Systematic Theology

An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame


“Few in our day champion such a vision of God as massive, magnificent, and biblical as does John Frame. For decades, he has given himself to the church, to his students, and to meticulous thinking and the rigorous study of the Bible. He has winsomely, patiently, and persuasively contended for the gospel in the secular philosophical arena, as well as in the thick of the church worship wars and wrestlings with feminism and open theism. He brings together a rare blend of big-picture thinking, levelheaded reflection, biblical fidelity, a love for the gospel and the church, and the ability to write with care and clarity.”

– John Piper, Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary; Founder and Teacher,

“This is a remarkable volume—a wonderfully clear, refreshingly insightful, profoundly biblical treatment of systematic theology. While reading this book, I felt as though I once again had the privilege of being a student in John Frame’s theology classes, the classes that so deeply influenced my thinking as a Westminster Seminary student forty years ago. But now the material has been enriched by a lifetime of further research and teaching. An outstanding achievement!”

– Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, AZ

“Many times in the past I have grown in my understanding of Scripture and benefited in my practice of ministry as a consequence of John Frame’s written reflections on God’s Word. Now the opportunity to draw upon that thought from a work that expands and systematizes his reflections from a lifetime of study and devotion is a great treasure for the church and a great gift to all in ministry.”

– Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary

“John Frame is one of the most seminal Reformed theologians of our age, and this is his most significant work.”

– Mark Driscoll, Founder, Mars Hill Church and Resurgence; Cofounder, Acts 29

“This new systematic theology comes from one of the great theological minds of our age. John Frame’s contributions to theology are already massive and many, but now he has given the church a systematic theology. This is a very important book, and it represents a lifetime of consecrated theological reflection. This new volume promises to be an enduring contribution to evangelical theology.”

– R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Systematic Theology brings together, slims down, sums up, and augments all the wisdom contained in Frame’s four-volume Lordship series. It is a worthy climax to the life’s work of one who has only ever sought to be a faithful servant of Christ, teaching in his church. It is a privilege to celebrate its appearing and to commend it for serious study. I guarantee that the dividends of such study will be uniformly high. Thank you, John Frame, for this superb gift.”

– J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia

“John Frame is an esteemed colleague and one of the most important contemporary Reformed systematic theologians in the English-speaking world. His Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief reflects a half-century of distinguished teaching, prolific writing, and serious study. For that reason alone, especially in a day and age in which many evangelicals question the legitimacy of systematic theology, this volume commends itself to our attention. Frame (thankfully) encourages a Bible-centered approach to doing theology and (rightly) asserts that even ‘practical theology’ is a department of systematic theology. Here you will find the Professor Frame you have come to expect: clear, readable, restrained, and conversational in his presentation, and thoughtful, biblical, consistent, and careful in his views. Many years ago, Carl F. H. Henry suggested that we need a ‘recovery of Christian belief.’ May your engagement with this book serve to introduce you to and ground you in genuinely Christian belief.”

– Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary

“John Frame is one of my favorite theologians, and his Systematic Theology is filled with the deep learning and warranted wisdom of a lifetime. I commend it warmly to the Lord’s people everywhere.”

– Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

“It is always a joyous occasion when one of God’s faithful servants of his Word produces the fruit of his many years of labor into a full-fledged systematic theology. This is no small undertaking, but in the grace of God, we in our generation are the happy recipients of just such a work from Professor John Frame. He is, by all odds, one of the best known and most respected Reformed theologians in our day. It is a special joy to see this, the quintessence of a lifetime of his study of God’s Word, and now to commend it to all the body of Christ with thanksgiving to God for his gift of Dr. John Frame to the church.”

– Walter C. Kaiser Jr., President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“When one thinks of modern Reformed theologians, John Frame is at the top of the list. He has the rare ability to explain complex theological truths in a manner that is simple enough for the layman and deep enough for the scholar. Moreover, his theological guidance is always wise, steady, and, more than anything else, biblical. And now we finally have the book that so many have waited for him to write—a systematic theology. This volume is a wonderful gift for the church. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

– Michael J. Kruger, President, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte

“As one who has long admired—and learned so much from—John Frame’s contributions to Reformed life and thought, I am so pleased that we now have this fine volume that gathers together the insights of a half-century of serious theological scholarship. The biblical and practical nature of his perspective makes this a refreshing and much-needed resource for all of us who care about a vital Reformed theology.”

