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The third volume of Frame's Theology of Lordship series, this book focuses on biblical ethics, presenting a method for ethical decision-making, an analysis of biblical ethical teaching focusing on the Ten Commandments, and a discussion of the relation of Christ to human culture.


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The third volume of Frame's Theology of Lordship series, this book focuses on biblical ethics, presenting a method for ethical decision-making, an analysis of biblical ethical teaching focusing on the Ten Commandments, and a discussion of the relation of Christ to human culture.

30 review for The Doctrine of the Christian Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    If you have read Frame before, then you know what you are getting: carefully argued positions, fair treatment to opponents, and a staggering amount of biblical reflection. His tri-perspectivalism is on display here, as in earlier books. I will address it as the review moves forward. He defines ethics as “living under God’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself” (Frame 3). Further, these are Lordship ethics, and Lordship has three attributes: 1) Control: 2) Authority 3) Covenant pre If you have read Frame before, then you know what you are getting: carefully argued positions, fair treatment to opponents, and a staggering amount of biblical reflection. His tri-perspectivalism is on display here, as in earlier books. I will address it as the review moves forward. He defines ethics as “living under God’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself” (Frame 3). Further, these are Lordship ethics, and Lordship has three attributes: 1) Control: 2) Authority 3) Covenant presence. He begins with a description of ethics and a brief (too brief, perhaps) survey of autonomous ethics. He notes that autonomous ethics are hamstrung by rationalist/irrationalist dialectic: man proclaims his own reason as the standard yet denies it is able to reach knowledge of God. Following this he gives a commentary on the Decalogue, noting key particular applications. I am not going to give a summary of each commandment. Rather, I will note some of his more controversial claims, his more helpful sections, and other notae bene he makes. Per the Second Commandment, and the Regulative Principle: RPW advocates see three categories for what is biblically permissible: 1) express commands, 2) approved examples, and 3) theological inferences. Well and good, but adding these extra categories mitigates the simplicity of the RPW. Even worse, it “gives considerable scope for human reflection, in even determining ‘elements’” (471). What about the specific words of our prayers? They don’t fit in the above categories. Are they circumstances? They can’t be that, since they aren’t “common to human actions and societies.” What about temple worship? Not everything in the temple was typological of Christ’s sacrifice. It had prayer, teaching, and praise, yet these weren’t abrogated. On the sixth commandment he gives an eloquent, and quite frankly emotionally-moving, defense of the unborn, with some interesting history on Operation Rescue. On sexual ethics he points out the naturalistic fallacy in the Roman Catholic arguments against *some* birth control methods. He ends with sections on Christ and Culture, including a thorough refutation of the Klinean 2 Kingdoms Doctrine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is the third in the "Theology of Lordship" series--this time taking up law and ethics. Frame, of course, is a presuppositionalist, and states from the beginning that "all ethics is religious, even when it tries hard to be secular." (p. 5) So Frame is biblical not just in his argumentation for Christian law and ethics, but biblical in his criticism of all other legal and ethical systems. Those interested in this volume likely already know what to expect from Frame's work, and their expectati This is the third in the "Theology of Lordship" series--this time taking up law and ethics. Frame, of course, is a presuppositionalist, and states from the beginning that "all ethics is religious, even when it tries hard to be secular." (p. 5) So Frame is biblical not just in his argumentation for Christian law and ethics, but biblical in his criticism of all other legal and ethical systems. Those interested in this volume likely already know what to expect from Frame's work, and their expectations are warranted. Frame is winsome, sincere, and persuasive. After introductory remarks, Frame reviews "non-Christian ethics", viewing them according to his tri-perspectival method. He helpfully "frames" ;) this by showing how there are always three questions to ask when considering an ethical situation. (1) "What's your problem?" (2) "What does God's Word say about the problem?" (3) How do you need to change "in order to apply God's solution to the problem?" (p. 32) He helpfully distills non-Christian ethics into three principles: the teleological, deontological, and existential. He argues that "in the absence of the biblical God, these principles are in tension with one another." But "With God, they cohere, for the same God who controls the consequences of our acts also declares our duties and gives us a new inner life." (p. 52-53) So Frame shows that where non-Christian systems do have the truth, it cannot hold together, because there is nothing to unify them. Moving to Christian ethics (and skipping a great deal) he states that "a Christian ethical decision is the application of God's revelation (normative) to a problem (situational) by a person (existential). (p. 131) One of my favorite quotes in the book is found on page 144, where he confesses, "Four is not a good number for me, since it is not evenly divisible by three." On the same page, in footnote 4, he even adds, "I should get some credit for resisting the temptation to make three triads." These, of course, are playful statements that remind the reader that the author has a sense of humor, and has cares enough about his readers to give them a good chuckle while reading about the "Attributes of Scripture." Frame argues against the Lutheran distinction between Law and Gospel, showing that the Bible does not separate them, but shows they are bound together. "The gospel is this whole complex: God's power to save, the reiteration of God's commands, and his coming into history to execute his plan. It is good news to know that God is bringing his good plans to fruition." (p. 185) He argues that "Faith saves, not because it merits salvation, but because it reaches out to receive God's grace in Christ. Nevertheless, faith is an obligation, and in that respect the command to believe is like other divine commands. So it is impossible to say that command, or law, is excluded from the gospel message." (p. 186-187) God's covenantal pattern is "God proclaims that he has redeemed his people (gospel), and then tells them to behave as his covenant people (law). Since both gospel and law are aspects of all God's covenants, that pattern pervades Scripture." (p. 188) Frame objects to the tripartite division of the law, arguing it is really a construct wherein we have categorized which laws we believe are abrogated, and which are still normative. (p. 214) Frame is known for having a measure of respect for theonomists (his review of Rushdoony's "Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume I" is in the appendix and is outstanding). His section on theonomy (p. 217-224) is fair and respectful. In fact, he sounds downright theonomic (even postmillenial) in many places. He writes, " The blessing of the Spirit is magnified in the development of godly institutions. Indeed, regenerate people cannot but help but bring God's standards into their places of services, businesses, schools, the arts, technology, agriculture, labor, and even government (1 Cor. 10:31 again). Christians have an obligation to address all areas of human life, including all social institutions, with the commands of God. In some cases, as history has shown, this will lead to distinctively Christian institutions within the larger society. In other cases, it will bring about change in the secular institutions themselves." (p. 260) Frame understands the unintended consequences that governments introduce when they attempt to create "ultimate equality." He writes that government "cannot make fine distinctions among individuals to determine who truly needs help and who doesn't. It can only mandate help to certain broad, visible groups. And when it does so, it inevitably creates injustice against those who are forced to sacrifice in order to help those whom the law defines as victims. And the more it tries to make finer and finer distinctions of this sort, the more injustice it brings about. The rationalist impulse, trying to produce perfect justice by fiat, almost necessarily increases injustice." (p. 268) The book is one-thousand pages long, and no review could really do justice to the nuances of his argumentation or the breadth of topics he covers. Here are a few nuggets I found helpful: In a section on emotion, Frame reminds us that when reading Scripture, “The emotional content is part of the meaning of the text.” (p. 381) Frame touches on third-rail issues, such as education—arguing strongly in favor of Christian education, writing that “a state school can never provide the type of education described in Deuteronomy 6:6-9.” (p. 445) Frame, is known not only for being thorough, but for answering questions that he knows his readers will have. For example, he provides a discussion