I received John Frame’s History of Western Philosophy and Theology for Christ-mass. I had no intention of buying this volume because I thought my Frame days were over. Further, what new material can a survey of Philosophy cover?
I was wrong. Frame’s text has numerous ‘lagniappe’ that you won’t find in other texts (links to audio, references to modern Reformed thinkers, etc). In other words, it’s fun.
But more importantly, it’s conducive to piety. Frame defines theology as the application, by persons, of God’s word to all of life (Frame 4). Sure, there is a Kuyperian thrust and that can be abused, but on the whole I appreciate it.
Highlights Chapter 1
This is an intro chapter.
*We can almost say that biblical philosophy is a reflection on the wisdom literature (1).
He reduces metaphysical discussions to: Is reality One, Many, or Both? (Hint: It’s both).
*God is absolute tri-personality (16-17). He relates to his creation in terms of Lordship. Lordship is explained as authority (normative), control, and presence.
I think this is a good move, but there is a subtle anti-substance metaphysic involved. Substance metaphysics would usually say that reality is “cut at the joints,” meaning a universe of parts, whole, etc. That’s fine as far as it goes and few would disagree. Traditionally, though, that concept would get applied to God.
Frame (perhaps subconsciously) does not allow that. We aren’t now speaking of God’s transcendence in a way that he is spatially “above” or separated from the universe (though certainly not identical with it). The language is no longer spatial, but covenantal.
Perspectives on Human Knowledge
*Our knowledge is related to God in 3 ways (19):
1. Control (our situation governed by his providence)
2. Authority (what God reveals in his Word and Creation)
3. Presence (Covenant)
transcendence: God’s exaltation and lordship.
Immanence: Omnipresence in blessing and judgment
The human subject of knowledge is God’s creature and God’s image.