The Doctrine of the Word of God (Theology of Lordship) Hardcover – 27 Oct 2010
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About the Author
J. I. Packer, considered one of the most influential Evangelicals in North America, is the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. His many books include" Knowing God" and "Keep in Step with the Spirit".
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Professor Frame is a leading Reformed theologian who applies great care and precision in his work that is built upon biblical presuppositions. Assertive yet courtly, theoretical yet personal, his writing is alluring and influential.
Herein he "prefers the term 'word of God' to 'revelation' when considering God's communication with His creatures. Word is God's communication. Revelation is the content disclosed by the word." He prefers this because it is the "more common biblical terminology" (p. 15).
He rightly draws the essential antithesis: "What distinguishes modern views of revelation from orthodox (to my mind biblical) views is their affirmation of human `autonomy' in the realm of knowledge" (p. 15). For "the spirit of autonomy underlies every sinful decision of every human being. ... man seeks to become his own lord. He denies God's ultimate control, authority, and presence. Either he denies that there is such a Lord or he ascribes lordship to something in creation. If he denies that there is a Lord, he embraces irrationalism, the view that there is no ultimate meaning in the universe. If he ascribes lordship to something finite (i.e., idolatry), he embraces rationalism, the view that a godlike knowledge can be obtained from the creation alone." Therefore all unbelievers embrace either "rationalism irrationally" or "irrationalism rationalistically" (p. 16).
Dr. Frame states that his "complaint against liberalism [liberal theology, autonomous presuppositions] is not a complaint against reason itself, but against the propositions:
1. that human reason operates autonomously, and
2. that autonomous reason provides the ultimate criteria of truth and falsity, right and wrong, by which everything (including Scripture) is to be judged" (p. 20).
The author defines "reason as a human faculty, like our ability to see, hear, or touch. Reason is our ability to judge consistency and logical validity. ... it is not always accurate, and can be distorted by sin. Sin gives us a bias against God's authoritative reasoning. ... The term 'reason' can be used either descriptively ... or normatively" (p. 22-23). The assumption that reason must function autonomously "must be challenged. It leads to rational unintelligibility as well as to spiritual disaster" (p. 23).
Additionally: "A legitimate rational evaluation of God's personal words will consider the authority of God and conclude that the hearer should certainly believe these words, without objection" (p. 24). Because the problem with human reason is "that it is fallen" (p. 24).
Moreover "God's words are authoritative in all the ways that language can be authoritative, and their authority is ultimate" (p.54). The true God is "is distinguished from all other gods because He is the God who speaks" (p. 66). So the reader of Scripture hears from God.
The Doctrine of the Word of God includes chapters on:
- Personal-Word Model
- Lordship and the Word
- Modern Views of Revelation
- Revelation and Reason
- What is the Word of God
- God's Word as His Controlling Power
- God's Word as His Meaning Authority
- God's Word as His Personal Presence
- Revelation Through Words
- The Canon
- Transmission of Scripture
- Translations of Scripture
- Teaching and Preaching
- Writing on the Heart
- Many helpful essays in the Appendix (relevant Book Reviews, pp. 335-615)
- And more
Frame's exposition on what composes the canon:
"The problem with much current literature on the canon is that it does not take account of God's expressed intentions. It seeks, rather, through autonomous reasoning ... to determine whether any first-century books deserve canonical status, and using that method it arrives at conclusions that are uncertain at best. But once we understand God's use of a canon from the time of Moses, we must approach our present problem with a presupposition: that God will not let his people walk in darkness, that he will provide for us the words we need to have, within our reach" (p. 136).
I would add that one must presuppose God's sovereign control over all things, including history and the formation and acceptance of the canon. Nothing is out of the grasp of God's sovereign power and guidance; including the recognition of the canon by the church. Without the assumption of God sovereign control, in principle, one has no ground for knowledge of anything including history or canon acknowledgment.
Professor Frame defines "inspiration as a divine act that creates an identity between a divine word and a human word. Such inspiration takes place in all verbal revelation" (p. 140).
