Making the Objective, Subjective

While reading through the first few chapters of author and theologian John M. Frame’s book, The Doctrine of the Word of God, I wanted to find a common thread that would underlie thinking about the authority of scripture as it relates to mankind and his views about God and His word, as Frame would begin the task of identifying them. It’s clear that God’s word is not authoritative to everyone, and so it was interesting seeing how theologians, and really people in general, have replaced that authority with something else. I love how Frame began with Adam and Eve to prove that point, as they are the quintessential role models of the thought process many people use to reject, or shall I say, subject the authority of God’s word to their own, and in doing so, they become intellectually autonomous. I never thought of them as disobeying because they wanted to be their own gods, however, I understand it now as them exercising their own form of lordship. 

In choosing to disobey in the face of God’s clear instructions, as representatives of humanity, they placed their authority over God’s, and so made the objective, subjective. Everyone that has done this from Adam and Eve onwards, has basically declared that they do not want God’s Lordship over their lives. For us to replace God’s word with our own intellectual thinking, is a form of idolatry as Frame pointed out, yet, I think most people today would think that idolatry (images of Baal or Kali come to mind) are simply long forgotten relics of the past. In accordance with this, I love how Frame brought out the personal nature of God’s word, that it has objectively been revealed to all of us (Romans 1), and as such, applies to all of us; so the task for us becomes, how do we relay to fallen man that God’s word is for everyone, and so we’re all accountable? Even in this, they/we have all received the truth, but many have rejected it, and so display “their right to think autonomously” (Frame, 16). 

In conjunction with this thought process, I also enjoyed how Frame explained reason (in the descriptive sense) as a human faculty, distorted by sin as it too was affected by the fall, and so in need of regeneration (if I may frame it that way). I love how he acknowledges the value of reason, while showing how it is something given by God to be used in a way that “finds” Him rather than replaces Him.  

Something that stood out to me very early in the book was when Frame acknowledged Noah’s obedience in following God’s simple command even though He didn’t understand it, and in doing so, “God vindicated his faith” (Frame, 5). Frame listed other similar narratives and said that in each, the “course of the narrative depends on the character’s response, in faith or unbelief” (Frame, 5). In this statement, I found myself replacing portions of that statement with the whole of humanity, and so, the course of the narrative of each of our lives depends on our response, in faith or unbelief. This brought me then to the “subjective element in God’s revelation” (Frame, 39), which Frame defined as “a human response to God’s objective personal words to us” (Frame, 39). I think this is what the whole of Scripture is about…that it all boils down to (if I may totally overgeneralize the whole of God’s word, just ever so briefly to make this point) our response to all of the things God has said in His word, particularly His instructions regarding salvation, and whether we believe them or not. If we honor God by obeying His word, then He will vindicate our faith perhaps not only in this life, but also in the life to come.

[1] Frame, John M. The Doctrine of the Word of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2010, page 5, 16.

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