Marsden PhotoProfessor of History Emeritus at Notre Dame, George Marsden is one of today’s foremost historians and award-winning authors who has written extensively on the relationship between Christianity and American culture—especially American Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism (Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, Reforming Fundamentalism, Fundamentalism and American Culture, etc).

He is most well known for his award-winning biography of Jonathan Edwards (Jonathan Edwards: A Life), a prominent 18th century American pastor, theologian, and philosopher who played a critical role in the First Great Awakening and Christian revivals in Colonial America.

Marsden has recently written another groundbreaking book reflecting on how American public life might better accommodate the rise of religious pluralism. In The Twilight of the AmericaMarsden Twilight Bookn Enlightenment (Perseus Books, Feb 2014) he seeks to explain why Christianity has become increasingly excluded from the public sphere, resulting in an assortment of religious crises and “culture wars.” Marsden offers an insightful analysis of the decline of culture in America since the 1950’s along with thought-provoking ways to consider applying Protestant principles from the early republic to today. For more, read the Amazon summary below:

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States stood at a precipice. The forces of modernity unleashed by the war had led to astonishing advances in daily life, but technology and mass culture also threatened to erode the country’s traditional moral character. As award-winning historian George M. Marsden explains in The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, postwar Americans looked to the country’s secular, liberal elites for guidance in this precarious time, but these intellectuals proved unable to articulate a coherent common cause by which America could chart its course. Their failure lost them the faith of their constituents, paving the way for a Christian revival that offered America a firm new moral vision—one rooted in the Protestant values of the founders. A groundbreaking reappraisal of the country’s spiritual reawakening, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment shows how America found new purpose at the dawn of the Cold War.

Course Summary

  • What: Spiritual Formation for Church Leaders Course (5-day intensive)
  • Who: Taught by Steve Childers, RTS-Orlando professor
  • Where: RTS-Orlando Campus
  • When: January 12-16, 2015
  • Learners: M.A., M.Div Credit Students - AND – Lay and Clergy Auditors (Non-Students)
  • Registration: Limited registration from November 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014
  • Information: For more information contact Lanny Conley at lconley@rts.edu
  • Syllabus: To see the complete syllabus and credit requirements Click Here

Course Description

“My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” – Robert Murray McCheyne

Church leaders must lead from character before skill. One of the greatest needs in the church today is for church leaders to recapture the primacy of developing Christian character (holiness) first in their lives, and then in the lives of those they serve. But to do so, without falling prey to the classic errors of legalism, moralism, and/or antinomianism (easy-believism), is very difficult.

Spiritual Formation is a course Steve Childers has taught for many years both in the classroom and on the field, in the USA and abroad, in English and other languages, for credit (masters and doctoral) and just to help church leaders not give up when drowning under the life-crushing load of personal and ministry demands.

In this course emerging and seasoned church leaders will be encouraged and equipped to be continually growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through experiencing a safe place where the riches of the gospel are deeply and refreshingly explored, and applied to real life and ministry.

Course Instructor

Steve Childers is Associate Professor of Practical Theology (since 1995) at Reformed Theological Seminary, in Orlando, Florida, where he regularly teaches evangelism, spiritual formation, church planting, church renewal, and missions. He has earned masters degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and a doctorate from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Steve has a1 Steve Childers Headshot 2014 1.1 MB - Version 2lso done doctoral studies in leadership development and global missions at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission in Pasadena, California.

Steve is the founder and President of GCA, continuing as Pathway Learning (http://www.PathwayLearning.org), a church leadership training organization that provides innovative educational pathways for church leaders. Steve has planted and pastored two churches. Since then he has written church planting, renewal, and multiplication training curriculum and helped train thousands of church leaders from more than 300 denominations representing over 50 countries in 7 languages on 5 continents. Steve’s book, All Things New: The Gospel of the Kingdom and parallel ecourse are scheduled for release in 2015. Steve and his wife Becky live in Orlando, Florida, and have three adult daughters and one granddaughter.

