John M. Frame on the Lordship Attributes


I am reading John M. Frame’s “The doctrine of God” together with my ministry trainee, who happens to have completed a theology degree at Bangor this year.  Not all ministry trainees would be expected to read Frame, just in case you’re thinking of applying for next year.

In this second of a series of four volumes, Frame develops the doctrine of the Lordship of God. In his introduction he writes:

So the Lord is, first of all, a holy person, our covenant Lord. But further study reveals more specific connotations of the term Lord. As in DKG [The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God], I shall refer to these lordship attributes as control, authority, and presence, and I shall spend some time expounding them. As in DKG, the three lordship attributes will generate a number of triadic distinctions, preparing us for the discussion of the Trinity toward the end.

The Lord in Scripture reveals himself in three ways: by a narrative of his acts, by authoritative descriptions of his nature, and by revealing something of his inner life through the Trinitarian persons. These correspond respectively to the lordship attributes of control, authority and presence.

These three attributes fit nicely into a Venn diagram and so we can see what we lose if one attribute of God’s Lordship is absent in our theology:

The categories are fairly self-evident:

1. Distant ruler/absentee landlord: Control and authority without presence.
This god is a distant ruler an absentee landlord, with no involvement with his world.

2. Lame duck: Authority and presence without control.
This god would have the authority to act and the presence to enact but without the power to do anything meaningful.

3. Despotic puppeteer: Control and presence without authority.
God must have the authority to act in his world, without it this god is a despot, ruling the world and its people like puppets as he pleases without commanding their respect for his rule by his authoritative word.

For more posts like this see Transforming Grace Venn diagram posts

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