John Frame is one of the most seminal Reformed theologians of our age, and this is his most significant work.
No theologian in modern times combines (1) a simple, childlike faith in the Bible, (2) a razor-sharp analytical intellect, (3) a gift for conceptual and linguistic clarity, and (4) a love for Christ’s church and everyday Christian people more successfully than John M. Frame. All factors considered, no theologian in recent memorynot Barth, not Brunner, not Pannenberg, not Tillich, nor even the conservatives: Millard Erickson, Carl Henry, the Hodges, Francis Pieper, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict)measures up to Frame. He is God’s unparalleled gift to the church, and his Systematic Theology is a wellspring of truth in a theologically parched age.
Few scholars of our generation have done as much as John Frame to combine philosophical, biblical, and confessional concerns in an overarching theological synthesis. Here at last he offers us the fruit of his lifetime’s labor as a service to the church of our day and to future generations. This is a work that will edify those who read it, and they in turn will use its message to build up the church of Christ. The wealth of teaching and insight that it contains will be a blessing to many, and we can be sure that it will be mightily used of God in the days ahead.
Sometimes there is a book that is so complete, so true, so instructive, and so clear that it assumes a prominent place in one’s library and stays there for years. John Frame’s Systematic Theology is that kind of book. It is a gift to the church . . . and a gift to me. This book will be an anchor to my soul and a source for my theology and faith for the rest of my life. Get it, give it, and rejoice that John Frame wrote it!
It is always a joyous occasion when one of God’s faithful servants of his Word produces the fruit of his many years of labor into a full-fledged systematic theology. This is no small undertaking, but in the grace of God, we in our generation are the happy recipients of just such a work from Professor John Frame. He is, by all odds, one of the best known and most respected Reformed theologians in our day. It is a special joy to see this, the quintessence of a lifetime of his study of God’s Word, and now to commend it to all the body of Christ with thanksgiving to God for his gift of Dr. John Frame to the church.
Near the end of his long and fruitful career, John Frame has given us his chef d’oeuvre. His Systematic Theology is the distillation of a life’s work in reflecting on how God’s Word relates to the Christian life of the simple believer. As his readers have come to expect, his chief emphasis is on the glory of God, the God who saves, the God who loves us. It would be nearly impossible to read this volume without being drawn into fellowship and conversation with the God who is at its center. Full of quotes from poetry, traditional theology, and even hymns, this is perhaps one of the most practical systematic theologies ever penned. It belongs alongside Turretin, Hodge, Bavinck, and the other hall-of-famers in the discipline. All we can say is: thank you, John Frame!
John Frame’s Systematic Theology is an important landmark in one-volume treatments of the major loci of doctrine. Frame’s signature is readily apparent on every page: commitment to Scripture for everything he writes, accessible philosophical analysis of difficult questions, and, yes, triperspectivalism. This volume ranks as the most recommendable single-volume systematic theology of our time.
John Frame the author has in Systematic Theology captured comprehensively and with clarity what many of us have benefited from in the classroom through John Frame the professor and teacher. His biblical precision and personal passion is spread on every page, which you will quickly desire to turn in order to get to the next page as he allows and propels us to see the singular glory of the triune God revealed in his Word as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
Hurray for John Frame! At a time when systematics has been shoved into a corner by biblical theology in many seminaries, John has published what I can only hope will be an alternative to that imbalance. Not since A. A. Hodge’s Outlines, Buswell, Reymond, and Grudem has a truly substantive systematic theology appeared. I expect Systematic Theology to become a classic, and I look forward to its publication with the greatest anticipation.
On my bookshelf sit numerous systematics by Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, Robert Reymond, and Wayne Grudem. I enjoy them all. They inform, educate, and bring clarity to different issues within Scripture. While systematics are full of precious knowledge to assist any student to better understand God and his holy Word, the reader will find none so well written, with a meekness and tenderness of heart, as Frame’s. The breadth and length and height and depth of God’s amazing love graces this volume of theology. If Edwards’s ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ can be said to have drawn sinners to Christ, Frame’s work will be said to draw Christians even closer to understanding their Creator, God, and Lord more fully. This work is a necessity for every layman, pastor, and scholar alike.
“This systematic theology is written from and faithful to a Reformed perspectiveglorifying God and his Word. As expected, Frame makes extensive reference to Scripture and the Westminster Confession of Faith, but he makes good use of other confessions, too. While Frame is careful to address numerous contemporary issues, his work directs the reader to Christto his salvation alone. This personalizes the text. Though it draws on ‘yesterday,’ it makes it applicable to the reader ‘today and forever’ (Heb. 13:8).
