Another version of the 1k critique of 2k, this time a review of a book about John Frame’s theology:
Frame implicitly rejects a separation of the world into sacred and secular realms. If theology is the application of Scripture by persons to every area of life, then it follows that no area of life is exempt from Scripture’s authoritative claims. In other words, nothing is “secular.” Barber ties this to Frame’s non-traditional understanding of RPW, which rests on the distinction between the elements of worship (those things explicitly commanded in Scripture, such as prayers and sacraments) and the circumstances of worship (those things left up to personal discretion, such as the time of the worship service; cf. WCF 1.6). Although many Reformed traditionalists have understood this distinction as justification for a division between sacred and secular realms of life, Frame argues that even the circumstances of worship are holy and spiritual (143). This has a twofold effect in Frame’s theology: it allows for greater Christian freedom inside the church, and it gives greater voice to Scripture outside the church. For the Christian, all of life is sacred, and thus all of life is to be guided by the light of Scripture, but not regulated beyond what Scripture itself requires. Or as Frame states, “The regulative principle for worship is no different from the regulative principle for the rest of life” (144).
I sure wish the critics of 2k would for once do justice to the word, “secular.” It does not mean profane or the denial of God or unbelief or something apart from God. It means temporal, of an age, a period of time. That is, in the West “secular” is impossible to understand apart from Christian eschatology and a distinction between what is eternal and abiding and what is temporary and impermanent. And with that sort of distinction in mind, we can say that the Bible itself is secular. In the new heavens and new earth, the permanent time to come as opposed to the period (saeculum) between Christ’s advents or between the fall and consummation, believers will not need prophets, apostles or sacred books because they will be in the presence of Christ. The need for the Bible is a provisional arrangement. I guess that even means the church is secular.
To say that all of life is sacred sounds uplifting. But to think that my book, A Secular Faith, is sacred is not only ironic but also wrongheaded. Some things will indeed pass away, as Paul wrote:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)
In other words, the things that are secular are transient. Those include our bodies, marriages, vocations, magistrates, favorite composer. To sacralize these things is to immanentize the eschaton, like identifying Jerusalem, Rome, Amsterdam or Wittenberg with the heavenly Jerusalem.
Which is why I would have expected more Vossians to be 2k.