Everything Does And Does Not Come Down To Triperspectivalism

One final note: whether you think this is a really good systematic theology or one of the most important in the last generation or two, probably depends on how much you get into tri-perspectivalism. I have friends who find Frame’s triads of Normative-Situational-Existential to be extremely enlightening. Try as I might, I find them extremely tenuous. Maybe it’s me. We aren’t all helped by the same pedagogical devices. I admit I’ve always considered discourse analysis a waste of time and I hope to never arc a sentence. I didn’t consider it revolutionary, or all that helpful, when one of my seminary professors summarized almost everything about ministry as a series of threes (head-heart-hands, prophet-priest-king, Father-Son-Spirit, faith-hope-love, speak-feel-do, etc.). I thought, “Okay. That’s kind of cool—everything fits in that chart. Now what?” I confess to having the same reaction with Frame’s triads. Why, for example, is a “good argument” defined as valid (normative), sound (situational), and persuasive (existential)? It’s not immediately clear that the categories have to line up the way they do. And why not four characteristics of a good argument, or two, or five, or ten? Why are the ministries of the church “Word,” “rule,” and “mercy”? Why not add fellowship? Why not simply Word and Sacrament? Or evangelism, edification, exultation, and equipping? I’m not just convinced that everything comes down to the normative, situational, and the existential perspective, nor am I personally helped by the 104 triads sprinkled throughout the book.

Kevin DeYoung, Book Review: Systematic Theology By John Frame

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