Course Objectives

  A Mind for Truth

  • To understand and articulate a biblical theology of personal spiritual growth and renewal, especially as it relates to the centrality of the cross and the gospel
  • To understand the biblical imperative for personal holiness and the priority of ongoing spiritual growth and renewal in the life of the church leader today
  • To understand the biblical nature of the gospel’s transforming power, especially as it relates to the Kingdom of God and mission of the church
  • To understand, evaluate, and appreciate various principles, methods, and models used today to help people grow spiritually
  • To be acquainted with the literature relating to personal spiritual growth and renewal (especially English Puritan literature, e.g. John Owen, Richard Baxter, et al.) and be able to think biblically and critically about how it can be used properly and effectively in the student’s life and ministry

  A Heart for God

  • To experience spiritual growth and renewal through applying the biblical concepts of gospel-driven spiritual formation to the heart
  • To diagnose and repent from the core idols (sin beneath the sin) that draw the student’s heart affections away from Christ
  • To appropriate the transforming pardon and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ through setting the student’s heart affections on Him by faith
  • To show love for God and others by loving God’s Law, obeying it by God’s grace, and allowing it to lead the student to Jesus Christ for transformation into His image
  • To practice spiritual disciplines (such as meditating on Scripture, prayer, journaling, fasting, witnessing, etc.) as a means of setting the student’s heart affection on Christ
  • To be an agent of personal spiritual growth and renewal in the lives of others

  A Life for Ministry

  • To lay a strong foundation for future studies in the dynamics of how the gospel brings spiritual growth and renewal both personally and corporately
  • To lay a strong foundation for the practical development of church–based ministries of spiritual growth and renewal, especially for those planning to be church planters, pastors, and missionaries
  • To obtain a set of criteria for evaluating spiritual growth and renewal principles, methods, materials, programs, and trends

Course Readings (Optional for Lay and Clergy Auditors)

  • Baxter, Richard, The Reformed Pastor. Banner of Truth.
  • Bridges, Jerry, The Disciplines of Grace. Navpress.
  • Keller, Tim, The Prodigal God. E.P. Dutton.
  • Lovelace, Richard, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, An Evangelical Theology of Renewal. [Chapters 2-8]. (200 pp), Renewal as a Way of Life, A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth. Wiph and Stock Publishers. (204 pp)
  • Miller, Jack, The Heart of a Servant Leader. P & R Publishing (319 pp)
  • Miller, Paul. A Praying Life. NavPress (260 pp)
  • Packer, J.I., Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God. Baker Books. (256 pp), The Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. Crossway Books (368 pp), Knowing God. InterVarsity Press. [Chapters 15, 18, 19] (55 pp).
  • Prior, Kenneth, The Way of Holiness: The Study in Christian Growth. InterVarsity Press (172 pp).
  • Smith, Scotty, Objects of His Affection: Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of GodSimon and Shuster (260 pp)
  •  Wright, N. Thomas: Surprised by Hope. Harper Collins (356 pp)

DG Conference Banner

Where Sin Increased: The Rebellion of Man and The Abundance of Grace

Minneapolis Convention Center

Come Hear the Good News of a Big Savior for Big Sinners

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21

Sin is a very powerful, deadly ruler and enemy of our souls. It prevents us from seeing the profound depth of our helplessness and moral ruin. It blinds us from seeing the profound magnitude of God’s grace toward us in Jesus Christ.

If you see yourself as a little sinner, you will inevitably see Jesus as a little Savior. But if you see yourself as a big sinner, you will see and draw near to Jesus as a big Savior.

Come and revisit your soul as a desperate sinner so you might cherish and worship him anew as a magnificent Savior.

Why You Should Come to This Conference – by John Piper (A Look at the Book video)

Plenary Speakers

piper

John Piper

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For over 30 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (BD), and the University of Munich (DTheol). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noël, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

chapell

Bryan Chapell

Bryan Chapell is Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL and President Emeritus at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he has served in leadership capacities since 1985. Dr. Chapell is an internationally renowned preacher, teacher, and speaker, and the author of many books, including Christ-Centered Worship, Each for the Other, Holiness by Grace, Praying Backwards, The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach, The Gospel According to Daniel and Christ-Centered Preaching, a preaching textbook now in multiple editions and many languages that has established him as one of the nation’s foremost teachers of homiletics. He and his wife, Kathy, have four children.