Frame provides a substantial definition of the divine use of human writers for God utilized very different writers who were "chosen by God to convey his personal word to the world. The result of their writing is nothing less than the Word of God, the personal word of God to us. It is like dictation, because what Luke writes is exactly what God wants us to hear. It is like mechanical inspiration, because God is in full control of the process. But how unlike mechanical dictation it is! God's dealings with Luke, for example, are person to person, as are all of God's dealings with human beings. God uses Luke's gifts as a historian and as a physician, his careful accuracy, and his association with Paul to add distinctive elements to Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts. He uses Luke's intellect and style to convey the truth with the nuance that he desires. God also uses the very different endowments of John and of Paul to present other perspectives on the gospel of Christ" (p. 142).
Kuyper and Bavinck called this "process 'organic inspiration,' to distinguish it from dictation or mechanical inspiration. Organic inspiration meant that God uses all the distinct personal qualities of each writer. ... He used persons to communicate with us in a fully personal way" (p. 142).
"Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
Frame robustly affirms (as he makes meticulous and thorough distinctions and definitions) full inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture; forasmuch as Scripture is absolutely precise, true, and without error (p. 168-175). "Inerrancy, therefore means that the Bible is true" (p. 173). "Scripture is inerrant because the personal word of God cannot be anything other than true. When he gives us propositional information--and he certainly does--that information is reliable, though expressed in ordinary, not technical, language. The written Word, further, is just as inerrant as the oral message of the prophets and apostles. And their word is just as inerrant as the divine voice itself" (p. 176).
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Frame offers this summary: "Because of God's 'singular care and providence' (WCF 1.8) over the process of transmission, we now have in Scripture all the personal words that God intends to say to us today" (p. 252).
God-dependent reason has an important place: We are called to reason truthfully but we should "remind ourselves ... of various specific limits on the ultimacy, the power, and the reliability of reason in general and logic in particular. The law of non-contradiction is 'necessary' only to those who acknowledge a practical ('ethical') necessity to think logically" (p. 364).
The primary imperative of biblical interpretation is that Scripture interprets Scripture; "Scripture has the primacy even here, even in its own interpretation. But this primacy is not threatened by the use of reason if reasoning is carried out in a godly way" (p. 370).
Frame contends that personal convictions, bias, and rational assumptions guide one's evaluation of Scripture: "All of us have basic convictions, unless possibly we are just confused. ... We try to bring all of life and thought into accord with our basic conviction. Nothing inconsistent with that conviction is to be tolerated. An inconsistency of that sort amounts to a divided loyalty, a confusion of life direction. Most of us, at least, try to avoid such confusion. The conviction becomes the paradigm of reality, of truth, and of right, to which all other examples of reality, truth, and right must measure up" (p. 431).
Furthermore God's word cannot be "falsified by some secular philosophical criterion 'Let God be true, but every man a liar.'" God's own word is "the paradigm of all Christian language" (p. 437).
Frame frequently follows Van Til including the truth "that reason, logic and evidence have their place in our thinking only because we live in a world God has created, which is inherently rational" (p. 527). And that the text of Scripture is the "self-attesting authority ... while acknowledging the necessity of the Spirit's work for our subjective appropriation of the text (the objective and subjective aspects cannot function without the other" (p. 527).
Frame notes that the term "infallibility is a stronger term than inerrancy. As suggested by the etymologies of the two terms, inerrant means that there are no errors; infallible means that there can be no errors [Frame prefers the term 'truth' over both inerrancy and infallibility but it is loaded with theological and philosophical exploitations]. Inerrant is about actuality, infallible about possibility" (p. 533-534).
Concerning the need to answer skeptical questions regarding Bible difficulties, Dr. Frame asserts: "We confess the Bible as God's Word not because we have solved all the difficulties, but because God himself (in the text) and the Spirit (in our hearts) has so identified it" (p. 544).
