The Trinitarian Theology of Cornelius Van Til (Tipton)

Tipton, Lane G. The Trinitarian Theology of Cornelius Van Til. Libertyville, IL: Reformed Forum, 2022.

Greg Bahnsen explained Van Til’s apologetic method.  John Frame touched on broader theological issues.  Lane Tipton gives us something quite new: a whole book on Van Til’s Trinitarian theology.  He clears up misunderstandings and explains some of Van Til’s rather unique phrases. Tipton’s thesis is that every error concerning God comes from either having God participate in man or man in God (Tipton 16).

Self-Contained Trinity

When Van Til uses words like “self-contained God,” he means that “God does not exist in correlation to the universe, with each side of the relation characterized by mutual change” (17).  This is excellently put.  In other words, he means that God is a se.  One minor theme in the book is that creation does not participate in the substance of the Godhead.  I agree.  I would like to point out, however, that there is an ambiguity here that neither Tipton nor some Thomists seem to be aware of.  What does “participation” actually mean?  No one really defines it. Even when I finished reading through all of Plato, I had only a vague idea of what the word meant.  This means there are two errors to avoid.  One is to define participation in such a thick way that one becomes part of the substance of the Godhead.  The other is to weaken it where 2 Peter 1:4 is all but meaningless.

Whatever participation means, Van Til posits, not a participation of the divine essence, but a finite replication of it to covenant man (19). This leads to another key point of Tipton’s: Rome’s view of the analogia entis entails theistic mutualism.  Theistic mutualism says that God and creation are in a correlative relationship. We will return to that claim later.

Tipton’s chapter on the Triune Creator is a fine presentation of some of God’s attributes.  He even suggests how these attributes, some of them anyway, safeguard our understanding of God and the universe.  Immutability, for example, precludes any form of pantheism (25). On this point Tipton rightly rebuts John Frame.  Frame, by contrast, “advocates for a species of theistic mutualism when he posits two modes of existence in God” (32 n.21; cf John Frame, Doctrine of God, 572).

The heart of this book, maybe surprisingly, is not Van Til on the Trinity, but Van Til on the image of God.  Van Til simply expounds the standard Protestant view that man was created in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Adam was already disposed for communion with God.  Rome, by contrast, says something is needed to raise man above his created nature.  This means that man’s position is already defective before the fall.  Scripture, by contrast, says that any conflict in the being of man is a result of sin (44).

The Trinity

This is where problems arise, all of them self-inflicted for Van Til. I note up front that I do not believe Van Til was a heretic on the Trinity.  I know what he was trying to say (see below).  Rather, he simply chose the absolute worst way to express his views on the Trinity.  Tipton says Van Til is misunderstood on this point.  He alludes to Keith Mathison, R. C. Sproul, and John Gerstner. There are two problems with that.  One, those men did not really attack Van Til on the Trinity. They attacked him on apologetics and his reading of Reformed sources.  Two, it is not clear that they actually misunderstood what he was saying.  When someone says the Trinity is both One Person and Three Persons, it is not the critic’s fault that he misunderstands what you are saying.  

So what is Van Til saying?  He begins well.  Tipton notes that the “divine essence has no existence outside of each Trinitarian person” (63). Moreover, the unity in the Trinity is a numeric, not a generic unity.  The persons of the Trinity are not members of a genus called “Godhead.” And in one area where I think Van Til did make a valuable advance in Trinitarian theology, he says that each person “exhausts” the divine essence.  Whatever it means to be God, a divine person is it.  Each person is “interior” to the other persons.

One Person and Three Persons

Following Bavinck, there is “absolute personality” in the Trinity (74; cf Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, God and Creation, 304). This absolute personality entails self-consciousness and self-determination.  This absolute personality “opens itself up organically in a threefold existence.”  God’s being is a “personal unity” (Tipton 76). It works like this:

Absolute personality → threefold, self-differentiated existence (77)

Now we can proceed to Van Til’s infamous claim. When he says “one person” and “three persons,” what he means is “absolute personal being/personality” and “three persons.”  The word person shifts in meaning. At this point he is simply guilty of the fallacy of equivocation, not heresy.  Tipton tries to rescue the phrasing, saying “the terms ‘person’ and ‘personality’ [are used interchangeably] to refer to God in his unity” (83). This does not sit right with me.  If we front load divine unity with personality, then we muddle the distinction between nature and person. To this Van Til would reply that we cannot, ala Gordon Clark, make the divine essence a “mute” essence. I agree.  The older fathers noted that the concept person can already do that.  A person is a mode of subsistence.  As a mode it modifies the divine essence.  It is a mode of existence (tropos hyparxeos). The divine essence is never free-floating in the abstract.

