As a graduate of Westminster Seminary in California during the mid-1990s, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is some variant of, “What did you think of John Frame?” The question is unsurprising. By 1992, when I entered seminary, Frame was among the better-known professors in Escondido. Just a few years after I graduated he had also left Escondido after a prolonged and not very secret dispute with the Westminster administration – largely over the matter of worship. Then in 2011 he published The Escondido Theology, a wide-ranging attack on his former employers which suggested that Westminster Seminary in California has departed from Reformed tradition.
That such a colorful figure invites curiosity is not surprising. Furthermore, Frame is a thinker whose unique philosophical system and its accompanying linguistic usage is not immediately accessible to the reader. It is to be expected that I hear periodic questions about him. I have interacted some with these questions online, and following the publication of The Escondido Theology my letter of support for WSC was published on their website. More recently, though, I have begun to see some Reformed Baptists referencing Frame in a positive light! This is to my mind a most distressing development.
To lay my cards on the table from the outset let me say this: it is my firm opinion that John Frame is one of the most dangerous characters in the broadly Reformed world today. His ideas are so disruptive of any system of doctrine and ultimately of any reasonable approach to holiness that I find myself distrusting of those who cite him. Perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps they have not read far enough, or understood sufficiently. But when I see John Frame referenced favorably among those who are meant to be confessional Reformed Baptists, I find that I am terrified by what is coming in our movement.
Tom Chantry’s letter to WSC: A Letter To The Editor About John Frame’s Book
Update Feb. 20, 2014: Confessional Redefinition and the Virtue of Honesty [9 min. readout]