Absolute-Personality Theism: Unique to the Bible
According to John Frame, “absolute-personality theism is found mainly in the biblical tradition.” What is absolute-personality theism? It’s the teaching that the ultimate and most fundamental reality, the reality of which there is none greater, is both absolute in power, wisdom, justice, control, authority, etc., and also personal. God is the one who “works all things after the council of his will” (Eph. 1:11), and yet hears the cries of his people, weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice. In Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief, Frame teases out what this means for apologetics:
The major religions of the world, in their most typical (one tends to say “authentic”) forms, are either pantheistic (Hinduism, Taoism) or polytheistic (animism, some forms of Hinduism, Shinto, and the traditional religions of Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc.). Pantheism has an absolute, but not a personal absolute. Polytheism has personal gods, but none of these is absolute. Indeed, although most religions tend to emphasize either pantheistic absolutism or personal nonabsolutism, we can usually find both elements beneath the surface. In Greek polytheism, for example, the gods are personal but not absolute. However, this polytheism is supplemented by a doctrine of fate, which is a kind of impersonal absolute. Similarly, behind the gods of animism is Mana, the impersonal reality. People seem to have a need or a desire for both personality and absoluteness, but in most religions these two elements are separated and therefore compromise one another, rather than reinforcing one another. Thus, of the major religious movements, only biblical religion calls us with clarity to worship a personal absolute. (37)
Certainly, of all the major religious movements, only those influenced by Scripture conceive of God as absolute personality. Now if our previous arguments are correct, and the world is created and governed by absolute personality, this fact creates an immense presumption in favor of the biblical tradition. If the absolute personality cares about human behavior (and our moral argument implies that he does), we would expect him somewhere to present his case to man. Further, since God speaks clearly and expects us to hear and obey, we would not expect the location of that case to be obscure or to be a debatable among God’s people. But the Bible is the only major religious book which claims to fulfill that expectation, which claims to be the place where God presents his case to man. If God’s speech has as obvious location, that location must be the Holy Scriptures. There simply is no other candidate.
Inquirers, then, may be glad to know that the real issue is between biblical religion and “conventional wisdom.” One does not need to study every world religion and philosophy thoroughly. Only two are of any importance. As Scripture puts it, we are faced with a choice between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:18-2:16). (126-127)
Posted on October 15, 2012, in John Frame, Presuppositional apologetics and tagged Absolute-Personality Theism, Apologetics, Christian apologetics, John M. Frame, Presuppositional apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.