The book ends with a good discussion of perichoresis and autotheos.  We will spend some time on the latter term. Autotheos means the Son’s essence exists of himself and not with reference to the Father (112). The Father communicates the person, not the essence to the Son. In fact, “one subsistent person is not sustained in his essence by another Trinitarian person, since all persons subsist equally as the entire underived essence of God” (117).

Van Til ties all of this together with the idea of “mutual representation.” Tipton explains that “each person represents the whole of the divine essence (in the relations of subsistence) and the other Trinitarian persons (in the relations of coinherence” in the Godhead” (132). In fact, mutual exhaustion correlates with mutual representation (133).

Conclusion

Is Thomas Aquinas a theistic mutualist?  He might be.  Tipton, like Van Til, does not engage in actual analysis with primary sources.  To be sure, he references learned works by Thomists on this topic, but we still do not know what Thomas actually said.  There are problems with Thomas’s account in places, and I agree with Tipton on the donum. I admit that some Thomists do indeed speak of a sharing (or at least, seeing) the essence of God.  If Thomas said something like that, we would need to see where and to see what he means by it.  We see neither. Thomas probably held to the chain of being ontology, but did he mean that there is just one being and God has more of it than we do?  That seems more of a criticism of Scotus. My own reading of Thomas, no doubt largely shaped by men like Norman Geisler and Mortimer Adler, suggests something like the following: God and man have being analogically, not univocally. We can say our concepts of being are univocal, but our judgments of it are analogical.  

Following Norman Geisler, I would say that unless we have something like an analogy of being, we will not be able to escape Parmenides’s challenge. Parmenides said if we think being is univocal, then all being is one.  If we say it is equivocal, then we would differ from other objects and God by not-being, or nothing.  In which case, being is still one.  The solution, then, is that we have our being analogically of God.

That’s not crucial to this review, though. What is crucial is that we are still not sure of what Thomas said.  I can even grant Tipton’s claim for the sake of argument, but we would at least need to see it.

Notwithstanding the above criticism, the book is excellent. Tipton has done what Van Tillians normally do not do: he explains some of Van Til’s unique phrases. I do wish he would tell us what “concrete universal” meant for Van Til.  I do not think anyone should criticize Van Til on the Trinity without at least reading that section in this book.  It may not necessarily convince you, but you will at least have seen what Van Til does and does not mean.

(Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy by the publisher. I was under no obligation for a favorable review.  My thoughts are entirely my own.)

John Frame: Theology of My Life

Frame, John.  A Theology of My Life.

To echo a postmodern vibe, I was narrated by this narrative.  John Frame gives us his teaching career and explains some things we were always curious about:  if he graduated with the highest honors from Yale, how did he never get a doctorate?

My favorite part of the book was his discussion of Princeton and Yale.  He studied under some of the great names in American philosophy. He aced elementary logic taught by one of Carnap’s disciples, yet struggled under Hilary Putnam, who taught from Quine’s book on logic.

He also went toe-to-toe with the infidel Walter Kaufmann.

His Time at Westminster

He notes that Woolley supported abortion in some cases.

On an even sadder note, we are taken through the Shepherd and West-Cal controversies.  And while I think his “Machen’s Warrior Children” typology is a bit overdone, it does seem factually accurate.

I am going to note some points on the Shepherd controversy and leave it at that.  I don’t think Frame should have given Shepherd the “air support” that he did (though no different, in principle, from Gaffin’s endorsement of Call of Grace).

Frame explains that Shepherd used “instrumentality” language with works.  That’s the problem. On one hand, Frame says we shouldn’t be bound to language like “instrumental causation.”  On the other hand, if we are going to use that language, and Shepherd does, then we can’t use it with regard to works.

Frame reworks Shepherd’s argument this way: works are a necessary element of saving faith, and saving faith is a necessary element to justification; therefore, works are necessary to justification.  Frame argues this doesn’t mean that works “cause” justification. In formal logic, A is necessary to B, B is necessary to C; therefore, A is necessary to C. This does not mean that A is the efficient cause of C.