The Christian can rest on God's word because all men have an ultimate standard to interpret 'facts': "There are all sorts of questions about criteria: on what basis do we know when an idea of ours 'fits the facts'? ... That knowledge is never mere knowledge of 'facts' (except in a broad sense); it is always at the same time a knowledge of criteria, norms, law" (cf. Romans 1:32). Thus one of the most crucial arguments is "not whether or not there is an absolute, but over what that absolute is, whether the God of Scripture or an idol of the philosopher's imagination" (p. 560). Only Scripture furnishes a ground for the pre-necessities of rationality and morality.
Professor Frame's "The Doctrine of the Word of God" is a rich tapestry of impressive scholarship from the pen of a fine theologian and apologist. Frame defends the authority, truth, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture through theological, philosophical, epistemological approaches as he stands on the self-attestation of the Bible as God's unerring word. Useful, intriguing, it addresses a wide range of topics concerning the inerrancy and use of Scripture.
This is an important volume for ministers, seminary students, and scholars, yet it is written in a readable style that makes it accessible for the non-specialist. 684 pages.
"The language of 2 Timothy is more striking: For God `breathed out' words is simply for him to speak. Scripture is ... the word of God ... God has spoken it. All of it" (p. 529).
See the apologetic book that contends for God's existence:
Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity
Or the presuppositional case against False Religions:
"One Way to God: Christian Philosophy and Presuppositional Apologetics Examine World Religions" type in ASIN#:1432722956
The Doctrine of the Word is endorsed by top-notch scholars such as:
- D.A Carson
- Kevin Vanhoozer
- Vern Poythress
- Andree Seu (World Magazine)
- Richard Pratt
- Wiliam Edgar
- Douglas Kelly
Today I begin the final installment of the Theology of Lordship Series - The Doctrine of the Word of God. And the author inserts a bombshell in the preface: "And the more I think about it, the more I think this book is my best work ever." Quite a statement from an author who has already penned the most significant book in my life to date!
Here's the deal. When I dig into a Frame book, it is something akin to being invited to the White House. The tour guide invites guests to explore all the rooms in the house. "Take your time and enjoy yourself. Make your self and home. Stay as long as you like." Such an invitation would be both exhilarating and intimidating. Welcome to the world of John Frame!
Frame divides his work into four parts which include, 1) Orientation, 2) God's Word in Modern Theology, 3) The Nature of God's Word, and 4) How the Word Comes to Us. He includes (as in the other three volumes a very helpful analytical outline) which has helped me over the years in writing my own curriculum for theological education. Additionally, Frame maintains these outlines help readers see the flow of argumentation throughout the book.
PART ONE: ORIENTATION
This section merely introduces readers to the theme of the book: "The main contention of this volume," writes Frame, "is that God's speech to man is real speech. It is very much like one person speaking to another. God speaks so that we can understand him and respond appropriately." Frame, then, articulates his thesis: "God's word, in all its qualities and aspects, is a personal communication from him to us."
Frame argues that our response to God's revelation should be one of obedience that comes from the heart: "When God speaks, our role is to believe, obey, delight, repent, mourn - whatever he wants us to do. Our response should be without reservation, from the heart."
The author distinguishes the God of the Bible from other world religions. He summarizes work previously set forth in The Doctrine of God (DG): As such, he is set forth as a God who is an absolute personality. He is absolute in that he is unchangeable, eternal, and infinite. Yet he is also personal (or as Frame puts it "tripersonal"). His point is that some religions and worldviews acknowledge the existence of a personal god. And others recognize gods who are absolute. But only historic Christianity acknowledges and worships a God who is personal and absolute.
God is the Creator. As such, the creation is set apart from the Creator; hence the Creator-creature distinction. The creature is wholly dependent on the Creator (Acts 17:28).
God is the Covenant Lord. Frame is quick to remind readers that Lord "represents the Hebrew Yahweh, the name by which he wants his people to remember him." God is a covenental; he is the God of control, authority, and presence (what Frame calls the three lordship attributes; a theological reality that is teased out in DG).
Frame relates the lordship attributes to three perspectives respectively. The situational perspective is the area where we teach and preach the authoritative Word. The normative perspective focuses on how Scripture defines the word. And the existential perspective is where God's Word is transferred from the words we speak to our hearts.
