The Lordship Attributes
Last month, I purchased a copy of John Frame’s new Systematic Theology, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Though I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, it is clear to me it is going to become a personal favorite. If you’re hungry for another systematic, then check out Frame’s. It’s very readable.
Chapter 2 is entitled, The Lord. After the author argues for the centrality of divine lordship, corrects opponents to lordship theology, and explains that the central meaning of Lord is “to designate God’s role in a relationship with his creatures,” he writes of the three attributes of God’s lordship: control, authority, and presence. Let me give you a brief summary.
When God speaks to Moses in the burning bush, he identifies himself as Lord. He is the one who comes to deliver his people and announces his name: I Am. “There are various possible interpretations: ‘I am what I am,’ ‘I am who I am,’ ‘I will be what I will be,’ ‘I am because I am,’ and so forth. But all of them stress God’s sovereignty. They indicate that Yahweh is very different from us, One who determines his own nature, or choices, or even being, without any dependence upon us….So Yahweh controls the entire course of nature and history for his own glory and to accomplish his own purposes.”
“The relation between control and authority is between might and right. Control means that God has the power to direct the whole course of nature and history as he pleases. Authority means that he has the right to do that….Control and authority are not synonyms, but they imply each other.” Why does God have the right (authority) to control all? There are three reasons control implies authority.
He is Creator: “Since God created and governs all things, he is the original interpreter of creation, the One who understands the world in all its depths….God, therefore, has the ultimate viewpoint on the world.”
He is Evaluator: God “has established the purpose of everything, and he therefore knows whether and to what degree each created thing measures up to its purpose. God judges rightly what is good or bad about it, right or wrong.”
He is Owner: The “Lord’s creation and government establish him as the owner of all things….the owner of all, then, sets forth the standards of human conduct.” The conclusion is this: “So God’s ownership of the world, his right to do as he wants with his own (recall the potter-clay analogy), serves as a logical link between God’s control and his authority.”
The presence of God “may be seen as a consequence of his control and authority. When we speak of God’s presence, we are not, of course, speaking of a physical presence, for God is incorporeal. What we mean, rather, is that he is able to act on and in the creation and to evaluate authoritatively all that is happening in the creation.” More particularly, we need to think on the fact that God is covenantally present. “He is with his creatures to bless and to judge in terms of the standards of his covenant.”
These three attributes are tied together. Frame explains, “Recognizing God’s lordship affects the way we understand the world. If God is in control of the world, then the world is under his control. If God is our supreme authority, then he has the right to tell us what to believe. And if he is present everywhere, our attempts to know the world ought to recognize that presence. The most important fact about anything in the world is its relationships to God’s lordship.”
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