Still, Shepherd created this problem for himself and I don’t think Frame sufficiently distanced himself from it.

The Extreme Dutch

Frame notes a minister who had a library of 12 Dutch books (written in Dutch). He judged any new theology book by that shelf.  

And then there are aspects of the Reformed world that I, as a former Baptist redneck from La., will just never understand.  Frame is referring to the “pure Dutch” or “pure Scotch” elements of OPC life. While I did feel some of that in my decade in the OPC, it was never overwhelming (for me, anyway). 

The part about West-West was tough to read.  I wasn’t there and I’ve heard parts of both sides, both of whom I believe. I cannot deny that I have benefited from Frame’s perspectivalism.  On the other hand, I don’t think Scott Clark’s approach to historical theology can be done away with. Clark has been the mightiest opponent of the horrors of Wilsonism.

Frame’s criticism of West-West’s lack of Van Tillianism is rather amusing, given Frame’s (correct) criticism of “Van Til Bots.” I think both are right (how Framean?). Frame himself broke with the van Tillian tradition in using analytical, Wittgensteinian language (which in some cases I think was necessary). The Escondido school never formally broke with Van Til; rather, they tried to integrate key aspects of historic Reformed theology on prolegomena that many van Tillians just ignored (or weren’t aware of).

 

John Frame: Doctrine of the Word of God

A fitting end to a fine series. This isn’t Frame’s best work ever (that would either be DG or DCL) but it is good and there are legitimate reasons for this volume’s limitations. Frame wanted to get his book on Scripture out, but he also suspected he might die beforehand. So he gave a shorter version of it. The first 330 pages deal with a perspectival doctrine of Scripture. The last three hundred are book reviews.

Scripture is an organic revelation, but Frame doesn’t mean by organic what 19th century pantheists supposedly meant. For Frame, “Revelations in Scripture, world, and self presuppose and supplement one another; one cannot understand one of them without reference to the others” (Frame 350).

Frame’s book isn’t just another book on Scripture and how it is inerrant or from God or something. Rather, it calls forth our obedience, and this ties with the above thesis: “Every obedient response to Scripture involves knowledge of creation and self” (364). For example, whenever I reason about or from Scripture, that presupposes I know what logic is and how to use it.

The Personal-Word Model

“The main contention of this volume is that God’s speech to man is real speech” (3). Authority: the capacity to create an obligation in the hearer (5).

Covenant and Canon

God’s relation to us is always covenantal, so we should expect a written, covenant document (108). A canon naturally arises because we need to record God’s spoken words to us, and our God is a God who speaks.

Frame builds upon Meredith Kline’s 4 or 5 Point Covenant Model to show the unity of Scripture (148ff):

(1) Revelation of the Name of God
(2) Revelation of God’s mighty acts in history
(3) Revelation of God’s Law
(4) Revelation of God’s continuing presence to bless and curse
(5) Revelation of God’s institutional provisions.

Covenantal revelation is both personal and propositional (153). God reveals his Name, but he does so in propositions (and sentences and declarations).

Our relationship with God is covenantal, and in covenants God speaks to his people (212).

Some of the chapters were quite short and I wish Frame extended his analysis. However, the book reviews show remarkable analysis and depth. See especially his reviews of Enns and Wright

John Frame: Doctrine of the Christian Life

If you have read Frame before, then you know what you are getting: carefully argued positions, fair treatment to opponents, and a staggering amount of biblical reflection. His tri-perspectivalism is on display here, as in earlier books. I will address it as the review moves forward.

He defines ethics as “living under God’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself” (Frame 3). Further, these are Lordship ethics, and Lordship has three attributes:

1) Control:
2) Authority
3) Covenant presence.

He begins with a description of ethics and a brief (too brief, perhaps) survey of autonomous ethics. He notes that autonomous ethics are hamstrung by rationalist/irrationalist dialectic: man proclaims his own reason as the standard yet denies it is able to reach knowledge of God.

Following this he gives a commentary on the Decalogue, noting key particular applications. I am not going to give a summary of each commandment. Rather, I will note some of his more controversial claims, his more helpful sections, and other notae bene he makes.

Per the Second Commandment, and the Regulative Principle:

RPW advocates see three categories for what is biblically permissible: 1) express commands, 2) approved examples, and 3) theological inferences. Well and good, but adding these extra categories mitigates the simplicity of the RPW. Even worse, it “gives considerable scope for human reflection, in even determining ‘elements’” (471).

