Can it be...a Biblical proposal for the break-up of denominations?
In Frame's usual style of taking theological precision and pressing to see it applied by hearts stirred by God, this work is a wonderful look at denominationalism and its true Biblical warrant.
Dr. Frame sets out to show that denominationalism is in fact not Biblical and only comes into the scene as a result of sin - whether by the original group, the seceding group, or both. His arguments throughout are cogent and convicting. He argues that the Lord set out to establish one united Church Body (Eph. 3:4ff) and not the factional denominations we have today (at least not in their present form). Frame is constantly calling the church back to the Scriptures which call for a unity in truth and love.
His practical suggestions are helpful; and he admittedly does not have all the answers but desires for those who can provide more helpful insight into the dissolving of denominations to come forward.
He shares great insights into the nature of the body of Christ, the divisional character that has come from within it, and some steps we can (and should) take, as evangelicals, toward a stronger unity in the faith. His approach is not to be seen as some rash ecumenical call to boil everything down to the least common denominator so as to be left with nothing but liberalism (and so nothing for the evangelical).
But he does call each believer to be constantly evaluating his own denomination in light of the Scriptures and be prepared to hold to Scripture more than denominational preferences. For an example of his approach, he writes:
"So much of our denominational life is structured according to "us" vs. "them." It's West vs. East, Protestant vs. Catholic, Presbyterian vs. Episcopal, dispensationalist vs. covenant theology, charismatic vs. noncharismatic, anabaptist vs. paedobaptist, even "our kind of Baptist" vs. "their kind of Baptist." Some of this is a legitimate attempt to distinguish what one believes to be true doctrine from its counterfeits. But it can mislead believers into thinking that their main warfare is with other Christians. On the contrary, the great gulf is not between anabaptists and paedobaptists, or between Presbyterians and Episcopals, but between belief and unbelief, between Christ and the evil one." - Chapter 5
True to Frame's distinguished style, you can find yourself warmly encouraged, edified, and convicted while at the same time not entirely agreeing with what he says (or at least having some reservations). He recognizes that, and only asks that his views be countered by Scripture. I think this work is highly valuable and should cause us all to reflect on our own denominational affiliation (even if that's a non-denominational church). I don't anticipate a huge explosion of denominational boundaries coming down anytime soon; but I certainly appreciate Frame's call for us to constantly evaluate ourselves in light of Scripture and his call for us to act in accordance what seems to be the plain teaching of Scripture.
This book is an earlier work of his (originally published in 1991); but because of his such strong convictions for truth and his genuine ability in writing warmly, it's only fitting that the festschrift recently written in his honor is entitled "Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John M. Frame" - for that is one thing Dr. Frame must be known for - his ability to actually speak the truth, and do it with Christ-like love.
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