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Posted in Apologetics, Book Review, Christian ethics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, John Frame, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, theological method, Theology, Theology of Lordship Series, Triperspectivalism, Van Til, tagged John Frame on September 10, 2014 | 6 Comments »
Note: You can purchase this work at a discounted price over at Westminster Bookstore by clicking HERE.
A massive volume on the important subject of Christian ethics by one of the most sophisticated Biblicist today. This volume by Dr. John Frame in his theology of Lordship series was a wonderful read and was intellectually stimulating and doxological—what I expect from John Frame’s work and something I hope to be able to emulate in my own teaching ministry. This work is different than most Christian text book on ethics in that it applies John Frame’s Triperspectivalism (looking at things with the consciousness of the normative, situational and existential perspective) and a robust Reformed and Biblical theology to the area of Christian ethics and living. I also think Frame’s Van Tillian side is also a big a plus since I appreciate how the beginning of the book John Frame goes about refuting non-Christian philosophy, religion and worldview that are competitors against the Christian worldview of ethics. This section is excellent and can be a small book that is worth buying alone. Frame also wasn’t just into refutation but a positive presentation of the Christian position on ethics as well. In fact the bulk of the book was his exposition on the ten commandments and he did a good job of showing how other parts of the Scripture illuminates the Decalogue with more specific application or nuances. Even if one might not agree with Frame in the particular, he nevertheless will provide great food for thought and challenge the reader to think more biblically and rigorously on ethical matters.
Frame was able to strike my interests and simulated my thought throughout the thousand page book which I think is quite a feat. In what follows I can only share some of the highlights:
- Frame had a good discussion in the book about the danger of exclusively preaching redemptive-history especially without the intention of application. If one reads his collection of shorter works, Frame expands on this concern he has.
- The chapter on motive and virtue was saturated with the Gospel and how it motivates a believer’s sanctification; this same chapter also had a good discussion trying to reconcile imprecatory prayers with loving one’s enemy with Frame noting the distinction between wanting God to pour out His wrath while we not doing this ourselves.
- Another highlight in the book was John Frame’s discussion about racial equalities. I think what he has to say is probably the closest position to mine that I have seen in print. In particular, I find it helpful his discussion of various ways people use the term “racism.” I also liked his discussion about race within the context of the church such as his quote: “Churches do not have to seek a quota of every ethnic or national group in their vicinity. But they must welcome everyone” (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 674).
- The discussion on war is a good one; Frame is conscious of what the Scripture say and does not say and he brings this to bear in his observation and criticism of Just War theory. As a Marine myself, I have had some questions about various aspect of Just War theory that seems problematic such as what is proportional force, etc. I appreciate Frame saying that Just War Theory isn’t so much a theory as it is a series of good questions we must ask concerning war.
- I really appreciate the section of the book on culture. He does a good job working towards a theological definition of culture and from there explain the various model of the relationship between Christ and culture along with his criticism of each respective views’ strength and weaknesses. Frame’s discussion about culture also led to the topic of Christians and film; he gives some good principles of what to ask when one watches movies as a Christian and also a defense that movies are not wrong in of itself.
- For anyone who has read Frame before, there are many points he makes that makes one think not only with the doctrine or position at hand, but also the theological method that is driving Frame as well. I feel Frame is great to read to think about theological method more consciously.
- In terms of the appendix, I really appreciated Frame’s review of RJ Rushdoony’s book, The Institute of Biblical Law. I thought Frame did a good job of noting Rushdoony’s contribution to Christian study of the law while also being critical in a helpful way that can help push the Christian Reconstructionist movement forward. His review noted some good problems in Rushdoony’s book while Frame was also able to address Theonomy’s critics that they must not knee-jerk emotionally reject God’s Law out of hand just because we don’t like it, because afterall it was at one time God’s Law.
With the positive I must add a few constructive criticism of the book but I hope this is not misconstrued to mean that I thought Frame did a poor job. On the contrary, I think it speaks to the quality of the book that my criticisms are few for such a lengthy book:
- The book is weaker theologically concerning eschatology and especially the millennial positions. Frame doesn’t get into much of eschatology although I think its worth pursuing by others more systematically the relationship between eschatology and Christian ethics.
- The book gave a short treatment on the topic of spiritual growth and I wished he talked more about sanctification but for such a lengthy book that already covered so many areas one can’t really fault John Frame.
- A lot of the appendixes were book reviews of works in the 1980s or earlier. Since the book was published in 2008, I thought it would have been nice to see reviews of books that are more recent in publication.
This work can be purchased for a discounted cost if you click HERE.
This is a fascinating booklet and a new addition to the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series this is the result of the partnership between the faculty of the Westminister Theological Seminary and P&R Publishing. Early in the booklet Peter Jones argues that the three “isms” of Postmodernism, Gnosticism and Polytheism provides “the lens through which we can understand what is sometimes called the New Spirituality” (7). The booklet defines Postmodernism, Paganism and Gnosticism and then argues that the transition from Modernity with its atheism and emphasis on logos is now being replaced by the spirit of postmodernity, pantheism and mythos. Paganism attempts to join opposites (good and evil, male and female, Creator and creature, etc) which Gnosticism also does too. The irony that Jones note is that modernism’s skepticism and atheistic outlook in attacking Christianity gave rise to polytheism instead in its wake. This is because man is incurably religious, though they suppress the truth and make idols instead according to Romans 1. Jones make the argument that atheism and paganism has more in common with each other (“cousins”) because they both shared in the belief that all reality is ultimately one (Jones calls this “Oneism”); at the end of the day there is really two worldviews competing, that of the Christian worldview’s “Two-ism” and that of Monism. This book is an excellent summary of Jones’ life work in the area of Paganism and our culture. It is well researched and for a small booklet it has 121 footnotes. I only wished he employed Van Til’s argument of the one and the many to refute “Oneism.” I do recommend the book.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.