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Steve Childers

Steve Childers is the Founder and President of Global Church Advancement continuing as Pathway Learning (www.PathwayLearning.org) with the mission to educate aspiring church leaders to start, grow, and multiply gospel-centered churches among all nations. He is a seasoned church planter, pastor, and educator of church leaders from many denominations and countries. Steve is also a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando where he teaches evangelism, discipleship, church planting/renewal, and missions. He’s a graduate of Covenant, Trinity, and RTS seminaries. Steve and his wife, Becky, have three adult daughters and one granddaughter.

mbewe

Conrad Mbewe

Conrad Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa. He is the author of several booklets distributed within Zambia and has two books on the international market: Maintaining Sexual Purity and Foundations for the Flock. Conrad has contributed to a number of books including Dear Timothy – Letters on Pastoral Ministry and is the editor of Reformation Zambia magazine. He is the principal of the Lusaka Ministerial College and is the chancellor of the African Christian University in Zambia. You can follow Conrad on his blog at www.conradmbewe.com. Conrad and his wife, Felistas, have three children and two foster daughters.

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Sam Storms

Sam Storms has spent over 40 years in ministry and since 2008 has been Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is founder and president of Enjoying God Ministries and regularly blogs at www.samstorms.com. He has authored or edited 22 books. Sam is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma (BA), Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM), and The University of Texas at Dallas (PhD). He and his wife, Ann, have been married for 42 years and are the parents of two grown daughters and have four grandchildren.


 Pre-Conference Speakers

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Jen Wilkin

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies. During her fifteen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen and her family are members of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. She is the author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.

bullmore

Mike Bullmore

Mike Bullmore serves CrossWay Community Church as Senior Pastor. Prior to leading the launch of CrossWay Community Church in 1998, Mike served for 15 years as an Associate Professor of Homiletics (preaching) and Pastoral Theology, as well as chairman of the Practical Theology Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Mike earned a diploma in Bible-Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies from Wheaton College. He then earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Trinity, followed by a PhD in Rhetorical History and Criticism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Mike, a Kenosha native, lives in his childhood home with his wife, Beverly, and their three children, Abigail, Madeline, and Graham.


Workshop Speakers

mathis

David Matthis – Speaker Panel Moderator

David Mathis is an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and executive editor at Desiring God. David and his wife Megan have three children. He is author of several articles and chapters, a regular contributor to desiringGod.org, and co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary. He is co-editor with John Piper of six books, including The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis (most recently) and Cross: Unrivaled Christ, Unstoppable Gospel, Unreached Peoples, Unending Joy (forthcoming).

bancroft

Eric Bancroft

Eric Bancroft serves as the Senior Pastor of Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to his ministry at Castleview, Eric served on the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, CA and taught as an adjunct professor at The Master’s College. Eric has earned degrees from Trinity International University (BA) and from the Master’s Seminary (MDiv). Eric is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric and his wife, Danelle, have been married for 18 years and have three sons: Isaac (14), David (12), and Jeremiah (9).

fitz

Elyse Fitzpatrick

Elyse Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Elyse has authored over 21 books, including Because He Loves Me, Comforts from the Cross, and Give Them Grace. She and her husband, Phil, have three adult children and six grandchildren.

furman

Gloria Furman

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four children, and writer. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full.

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Greg Gilbert

Greg Gilbert is the Senior Pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He earned his BA from Yale University and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of What Is the Gospel? and the co-author of What Is the Mission of the Church, Preach: Theology Meets Practice, and The Gospel at Work: How Working For King Jesus Gives Meaning and Purpose to Our Jobs. He also often writes for 9Marks Ministries. Greg is married to Moriah and they have three children: Justin, Jack, and Juliet.

guthrie

Nancy Guthrie

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at conferences around the country and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Covenant Theological Seminary. She and her husband, David, are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 8,500 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Nancy is the author of numerous books including Holding on to Hope and Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, as well as the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series.