John Frame writes theology for those who want to use, and be used by, the Word of God. He has done his professional theologizing for many years in the context of the preparation of young men for ministry in seminary. But more to the point, his theology’s practicality springs from his understanding of the nature of theological reflection itself. When I was his student over forty years ago, he told us, ‘Theology is application.’ His discussions of the various loci of systematic theology always have an eye on the Holy Scriptures’ power and purpose to transform the lives of the people who study themintellectually and ethically. Anyone who reads this volume will be blessed with a more comprehensive and systematic appreciation for the teachings of the Word of God and at the same time will grow in renewing the mind and life by the Holy Spirit’s speaking through the Word.
Systematic theology is notoriously challenging to read but even more challenging to write. I tell students that too many modern theologians have given us ‘cookbooks’ that feed neither the mind nor the soul. John Frame is a great evangelical exception. He has mastered the historical method, and more importantly, his readers have come to expect that biblical theology will guide his systematic theology. As he says, ‘The Bible is the most important thing.’ I welcome this important volume and encourage all readers of theology, especially students, to have Frame’s valuable work at their side.
As one who has long admiredand learned so much fromJohn Frame’s contributions to Reformed life and thought, I am so pleased that we now have this fine volume that gathers together the insights of a half-century of serious theological scholarship. The biblical and practical nature of his perspective makes this a refreshing and much-needed resource for all of us who care about a vital Reformed theology.
When it comes to the field of systematic theology, anything that John M. Frame writes is certainly worth reading. This is so because Frame understands the difference between the primary standard and secondary standards. The primary source and standard for systematic theology is the written Word of God in Holy Scripture, and the secondary standards are the creeds and confessions formulated by the church across the centuries. Frame does not manipulate the text of Scripture to make it supportive of received doctrinal formulations, but subscribes to the Reformed creeds and confessions because they embody the truth that the Lord has given us in his Word. The creeds and confessions do not stand on a level with the only infallible rule of faith and practice, but are planted deep under Scripture and are subject to revision as the Holy Spirit leads the church of Christ on its way to ultimate victory when the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
“In this systematic theology, Frame has not overwhelmed us with the scholarly apparatus characteristic of so much theological literature, and as he certainly is capable of doing. Instead, he has chosen to enter into conversation with his reader, showing how he has come to understand the teaching of God’s Word. He takes us with himself into a deeper and fuller exploration of God’s creative and redemptive purpose in the world. Frame’s work will well serve the needs and interests of the informed layman and theological student as well as the more advanced scholar.
Here, at last, is John Frame’s magnum opusthe fruit of fifty years of teaching theology and training ministers of the gospel. Few other contemporary theologians have influenced me as much as Dr. Frame, and I am eager to see this culmination of his theological labors under the lordship of the triune God make its way into the heads, hands, and hearts of Christians around the world.
Reading John Frame’s Systematic Theology often encourages, occasionally puzzles, but almost always stimulates. Growing out of a lifetime of reflection and wrestling with biblical texts, these pages contain much that we can learn from as we all try to understand better how God glorifies his lordship in our salvation. I, for one, am thankful that we now have this one-volume synthesis of Frame’s thinking.
John Frame has added significant value to the long line of systematic theologies in print. That value emanates from his profound understanding of the Bible, steeped in personal piety. He is a theologian of the heart. The personal, transparent nature of this magnum opus distinguishes it from other systematic theologies, enabling the reader to understand and apply Scripture. A quick scan of the contents dispels any doubt about Frame’s broad acquaintance with the literature of the field, but his single-minded pursuit of explaining the great message of the Bible is equally clear. Seldom does a contemporary theologian engage as he does, enriching intellectually, theologically, and spiritually.
Many years ago, John Frame signaled his desire to show in some measure the richness of the theological resources available to Reformed orthodoxy and thereby to make that position more attractive. Today, Frame’s many volumes are themselves vital resources that simultaneously fortify and adorn the Reformed theological tradition that he has expounded over many decades. In this his newest volumeBible-centered, multiperspectival systematic theology, nurtured in the soil of Warfield, Bavinck, Murray, and Van TilFrame demonstrates once again why he has become a teacher to this generation of Reformed pastors and theologians. Students familiar with Frame’s work know what to expect and will enjoy his application of multiperspectivalism to several new loci. Those new to Frame will find his system accessible, his reflections on doctrine judicious, and his modeling of theology as essentially a study of Scripture a refreshing tonic that can be shared with all of God’s people. Thank you, Professor Frame!
John Frame has given the church a superb new resource in this volume. Taking as his theme the lordship of God, Frame seeks to do what he says the good theologian always does: he states the truth not for its own sake but to build up people in the Christian faith. He incorporates much of the best of modern Reformed theologians (Van Til, Murray, etc.) and addresses the hottest topics of the day, such as the length and nature of the days of Genesis 1 and whether Scripture is inerrant. Many will take issue with one or more of Frame’s points, but all will be edified by a careful reading of this work.
This book is as brilliant as it is personable. Dr. Frame’s panoramic comprehension of the Bible and of various theologians’ understandings of its content is matched only by the practical, applicable style of his writing.
