Westminster Seminary California Faculty Response to John Frame

All of us on the faculty of Westminster Seminary California are shocked and saddened by John Frame’s book, The Escondido Theology.  Several of us were colleagues with John and several had been his students.  We have appreciated particularly over the years his teaching of the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, his critique of open theism, and his strong defense of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  (The statement of Andrew Sandlin on p. xxxi of this book claiming that John had been a polemicist against inerrancy is surely a mistake.)  We are very troubled, then, to find John so utterly misrepresenting and misstating our views.  We do not wish to engage in a protracted discussion of these things with John, but we do find it necessary to set the record straight.

Perhaps the simplest way to do that is to refer to the thirty-two bullet points with which John has summarized our views at the beginning of the book (pp. xxxvii-xxxix).  He introduces these bullet points by claiming: “Below are some assertions typical of, and widely accepted among, Escondido theologians.  Not all of them make all of these assertions, but all of them regard them with some sympathy” (p,xxxvii).  In response all of us on the WSC faculty wish to state clearly that we reject all of these thirty-two points as a fair or accurate presentation of our views.  We have the most sympathy with the bullet point which says “There is no difference between being biblical and being Reformed” (p. xxxviii). Yet we would state it differently: we are Reformed because we believe that the Bible is most faithfully understood and taught in Reformed Christianity.  In relation to most of John’s bullet points we believe and teach the very opposite of what is attributed to us.  We hope that those interested in our work will read some of the many works written by our faculty and see for themselves the inaccuracy of John’s book.

To see our commitment to applying the Bible in preaching and to a wide range of contemporary issues, we list below a few faculty books which illustrate this commitment:

Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim
W. Robert Godfrey, Pleasing God in our Worship
Michael Horton, Law of Perfect Freedom
R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession (with chapters on the application of the second and fourth commandments)
J. V. Fesko, The Fruit of the Spirit Is and The Rule of Love
David VanDrunen, Bioethics and the Christian Life
Audio recordings of the faculty conference on “The Law of God and the Christian” and our most recent conference on “The Unfolding Mystery: Reading and Applying the Bible.”

In light of the potential for this book to confuse our friends and the general public, we wish to restate our Doctrinal Commitment (as is stated in our Catalogue), “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, breathed out by the Spirit of God through human authors, are the very Word of God written—the only infallible and inerrant authority for faith and life. The doctrines of the Christian faith, held by orthodox churches throughout the ages, express the central truths concerning the triune God and his works of creation and redemption, particularly as they confess the saving work of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. The Reformed confessions (Westminster Confession and Catechisms, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort) are the fullest and most accurate summary of the system of doctrine revealed in Holy Scripture.”

Westminster California has been and remains a confessional school. As a whole our faculty supports and promotes the consensus views of the Reformed community as summarized in the Reformed confessions. These confessions express most precisely our theology.   

If you have questions about this matter, please contact Westminster Seminary California.