PART TWO: GOD'S WORD IN MODERN THEOLOGY
Part two discusses modern views of revelation: "What distinguishes modern views of revelation from orthodox views is their affirmation of human autonomy in the realm of knowledge. Intellectual autonomy is the view that human beings have the right to seek knowledge of God's world without being subject to God's revelation." Autonomy is always irrational; always sinful.
Frame argues that when man seeks to become his own lord, he "denies God's ultimate control, authority, and presence." He articulates the classic Van Til idea of irrationality/rationality: "Either he denies that there is such a Lord or he ascribes lordship to something in creation. If he denies that there is a Lord, he embraces irrationalism, the view that there is no ultimate meaning in the universe. If he ascribes lordship to something finite (i.e., idolatry), he embraces rationalism, the view that a godlike knowledge can be obtained from the creation alone."
Frame's conclusion is that "nothing can be validated by autonomous reason ... for such reasoning leads to a rationalist-irrationalist dialectic, which destroys all knowledge. For that pottage, much of the church has forsaken its birthright, God's personal word."
Anyone familiar with John Frame will recognize that he does not oppose reason itself. Indeed, "reason itself is a good gift of God." This good gift, however, is "fallible ... and affected by sin." Rather, he rightly reacts against two bedrock principles in liberal theology: (1) Autonomous human reason, and (2) The notion that autonomous reason provides the ultimate criteria of truth and error, right and wrong, "by which everything (including Scripture) is to be judged."
The author argues that it is sinful to substitute human rationality, history, or a subjective event for the "ultimate authority of God's personal words" a feat that has been virtually perfected by theological liberals. Frame has not only identified a key marker of liberalism; he has his finger on some of the error that is creeping into biblically-minded churches and followers of Christ. Liberals and conservatives alike should recognize that rationalism, historicism, and subjectivism are unable of dealing properly with God's personal words, i.e. God's revelation.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, the so-called "father of theology" is the name most associated with the subjective event which is substituted for the authority of God's Word. He view of revelation should be familiar to evangelicals because many fall into the ditch of liberalism and do not even realize their shoes are dirty. Schleirmacher believes that "revelation is primarily subjective, not objective. It is not objective truths, but our subjective responses to objective truths."
PART THREE: THE NATURE OF GOD'S WORD
Frame defines the Word of God as (1) "God himself, understood as communicator," and (2) "the sum total of his free communications with his creatures."
He reiterates a central theme of the Lordship Series, namely, God speaks to us as Lord. "We should therefore expect that is speech, like all his actions, will express his lordship attributes: his control, authority, and presence." As such, Frame examines each lordship attribute respectively.
First, he explores the controlling power of the Word of God. God's Word exerts power over inanimate objects as well as creatures. God's Word is an instrument of judgment as well as grace/blessing. In the final analysis, "God accomplishes all his works by his powerful word: creation, providence, judgment, grace." The efficacy of God's Word is God's sovereign prerogative.
Second, Frame examines the Word of God as his meaningful authority. When God speaks, his words are meaningful, thus authoritative. Consequently, God's authoritative words create obligation on the part of the creature: "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."
Jesus carries the fully weight of authority as he comes to bear witness to the truth and accomplish the redemptive act that was ordained in eternity past. Frame concludes, "To hear the words of Jesus, then, is the same as hearing the words of the Father. We are to hear the words of Jesus as Abraham heard the words of Yahweh, as words of supreme authority. We are not in any position to find fault with the words of Jesus. They rather create obligations on our part to hear, believe, obey, mediate, rejoice, mourn - whatever the words may demand of us."
Lastly, Frame explores God's Word as personal presence - the third lordship attribute. The author presents nine practical ways that God manifests his presence in a special way to his people.
1. God's nearness to his people is the nearness of his words.
2. Where the Word is, there is God's Spirit.
3. God performs all his actions through speech.
4. God is distinguished from all other gods because he is the God who speaks.
5. The persons of the Trinity are distinguished from one another in Scripture according to their role in the divine speech.
