On The Theological Correlation Of Divine And Human Language: A Review Article -- By: Mark W. Karlberg

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 32:1 (Mar 1989)
Article: On The Theological Correlation Of Divine And Human Language: A Review Article
Author: Mark W. Karlberg

On The Theological Correlation Of
Divine And Human Language: A Review Article

Mark W. Karlberg*

Over a decade ago John Frame wrote a small booklet entitled Van Til: The Theologian in which the program for the work under review1 was laid. As a successor to Cornelius Van Til in the department of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Frame sees himself as a true exponent of Van Tilian presuppositionalism, defending and building upon (even correcting) the insights of his predecessor. Frame’s theological approach is thought to be the result of Van Til’s own teaching in dogmatics. “Though Van Til himself does not say this, his thought suggests the desirability of an orthodox Christian ‘perspectival’ approach to theology.”2 More importantly, Frame defines theology here as “the application of Scripture to all areas of human life.”3 This viewpoint is foundational to the author’s theological method, which he calls (multi)perspectivalism.

In The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God the author propounds a full-scale exposition of his thinking, in which he offers something new in Reformed dogmatics as well as providing a corrective to the Reformed theological tradition. Vern Poythress, a colleague and former student of Frame, hails this study as “the most important single book in theology to appear in the 20th century.”4 Many of the comments and criticisms made here in regard to Frame’s teaching apply equally to the work of Poythress, who must also be seen as an architect of this new theological methodology.5 Frame identifies three areas specifically in which his presentation challenges traditional views: (1) the definition of theology as application of Scripture, (2) the role of multiple perspectives in theological exposition, and (3) his critique of Biblical and systematic theology.6 This third area

* Mark Karlberg is a teacher and writer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

deals with a subject that has occupied a prominent place in the history of Reformed covenantal theology. Frame’s criticisms here, therefore, strike at the very heart of the Reformed tradition.

Pilate once asked, “What is truth?” No more basic question can be raised than this. Frame similarly asks, “What is ‘meaning’?” Strongly influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s linguistic analysis, Frame believes “that m...

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