Few in our day champion such a vision of God as massive, magnificent, and biblical as does John Frame. For decades, he has given himself to the church, to his students, and to meticulous thinking and the rigorous study of the Bible. He has winsomely, patiently, and persuasively contended for the gospel in the secular philosophical arena, as well as in the thick of the church worship wars and wrestlings with feminism and open theism. He brings together a rare blend of big-picture thinking, levelheaded reflection, biblical fidelity, a love for the gospel and the church, and the ability to write with care and clarity.
John M. Frame, occupant of the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, is a household name not only in Reformed circles but across a broad swath of ecclesiastical and denominational traditions. His published works in the fields of his expertise are widely respected for their adherence to biblical fidelity and the tightness of their argumentation. This major work on systematic theology maintains Frame’s reputation for impeccable scholarship on the one hand and eminent practicality on the other. It is a theology that not only educates but works in everyday life.
Those who have appreciated Frame’s contributions to theology in previous works, such as his Doctrine of God, will not be disappointed with his Systematic Theology. Adopting a strongly biblical perspective, Frame succeeds in presenting a comprehensive treatment of the various theological loci that also is highly accessible. This book will be of value for the specialist, student, and general reader alike. It marks a major milestone in Frame’s distinguished career.
All good theology is practical. Proper theology is for the church, not just for academics. Biblical systematic theology impacts the way we think, the way we live, and the way we feel about God, ourselves, the world, and others. John Frame always does ‘good’ theology. It will change your life.
Robert C. (Ric) Cannada Jr.
It may be said that there are levels of theologians. Most of us teach what others have written. A few will actually add creatively to others’ material. And then there are the theologians of the first class. They think at a deeper level and produce the living, vital ‘starter’ or leavening agent that the other theological artisans will ‘bake’ with. Few have been starter theologians. Certainly Karl Barth was one from the last century. But the leavening was incomplete in the opinion of the most charitable confessional Christians and tainted with deadly error in the opinion of others. John Frame is a theologian of the first class in our day. His Systematic Theology is not a reworking of others’ leavening, but is indeed a starter that, unlike Barth, produces a biblically faithful, untainted, deeply satisfying, and expectant Christian theology. This theology is capable of being dispatched for use as the central ingredient in a robust course of study to produce pastorsand believers of all vocationswho are tethered to the inerrant and infallible Word of God, who have a personal love for Christ Jesus our Lord, and who lead the flock of Christ to sunlit uplands where the triune God’s promises appear to reveal not only an abundant life and the assurance of life with God after death and salvation from hell, but also the golden beams of a new heaven and a new earth. John Frame’s Systematic Theology is thus the release of an untainted and thoroughly faithful leavening agent that will produce a starter to strengthen other theologians, train future shepherds of the church, and nourish the body of Christ for years to come. It is my honor to commend Systematic Theology to the church. I thank God that in this rather young new century, the first-class, original, starter theologian of our time, John Frame, is not a mere theologian of the Word, but a theologian of the propositional Word as well as the Word made flesh. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Frame and to P&R Publishing for the production and release of this magisterial work.”We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Frame and to P&R Publishing for the production and release of this magisterial work.
Trends in contemporary theology are generally split between essential and constructive approaches. The older essentialists were committed to doing theology only according to what the Bible says, most of which has been carefully summarized in numerous historic creeds and confessions. Their contemporary standard-bearers have done their best to protect the positions of the forefathers. That cultural trends helped to provide a reactionary climate for much of what essentialists codified and continue to protect as orthodox theology is clear. But no essentialist need admit that cultural trends supplied the raison d’être for his theological positions. That valued role is reserved for Scripture. Against this, constructive theology presents a case for doing original theology according to the present need of each generation and of the church. But it does so by drawing heavily from the norms and values of the contiguous culture. Consequently, constructive theology will always remain open-ended. Frame’s Systematic Theology is unique in that it brings together both essential and constructive emphases in contemporary theology. Specifically, it represents vastly original work in theology, while at the same time it remains true to the finished Word of God and to the historic and orthodox confessional documents of Christianity. Frame is not the least bit interested in reconstructing theology. His is an effort to reconceptualize the task of theology along practical and pastoral lines. Sola Scriptura maintains the logic and coherence of his new exposition of theology, while ‘perspectivalism’ gives it its remarkable ability to explain and to apply God’s Word afresh.
From the Foreword: Systematic Theology brings together, slims down, sums up, and augments, all the wisdom contained in Frame’s four-volume Lordship Series. It is a worthy climax to the life’s work of one who has only ever sought to be a faithful servant of Christ, teaching in his church. It is a privilege to celebrate its appearing and to commend it for serious study. I guarantee that the dividends of such study will be uniformly high. Thank you, John Frame, for this superb gift.
