Short Review of John Frame’s “Apologetics to the Glory of God”

This is a short one-page review; there were things I appreciated about Frame’s book, but given the short nature of the review, I filled it with what I saw as problems in his work.

Right on the first page, Frame gives away what I believe to be his tendency to eisegete the Biblical text. He uses 1 Peter 3:15-16 as his premier verse for apologetics, pointing out that apologetics may be defined as, “the discipline that teaches Christians how to give a reason for their hope” (p. 1). While at first glance, this might not seem to show any tendency toward eisegesis, it becomes clearer as Frame moves farther into his explanation. “In the larger context, Peter is telling his readers to do what is right, despite the opposition of unbelievers (vv. 13-14). He tells us not to fear them. Surely it was not his view that in apologetics we should set forth something less than the truth, out of fear that the truth itself might be rejected” (p. 6). But I believe Frame is seeing what he wants to see here, and is reading apologetics into this verse. Yes, the Greek term ἀπολογία is present in verse 15, but the context is not “Apologetics” as we know it today. Rather it is just this: a non-believer sees a Christian suffering and that the Christian suffers and yet still has hope, therefore the non-believer asks the Christian, “what is the reason for your hope?” The answer is CHRIST! Not some proof for why God exists! But Frame seems to believe this text to be some manual for “defending” the faith. But Peter is not talking of a “defense” in some debate terms here, rather just plain giving a reason for why we as Christians have hope in the mist of persecution. It is not complex, it is not presuppositional apologetics; it is just a simple answer to a non-believer’s question. Frame has a system, “Modern Apologetics,” and therefore he goes to Scripture to defend his system, rather than going to Scripture and model his practice after Scripture. Frame’s desire is to read “Apologetics” into the Bible. But I do not buy his argument. There is no such thing as a “preacher-apologist” in Scripture, even though Frame claims the “preacher-apologist” is necessary for conversion (p. 17). He is reading his system into the Bible. I believe there is room for parts of what Apologists say based on Scripture, but Frame just does not seem to do his exegesis on this one.

When Frame begins to explain in more depth what presuppositional apologetics is in comparison with other methods I think in some ways he made it seem as though it did not really matter what an apologist believed (p. 84). Frame goes on to state, “It may no longer be possible to distinguish presuppositional apologetics from traditional apologetics merely by externals – by the form of the argument…” (p. 87). So basically one cannot tell if an apologist is presuppositional based only on his interaction with an unbeliever in conversation, but one must probe deeper than the surface. If that is the case, and you cannot tell the difference based on an encounter with an unbeliever then does it really matter? I mean, to the unbeliever, if what he is getting from a Presuppositionalist is the same as from an Evidentialist, than why should we care who has interactions with the unbeliever. Sure, it might matter to some degree on a personal level, but practically it seems like Frame is arguing that there is no difference! Interesting.

In chapter six, I found Frame to be too quick to pass judgment (like me) and act like he pointed deadly flaws in the many answers to the problem of evil. One of the main arguments I feel Frame failed to judge rightly was the stable-environment defense of C.S. Lewis. Frame’s fault with the argument is, “Heaven will, certainly, be another stable environment, but one without evil” (p. 165). But this does nothing to tear apart Lewis’s argument, for even though an environment allows for evil, evil does not inherently have to exist. In heaven all our hearts will be pure, as Christ’s, and therefore no one will use the environment for evil. Frame, in my opinion did not dismantle anything.


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