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Archive for December 29th, 2014

The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God John Frame cover

John Frame. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1987. 402 pp.

According to the author this book was completed in December 1984 (382).  I finished this book thirty years after it was written on December 2014 and I would say that it is a work that is more relevant than ever.  This book is an exploration of a Biblical view of knowledge and specifically the pursuit of the knowledge of God.  John Frame does a masterful job showing us how Scripture’s teachings have bearing towards a Christian theory of knowledge.  Frame does caution early in the book that this work is more theological rather than philosophical but I think this is the book’s strength in that Frame is driven by a high view of God’s Word in his construction of a distinctively Christian view of knowledge.

This is the first volume in Frame’s four book “Theology of Lordship” series.  It so happened that I completed John Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life first, which is actually Frame’s third volume and I found that some of the materials on perspectivalism wasn’t necessarily new when I read this present volume.  Of course, the Doctrine of the Knowledge of God lays the foundation for the other volume in this series in that it articulate, explain and defend the concept that knowledge is perspectival; that is, there are aspects to knowledge that are inter-dependent though distinctions could be made.  Specifically, Frame sees a triade that there is a normative, situational and existential side of knowledge.  Throughout the book this triade is mentioned again and again and Frame shows its usefulness in theology, apologetics and philosophy.  I found it useful as a template in identifying people’s reductionistic fallacy when they assume only one perspective is right over and against the other.  Frame’s perspectivalism is also useful as a tool to make one conscious of being balanced and well rounded when one approach theology and philosophy.

The book is divided into three parts with part one focusing on the objects of knowledge, the second part on the justification of knowledge and the third on the method of knowledge.  I enjoyed part two’s discussion of various traditional epistemology followed by Frame’s identification of their problem.  This is helpful in equipping a Christian apologist to know how to refute bad epistemologies.  But I also appreciate John Frame’s direction in the second chapter of part two of the book in constructing a positive justification of knowledge.

Other parts of the book that I really enjoyed include Frame’s discussion about anti-abstractionism in which he defends the notion that abstraction is not necessarily a bad thing in of itself and that we can’t help but to think abstractly in various degrees whenever we think or communicate.  I also appreciate John Frame sharing his perspective on Reformed Epistemology which Frame devote an appendix of good length to the issue by means of a book review.  I also enjoyed the book’s discussion of the laws of logic and how the laws of logic ought to be thought of as a subset of ethics.  Frame’s discussion about the human faculty involved in the process of knowing must not be missed.  I was pleasantly surprised to find how holistic John Frame was in that he even discussed the qualification of a theologian!  Sanctification is important in the knowledge of God and vice versa!

As it is typical of John Frame’s work, I found the book to be extremely helpful and every page to be stimulating and thought provoking.  Frame’s work often make me think of theological methods and makes me more aware of my own method and the method of others in arriving at a theological position.  Typical of other work by Frame is that I enjoyed reading this book and enjoyed God in the process—his work often leads me to worship God!  It is not a dry systematic theology book, as I found the book to be quite a good devotional as well.  This book is also good for those who have read a lot of introductory materials on Presuppositional apologetics and would like to expand more indepth Christian epistemology from a Van Tillian perspective.  I highly recommend this work.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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