Archives For Multiperspectivalism

psalm 99Last year, I wrote a blogpost about Triperspectivalism in the Psalms, mainly drawing from Psalm 71. I’ve continued to slowly meditate my way through the Psalms, and this morning I found myself enjoying Psalm 99. This is a psalm that I have skimmed over in the past with an acceleration button pressed toward Psalm 100. But today, I decided to reverse the speed and go in slow motion.

What I realized in Psalm 99 is three pairs: God’s reign and rule (vs. 1-2); God’s majesty and holiness (vs. 3-4); and how God’s people respond to God’s character and God’s ways, viz., exaltation and worship (vs. 3, 5, 9). As I thought about these pairs, the triperspectival grid kicked into my thinking (normative – existential – situational).

The normative aspect of the Christian life is God’s character. It is the standard and rule for our lives. We become what we are (children of God becoming like Christ). We are situated in a world where God’s ways are continually brought before us. We see his might and awesome deeds worked on behalf of His people. The situational aspect is that God’s people are in the domain of God’s reign and rule. The existential aspect has to do with how God’s people respond to God’s ways and enter into His presence. The answer is awe, wonder, and worship. We experience God in His character and through His ways so that we would make much of Him and “praise His great and awesome name” (vs. 3). In short, the standard is God’s holiness; the situation is God’s rule; our response is worship. This the matrix of communion with God.

Whenever God’s character is not normative for our lives, we wander off into situations of self-rule rather than divine rule. Our response is not worship of God but self-worship and idolatry. Therefore, the response of God’s people in worship is calibrated by the nearness and experience of God’s character and ways. White hot, fervent, earnest worship is born out of a clear and continual sight of who God is and what God has done for us in Christ. There is no better place to be in all the world than to be under the reign of God beholding the glory of God with others genuine engaged in the worship of God.

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Between His resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus spent 40 days appearing multiple times to his disciples and some 500 people. I have not spent a great deal reflecting on this period of time in Jesus’ earthly ministry, but here lately I have found it particularly fruitful.  One of the helpful reflections I’ve enjoyed this week was how Jesus revealed Himself during this time as prophet, priest, and king in such clear and convincing ways.

The Risen Lord as Prophet

The first recorded appearance of our Risen Lord was on the road to Emmaus. Here were two men, depressed and dejected because they had come to hope that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the one “to redeem Israel.” During that journey, Jesus “opened up the Scriptures” beginning “with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).  Jesus repeated this practice with His disciples. Luke records Jesus declaring, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…” (Luke 24:44-45). Jesus was committed to not only teaching the truth of God’s Word, He was committed to His disciples rightly interpreting God’s Word–all of Scripture is about Him!

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OK. So I don’t expect to get a lot of reads based on that title, but for those following the discussion on triperspectivalism/multiperspectivalism, this little excerpt from Vern Poythress I find worthwhile. In his paper, “Multiperspectivalism and the Reformed Faith“, Poythress talks about the a priori role of Cornelius Van Til in the theological construction of multiperspectivalism, especially in relation to Christian epistemology. I found the following excerpt particularly insightful. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

The Creator-creature distinction also reminds Christians that in the arena of knowledge they do not have to be God, or to aspire to be divine in their knowledge. Christians can thus be free to admit that what they have is only finite knowledge, and that they have their knowledge only from the “perspective” of who they are with finite experience and a finite location. At the same time, because God reveals himself in general and special revelation, and supremely through Christ, Christians can be confident that they have genuine knowledge–knowledge of God, and knowledge concerning things around them.

Human perspectives are limited, but still valid (insofar as they are not distorted by sin). Any one Christian human perspective coheres with the infinitude of divine knowledge, because the perspective comes as a gift from God. Multiple perspectives are intrinsically all right rather than an embarrassment or a frustration. Hence, admitting that you are a creature leads naturally to multiperspectivalism.

Suppose, by contrast, that you abolish the Creator-creature distinction in your own thinking. If you think God is on the same level with you, then your knowledge must be God’s knowledge if it is to be true at all. You must be God. Or you must bring God down to your level, in order to have assurance that your knowledge is valid. In that case, your perspective is God’s perspective, pure and simple, and there is only one valid perspective, namely your own. That point of view is what Van Til and John Frame call “non-Christian rationalism.” The human mind claims absolute autonomy and becomes the standard for truth. That approach has an intrinsic tendency toward monoperspectivalism. It exalts a single chosen perspective, and ends up crushing out all diversity in human perspectives.

