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The Significance of Christ’s Lordship

What are some implications of the Lord of Jesus Christ? Here Thomas R.Schreiner summarizes the work of another NT scholar, David Capes. I’ve itemized the list for easier viewing.

David Capes rightly summarizes the significance of Jesus’ lordship in six statements.

  • First, Jesus Christ was the object of devotion in creedal statements (Rom 1:3-4; 10:9-10).
  • Second, believers prayed for Christ’s return (1 Cor 16:22) and identified themselves “as those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:2).
  • Third, hymns focusing on the person and work of Christ were composed (Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20).
  • Fourth, during worship early Christians gathered in Jesus’ name (1 Cor 5:4).
  • Fifth, new believers were baptized in Jesus’ name (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27).
  • Sixth, early Christians celebrated a meal honoring Jesus, called the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20).

Capes is correct, then, in concluding that Jesus’ lordship involved worship and that this necessarily implies that Paul and early Christians thought of Jesus “in the way that one thinks of God.” And yet God the Father is still distinct from Jesus, and Paul retains his belief in monotheism (1 Cor 8:6). Apparently, Paul did not believe honoring and worshiping Jesus as God compromised his monotheistic belief, but neither did he collapse God and Jesus together into a kind of modalism.”

—Thomas R. Schreiner. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology, 168

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Beware of Fleeting Enthusiasm with the Word of God

“Churches and individual Christians devoted to the service of God often govern their lives by the standards of modern secular culture, rather than by the Word of God. They hear and speak about God, often with enthusiasm, but he makes little real difference to them. But how can it be that the Lord of heaven and earth makes no difference?”

-John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God

Intellectual Idolatry and Lordship

A classic mark of presuppositional apologetics is it’s commitment to a robust Christian epistemology. Such an approach to knowledge and knowing affirms the full lordship of Christ over the intellectual sphere. As John Frame points out, this is a crucial difference between a biblical approach to knowledge and that of unbelief:

Intellectuals are often proud of their autonomy (sometimes called “neutrality,” “unbiased objectivity,” etc.), and that pride must be abased. Intellectuals will often agree to submit to Christ as Lord in every area except that of the mind. Sacrificium intellectus, “sacrifice of the intellect,” is a dreaded concept among modern thinkers. “Oh, yes, Jesus is Lord; but we must believe in evolution, because all the best scholars do.” “Jesus is Lord, but all the best Bible scholars deny biblical authority and inerrancy.” In reply, it is important for us to tell inquiries that Jesus demands all, not some, of our loyalty (Deut. 6:4ff.; Mark 8:34-38). And that includes loving him with the mind – which may well entail holding some unpopular views on scholarly matters (1 Tim. 6:20).

– John M. Frame, Apologetics, to the Glory of God: An Introduction, 75.

Frame Contra Escondido

The Escondido theology (ET) is the latest work of John Frame. In it Frame interacts with what’s come to be known as Reformed Two Kingdom Theology (a good example can be found in David VanDrunen’s clear and concise entry-level introduction Living in God’s Two Kingdoms). Here Frame lays out the basics of his own position, which he contrasts with the ET (Frame’s bullet point summary of the ET can be found here):

Were I to set forth in alternative to the Escondido theology, it would look like this:

  1. God is Lord of everything in creation, including man;
  2. He appointed men to take dominion over the earth, and that command has never been rescinded,
  3. Man’s fall corrupted everything human, his worship and his culture, but did not separate culture from worship as [Meredith] Kline imagines;
  4. Worship is the focal point of culture, and culture is the external expression of worship;
  5. The law is both a declaration of God’s wrath, demanding that we flee to Christ, and a gracious way of life for the children of God;
  6. The gospel is both God’s command to repent and his promise of salvation through Christ with the command to repent implying a command to live by God’s law;
  7. God calls believers to bring his standards to bear on all areas of their lives, including our inner subjectivity;
  8. Preaching should include the whole counsel of God, because we live by every word of it (Matt. 4:4) and must never dictate the subjects on which Scripture may speak;
  9. Preaching should include both the fundamentals of the Gospel and the applications of the Gospel to all of life.
  10. Church services play a special role in the Christian life (Heb. 10:24-25), but we can pray and hear God’s word anytime, anywhere, and he blesses, comforts, and challenges us in all situations; and
  11. We should use all the gifts God has given us to reach non-Christians for Christ, attracting them by the beauty of the gospel itself, expressed in terms that they can understand. And in doing so, we should teach them everything Jesus has taught us, in listing them in the work of bringing every thought and activity captive to Christ.

I’m siding with Frame on this one. After all, this strikes me as the straightforward implication of what it means to say Jesus is Lord.

Presuppositions and Lordship

What do Reformed apologists mean by a presupposition? Too often it is mistakenly believed that Van Tillian or presuppositional apologists use the word ‘presupposition’ to refer to either a starting axiom or a mere assumption. John Frame helpfully parses out the nuances of a Van Tillian usage of the term:

A presupposition is a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition…This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing. – The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1987), 45.

Frame elaborates further:

The lordship of Christ is not only ultimate and unquestionable, not only above and beyond all other authorities, but also over all areas of human life. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (cf. Rom.14:23; 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 3:17,23; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Our Lord’s demand upon us is comprehensive. In all that we do, we must seek to please him. No area of human life is neutral. –Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1994), 7.