- Paperback: 284 pages
- Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub; Reprint edition (January 7, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1579108598
- ISBN-13: 978-1579108595
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension Reprint Edition
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About the Author
D. A. Carson is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or editor of more than forty books, including From Sabbath to Lord's Day, The Sermon on the Mount, Exegetical Fallacies, Matthew (EBC), Showing the Spirit, How Long, O Lord? The Gospel of John, and The Gagging of God.
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The book is divided into 5 sections:
- Introduction - chapter 1
- Tracing the issue in the hebrew canon - ch. 2 - 3
- Tracing the issue in 'intertestamental' works (including deuterocanonical and other works from that period proper, and rabbinic literature into the christian era) - ch. 4 - 10
- Analysis of the issue in the writings of John - ch. 11 - 12
- Theological reflections given all of the above - ch. 13
Each section is undoubtedly immanently accessible to people familiar with the subject domain. I found the second section very eye-opening, as other works I have read have exclusively focussed on biblical (non-deuterocanonical) sources: it was "tough slogging" to follow the academically oriented text, but rewarding to do so. The review of the new testament works of John, in contrast, is more accessible to any Christian who has thought about this subject, and it also is rewarding for its well-reasoned interpretation. I would heartily recommend chapters 12 and 13 as being well worth the value of the book to anyone not willing to endure the more challenging first 11 chapters.
Intellectual honesty characterizes the work. Carson's conclusions are well argued, dispatching various simplistic "answers" to the tension between the two doctrines (from "hyper-pelagian" to "hyper-calvinist" and many in between) by demonstrating how they reshape rather than resolve the apparent conflict; typically, they address the issue at one point but fail to follow through the logical implications. Carson himself does not end with a tidy, simple resolution to the tension; rather, he:
* clarifies what the bible clearly teaches about these two doctrines (remember my comment above about Christian Protestant perspective), and
* clarifies what presuppositions this apparent conflict challenges.
The reader is left with a renewed appreciation for how one should be humble about the conceptual frameworks we on all have on which we try to structure our understanding of such teachings.
Carson focusses on God's sovereignty from a "purpose", contrasted with a "directly causal", perspective. The only point in the book I find weakly supported is that he defends an asymetry in divine sovereignty between election and reprobation, and generaly causality of good vs. evil. He includes minimal argument; here's hoping he will might explain that position (Dr. Carson, if you reading this, how about an article in 'Modern Reformation' magazine?)
To challenge Carson's work, anyone that wants to take him on must demonstrate how an alternate understanding is more compatible with the biblical texts, rather than demonstrate how it is more compatible with one's presuppositions or how it leaves one with a more "comfortable" answer.
Note, for an easier read that includes an over-view of the conclusions reached here without many of the supporting arguments, consider reading Carson's also excellent book "A Call To Spiritual Reformation" - chapter 9 in particular.
Carson bends over backwards to be entirely fair to both sides. But can't help leaning away from Human Merit. Away from Pelegianism. Away from Arminianism.
Have referenced some of his comments in my latest blog.