What about the specific words of our prayers? They don’t fit in the above categories. Are they circumstances? They can’t be that, since they aren’t “common to human actions and societies.”

What about temple worship? Not everything in the temple was typological of Christ’s sacrifice. It had prayer, teaching, and praise, yet these weren’t abrogated.

On the sixth commandment he gives an eloquent, and quite frankly emotionally-moving, defense of the unborn, with some interesting history on Operation Rescue. On sexual ethics he points out the naturalistic fallacy in the Roman Catholic arguments against *some* birth control methods.

John Frame: Doctrine of God

In this volume John Frame applies his “perspectival approach” (Frame, 1987) to issues relating to the doctrine of God. In other volumes, Frame analyzed a topic by placing it within its normative (law), situational (fact), and existential (person) dimensions. The approach is quite clever and does shed light on many issues. In this volume, Frame approaches the doctrine of God in terms of authority (normative), control (situational), and presence (existential).

Aside from the above triad, Frame’s work covers much of the same ground as many other manuals on theology proper. The book’s value, though, is that it is quite recent and responds to issues that 300 year dead Puritans had not dreamed of. In this book Frame confesses God as “covenant lord” (Frame, 11). The covenant Lord interacts with his people according to the above triad: authority, control, and presence. Frame is obviously interacting with Meredith Kline’s work on suzerainty treaties (Kline, 1997). That is: The Name of the Great King; Historical Prologue; Stipulations; Sanctions; Continuity (Frame, 2002: 438).

Despite some of the hysteria that usually accompanies Frame’s works, this book remains solidly within the Reformed tradition, even if Frame questions large sections of that tradition at times. Sometimes, I suspect, Frame himself does not realize he is doing it. Frame deals squarely with issues relating to man’s interaction with God (free will) and with one another (ethics). In other words, as far as books concerning the doctrine of God go, this one is quite relevant.

Observations

It’s difficult to review a systematic theology textbook. They all follow the same general order and in reviewing one, you have already reviewed about 35% of the next one. Frame’s book is that, to be sure, but he also deals with specific issues that do require a response.

Libertarian Free Will

Frame ridicules the alternative to what he perceives the Augustinian tradition to be. He defines compatibilism (determinism) as the “view that every event has a sufficient cause other than itself” (136). Libertarian free will (not to be confused with the economic position) argues that humans have the power to choose between different alternatives (138). Frame then gives fourteen or so reasons why libertarianism is false (139-144).

His main interesting objection is that Scripture never grounds human responsibility in libertarian freedom.

The Triune God

Much of this section of the book reads like a proof-text list arguing for the deity of the Son or Spirit. That’s not a fault, but the question often facing people is not whether the texts say this person is divine, but how does his divine status relate to the questions of unity and plurality. Frame gives a helpful list on how the Church confessed the Trinity throughout history. There are very good critiques of Aquinas and Boethius. For example, take Boethius’ definition of a person as “an individual substance of a rational nature” (700). If this is the case, and there are three persons in the Godhead, then how are there not three (four?) natures in the godhead?

Frame draws upon the soon-to-be published work of Federal Visionist Ralph Smith (2003) in critiquing Thomas Aquinas. If the persons are simply alternative names for the divine essence, then how is this not modalism? Frame concludes, following Smith, “ And when we take Father, Son, and Spirit as names of relations…are we not reducing concrete persons to abstract entitites” (702)?

Frame’s take on the Filioque is interesting, largely because he doesn’t really care (718). He affirms the Western view and offers the same standard arguments for it, namely since there is an analogy between temporal sending and ontological procession, therefore they are the same (717).

Conclusion

This book is a welcome addition to the Reformed community. Frame passionately interacts with the texts and there is much material for sermons and lessons. The book has some weaknesses, though. There is little (nothing?) in the way of historical understanding and the student leaves the discussion without a real knowledge of how this worked out in history

Frame: Worship in Spirit and Truth

Frame, John. Worship in Spirit and Truth.

Caveat: I generally don’t like contemporary worship, so while I might agree with Frame, that doesn’t mean I like modern worship services per se.

The first 40 pages or so is a basic review of Covenantal history. This is familiar topic to most reformed readers, and while quite good, is probably not why people are reading this text. He then analyzes the RPW. He agrees with the claim that worship must be regulated by the Bible, but is concerned that RPW advocates have painted themselves in the corner. Per the RPW, Frame asks

What are these “circumstances” (WCF 21.1)? The Confession doesn’t say, except to note “light of nature.” I’m open to general revelation, and I would agree with the WCF on this point, but general revelation by its very definition resists specificity.

