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Entries in John Frame (9)


God's Word as His Meaningful Authority

John Frame, in The Doctrine of the Word of God, discusses the nature of God's word. It has meaning and authority:

God's language is authoritative not only in telling us what to believe and do, but in directing our emotions, our preoccupations, our priorities, our joys and our sorrows. That is to say, God's words are authoritative in all the ways that language can be authoritative, and their authority is ultimate.

In his word, he expresses his wisdom, knowledge, desires, intentions, love, grace. That meaning is authoritative. When God shares his love with us, we have the obligation to treasure it. When he questions us, we should answer. When he expresses his grace, we are obligated to trust it. When he tells us his desires, we should conform our lives to them. When he shares with us his knowledge and intentions, we ought to believe that they are true.

God speaks, man responds.

God's word is something that requires action. If we believe it, the words must direct our conduct. We don't listen to it to develop lofty thoughts, but rather so it will affect the very ordinary day to day aspects of our lives; what we value, what we worship, what we allow to affect our thinking and our affections. It is more than just mining the pages of the Bible for lists of what we can or can't do. It's about letting its authority control us.


He is with us

John Frame on God's covenant presence, from the book The Doctrine of the Christian Life:

When God takes us to be his people, he fights our battles, blesses us, loves us, and sometimes gives us special judgments because of our sins (as in Amos 3:2).  But most importantly, he is with us.  He places his name upon us (Num. 6:27), to brand us as his.  Since we are his children, he dwells with us (Gen. 26:3, 24; 28:15; 31:3; Ex. 3:12; 4:12; Deut. 31:8, 23; Josh. 1:5, etc.), and we with him.  In the Old Testament, God literally dwells with Israel, as he places his theophany in the tabernacle and the temple.  In the New Testament, Jesus is "Immanuel," God with us (Matt. 1:23).  He becomes flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14).  And after his resurrection, he sends the Spirit to dwell in us, as in a temple.

I love that.  He is with us.  He places His name on me.  When times come when i wonder where this square peg fit, I can trust that He is with me.


The ability to live our ethics

From the introduction The Doctrine of the Christian Life, by John Frame:

More important than the ability to talk about ethics is the ability to live it.  This is true of our witness to the world.  People see how we live.  Even Christians who are not articulate or eloquent can make, through their actions, a great impact on others.  Jesus comments on the importance of our works to our witness:  "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).



I finished reading John Frame's book The Doctrine of Knowledge of God.  It took me longer than I planned, but honestly, so much of what I read was so thought-provoking that I had to sit down and think about it.  I must write (with a pen and paper) things out to process them, so I had a notebook alongside this read, with attempts to summarize things well enough to understand them completely.  Even after doing that, however, I think I will want to read this book again in the future.  What would be really great is to find someone much smarter than I to read along with me so that we could discuss it.  Who knows?

There are far too many things about this book that I liked to start listing them.  I guess above all, though, is that despite the fact that Frame is a philosopher and an academic, and his writing reflects that, it is very evident to the reader that Christianity is not merely an academic thing to Dr. Frame.  He regularly emphasized the balance between knowledge and experience.  Furthermore, his emphasis on showing humility and charity in our theological debates was very encouraging.   I like how he regularly points to the reader to the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit in any theological endeavours.

Another aspect to this book I liked was the section discussing language in theology.  We must remember that Scripture is, above all, a language.  God has revealed Himself in language.  There are all kinds of interesting intracacies involved with how people learn and use language that will affect our study of theology.  I found that part quite interesting.

There are a couple of other books in this series of Dr. Frame's, The Doctrine of God, and The Doctrine of the Christian Life, and I would like to see those some day, but in the meantime, I think I'd better start reading what I already have!


A little thought about history and theology

Courtesy of John Frame:

Church history illuminates theology by recounting the words of teachers in their life-contexts.  It shows us how the teachers of the church behaved under pressure, how their lives were or were not consistent with their teaching It shows how the gospel teaching took root (or failed to take root) in the lives of rulers, farmers, tradesmen, soldiers, the poor, and the homeless.

As such, historical theology is properly a form of theology.  It is an application of the Word of God, for that Word is the historian's criterion of evaluation.  It applies the Word to the church's past for the sake of the church's present edification, and thus it also applies Scripture to the church of the present.  And so in applying the Word, it reveals its meaning in new and exciting ways, as we see how our ancestors applied Scripture to a broad variety of situations.