A defense of the Reformed confessional position on the word of God and Scripture, starting with God' s covenant lordship. The word of God' is a multi-faceted concept. It is, first of all, God's own speech. Since God is a speaking God, his speaking capacity is a divine attribute, an aspect of his nature. This capacity is focused in the second person of the Trinity, so that Word is a name of Jesus Christ. "The word," therefore, includes all of his personal communications, which take many forms, such as the direct voice of God, the words of prophets and apostles, and the written Word.
This fourth and final volume in the Theology of Lordship series discusses Gods Word in modern theology and how Gods Word comes to us as his controlling power, authority, and personal presence.
John M. Frame (BD, Westminster Theological Seminary; AM, MPhil, Yale University; DD, Belhaven College) is J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. He previously taught theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and at Westminster Seminary California.
1)John Frame loves the church and serves her well. From the power of great theological volumes, to the practicalities of denominational tensions, he is a trustworthy guide. 2)I thank God for raising up John Frame in our day. We are the wiser, the more biblical, and the healthier because of it. And because he has written so deeply and so well about such great truths about a great God, this will, I believe, be the testimony of generations to come.
"Frame's work offers rich, vigorous, deep, biblically sound exposition of the Bible's own teaching about the word of God and about the Bible's character as the written word of God. We have needed this vigorous defense of orthodoxy, which answers modernist deviations, and now deviations cropping up even within evangelicalism. I highly commend it as a fitting capstone to Frame's series on Lordship."
"When I first began teaching systematic theology nearly thirty years ago, one of the first things I did was to contact the bookstore of Westminster Seminary-West, to order several of the syllabi of John Frame on the various heads of theology. I considered him a leader in theological thnking then, and all these years later, I still do. I have often thought of him as something like a combination of a meticulous brain-surgeon and a keen-scented bloodhound. With a deep Biblical faith and a massive erudition in the entire Christian theological tradition, he painstakingly reads all the relevant material, and clearly isolate the matters at hand. He does not then 'cut or bite', but rather fairly and charitably reveals the problem or issue in light of the ever-new, ever ancient Biblical faith He never jumps to conclusions, and always seeks to believe the best about those who may be opponents, without relinquishing honesty and realism in the process. I" can only mention a few of the highlights that have impressed me in this remarkable volume. His distniction between reason as a test of truth, 'if rightly done', and reason as wrongly done, when it becomes autonomous, is crystal clear, and much needed with the Enlightenment assumptions that still reign in Western culture (chapter 4). His discussion of God's written Word and God's revelation of Himself, as being complementary and not contradictiory, is as necessary today as it was in the heyday of Barth and Brunner (chapter 7). He, in line with Calvin, fruitfully joins together Word and Spirit (chapters 11 and 42). Chapter 22 gives a comprehensible and sensible discussion of the concept of the canon. His evaluation of 'Bible Problems' is very useful, especially on 'ethical problems' and 'factual problems' (chapter 28). Chapters 33 and 34 are excellent discussions of autographs and translations. His 40th chapter on principles of interpretation is worthy of Augustine's On Christian Teaching and Bullinger's Principles of Interpretation (in his Fifth Decade). "His appendices bring us up to date on certain alternative approaches to Scriptural authority in significant modern writers (some of whom are rather close to Reformed Christianity, and other somewhat less so). Here the able bloodhound is at work, but gently so! Appendix J on Peter Enns is clear-sighted and fair, especially in his summation of what Enns says about the 'nonuniqueness of Israel'. He interacts with Andrew MacGowan on the viability of inerrancy, with crucial reference to MacGowan's claim to represent Bavinck (Appendix L). Appendix O portrays a (at least to me) convincing study of "Something Close to Biblicism", with very interesting survey of the teaching at Westminster Seminary over the decades on Systematic Theology and Exegetical Theology, and related issues; things which still matter a great deal in all theological academies and churches. "I shall be using this book in my own classes and teaching, and am delighted to have such a rich resource to hand."
"In many ways Frame's The Doctrine of the Word of God is the crowning achievement of his career. If Barth was designated the theologian of revelation, Moltmann the theologian of eschatology, and Cullmann the theologian of salvation history, Frame could rightly be labeled the theologian of the Bible. No theologian in recent memory has more frequently and doggedly held up the Bible as the divine norm for all human thought and action; and no English bibliology in the last century matches the present work in scope, fervor, logic, and fidelity to the Bible's view of itself. This work is an evangelical landmark likely to be unsurpassed for generations."
"I am delighted to recommend John Frame's Doctrine of the Word of God (even in this "draft" form). It is a fitting finale to the Lordship series. John has learned much from the work of Vos, Murray, Kline, Clowney and Gaffin; the result here is, as it is in his other books, a deeply biblical account of his subject. Easy to read, yet penetrating, the book carries us along. John is equally at home in the exegesis of Scripture and in resolving the questions of our uncertain time regarding Scripture. After reading DWG, students will be convinced of the sovereign power, truthfulness and authority of the Bible. Even in the areas where I question some of John's views, like the usefulness of confessions of faith, I was encouraged and challenged to follow Holy Scripture more faithfully. Thank you John, for this book!"
