www.frame-poythress.org: Appreciating the work of Vern Poythress and John Frame...

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Much of modern theology is written by scholars for scholars, but John Frame and Vern Poythress are churchmen. Most of their writing is written for the Church and can be understood by layman. John and Vern's academic credentials and the brains God gave them would have allowed them to live with their heads in the clouds. Instead, they humbled themselves and taught people like you and me. 

This is the reason we suggested to John and Vern that they allow us to put all their works online at no cost to their readers. When they agreed, Tim asked if I would design and manage the site—which I’ve done, now, for just over a decade. Back in 2005 when we began, the site was functional and ugly, and unknown. By the beginning of this year, we had migrated everything over to Wordpress (which made my upkeep of the site much easier) and were getting about 30,000 hits a month. This past February I handed off the management of the site to Mark Ward, who was recently hired by Logos Bible Software as a writer and theological instructor. Mark is also the designer of the tri-perspectival glasses and has taken the design of the site to the next level, and will continue to keep it up for the foreseeable future.

After ten years of serving John and Vern, I’ve been thinking about the ways their work has blessed us...

One standout is Vern’s generosity in supplying frame-poythress.org with unabridged PDFs of all his books. Vern has long stipulated in his publishing contracts that his publishers must agree to him giving the website a PDF of the the work which anyone may download at no cost. I wish other theologians had this same commitment. It should be standard procedure for Christian authors and publishers. It allows those who are poor to learn without cost. It also allows those of us who have purchased Vern’s book to have access to the text for searching and quoting—without having to buy his book a second time from some software company.

And John? A certain type of person despises some of John's work—I’m thinking specifically of his books on worship music and the regulative principle. Yet these are the very works that I am particularly grateful for because John helped bring me down from my classically-trained, elitist, vernacular-hating musical high-horse.1 If John has taught his students anything, it’s that understandable communication is the only communication that communicates.

Behind the scenes, I was able to read John and Vern's responses to emails sent to the website. There was a steady flow asking for advice about what graduate school to attend, requesting free hard copies of books (the answer is no; ebooks are on the site), questions about ethical matters, and expressions of appreciation or rants concerning something recently published. While these men were writing books, lecturing, and caring for their own families, they took time to respond to these inquiries. Rarely was an email left unanswered for more than a day and their responses were clear and gracious. (Perhaps at some point John and Vern will allow the new editor to sift through, and publish, a selection?)

There were a few articles I cringed to post: John's "May Women Teach Adult Sunday School Classes?" comes to mind. Also Vern's early articles on semiotics are...difficult—before he found his churchly voice. In a similar vein, although Vern's work on gender-neutral Bible translations is unequaled and critically important, I have often regretted that Vern hasn’t spent more time on sexuality which, for decades, has been the center of our culture’s rebellion against God’s authority and Word. The Church might have done a better job standing against this attack if Vern had given us more help, here.

It's ridiculously hard to cut the list down, but here are a few of the articles and books I would especially recommend:

John Frame

"In Defense of Christian Activism"

"Proposal for a New Seminary"

"Cornelius Van Til"

"Review of Michael Horton's Christless Christianity:The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" (more on R2K cowardice here)

"Law and Gospel"

"The Other Shoe: or, Copyright and the Reasonable Use of Technology"

Vern Poythress

"Gender in Bible Translation: Exploring a Connection with Male Representatives"

"Indifferentism and Rigorism"

"God's Lordship in Interpretation"

"Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation"

Symphonic Theology

It was a joy to serve John and Vern, and the Church, these past few years, and I look forward to being able to continue to read their latest works as they are posted on the website. When you get a moment, please go here and thank these men for their labors for Christ's Bride. 

  • 1. Note from Tim Bayly: Andrew has a doctorate in music composition from Indiana University where he received a BMI Student Composer Award; he then took his M.Div. at Covenant Theological Seminary. I add these details because they fill out the significance of Andrew's comments.

Andrew Dionne is the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Spartanburg, SC. He and his wife Sarah have six children. Read more from Andrew here.