Saying “circumstances” are secular elements (also common to ordinary life–time, place) isn’t quite accurate. Frame notes, “There seem to be some matters in worship which are ‘not common to human actions and societies,” concerning which we must use our judgment (Frame 41; e.g., what precise words to use in our prayers). Prayer is not “common to society,” yet aside from repeating the psalms as prayers (and one could do far worse), it appears that we will have to use our own judgment. Frame scores points here.

Frame suggests we use “application” instead of “circumstance” (41). This avoids the Aristotelianism of earlier language. Can one use the language without adopting the concepts? Probably, but it’s hard and eventually something must change. I understand the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accidents, but when applied to worship we really don’t see the Bible using that approach.

Regarding Nadab and Abihu, Frame is correct to point out that this verse does not teach “What is not commanded is forbidden,” but “what is explicitly forbidden is forbidden.” Nadab and Abihu did not use the right kind of fire. They were doing a forbidden act.

Elements

I agree that the Bible regulates our worship. This statement is quite different from the typical RPW claim (see below). We have the premise:

1. We may only perform what Scripture commands.

We must add another premise:

2. In the end God only commands broad generalities (52).

Frame develops (2): Where does Scripture bifurcate worship into elements and circumstances? Scripture (a) nowhere divides worship into independent elements and (b) then brings them together. Which activity is elemental in character and which is simply an application of carrying out certain elements (53).

For example, per the above view, the Scripture prescribes singing psalms, whose content is identified. Scripture also prescribes public prayer and preaching, whose content is not really specified beyond “being biblical,” etc.

The things we do in worship are not always easily separated into elements and circumstances. Singing and teaching are not always distinct. When we sing a hymn, we teach other people (Col. 3:16).

In pp. 56-60 Frame gives his own list of a worship service, which is basically what you will find in any Reformed, non-covenanter service.

Instruments

The no-instruments Presbyterians say that instruments were tied to the temple worship and were abolished in the death of Christ. Frame responds:

Instruments were not always tied to Temple worship (see Miriam and David in the Tabernacle). Later, they were, and one could argue for progressive revelation, but the point is that they did not always have a Temple-only function (nor did God say that).
Further, we do actions today that were part of Temple worship: we pray in worship; we take oaths in worship; and we teach God’s word, yet none of this was abolished in the death of Christ.

We don’t really see Music in the OT as being set forth to typify the work of Christ.
True, we don’t see music in the synagogues, but we don’t know why so we can’t give a firm reason why not. How can one claim to be no-instruments yet still rely on a pitch pipe?

What about the body?

I can agree with Frame that dancing, clapping, etc is biblical. But there are also other biblical premises: don’t distract others. Let it be done decently and in good order (the OPC theme verse). It’s hard to imagine how one can have “spontaneous dancing and clapping” and not distract others in worship.

Criticisms

Frame doesn’t seem give weight to a particular sequential format of worship. To be fair, Scripture is not explicit on this point, but if there are biblical patterns of God’s redemption, should not our worship incorporate that? Personally, I am undecided on this point, but it is probably not accidental that many Reformed churches have a generally similar sequential order.

On another point, I understand his concerns about needing to express God’s truth in contemporary language, but it’s really hard to separate the medium from the message on this point. Frame acknowledges the point concerning “thrash metal” music in the service (141). Some forms of entertainment are so thoroughly identified with the most degenerate elements of culture that it is not wise to import them.

And Frame is very aware that worship is “not to cater to unbelievers” (146). Being a Christian has a grammar and a way of living. Yes, it should be intelligible to others, but the Christian life is also one of growth and maturity; sometimes it might be legitimate to express worship in a way that adequately corresponds to the richness of God’s redemption. On the other hand, I understand the Puritan desire for simplicity for the sake of not distracting from Chris

Worship in Spirit and Truth (Frame)

Frame does a decent job defining the RPW, and he is aware of the element/circumstance distinction, but he asks a number of tough questions:

What are these “circumstances” (WCF 21.1)?  The Confession doesn’t say, except to note “light of nature.”  I’m open to general revelation, and I would agree with the WCF on this point, but general revelation by its very definition resists specificity.