6. The speech of God has divine attributes.
7. The Word does things that only God can do.
8. The Word of God is an object of worship.
9. The Word is God.
The three lordship attributes of control, authority, and presence are inseparable. In other words, when God exerts control, there is a corresponding authority and presence that complement one another. Frame puts it this way: "So if God performs all his actions by powerful and authoritative speech, then his speech is never separated from his personal presence."
PART FOUR: HOW THE WORD COMES TO US
Part four makes up the bulk of the work and is concerned primarily with how the Word of God gets into our hearts and minds. Dr. Frame explains how God reveals himself via events and words (the divine voice, the apostles, and prophets).
Frame discusses Jesus' and the apostles' view of the Old Testament respectively. He includes a helpful section on the canon of Scripture. His treatment of inspiration is extremely valuable and encouraging.
The author tackles what he calls the content of Scripture and parallels it with the Hittite suzerainty treaty which unfolds as follows:
1. Name of the great king
2. Historical prologue
3. Stipulations (laws) and includes exclusive loyalty which is equivalent to love and specific requirements.
4. Sanctions (blessings and curses)
Frame maintains the "covenantal model of canonicity is enormously helpful in dealing with questions concerning biblical authority, infallibility, and inerrancy. On this model, God is the ultimate author of Scripture, and we vassals have no right to find fault with that document; rather, we are to be subject to it in all our thought and life." And he argues that the five sections also point to five types of revelation that emerges in Scripture respectively:
1. Revelation of the name of God
2. Revelation of God's mighty acts in history
3. Revelation of God's law including love and specific requirements
4. Revelation of God's continuing presence to bless and curse
5. Revelation of God's institutional provisions: Scripture, church, sacraments, discipline, etc.
Frame argues that the covenants bolster the unity of Scripture by their "pervasiveness, complementarity, and their perspectival relationship."
The inerrancy of Scripture is explored in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. Frame's argument is convincing and compelling: "Scripture is both inerrant and infallible. It is inerrant because it is infallible. There are no errors because there can be no errors in the divine speech ... Error arises from two sources: deceit and ignorance. Deceit is intentional error, lying. Ignorance may lead to unintentional error. But God does not lie, and he is ignorant of nothing. If Scripture is his Word, therefore, it contains no errors. It is inerrant."
Frame unpacks the clarity, necessity, comprehensiveness, sufficiency, and the transmission of Scripture. Concerning the transmission of Scripture in particular, the author articulates the process as follows: the divine voice communicates via prophets and apostles which leads to the written word. Frame argues "there is no decrease in power, authority, or divine presence, as we move from the divine voice, to the prophets and apostles, and to the written word." Additionally, the written Word proceeds through a number of processes before it reaches the human heart and mind. These include copies, textual criticism, translations, teaching, preaching, sacraments, theology, confessions and creeds, interpretation, and assurance.
Frame summarizes the essence of his thesis: "He [God] is our covenant Lord. So his word to us reflects his lordship attributes of control, authority, and presence. His word has a power that controls all things. It has supreme authority, so that it creates obligations in its hearers: obligations to believe, obey, and otherwise participate in what he presents to us. And the word is also the location of God's very presence to us."
Finishing volume four of the Theology of Lordship Series marks the end of an incredible journey. But in many ways, the journey is just beginning. For followers of Christ recognize the mandate to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Indeed, our God is the God of control, authority, and presence.
I consider Dr. Frame's Theology of Lordship Series a labor of love that the church will appreciate and benefit from for years to come. Every young pastor should set a goal to purchase and thoroughly digest each volume in the Lordship series. I count these four book among the most valuable resources in my theological library.
Many thanks to John Frame for courageous writing and his diligent approach to God's Word.
I had been a Christian, by the grace of God, for seven years, being transformed while in college. I had only a small exposure to nominal Christianity via my background in a liberal, mainline denomination. I knew only the most basic outline of the facts about Christ that I gleaned from each Sunday's liturgy. I believed that George Washington was the first President of the United Sates, that Mickey Mantle was my favorite baseball player, and that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. And none of them made any difference to my daily life.
