The Biblio-Files

bib·li·o·phile (bĭb'lē-ə-fīl') n.

1. A lover of books.
2. A collector of books.

8.5.07

Frame's Apologetics to the Glory of God


Well, tomorrow is my last final, and I must say, I am glad finals are almost over. I love seminary, but not so much studying for exams. But I did open my Christmas presents early a couple of weeks ago and started some pleasure reading. I haven't finalized my list yet, but have a few in mind. I may not post for a while because one is rather large. To the book!
The first one is 'Apologetics to the Glory of God' (247 pp) by John Frame. Frame is professor of systematic theology and philosophy at RTS. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary theologians. He begins the book by making it clear that he is a follower of Cornelius Van Til (presuppositional), but has some questions concerning the consistency of Vant Til's thought in places. He defines apologetics as "the discipline that teaches Christians how to give a reason for their hope" (1). Frame is famous for his 'multiperspectivalism' and is no different in this little book. He distinguishes apologetics as proof, defense, and offense. He also argues biblically that there is no neutrality with the non-Christian (contra classical apologetics). Believers must always presuppose God and his truth in every aspect of our lives. Revelation must govern apologetics. This fact seems obvious enough but you'd be surprised at the way some view apologetics. Frame also establishes the fact that unbelievers know God, but suppress the truth (Rom 1:21). He lists a few different values of apologetics. This is already getting long, so I must skip the details.
In chapter 2, Frame lays out the message of the apologist. He breaks it up into two sections: Christianity as a philosophy, and good news. The section on philosophy was great and stirred me to reread a couple of sections from books I read this year for seminary (Carson's walk through the storyline of Scripture in 'The Gagging of God' (193-278), and Frame's Philosophy of Lordship in 'The Doctrine of God"(185-240)) which are very, very good for gaining a big picture of the Christian worldview. Carson is more redemptive historical while Frame's treatment is more systematic and atemporal. This chapter contained a lot of excellent details about the significance of the Christian worldview, but I cannot take the time to reproduce them here. He basically argues that the Christian worldview is the alternative to the conventional wisdom of the day.
Chapter 3 consists of methodological considerations for the task of apologetics. Here he introduces the reader to the famous transcendental argument (basically arguing that without God, nothing is possible or rational). This method is very helpful, for by using it, the apologist can basically start from anywhere since all facts only make sense with the existence of an absolute personality. Frame parts ways with Van Til here though as he believes it needs supplementation while Van Til thought the TA was sufficient in itself. The point of contact with the non-believer is their knowledge of God. Presuppositional apologetics would not exist without Romans 1.
Chapter 4 is an assessment and reworking of the traditional arguments for God's existence (teleological, moral, cosmological, ontological), with an emphasis on objective moral values. (apologetics as proof).
Chapter 5 continues with proof focusing on proving the gospel. Here Frame lays out Scripture's doctrine of Scripture, with an excursus on modern biblical criticism.
Chapter 6 & 7 are apologetics as defense. These two chapters cover the problem of evil, and are quite helpful. Chapter 6 lays down some groundwork and evaluates several options for answering the problem, and their shortcomings. In Chapter 7, he seeks to answer it by appealing to the greater good argument redefined theocentrically. Frame does allow for a sense of mystery though.
Chapter 8 is apologetics as offense, attacking unbelief, aiming at atheism and idolatry. Both are essentially an attempt to escape responsibility. Frame closes out the book with a chapter called 'Talking to a Stranger' where John and Al have a conversation in a plane in which John uses the presuppositional method to share the gospel with Al. This is obviously the lightest chapter in the book and is helpful in seeing the method fleshed out. There are also two appendices. One reviewing a book by Sproul/Gerstner/Lindsley called 'Classical Apologetics' in which they go after Van Til's method. Turns out, their book is filled with misunderstanding and misrepresentation. The last appendix in a response to Frame from Jay Adams concerning the problem of evil. Adams just appeals to Rom 9.17 and says it is settled. Frame does not think its that easy.
Well, this is no doubt an insufficient review, as I got really tired of typing after the first 5 minutes. I also had much more to write but don't want to have that long of a post or spend that amount of time on these reviews. There is much, much more to this book then you will find here. Overall, I highly recommend it. Frame is clear in all of his writing, and always faithful to Scripture. I plan on doing some more reading on Van Tillian presupp. apologetics this summer, going to a closer disciple and the source himself.

2 comments:

Eron said...

Blake,

Awesome! So, you did the guinea pig post...it was great. Hopefully it will spark discussion. We'll have to talk more on apologetics when I start getting knowledgeable about it.

You beat me by a few days. I'm going to put my first one up on Kostenbeger's Truth book.

Nevertheless, way to get things going.

blake white said...

Sounds good man. I wasn't sure how to structure it, but quickly realized that it takes a lot of room to simply touch the surface on each chapter.