of the use of “gosh, golly, and gee” in a section on the third commandment. (p. 508) In a discussion on “Men and Women and the Family”, Frame succinctly rebuts feminism: “Children are so important that God has reserved the best gifts of half the population for their benefit.” (p. 632) Frame even touches on the treatment of former-slaves and Native Americans, arguing that “The crime of modern slavery has never been adequately punished” and that “Native Americans…should have received double restitution for everything stolen from them.” (p. 661) But then when considering modern race relations, he argues it is normal, and “not generally sinful” to associate with people of one’s own race. (p. 672) He later argues that we ought to identify primarily as a Christian, not as your race. He argues against the modern penitentiary system and believes that we must consider modern applications of Old Testament laws today, rather than continue down the path of the “vicious cycle” we’ve created with the modern prison system. (p. 699) When considering end of life issues, he helpfully frames the question by stating that the Bible does support “financial considerations” in making end of life decisions. He helpfully navigates difficult decisions, not favoring euthanasia, or anything like it, but reminding us that there are “several reasons for withholding care.” (p. 736) Considering divorce, he writes, “Divorce can be a necessary recognition of a separation of heart that has already taken place. It is sometimes like disconnecting life support to someone who is already dead.” He says this, having acknowledged that “divorce always represents a failure to achieve God’s ideal.” (p. 770) While considering the law of the tithe, he argues that though the tithe may not be a New Testament law, he “unashamedly recommend[s] …the tithe, as a beginning of financial discipleship.” (p. 801) There’s a really interesting section on poverty, where Frame reminds us, “Scripture does not describe lazy people as ‘poor’. Rather, they are ‘sluggards’ or ‘busybodies.’ Biblical exhortations to compassion don’t apply to sluggards, except in the general sense that we should be compassionate to everybody.” (p. 814-815) While he recognizes that passages on ‘the poor’ in Scripture are often abused, “it is true that ‘God is on the side of the poor.’” (p. 815) Regarding the ninth commandment, and truth-telling, Frame defines a lie, such, that he accounts for the biblical defense for deceiving the serpent. He defines a lie as, “a word or act that intentionally deceives a neighbor in order to hurt him. It is false witness against a neighbor.” (p. 835) We must not fall prey to defining a lie in an unbiblical way, and folding in biblical deception undermines what Scripture actually says. I really appreciate that John Frame has taken time to listen to theonomists, and interact with them. His knowledge of the writings on theonomy come through in this work in ways that demonstrate that he has truly taken time to consider God’s law and what it means for the Christian. He’s not a theonomist in the movement-sense, but he is a biblical theonomist, meaning he supports God’s law (theo-nomos) and that is what all Christians ought to be. Frame’s commitment to the authority of Scripture makes this an outstanding contribution to Christian law and ethics. Not only that, but it is eminently readable. I highly recommend this book, and the series of which it is a part.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    A massive volume on the important subject of Christian ethics by one of the most sophisticated Biblicist today. This volume by Dr. John Frame in his theology of Lordship series was a wonderful read and was intellectually stimulating and doxological—what I expect from John Frame’s work and something I hope to be able to emulate in my own teaching ministry. This work is different than most Christian text book on ethics in that it applies John Frame’s Triperspectivalism (looking at things with the A massive volume on the important subject of Christian ethics by one of the most sophisticated Biblicist today. This volume by Dr. John Frame in his theology of Lordship series was a wonderful read and was intellectually stimulating and doxological—what I expect from John Frame’s work and something I hope to be able to emulate in my own teaching ministry. This work is different than most Christian text book on ethics in that it applies John Frame’s Triperspectivalism (looking at things with the consciousness of the normative, situational and existential perspective) and a robust Reformed and Biblical theology to the area of Christian ethics and living. I also think Frame’s Van Tillian side is also a big a plus since I appreciate how the beginning of the book John Frame goes about refuting non-Christian philosophy, religion and worldview that are competitors against the Christian worldview of ethics. This section is excellent and can be a small book that is worth buying alone. Frame also wasn’t just into refutation but a positive presentation of the Christian position on ethics as well. In fact the bulk of the book was his exposition on the ten commandments and he did a good job of showing how other parts of the Scripture illuminates the Decalogue with more specific application or nuances. Even if one might not agree with Frame in the particular, he nevertheless will provide great food for thought and challenge the reader to think more biblically and rigorously on ethical matters. Frame was able to strike my interests and simulated my thought throughout the thousand page book which I think is quite a feat. In what follows I can only share some of the highlights: - Frame had a good discussion in the book about the danger of exclusively preaching redemptive-history especially without the intention of application. If one reads his collection of shorter works, Frame expands on this concern he has. - The chapter on motive and virtue was saturated with the Gospel and how it motivates a believer’s sanctification; this same chapter also had a good discussion trying to reconcile imprecatory prayers with loving one’s enemy with Frame noting the distinction between wanting God to pour out His wrath while we not doing this ourselves. - Another highlight in the book was John Frame’s discussion about racial equalities. I think what he has to say is probably the closest position to mine that I have seen in print. In particular, I find it helpful his discussion of various ways people use the term “racism.” I also liked his discussion about race within the context of the church such as his quote: "Churches do not have to seek a quota of every ethnic or national group in their vicinity. But they must welcome everyone" (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 674). - The discussion on war is a good one; Frame is conscious of what the Scripture say and does not say and he brings this to bear in his observation and criticism of Just War theory. As a Marine myself, I have had some questions about various aspect of Just War theory that seems problematic such as what is proportional force, etc. I appreciate Frame saying that Just War Theory isn’t so much a theory as it is a series of good questions we must ask concerning war. - I really appreciate the section of the book on culture. He does a good job working towards a theological definition of culture and from there explain the various model of the relationship between Christ and culture along with his criticism of each respective views’ strength and weaknesses. Frame’s discussion about culture also led to the topic of Christians and film; he gives some good principles of what to ask when one watches movies as a Christian and also a defense that movies are not wrong in of itself. - For anyone who has read Frame before, there are many points he makes that makes one think not only with the doctrine or position at hand, but also the theological method that is driving Frame as well. I feel Frame is great to read to think about theological method more consciously. - In terms of the appendix, I really appreciated Frame’s review of RJ Rushdoony’s book, The Institute of Biblical Law. I thought Frame did a good job of noting Rushdoony’s contribution to Christian study of the law while also being critical in a helpful way that can help push the Christian Reconstructionist movement forward. His review noted some good problems in Rushdoony’s book while Frame was also able to address Theonomy’s critics that they must not knee-jerk emotionally reject God’s Law out of hand just because we don’t like it, because afterall it was at one time God’s Law. With the positive I must add a few constructive criticism of the book but I hope this is not misconstrued to mean that I thought Frame did a poor job. On the contrary, I think it speaks to the quality of the book that my criticisms are few for such a lengthy book: - The book is weaker theologically concerning eschatology and especially the millennial positions. Frame doesn’t get into much of eschatology although I think its worth pursuing by others more systematically the relationship between eschatology and Christian ethics. - The book gave a short treatment on the topic of spiritual growth and I wished he talked more about sanctification but for such a lengthy book that already covered so many areas one can’t really fault John Frame. - A lot of the appendixes were book reviews of works in the 1980s or earlier. Since the book was published in 2008, I thought it would have been nice to see reviews of books that are more recent in publication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Murphy