– Richard J. Mouw, President, Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Clear, thorough, intelligent, and fair to opposing views, John Frame’s work will now be the standard within traditional Reformed theology.”

– Cornelius Plantinga Jr., President, Calvin Theological Seminary

“John Frame is noted for his ability to articulate clearly and with an economy of words the contours of our Christian faith. He does that in this work with particular skill. Here is a systematic theology that clearly flows from biblical exegesis, follows the biblical story line, and is faithful to the confessional convictions of the author. It is a significant work that will bless the individual believer and serve the church well.”

– Liam Goligher, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

“John Frame says that he is ‘immensely thankful to God’ for the opportunity to produce this systematic theology. He is not alone: I am immensely thankful that God gave him this opportunity as well. Frame is a deep thinker and a clear communicator—a rare combination among theologians of his stature. Here is a man who knows his church history, his philosophy, his theological systems; but he does not allow these to sidetrack him from pointing—again and again—back to the majesty of Christ in Scripture. Frame shows that theology is not an end in itself. Loving God is the goal. And Frame’s volume hits this mark.”

– J. D. Greear, Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, NC

“John Frame the author has in Systematic Theology captured comprehensively and with clarity what many of us have benefited from in the classroom through John Frame the professor and teacher. His biblical precision and personal passion are spread on every page, which you will quickly desire to turn in order to get to the next page as he allows and propels us to see the singular glory of the triune God revealed in his Word as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.”

– Harry L. Reeder, Pastor/Teacher, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham

“Hurray for John Frame! At a time when systematics has been shoved into a corner by biblical theology in many seminaries, John has published what I can only hope will be an alternative to that imbalance. Not since A. A. Hodge’s Outlines, Buswell, Reymond, and Grudem has a truly substantive systematic theology appeared. I expect Systematic Theology to become a classic, and I look forward to its publication with the greatest anticipation.”

– Jay E. Adams, Founder, Institute for Nouthetic Studies (INS), National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC), and Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF); author, Competent to Counsel

“John Frame has written a very big book—another one. Frame’s strengths are once again on display: vast scope, unshakable confidence in Scripture, carefulness and generosity, a deceptively casual style. What most stands out, though, is the open-mindedness of his project. Big as it is, Frame’s work raises questions even as it answers them, and as a result it opens ever-new threads in the ongoing conversation that is the Reformed tradition.”

– Peter J. Leithart, President, Trinity House, Birmingham, AL

“John Frame has given the church a superb new resource in this volume. Taking as his theme the lordship of God, Frame seeks to do what he says the good theologian always does: he states the truth not for its own sake but to build up people in the Christian faith. He incorporates much of the best of modern Reformed theologians (Van Til, Murray, etc.) and addresses the hottest topics of the day, such as the length and nature of the days of Genesis 1 and whether Scripture is inerrant. Many will take issue with one or more of Frame’s points, but all will be edified by a careful reading of this work.”

– Samuel T. Logan Jr., International Director, The World Reformed Fellowship; Special Counsel to the President, Biblical Seminary

“Does the world need one more systematic theology? That depends. It doesn’t necessarily, if what you mean is another doorstop describing the contentious history of doctrines. But it does if what you mean is systematic theology that has finally come full circle through centuries of drift from the Bible itself and from practical application, back to the early evangelists’ heart for teaching God’s Word for edification. When the apostle Paul was wrapping up his ministry in Ephesians, he summarized what he had done among them this way: “You yourselves know . . . how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable” (Acts 20:18, 20). What was good enough for Paul is evidently good enough for John Frame.”

– Andrée Seu Peterson, Senior Writer, WORLD magazine

“Here, at last, is John Frame’s magnum opus—the fruit of fifty years of teaching theology and training ministers of the gospel. Few other contemporary theologians have influenced me as much as Dr. Frame, and I am eager to see this culmination of his theological labors under the lordship of the triune God make its way into the heads, hands, and hearts of Christians around the world.”