Though it is more compact on each subject, Systematic Theology is not an abridgment of John Frame’s earlier books. His already clear thoughts have continued to develop and crystalize. The section on covenant history that precedes the material on the doctrine of God is especially helpful. I look forward to teaching theology with this book.
Systematic Theology is the culmination of John Frame’s life’s work in teaching young men who are preparing for the ministry. It is a masterful study that expresses the dogmatic method and thought of a modern Reformer. Frame’s approach to systematics articulates a refined synthesis of the theological and philosophical thought of early Westminster Theological Seminary with an emphasis on contemporary religious issues. No student of theology can ignore Frame’s magnum opus, which represents a modern commentary on the Reformed perspective for the third millennium. Scholars, pastors, students, and laymen who want to be well informed in modern Reformation thought must drink from the years of wisdom and insight by this humble theologian, whose one great desire is the glory and honor of his God and teaching theology that is adaptable to the church pew.
John M. Frame’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief is a remarkable achievement. It is simultaneously scholarly yet accessible, sweeping in scope but penetrating in insight, steeped in historic orthodoxy yet fresh in reflection. Frame herein develops and advances his Westminster perspective on theology and ethics, culminating in what is simply Reformed theology at its best.
When one thinks of modern Reformed theologians, John Frame is at the top of the list. He has the rare ability to explain complex theological truths in a manner that is simple enough for the layman and deep enough for the scholar. Moreover, his theological guidance is always wise, steady, and, more than anything else, biblical. And now we finally have the book that so many have waited for him to writea systematic theology. This volume is a wonderful gift for the church. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Biblical, clear, and cogent, John Frame moves through the loci of theology with ease and without ‘looking to the right or to the left.’ This new book is not just a cut-and-paste job from past publications. While his volume is less historical than some systematic theologies, Frame avoids bogging down in episodic intellectual controversies, without denying the importance of every ‘jot and tittle.’
We can count on John Frame to speak of the profound complexities of biblical theology with a precision, perspicuity, and humility that represents the best tendencies of the Reformed tradition. In this work, Professor Frame gives expression to a system of belief that will serve and satisfy a variety of audiences, including the curious layperson, the young seminarian, and the experienced pastor. Never one to shy away from the difficult, thorny issues of his discipline, he explains and upholds the teaching of Scripture, even when that teaching offends modern sensibilities. I would recommend this systematic treatment to all my students.
Even those not as rigorously Reformed in their theology as John Frame will find great benefit in these pages. With a clear commitment to the primacy of Scripture, lucid argumentation, cogent articulation , a love for God’s people, and a passion for God’s glory throughout all the earth, Frame has produced what should become required reading in seminary classrooms and pastors’ studies for years to come.
This is a remarkable volumea wonderfully clear, refreshingly insightful, profoundly biblical treatment of systematic theology. While reading this book, I felt as though I once again had the privilege of being a student in John Frame’s theology classes, the classes that so deeply influenced my thinking as a Westminster Seminary student forty years ago. But now the material has been enriched by a lifetime of further research and teaching. An outstanding achievement!
"'Count your blessings, name them one by one,' and I count the writings of John Frame to be one of my greatest blessings. He's a guide for many of us in the twenty-first century, especially in this volume Systematic Theology. His treatment of all the standard theological topics is the gold standard. And as a theologically informed philosopher, I was especially interested in Frame's discussion of epistemology. Amen and Amen!"
„In his Systematic Theology, once again John Frame has wonderfully served the church and glorified God through his writing. Frame writes with unusual clarity, humility, and joy, which fosters a deeper love for Christ. His theological method is profoundly biblical, so the reader learns how to do evangelical theology, along with learning evangelical doctrine. Among Frame's other stellar works, his Systematic Theology may prove to be his most significant contribution. The beginning chapters on the storyline of the Bible and the closing ones on the Christian life set this work apart from others like it. They insure that the systematic study of doctrine is considered within the overarching story of the Bible and that God's truth informs our lives. I'm deeply grateful that this wise, seasoned, godly saint has given us this treasure trove of distilled biblical truth, and hope it has the wide edifying influence it should."
This new systematic theology comes from one of the great theological minds of our age. John Frame’s contributions to theology are already massive and many, but now he has given the church a systematic theology. This is a very important book, and it represents a lifetime of consecrated theological reflection. This new volume promises to be an enduring contribution to evangelical theology.
Clear, thorough, intelligent, and fair to opposing views, John Frame’s work will now be the standard within traditional Reformed theology.
Any theologian who says that ‘the Bible is the most important thing’ is worth listening to. But one whose life commends his theology, as John’s does, is doubly worth listening to. This book is a gift to the church written by one who has a brilliant, discerning mind and a servant’s heart. I was blessed by reading it.
