Reformed Theology

Some interesting quotes, and a response

Observe:

“Jesus can help me get a promotion and he can relieve my stress.” –John Frame

“God is concerned about human happiness, even in the details of our lives.” –John Frame

“Preaching cannot possibly have the precise emphasis that Scripture has, for its work is not to replicate Scripture but to apply Scripture to its readers.” –John Frame

“Not every concern with self is selfish. It is wrong to covet, but not every desire for earthly goods is coveting.” –John Frame

“The law is good news, gospel. And the gospel is law.” –John Frame

In contrast:

“[The] difference between the Law and the Gospel is the height of knowledge in Christendom. Every person and all persons who assume or glory in the name of Christian should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such supreme importance is this differentiation.” –Martin Luther

Now there’s something Frame said that I just can’t leave unanswered:

“[Jesus] commended David’s behavior in supplying food to his hungry men.” –John Frame

Here’s what Jesus really said:

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28

John Frame falls far short in supplying this passage as evidence to justify the allegorization/moralization of Bible stories. First of all, the point is not that we all should learn a lesson from David’s behavior on this occasion. I think that is obvious when you consider that David’s behavior or that day cost the lives of not only the entire priesthood, but of an entire city (1 Sam. 22:16-19). In a post-9/11 world, how could Frame possibly miss this detail? What’s more, when David heard the news of the resulting massacre, he deeply regretted what he had done. This means if we are going to learn a lesson from this story, it is most certainly not that we should do as David did.

The entire point is the Son of Man is the Lord over everything, even the Sabbath. He is the greater Son of David; if David has the right to use a holy thing on a holy day to meet the needs of his men, how much more does the divine Son of David!

Unlike David, however, Jesus is perfect and has never broken the law. Therefore, we can consider his actions and consider his behavior as an example, as Paul did in Philippians 2:5ff., and numerous other passages. So, if we had to look for personal application in Christ’s example (which Frame would appreciate) instead of just looking at what the text teaches about Christ, what we can glean (pardon the pun) from it is this: meeting needs such as hunger is not in violation of either the Fourth Commandment or the ceremonial law that indicated the showbread is for priests. (See Lev. 24:9. Basically it was the priests’ dinner, and they shared it with David and his men because it was all they had, so this is not actually a violation but common hospitality.) The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; therefore, the Sabbath laws were never intended to be a burden too hard to bear. Again, in this case it is Jesus who is our example, and not David. In the final analysis, all this is very different from Frame’s man-centered and simplistic interpretation, “[Jesus] commended David’s behavior in supplying food to his hungry men.” Jesus did no such thing.

“Instead of drawing a straight line of application from the narrative to us, which typically moralizes or allegorizes the story, we are taught by Jesus himself to understand these passages in the light of their place in the unfolding drama of redemption that leads to Christ.” –Michael Horton

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