“Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics” by J. Frame

Subject: Religion
Pages: 9
Words: 2554
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD

Summary

The book Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics is a powerful collection of ideas about religion, its power over people, and the lessons people have to learn when they start taking care of their relations with God. John Frame is the author of the book explains the main idea of his work as his intention to introduce the word of God with its standards and perspectives without taking a particular side. What he wants to believe in is the presence of God in human life and God’s possibility to lead people and provide them with a chance, choice, and freedom of thought in regards to his own principles.

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The structure of the book is clear indeed: the first part informs about the main goals of the book, some ethical terms that have to be considered, and the general conditions of how ethics and God are connected. The second part of the book is devoted to the ideas of non-Christian ethics and its vision of God and discusses how “a denial of divine lordship affects ethics”[1]. The author likes to confront different labels in order to disclose their nature from a religious point of view: irrationalism and rationalism, freedom and authority, ethics and religion. One of the main claims offered by Frame is that nobody is an atheist in reality. In other words, when “people turn away from the worship of the true God, they don’t reject absolutes in general” [2]. Another interesting thought mentioned is the true inconsistent nature of fate on the basis of which ethics is actually developed. People may devote themselves to God and believe in the power of Scripture during their whole lives. But, in the end, some of them can hardly be rewarded[3]. People are not able to explain what defines who is worth rewarding and who is not and what the criteria are according to which God defines human rights.

The book also touches upon the works of many famous philosophers and writers. For example, Frame admits the power of the Sophist’s point of view and Socrates’ unbelievable attempts to refute the Sophist’s irrationalism. The evaluation of other prominent philosophers is also present in the book: Marx with his ideas that Christianity is the religion of the rich people[4] or Nietzsche with his identification of the religion as a slave that frustrates the ambitions of the superior people[5].

The third part of the book is about the Christian ethical methodology and a number of issues that fulfill a human life: law, morality, truth, heroism, etc. According to the author, it is not only enough to know religion in order to spread it through society. It seems to be more important to know society, its goals, and expectations from religion in order to combine religion, ethics, and people. Scripture is the primary guide that shows people the way of how to understand God and how to use his power[6]. Though people are not always ready to admit that weakness in regards to something, Scripture is the source with a number of explanations why human weakness may be justified in regards to God’s power.

Finally, the book supports the idea that knowledge about God is something incredible and crucial for people at any age. According to Frame, to know God is similar to the idea of having Him as a friend. Knowledge about God is not only an intellectual process that has to be accomplished. It is also an ethical process within the frames of which people have to consider the rules and their obligations to each other and to God.

In general, the main points of the work under consideration are all about the necessity to believe and know God and His power. Religion is the sphere of life that has to be supported by a number of things like ethical principles, morality, response, wisdom, power, etc. This is why all these concepts, their relations, and their connection to God turn out to be the main points around the one central idea – God and its impact on human life. This is what the book wants to teach the reader, this is what Frame wants to explain. And the methods used are powerful indeed as they are supported by the examples and the philosophical works that have been already approved by society. In the book, the reader learns how people should care for each other, demonstrate their respect to each other and to God, and consider personal wishes and demands without contradicting the religious and ethical principles set. The main outcome of the book is the reader’s ability to evaluate his/her own abilities and religious possibilities and improve the conditions under which it is necessary to live day by day.

Interpretation

The way of how Frame has put the whole book together is amazing indeed. There are not too complicated words, sentences, and ideas. Still, the work does not seem simple. This is why it is so easy for the reader to learn a number of interesting philosophical ideas by means of simple words and examples. The relationships between the facts, ideas, and events create an interesting story about God and the people, who want or need to believe in his power.

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One of the most powerful aspects of this book is the author’s possibility to combine the ideas of different people from different epoch and prove that there are many things in common between all those representatives. For example, Frame successfully compares the investigations of Marx, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein in regards to religion and the relations between God and people. It is hard to imagine that Marx could pay so much attention to God. It seems that Marx told a lot about people and their inequality to each other. However, his interpretation of God’s power and human abilities amazes him.

In fact, the way of how the book is organized seems to be too formal. The author divides the story into chapters, gives clear definitions, introduces the principles. At the beginning of the book, the author introduces his intentions and shares his own visions. It may seem that the whole work is informal and full of personal ideas and attitudes. Still, from the very first lines, it turns out to be clear that this is more like a guide for people, who want to live with God and under His rules. At the same time, Frame is able to combine theory and personal practice to explain the worth of the theories and principles offered. For example, Frame talks about three ethical principles concerning Christianity and non-Christianity. There are three types of principles: theological (according to which, a good act should maximize the level of happiness of all living creatures), deontological (according to which a good act should be a kind of response or even self-sacrifice to duty), and existential (according to which a good act is defined as the one that comes from another good inner character)[7].