John Frame has written a very big bookanother one. Frame’s strengths are once again on display: vast scope, unshakable confidence in scripture, carefulness and generosity, a deceptively casual style. What most stands out, though, is the openmindedness of his project. Big as it is, Frame’s work raises questions even as it answers them, and as a result he opens ever-new threads in the ongoing conversation that is the Reformed tradition.
John Frame is noted for his ability to articulate clearly and with an economy of words the contours of our Christian faith. He does that in this work with particular skill. Here is a systematic theology that clearly flows from biblical exegesis, follows the biblical storyline, and is faithful to the confessional convictions of the author. It is a significant work that will bless the individual believer and serve the church well.
John Frame says that he is ‘immensely thankful to God’ for the opportunity to produce this systematic theology. He is not alone: I am immensely thankful that God gave him this opportunity as well. Frame is a deep thinker and a clear communicatora rare combination among theologians of his stature. Here is a man who knows his church history, his philosophy, his theological systems; but he does not allow these to sidetrack him from pointingagain and againback to the majesty of Christ in Scripture. Frame shows that theology is not an end in itself. Loving God is the goal. And Frame’s volume hits this mark.
Dr. Frame does it again! He’s gifted the church with another wonderful tome of applied theology. This systematic theologyan elaborate exposition of the teaching of Scripture as he understands itbrings together a lifetime of study. It reflects the emphases of his teaching and writing, revealing interaction with theologians old and new, biblically orthodox and otherwise.
“Dr. Frame does it again! He’s gifted the church with another wonderful tome of applied theology. This systematic theologyan elaborate exposition of the teaching of Scripture as he understands itbrings together a lifetime of study. It reflects the emphases of his teaching and writing, revealing interaction with theologians old and new, biblically orthodox and otherwise. “Connoisseurs of systems of theology will note the distinctive features of Dr. Frame’s method: the umbrella theme of God’s lordship, both a high view and a high use of Scripture, with application to the reader’s heart and life. Wedded to the supremacy of Scripture and recognizing both its divineness and its humanness, Dr. Frame sets his doctrinal discussion in redemptive-historical context, returns to his triperspectivalism, and models for us the much-needed counterbalancing of historic orthodoxy and biblical creativity. The result is a fresh, stimulating, courageous, yet winsome study. While disarmingly accessible, the volume succeeds both in teaching the theology of Scripture and in furthering discussion of how that theology is to be systematized. While the methodological discussion unfolds, we may fully expect Dr. Frame’s Systematic Theology to draw in earnest students of Scripture at all stages of learning. It is a rich treasure trove of biblical analysis, useful for personal or group study. It will prove to be a legacy that keeps on giving. I plan to return to it time and again.
This fresh, lucid, and doxological work illustrates the very core of John Frame’s project: theology as application. Frame understands the role and place of theology in general and of systematic theology in particularshowcasing one perspective of the Christ’s dynamic lordship. He avoids the ditches that frequently crisscross today’s paths of theological undertakingeither pining for some prior supposed golden utopian theological era (merely quoting select Reformers), on the one hand, or, on the other hand, limiting the theological exercise to a mere propositional alchemy of privatized preparatory salve for heaven alone (life here in this yucky world consists only of a transitory pilgrimage for which the triune God lacks any true concern or effect other than ‘soul-winning’). No, and decidedly no. Frame understands that we have been redeemed by the One who is Lord. We have been saved body and soul from something for something. Therefore, the ‘stuff in the middle’that is, life under the Lord between the cross and the consummationmatters to the Lord here and now and thus should matter to us in all its facets, not just the spiritual ones. Theology in this sense is earthy, and marvelously so. This work is robust, yet accessible; timely, yet evergreen; and innovative, yet orthodox (notice the triad)! Accordingly, theological endeavors hereafter will never be the same because Frame has in this work passionately demonstrated truthall to Christ’s glory and the church’s edification. Don’t just read this book; apply it!
John Frame is one of the most important evangelical theologians of our time, a deeply biblical thinker whose work has epitomized the Reformation principles of sola Scriptura and soli Deo gloria. His writings have proved that Christian scholars don’t have to choose between orthodoxy and originality or between profundity and perspicuity. I’ve long hoped that the Lord would grant Dr. Frame the opportunity and motivation to write a full-length systematic theology, and I’m delighted to see that hope now realized. This exposition of Christian doctrine is the culmination of a lifetime of careful and submissive reflection on the whole counsel of God revealed in Scripture. It will nourish both mind and heart.
Our world has become one of theological confusion. Dr. Frame’s Systematic Theology has emerged as a refreshing and practical tool for the serious student of God’s Word. Frame brings systematic theology to life, and allows for easy integration with apologetics and other expressions of theology. By clarifying the biblical worldview, Systematic Theology equips us to communicate God’s Word and engage the culture with biblical truth.”
“Dr. Frame’s triperspectival approach to theology is one of the greatest contributions in empowering students to understand the Bible. It allows for theological inclusiveness without compromising a high view of Scripture, and opens exciting possibilities for doing solid theology in both Western and non-Western contexts. No theological library would be complete without Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief.