– Justin Taylor, coauthor, The Final Days of Jesus; Blogger, Between Two Worlds

“John Frame is one of the most important evangelical theologians of our time, a deeply biblical thinker whose work has epitomized the Reformation principles of sola Scriptura and soli Deo gloria. His writings have proved that Christian scholars don’t have to choose between orthodoxy and originality or between profundity and perspicuity. I’ve long hoped that the Lord would grant Dr. Frame the opportunity and motivation to write a full-length systematic theology, and I’m delighted to see that hope now realized. This exposition of Christian doctrine is the culmination of a lifetime of careful and submissive reflection on the whole counsel of God revealed in Scripture. It will nourish both mind and heart.”

– James N. Anderson, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte

“Few scholars of our generation have done as much as John Frame to combine philosophical, biblical, and confessional concerns in an overarching theological synthesis. Here at last he offers us the fruit of his lifetime’s labor as a service to the church of our day and to future generations. This is a work that will edify those who read it, and they in turn will use its message to build up the church of Christ. The wealth of teaching and insight that it contains will be a blessing to many, and we can be sure that it will be mightily used of God in the days ahead.”

– Gerald L. Bray, Research Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“Sometimes there is a book that is so complete, so true, so instructive, and so clear that it assumes a prominent place in one’s library and stays there for years. John Frame’s Systematic Theology is that kind of book. It is a gift to the church . . . and a gift to me. This book will be an anchor to my soul and a source for my theology and faith for the rest of my life. Get it, give it, and rejoice that John Frame wrote it!”

– Stephen W. Brown, Professor of Practical Theology Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Our world has become one of theological confusion. Dr. Frame’s Systematic Theology has emerged as a refreshing and practical tool for the serious student of God’s Word. Frame brings systematic theology to life, and allows for easy integration with apologetics and other expressions of theology. By clarifying the biblical worldview, Systematic Theology equips us to communicate God’s Word and engage the culture with biblical truth.

“Dr. Frame’s triperspectival approach to theology is one of the greatest contributions in empowering students to understand the Bible. It allows for theological inclusiveness without compromising a high view of Scripture, and opens exciting possibilities for doing solid theology in both Western and non-Western contexts. No theological library would be complete without Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief.”

– Carl F. Ellis Jr., Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Redeemer Seminary

“John Frame has faced classrooms of bright and talented students for decades. He has shared with them a biblically based theology that faithfully addresses difficult questions and problems. This text is the sweet fruit of that classroom labor. Reading it makes those who never had the opportunity to attend see a little of what we missed and those who were his students glad that they were. Systematic Theology reads extremely well and always points the reader to the glorious Lord who is the text’s subject. Frame is to be congratulated for a job well done!”

– Richard C. Gamble, Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“Professor Frame’s Systematic Theology is a long-anticipated and richly rewarding treasure. The very best of what we have valued in his decades of faithful labor are represented here in this culminating and crowning achievement. It is neither exhaustive nor thin, and readers will likely wish it accounted more for this or that question or development. But as a survey of theology that seeks to be relentlessly biblical—a most refreshing conviction!—it is a clear and fine example of the judicious, humble, and joyful spirit of theological inquiry of which Professor Frame has long been a superb example. As the author has undoubtedly hoped we would, I submit that we cannot help but come away from a patient reading of this tome with greater confidence in the truth of Holy Scripture, with zeal to submit to the wise and loving lordship of Jesus Christ, and with a longing to make him known.”

– Mark A. Garcia, Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary; Adjunct Professor of Church History, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary; Pastor, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh

“Vintage Frame—the old, old story, but with new slants and new emphases to make the reader sit up and think. John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan remarked of Jonathan Edwards that his doctrine is all application, and his application doctrine. Frame aspires to be of Edwards’s school, but he’s also a teacher who sets homework for his readers. Also like Edwards, sometimes his words are spiced with a polemical hot sauce. A systematic theology to ponder and to profit from.”

