Introducing a Trinitarian Theology of Faith, Hope, and Love by John Frame

Steve —  February 19, 2021 — Leave a comment

Introducing A Trinitarian Theology of
Faith, Hope, and Love

By Dr. John M. Frame

In this new book and course by Drs. Childers and Frame, you’ll explore an ancient, Trinitarian approach to the study of theology and spirituality found in the great theological works of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. 

These thinkers have outlined for us a transformational way of doing theology that is eminently Scriptural and involves our whole being – not only our minds, but also our hearts and lives.

You’ll learn how to cultivate the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love by having a faith that is grounded in the biblical truths of the Apostles’ creed, a hope that is based on Jesus’ teaching in the Lord’s Prayer, and a love that is rooted in the Ten Commandments.

In this new book and course, you’ll be equipped to:

  • Explain the heart of Christianity as faith, hope, and love
  • Describe faith as believing in the Triune God as Lord
  • Articulate hope in God and for man in the Lord’s Prayer
  • Describe the superiority of love in the Ten Commandments
  • Understand how the Ten Commandments transform us
  • Explain the riches of a theology of faith, hope, and love

About the Applied Theology Project
The Applied Theology Series provides you accessible, affordable seminary-level teaching designed to help you learn how to apply theology to your life and ministry in practical ways – with the goal of helping you better know, love, serve, and honor God as LORD in all of life. Seminary professors John Frame and Steve Childers combine their almost 90 years of teaching and ministry experience to help you apply theology to life and ministry.

Read the Introduction by John Frame below
Take the Course (create your own private online study group)

Introducing A Trinitarian Theology of
Faith, Hope, and Love

By John Frame 

Theology is, as we’ve said, the application of Scripture by persons to all areas of life. That definition gives us a norm for our study (“Scripture”), presents a range of subject matter (“all areas of life”), and encourages our self-reflection as “persons” engaged in the study.

On this definition, theology is Scriptural, practical, and personal. But on this understanding, theology is universal in scope, and therefore a huge task. Are there any directions as to how we may divide up the task into smaller units?

Scripture itself doesn’t tell us to do this first, then this, then that. In one sense we can begin anywhere. When our enemies throw us into a pit, it is time for the theology of Ps. 40:2. When we are in trouble, or happy, or sick, we need to apply James 5:13-16.

That is theology, ourselves applying the word to the area of life we are presently experiencing.

But in this book, our task is not primarily occasional theology, theology for this or that experience. Occasional theology is perfectly legitimate; indeed it is necessary; but we cannot contain it all in a book, for our experiences, our “areas of life,” are too vast in number to include in a book. A book like this can only summarize the process.

And the quest for a summary is itself a theological question, often called “the question of method:” Does Scripture give us any help in summarizing the process of theological work? Does it tell us anything about how we (we persons) should apply the Scriptures to the events and settings of our lives?

Here the history of theology gives us some help. I have not been known as a historian of doctrine, though I have written a large book on the subject.[1] In my view, some theologians have been overly preoccupied by the history of doctrine, by tradition, to the detriment of the Protestant principle, “by Scripture alone.”

My own goal in teaching theology has been to encourage my students to focus on Scripture itself and thereby even to correct tradition if that is necessary. That was the goal of the Protestant Reformers. But there is also positive value in tradition. Scripture itself teaches us to honor our parents and others who have taught us wisdom (as Prov. 1:8-9). And as we ask the theological question of how to do theology, we should listen to them.

My colleague, Steve Childers, has found some helpful insights in the great theological work of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. These thinkers have outlined a way of doing theology that is eminently Scriptural, avoiding some errors that have crept into other traditions.

When asked near the end of his life to summarize Christianity as he understood it, Augustine replied by citing Paul’s triad in 1 Cor. 13:13: faith, hope, and love. Expounding that insight, he wrote a little book, The Enchiridion, which described faith by means of the Apostles’ Creed, hope by way of the Lord’s Prayer, and love by way of the Ten Commandments.

This way of summarizing Christian theology was taken up also in the important works of Luther and Calvin, and in the Confessions of the churches.

Clearly this way of summarizing the work of theology meets the requirements of our earlier definition. It is Scriptural, for all its content is taken from Scripture.[2] It is practical, for it deals with our mind, our heart, and our decisions. And it is personal, for it engages everything that we are. It is the fundamental spiritual exercise by which we apply the Scriptures to all areas of life.

But though it is practical and personal, it is not “man centered” in the pejorative sense. Rather, it is God-centered, because focused on the Trinity: (1) the eternal plan of God the Father, (2) accomplished by the Son, and (3) applied to our hearts by the Spirit.

The Father’s eternal plan is the content of our faith; the Son’s application of that plan for our eternal salvation is the content of our hope; and the Spirit’s bringing that plan into our hearts is the content of our love.

In the book and course that follows, we seek to outline this method. As this is a Scriptural, practical, and personal approach, our book will differ from some others. The book will be informed by our academic study, but we hope you will not see it as an academic book. We intend simply to take the written word of God and apply it to the situations of life, as the Holy Spirit enables us to.

I turned 80 in April, 2019, much older than Augustine was when he summarized his life work in the Enchiridion. My own life work does not have anywhere near the importance of Augustine’s.

But I do pray that this book will summarize my own, in which I have tried to confess the same faith as that of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and above all the Bible itself.

Steve, who has done most all of the actual writing, has done a wonderful job in expressing that faith that is mine as well as his own. I give thanks to God for bringing me such a wonderful friend and colleague.

Dr. John M. FrameEmeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary

[1] Frame, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishers, 2015).
[2] The Apostles’ Creed was written shortly after the completion of the biblical canon, but Christians of all traditions have adopted it as a summary of biblical faith.


Dr. John Frame served as a seminary professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy for almost 50 years. His areas of speciality include systematic theology, apologetics, ethics and philosophy. Dr. Frame began his teaching career in 1968 on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He later served as a founding faculty member at Westminster Seminary California. In 2000, he began teaching at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and retired in 2017. He now works with Pathway Learning and Steve Childers as co-author and theological editor of the Applied Theology Project. He’s best known for his prolific writings, particularly his four-volume Theology of Lordship series.

He is a graduate of Princeton University, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Yale University. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, Dr. Frame is deeply committed to the work of ministry and to training pastors. Students appreciate Dr. Frame’s wealth of insight and his ability to communicate complex issues simply and clearly. Students also value Dr. Frame’s practical definition of theology as “the application of God’s revelation to all of life.” Dr. Frame is a talented pianist and organist as well as a discerning media critic. He and his wife Mary have five children, Debbie, Doreen, Skip, Justin, and Johnny.

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