The concept of Lordship in the theology of John M. Frame
Barber, John Joseph
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American philosopher and theologian, John M. Frame (1939—) is respected as one of the most outstanding systematic theologians in our day. Likely due to the fact that he is still living, academic scholarship on Frame is virtually non-existent. Still, his writings demand engagement especially in the light of his distinctive Lordship theology, and its unique core idea: perspectivalism, also known as the lordship principle. The aim of this present research is thus to define precisely what “lordship” means to Frame. Deciphering this meaning requires more than explication, but also interrogative interaction. The research will thus begin with a biblical-theological evaluation of the Framian idea of lordship in dialogue with the eminent, Dutch theologian, Abraham van de Beek. It then moves to an evaluation of how perspectivalism affects Frame’s views on ethics, apologetics, and theology of culture. The research in these areas will scrutinize Frame’s corpus as well as examine his views in colloquia with thinkers with shared interests. Because these disciplines are linked in Frame with other areas of his thought, the data also include explications and appraisals of his work in ontology and epistemology. Frame’s lordship principle is linked with a particular methodology. He sums the whole of God and his involvement with his creation according to three perspectives (hence perspectivalism). Those are God’s control, authority and presence. Frame sums the human response to these perspectives according to three related ideas: the existential, normative, and existential. God’s perspectival interaction with his creation, and the human response, by both Christian and non-Christian alike, leads Frame to original outcomes in dogmatics, which are explored in this work. The finding of this research demonstrates a theological approach that bridges both essential and constructive interests. That is to say that, on the one hand, Frame’s method is guided solely by the voice of Scripture while, on the other hand, his lordship principle presents historic Reformed theology afresh in ways previously undiscovered. Frame’s original approach may well set the stage for an awakening of Reformed thought. It is hoped that this seminal work will spark such a revival in theology.
- Theology