A History of Western Philosophy and Theology (1/4)

John Frame has written a masterpiece with this work. When I think of a book on philosophy, exciting is rarely used to describe it. Yet, I have to say, I was truly exciting to received this book for reviewing. I’ve been helped by Frame’s writing in the past and was pleasantly surprised when I saw this book coming out soon after his systematic theology textbook was out. How does John Frame manages to write so much so fast?

A History of Western Philosophy and TheologyI’ve yet to completed this book, but so far based on whatever I’ve read. I’m glad to say this book is a book that any beginners in philosophy can use. Frame takes the readers through the various philosophies and philosophers of the different ages. He explores what they teach and more importantly, examines what the bible has to say about their philosophies. The first chapter by frame is excellent and ought to be a required reading for any christian taking philosophy. He examines and defines the terms he will use within the book, and introduces the distinctive presuppositional apologetics perspective to the readers. He explains to the readers that different between the christian and non-christian understanding of philosophies.

Having done that, Frame then guides the readers along starting with the greek philosophy. What i found extremely helpful was how Frame covers some philosophers that are not often covered in other textbooks. This includes the early church fathers and the recent christian philosophers. Being a christian philosophy book, Frame certainly focuses on the christians philosophers. But Frame also interacts with the big guns of philosophy, such as Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein.

Readers will also be pleased to know that this book complements the RTS course on philosophy taught by Frame, which is available free online. Frame has given christians a good alternative textbook on philosophy, albeit it can be skewed towards the christian side. It is still an excellent textbook for anyone who wants to hear the christian perspective on philosophy. This book is certainly worth the price you pay for it. Recommend for any christian who is interested in philosophy and also for pastors who have people in their congregation who studies philosophies in college. You will find help in this book.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested you can get it here and here (free international shipping).

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. As an alternative, Revolutions in Worldview: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought is a good one book that covers general philosophical thoughts. Get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief (5/11)

John Frame has been a strong proponent to the presuppositional apologetics. The new edition of the book hopes to make presuppositional apologetics easier to christian to understand and to pick up.

Book Review - Apologetics: A Justification of Christian BeliefFrame attempts in his first chapter to explain and make a case for presuppositional apologetics. He answers very clearly some of the common questions raised against presuppositional apologetics but also how we are to understand the terms thrown away by the critics. Frame hopes that by doing so, he would not only answer the critics, but also ensure that the critics would criticise presuppositional apologetics fairly.

Although this is not an easy book to read, I have found Frame’s explanation extremely helpful at times. For example, In explaining why we cannot starting on the same premise as an unbeliever or an atheist, Frame uses the illustration a paranoid who suspects everyone who is out to kill him (i.e. wrong premise). Now no one in their right mind will ever counsel this person with the same premise, so why would we do that when it comes to apologetics? Why would we be so willing to give up our premise and take on the premise of the other person? Furthermore, unless the christian worldview is assume, there will always be contradiction in our lives that goes against any other premise. The only way that makes sense of the world is the Christian premise.

An additional point on why I found this book helpful. Many books on apologetics focuses on the defence of the gospel, which is good and right. However many fail to see that apologetics can also take on an offensive approach. This is covered by Frame which shows convincingly that the task of an apologist, is not only to show the strength of his/her belief, but also to who the weakness of the other party’s belief.

I also like how Frame gives an example of he shared the gospel to someone on the plane.I found that the example shows how he would approach the questions or objections an unbeliever would have towards christianity and how he employs the defence and offence of the gospel.

Regarding the changes between the first and second edition, I’ve only read parts of the first edition. And based on what I’ve read (and if memory serves me right), I did not observe too many changes between the two edition. Readers will have to seek advice from other reviewers who have read both editions for more information on this.

I do urge would-be readers to be persistent in reading this book. You might not find this book easy to read the first time round. But take it one step at a time, read and think through the book slowly. I think the book is aimed especially towards those who are currently studying in college or have studied at college. This will not be a walk in the park, but it will certainly help you think through apologetics slowly, thoughtfully and biblically.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. I would also recommend Covenantal Apologetics as an alternative to this book. Get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle

Book Review – John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 2 (11/6)

I’ve always like the writing of John Frame and have learnt much from him, so it was with great joy to see a 2nd volume of his shorter writing being published. And after reading it, I felt that this was even better than the first volume. I remember two issues I raised in my previous review on the first volume, one being that some essays were really short, and the second on the how there were only 3 essays on apologetics. I happy to say that this volume addresses both my issues.