Then God intervened in my life out of the blue in 1969 and I was a different person. I had heard the gospel, been transfixed by its message and relevance, and was given grace to savingly trust in Christ alone for salvation. When I told my local priest that January afternoon that God had transformed my life and that I had been "born again" and was now trusting in Christ for my salvation, he told me that such teaching was dangerous and hoped I would "get over it". A former campus chaplain, he said that he had seen people really "messed up" by this kind of teaching. As I left his office that day, I knew he was not a safe guide for my spiritual life and perhaps he was the "messed up" person. (He left the ministry in the next few months to become a stock broker and make more money!)
In God's providence, at the time God chose to save me, I had been taking an obligatory religion class at my liberal arts college. My professors (from such prestigious schools at Yale, Princeton, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Chicago Divinity School) taught us that the Bible was unreliable. The Old Testament in particular was a collection of myths, pious sayings, ragged history, and outright fabrications.
At best it recorded the highest aspirations of pious Jews. I can remember sitting in class that Fall, yet to be converted, but wondering why these men had chosen a job of debunking what they were paid to teach. Why didn't they just go out and get real jobs positively standing behind SOMETHING!
My conversion in early January left me still a month until finals and time for a restudy of the Old Testament
materials. How amazed I was as a new Christian, now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to read the Old Testament with new eyes. I certainly did not understand all that I was reading but I begin to understand a lot and I was given an inner witness by the Holy Spirit that this was the very Word of God. I grew to despise the liberalism that had kept the gospel from me when I was growing up and then attacked the Bible in class in college. To later find Bible believing Christians, and churches and student ministries beyond my college was a windfall beyond words. (After my conversion and subsequent spiritual growth, I recognized that I had seen first hand what "wolves in sheep's clothing" looked like.)
Back to 1976 and THE BATTLE FOR THE BIBLE. Now that I was involved in student ministries, I had begun taking classes in an evangelical institution and began to learn that the "battle for the Bible" goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When the serpent said to Eve: "Did God really say...?" and "No, you will not die..." and flatly contradicted God, the battle for the Bible was in full display right there at the beginning of human history. My studies showed me that almost every generation sees some attack upon the Word of God and its inspiration, truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency, and authority.
Battles for the Bible for the past 35 years have revolved around its clarity and sufficiency (do we need psychologists to fix us; prophets to give us newer words from God; the insights of anthropology to do missions, etc, etc.?) [A good example of a text addressing specious attacks on the Bible is Noel Weeks, THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE; Banner of Truth.)
That brings me to today and my reviews of three new books displaying and defending the greatness of the Word of God.
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD (Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me); Crossway Books
What a gem Pastor (and soon to be doctor) DeYoung has given us. It is refreshing and it is clear, accurate, encouraging, stimulating and correct. Christians today need to be taught or to learn for themselves through reading this book that the Bible is "more sure" than our experiences, that we critique our experiences by the Bible, not vice versa; that the Bible is enough, that we don't need psychologists, prophets, anthropologists, gurus or tongues and interpretations of tongues. The Bible is sufficient.
The Bible is clear, final and necessary. It is the unbreakable Word of God. DeYoung exhorts us to stick with the Scriptures and not be moved from our full confidence in the Word of God. Plus it has an excellent Appendix of some 30 of the "best books on the good book". With a large study guide available from Crossway, it would make a great and important Sunday School class, group study or church officer training study. Highly recommended. And kudos to Crossway in having DeYoung popularize so many issues and making the teaching of the Bible plain and for the masses.
FOR INTERMEDIATE READERS:
John Frame, THE DOCTRINE OF THE WORD OF GOD
(A Theology of Lordship, Volume 4); P & R
Reformed readers have probably heard of Professor John Frame though they may not have read any of his hefty tomes on theology. Don't let the size of this volume (650 pages) deter you from faithfully reading through the whole volume for it would be a tragedy of a wasted opportunity. Frame has the gift of writing clear, everyday English while writing on all kinds of theological topics. This may be his best volume!