"The fourth volume in John Frame's Lordship series, The Doctrine of the Word of God, is the best of them -- and that is high praise. In a 600-page "draft" of what he hopes will be a longer and more definitive work, Frame thinks through what Scripture is, what authority means, how to understand inspiration, canon, and a host of other categories intrinsic to any responsible treatment of revelation, especially the revelation provided by holy Scripture. Frame's style is highly personal, occasionally sliding all the way to an almost stream-of-consciousness set of associations, but his reflections are invariably so fresh (even when he is articulating old truths) and so thought-provoking (not least where one wants to demur or introduce a caveat) that this reader, at least, overlooks the style he would otherwise have found a bit cloying. More so than the other volumes in the series, this book works hard at developing its theology, the theology of the Word of God, out of Scripture itself -- and without descending to vicious circularity. This is an important book, and those who write on this subject in the near future without wrestling with Frame will merely testify to their own narrowness."
John Frames course on the doctrine of the Word of God had a profound influence on me as a student at Westminster Seminary in 1971, and it has significantly affected my understanding of theology for my entire life. I am thrilled to see that Frames excellent material is finally being published for a wider audience.
"Too often the Bible is considered an academic text to be evaluated, rather than a Scripture to guide our piety. This book goes a long way toward correcting that. And what a feast it is! To be sure, it leaves no stone unturned. Just about every significant issue connected with Gods Word is tackled with clarity, and with faithfulness to the highest view of biblical authority. Still, this is far more than a solid apologetic for inspiration and inerrancy. John Frame pleads for the personal word model of the sacred text. With enormous wisdom and cogency, he leads the reader to discover the wonder of the Scripture, and thus to discover the wondrous love of its magnificent author, the Lord God himself."
I trust John Frame! I'm a cynical, old preacher and trust comes hard. But when John Frame speaks or writes, I trust him, his mind, his heart and his faithfulness. But mostly I trust the God John Frame worships with such passion. A case in point is The Doctrine of the Word of God. This (along with the three other volumes in this series) will be one of the most valuable books in your library and you'll rise up and call be blessed for recommending it to you."
"A distinguished teacher and author for over four decades, John gives us a wonderful fourth volume in his "Theology of Lordship" series. The book is accessible, concise, and saturated with Scripture. I heartily recommend his description of how God's Word, in all of its aspects, is his personal communication with us, with echoes of his own lifelong faithfulness to the Lord."
"The Doctrine of the Word of God strengthened my faith in the authority and the sufficiency and the thorough jurisdiction of God's Word in my daily life. I cannot ask for more from any human book."
"We all need to read John Frame. At different times he provokes, informs, irritates, illuminates, and excites. He is thankfully! not easily categorized and therefore he must be wrestled with and not simply embraced or dismissed. This is the case in his most recent offering in his massive series A Theology of Lordship. In some ways Frame is at his best when exploring questions of methodology and the dynamics of revelation. In The Doctrine of the Word of God Frame approaches issues in a fresh and stimulating way, anchored in classic Reformed orthodoxy, but often asking unexpected questions or giving surprising analysis and reaction. Yes, supporters and opponents should read this volume by John Frame as it proves to be a truly significant addition to literature on the Word of God.
"In my estimation, there has never been a book that deals with the Word of God so carefully, thoroughly and practically. I cannot imagine a follower of Christ who will not be transformed into a more humble and loyal disciple by pondering its wisdom. The content is up to date, exegetical, and systematic. The style is crystal clear. You will never forget this book."
"John Frames final contribution to A Theology of Lordship series evidences this septuagenarian theologians lifetime study of Gods Word. While writing in the spirit of Warfield, Young, Murray and Van Til, the author freely merges his own (sometimes provocative and/or contemporary) thinking into the foundational works from previous generations. Commendably, he aspires to be presuppositional, exegetical, expositional, and reformed in his conclusions/applications. This monumental volume certainly qualifies as a must read for advanced students of theology."
"John Frames Doctrine of the Word of God is, by his own reckoning, his magnum opus, and I wholeheartedly agree. It is a rare event when evangelical theologians publish primary rather than secondary texts, but Frame has done it with this work, a constructive proposal that is as creative as it is conservative, something close to biblicism concerning the Bible itself. He has kept references to other theologians to a minimum (mainly in the several appendices) in order to focus on the biblical text itself, the personal word of God. This book is a fitting capstone not only for Frames Theology of Lordship but his whole career. It demands not only our admiration but, more importantly, our attention. Those who do take up and read will come away with an expanded and enhanced vision of biblical authority, and a renewed confidence in Scripture as the compelling personal communication of the triune Lord."