John Frame has faced classrooms of bright and talented students for decades. He has shared with them a biblically based theology that faithfully addresses difficult questions and problems. This text is the sweet fruit of that classroom labor. Reading it makes those who never had the opportunity to attend see a little of what we missed and those who were his students glad that they were. Systematic Theology reads extremely well and always points the reader to the glorious Lord who is the text’s subject. Frame is to be congratulated for a job well done!
Not content merely to give us Berkhof in a different wrapper, John Frame has produced a new Systematic Theology that maintains continuity with the best of the Reformed tradition while breaking important new ground. Employing the same multiperspectival approach worked out in his Theology of Lordship series, Dr. Frame addresses the various loci of theology in a fresh way. He grounds his theological work in exegesis and engages widely with theologians across the theological spectrumand across the centuries. He faithfully teaches as a Reformed theologian, always remembering that the confessional standards of the church are subordinate to Scripture. His approach is balanced and his irenic spirit commendable, though certain to displease some of a more dogmatic stripe. I believe, however, that in our fragmented and needlessly argumentative Reformed circles, we need this theology‘for such a time as this.’ Years ago in a personal conversation, Dr. Frame described his approach as being ‘Reformed but not angry about it.’ His Systematic Theology is ‘Reformed but not angry about it,’ and the church will be greatly blessed by this contribution from our foremost theologian.
Vintage Framethe old, old story, but with new slants and new emphases to make the reader sit up and think. John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan remarked of Jonathan Edwards that his doctrine is all application, and his application doctrine. Frame aspires to be of Edwards’s school, but he’s also a teacher who sets homework for his readers. Also like Edwards, sometimes his words are spiced with a polemical hot sauce. A systematic theology to ponder and to profit from.
If you want a philosophy and theology drenched in the Bible with literally thousands of biblical references, this book is for youand for me! Dr. Frame deals with so many topics with the skills of both a generalist and a specialist that reading him on virtually any subject is greatly beneficial. May this magnum opus of biblical theology be widely read in the church for years to come.
This book by John Frame on systematic theology provides students of God’s Word with a tool designed to clearly understand and effectively explain the Scriptures. It is indeed a sterling treasure that is sure to stand the test of time.
As someone who taught systematic theology and Christian doctrine in seminary for some nine years, I find John Frame’s Systematic Theology a significant contribution to historic, orthodox, biblical theological thinking. I especially appreciate Frame’s conversational style of writingas if he were talking on a personal level with his reader. If theology is the making of distinctions, Frame does an exceptional job of bringing fresh and illuminating meaning to traditional theological terms; for example, in chapter 3, ‘God’s Lordship as a Unique Worldview,’ he says of God’s immanence that it is ‘the deepest sense in which God is present in Jesus.’ A telling description, that. I also think Frame’s pedagogical focus on the question ‘Why does this matter?’ is pointedly necessary in today’s evangelical climate, and illustrates his view that ‘meaning is application.’ He is definitely a ‘so what’ theologian, yet skillfully combines both the fully worked-out objective content and the subjective dimension needed in a proper theological education. Frame’s Systematic Theology is admirably accessible without compromising the depth and complexity of biblical theological thought.
“One of the most important elements of Frame’s Systematic Theology is what I can best describe as its devotional dimension. Even in the discussion of complex metaphysical attributes of God, Frame presents God as an intimately personal being and not simply a philosophical abstraction. His discussion of God’s lordship has deepened my own spiritual experience. (Indeed, I found myself reading chapters of Systematic Theology as parts of my daily devotions.) “Were I still teaching systematic theology, Frame’s thorough, illuminating, comprehensive, and spiritually powerful treatment of the classical topics of systematic theology would definitely be my primary course text.
John Frame sets out to be biblical, clear, and cogent, and succeeds splendidly. Steeped in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos and John Murray, he offers a work that is firmly rooted in exegesis, comprehensive in scope, and rigorous in methodology, yet easily accessible to all serious lovers of Scripture.
I highly recommend this book as a solid, profound, and readable summary of theology, and at the same time a suitable introduction to John Frame’s more specialized writings. It is valuable also for those who are already familiar with Frame’s works. He sometimes approaches old subjects in new ways, and he includes thoughts and arguments that have not appeared elsewhere or that have appeared in print but have up till now not been integrated into his major works. The result is brilliant, practical, and edifying.
For those already introduced to Frame, here is the same sober emphasis on a scripturally rooted theology combined with rigorous thinking that you can recall from live lectures or addresses. For those unfamiliar with Frame, here is a wonderful entry to his engaging and nuanced thought, which breathes a commendable evangelical catholicity.
John Frame is one of my favorite theologians, and his Systematic Theology is filled with the deep learning and warranted wisdom of a lifetime. I commend it warmly to the Lord’s people everywhere.
