Category Archives: John Frame
Without extrabiblical literature we cannot make use of the Bible, argues John Frame. He makes this point in a chapter on the sufficiency of scripture (ch 32) in his new book, The Doctrine of the Word of God (P&R, 2010), 220–238. On pages 232–233, Frame writes this of our need of extrabiblical books in order to properly apply Scripture to our lives:
All our use of Scripture depends on our knowledge of extrabiblical data. Scripture contains no lessons in Hebrew or Greek grammar. To learn that, we must study extrabiblical information. Similarly, the other means that enable us to use Scripture, such as textual criticism, text editing, translation, publication, teaching, preaching, concordances, and commentaries, all depend on extrabiblical data. So in one sense even the first premises of moral syllogisms, the normative premises, depend on extrabiblical knowledge. So without extrabiblical premises, without general revelation, we cannot use Scripture at all.
Then he writes:
None of those considerations detracts from the primacy of Scripture as we have described it. Once we have a settled conviction of what Scripture teaches, that conviction must prevail over all other sources of knowledge. So Scripture must govern even the sciences that are used to analyze it: textual criticism, hermeneutics, and so on. … Scripture must remain primary. …
Frame’s argument culminates here:
Certainly, it is a misunderstanding, then, to think that the sufficiency of Scripture rules out the necessity of extrabiblical information. At every stage of our use of Scripture, we should legitimately refer both to the content of Scripture and to extrabiblical revelation. But each in its proper place: when we are convinced that a teaching is the teaching of Scripture itself (even when we used extrabiblical information in reaching that conviction), that teaching must take precedence over any conclusion derived from outside Scripture.
Thanks to Dr. Richard Pratt and his organization thirdmill.org a number of seminary-level courses are available online (for free) and ethics with Frame is one of the offerings. Titled “Making Biblical Decisions” the 10-part course is nearly 10 hours in length and includes the following sessions:
- Ethics in Scripture
- Normative Perspective: God and His Word
- Normative Perspective: The Attributes of Scripture
- Normative Perspective: Parts and Aspects of Scripture
- The Situational Perspective: Revelation and Situation
- Situational Perspective: Pursuing Our Goal
- Situational Perspective: Understanding the Facts
- The Existential Perspective: Being Good
- The Existential Perspective: Intending Good
- Existential Perspective: Choosing Good
The lectures are all currently available as video downloads and many of them are available as mp3 audio downloads, too. But getting to the files can be like buttoning the cuff of a shirt sleeve. Here’s how to find them: Click here and let the page fully load. Then look for the link that reads “Making Biblical Decisions” (see near the bottom of the left-hand column).
On a related note, Frame is the author of a very helpful textbook on ethics, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (1,100 pages!). It’s worth owning and reading carefully.
Salvation belongs to the Lord by John M. Frame
God is in sovereign control. He has the right to tell people what to do and what not to do. He is powerful, wonderful, holy and awesome (in the true sense of the word). This big-God matrix frames everything else in John Frame’s new systematic theology, Salvation Belongs to the Lord.
Written in a warm, conversational, and engaging style for readers, Frame explains the main subjects of systematic theology. It is a great book for beginners, though the content is consistent with seminary level courses.
The content is very similar to Wayne Grudem’s, Systematic Theology. Frame considers Grudem “The best one-volume systematic theology written in recent years” (p. 351), and quotes him in many areas. The two however, do not agree on all things. Frame writes from a cessational perspective and Grudem from the charismatic.
The book is divided into two halves: (1) objective and unrepeated and (2) the subjective and the repeated. For example, the division is between the incarnation of Christ (unrepeated in history) and regeneration (repeated over and over in history with each believer).
I especially enjoyed the section on the church. He argues for a plurality of elders in each church, and his section on church discipline is very clear and helpful. Frame explains not only how to do church discipline, but why church discipline is important. He writes,
“There are at least three purposes of discipline. The first is to restore a sinning believer (Matt. 18:15; 1 Cor. 5:5; Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim. 1:20; James 5:20) … church discipline is not a cruel thing but a loving thing. Second, discipline exists to deter such sins by others, to instruct the congregation as to what is and is not acceptable (Heb. 12:15; 1 Cor. 5:2, 6-7; 1 Tim. 5:20). Third, discipline exists to protect the honor of Christ and his church (Rom. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:6; Eph. 5:27). When churches ignore sin, the world despises them and the reputation of Jesus Christ himself is dragged through the mud” (p. 243).
This excerpt reveals the biblical depth, firm convictions, and pastoral concern of Frame in engaging and contemporary words. The entire book is marked with these characteristics.
The book is solidly reformed, quotes frequently from the Westminster Confessions, and uses the ESV translation. Frame is not shy about rebuffing falsehoods like Roman Catholic ‘justification’ and annihilationalism. He argues for padobaptism and sides with Postmillinialists. Frame displays a full awareness of the distinctions between errors that undercut the central tenants of biblical Christianity (justification) from secondary issues (like spiritual gifts and eschatology). He is strong and resolute on the first, and open and fair on the second.
John Frame has given us a wonderful gift. Such a high view of God’s holiness and Lordship; such a reminder of God’s presence with us; such an enjoyable read! I heartily recommend John Frame’s Salvation Belongs to the Lord.
Topical Index: yes (excellent)
Textual index: yes (excellent)
Bibliography: yes (excellent)
Reading level: Adult / moderate
Where this book fits into my library:
(1) Systematic Theology > General
Salvation belongs to the Lord, John M. Frame, 978-1-59638-018-9, 9781596380189, 1596380187, 1-59638-018-7