    As the third book in John M. Frame's Lordship series, this book is a mammoth tome of awesomeness. Even if you disagree with Frame, you will be better for having read it. This installment is about ethics, and (surprise, surprise) it divides everything into three perspectives on the one truth. Ethics can be divided into * the normative or deontological perspective, which is given through laws and commandments * the situational or teleological perspective, which measures actions based on their conse As the third book in John M. Frame's Lordship series, this book is a mammoth tome of awesomeness. Even if you disagree with Frame, you will be better for having read it. This installment is about ethics, and (surprise, surprise) it divides everything into three perspectives on the one truth. Ethics can be divided into * the normative or deontological perspective, which is given through laws and commandments * the situational or teleological perspective, which measures actions based on their consequences, and * the existential or self-oriented perspective, which asks, "What is being true to myself here?" Needless to say, all the view points are necessary and secular ethicists tend to pick one over the others. This leads to bizarre emphases which can makes any one view point seem silly and wrong. But taken all at once, they each have a part to play in our ethical system as Christians. Personally, I find Frame's style very accessible yet incredibly dense. I normally read very quickly, but I had to slow WAY down to get what was being said, and yet I didn't mind at all. It's unbelievable, but Frame has poured an enormous amount of thought into all 1000 pages of this book and it will be well worth your time to read it slowly. If I weren't in class, I would read no more than a chapter a day. I look forward to a more complete reading of the other books in the series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Connor Longaphie

