A conversation with John Frame

BENYOLA: How will reading your latest book, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, help the average Christian to understand the events that caused us to arrived where we are as a civilization?

FRAME: Of course there is more to civilization than just philosophy, but philosophy seems to direct the course of a lot of other things — art, culture, politics, etc. The present civilization can be understood from the facts that the culture has rejected the Christian worldview and has adopted in its place various kinds of moral relativism, statism, sexual license, and so on.

BENYOLA: What do you undertake when you write a volume like Systematic Theology?

FRAME: Well, I think the main impetus is my teaching. I want to have good textbooks in the class. Usually there’s no textbook already written that covers exactly what I want to cover and the way I want to do it. So I start out by lecturing and then I reduce the lecture to lecture outlines, and then after a while, it seems I get to know the material well enough that I can draw other sources into the discussion. That enables me to write a book and that’s the way it usually goes.

BENYOLA: How did you get this endorsement from J.I. Packer?

FRAME: I have nothing to do with the endorsements. I have an old friend who was one of my first students at Westminster way back in the ’60s, and he’s now living in Montana, working for P&R Publishing. He shepherds books from the submission of the manuscript to the point of publication. One of the things he does is get endorsements from famous people. He usually asks me who I want to get to do that, and I say I don’t know any of these people, and I sure don’t want to write them and ask them to recommend my book. So he gets to work and he knows everybody.

BENYOLA: I wonder if J.I. Packer read all this.

FRAME: Well, Packer is sort of the “uber-puffer” of all the theologians writing. He has written more blurbs than anybody I know. Somebody asked him that once, if he read everything that he blurbed, and he was really quite offended that anyone would suggest that he would write a blurb of a book that he hadn’t read. So we take his word for it, that he’s read that book, and he’s read my Systematic Theology, and he’s read everything else that he’s recommended.

BENYOLA: Is this basically a summary of lectures? How was this compiled?

FRAME: No, because I haven’t lectured on all the systematic disciplines. It is a summary of lectures in the areas I’ve taught, which are the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Scripture.

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