John Frame's Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1by John M. Frame
A collection of short, pointed essays from John Frame stating some of his teachings in theological method, apologetics, and the Christian life. Includes an introduction to his signature concept of “perspectivalism.”
Prior to publishing this book, most of these rare theological and philosophical gems had been hidden away in his electronic files or posted on websites and blogs not widely known to the public. This is not merely a compilation of appendices from his many books and articles. Instead these chapters are mostly unpublished essays of Frame's thought as part of the culmination of a remarkable career as a teacher of theology and philosophy.
Building on his education at Princeton, Westminster Seminary, and Yale, Frame distinguished himself as an outstanding theologian during 31 years on faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary. Since 2000 he has been on the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando as Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy. He teaches Apologetics, Systematic Theology, Ethics, and History of Philosophy and Christian Thought.
During his decades as a seminary professor, he has distinguished himself as a prolific author, publishing books and articles not only in the areas of apologetics, theology, and ethics, but also in worship, film, music, and other media. Among his larger theological works is his highly acclaimed and award winning Theology of Lordship series, including The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987), The Doctrine of God (2002), The Doctrine of the Christian Life (2008), and The Doctrine of the Word of God (2010).
Frame is especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics, he’s considered one of the foremost interpreters and critics of the thought of the late Christian Apologist Cornelius Van Til, whom he studied under while a student at Westminster Seminary.
In his first book, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987), Frame elaborated his Christian epistemology (which he calls Tri-perspectivalism) in which he argues that in order to appreciate the richness of attaining true knowledge, a person must understand that knowledge always involves the integration of three perspectives--the normative, situational, and existential.
His "Tri-perspectival framework" has made a profound impact on me, especially as it relates to applying the knowledge of Christ's offices as Prophet (Normative), Priest (Existential), and King (Situational) to all of life and ministry. Frame's passion to see the Lordship of the triune God in every sphere of thought and life is contagious. And this contagion has infected me for good, not only through his writings, but also through his life.
One would understandably think that a scholar with Frame's intellectual rigor and theological acumen would likely carry with him an aura of haughtiness. Instead, as one who has had an office next to him since 2000, I can tell you first-hand that John is a man marked by a rare blend of remarkable intellect and authentic humility. He is a model of living out what he writes about in his popular booklet, Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus (his grandfatherly advice written originally for incoming seminary students at RTS-Orlando.)
Those who engage him in theological or philosophical debate (and there are many) almost always experience his charitable and fair spirithis genuine willingness to take a serious look at both sides of an issue. He’s well-known for treating an opposing view graciously and respectfullybefore, during, and after he deconstructs it.
Many don't know that John is also a classically trained musician (piano and organ) and a critic of film, music, and other media. His passion for and writings on worship and music have provoked controversy, especially in Reformed circles, because he regards contemporary worship music, and even liturgical dance, as biblically permissible and even enjoyable in worship.
John often confuses people because on a Sunday he can enjoy leading a new church plant in informal worship by playing the piano as part of a contemporary music ensemble. Then, on Wednesday of the same week, he can greatly enjoy leading the seminary community in formal worship by playing a16th century hymn on the majestic, custom-built Monarch organ in the RTS-Orlando chapel.
Chapter 38 of Selected Shorter Writings is titled, Twenty-five Random Things That Nobody Knows About Me. This list came from a Facebook game that his students "dragged him into." What I love about this final chapter is that it gives you a glimpse into the personal life of this renowned theologian and philosopher. Here are a few of my favorite things:
• #3: I was always the last guy chosen for sports teams, and with good reason.
• #4: We listened faithfully to Pittsburgh Pirate’s games from 1950-56, when the team had the worst record in baseball.
• #18: My priorities for ministry were (a) missions, (b) pastorate, (c) academic theology. A visit to mission fields in 1960 ruled out (a). A year and two summers of pastoral experience ruled out (b). So I embraced (c) by default, as God’s calling
• #23: I did not marry until I was forty-five. God was preparing someone special.
• #24: In 1999, I led a worship team of myself, a saxophonist, and a trombonist. The other two musicians were in their late seventies, but we really rocked.
John has shared with me how he’s sometimes concerned about spending so much time in the privacy of his office writing, rather than being more actively involved in public ministry. Sometimes he just needs to be reminded that there’s nothing more practical than sound theology. His theological writings are having a very significant practical impact on the lives and ministries of Christian leaders around the world.
John is much more than a brilliant theologian, philosopher, and apologist. He is also a loving husband to Mary, father to his grown children, and grandfather to his rapidly growing number of grandchildren. He’s a humble and quiet man who prefers writing in the solitude of his office rather than coming into the limelight of the public.
All this to say, do yourself a huge favor and read through these rare theological and philosophical gems in Theological Appendices. Here you’ll find his “Primer on Perspectivalism”a clear, concise summary of Tri-persectivalism that will enhance your knowledge of God, yourself, others, and the world. Other chapters include foundational topics such as: What the Bible is About: One Thing and Three Things, The Gospel and Scripture, Introduction to the Reformed Faith, and The Main Thing.
Then enter more deeply into Frame’s ongoing humble but bold dialogues by reading essays like Reformed and Evangelicals Together, Is Justification by Faith Alone the Article on Which the Church Stands or Falls?, N.T. Wright and the Authority of Scripture, Cultural Transformation and the Local Church, The Bible and Joe the Plumber, and of course, the rest of Twenty-five Random Things That Nobody Knows about Me.
And if you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend you consider to begin priming your theological pump:
• Salvation Belongs to the Lorda brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
• Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesuspractical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
• Browse his website: http://www.frame-poythress.org Here you’ll find most of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Ph.D in Mathematics from Harvard and one of his former students.
Will you agree with everything that Frame writes? I seriously doubt it. I don't. But, in the end, you won’t be the same.
Steve Childers is Associate Professor of Practical Theology (since 1995) and the director of the doctoral program at Reformed Theological Seminary, in Orlando, Florida, where he teaches missions, church planting, evangelism and spiritual formation. He has earned masters degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and a doctorate from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Steve has also done doctoral studies in global mission at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission.
Steve is the founder, President and CEO of Global Church Advancement (GCA), a church leadership training organization based in Orlando, Florida whose mission is “to equip leaders to start, grow and multiply Gospel-Centered Churches among all nations.” From the 1970’s to the mid 1990’s he planted and pastored two churches (urban and suburban) in North America. Since then Steve has written church planting, renewal and multiplication training curriculum and has helped train thousands of church leaders from more than 300 denominations representing over 50 countries in 6 languages on 5 continents. Steve and his wife Becky live in Orlando, Florida, and have three adult daughters and one son-in-law.
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Meet the Author
John M. Frame (A.B., Princeton University; B.D., Westminster Theological Seminary; M.A. and M.Phil., Yale University; D.D., Belhaven College) is the J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and the author of many books, including the four-volume Theology of Lordship series.
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