    I found this absolutely painful. So many hours. I wish not to recall so many hours I spent within the covers of this monstrously large and oh so dry textbook. Modern theologians would do well to remember the way that books on matters of divinity were done with a heightened level of devotion and piety to them. Why are all these new theology books the paper comparison of saltine crackers? To comment on the actual content of the book, this does not reflect Presbyterian theology. There is a good rea I found this absolutely painful. So many hours. I wish not to recall so many hours I spent within the covers of this monstrously large and oh so dry textbook. Modern theologians would do well to remember the way that books on matters of divinity were done with a heightened level of devotion and piety to them. Why are all these new theology books the paper comparison of saltine crackers? To comment on the actual content of the book, this does not reflect Presbyterian theology. There is a good reason why frame is read by baptists and the PCA but not the confessional reformed. Even many reformed baptists boycott him. The reason is that he rejects a good chunk of the conclusions, methodology, and mindest of the confessions and those who hold them. That being said it's pretty good as far as it is a very broad brushed reference tool for ethical issues. though it doesn't go perhaps in depth enough on any of them to be useful. That is another issue with many modern books i have been reading for school lately. Don't you authors know that covering thousands of issues with a paragraph for each is completely useful for people in real life? I'm sure you know. Deep down you must know. Stop writing these completely massive books that profit nothing that a quick "got questions" or equivalent evangelical resource can't.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    Though it is an incredible tome, the author's conclusions and permissions concerning the ten commandments are quite often contrary to common sense in places. There are many gold nuggets in here, but there's a lot of pyrite as well, so take everything with a grain of salt.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Craig Hurst