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 Joe Rigney

Joe Rigney serves as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, where he teaches Bible, theology, history, philosophy, history, and Jonathan Edwards. When he’s not teaching college and seminary students, he spends time enjoying his lovely wife, laughing with his two sons, reading medieval theology, playing flag football, and eating fish tacos. He is the author of Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles and The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts.

rinne

Jeramie Rinne

Jeramie Rinne has served as the senior pastor of South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, MA for the past 17 years. He is the author of Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus and How Will the World End? Jeramie is an instructor with the Simeon Trust. He is married to his wife Jennifer and has four children.

steddom

Chuck Steddom

Chuck Steddom oversees the MDiv worship pastor concentration at Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has also served as Pastor for Worship and Music at Bethlehem Baptist Church since 1997. Prior to this, he served as both minister and teacher in Minnesota and Iowa, including chairing the music department at Prairie Bible Institute. His wife, Carol, is the principal accompanist at Bethlehem’s south campus. The Steddoms have four children: Daniel, Allison, Alexander, and Kiandra. Chuck is committed to seeing the nations come together in the worship of King Jesus this side of heaven in the North American context.

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 Matthew Westerholm

Matthew Westerholm serves as Pastor for Worship and Music at Bethlehem Baptist Church’s downtown campus. Prior to moving to Minneapolis, he served as Dean of the Chapel at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and as a Worship Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Matthew is pursuing a PhD in Christian Worship from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matthew enjoys writing songs, but adores his wife, Lisa, and their three boys.


Cost

  • $135 if you register by November 3
  • $150 if you register by January 2
  • $175 if you register by January 29
  • Student Rate – $120 if you register by January 29
  • Group Rate (four or more people registered from the same church, e.g. pastor, pastor spouse, elder, worship leader, ministry leader, group leader, et. al.) – $120 if you register by January 29

 

For More Information and to Register: Click Here

 

Conference Workshop Sponsors Include:

 

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As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well know to the general public.

This is the fourth of a four-part series taken from Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.04.39 PMthe foreword I wrote for his most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

“You are a gentleman and a scholar.” 

It’s a phrase used in the Catcher in the Rye. But it’s been used for centuries throughout the British Isles to describe a rare person worthy of being considered not only a scholar but also a gentleman. Not all scholars are gentlemen. Not all gentlemen are scholars. John Frame is both.

john_frame sketch

One would understandably think that a scholar with Frame’s intellectual rigor and theological acumen would likely carry with him an aura of haughtiness. Instead, as one who has had an office next to him since 2000, I can tell you firsthand that John is a man marked by a rare blend of remarkable intellect and authentic humility.[1]

He is a model of living out what he writes about in his popular booklet Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus[2] (his grandfatherly advice written originally for incoming students at RTS-Orlando).[3]

Those who engage John in theological or philosophical debate (and there are many) experience his charitable and fair spirit—his genuine willingness to take a serious look at both sides of an issue. He’s well known for treating an opposing view graciously and respectfully, even while deconstructing it.

Many don’t know that John is also a classically trained musician (piano and organ) and a critic of film, music, and other media. His passion for and writings on worship and music have provoked controversy, especially in Reformed circles, because he regards contemporary worship music, and even liturgical dance, as biblically permissible and even enjoyable in worship.

John often confuses people because on a Sunday he can enjoy leading a new church plant in informal worship by playing an electric keyboard as part of a contemporary music ensemble. Then on Wednesday of the same week, he can greatly enjoy leading the seminary community in formal worship by playing a sixteenth-century hymn on the majestic, custom-built organ in the RTS-O chapel. Chapter 38 of this book is titled

“Twenty-five Random Things That Nobody Knows about Me.”

This list came from a Facebook game that his students “dragged [him] into.” What I love about this final chapter is that it gives you a glimpse into the personal life of this renowned theologian and philosopher. Here are a few of my favorites:

#3: I was always the last guy chosen for sports teams, and with good reason.