Does the world need one more Systematic Theology? That depends. It doesn't necessarily, if what you mean is another door-stopper describing the contentious history of doctrines. But it does if what you mean is Systematic Theology that has finally come full circle through centuries of drift from the Bible itself and from practical application, back to the early evangelists' heart for teaching God's word for edification. When the Apostle Paul was wrapping up his ministry in Ephesians, he summarized what he had done among them this way: "You yourselves know...how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable..." (Acts 20:20). What was good enough for Paul is evidently good enough for John Frame.
Readers of this comprehensive work will rejoice to see a biblically-saturated exposition of the great truths of the Christian faith. John Frame has now given his unique and fascinating insights to the church in one volume. This work will be invaluable for anyone who wants to see the biblical roots of Christian doctrine, and is a clear testimony against any who think that systematic theology can arise from any source other than Scripture.
"John Frame is an esteemed colleague and one of the most important contemporary reformed systematic theologians in the English-speaking world. His Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief reflects a half-century of distinguished teaching, prolific writing and serious study. For that reason alone, especially in a day and age in which many evangelicals question the legitimacy of systematic theology, this volume commends itself to our attention. Frame (thankfully) encourages a Bible-centered approach to doing theology and (rightly) asserts that even “Practical Theology” is a department of systematic theology. Here, you will find the Professor Frame you have come to expect: clear, readable, restrained, and conversational in his presentation, and thoughtful, biblical, consistent, and careful in his views. Many years ago, Carl F.H. Henry suggested that we need a “recovery of Christian belief.” May your engagement with this book serve to introduce you to and ground you in genuinely Christian belief."
For decades, Professor Frame purposefully has driven scholars and students, colleagues and critics, leaders and laity to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Scriptures. That laudable objective will be magnified for generations yet to come with the release of this, the author's most provocative and mature theological expression. "Everyone else serves his best first . . . but you have reserved your best for now."
When Charles Hodge emerged as Presbyterianism's premier theologian in the nineteenth century, students and pastors alike awaited the completion of his 3 volume Systematic Theology. When the final volume appeared, all found what they had hoped for a magisterial work. It was not merely a rehash of Hodge's classroom lectures but a careful reworking of material that he had taught successfully at Princeton for many decades. The fact that Hodge's volumes are still reprinted today testifies to their staying power. With the appearance of John Frame's Systematic Theology, one now finds a work that will likewise serve Reformed Christians for a similar length of time. Frame is well known for his perspectival theological method, his clarity and comprehensiveness in exposition of the many-sidedness of the biblical text, his apt illustrations that capture profound theological and biblical truth and his ability to pose stimulating questions that enable students to probe even beyond his reflections. Perhaps the highest praise that can be given to theologians besides the affirmation that their theology leads to doxology, is that their treatment sustains and further stimulates readers' interest. I have never opened the pages of John's many works to ascertain his treatment of a given theological point or biblical text without being enlightened. More than that, however, after finding what I originally sought, I realized that I was still reading an hour later. Students of Reformed theology will find themselves similarly enthralled.
What a gift the gracious Lord of all has given us in the person and work of John Frame. Of the many qualities that commend John Frame’s Systematic Theology, three stand out: (1) It is eminently biblical. As Frame indicates at the outset, his main concern (rightly) is to reflect, as best he can, the wisdom and wonder of the Word of God, which shows forth the glory of God in all he is and does. (2) It is richly orthodox. John Frame knows the gospel and what doctrines and positions are necessary to sustain, support, and spread that gospel. He holds the line at every point where this is needed, in a day when many have yielded slack to, or have thrown down, that doctrinal lifeline. (3) It is deeply insightful. Frame demonstrates where theological innovation is best appliedin endeavoring to rethink and restate age-old truths with an eye both to biblical fidelity and to contemporary expression. May God be pleased to magnify his name through the broad reading and study of this great work.
This Systematic Theology is by any measure a crowning achievement in a fruitful theological career of teaching, preaching, and writing by Professor John Frame. It is the outpouring of many jars of fragrant and well-aged ‘wine on the lees’: the rich vintage that has been matured in a bright Christian mind that has been immersed in meditation on (and obedience to) the Word of God in the fellowship of the Reformed church for more than threescore years and ten.