    For those who are familiar with and have enjoyed John Frame’s A Theology of Lordship series this third volume, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, will be a welcome addition. This book deals with the Ten Commandments and their relationship with ethics. While one might not naturally think that the doctrine of the Christian life is summed up or founded in the Ten Commandments, Frame connects the two when he describes the core of the Christian life “as living under God’s law, in God’s world, in the For those who are familiar with and have enjoyed John Frame’s A Theology of Lordship series this third volume, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, will be a welcome addition. This book deals with the Ten Commandments and their relationship with ethics. While one might not naturally think that the doctrine of the Christian life is summed up or founded in the Ten Commandments, Frame connects the two when he describes the core of the Christian life “as living under God’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself (p. 3).” Thus, if the Christian life is lived “under God’s law” and the Ten Commandments are God’s law then the later provides the foundation for the former. Therefore, this book provides the foundation of the Christian life as seen through ethics and should not be seen as an exhaustive treatment of the biblical doctrine of the Christian life. Part One: Introductory Considerations At the outset Frame seeks to define ethics and explain what he sees as its interchangeable relationship to doctrine and theology. Avoiding, though not dismissing, theoretical or propositional definitions, Frame defines these terms in relation to their practical nature. In this light both doctrine and theology are defined as “the application of the Word of God to all areas of life (p. 9).” For Frame “ethics is theology as a means of determining which persons, acts, and attitudes receive God’s blessing and which do not (p. 10).” In the second chapter Frame turns to defining and briefly discussing numerous related terms such as immoral, value, norm, virtue and duty, just to name a few. Frame finishes out section one with the foundation from which he sees ethics in the Christian life – his famed Triperspectivalism. This uniquely honed hermeneutical grid provides the basis for all of Frame’s books in his Theology of Lordship Series. Since this work follows Frame’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, he only briefly describes the triad of lordship attributes which forms his Triperspectivalism. (For those who are not familiar with Frame’s Triperspectivalism I suggest reading his DKG). First, control (situational perspective) focuses on the “situation or problems” the believer finds themselves in (p. 33). Second, authority (normative perspective) deals with what Scripture has to say about the ethical issue at hand. Third, presence (existential perspective) examines the person themselves who must make the decision. Frame ties all three perspectives together nicely as he states, You can’t understand the situation fully until you know what Scripture says about it and until you understand your role in the situation. You can’t understand yourself fully, apart from Scripture or apart from the situation that is your environment. And you don’t understand Scripture unless you can apply it situations and to yourself (p. 34). Part Two: Non-Christian Ethics In part two Frame addresses non-Christian ethics in order to show two things: (1) that they are dependent upon the Bible for their morality (thus they can only operate on borrowed capital) and (2) that despite their attempt to do so, non-Christian ethics efforts at developing ethical/morality structures cannot make good on their promises or account for themselves apart from God and Scripture. There are three major ethical principles from which non-Christian ethicists have attempted to build their ethical theories. First, is the existential principle which states that good actions come from good inner character (p. 50). This principle focuses on the person who must make the ethical decision. Set within Frame’s Triperspectivalism, this correlates with God’s lordship attribute of presence – we are personally responsible to make moral decisions. Second, is the teleological principle which states that a good action maximizes the happiness of living creatures (p. 49). This is to say that good actions bring about good results. This correlates with God’s lordship attribute of control – God has set nature and arranged history in such a way as to bring good results from good actions. Third, is the deontological principle which states that good actions are a response to duty even if they require self-sacrifice (p. 50). Our duties are what should and ought to determine our actions despite the personal loss we might incur. This principle correlates with God’s lordship attribute of authority – it is God who determines what one’s duties are which He has revealed through His Word. Frame is clear that Christians can and must accept these three principles collectively and not separately. Together they form the very fabric of all ethical considerations because they each speak to one of the three aspects within the triperspectival model. Frame asserts, “The God of Scripture is the author of the situation, the Word, and the moral self, so that all three are fully consistent with one another (p. 51).” What Frame critiques about these models are their attempts to build an entire ethical system on just one or two of these principles. In chapters 6-8 Frame deals with each model separately tracing their history of development through their major proponents, laying out their basic arguments, pointing out their positive contributions and then finally showing how they each fail by themselves to provide a coherent and comprehensive ethical model. Part Three: Christian Ethical Methodology Turning from non-Christian attempts to shape an ethical model, Frame takes the three ethical principles and shows “how a Christian ethic provides the basis for ethical decisions that was lacking in non-Christian approaches (p. 131).” Part three Deals with the Triperspectival model as applied to ethics. Section one deals with the Normative Perspective. As mentioned before this perspective deals with what God has said concerning how a person is to act in a certain situation. Naturally we are to begin with God’s means of revealing Himself and His will to us. While “nature and history” (p. 135) have their revelatory value, Frame rightly contends that believers are to look to Scripture (which contains and interprets His revelation in nature and history) for our ethical guidance. As special revelation it “has a unique role within the organism of revelation (p. 141).” Frame lists a number of attributes that describe Scripture’s unique ability to aid the believer in making ethical decisions: it has power and is thus authoritative, it is clear though at times hard to understand, it is comprehensive in that it speaks to all of life, it is necessary in order to make ethical decisions that will please God and it is our sufficient source for finding the written form of God’s spoken revelation (p. 131-75). The final two chapters of this section deal with the laws relationship to grace and the gospel and how we are to apply the law to our ethical decisions. Section two deals with the Situational Perspective. Here we deal with the ethical situation itself. The situational perspective requires a person to acquire as much information as possible in order to know where and how to apply what is gleaned from the normative perspective. “The situational perspective focuses on the use of that extra-biblical data, without forgetting that Scripture provides necessary directions for interpreting and using that data (p. 240).” So what is our ethical situation? Frame suggests that it is comprised of the presence of God, angels, human society, individual existence and nature. Beyond our own situation is the grand meta-narrative we find ourselves in – God’s redemptive history. As the Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This sentence summarizes the situational perspective for Frame. The final section deals with the Existential Perspective. This answers the question of how must I be changed in order to please God. For Frame the central concept here is to understand how man was originally created, what happened to man once he fell and how does redemption fix what was broken. To answer, man was created perfect in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28). At the Fall man fell and the God-bearing image he was created with became marred but was not completely destroyed (Gen. 9:6). Redemption is the process of renewing our broken God-bearing image as we are transformed into the image of Christ (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). “Our ethical struggle, then, is not a struggle to put to death our unregenerate self, but rather to grow as regenerate people (p. 321).” Once a person has been regenerated they now have a clear path to ethical knowledge that they did not have before. This is accomplished through the personal relationship a believer has with God (p. 350). This new ethical knowledge is rooted in ones relationship with God who in turn channels it through our renewed heart, conscience, experiences, reason, will, imagination and emotions. All of these are included because “the whole person is the one who makes ethical decisions, and that the ethical faculties are ways of describing the person as he makes those decisions (p. 361).” Part Four: The Ten Commandments Part Four deals with the Ten Commandments themselves. All but three of the commandments (3rd, 9th & 10th) are covered in two or more chapters. This shows the comprehensive nature of Frame’s work and the wealth of issues the Ten Commandments speak to (though