  • Saying “circumstances” are secular elements (also common to ordinary life–time, place) isn’t quite accurate.  Frame notes, “There seem to be some matters in worship which are ‘not common to human actions and societies,” concerning which we must use our judgment (Frame 41; e.g., what precise words to use in our prayers).  Prayer is not “common to society,” yet aside from repeating the psalms as prayers (and one could do far worse), it appears that we will have to use our own judgment.  Frame scores points here.
  • Frame suggests we use “application” instead of “circumstance” (41).  This avoids the Aristotelianism of earlier language.  Can one use the language without adopting the concepts?  Probably, but it’s hard and eventually something must change.
  • Regarding Nadab and Abihu, Frame is correct to point out that this verse does not teach “What is not commanded is forbidden,” but “what is explicitly forbidden is forbidden.”  It is not simply that Nadab and Abihu did not use the right kind of fire.  They were doing a forbidden act.  

Elements

Agreed that the Bible regulates our worship.  We have the premise:

(1) We may only perform what Scripture commands.

We must add another premise:

(2) In the end God only reveals broad generalities (52).

Frame develops (2):  Where does Scripture bifurcate worship into elements and circumstances?   Scripture (a) nowhere divides worship into independent elements and (b) then brings them together.  Which activity is elemental in character and which is simply an application of carrying out certain elements (53).  

(3) For example, per the above view, the Scripture prescribes singing psalms, whose content is identified.  Scripture also prescribes public prayer and preaching, whose content is not really identified.

(4) The things we do in worship are not always easily separated into elements and circumstances.  Singing and teaching are not always distinct.  When we sing a hymn, we teach other people (Col. 3:16).

In pp. 56-60 Frame gives his own list of a worship service, which is basically what you will find in any sane Reformed, non-covenanter service.

Celebrating Holidays

What do we mean by the word “celebrate?”

Exclusive Psalmody

Frame gives a number of powerful arguments against exclusive psalmody.

  • EP works if one can prove that “song” is an element of worship, and not a circumstance.  Frame, however, has shown that this distinction breaks down.  Further, we teach by songs (Colossians 3:16), yet few would deny the so-called elemental nature of singing.
  • Scripture never says the Psalter is the “divine hymnbook.”  In fact, such a view would militate against Scripture.  There were worship songs before the Psalter (Ex. 15; Num. 27; Dt. 32; Judgs 5).  After the Psalter, did God then forbid the use of these songs?
  • God often calls for “a new song,” even in the Psalms themselves! (Pss. 33:3; 40:3; 144:9; 149).  In fact, his people are supposed to respond to his mighty works with new songs and praise.
  • The last criticism is practical:  how seriously can we take the EP claim when the only way it works is to severely “work over” the psalms into metrical and versified form?  

Instruments

The no-instruments Presbyterians say that instruments were tied to the temple worship and were abolished in the death of Christ.   Frame responds:

  • Instruments were not always tied to Temple worship (see Miriam and David in the Tabernacle).  Later, they were, and one could argue for progressive revelation, but the point is that they did not always have a Temple-only function (nor did God say that).
  • Further, we do actions today that were part of Temple worship:  we pray in worship; we take oaths in worship; and we teach God’s word.
  • We don’t really see Music in the OT as being set forth to typify the work of Christ.
  • True, we don’t see music in the synagogues, but we don’t know why so we can’t give a firm reason why not.
  • How can one claim to be no-instruments yet still rely on a pitch pipe?

What about the body?

I can go with frame that dancing, clapping, etc is biblical.  But there are also other biblical premises:  don’t distract others.  Let it be done decently and in good order (the OPC theme verse).  Charismatics routinely fail on these two points.

Criticisms

Frame doesn’t seem give weight to a particular sequential format of worship.  To be fair, Scripture is not explicit on this point, but if there are biblical patterns of God’s redemption, should not our worship incorporate that?  

On another point, I understand his concerns about needing to express God’s truth in contemporary language, but it’s really hard to separate the medium from the message on this point.  Frame acknowledges the point concerning “thrash metal” music in the service (141).  Some forms of entertainment are so thoroughly identified with the most degenerate elements of culture that it is not wise to import them.  

And Frame is very aware that worship is “not to cater to unbelievers” (146).  Being a Christian has a grammar and a way of living.  Yes, it should be intelligible to others–and this is my main criticism of Greek Orthodox in America–but the Christian life is also one of growth and maturity