Several trustworthy guides (e.g. J. I. Packer, Doug Kelly, and others) note that it may be the best current volume on the orthodox doctrine of Scripture. In the series, A THEOLOGY OF LORDSHIP, Professor Frame has already written on THE DOCTRINE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (how do we know what we know and specifically, how does a human being come to have real and true knowledge of God). Then he wrote
on THE DOCTRINE OF GOD (who He is, what He is like and what that all means); and then THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Professor Frame admits early on the all of these books are based upon the trustworthy and sufficient Scriptures and show the trustworthiness of Scripture as each doctrine is treated. This entire volume is meant to help the reader think through all the the Bible is and should mean to us.
The Chapter headings are as follows:
PART ONE: ORIENTATION
1. The Personal-Word Model
2. Lordship and the Word
PART TWO: GOD'S WORD IN MODERN THEOLOGY
3. Modern Views of Revelation
4. Revelation and Reason
5. Revelation and History
6. Revelation and Human Subjectivity
7. Revelation and God Himself
PART THREE: THE NATURE OF GOD'S WORD
8. What is the Word of God?
9. God's Word as His Controlling Power
10. God's Word as His Meaningful Authority
11. God's Word as His Personal Presence
PART FOUR: HOW THE WORD COMES TO US
12. The Media of God's Word
13. God's Revelation Through Events
14. God's Revlation through Words: The Divine Voice
15. God's Revelation Through Words: Prophets and
16. The Permanence of God's Written Word
17. God's Written Words in the Old Testament
18. Respect for God's Written Words in the Old
19. Jesus' View of the Old Testament
20. The Apostles' View of the Old Testament
21. The New Testament as God's Written Word
22. The Canon of Scripture
23. The Inspiration of Scripture
24. The Content of Scripture
25. Scripture's Authority: Its Content, & Its Purpose
26. The Inerrancy of Scripture
27. The Phenomena of Scripture
28. Bible Problems
29. The Clarity of Scripture
30. The Necessity of Scripture
31. The Comprehensiveness of Scripture
32. The Sufficiency of Scripture
33. The Transmission of Scripture
34. Translations and Editions of Scripture
35. Teaching and Preaching
38. Confessions, Creeds and Traditions
39. Human Reception of Scripture
40. The Interpretation of Scripture
42. Person-Revelation: the Divine Witness
43. Human Beings as Revelation
44. Writing on the Heart
45. Summary and Organizational Reflections
APPENDICES--There are 17 Appendices on top of this!
What a wealth of good things. I would commend church officers, seminarians, pastors and thinking lay people to read and master this book. Again, Frame writes to be understood, not to show off a turgid or academic prose. Laymen can understand this book.
Pastors and seminarians should understand this book.
FOR MORE ADVANCED READERS:
Peter Lillback & Richard Gaffin, eds.; THY WORD IS STILL TRUTH (Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture From the Reformation to Today); P & R
Another "Aha!" moment regarding the battle for the Bible came in 1980. I was in seminary and my professor, John Woodbridge, had a seminar class evaluating a then new book by Jack Rogers and Donald McKim, THE AUTHORITY AND INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE (An Historical Approach). The authors purported to show that the so-called modern idea of the "inerrancy" of the Bible was invented by professors at late 19th century Princeton Seminary (A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield). Their thesis was that the normative view of the church had been that the Bible had errors but not such that people could not be saved or grow. They told us that the church for nearly 2,000 years had always believed in an errant Bible. So the position of their seminary in California, which had changed to embrace the errantist position, was in the mainstream of church history.
The seminar class took the Rogers & McKim volume and looked up every footnote in the book. We could volunteer to back check chapters and I chose the ones on Charles Hodge (my thesis subject) and the Puritans (a growing love). How shocked I was to discover that the footnotes, by and large, were doctored! Quotes were trimmed to leave out contrary comments;
secondary sources were conflated with primary sources leaving a completely different impression of what the original author was saying, sentences from the middle of a paragraph were made to say something that the whole paragraph did not say, etc, etc. It was hash job!
