I love everything that John Frame writes. This guy has changed the way I think about all of life! Frame has written so many wonderful, biblical, and practical works, but most of them are too thick for my generation. That’s not a knock on him, rather it’s a slam on my weak willed Millennial cohorts. But Frame has finally given us a book that’s not 500 pages so I can introduce my friends, family, and those I lead in ministry to Triperspectivalism!
Triperspectivalism is a theory of knowledge that views all of life from three perspectives, the normative, the situational, and the existential. He’s developed this theory through meditating on what he calls God’s “lordship attributes”. God is in control (situational perspective), God has authority (normative perspective), God is present (existential perspective). Though he is slowly admitting more and more that it’s somehow grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity.
Frame also finds the roots of his discovery of Triperspectivalism in his mentor, Cornelius Van Til, and his “goal, standard, and motive” ethical triad. But he also gives credit to his former student- and now colleague- Vern Poythress. Poythress began developing a view he calls “Multiperspectivalism” (which is the same as Frame’s Triperspectivalism) around the same time as Frame, so they both give one another equal credit for the theory. But I digress.
Frame has expounded on and further developed his theory throughout years of teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary, but in 1987, The Doctrine of The Knowledge of God, hit the scene as one of his first publications. This was his first major piece on Triperspectivalism. He’s also written, Perspectives on the Word Of God, in 1999 and a short piece called, A Primer on Perspectivalism which can be found in Volume One of his Selected Shorter Writings . While those works are fantastic, DKG can seem daunting coming in at 437 pages, and the other two are a bit too short. With Theology in Three Dimensions, He’s finally produced a clear, coherent, and persuasive work for the Goldie Locks Evangelicals; this one’s jjjjuuuusssttttt right!
Coming in at 107 pages, Theology In Three Dimensionsis more meaty than his primers, and more distilled than his DKG.
Frame is a professor, a fact that’s blatantly obvious by his clarity and his helpful aids at the end of each chapter. He includes questions for review and reflection, a glossary of words you should know, and a list of books “for further reading”.
Reading Frame will change the way you think. His Triperspectivalism will provide hooks for you to hang certain doctrines on, it will help you analyze the history of theology and philosophy, and it will give you a greater appreciation for God’s eternal nature as it’s made evident to us in creation. Literally, you’ll be seeing Framean triads everywhere!
This short book is precisely what the subtitle subjects: “A guide to Triperspectivalism and it’s significance”. As he let’s you in on his thought process, you’ll wonder how you could be so blind for so long. Take knowledge itself for instance, Frame explains that, “For knowledge to exist, there must be facts (the subject matter we seek to know), minds able to know those facts, and norms or rules for determining when the mind has correctly identified and interpreted the facts. In our triperspectival understanding, the facts represent the situational perspective, the mind the existential perspective, and the norms the normative perspective.” (pg. 45). Yeah, it’s obvious now once he explains it, but you didn’t think of that before you read it. This is what Frame does!
I heartily recommend Theology in Three Dimensions to everyone who wants to know more about God and His creation!
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