Cover Story

Books of the Year

"Books of the Year" Continued...

Issue: "2014 Books Issue," June 28, 2014

(Editor's note: Read an excerpt from Darwin’s Doubt.)


Systematic Thelogy 
by John M. Frame

JOHN CALVIN wrote one. Charles Hodge wrote one, and so did Louis Berkhof, Wayne Grudem, and Robert Reymond, among others. Now Reformed Theological Seminary professor John Frame has written Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (P&R). All systematic theologies might be considered “magisterial” in some sense, because the whole point is to unify all scriptural teaching. But some focus on obscure interpretations or cutting-edge scholarship, to the detriment of plain truth. Not Frame’s: “Our theological problems,” he writes, “usually arise from our failure to note what is obvious.”

Frame’s theology is Bible-centered, readable, and devout. Following a chapter on what theology is (“the application of Scripture, by persons, to every area of life”), he launches his major theme: “The Centrality of Divine Lordship,” or the Lord himself as the main character and driving force of history. From there we survey the overarching narrative of the Bible, then move on to specific doctrines: of God, the Word, Knowledge, Angels and Demons, Man, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, Last Things, and Christian Ethics. That last chapter seems surprisingly short, but our ethical choices stem from our theology, and Frame has already spent the previous 1,100 pages getting our theology straight. To facilitate individual or group study, he includes key terms, study questions, memory verses, and resources at the end of each chapter.

John M. Frame
John M. Frame
Frame is known for his “perspectival” view of knowledge: “We will see that often in the Bible a subject is discussed not according to different parts, but according to different perspectives,” which relate ultimately to God’s Trinitarian nature.  The Lordship attributes of God, for example, consist of His authority, His control, and His presence. Man, as the image of God, also exercises authority, control, and presence to a limited degree. Triangle diagrams are scattered throughout the text, providing a novel way to think about doctrinal matters like salvation, saving faith, revelation, and providence.

In a time when clear expository preaching is on the decline and standards—both doctrinal and ethical—are slipping, Systematic Theology is a great addition to Christianity’s library. —J.B.C.

(Editor's note: Read an excerpt from Systematic Theology and listen to an interview with John Frame that aired on The World and Everything in It.)

Previous Books of the Year


The Reason for God (Tim Keller)


English Standard Version Study Bible


The Battle (Arthur Brooks)


Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (Norman Nevin, ed.) and God and Evolution (Jay Richards, ed.) 


The Triumph of Christianity (Rodney Stark)


Escape from North Korea (Melanie Kirkpatrick)


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