- Hardcover: 1104 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing; First edition (June 6, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875527965
- ISBN-13: 978-0875527963
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship) Hardcover – June 6, 2008
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From the Publisher
The Third Volume of Frame's Theology of Lordship Series
This book focuses on biblical ethics, presenting a method for ethical decision-making, an analysis of biblical ethical teaching focusing on the Ten Commandments, and a discussion of the relation of Christ to human culture.
"This book is a landmark in its field because of its soundness and thoroughness. It is noteworthy for its careful attention to the biblical basis for ethical instruction, its use of the Bible in its details, its attention to non-Christian ethical systems, its discussion of a wide range of issues, and its sensitivity to the multidimensional demands of the Christian life." --Vern S. Poythress
"Frame sets forth God's commandments as broad and deep, as sweetly adaptable to the varieties of human experience. He shows how the person, promises, and actions of our redeemer God are always intrinsic to our wisdom, faith, and love. He sets forth a vision for the Christian life that, in fact, glorifies the God of glory." --David Powlison
"'Classic Frame' at his best: profound in analysis and clear in articulation, rigorously biblical while engaging issues in the contemporary church and culture, irenic and occasionally controversial, philosophical and pastoral, deeply grounded in Reformation and post-Reformation Calvinism. . . . a rich resource for pastors, elders, counselors, and others who offer guidance in ethical decision making." --Dennis E. Johnson
About the Author
John M. Frame (A.B., Princeton University; B.D., Westminster Theological Seminary; M.A. and M.Phil., Yale University; D.D., Belhaven College) is the J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and the author of many books, including the four-volume Theology of Lordship series.
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Existential ethics focuses on a good inner character as the principle behind a good act. While this is biblical considering that true Christians as regenerate sons and daughters of God do good work out of a genuine love to God and their neighbor in their hearts, the non-Christian version of this principle distorts the biblical view by absolutizing human mind, will and feeling as the ultimate ethical standard. What is good ultimately depends on what one thinks is good which is often different from one individual to another. The teleological principle defines a good act as one that maximizes the happiness of living creatures and minimizes suffering. There is some biblical truth in this principle as Scripture teaches the glory of God as the highest good that incorporates man's happiness as consisting of "glorifying God and enjoying him forever." The deontological tradition teaches that a good act is done out of a response to duty, even at the price of self-sacrifice. Scripture affirms the call to self-sacrifice in obedience to Christ (Matthew 16:24-26) according to his Word, but it also teaches that duty and happiness in the long run reinforce instead of opposing one another. So in the Christian system, a good act comes from the right motive of faith in God and love of God (Romans 14:23, 1 Corinthians 13) based on the right standard, namely Scripture as the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 1 John 3:4) aiming to accomplish the right goal, namely the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). As in the case of the existential tradition, the non-Christian versions of teleological and deontological ethics replace God and Scripture with human autonomy to determine what the norm and the goal are.
Parallel to the three ethical principles discussed above, John Frame's Triperspectivalism is a Christian framework used to analyze an ethical issue from the normative, situational and existential point of view. We may begin with the situational perspective, corresponding to the teleological principle, that first defines what the problem is. It then asks what the means are in this particular circumstance to accomplish God’s purpose. The answer to these questions should be guided by the normative perspective, corresponding to the deontological principle that asks what God’s Word says. The existential perspective, corresponding to the existential principle asks how we must change when confronted by a holy God and his will in his Word in light of the situation we are facing.
To give you an idea how comprehensive Frame is, he covers not only the "usual" subjects that we read on the news often such as abortion and homosexuality, but also those that don't show up on the media as frequently yet nevertheless are important. A sampling of other subjects that Frame analyzes in this book include moral heroism, tragic moral choice, and organs of ethical knowledge: the heart, conscience, experience, reason, will, imagination and emotions. Under his exposition on the Ten Commandments he includes the discussions of:
- false religions, secret societies, false doctrines in the church and secularism (1st commandment),
- whether or not images are always bad, the regulative principle (2nd commandment),
- oaths and sin, profanity, humor, language in literature and drama (3rd commandment),
- Sabbath, worship and rest, works of mercy and necessity (4th commandment),
- reverence, submission and financial support to parents, views on the state, civil disobedience and revolution, the role of man and woman and slavery (5th commandment),
- prison system, capital punishment, love, vengeance and self defense, protection of life, euthanasia, death, caring for the sick and injured, health and safety including tobacco, drugs, food, drink and exercise (6th commandment),
- marriage, polygamy, prostitution, incest, homosexuality, fornication and lust, birth control, cloning and stem cells (7th commandment),
- tithing, taxation, gambling and financial responsibility (8th commandment),
- protecting others' reputation, whether we must always tell the truth (9th commandment),
- coveting versus desires (10th commandments).
Studying all these things is like drinking from a fire hose, especially when you are given limited amount of time. However, from my classroom experience, studying under John Frame has been immensely edifying due to the profundity of his thoughts, the vast extent of his knowledge, his charitable spirit, and commitment to and high-view of Scripture as the inerrant, inspired and infallible Word of God. My only complaint about this book is with the publisher that apparently didn't take the time to put page numbers on the table of contents.
His tri-perspectival approach of deontological, teleological, existential is extremely helpful and clear (although somewhat excessive at times). "The reader will note that the triperspectival system involves triads within triads. The whole book is trisperspectival." (55) He uses this approach as an argument against secular ethics, "In secular ethics there will be either no norm at all (in existential ethics), or an inadequate one (in teleological ethics), or an authoritative norm with no content (in deotological ethics)... the ultimate moral norm must be personal." (102, 109)
His section on Moral Heroism, Calling, and Gifts is excellent and freeing for the confused Christian, "God understands that Christians will vary from one another in the emphasis they place on each command. That emphasis will vary with gifts and callings." (228)
There are some hermeneutical blunders in regards to the Sabbath and Covenant Theology which causes him to use the Ten Commandments as his model for most ethical issues but regardless of that the ethical issues he deals with are dealt with exceptionally well especially his Scriptural argument against the practice of abortion which is the best I've come across so far.
His dealings with the gender roles of men and women is great, "Women and men equally image God, even in their sexual differences, even in their differences with regard to authority and submission. The reason is that the image of God embraces everything that is human. Both men and women, therefore, resemble God and are called to represent him throughout the creation, exercising control, authority, and presence in his name. This doctrine is not at all inconsistent with the subordination of women to men in the home and in the church. All human beings are under authority, both divine and human authority. Their submission to authority, as well as their authority itself, images God." (630)
One strange thought that I didn't expect from Frame is that he appears to believe women can stand behind the "pulpit" and preach which seems odd to me, "May she stand behind the pulpit as she exhorts the congregation from the Word of God? Scripture does not forbid that, for Scripture does not mention pulpits... In general, a woman may do in the church anything an unordained man may do" (645).
Finally, his chapter on Culture is worth reading. He says, "Culture is religion externalized... when Israel forsakes the true and living God, her own culture deteriorates... Scripture gives us God's point of view on human culture. In general, it is a depressing picture." (877, 878). He then takes us through the thinking of some of the modern day theologians who deal with culture (Schaeffer, Os Guinness, David Wells, Van Til).
The book is certainly worth reading and also you should check out David Powlison's and Douglas Moo's review of the book which you can find online. Hope this helps! ... oh and don't worry you do not have to read Frame's volume I and volume II before reading this even though JI Packer makes it seem like you do in the forward.