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Systematic Theology

Book Review

John Frame’s Systematic Theology provides a comprehensive and biblical manual for theological issues to which Scripture alludes.

Dec 1, 2020

In my counseling, I encounter various subjects and issues, some of which include theological misunderstandings. At times, these various subjects can seem daunting and challenging regarding how to properly apply Scripture to present and demanding situations. In the past I have used a plethora of books to try to understand these challenging discussions; I was pleasantly surprised to find that John Frame’s Systematic Theology provides a comprehensive and biblical manual for theological issues to which Scripture alludes. John Frame serves as Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Emeritus at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where he teaches core courses on systematic theology, apologetics, ethics, and philosophy. Not only does Frame thoroughly explain his views of many topics, he utilizes Scripture to support his conclusions. Furthermore, he provides study questions in order to help his readers think through the material more fully, while also including memory verses and resources for further study.  

Not only did Frame’s Systematic Theology affirm my theological beliefs, he also challenged me to look deeper into Scripture’s perspective on certain issues. For example, Frame writes, “Eve would not take God’s Word as her ultimate authority; she looked at God’s speech, Satan’s and her own, as if the three were equal.” I already believed that Eve’s ultimate sin was unbelief in God’s goodness; yet, imagining her weighing out the three “conflicting” voices before siding ultimately with Satan’s view of her circumstances has proven very beneficial for counseling. It is not only the drug abuser or adulterer who is weighing out the options and choosing whose voice to listen to, even believers listen to their families’ “wisdom” above God’s Scripture and the Spirit’s leading. As believers, we are still constantly at war as we are choosing whose voice we will listen to. If we listen to even our godly families’ advice above the Spirit’s leading, we are like Eve, saying that their words are equal with God’s. Scripture must always take precedence over our views, feelings, desires, and conclusions regarding circumstances. 

John Frame’s Systematic Theology, in my opinion, is already a classic. It is comprehensive, true to Scripture, and practical. I believe even the layperson in the church that does not normally spend their free time reading theology would greatly benefit from reading this book. As a biblical counselor, it is imperative to know what we believe and why. I am grateful for the time, energy, and dedication it took Frame to write a book with such clarity and charisma. It has made my passion for discipleship even more grounded in Scripture and I am joyful to love our Lord on a deeper level.

Helpful Quotes

  1. “So I offer my definition of theology: theology is the application of Scripture, by persons, to every area of life.” (11)
  2. “God is the ultimate context of the biblical story. In that story, everything is “from him and through him and to him,” and therefore to his glory forever (Rom. 11:36).” (121)
  3. “The difference between the old and new covenants is that the blood of the new covenant, the blood of Christ, actually cleanses from sin.” (217)
  4. “If we object to God’s act of condemning us in Adam, we should equally object to his justifying us in Christ. In Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, these two relationships are parallel. We should, then, reject Christ’s sacrifice and accept the task of trying to save ourselves as individuals. But that task is doomed from the start. Scripture gives us no hope that we can save ourselves. We cannot atone for our past sins, nor can we force ourselves to stop sinning, apart from divine grace (Eph. 2:8-9).” (858)
  5. “If you are concerned about your faithfulness and devotion to Christ, your concern is a mark of true faith. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are not concerned about such things.” (1003)
  6. “We are not saved by works, but we are certainly saved for works.” (1101)
  7. “Understanding Scripture, understanding its meaning, is applying it to situations. A person who understands the Bible is a person who is able to use the Bible to answer his questions, to guide his life… theology is application.” (1109)