John Frame Shorter Writing, Volume 2Readers will easily notice that is volume is even thicker than the first volume. This is due to the number of chapters included in this book. A total of 35 chapters can be found in this book!

I have found 2 sections that were especially helpful and thought-provoking in this volume. First, I enjoyed Frame’s critic on the current seminary system. He points out very relevant things that are happening in the seminaries currently. For example, Frame raises the issue of accreditation. This is an area which many seminaries (and students) see as an important issue, but Frame reminds the readers that the main aim of seminaries is not to be accredited by an external party. Rather the main aim of the seminary has always been, and will remain to be, to train pastors who will be thoroughly equipped for the work ahead. Similarly, Frame highlights in another chapter how seminaries might have almost certainly been training it’s students to be research article writers through their multiple submission of research articles. However, this will not necessarily translate down to train good pastoral pastors. They are simply too ill-equipped for pastoral work.

The other section that I found was extremely enlightening and informative was the apologetics section. 7 chapters have been devoted to this topic, with 4 of them focused on Cornelius Van Til. Within these chapters I have found them to be an excellent introduction to the works and thoughts of Van Til, and will certainly help those who are new to Van Til.

Equally enlightening was the section on church. Frame uses his theological knowledge and offers some pastoral advice on the issues of the church. Most of the chapters within this section are quite short, but will suffice to whet your appetite on these issues.

All in all, I have thorough enjoyed reading through this book and have found it to be even better than the first volume. If you have read the first volume, you surely must get the 2nd volume. For those who are totally new to John Frame, either volumes will be a good introduction. But for seminary students or would be seminary students, I would recommend you start at the 2nd volume.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings (21/6)

Books

If you have been in the reformed circles long enough, you would have surely came across the name John Frame. Frame has often been praised for his lucidness, but frankly when I first tried to read his books (AGG, SBL), I went away rather confused. So it was with trepidation and a deeper desire to be better able to appreciate this theologian that I took up the task of reading this book. And boy was I glad I that made this decision.87317

The book starts with an essay on (tri)Perspectivalism, a great introduction to the distinctiveness of the way John Frame approaches theology. This essay is the best short introduction to the famed tri-perspectivalism and it is apt that the book begins with this particular essay.

The first two sections spend the majority of the time dealing with the theological topics that are the forte of Frame. In it, Frame raises many basic yet important and thoughtful questions that spurs the readers to become better exegetes (see his essay on what the bible does not say, in particular) and to think more deeply and thoughtfully over theology.

Following which, the next section discusses about apologetics — another area of his forte. It is however regrettably a little too short! (only 3 essays on it). One would have wish that the second volume would hopefully have more articles on this topic. Following which, some essays on the topic of ethics and worship. These chapters, I feel were a mix bag, some were really good, (see his Family, Church and State: A Triperspectival Approach), some were just his responses to reviews, which probably helps you understand his DCL better.

Lastly, it ends off with some personal essays about the author himself, letting the readers take a sneak peek into the life of the author and a list of 100 books that have most influenced him.

Overall, I found that the chapters were not evenly spread, some were long, some were really, really short, which seems odd even for a book titled “Shorter writings”, one would have wished that John Frame could have expanded some of the shorter ones to make this volume “fuller”. Even so, the short articles were often insightful and perceptive, many a times after reading a few paragraphs, one is made to pause and ponder over what was written. And I think, one of the greatest gains from reading this book is that one would surely begin to think more “perspectivally” after reading it.

This book is surely recommended to the younger or newer audience who hopes to dip into John Frame but fear his larger and more challenging works. May this be the first stepping stone towards reading more of Frame for yourself.

Rating 4.25/5

Get yours here and here (free international shipping)

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Resources on Christian Ethics (22/5)

Chance upon 2 really helpful resources for those who would like to dive into the topic of Christian Ethics.

First, the lectures of John Feinberg.

Here’s a preview on the first lecture.

And if you’re interested, this is the textbook he wrote for this topic

Second, a huge excerpts of the doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame (essentially a textbook on Christian ethics)