There are several ways to analyze John Frame’s book: Systematic Theology. One can talk about the nuts and bolts of the Christian belief system. However, a more practical approach is to provide a solution to one of the problems that crop out from reading the book.
Critical Writing on “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief” by John Frame
How does man respond when confronted by the realization of God’s goodness and holiness? One of the best ways to solve this problem is to approach it from the point of view of God’s love for mankind.
It is difficult to live as a believer in a fallen world. Numerous Christian authors, evangelists, and pastors tried to exhort believers to walk in the Spirit. More often than not, the attempt ended in failure. Those who struggle to understand the need to live holy lives require a paradigm shift. In the past, Christian believer were compelled to change their behavior, and their attitudes under the threat of eternal damnation.
Based on modern understanding of human behavior it is a counterproductive approach. Frame said, “It is when we are most aware of God’s providential control over us that we are also most aware of the necessity to live responsibly before him.” 1 This statement is a commentary on a Bible verse that says, it is God’s kindness that leads people to repentance.
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Following the same frame of mind, it is best to pursue God and to obey his commands not because of fear but due to the realization of God’s love for people, especially those God considers as his children. The best starting point is to realize how heaven perceives human beings. In order to fully appreciate this value system Frame pointed out the relative importance of angels.
He asserted that angels learn from believers when angels observe the Church. Since the Church is considered the Body of Christ, therefore, the living members and not the building edifice, it means that the angels learn from observing the way believers behave on earth.
Frame added another layer when he went back to the creation event. Frame said that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. It pertains not only to a particular form but also to the abilities of God. Therefore, man’s value from the perspective of heaven is greater than what most people think. Man was created and equipped to work on the earth as lord.
Frame clarifies this statement by saying that man is “a lord subordinate to God’s ultimate lordships.” 2 It is interesting to note that when Adam was without sin, he was considered a king, prophet, and priest. In God’s valuation system, a human being is far more important than anything that he ever created.
It is easier to process the requirements if the believer begins from a state of positive affirmation. It is more difficult to obey if the believer begins from a state of condemnation. It is therefore interesting to find out why religious leaders are not spending more time and energy promoting something that works in accordance to human nature.
It is imperative to point out that a believer should think and act trustpilot.com/review/edubirdie.com
in accordance to the authority and responsibility of a child of God. Believers must acknowledge that sin is a difficult problem to solve. However, a positive framework based on value makes it easier to integrate the problem-solving mechanisms that God prepared for the redemption of mankind.
It is true that mankind continues to suffer as a consequence of sin. However, the shift in perspective makes it easier to see God’s helping hand. Frame said that the Holy Spirit is continuously at work in the lives of the believers. He also added that God leads his children through a process by which they become more intimately attached to Christ. 3
It is therefore easier to accept that believers must continually live a life of repentance and faith. It is also easier to accept the assurance of salvation. 4
It is also easier to participate in sanctification. Frame said that sanctification is not passive; we need to be involved in the process. At the end we partake of the divine nature. 5 It is no longer a burden to help establish God’s Kingdom through the Church. It is considered a great joy to make disciples. The sacraments are no longer seen as a ste of odious tasks to perform. It is now viewed as a “means of grace.” 6
At the end believers are exhorted to live holy lives and walk in the power of the Spirit. However, believers are struggling to obey and live in accordance to God’s will. God’s positive valuation of man must be highlighted. It empowers believers to live in accordance to God’s standards. At the same time it magnifies a biblical truth, that it is God’s goodness that leads people to repentance.
Thus, Frame’s Systematic Theology can be summarized as God’s conscious attempt to intervene by helping human beings attain salvation, spiritual regeneration, and sanctification. For many believers it is hard to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, because they begin their journey in a negative frame of mind.
Frame’s book is different because it started from a lofty perception of man based on God’s original design. Therefore, it is easier to view God’s intervention as actions that emanate from love and not from condemnation. If this mindset is propagated throughout Christendom a religious revival is not far behind.
Frame, John. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief . NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.
1 John Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013), p.814.
2 Ibid., p.786.
3 Ibid., p.939.
4 Ibid., p.1006.
5 Ibid., p.1011.
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6 Ibid., p.1048.