there are more to be addressed than Frame deals with). Before diving into the commandments, Frame briefly discusses some introductory issues. First, as Jesus states in Matt. 22:37-40 love is the virtue which summarizes the Law “which is the center of Biblical ethics (p. 386).” Second, by the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20) God establishes His covenantal relationship with Israel. The Law outlines for Israel how they are to live pleasing lives before God’s presence in the land He has promised them. Their success and presence in the land is determined by how they obey it (Josh. 1:8). Third, Frame lays out what he calls “Decalogical Hermeneutics” (pg. 390). In this Frame follows the eight rules of interpretation as set out by the Larger Catechism with a brief explanation of each. Fourth, Frame demonstrates the unity of the Law. With James 2:10-11 as his base, Frame posits that since breaking one commandment makes one guilty of the whole Law then all of the commandments are interconnected. This is more than just the idea that whether one commits one sin or many sins that makes them a sinner. For Frame this means that in breaking the first commandment you are in some way actually breaking all of the others in a real way. Essentially, each commandment can work its way into all of the others. Each chapter follows the same pattern. First, the relevant questions from the Larger Catechism are stated with their corresponding answer. The questions ask what the duties are for each command (positive) and what sins are forbidden by each command (negative). Second, each command is discussed in its narrow meaning. The narrow meaning deals with the immediate context and foundational idea behind each command. The broad meaning reaches out from narrow meaning into every ethical issue that is related. Admittedly, there are some commands that overlap but this further supports their interconnectedness. Third, woven throughout the discussion of each broad application, Frame discusses relevant ANE practices or writings. Fourth, passages from testaments are brought in to support the Biblical understanding of each command. This speaks to canonical unity of the Ten Commandments. Fifth, most commands are covered in two or more chapters. For those that are covered in two or more chapters, the first chapter deals with what Scripture specifically says about that commandment. The succeeding chapters deal with contemporary applications of each command. This comprises the bulk of part four. Frame’s book is big and very detailed so a chapter by chapter/command by command summary would require a separate review by itself. However, there are some interesting and noteworthy things that can be mentioned here in short and introductory form. First, given the obvious aim of the first four commandments (loving God), Frame unifies them around the concept of worship towards God. “The first commandment deals with the object of worship, the second with the manner of worship, the third with the language of worship, and the fourth with the time of worship (p. 411, emphasis mine).” Whether this is Frame’s unique perspective or not, he makes a convincing case for it. Second, in relation to the second commandment Frame deals a lot with the ethics of idols and images in worship. Clearly idols are prohibited as a means of representing God and as objects we bow down to. What has not always been so clear for some is how we can (if at all) use images, through the use of the arts (i.e. Catholics) that portray biblical concepts or persons within the life of worship of the church and believer. Third, in relation to the fourth commandment, Frame discusses the differing Sabbath views of D.A. Carson (as espoused in his edited book, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day), John Calvin, the Synod of Dort (1618-19), Meredith Kline’s Later view, Meredith Kline’s Earlier view and the Westminster Standards. Frame discusses the creational nature of the Sabbath rest as a basis for its continuance. Frame spends an entire chapter on the relationship of the Sabbath in the New Covenant (chap. 30). Here he deals with Hebrews 3:7-4:13 and Jesus fulfilling the Sabbath rest. He also deals with the transfer from Saturday to Sunday observance. Fourth, it is my personal opinion that Frame’s best contribution in this book is found in his discussion of the fifth commandment. Under the guidance of the Larger Catechism Frame addresses ones relationship to inferiors, superiors and equals (p. 576). Though the fifth commandment deals explicitly with ones relationship to their parents, this relationship no doubt provides the model for how we are to deal with others in all of our relationships. Chapter 33 deals with men and women. First, men and women are both made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). As such they both have the same human nature – they have the same humanness. They are both given the task of filling, forming/subduing and having dominion/authority over the earth (Gen. 1:28). Second, though they both image God and thus share the same basic nature, they also image God in their own way. “I do believe that our sexual qualities, like all other human qualities, image God (p. 627).” There is a communal nature to man’s imaging God. In order to have a community there must be more than one. The community of people that God created in His image consists foundationally of one man and one woman. Thus, each person images God individually and communally as they work together in the relationship that God made them for (p. 627). Frame goes on to discuss men’s and women’s roles in the home (p. 630-35) and the church (p. 635-44). Fifth, in addressing the practical implications of the sixth commandment, Frame discusses how it relates to war and punishment. In reference to punishment Frame offers three alternative suggestions to prison for certain crimes. First, crimes like theft should not be punishable by prison but rather, “The primary penalty for theft should be that the thief work to repay the victim, if necessary in a kind of forced apprenticeship labor. Double restitution is strict justice: the thief looses what he sought to gain (p. 699). Second, he does not believe the possession of small amounts of drugs should result in imprisonment (p. 700). Third, Frame goes so far as to support public beatings as they “are of great deterrent value, and they are preferable to prison sentences in that they deal with the issue quickly and do not expose the offender to prison culture (p. 700).” Part Five: Christ and Culture Part five deals with the nature of culture as a biblical concept and how redemption through Christ affects culture. Frame defines culture as “anything that human beings work to achieve (p. 854).” The cultural mandate is God’s charge to man to fill and rule the earth (Gen. 1:27). Frame briefly discusses Niebuhr’s famed five cultural categories, sides with the “Christ the Transformer of Culture” position (p. 874) which no doubt reflects his postmillennial eschatology. The rest of the chapter summarizes various influential cultural thinkers like Francis Schaeffer, David Wells and Van Til. I highly recommend The Doctrine of the Christian Life as a standard reference book for ethics due to its comprehensive nature and clear Biblical foundation. Frame is characteristically clear and practically minded even in his heady discussions of non-Christian ethical methods.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    This was a very big book. Completes my reading of Frame’s 4 volume “Theology of Lordship” series. Basically outlines a Christian ethical approach based on tri-perspectivalism. An ethical situation can be evaluated from a normative, situational, and existential perspective. These three perspectives correspond to the three main ethical schools of thought today - deontological, teleological (utilitarian), and existentialist. From there, he unpacks the Decalogue in detail, always cross referencing T This was a very big book. Completes my reading of Frame’s 4 volume “Theology of Lordship” series. Basically outlines a Christian ethical approach based on tri-perspectivalism. An ethical situation can be evaluated from a normative, situational, and existential perspective. These three perspectives correspond to the three main ethical schools of thought today - deontological, teleological (utilitarian), and existentialist. From there, he unpacks the Decalogue in detail, always cross referencing The Westminster Confession of Faith. Because the 10 commandments have both a narrow and broad meaning, each chapter explores both the narrow meaning and it’s broad applications. For example, the 8th commandment has broad application such as tithing (wherein failure to tithe in the Old Testament is considered a violation of the command since your are robbing God). Or even idolatry broadly speaking is considered to be a violation of the 8th commandment because you are robbing God of his glory. In other words, the broad application has reference to all of life, and therefore any sin whatsoever (which of course flows from exalting something over God - idolatry) is actually a violation of the 8th commandment. For this reason, Frame covers a broad range of topics which some readers may be surprised to discover flow from the 10 commandments. Frame’s discussion of the Sabbath command was of particular help to me, but also had very illuminating discussions of slavery, racism, poverty and wealth, abortion, the basis for the state and it’s relationship to the church and family, the regulative principle for worship, and his discussion on lying was helpful. For a big book over 1,000 pages, this is an easy book to read, not bogged down with a lot of technical jargon. It is heavily grounded in the Bible. What a very useful book to have on hand.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sean McGowan