– Paul Helm, Teaching Fellow, Philosophical Theology, John Calvin, Regent College

“When Charles Hodge emerged as Presbyterianism’s premier theologian in the nineteenth century, students and pastors alike awaited the completion of his three-volume Systematic Theology. When the final volume appeared, all found what they had hoped for—a magisterial work. It was not merely a rehash of Hodge’s classroom lectures but a careful reworking of material that he had successfully taught at Princeton for many decades. The fact that Hodge’s volumes are still reprinted today testifies to their staying power. With the appearance of John Frame’s Systematic Theology, one now finds a work that will likewise serve Reformed Christians for a similar length of time. Frame is well known for his perspectival theological method, his clarity and comprehensiveness in exposition of the many-sidedness of the biblical text, his apt illustrations that capture profound theological and biblical truth, and his ability to pose stimulating questions that enable students to probe even beyond his reflections. Perhaps the highest praise that can be given to theologians, besides the affirmation that their theology leads to doxology, is that their treatment sustains and further stimulates their readers’ interest. I have never opened the pages of John’s many works to ascertain his treatment of a given theological point or biblical text without being enlightened. More than that, however, after finding what I originally sought, I realized that I was still reading an hour later. Students of Reformed theology will find themselves similarly enthralled.”

– W. Andrew Hoffecker, Emeritus Professor of Church History, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson

“If you want a philosophy and theology drenched in the Bible with literally thousands of biblical references, this book is for you—and for me! Dr. Frame deals with so many topics with the skills of both a generalist and a specialist that reading him on virtually any subject is greatly beneficial. May this magnum opus of biblical theology be widely read in the church for years to come.”

– Peter R. Jones, Scholar in Residence, Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California

“Reading John Frame’s Systematic Theology often encourages, occasionally puzzles, but almost always stimulates. Growing out of a lifetime of reflection and wrestling with biblical texts, these pages contain much that we can learn from as we all try to understand better how God glorifies his lordship in our salvation. I, for one, am thankful that we now have this one-volume synthesis of Frame’s thinking.”

– Kelly M. Kapic, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College

“This Systematic Theology is by any measure a crowning achievement in a fruitful theological career of teaching, preaching, and writing by Professor John Frame…Like Frame’s other works that I have read, this book is written with enthusiastic faith in God and in the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit inspired, and in fellowship with the risen Christ. It is written clearly; Frame is never ashamed of his position (traditional Calvinism), and is humble enough to say about some difficulties, ‘I do not know.’ His writing exhibits humility and unwavering submission before both the clear truths and the mysteries of God. He is always charitable toward those whose position he thinks is wrong and presents it fairly, and yet he does take a stand, which he knows will not suit everyone. You might not agree with all that he says, but at least you will grasp precisely what he is saying…In sum, Frame’s Systematic Theology cogently and succinctly presents the most crucial thought and practice of the long Christian tradition (especially in its Reformed branch, which has been concerned above all to be faithful to the entirety of Holy Scripture), in terms that can be understood in this twenty-first century, where we are called to live…This volume is eminently suitable for a seminary or college textbook. It will also give inspiration to many a preacher (as it has to this one!). I perceive that it was written in an atmosphere of quiet joy, and I will be surprised if it does not convey something of that joy to those who read it.”

– Douglas F. Kelly, Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte

“This book by John Frame on systematic theology provides students of God’s Word with a tool designed to clearly understand and effectively explain the Scriptures. It is indeed a sterling treasure that is sure to stand the test of time.”

– Simon J. Kistemaker, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Those who have appreciated Frame’s contributions to theology in previous works, such as his Doctrine of God, will not be disappointed with his Systematic Theology. Adopting a strongly biblical perspective, Frame succeeds in presenting a comprehensive treatment of the various theological loci that also is highly accessible. This book will be of value for the specialist, student, and general reader alike. It marks a major milestone in Frame’s distinguished career.”

– Robert Letham, Senior Tutor, Systematic and Historical Theology, Wales Evangelical School of Theology

“John Frame sets out to be biblical, clear, and cogent, and succeeds splendidly. Steeped in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos and John Murray, he offers a work that is firmly rooted in exegesis, comprehensive in scope, and rigorous in methodology, yet easily accessible to all serious lovers of Scripture.”

– Donald Macleod, Professor of Systematic Theology (Retired), Free Church College, Edinburgh

“John M. Frame, occupant of the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, is a household name not only in Reformed circles but across a broad swath of ecclesiastical and denominational traditions. His published works in the fields of his expertise are widely respected for their adherence to biblical fidelity and the tightness of their argumentation. This major work on systematic theology maintains Frame’s reputation for impeccable scholarship on the one hand and eminent practicality on the other. It is a theology that not only educates but works in everyday life.”

