The Reformed Faith & The Progress of Theology

Frame picThese are helpful things to consider:

Our concept of theology as application will help us form a better view of theological progress. Theology progresses as it learns to apply God’s word to each situation it encounters, and we have seen evidence of that throughout church history. The great strides in theological understanding come about when the church creatively and faithfully responds to difficult situations on the basis of Scripture.

The Reformed faith is especially well-equipped to make theological progress. In the Reformed faith, the concept of application is not a threat to sola scriptura, because Calvinists believe in a comprehensive revelation of God in Scripture, the world, and the self. Everything reveals him, for everything is under his control, authority, presence. Nor ought Calvinists to be burdened with any demand for absolute precision or objectivity. The Reformed faith has a clear view of the Creator-creature distinction; only God has perfectly precise and perfectly objective knowledge (though even for him, such knowledge is not devoid of subjectivity)…

Reformed theology has also made exceptional progress in the more common sense of learning new things from Scripture. These discoveries too, however, our applications or contextualizations, answers to current questions. Lutheran theology has not changed very much since the seventeenth century, nor has Arminian theology. But Calvinism has developed new understandings of the covenants, of redemptive history, of biblical inerrancy, of apologetics, of theological encyclopedia, and of the relationships of Christianity to politics, economics, education, the arts, literature, history, science, and law. That progress has come about because belief in the sovereignty of God sets the Calvinist free to explore the fullness of God’s revelation in Scripture and creation.

-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God307-308


Posted on February 27, 2013, in John Frame and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dr. Frame, would you be able to give some specifics, or links that explain some of the specifics?

  2. Sadly too often those who embrace the Reformed Christian faith are perceived or mis-perceived to being locked in the past . Contrary being anchored in the Word of God, secure in His sovereignty, the Christian is ever more free to progress in applying his faith to all areas of life as they present themselves. Praise God for a living Faith.

  3. An example of engaging in the covenants and redemptive history might be the incorporation of new light from something like Suzerain-Vassal treaties.

    However, there would have to have been biblical scholars (read Biblical Studies) scholars who identify with a Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, or Orthodox tradition who would have written on such a subject in Biblical Studies journals. Could it be said that Reformed Theology has done a better job of incorporating insights from Biblical Studies into Systematic Theology? Would Pratt’s example of having the gadfly of Biblical Theology moving the horse of Systematic Theology apply here?

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