Frame laid out the idea with respect to a general epistemology in his 1987 work The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, where he suggests that in every act of knowing, the knower is in constant contact with three things (or "perspectives") – the knowing subject himself, the object of knowledge, and the standard or criteria by which knowledge is attained. He argues that each perspective is interrelated to the others in such a fashion that, in knowing one of these, one actually knows the other two, also. Poythress developed the theme with respect to science in his 1976 book Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God and with respect to theology in his 1987 book Symphonic Theology.
Christians such as Frame believe that God has verbally revealed himself to mankind in the Bible for the purpose of providing everything people need for life. In this view, Frame suggests, God’s inspired word serves as the criteria by which all truth claims are to be checked, and God’s word dictates to humanity who he is, the true nature of the world around us, and who people are in relation to God and the world. Thus, for Frame as for Calvin, the Christian Scriptures serve as the lens through which one ought to see and evaluate everything, and even in knowing the Bible, he suggests that one knows both the world and himself (and, conversely, in knowing them both one comes to know Scriptures better).
Thus, without an understanding of the world, Frame says, one cannot rightly understand or apply Scripture to his or her life. For example, an argument against abortion might run:
In Frame's scheme, the first point provides us with a normative command from the Bible, which serves as a timeless moral principle. But in order to arrive at the conclusion one needs to know whether or not abortion is really the taking the life of an innocent, unborn person, which requires use of the situational perspective. One must consult medical examinations of the nature of a fetus, the law of biogenesis, and the abortion procedure itself, since without this crucial information one could never know whether the person was faithfully applying God’s word in one's life.
"Sometimes we dream fondly of a 'purely objective' knowledge of God—a knowledge of God of freed from the limitations of our senses, minds, experiences, preparation, and so forth. But nothing of this sort is possible, and God does not demand that of us. Rather, He condescends to dwell in and with us, as in a temple. He identifies himself in and through our thoughts, ideas, and experiences. And that identification is clear; it is adequate for Christian certainty. A 'purely objective' knowledge is precisely what we don’t want! Such knowledge would presuppose a denial of our creaturehood and thus a denial of God and of all truth." (DKG, 65)
Through this integration process the clues take on greater significance such that they are no longer seemingly disconnected occurrences, but rather meaningful portions that make up a greater reality. Yet, it is claimed, the pattern or integration, once achieved, retroactively throws light on the "clues" that made it up. The particulars retain their meaningfulness, but it is enhanced and transformed. These patterns now shape the knower, because, ideally, they connect her with a reality independent of herself. One comes to see the fullness of the pattern when its truth is lived in (or "habited"), thus extending one's self out into the world by means of that truth.
Much of this pattern-making process is inarticulatable, but Frame and Meek believe this more-than-words aspect of epistemic acts cannot be ignored because he sees it as crucial in the common, everyday process of knowing.