On Faith and Repentance (p951-962)

I found this section by Farme to be quite helpful, in spite, again, of some inconsistencies. There were some helpful triads, a couple with which I find myself in complete agreement. Keep in mind that when I relate a Frame triad, that I number it according to Normative-Existential-Situational, which better aligns with my own Trinitarian triads, which shortcut is upper-inner-outer.
  1. Renunciation
  2. Sorrow for Sin
  3. Turning from Sin
His love triad is simply outstanding, and strikes me as hitting a perfectly biblical balance, prioritizing loyalty or allegiance, something underemphasized in discussions on love.
  1. Allegiance
  2. Affection
  3. Action
He also, helpfully, triadicizes faith, hope, and love. He makes a case for the “order” (a slight mischaracterization I will mention below) as
  1. Faith
  2. Love
  3. Hope
It bears saying, however, that Frame’s system doesn’t really have an order per se. Although my own system is interpenetrating and unitive, it maintains an order that reflects the Trinitarian persons and the normativity of the first element. Frame’s system, graphically depicted as a triangle (whereas I am happy to use a list), emphasizes the first element, but gives no order to the other two elements.
These details aside, I think the case could be made for hope being the existential aspect and love the situational. In my system, the third element completes and fulfills, and love certainly bears this function in the triad, being the last in the list in 1 Cor 13:13 (albeit 1 Thes 1:3), and being the fulfillment of the law.
So my triad, quite simply, and in keeping with 1 Cor 13:13, is
  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Love
However, while I am open to Frame’s view on this triad, I think he gets his “faith” triad wrong. He has:
  1. Belief
  2. Trust
  3. Knowledge
However, interestingly, he later aligns this triad with the repentance triad in a peculiar way, which is being charitable. Less charitably, the parallel is garbled. He aligns, as the first element in repentance, sorrow, which is existential, with knowledge in his faith triad, which is situational. His second element, the normative parallels properly in his triads: renunciation (repentance) and belief (faith). His third element is confused as he parallels turning from sin (repentance) with “faith,” which of course is not one of his three elements of faith, but the entire category. The remaining element in the faith triad is knowledge.
I think his repentance triad is excellent, but his faith triad is incorrect and perhaps partly so by using “belief” as an element of faith, whereas it seems to be, rather, a complete parallel to faith. Perhaps in another post, I will suggest my own faith triad.
Below are a few more quotes from this section in Frame.
So what is the role of faith? Theologians struggle for words here, but Reformed theology has settled on the word instrument. By this we mean to say that faith, even though imperfect and unworthy, is the means (instrument = means) by which we reach out and receive God’s grace. Some have compared it to an empty hand, reaching out to be filled. As the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ puts it, ‘nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling.’ But rather than tying yourself in knots trying to understand these technical expressions, it’s better to just remember that faith is trust. Jesus has died for you; that’s your only hope, the only means by which you can be saved. Your faith is simply trust in him. Your trust is not going to earn you anything, but it connects you with Christ, who has earned everything for you.” (p955)
“But Scripture is clear that nobody is saved apart from Jesus Christ. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” so that he can say, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; cf. John 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36). On the last day, everyone in heaven will confess that he was saved by Jesus Christ and him alone. He is the exclusive Lord and the exclusive Savior. Does this mean that no one can be saved unless he makes a verbal confession of Christ in this life? Well, that is a different question, and it is more difficult. Reformed Christians believe, for example, that children who die in the womb, or before being able to talk, may nevertheless be saved by God’s grace.” (p957)
“We need more Christians who will lead lives of repentance. For repentance always challenges pride. If you’re coming to God daily to confess to him how much you have sinned, you will find it hard to pretend that you are holier than everybody else. You’ll find it hard to put on airs, to pose as the perfect Christian. When others accuse you of sin, you won’t immediately jump to defend yourself, as if of course you could never do wrong and any accusation must spring from a misunderstanding. Rather, when someone accuses you of sin, you’ll respond by thinking there is a high probability that the accusation is true, and you won’t be embarrassed to say, “Oh, yes, I did do that, and I am terribly sorry. Will you forgive me?” If we are able to humble ourselves before God, we will be humble before men as well. And the church will be far better off if there are more of us like that.” (p960)


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