John Frame on Systematic Theology


Good Morning Systematic Theologian,

I’ve been wanting to make my way through John Frame’s new Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief and I finally got around to reading the first section, “What is Theology?” Here are some things I appreciated about his first chapter.

Appreciation #1: Theology’s Aim is Sanctification

Frame’s treatment of defining theology may seem too knit picky, but I found it quite enjoyable. While there are some in this world merely looking to have their minds tickled or stretched. This was evident even among the Apostles. After Paul had preached his sermon on Mars Hill some individuals heard, but were merely intrigued by Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 17:32).

According to Frame, the aim of theology is for application in the Christian life. This does not excuse the objective study of God’s inerrant Word, but places the point of emphasis upon how the Christian must apply those truths in every avenue of life. He defines theology as, “the application of Scripture, by persons, to every area of life” (p. 8).

Appreciation #2: Theologian’s Ax is Scripture:

The theologian’s ax is not a mind of logic/reason that places itself over the Scriptures. Rather, the theologian’s most valuable asset is his understanding of Scripture and submission to its authority:

“But no theological proposal fully makes its case until it shows itself to be biblical. This means that any theologian worth his salt must interact in depth with the Bible. Such interaction is not only the work of biblical scholars or of exegetical theologians. It is the work of systematic theologians as well. In fact, the systematic theologian, since he aspires to synthesize the teaching of the whole Bible, must spend more time with Scripture than anybody else” (Frame, 11).

Many times systematic theologians are pegged to be more philosophers than biblicists. Frame establishes early on that the responsibility of loving and knowing the Scriptures is a heavy burden for the systematic theologian that cannot be ignored.

These are just a few of the thoughts I had as I read through this introductory chapter and I was encouraged to be a better student of the Word for the purpose of godly living. I’m excited to learn and be encouraged with Frame’s work.

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