John Frame on the Fundamentals of Evangelical Theology

In his article titled “Introduction to the Reformed Faith,” John Frame helpfully delineates the core beliefs of Evangelical theology:

What are the main beliefs of evangelical theology? An evangelical, in my definition, is one who professes historic Protestant theology. That includes the following beliefs:

(1) God is a person, infinitely wise, just, good, true and powerful, the ultimate reality, exclusively deserving religious worship and unquestioning obedience, who made the world out of nothing.

(2) Man, made in the image of God, willfully disobeyed God’s command, and thereby became worthy of death. From that time on, all human beings save Jesus Christ have been guilty of sin before God.

(3) Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man. He was (literally, really) born of a virgin. He worked miracles. He fulfilled prophecy. He suffered and died for our sin, bearing its guilt and penalty. He was raised physically from the dead. He will come again (literally, physically) to gather his people and to judge the world.

(4) Salvation from sin comes to us not by our good works, but by receiving the free gift of God by faith. Saving faith receives the sacrifice of Christ as our sacrifice, as our only basis for fellowship with God. And such saving faith inevitably motivates us to obedience.

(5) Scripture is the word of God, which makes us wise unto salvation.

(6) Prayer is not mere meditation or self-improvement, but a genuine conversation with our creator and redeemer. In prayer we praise God, give thanks, ask forgiveness, and make requests which bring concrete changes in the world.

Given these essentials, Frame calls for a measure of theological humility with regard to those with which Reformed evangelicals have typically differed from:

These statements might be called “the fundamentals of the faith.” They represent the central biblical gospel, and on that gospel, Reformed people are united with all evangelicals. It hurts me when I hear Reformed people saying that “we have nothing in common with Arminians.” In fact, we have the biblical gospel in common with them, and that is a great deal. I would certainly argue that Arminian theology is not consistent with that gospel. But I cannot doubt that most of them believe that gospel from the heart.

We would do well to listen to Frame’s admonition.

For Frame’s own exposition on these (and other) doctrines, see his intro to Systematic Theology:

Posted on June 30, 2012, in John Frame, Theological Studies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m surprised that the “Trinity” is not included, and the Spirit is not mentioned. Obviously, you can’t include everything in such a short statement, but Trinity does seem to be an important factor distinguishing evangelical Christianity from Mormonism, for example.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Bill. Knowing John as I do I’m convinced that the Trinity is implied in point 1 under “God is a person.” In order for God’s personhood not to be dependent upon his creation God must be personal within himself. As Scripture teaches, God is more than merely personal, he’s tri-personal. I believe this is developed in Frame’s Doctrine of God. But I agree with you in wishing that it were more explicit in this list.

  3. Any excerpts by Dr. Frame, should be preceded by explaining his multi-perspectivalism concept, which is a trinity: control, authority, and presence. God, the Father in control, Jesus Christ the son in authority ( at the right hand interceding), God, the Holy Spirit present (bringing prayers to Jesus). Dr. Frame takes very difficult concepts and makes them much clearer, when viewed through his multi-perspectival view.

  4. Where did he get his doctorate?

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