    Excellent book! I cannot say enough about how helpful this book was. Very thorough and very clear. I would recommend everyone to take the time to read this, even if you do not agree with everything in it. Frame is very good at laying out his case from Scripture. It’s massive (1000+ pages) but worth it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dallas Vaughn

    Wow! It took about 4 months of reading 5-10 pages a day to get through this beast of a book (~1000 pages), but it was worth it. This is one of my new favorite books in the category of "Christian Living." I recommend this to ANYONE willing to have the patience to work through it a page at a time. For me, it was both intellectually challenging AND life-changing!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cbarrett

    Typical Frame - thorough, seemingly exhaustive, enlightening, and even when you disagree with an application of ethic you are still the better for reading it. It is a massive book, but I was fortunate to have a head start on it since you could get the Word document from Frame's class notes website (just search "Hall of Frame" on Google and it will take you to the reformedperspectives website). Before this book was published he had the rough draft up...not sure if it is still available, although Typical Frame - thorough, seemingly exhaustive, enlightening, and even when you disagree with an application of ethic you are still the better for reading it. It is a massive book, but I was fortunate to have a head start on it since you could get the Word document from Frame's class notes website (just search "Hall of Frame" on Google and it will take you to the reformedperspectives website). Before this book was published he had the rough draft up...not sure if it is still available, although his syllabus for the class is. Anyway, his treatment of the Ten Commandments and the ethical questions that pertain to each is superb. He addresses the meaning of the commandment, what is required and what is prohibited and then goes on to specifically address contemporary issues related to each. For example, he deals with topics such as divorce and remarriage, polygamy, etc in relation to the seventh commandment as well as the issues of birth control. Sixth commandment finds Frame addressing prison, capital punishment, war, pacifism, and just war theory as well as abortion, death, euthanasia, health and safety issues like alcohol, tobacco, health and exercise. Eighth Commandment he addresses wealth, poverty in the covenant community, world poverty, and homelessness. These are just some popular contemporary issues to intrigue. The book follows Frame's Triperspectivalism for which he is known. The Normative perspective touches on God's revelation. The Situational perspective touches on our ethical situation (God, the angels, human society, natural environment) and redemptive history. This points to our ultimate end: the glory of God and the enjoyment of Him forever. The Existential perspective touches on goodness and being; our motivations, etc. Frame also has an extensive section on Christ and Culture. Frame is a transformationalist in his view (to use Niebuhr's categories). Overall a helpful resource. Again, you won't agree with Frame on everything, but I don't think agreement is his goal. He does want the believer to think through every area of life and he wants the believer to think it through biblically. Frame helps the believer do that in this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark A Powell

    Frame’s four-volume “Theology of Lordship” series continues with a look at the Christian life—the doctrine and ethics that inform daily affairs and practical matters. Yet Frame emphatically points out that worship is just as much a Christian ethic, if not more so, than many other issues. Using the Ten Commandments as a framework, Frame’s discussion is repetitive (and surprisingly tedious) at times, but his writing remains engaging and his ability to extrapolate truth profoundly helpful.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Moses

    Excellent systematic examination of the Christian life. It benefits from a conversational writing style and a good dose of humility on Frame's part. I can't remember any serious disagreements I had with the old codger. Yet another Theology book that improves the heart as well as the mind.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eric Sauder

    Excellent and exhaustive treatment of Christian ethics. Over 450 pages of the book is devoted to the 10 commandments. Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Achord

    Imagine a very large steak, mildly seasoned.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Roberts

    The oft-repeated critique from Roman Catholics that Protestants are “Bible worshipers” is simply unfounded, but if Frame was the paradigm for all Protestants then I would understand the charge much more. Frame all but denies natural theology in this volume (he certainly affirms natural theology but it functionally doesn’t matter at all for him). This makes his section on artificial reproduction extremely odd and alarming. He also appears to be a contrarian to all things he supposes to be “TR.” S The oft-repeated critique from Roman Catholics that Protestants are “Bible worshipers” is simply unfounded, but if Frame was the paradigm for all Protestants then I would understand the charge much more. Frame all but denies natural theology in this volume (he certainly affirms natural theology but it functionally doesn’t matter at all for him). This makes his section on artificial reproduction extremely odd and alarming. He also appears to be a contrarian to all things he supposes to be “TR.” Several times he goes off on a rabbit trail that left me wondering why he wasted pages on something so minute and unnecessary. On that subject, this book does not need to be 1,000 pages. He could’ve said the same in one or two hundred pages less. Perhaps that is a hallmark for Frame but this is the first book of his I have read. Overall, about 1/3 of this is really good, 1/3 is standard, and 1/3 is intellectually frustrating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Great book on ethics. Frame advocates a tri-perspectival approach to nearly every topic discussed - the normative, existential and situational - and divides the book as such. It's philosophical, but not hard to understand. It's practical, offering a method for making ethical decisions that is rooted in Scripture. In section 2, it takes this method and analyzes the ethical teaching of the 10 Commandments. Section 3 evaluates it in relation to Christ and human culture. Very helpful read and recomm Great book on ethics. Frame advocates a tri-perspectival approach to nearly every topic discussed - the normative, existential and situational - and divides the book as such. It's philosophical, but not hard to understand. It's practical, offering a method for making ethical decisions that is rooted in Scripture. In section 2, it takes this method and analyzes the ethical teaching of the 10 Commandments. Section 3 evaluates it in relation to Christ and human culture. Very helpful read and recommended for those who like big (helpful) books!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie Winterton

    This is definitely an academically challenging book, but a very helpful one for a serious student who wants to learn how to think about Christian ethics. I love how Frame tends to offer several viewpoints and is willing to simply come down wherever he believes the Scripture lands. More importantly Dr. Frame helps teach how to think about ethics and not just what to think.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Martin Beamer