#4: We listened faithfully to Pittsburgh Pirate games from 1950–56, when the team had the worst record in baseball.

#18: My priorities for ministry were (a) missions, (b) pastorate, (c) academic theology. A visit to mission fields in 1960 ruled out (a). A year and two summers of pastoral experience ruled out (b). So I embraced (c) by default, as God’s calling.

#23: I did not marry until I was forty-five. God was preparing someone special.

#24: In 1999, I led a worship team of myself, a saxophonist, and a trombonist. The other two musicians were in their late seventies, but we really rocked.

John has shared with me how he is sometimes concerned about spending so much time in the privacy of his office writing, rather than being more actively involved in public ministry. So my role over the years we’ve worked together has been to periodically reminded him of what he already knows and teaches – that

There’s nothing more practical than sound theology.

I’ve seen firsthand how his theological writings are having a significant practical impact on the lives and ministries of Christian leaders around the world.

John is much more than a theologian, philosopher, and apologist. He is also a loving husband to Mary, father to his grown children, and grandfather to his rapidly growing gaggle of grandchildren. He is a humble and quiet man who prefers writing in the solitude of his office to coming into the public limelight.

All this is to say that it’s worth your time to read through these rare theological and philosophical gems in Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings. Here you will find his “Primer on Perspectivalism”—a clear, concise summary of triperspectivalism that will enhance your knowledge of God, yourself, others, and the world. Other chapters include foundational topics such as these: “What the Bible Is About: One Thing and Three Things,” “The Gospel and the Scriptures,” “Introduction to the Reformed Faith,” and “The Main Thing.”

Then enter more deeply into Frame’s ongoing humble but bold dialogues by reading essays such as “Reformed and Evangelicals Together,” “Is Justification by Faith Alone the Article on Which the Church Stands or Falls?,” “N. T. Wright and the Authority of Scripture,” “Cultural Transformation and the Local Church,” “The Bible and Joe the Plumber,” and, of course, the rest of the “Twenty-five Random Things That Nobody Knows about Me.”

If you’re new to reading the works of Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord[4]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website, http://www.frame-poythress.org, where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 9.04.01 PMWhether or not you’re new to reading Frame’s theological works, sooner or later you must own and begin making regular use of his magnum opus—Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief.[5] This remarkably accessible and practical work is the culmination of his nearly fifty years of studying, writing, teaching, and applying the Word of God to all aspects of life. World Magazine recently recognized it as “Book of the Year.

I am extremely grateful to God for this man and his ministry. This is why I so strongly promote the reading of his books and articles in all my seminary classes at RTS-Orlando and at the church leadership training events where I speak and teach in North America and abroad.

It is a great privilege for me to commend this book to you. Here you’ll find a wide array of important topics written in Frame’s inimitable style of robust charity. Enjoy mining the rich truths in these winsome and provocative essays.

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 1: Introducing The Man and His Message

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 2: Influencers on His Thought

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 3: Why It’s Hard to Frame Frame

Coming Soon: The 100 Books That Have Most Influenced John Frame’s Thought by Frame and Childers


[1] With his nearly five decades of participation in seminary convocation and commencement ceremonies, I know of no one who has worn academic regalia more often, and holds wearing it in more disdain, than Frame.
[2] John M. Frame, Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus (Orlando: Reformed Theological Seminary, 2002).
[3] As one of the “Fathers” (older professors) at RTS-O, Frame has also had a significant personal influence on all the “Brothers” (younger professors—including me). For instance, almost every time I see him, he asks me the same question: “Tell me again, how’s your book coming along?”
[4] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006).
[5] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013).

As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well know to the general public.

Frame Selected Works Cover

This is the third of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for his most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

JOHN FRAME is often difficult to categorize because he is marked by both genuine humility and great courage in his approach to a vast array of today’s theological and ecclesiastical categories.

john_frame sketchLiberal? Denominational? Ecumenical? Fundamental?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a theological liberal, he continues to stand against fractured denominationalism, and to fight for greater ecumenical unity in the church.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a theological fundamentalist, he continues to stand against moderate views of Scripture, and to fight for an infallible, inerrant Bible.

