F is for Frame
John Frame is a modern theologian and philosopher. He was born in 1939 and is still alive and writing today. He grew up in Pittsburg, PA and has since lived in Princeton, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and Orlando, FL. At the age of 13, he attended a Billy Graham Crusade; it was there that the Gospel first got his attention. From an early age, theology gained a high place in his life. Early influences – John Gerstner, Donald Grey Barnhouse, and Peter Eldersveld – brought a combination of reformed, dispensational, and Dutch reformed theologies. (Note: he never accepted dispensational theology, so we can all sleep tonight in peace.) His schooling included Princeton University, Yale University, Belhaven College, and Westminster Theological Seminary where he studied with and was mentored by some giants of the theology world including John Gerstner, Cornelius Van Til, John Murray, Edward J. Young, Edmund Clowney, Meredith Kline, Jay Adams, Greg Bahnsen, and Francis Schaeffer. He was afforded one of the finest theological educations in the world. Since his student days, Frame has served on the faculty of both Westminster and Reformed Theological Seminary.
Through writing and teaching, Frame has had an enormous impact on the church. (I can lay claim to him once removed as my first theology and biblical languages professor was mentored by Frame, so I got Frame kind of second hand.) Frame’s chief interests include ethics, epistemology, philosophy, presuppositional apologetics, and systematic theology. In addition, he is a well-trained pianist and organist as well as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of America. While his emphasis certainly is on academics, he has a passion on training future ministers.
Some of Frame’s most well-known books include Theology of Lordship, Systematic Theology, Theology at the Movies, Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, Contemporary Worship Music: A Defense, No Other God: A Response to Open Theism, and Salvation Belongs to the Lord. He has contributed extensively to the fields of presuppositional apologetics, systematic theology, philosophy, and worship ministry. He weighs in heavily on all of those issues and more. Frame is a theologian’s theologian. In my opinion, the only thing lacking on John Frame is a beard! I enjoy the way that he has continued the legacy of theologian Cornelius Van Til – a giant in his field and the epitome of brilliance. Now, Frame carries the mantel. Others have attempted to continue the influence of Van Til. For example, Greg Bahnsen does so, but because he represents the best of theonomy or Christian Reconstructionism, many will not give him a hearing. Frame writes from the context of classical reformed theology and therefore has a much better chance at gaining an audience who will be exposed to this grand apologetic method and worldview.
John Frame is a theologian who changed the world.
Some things that strike me about Frame’s work is that he is doctrinally consistent, he unswervingly contends for what he knows to be true, and he is very gentle on topics with which he disagrees. I particularly find his Christlike gentleness something to emulate. May he mentor many in this regard! As an example, look at his dealings with those who support theonomy such as Greg Bahnsen. Greg Bahnsen authored a book titled Theonomy In Christian Ethics, a substantial tome arguing for Biblical Law to be the basis of Christian ethics today. This was not just the application of the moral law; most of us would agree with that approach. However, there is a tripartite division of the law. This is the moral, ceremonial, and civil law. Banhsen’s claim was that the civil law ought to be applied to our system of ethics – quite a serious claim. Even if possible, it would result in some extreme consequences and many would react strongly to this idea. Here is how Frame responded in a review of the book:
“For those who disagree with Bahnsen’s position—well, the ball is in their court;
they must come up with an answer. Perhaps indeed they will.
Someone may question whether Bahnsen has oversimplified the ways in which a law may be said
to be “replaced,” “supplemented,” “confirmed,” “fulfilled,” or “given a new application”
from one age to another. . . Bahnsen is right in saying that a “smorgasbord” approach is inadequate;
we cannot merely pick and choose what we like and what we don’t like; we must choose on principle.”
This response shows kindness as well as doctrinal conviction. It is positive on what he feels Bahnsen has gotten right while pointing out erroneous claims and methodologies – a well-informed, rational comment displaying both academic brilliance and the fruit of the Spirit.
In John Frame’s writings we see a wealth of knowledge, practical insight, academic astuteness, a fair and reasoned mind, and a spirit that shows the love of Christ. Those with the opportunity to sit in his classes have a rare and privileged position. Anything you can find written by this man of God would be worth your time. He will challenge you, inform your thinking, and bring you to the feet of Jesus. Read on!
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