When such godlike claims become implausible, as they inevitably do, the nonChristian moves to the opposite pole, “non-Christian irrationalism.” He admits that he is not God, that his knowledge is not infinite. But he does not give up his autonomy. He still clings to the ultimacy of his own perspective. So then he lapses into skepticism. He concludes that no one can know anything rightly, because no one can attain infinity.

Christian thinking affirms the accessibility of God. Christian thinking is not postmodernist; it does not irrationalistically exalt diversity and give up unity. At the same time, Christian thinking rejects the modernist confidence in autonomous human rationality as an ultimate foundation for truth. Neither modernism nor postmodernism acknowledges the Creator-creature distinction. So neither agrees with the Christian answer, which is that we can remain creatures, in submission to the Creator. God gives us real but not exhaustive knowledge of the truth. [emphasis mine]

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I’ve written a fairly decent amount of articles on triperspectivalism over the past couple of years, and this post is daily generating traffic from those inquiring about it. Outside of what I’ve written online, there are at least 3-4 other areas of church leadership and ministry where I’ve discovered triperspectivalism to be helpful. Some have asked if there was a way to package all that together in one place. In an effort to do that, I’m starting with a 5-hour mini conference on triperspectival leadership in conjunction with the PLNTD Nashville conference next weekend.

One week from today, I will lead folks in exploring the nature of triperspectivalism and how it works out in the local church. There are many approaches to leadership in the church, and the unique contribution triperspectival leadership makes is its distinct, gospel-driven framework established on the mediating offices of Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King. This paradigm for leadership in the church has caught the attention of many, and as one can imagine, it can be easily misunderstood and misapplied. I will lead a 5-hour practicum to explore the theological foundation and practical application of triperspectival leadership, including spiritual formation, cultural engagement, leadership development, disciple-making, church transitions, prayer life, and preaching (possibly others). The goal of this pre-conference is to equip you with a gospel-driven form and framework for leading a gospel-centered church.

Thursday, November 1

6:00 Dinner
7:00 Session 1: Theology: The Nature, Purpose, and Limits of Triperspectivalism*
9:00 Q&A

* I will explain how triperspectivalism came about through the influence of John Frame primarily and secondarily through Vern Poythress, Drew Goodmanson, David Fairchild, Tim Keller, and others. Additionally I will hash out the various venues where the triads appear, including epistemology, ethics, Lordship, Christology, leadership, and virtue. From this theological foundation and fleshed out paradigm, we will see how these triads are applied in leadership in the local church.

Friday, November 2

8:00 Breakfast and Fellowship
9:00 Session 2: Praxis: Applying Tripersectivalism in Church Leadership*
12:00 Over

* In the second session, I explain the outworking of triperspectival leadership in various areas of church life, including biblical hermeneutics, Christ-centered preaching, gospel-centered spiritual formation, daily prayer rhythms, balancing pastoral priorities and practices, understanding church structures, creating culture (transitioning), cultural engagement, discipleship, and leadership development in gospel communities. The praxis of triperspectival leadership intends to see the gospel through not only what we do but how we do what we do.

There’s still some slots available for this pre-conference. It’s one week from today.
Register on Eventbrite and join us if you can!

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[Caveat]

A month ago, I made the case from a macro level that there is a triperspectival structure to the gospel of John. I am not saying of course that John was writing/thinking triperspectivally when he wrote this gospel account, but I do believe that God has a way of presenting truth perspectivally (hence, four gospel accounts as opposed to one). John Frame argues, “God’s knowledge is not only omniscient, but omniperspectival. He knows from his own infinite perspective; but that infinite perspective includes a knowledge of all created perspectives, possible and actual” (Primer on Perspectivalism, 2). Speaking of human and divine authorship, Frame later adds,

“God reveals himself by inspiring human beings. He generally does not dictate, but rather enables them to write consistently with their own gifts, education, and personalities, that is, their own perspectives. And by such divine enablement, each author writes exactly what God wants him to write” (ibid., 4).

So when I’m asked whether John was thinking triperspectivally, my answer would be no. But he was writing from his own perspective, and God used that as one of multiple perspectives to convey the beauty and brilliance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

[/Caveat]

As I continue in my morning meditations in the gospel of John, I found myself in John 15. It’s a passage many Christians are familiar with and one I’ve read numerous times. One might think I’m fishing for triad of perspectives so as to force a paradigm into a text, but this morning was another case I believe that disproves this imposition. Let me explain.

In my Bible, John 15 is broken down in three large paragraphs (mainly).

Paragraph 1 is John 15:1-11
Paragraph 2 is John 15:12-17
Paragraph 3 is John 15:18-25

In my meditating on each of these paragraphs, the normative (Prophet), existential (Priest), and situational (King) perspectives surfaced rather convincingly to me.

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