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Archive for September 16th, 2009

framebook

When I was still very new to Van Til’s Presuppositional apologetics, I attempted to read John Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God but eventually stopped because it seem to deviate from Van Til’s apologetics in some key areas.  In addition, there were names of Christians Frame mentioned who were strangers to me.  It seemed back then as if Frame was boxing some shadowy unknown interlocutors, whom he assume his readers were aware of.   Some years later, I finally re-read John Frame’s introduction to apologetics, and can now say I appreciate what Frame is trying to say.  The names are no longer a mystery though Frame should properly introduce them!

Early in the book, Frame warns in his preface that some Van Tillian will see his work as “revisionist”.  I do agree that Frame is in some sense a revisionist Van Tillian, notably with his acceptance of the traditional arguments.  In his criticism of the Transcendental argument (69-72), of how the Transcendental argument need additional arguments to support its premises with arguments of the traditional forms, I was disappointed that he didn’t interact more with Van Til’s concept of the “impossibility of the contrary”.  Published in 1994, Frame even made reference in the book to his former student and colleague Greg Bahnsen but did not interact with what he has to say.  Bahnsen (who was still alive at this point) has been one of the chief proponent of the “impossibility of the contrary” argument.  Unlike others who have critiqued Van Til (Clark, Sproul and company, etc), Frame actually understands Van Til and doesn’t misrepresent him, which makes his work more valuable for those who wish to strengthen Van Til’s apologetics.  Frame’s criticism of Van Til is fairly constructive.  In fact, Frame strikes me as a good example of a godly apologist who is humble and charitable, something that can be a short supply among apologists in general.  In the book, he expressed his disagreement with Jay Adam’s take on the problem of evil in The Great Demonstration, yet Frame included in the appendix of his work Adam’s response to Frame.  Christians who desire to engage in apologetics have a good Christian example to follow in John Frame.

Frame has the best summary I have ever read of Van Til’s argument of the One and the Many, and the Trinity as the solution to the dialectical problem of monism/pluralism, continuity/discontinuity in philosophy (46-50).  He explained it better than Van Til!  This has some influence then with perspectivalism.  John Frame’s perspectivalism (different fields and spheres as perspectives, which are inter-related with each other) is evident throughout this work.  While I am aware that there is some caution of some Van Tillian toward this as Frame’s revision, I do think the incipient form of perspectivalism in Van Til’s work. I am in general agreement with Frame’s overall effort to demonstrate the rational coherent inter-dependability of the various aspects of Christianity.  While perspectival argument can be distinct from the transcendental argument (Frame’s perspectivalism has influenced me: I think the two broad form of arguments are inter-related!), a perspectival form of argument is also a valuable tool in the apologists arsenal, especially in the defense of Christian doctrines as an entire inter-related system.

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