deduced from Scripture by good and necessary consequence (e.g., divine simplicity). They also critically appropriated the work of past theologians (even Thomas Aquinas). Because of their careful use of the scholastic method, their theologies were rich and profound expressions of biblical truth that nourished the church for generations. The rejection of their methodology and the replacement of their concept of sola Scriptura with a radically individualistic biblicism has been disastrous for systematic theology specifically and for the church generally.
More than a decade ago, numerous books were written criticizing self-professed evangelicals who were promoting open theism, denying and redefining, among other things, the omniscience of God. These open theists, of course, claimed that their view was more faithful to Scripture. Today, other evangelical theologians (many of whom wrote against open theism) are denying and redefining other attributes of God, including simplicity, immutability, and impassibility. I am not convinced that any of the men named in Dolezal’s work are currently teaching open theism, but they are certainly promoting an unlatched theism. It will not take much of a push on the door to move from one place to the next.
James Dolezal’s book is an important one, and he should be commended for his willingness to endure the pressure that his arguments will surely generate. He is saying something in this book that needed to be said. There has been a dramatic shift in twentieth- and twenty-first-century evangelical and Reformed theology, a shift that has enabled theologians from conservative and confessional traditions to adopt and teach with impunity doctrines that had previously been promoted only by those either on the fringes of the faith or well outside of its boundaries. This is a dangerous situation, and I commend Dolezal for publishing this book.
I do not know whether John Frame will read my response, but it is likely that some of his students will. I want them to know that I write all of this with an “iron sharpens iron” intent. I have no personal animosity toward Frame. The little correspondence I had with him years ago was always cordial. I don’t expect him or those who share his views to be excited to read a criticism of those views, but the doctrine of God is not a minor issue, and none of us, Frame included, is infallible. Frame has raised significant questions about and challenges to the classical doctrine of God. But our orthodox forefathers in the faith were aware of these challenges centuries ago, and they provided biblically faithful and thoughtful answers to all of them. Can we think through and sharpen those answers and thereby clarify the classical doctrine? Certainly. But we cannot discard classical Christian theism and replace it with ever-changing theological novelties.
When trusted theologians reject the biblical doctrine of God that has been believed, confessed, and taught by every orthodox Christian in the history of the church, including Reformed proponents of the sola Scriptura principle, something has to be said. Classical Christian theism was not something that previous generations of theologians created out of thin air. This doctrine was based on careful study of Scripture and its necessary implications. Every conceivable objection was considered, and thousands of pages still exist explaining and defending this biblical doctrine. Christians would do well to reacquaint themselves with the riches of the biblical doctrine of God. Soli Deo gloria.
Dr. Keith A. Mathison is professor of systematic theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla. He is author of many books, including From Age to Age. This article is used with permission.
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