    Although I think Frame can be (I think) inconsistent with his own process and come across a little brash, this book was amazing. The best authors tell you what they think and do not apologize for thinking they are correct. It forces the reader to truly interact with them. Even though I don't agree with him on all points, I greatly appreciated the depth and force of his writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Stilley

    Some theology books are meant to be studied, others are meant to be read and enjoyed. This is a book that satisfies both of those itches. It's a great book. Those from a Reformed tradition will appreciate it most, because of the author's assumptions, but it is a book for all Christians.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josh Shelton

    Excellent! Frame is certainly one of my favorite theologians now having read this series, it will rank among the best I've ever read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Watson

    The most thorough book on ethics, philosophy, and the law of God that I've ever had the pleasure to dig into. 1,100 pages of helpful, readable, thoughtful material. I highly recommend this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nate Weis

    A lot of really helpful stuff here. Used it to study for my ethics class.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Coram Deo Church

    The Doctrine of the Christian Life is not available at local libraries, however, a free excerpt can be found here: https://frame-poythress.org/ebooks/ The Doctrine of the Christian Life is not available at local libraries, however, a free excerpt can be found here: https://frame-poythress.org/ebooks/

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Nadeau

    Ethics volume in Frame's "Theology of Lordship" series. Don't agree with it all, but very good

  26. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Love this guy's perspective! Read for RTS -- Pastoral and Social Ethics

  27. 5 out of 5

    Greg Baughman

    This was my first foray into Frame's writings. He makes quite a first impression. This book is clear, lucid, surprisingly accessible, and everywhere helpful. I love the clear layout of the book. His triperspectivalism was both helpful and clearly applied. He uses Scripture well and copiously. His exposition of the Law is very helpful, and he applies the Decalogue (and related Scriptures) to a diverse array of current questions. In a book this long, (and it is long) one is bound to find plenty of This was my first foray into Frame's writings. He makes quite a first impression. This book is clear, lucid, surprisingly accessible, and everywhere helpful. I love the clear layout of the book. His triperspectivalism was both helpful and clearly applied. He uses Scripture well and copiously. His exposition of the Law is very helpful, and he applies the Decalogue (and related Scriptures) to a diverse array of current questions. In a book this long, (and it is long) one is bound to find plenty of things with which to disagree. I found some instances where I either disagreed or was unwilling to go quite as far as he. I almost universally agreed on his principles, but, and this happens in ethics, as things become more specific I found myself diverging from Frame somewhat (likely to my own peril, to be sure). This was a great read, and I'll use it again. I'm going to try to read more of Frame's works. I appreciate his approach (willing to question tradition in light of Scripture while valuing the tradition highly). For those intimidated by the size of the book, the chapters while many are quite short. Thus, this book makes a great reference work. For instance, you may wonder what the Bible has to say about theft. You can find the corresponding chapter and find a solid, self-contained article. Frame is good at summarizing what has come before, so this approach will rarely (if ever) leave you feeling lost. He is also an excellent writer. This book may be 1100 pages, but it doesn't feel like it. It reads quickly (relatively speaking). One final note, bonus points to P&R for the great binding. It's hard to keep a book of this size together, and they did an outstanding job.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric Pruitt

    This book is incredible! Much of my understanding of ethics was shaped by this book. Frame is thorough and practical in fleshing out the implications of the ten commandments.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dónal Walsh

    Read this for Ethics class at Reformed Theological Seminary. Honestly wasn’t massively excited about the subject, but complete turn around by the end of the semester, hugely thanks to this book. Love it and I would say essential reading for every pastor or teacher or counselor in any church/ministry setting. Love that Frame gives you a biblical model for ethics, not just telling you his opinions on what he thinks is good or not. So it helps you think through any issue too, even those not covered Read this for Ethics class at Reformed Theological Seminary. Honestly wasn’t massively excited about the subject, but complete turn around by the end of the semester, hugely thanks to this book. Love it and I would say essential reading for every pastor or teacher or counselor in any church/ministry setting. Love that Frame gives you a biblical model for ethics, not just telling you his opinions on what he thinks is good or not. So it helps you think through any issue too, even those not covered in the book. That said he covers a lot of issues, through a broad application of the Ten Commandments. The book also covers other things like Christ and culture debates (so helpful), the relationship of law and the gospel, secular ethics and is pitfalls and others. The book is long alright but a page turner so you get through it no problem. While I would be more Baptistic than Frame, what strikes me is throughout the book he is balanced, fair, generous towards other Christians and exudes the best of what Reformed theology should offer: those with a mind for truth and a heart for God. Read this book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Excellent into to Christian ethics. Frame is extraordinarily thorough and methodical, yet his writing style always kept me interested. I didn't agree with everything he argued, bit as others have also said, I feel that thinking through his points always helped me better grasp the concepts. I also believe Frame was fair in examining other viewpoints throughout the work. The book may look intimidating because of its size, but the chapters are very manageable. I highly recommend this book for those Excellent into to Christian ethics. Frame is extraordinarily thorough and methodical, yet his writing style always kept me interested. I didn't agree with everything he argued, bit as others have also said, I feel that thinking through his points always helped me better grasp the concepts. I also believe Frame was fair in examining other viewpoints throughout the work. The book may look intimidating because of its size, but the chapters are very manageable. I highly recommend this book for those studying ethics and the 10 commandments. (though an ebook would have been nice because it is so heavy.)

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