Optimistic Transformationalist? Pessimistic Dualist?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a cultural transformationist (and triumphalist), he continues to stand against pessimistic theological dualism that wrongly separates the church and culture, and to fight for the optimistic, biblical social engagement of Christians as witnesses to the lordship of Christ over all areas of public life.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a cultural isolationist (and pessimist), he continues to stand against theological views of God’s kingdom that wrongly equate the priority of the institutional church ministries of the Word and social action, and to fight for understanding the primary purpose of the institutional church as making disciples of all nations through prioritizing the ministries of evangelism and the Word.

Ecclesiastic Traditionalist?  Pietistic Individualist?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a traditionalist, he continues to stand against rapidly emerging, individualistic expressions of “Churchless Christianity,” and to fight for the biblical necessity for all Christians to come under the spiritual authority and care of a local church body, through which they prioritize the regular, corporate ministries of the Word, sacrament, and prayer.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being a pietist (and revivalist), he continues to stand against theological views that wrongly emphasize the communal dimensions of Christianity at the expense of the personal, and to fight for the biblical validity and need for all Christians to pursue holiness through personal spiritual disciplines such as regular Bible reading, prayer, and fasting.

  Traditional Academy? Educational Revolutionary?

  • Knowing that he might be accused of being an out-of-touch, ivory-tower academic, he continues to stand against the trend of church leaders’ not receiving seminary training, and to fight for the importance of well-educated church leaders.
  • Knowing that he might be accused of being opposed to traditional seminary training, he continues to stand against the inherent problems with the traditional seminary model, and to fight for more innovative, practical, church-based seminary training models.

At Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (RTS-O), where John and I have served together (our offices are next to each other) as resident faculty members for thirteen years, we have heard a description over the years of those who are Reformed (Calvinistic) in theology as being on a theological continuum that ranges from the broadly evangelical (BE) on the one end to the truly Reformed (TR) on the other.

Broad Evangelical (BE)? or Truly Reformed (TR)?

Calvinism Poster Secret BE

Calvinism Poster TR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEs are those who normally emphasize their evangelical theological convictions more strongly than their Reformed convictions. And at the other end of the continuum, TRs normally emphasize their Reformed theological convictions more strongly than their evangelical convictions.

So what is John Frame—a BE or a TR? He is neither. Frame is in a completely different category called WR—“Winsomely Reformed.” Someone who is WR cannot be identified as normally being at any one particular point on this Calvinistic continuum between the BEs and the TRs. That’s because

John Frame has the unique capacity to function wisely and well anywhere across the doctrinally diverse continuum of evangelicalism—yet still hold strongly to his robust theologically Reformed convictions.

A New (Old) Category: Winsomely Reformed (WR)

John Frame is the epitome of someone who is WR. This is why it’s been so difficult for people to categorize him. In some contexts he’ll be overtly emphasizing his Reformed convictions. But in other contexts he will intentionally emphasize only his broader evangelical convictions.

This confusing behavior is not because he is fearful or comprising his beliefs, but because he’s learned to base his words and emphases on what will be most appropriate in each unique context. Frame has a strong commitment to both evangelical theology in general and Reformed theology in particular, coupled with godly wisdom to know in which context and to what extent one or the other should be emphasized.

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [7]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website, where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 4: A Gentleman and a Scholar

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 1: Introducing The Man and His Message

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 2: Influencers on His Thought

Coming Soon: The 100 Books That Have Most Influenced John Frame’s Thought by Frame and Childers

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[1] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006).

[2] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013).

As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well know to the general public.

