Posted in Apologetics, apologetics methodology, B.B Warfield, Book Review, christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, John Frame, John Gresham Machen, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Seminary, theological method, Theology, Van Til on May 7, 2015 |
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John M. Frame. Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two. Phillipsburg, NJ:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2015. 382 pp.
This book is the second volume of John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings that contains some of John Frame’s essays that are outside of his Theology of Lordship Series. I have previously reviewed volume one of Dr. Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings. Although I highly recommend both volumes I actually enjoyed volume two more in comparison with volume one. As usual with John Frame’s writings, I appreciate what he has to say since he makes me think more deeply about the inter-connectedness of Biblical doctrines, theological foci and various method and divisions of theology and philosophy. Readers will not be disappointed. Frame’s characteristic way of writing that stresses the authority of Scripture, his exploration of the inter-dependence and inter-connectedness of perspectives along with his straight forward and clear way of writing is evident throughout the book.
The book is divided into seven parts: There are miscellaneous theological topics, theological education, theological method, apologetics, ethics, the church and a personal section. All seven parts of the book contained essays which were very stimulating and eye-opening. I have read thousands of pages of Frame’s work and I found that there were still things I learned from reading this book. Anyone who thinks a book titled “Selected Shorter Writings” means that this is a stale collection of ad hoc old ideas is badly mistaken. I was highlighting a lot of materials as I was reading through it. In what follows I want to share some of what I appreciated from the book.
PART 1: Theological Topics
- I appreciated the first chapter of the book that was adapted from Frame’s ETS presentation in which he talked about inerrancy and how Evangelicals must not be naïve to think that the question of inerrancy can be resolved with liberals and non-believers by simply talking about facts since methods and presuppositions are important. Using Alvin Plantinga’s famous essay on the role of Christian philosophers’ project being for the Christian community rather than just appeasing the secular academic world, Frame also calls Christian scholars to embrace inerrancy “as a place to live” in one’s academic career.
- Concerning the relationship between philosophy and theology I thought chapter five presented the most succinct presentation of the Van Tillian perspective: theology and philosophy need each other, theology and philosophy are similar although it uses different language and terminology to describe the world and the nature of ultimate reality and of course there is a need for philosophy needs to examine itself from a biblical theological perspective, etc.
PART 2: Theological Education
- The first three chapters in this section comes from the first three chapters of his book titled The Academic Captivity of Theology and Other Essays, published by Whitefield Publishers. This is one of Frame’s lesser known work but after reading these chapters I admit I want to read the rest of the book to see Frame further articulate his distinct philosophy of theological education. He has a lot to say that those involve in leadership of Christian institute of higher education needs to hear. He has a good point concerning the problem of Evangelicals idolatrously seeking doctorate programs in schools that does not honor God’s Word. I thought it was fascinating that he noted how in the past famous Christian scholars such as Machen and Warfield did not have earned doctorates but were nevertheless highly effective with their masters’ degree. Frame also talked about seminary desire for academic respectability from the world sets it in conflict with its aim to train men for the ministry at the church. He argues that in the end it is the church who has the authority to evaluate the means and goals of a seminary and not a secular accreditation agency. Accreditation agencies often making a seminary do more unnecessary and unhelpful work in order to be accredited. There is so much more than I can summarize here in this review.
- His essay on the demise of systematic theology also demonstrated the difference between a liberal philosophy of education and the biblical aim of seminary education. A doctorate in systematic theology at centers that does not have a high view of Scripture would only teach guys to teach theology that becomes more of a kind of historical theology that only states what other scholars believe; but this kind of method is inadequate in an Evangelical seminary where the skill requires is finding out what the Word of God says about a respective subject.
PART 3: Theological Method
- The chapter “Arguments and Conclusion in Theology” is partly in response to WSC and those who advocate “Escondido Theology.” However it’s usefulness extends beyond the debate of Radical Two Kingdom Theology. Frame rightly point out that some systematic theologians today are weak in logical thinking. Case in point: Those whom Frame critiques in his book Escondido Theology responded to Frame’s book by denying the conclusion of Frame’s argument. But the critics have not interacted with Frame’s actual argument that lead to his conclusion. It is not enough to say one does not like the conclusion but one must also demonstrate why the argument does not lead to the conclusion.
PART 4: Apologetics
- This was by far the longest part of the book! It is also the section of the book that demonstrate Frame at his best!
- I appreciated that Frame in his opening chapter to the section looked to the Scripture first concerning why it is hard to believe in God and at the same time why it is easy to believe in God. A good editorial decision that lays the foundation before the other chapters look at some intense apologetics’ matters.
- Chapters 19-22 were on Van Til. Some of these were short summaries of Van Til but then you also have chapter 21 titled “Van Til: The Theologian.” This chapter was originally published years ago as a pamphlet and also as a chapter in a Festschrift for Van Til that was published by theonomists in the 1970s. When I read this essay many years ago it totally revolutionize my own theological method and how I looked at theology so it was refreshing to re-read this essay again now that I am older. “Van Til: The Theologian” was what got me going with teaching systematic theology in such a way as to try to portray how doctrines from Scripture beautifully integrate and mutually support one another. This essay has ever since moved me to doxological fervor in teaching the inter-connectedness of theology in order to deepen our worship and further a coherent apologetics by showing how a truly Biblical system of theology have doctrines “cohere” with one another while also maturely handle theological paradox.
PART 5: Ethics
- His chapter on the failure of non-Christian ethics is a very good summary of the problem of trying to ground morals and ethics apart from the Christian God. Excellent! It is worth reviewing from time to time.
