During my last year of studies at Dallas Seminary, I discovered John Frame’s triperspectival approach to theology. I can’t remember exactly how, but I think it was by going downstream from Cornelius Van Til, who is shall we say, difficult to follow sometimes. I remember sitting in a Starbucks while visiting Orlando on Christmas break and reading Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought. This would lead to reading other books by Frame like his festschrift, which has great advice for young theologians, among other things (part 1, part 2, part 3) and finding an epistemological structure for my Th.M thesis.
In a touch of irony I suppose, we ended up moving to Orlando and I was able to meet with Frame a couple of times to ask thesis related questions (and once to return a letter I found that Wayne Grudem wrote him). Oh, and I eventually ended up working at that Starbucks for a few months.
In the past, I’ve introduced people to Frame’s triperspectivalism through reading his Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Shortly after moving to Orlando and getting involved in college ministry, I even led a book club through it. Outside of some articles online, there wasn’t really a concise way to get the basics of triperspectivalism down. This changed a bit when P&R published his collected short writings (one, two, and three), which I’ll tell you about in a different post since they sent them to me for review.
As you might have guessed from the picture, this is about Frame’s most recent Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance, which P&R also graciously sent me for review (and which you can get a great deal on through the link). It is a great short read that not only lays out the basics of Frame’s theological method, but can serve as a nice entry point into his larger body of writing.
The book, not counting the glossary and back matter, packs 8 chapters into slightly under 100 pages. The first two chapters discuss perspectives in a general sense, and then a particular sense as it relates to the Trinity. The following two chapters discuss perspectives in relation to the persons of the Trinity and the gospel, and then moves from theology to a more general discussion knowledge. The next three chapters explain the three perspectives that Frame uses:
- The Normative perspective
- The Situational perspective
- The Existential perspective
Having explained each perspective itself in detail, the book closes with examples of how they can be used to organize knowledge. This is true both in the classroom and in everyday experience. Frame even uses it in a few examples of reading Scripture triperspectivally.
For readers who have read Frame’s other books, there is not much new content here. I found it a good refresher and appreciated that there were well written questions for review and reflection at the end of each chapter. Because of that, this is a much more ideal book for a book club type gathering (or in my case, probably a textbook for next year). Rather than try to explain the method to people, I can just say, here, let’s read this book together.
At this point, you may be wondering yourself what the perspectives are and how they work. While I could explain it in detail here, I’d prefer to leave you intrigued about it all and encourage you to buy the book for yourself. Because of the nature of what this book is (a concise explanation), it doesn’t really need a summary in a review like this.
If that’s not good enough for you, I have a table of contents here, which gives you a roundup of how I’ve used it in my thinking, including how I’ve applied it to watching movies. But at the end of the day, you’re going to want to just pick up a copy of Frame’s book and start your own triperspectival journey into theology.