Frame Selected Works Cover

This is the second of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for his most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

JOHN FRAME believes those with Reformed and evangelical convictions are at risk of being marginalized in our generation because of some Reformed leaders, both inside and outside the academy, espousing unbiblical views of such critical areas as worship, evangelism, Christian spirituality, church planting, missions, and the relationship of the church and culture. [1]

christianity-todayBut the good news is that God is raising up a new generation of church leaders and other Christians who are stemming this tide by standing for a robust Reformed theology that includes a biblical view of all these practical areas of ministry. And the theology and philosophy of John Frame is at the forefront, influencing this resurgence of biblical Calvinism among a new generation of church leaders. [2]

Frame represents a historic stream of biblical and philosophical thought [3] deeply rooted in the best foundational contributions of Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. In his writings you’ll also find the biblical riches rediscovered by the church in the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther and John Calvin, as well as the reshaping of those biblical truths in the seventeenth century by the English Puritans.

Frame’s thought also reflects the Dutch Calvinism of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck and the Princeton theology of Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and J. Gresham Machen. He writes, “I yield to no one in admiration of three brilliant and godly men, friends of one another, who set the highest standards for Reformed theology in the 1900s:

BAVINCK_mediator

A handful of professors profoundly shaped his thought while he was in seminary, including

Cornelius Van TilThe three authors he resorts to most often today are Murray, Van Til, and Clowney. [5] Van Til became the greatest single influence on Frame’s apologetics and theology. Other significant influences on his theology include

  • G. C. Berkouwer,
  • R. John Rushdoony,
  • Meredith Kline, and
  • J. I. Packer.

Frame’s understanding of philosophy has been shaped not only by many of the authors listed above but also by the writings of Plato, Immanuel Kant, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. His emphasis on the importance of not only knowledge and behavior in the Christian life, but also heart affections, is drawn significantly from the writings of Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Edwards (often through the works of John Gerstner and John Piper as Edwards’s contemporary advocates).

Jon-Ed-1-slider

Although Frame’s primary understanding of Christian apologetics and evangelism has been shaped by Van Til, others have deepened and broadened that understanding, including

  • C. S. Lewis,
  • Francis Schaeffer,
  • Gordon Clark,
  • C. John (Jack) Miller, and
  • Vern Poythress (one of his many students whom he now refers to as his teacher.)

As a result of integrating these diverse schools of thought over decades,

John Frame is a rare biblical scholar who has a passion not only for people to gain a biblical understanding of theology, philosophy, apologetics, and ethics, but also for people to learn how to apply these disciplines to practical ministries such as worship, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and missions.

That’s because, to John Frame, “Theology is application.” [6]

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [7]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website, where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 3: Why It’s Hard to Frame Frame

Click here to read Framing John Frame Pt 1: Introducing The Man and His Message

Coming Soon:

    -The 100 Books That Have Most Influenced John Frame’s Thought by Frame and Childers

_____________________

[1] John M. Frame, The Escondido Theology: A Reformed Response to Two Kingdom Theology (Lakeland, FL: Whitefield Media Productions, 2011).
[2] David Van Biema, “The New Calvinism—10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now,” Time, March 12, 2009.
[3] See the bibliography at the end of this series for a list of the one hundred works that have most influenced John Frame’s thought.
[4] John M. Frame, Backgrounds to My Thought, available at http://www.frame-poythress.org/about/john-frame-full-bio/ (accessed May 16, 2013).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 1–100.
[7] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006).

As a seminary professor for more than four decades, John Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author and one of America’s foremost theologians and philosophers—significantly shaping the thought of Evangelicalism today. Many of today’s most influential Christian leaders and authors, like Tim Keller and John Piper, readily acknowledge the significant impact John Frame has had on them. Although widely known and deeply respected in church leadership and academic circles for decades, his works are now, finally, becoming well known to the general public.
This is the first of a four-part series taken from the foreword I wrote for Frame’s most recently published book, John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing. I wrote this with the goal of helping to introduce Frame and his writings more widely to the general public, with the hope that more people would begin mining the rich theological, philosophical, and practical gems that have for too long been mostly in the hands of academics and church leaders.