– Eugene H. Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,’ and I count the writings of John Frame to be one of my greatest blessings. He’s a guide for many of us in the twenty-first century, especially in this volume—Systematic Theology. His treatment of all the standard theological topics is the gold standard. And as a theologically informed philosopher, I was especially interested in Frame’s discussion of epistemology. Amen and Amen!”

– David K. Naugle, Distinguished University Professor, Dallas Baptist University

“Many years ago, John Frame signaled his desire to show in some measure the richness of the theological resources available to Reformed orthodoxy and thereby to make that position more attractive. Today, Frame’s many volumes are themselves vital resources that simultaneously fortify and adorn the Reformed theological tradition that he has expounded over many decades. In this his newest volume—Bible-centered, multiperspectival systematic theology, nurtured in the soil of Warfield, Bavinck, Murray, and Van Til—Frame demonstrates once again why he has become a teacher to this generation of Reformed pastors and theologians. Students familiar with Frame’s work know what to expect and will enjoy his application of multiperspectivalism to several new loci. Those new to Frame will find his system accessible, his reflections on doctrine judicious, and his modeling of theology as essentially a study of Scripture a refreshing tonic that can be shared with all of God’s people. Thank you, Professor Frame!”

– Mark P. Ryan, Adjunct Professor of Religion and Cultures, Covenant Theological Seminary; Director, Francis A. Schaeffer Institute

“In this systematic theology, Frame has not overwhelmed us with the scholarly apparatus characteristic of so much theological literature, and as he certainly is capable of doing. Instead, he has chosen to enter into conversation with his reader, showing how he has come to understand the teaching of God’s Word. He takes us with himself into a deeper and fuller exploration of God’s creative and redemptive purpose in the world. Frame’s work will well serve the needs and interests of the informed layman and theological student as well as the more advanced scholar.”

– Norman Shepherd, Former Pastor; Former Professor of Systematic Theology, Holland

“For those already introduced to Frame, here is the same sober emphasis on a scripturally rooted theology combined with rigorous thinking that you can recall from live lectures or addresses. For those unfamiliar with Frame, here is a wonderful entry to his engaging and nuanced thought, which breathes a commendable evangelical catholicity.”

– Kenneth J. Stewart, Professor of Theological Studies, Covenant College

“In his Systematic Theology, once again John Frame has wonderfully served the church and glorified God through his writing. Frame writes with unusual clarity, humility, and joy, which fosters a deeper love for Christ. His theological method is profoundly biblical, so the reader learns how to do evangelical theology, along with learning evangelical doctrine. Among Frame’s other stellar works, his Systematic Theology may prove to be his most significant contribution. The beginning chapters on the story line of the Bible and the closing ones on the Christian life set this work apart from others like it. They ensure that the systematic study of doctrine is considered within the overarching story of the Bible and that God’s truth informs our lives. I’m deeply grateful that this wise, seasoned, godly saint has given us this treasure trove of distilled biblical truth, and hope it has the wide, edifying influence it should.”

– Erik Thoennes, Professor of Theology, Chair, Undergraduate Theology, Biola University/Talbot School of Theology; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada

“John Frame’s Systematic Theology is an important landmark in one-volume treatments of the major loci of doctrine. Frame’s signature is readily apparent on every page: commitment to Scripture for everything he writes, accessible philosophical analysis of difficult questions, and, yes, triperspectivalism. This volume ranks as the most recommendable single-volume systematic theology of our time.”

– Derek W. H. Thomas, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson; Minister of Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson

“What a gift the gracious Lord of all has given us in the person and work of John Frame. Of the many qualities that commend John Frame’s Systematic Theology, three stand out: (1) It is eminently biblical. As Frame indicates at the outset, his main concern (rightly) is to reflect, as best he can, the wisdom and wonder of the Word of God, which shows forth the glory of God in all he is and does. (2) It is richly orthodox. John Frame knows the gospel and what doctrines and positions are necessary to sustain, support, and spread that gospel. He holds the line at every point where this is needed, in a day when many have yielded slack to, or have thrown down, that doctrinal lifeline. (3) It is deeply insightful. Frame demonstrates where theological innovation is best applied—in endeavoring to rethink and restate age-old truths with an eye both to biblical fidelity and to contemporary expression. May God be pleased to magnify his name through the broad reading and study of this great work.”

– Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


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