P&R’s new Speaking the Truth in Love: The Theology of John Frame is a fantastic volume of contributions on the theology and influence of John Frame. Rarely do we see a festschrift of this proportion—over 1,100 pages, with 39 essays, and 8 sections. Instead of a normal review, let me suggest a reading plan of sorts. My suggestion is not to read through the entire volume, but let it become a companion as you become more familiar with John Frame’s thought.
Where to Begin?
- The place to begin is at the beginning. Read the “Personal Words from Many Friends.” It’s a fun read from theologians and pastors from across the spectrum Frame has influenced over the past several decades.
- Chapters 1-2—(Chapter 1) “My Books: Their Genesis and Main Ideas” by John Frame himself. It’s a good and brief summary of the literature he has produced. Then move directly to (Chapter 2) “Background to My Thought.”
Understanding John Frame and His Influence
- Chapter 12—Justin Taylor and James Grant’s chapter on “John Frame and Evangelicalism” is a good introduction to how Frame has interacted with evangelicalism broadly speaking and more particular in Presbyterian circles.
- Chapter 8—Vern Poythress’ chapter “Multiperspectivalism and the Reformed Faith” is a crucial chapter in understanding Frame’s concept of multiperspectivalisim (or triperspectivalism), how it affects different disciplines (theology, apologetics, linguistics, ethics, etc), and how it has affected the Reformed faith. This is probably the most important chapter in understanding Frame’s thought.
- Chapter 19—James Anderson’s “Presuppositionalism and Frame’s Epistemology” is probably the best chapter in the book on Frame’s apologetic—there are 8 total essays on Frame’s apologetic—though all of them are good. But Anderson works to make Frame’s presupppositionalism practical, which is always helpful for apologetics. It’s also another helpful chapter on his multiperspectivalism.
- Chapter 32—David Powlison’s “Frame’s Ethics: Working the Implications for Pastoral Care” is really helpful in understanding how Frame’s ethical triperspectivalism is practical for the pastor looking to “cure souls.” While ethical reflections tend to be “static,” human hearts and souls are perplex and dynamic, needing multiple perspectives – sort of like jazz!
Digging Deeper into Frame’s Thought
- Chapter 9— K. Scott Oliphint’s “The Prolegomena Principle: Frame and Bavinck” is his attempt to cure “Bavinck’s bug” with Frame’s epistemology. It’s a good chapter on showing the superiority of Frame’s prolegomena over Bavinck in order to remain consistent with the Reform Theology they both set forth.
- Chapter 13—Paul Helm’s “Frame’s Doctrine of God” is no bedside reading. I cannot imagine anyone requesting Paul Helm to expand more on his ideas, but that is what Frame has requested. And so Paul Helm has obliged. Although there is a good bit of assumed knowledge of Helm’s book The Providence of God, it is still worth the read if you have not read Helm’s book.
- Chapter 20—Donald Collett’s chapter “Van Till and Transcendental Argument Revisited” is worth reading only if you are familiar with the interaction between Frame, Bahnsen, Craig, and Collett on Frame’s use of the Transcendental Argument. Frame tends to recognize more continuity between traditional and presuppositional transcendental arguments, while other Van Tillians don’t, emphatically.
I truly enjoyed plowing through this volume. It’s astonishing to see Frame’s fingerprints in almost every single theological discipline—including worship wars. His contribution is massive. I have a deeper appreciation of John Frame after reading these articles, and trust you will too.