John Frame PhotoJOHN M. FRAME (b. 1939) is a Calvinist theologian and American philosopher especially known for his work in systematic theology, Christian apologetics, and ethics. In the tradition of John Calvin (Tracts and Treatises),[1] Jonathan Edwards (Miscellanies),[2] B. B. Warfield (Selected Shorter Writings),[3] and Herman Bavinck (Selected Shorter Works),[4] Frame has now published his own Selected Shorter Writings.

Similar to those who have benefited only from J. I. Packer’s more well-known books such as Knowing God,[5] but have never tapped the riches of his lesser-known writings (e.g., his Introductory Essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ[6]), those who have benefited only from Frame’s more well-known books can now mine the riches of his lesser-known, shorter writings.

Before publication of this book, most of these rare theological and philosophical gems had been hidden away as Frame’s book appendices or as electronic files or articles posted on websites and blogs not widely known to the public. This book, however, is not merely a compilation of appendices and articles. Instead, these chapters are mostly unpublished essays of Frame’s thought as part of the culmination of a remarkable career as an author and a teacher of theology and philosophy.

Building on his education at Princeton, Westminster Seminary, and Yale, Frame distinguished himself as an outstanding theologian during thirty-one years on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and California. Since 2000, he has been on the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando as professor of systematic theology and philosophy. He teaches apologetics, systematic theology, ethics, and history of philosophy and Christian thought.

During his decades as a seminary professor, Frame has distinguished himself as a prolific author, publishing books and articles not only in the areas of apologetics, theology, and ethics, but also in worship, film, music, and other media.

Among his larger theological works is his highly acclaimed and award-winning Theology of Lordship series, including The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987),[7] The Doctrine of God (2002),[8] The Doctrine of the Christian Life (2008),[9] and The Doctrine of the Word of God (2010).[10] Frame is especially noted for his work in epistemology and presuppositional apologetics. He is considered one of the foremost interpreters and critics of the thought of the late Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til, whom he studied under at Westminster Seminary.

In Frame’s first book, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (1987), he elaborates his Christian epistemology, which he calls triperspectivalismand argues that in order to appreciate the richness of attaining true knowledge, a person must understand that knowledge always involves the integration of three perspectives: the normative, situational, and existential.

TRIPERSPECTIVALISM

tri-300x73His triperspectivalism has made a profound impact on church leaders today, including his practical application of Christ’s offices as Prophet (normative), Priest (existential), and King (situational) to all of life and ministry. Frame’s passion to see the lordship of the triune God in every sphere of thought and life is contagious. And this needed contagion is now spreading to multitudes of Christians and church leaders at a critical time.

If you’re new to reading the works of John Frame (or theological works in general), let me strongly encourage you to take the time to explore his other writings. Here are just a few introductory readings I recommend that you consider to begin priming your theological pump:

  • Salvation Belongs to the Lord [11]—a brief mini-systematic theology that is easily accessible to the average reader.
  • Studying Theology as a Servant of Jesus—practical advice for incoming seminary students and all new students of theology.
  • Browse his website where you’ll find many of his writings. He shares this website with Vern Poythress, Calvinistic theologian, philosopher, New Testament scholar, and one of his former students.

Click here to read: Framing John Frame, Part Two: Influencers on His Thought

_________________________________

[1] John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts and Treatises of John Calvin (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2004)

[2] Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards,vol. 13, The Miscellanies: A–500, ed. Thomas A. Schafer (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994); vol. 18, The Miscellanies: 501–832, ed. Ava Chamberlain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000); vol. 20, The Miscellanies: 833–1152, ed. Amy Plantinga Pauw (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002); vol. 23,The Miscellanies: 1153–1360, ed. Douglas A. Sweeney (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004).

[3] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings, ed. John Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001).

[4] Herman Bavinck, Selected Shorter Works (Portland, OR: Monergism Books, 2011).

[5] J. I. Packer, Knowing God. 20th anniversary ed. (InterVarsity Press, 1993).

[6] John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: A Treatise in Which the Whole Controversy about Universal Redemption Is Fully Discussed (London: Banner of Truth, 1959).

[7] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987).

[8]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002).

[9]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008).

[10]John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010).

11] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006)