An Argument For Imputation From John Frame

I love everything John Frame. While I’m doing my M.Div right now at the University of Toronto I’m trying to game the system a bit by taking every correspondence course I can from Frame at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He’s definitely been the most influential author for the development of my theology.

In the Reformed communities that I’m a part of there’s a debate regarding the relationship of the imputation of Christ’s active righteousness to the gospel. Some, like R.C. Sproul, believe the imputation of active obedience to be the gospel. Others claim the concept isn’t biblical and certainly should not be a litmus test of Reformed orthodoxy, just like it wasn’t at the Westminster Assembly.

John Frame is a(n) (active?) proponent of the imputed righteousness of Christ but falls into the second camp as he doesn’t see it being a litmus test for Reformed heresy hunters. Here’s John Frame’s brief response to Norman Shepherd and a brief argument for imputation from Salvation Belongs to the Lord:

Despite my great respect for Shepherd, I cannot accept his argument, though I think his position (contrary to some) is certainly within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy. There are legitimate questions about whether the New Testament uses specific language of imputation in regard to Christ’s active righteousness. But, however those questions come out, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us is certainly implicit in the imputation of our sin to him, which Shepherd accepts. If our sin is placed on Christ, so that we are thenceforth in Christ (as the New Testament pervasively emphasizes), then we are righteous for his sake. God holds nothing more against us. People not charged with sin are righteous people. There is no such thing as ethical neutrality. Every human act or attitude, every human person, is either righteous or unrighteous. In Christ, then, we are not ethically neutral but positively righteous and therefore fit for heaven. But we are righteous only in Christ, not in ourselves. That point is obviously biblical, and it seems to me that it is equivalent to a doctrine of imputed active righteousness. Salvation Belongs to the Lord, pg. 346.