With the help of this book, personally, I have come to a number of conclusions. I like to see that religion, and the role of God, in particular, may be properly explained by means of clear definitions. For a long period of time, I found religion as a complex mix of phrases and ideas that have to be followed by people in order to prove their loyalty to God. This book opens a new aspect within the frames of which it is possible to understand God and make personal choices. The frame is the author, who can easily play with terms and explanations and make them understandable in the most interesting way. For example, certain attention is paid to Scripture and its elements. On the one hand, it seems that this source of information is all about the laws and the guidance given by God to people. On the other hand, people are so absorbed with the idea of learning the rules that they can easily misunderstand or omit the presence of other elements in Scripture, such as questions, promises, imperatives, indicatives, and even exclamations[8]. Because of the necessity to follow the rules defined by the Bible, many people fail to notice how rich and beautiful this kind of literature actually is. Frame underlines that the reader can find many interesting examples of poetry, wisdom, and even humor and introduce them as “God’s authoritative word” that is “relevant to ethics” and “breathed out by God and profitable for our instruction in righteousness, to equip us for good works”[9].

In fact, this book helps to realize that God is not about order and devotion to a particular issue. God is a possibility to study the world and define the most important aspects in life in accordance with personal principles and ideals. Frame shows that it is normal to make mistakes and have some doubts in regards to Scripture that seems to be a perfect combination of hints. In the book, several examples show how indefinite the Bible can be. For example, it is stated that people have to do everything right. There is no place for something wrong. At the same time, it is mentioned that people have to be ready to ask for forgiveness. If people ask for forgiveness, it means that they have already done something wrong. So, one point contradicts another. Because, if people have to do only good, they do not have a right to do something wrong; and if people ask for forgiveness, they are allowed to do something wrong. Frame calls this situation morally confused[10]. It seems to be inappropriate to prove that people should not do wrong, and, at the same time, offer a choice and alternatives. This is why it is wrong to believe that living under God’s law is usually correct and “options”.

Conclusion

In general, it is possible to say that the book “Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics” is considered to be a powerful source of information about how people understand and should understand ethics, God, and the law. Regarding the fact that nowadays people are usually very concerned about ethics and the norms that have to be followed, they have to know how to define truth and false, good and wrong, war and peace, etc. The Frame’s book is a perfect guide for those, who want to learn better the conditions under which faith is spread through society and God becomes the most crucial concept in human life. Scripture is one of the possible means of communication that happens between God and a human. People make a mistake regarding the Bible as the only correct guide in their lives. There are many people, who are blind in their faith; this is why they are under a threat of confusing the truth of God’s intentions.

This book aims at promoting the idea of constant search and improvement as the only correct solution. People should never stop believing as well as neglecting their own morals. God should not be the judge. He should be a friend, an advisor, a source of inspiration. At the same time, Frame calls to pay more attention to the works of the philosophers, who neglect the idea of God and his power over people. He uses comparison as a method to analyze and conclude what is really important for people and why they prefer the chosen explanations. It is not an easy task to believe in God and follow all his orders and guidelines, and it is expected for people to come up with some wrong conclusions or inappropriate evaluations. And God can forgive and offer a new chance. The only thing that is necessary for people is their belief and the ability to follow God’s law.

At the beginning of the book, Frame mentions that the Christian life is not an easy concept; but, for those, who have some patience and desire to learn it better, this life will become a rich journey with a number of unexpected turns. One of the most interesting observations offered by Frame is the connection between God and its people. Even if a person admits that he/she does not believe in God and rejects the necessity to follow his orders and law, he/she underlines how wrong in his/her interpretations this person actually is. The point is that even the rejection of faith is one of the ways in the Christian life. The person has to know something about God in order to reject it, this is why even the most devoted atheists have to understand God’s power first to reject it with time.

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With the help of the book, the reader gets a chance to improve or, at least, make this life better. An understanding of God requires an understanding of ethics and knowledge about its main principles. Even such simple commandments were given by God like the necessity to love God and each other and to do good things only require the awareness of love concept and the ability to divine good and wrong things. It is all about ethics, not the Bible. Scripture is a set of rules, a guide that needs to be followed. However, it also requires some explanations to be clearer to the reader.

In the book, Frames admits that “God’s word has a way of surprising use… we need to think as a part of a community… but we also need the courage to step aside from the crowd when God’s word directs us in that way”[11]. As it has been mentioned before, Scripture as well as the whole of God’s law is about contradictions. This is why a man should be ready to change his mind, to face new aspects of faith, and to interpret the same concepts in a new way, when he/she follows God’s command. The book performs the function of a dictionary for a person, who knows nothing about God’s law, as well as for those, who think they know a lot about the Christian life. Many philosophers underline the necessity of life-long education, and this is what is offered by Scripture. The Bible is a chance to live and learn, and, at the same time, stay loyal to the beliefs identified earlier. Still, in my personal opinion, the main lesson got from the book of Frame as well as from God’s world is all about the way of how people should treat God and his orders. It is possible to change the opinion, it happens that the opinions contradict each other; still, it is always correct to follow God’s law and consider his expectations of each person. Christianity may be a curse for one group of people and salvation for another group, and people are free to choose what group to belong to.

Notes

[1]John Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, n.d, 2015. Web.

[2] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 56.

[3] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 58

[4] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 77.

[5] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 78.

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[6] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 325.

[7] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 51.

[8] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 168.

[9] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 169.

[10] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 218.

[11] Frame, Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics, 10..

Bibliography

Frame, John. Living Under God’s Law: Christian Ethics. n.d. 2015. Web.