When the class came together and we discovered that the others had found the same discrepancies that each of us had found, we sat silently in amazement. The professor reminded us that we were all sinners and sometime professing Christians did unrighteous things to justify their conduct. So professors from a reportedly evangelical seminary, seeking to help keep their support base, rewrote church history to make
themselves seem kosher. (You can read the results
of this class in John Woodbridge, BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: A CRITIQUE OF THE ROGERS/McKIM PROPOSAL; Zondervan; 1982)
The battle for the Bible was still in process and now so-called evangelicals were adjusting the Bible to the dictates of contemporary scholarship. For the past 30 years I have seen the on-going skirmishes as once professed evangelicals lose their confidence in the Scriptures and jump ship, landing in all kinds of strange places with strange bed-fellows.
One of the newest books to thoroughly debunk the notion that the church has never believed in inerrancy is THY WORD IS STILL TRUTH. Several decades ago,
Westminster Seminary Old Testament scholar E. J. Young wrote, THEY WORD IS TRUTH. It strengthened a generation of young evangelical and Reformed scholars as to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible.
What Drs. Lillback and Gaffin have done is bring together the best sources from the 16th century Reformation down to today to show that Christ's church has always believed in a fully trustworthy and inerrant Bible.
Westminster Seminary had been embarrassed a decade ago when one of its Old Testament professors did not teach and publish in accordance with the Scripture or the Westminster Standards and had to be removed. The final section of the volumes shows what Westminster faced and how they are currently in line with historic, orthodox Reformation Christianity.
PART ONE: SOLA SCRIPTURA: THE REFORMERS'
REDISCOVERY OF THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD
--what Luther taught
--what Zwingli taught
--what Bullinger taught
--what Calvin taught
PART TWO: THE REFORMED CONFESSIONS
--almost all the 16th and early 17th century
creeds and confessions
PART THREE: EARLY REFORMED INTERPRETATION
--from Henry Bullinger to Jonathan Edwards
PART FOUR: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN
--William Ames, John Owen, Francis Turretin and
PART FIVE: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN THE
SCOTTISH AND DUTCH LEGACY
--John Witherspoon, William Cunningham,
Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof,
PART SIX: OTHER NINETEENTH CENTURY EUROPEAN
--Louis Gaussen, Adolphe Monod, Ernst Wilhelm
Hengstenberg, and Charles Spurgeon
PART SEVEN: THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE IN THE
THEOLOGY OF OLD PRINCETON
--Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, Benjamin B.
Warfield, and Moises Silva
PART EIGHT: THE THEOLOGY OF SCRIPTURE OF THE
FOUNDING FATHERS OF WESTMINSTER
--J. Gresham Machen
--Robert Dick Wilson
--O. T. Allis
--Cornelius Van Til
PART NINE: THE BIRTH OF BIBLICAL THEOLOGY
(at WESTMINSTER SEMINARY)
--Ned B. Stonehouse
PART TEN: THE AUTHORITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
AND NEW TESTAMENT CANON OF SCRIPTURE
(AT WESTMINSTER SEMINARY)
--Edward J. Young
--Ned B. Stonehouse
PART ELEVEN: CHALLENGES TO THE REFORMED
DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE
--E. J. Young
PART TWELVE: THE WESTMINSTER CONTROVERSY
PART THIRTEEN: CONCLUSIONS
This is no "ivory tower" dispute. This is no idle discussion by folks with too much time on their hands. I know what it is like growing up in a liberal denomination that has jettisoned confidence in Scripture and has nothing to say to a lost world. And the world has returned the favor by paying the church no mind.
The fate of Christ's church and the preaching of the gospel depends upon whether we have a sure Word of God. The churches of Europe were emptied in the late 19th century as the churches and preachers no longer believed "Thy Word is truth". Early 20th century Britain and modern America has seen the same things happen as denominations have lost 50 million adherents because their pulpits no longer blazed with "Thus sayest the Lord". When problems arise in Christian's lives today in these denominations, there is no longer a sure Word of God to turn to for answers.
Thank you Drs. Lillback and Gaffin and thank you to P & R for publishing so helpful a volume. May the Lord
bless it for the up-building of Christ's churches and the spread of the gospel.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin