Creative Theology Interviews: John Frame

abstract_background_for_macAs part of this series on creative theology I have tried to identify specific theologians whom I believe best represent creative theology done in an Evangelical context. John Frame was easily on the top of my list and many of my colleagues and friends suggested him as a model as well. To find out more about what makes Dr. Frame a quality creative theologian read Dylan Rowland’s guest post here. I thought, however, it might be worthwhile to hear directly from Dr. Frame himself on the subject of creative theology.

1) What role does Scripture play in the formation of your theology? I believe that Scripture is the inerrant word of God. So in my theology I treated it as absolutely true. I also believe that God gave us Scripture to be the foundation of our thinking as believers; so I try to make it clear that everything in my theology attempts to articulate biblical truth. More than that, I believe that in Scripture God is personally, actively speaking (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore doing theology is like having a personal conversation with God. He not only wrote the book, but he knows me, understands me, and responds to the questions in my mind and heart.

2) How do you keep Scripture at the center of your theological development? Theological work, of course, centers around the answering of questions. As I wrestle with a theological question, I always turn to Scripture first, and then try to apply ITS answers to the questions I ask of it.

3) Is it important to communicate old doctrines in fresh ways? Why or why not? Yes, because theology is the application of Scripture to our questions. Every application requires us to look at Scripture from a fresh angle. And of course as theology applies the old doctrines, it applies them to people today and therefore must apply them in the language of its contemporary readers. If this is done well, the doctrines will sound fresh.

4) How do you try to balance creativity and orthodoxy in your theology? I try to remain orthodox by being biblical (above questions) and spending time with God in prayer. I also subscribe to some of the Reformed creeds, though I take some (to my mind minor) exceptions. The creativity enters with the application. That involves listening to the questions people ask today and stating the biblical truth in ways that truly respond to those questions.

5)The area many will most readily recognize your contributions in are those of methodology. How did you come by the idea of your Triad approach to theology? Maybe you could explain what triperspectivalism is and then give us a somewhat brief explanation of what it contributes to broader theological discussions? Well, the best summary of my Perspectivalism is  What does this contribute to broader theological discussions? Well, I’ve tried to develop some of its ramifications in the Lordship books and in my ST. Note all the triangular diagrams in that book. There will be even more in my forthcoming History of Western Philosophy and Theology.

Briefly, I just see these threefold distinctions popping up all the time: God’s lordship as control, authority, presence; salvation as justification, adoption, sanctification, etc. For more, see the primer article. These triads give students some hooks on which to string together pervasive biblical themes on different subjects.

What I really want to do with the triads is to promote balance in theology and life. When a church develops terrific doctrinal teaching and becomes famous for that, it may be said to have a strong “normative perspective.” But it also needs a strong situational perspective (addressing the truth to the lost and to society) and an existential perspective (cultivating a rich personal relationship between people and God).

6) What theologians do you believe are doing some of the most creative yet orthodox work today? Those who have moved me most in these ways were older writers, in the generation of my own teachers: Cornelius Van Til, John Murray, Edmund Clowney, Jay Adams, C. John Miller. Generally some time must pass before you can evaluate well someone’s theological work. I do like Vern Poythress’s work. He and I are very close, and he writes brilliantly in many areas. Kevin Vanhoozer, Esther Meek, Andrée Seu, Bill Edgar, are always worth reading.


For good examples of Dr. Frame’s creative theological work I recommend any volume in his Lordship Theology series, as well as his new Systematic Theology.

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