John Frame and Rand Hummel

DOCTOREDIMAGE Ever since I read John Frame I started seeing threes everywhere. His triperspectivalism has a way of worming into your brain and growing a secret third eye. My wife and I even decided to have a baby—three Wards in one house! It’s kind of creepy.

So whenever I hear someone give a three-point outline, I can’t help but try to relate it to Frame’s normative, situational, and existential perspectives. As I’ve discussed here before, these perspectives derive in one sense from what I would call general revelation: ethics is—it just is—a person applying a norm to a situation. You have to have all three or you don’t have moral decision-making. And I’ve never been able to think of a fourth thing that doesn’t easily collapse into one of the three.

This, of course, brings up Rand Hummel, former Program Director at the Wilds Christian Camp. He used to say, in his inimitable way, that he had a rule for his kids about how to follow his instructions. They had to obey Quickly, Sweetly, and Completely. (When they were young it was Quickwy, Sweetwy, and Compweetwy.)

How does Hummel fit with Frame? Here’s my attempt:

  • Quickly: the situational perspective
  • Sweetly: the existential perspective
  • Completely: the normative perspective

Sweetly was the easy one. It deals with existential (personal) motivation. Completely I put with the normative because it seemed to stress the fullness and exact dimensions of whatever command is given. Quickly gets the situational perspective—but I’m not a good enough Frame-ean (or maybe it’s Rand’s fault!) to say why. Maybe because if you don’t obey quickly, the situation might change and your obedience will become disobedience? For example, a kid could take out the trash sweetly and completely, not forgetting a single waste receptacle and carefully including all of the recycling—but if he takes an hour to do it all, he might be pushing past bed-time!

Forgive my Frame-induced OCD.

Oh no! OCD is three letters! AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

1 Comment

  1. Marshall on February 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Taking an ethics class right now and hearing Frame’s name a lot. Also love Rand (he helped do my wedding)… nicely done. Enjoyable.

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