- I must say though that the weakest chapter of the book was found here: Frame sees Joel Osteen as less of a problem than I would like and I wish Frame could have considered the question as to what Osteen believes concerning the role of repentance and the Gospel.
- “But God Made Me This Way” is a neat chapter and very relevant in light of the advancing agenda of homosexuality and Same Sex Marriage in today’s culture. Good response.
PART 6: The Church
- Good discussion about the problems of denomination and also church unity.
PART 7: Personal
- A light hearted chapter on Frame’s Triperspectivalism applied to the issue of eating and dieting.
Again there is more to the book than my highlights mentioned here.
After finishing the book I’m convinced that this book is useful for Christians across all spectrum of theology and familiarity with the John Frame. I think the nature of short essays make it helpful as an introduction to those who are new to John Frame’s work. The book also has a “theological devotional” flavor to it that makes a wonderful read for those who want something to stimulate their minds more deeply in terms of devotional materials. I believe it would make a wonderful “devotional” for the theologian in which one can read a chapter a day (give or take for the longer ones) where one has something theological that is God-centered at the same time it exercises one’s mind to love God’s truth (that was practically how I did read this book). For those who consider themselves “John Frame buff” or experts of his theology, this book is still worthwhile to purchase the book as there are still things in this book that I think is new to chew on. It also serves as a good refresher to Frame’s Theology of Lordship.
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.
Purchase: Westminster | Amazon
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Posted in Apologetics, apologetics illustrations, apologetics tactics, christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, John Frame, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Theology, Van Til on April 18, 2015 |
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I am in the middle of John Frame’s latest book Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two. I have benefited immensly from Dr. Frame’s insight especially in the area of apologetics and theology. I think he’s able to apply Cornelius Van Til’s insight more broader than Van Til was able during his lifetime. Lord willing I would be able to finish the book sometime next week and have a review up on here. In the chapter on the problem of evil Frame said something that I found helpful. Speaking of God, John Frame said
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Posted in Christianity, doctrinal apologetics, God, John Frame, Perspectivalism, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Theology, Triperspectivalism on January 26, 2015 |
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How should we understand the concept of God’s presence? Isn’t there a dilemma of God bring non-physical and yet is described as all present?
John Frame has a good paragraph:
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Posted in Apologetic Links, Book Review, christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, epistemology, John Frame, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Theology, Van Til on December 29, 2014 |
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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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Yesterday I posted a critical look at two Fuller Seminary’s professors’ argument that Jesus was not for carefully reasoned arguments. I want to balance that by saying that just because I argue that reasoning is important that does not mean it is okay to be rigorous with our reasoning and not have love. Both logic and love are compatible. In fact if we love others it require us to adhere to and use the laws of logic appropriately! And when we use the laws of logic, as Christians we ought to use it lovingly for the other person.
Here’s John Frame’s quote from the Doctrine of the Knowledge of God that reflect one way there is an inter-relationship between love and the laws of logic:
Perhaps you are beginning to see what a practical science logic is or at least should be! Love for our brethren requires careful thought. Unfortunately, we often leap recklessly to conclusions precisely on these matters that are most important, matters that require the most careful analysis . We jump to conclusions on those matters because we are passionate about them. The passion may be appropriate, but it ought to be channeled in a healthier direction. Our passion ought to give us a greater zeal for truth and for the means of attaining truth” (John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 293).
If we don’t want to miscommunicate and have problem in our relationship with others, it require us to be diligent in how we accurately understand what people are saying, and the right implication rather than the wrong ones of what their words mean. We need to also make sure our words to others are coherent.
Loving thoughts need to logical thoughts, etc.
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Posted in Calvinism, Christianity, God, John Frame, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Reformed Theology, Sovereignty, systematic theology, Theology, theology proper on December 11, 2014 |
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Those of you who follow our facebook page and Twitter will know that we post John Frame quotes every morning Monday through Saturdays for your edification and Lord willing we plan to do this up until the end of 2015.
I thought today I post an extended quote that would be too long to post through Social Media.
One of the thing that I enjoy about reading John Frame is that it is not dry systematic theology but his exploration of the relationship of doctrines and the inter-connectivity of God’s truth makes me stand at awe of God when I see the coherence of Biblical truths. I would say it portray the beauty of God! It is not only wonderful as an apologetic (the coherence of the Christian worldview) but it moves me to worship God–we can call it “doxological apologetics” to borrow that phrase from another apologist!
Here John Frame makes the point with the example of the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility:
And so it often comes as an exciting discovery that doctrines that at first glance to be opposed are actually complementary, if not actually dependent one on another. For Calvinists, for example, divine sovereignty and human freedom are examples of that sort of dependence and complementarity. Although at first glance those doctrines appear to be opposed to one another, a closer look shows that without divine sovereignty there would be no meaning in human life and therefore no meaningful form of freedom. And if our concern for freedom is essentially a concern to maintain human ethical responsibility, we should observe that divine sovereignty is the source of human responsibility. Because the sovereign Lord is the cause of and authority over human responsibility we can say that God’s sovereignty–His absolute lordship–establishes human responsibility. Thus Scripture often places the two doctrines side by side, with no embarassment or sense of impropriety whatsoever (cf. Acts 2:23; 4:27f; Phil. 2:12f.). Human responsibility exists not ‘in spite of’ but ‘because of’ God’s sovereignty. Not only are the two compatible; they require each other” (John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 268).
In the past I have written on our blog on the importance on how PRAYER PRESUPPOSES THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. I’m grateful to see John Frame point out something similar with human freedom and human responsibility necessitate the Sovereignty of God.
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