“Like Frame’s other works that I have read, this book is written with enthusiastic faith in God and in the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit inspired, and in fellowship with the risen Christ. It is written clearly; Frame is never ashamed of his position (traditional Calvinism), and is humble enough to say about some difficulties, ‘I do not know.’ His writing exhibits humility and unwavering submission before both the clear truths and the mysteries of God. He is always charitable toward those whose position he thinks is wrong and presents it fairly, and yet he does take a stand, which he knows will not suit everyone. You might not agree with all that he says, but at least you will grasp precisely what he is saying. “Someone described C. S. Lewis as ‘A Mind Awake,’ and that is how I see John Frame. This volume shows how alert he is to moral, philosophical, and societal issues raised by Christian truth claims over the last three centuries in a secular culture. “One of the great contributions of Frame’s theology is that it shows the inescapable necessity of starting withand remaining withthe presupposition of the truth of Holy Scripture, for theology and for everything else that we wish to make sense of. Along this line, not only in this book but in others that he has written, I have found very helpful his explanation of why a certain circularity of reasoning is always necessary when arguing for any ultimate authority (e.g., whether Holy Scripture, human reason, empiricism, or, perhaps, evolutionism). Rationalists have long accused Christians of circular reasoning (as concerns the Bible), but what they do not tell you is that they, too, must use the assumption of a final authority themselves, in order to prove their point. “Frame’s section on the providence of God is one of the most beautiful that I have ever read. At times I was less than comfortable with his account of the rather direct relationship of God to evil, yet I am not sure that I could treat the subject any better, if as well. But I must keep thinking about it. His discussion of how God brings about free decisions of humanswhich both avoids short-circuiting our responsibility and avoids the false theory of libertarian free will (i.e., that our will is free from the control of our fallen personality, and is ultimately free from the control of the Sovereign God)is one of the best I have seen. “In sum, Frame’s Systematic Theology cogently and succinctly presents the most crucial thought and practice of the long Christian tradition (especially in its Reformed branch, which has been concerned above all to be faithful to the entirety of Holy Scripture), in terms that can be understood in this twenty-first century, where we are called to live. Frame’s English is lucid; his learning is great, but he does not overwhelm you with it. His doctrine is in accordance with the Westminster tradition of the seventeenth century (and behind that, Calvin of the sixteenth century, and Augustine of the fifth), always looking at these Augustinian traditions in light of God’s written Word (and under it), and he helps the reader to deal with the problems of speaking and living out that tradition in an aggressively secular age. This volume is eminently suitable for a seminary or college textbook. It will also give inspiration to many a preacher (as it has to this one!). I perceive that it was written in an atmosphere of quiet joy, and I will be surprised if it does not convey something of that joy to those who read it.
Professor Frame’s Systematic Theology is a long-anticipated and richly rewarding treasure. The very best of what we have valued in his decades of faithful labor are represented here in this culminating and crowning achievement. It is neither exhaustive nor thin, and readers will likely wish it accounted more for this or that question or development. But as a survey of theology that seeks to be relentlessly biblicala most refreshing conviction!it is a clear and fine example of the judicious, humble, and joyful spirit of theological inquiry of which Professor Frame has long been a superb example. As the author has undoubtedly hoped we would, I submit that we cannot help but come away from a patient reading of this tome with greater confidence in the truth of Holy Scripture, with zeal to submit to the wise and loving lordship of Jesus Christ, and with a longing to make him known.
How do we grow in Christ? By listening intently to God’s plan and promises for us in the Biblethat’s the answer. But the Bible has so many different things in it, almost all of them problematic. What do they mean, all together? For you? Even better, for us? Many helpful books out there will assist you with pieces of the puzzle, but Frame assembles everything together for you. Really, try his systematic theology and see; you will come to know your God so well, in all his love and mercy and kindness.
With a half-century of teaching experience, Dr. Frame writes with an irenic lucidity that speaks clearly to students while engaging questions that animate theologians and divide denominations. Presenting theology as the application of Scripture to every area of life, Dr. Frame intends the reader to live the truth that he confesses in love. While Dr. Frame’s creativity will provoke discussion among readers seeking settled conclusions, the charity of his conversation models a Christlike confession. I commend Dr. Frame’s Systematic Theology for offering insight with humility to readers and for bringing ongoing reformation to the Reformed tradition.
Theology reflects our study of God’s general and special revelation and our attempt to express that theology in the language of those to whom we seek to communicate our conclusions. Theology must be faithful to the authority of the Word of God, and must be written in an understandable style. For those reasons, John Frame has once again used his gifts to give us a systematic theology that is consistently biblical and written within the framework of Reformed theology. Familiarity with the author’s writings makes the reader aware of his ability to express himself clearly and to the point. He does not waste words or the reader’s time. You will find an immediate appreciation of and benefit from his definitions and expressions of our Reformed doctrine. While a number of outstanding systematics reside within the family of biblically Reformed theology, Frame’s will complement and deepen one’s understanding and appreciation of the ‘faith once delivered to the saints,’ yesterday and today. Without question this work will be taught and studied in a way that will enable the reader, teacher, and student to see and understand the sovereignty of God, the kingdom of God, the lordship of Christ, and salvation with fresh minds and day-to-day application. You will find Frame, as usual, demonstrating his well-known mantra, ‘theology is life and life is theology.’ Each page is a constant reminder that the truth will make us free.