Systematic (Van-Tilian) Theology

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian BeliefSystematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There’s a bulky, unwieldy word to start a book review with. It sums up Frame’s approach to Systematic Theology. Pick any topic, and Frame can in some way relate it to the triad with three perspectives. At the top point is the perspective of authority. God decrees, commands, defines right and wrong as the Creator God. At the left point is the perspective of control. God providentially sets the situation, puts us in the Garden or on this earth, tells us the story of redemption. And at the right point of the triangle is the perspective of presence. God indwells us by His Spirit, has us experience and feel events (situational perspective) and truths (normative perspective).

Frame spends about 2/3 of these 1100 pages on the doctrine of God, teasing out philosophical nuances, so if you’re looking for an even treatment of each topic of theology, this is not it. What it is, is a systematizing of Cornelius Van Til’s pre-suppositional thought into most heads of theology, which was well worth the time. There were a few chapters toward the end where Frame didn’t seem to have much to contribute, and was simply passing on Reformed teaching, mainly from the Westminster confession. But for anyone with an interest in Van Til, this is worth the read. One key theme from him is the Lordship of the Tri-une God. He determines everything about our existence – that we have the senses we do (existential perspective), the world we are in (situational p.), and the logical and moral immutable truths at work in His universe (normative).

Frame begins and ends the book with an emphasis that theology must be applied to life for it to fulfill its purpose. He often accomplishes this (though not always!) applying even esoteric subjects to life.

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