Grace of God, the Will of Man, The Paperback – April 30, 1989
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About the Author
- Publisher : Zondervan (April 30, 1989)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 031051231X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0310512318
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 13.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.47 x 0.79 x 8.5 inches
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#1,986,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2,408 in Christian Salvation Theory (Books)
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Some of the highly-questionable claims made in the book are: - Omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence must be redefined. - The future hasn't happened yet, so it doesn't exist to be known. Therefore, God does not know the future. As a result, prophecy is not a foretelling of the future. Instead, prophecies are predictions or warnings based on exhaustive knowledge of the present and the past. - If God has the power to grant salvation, then ALL humans are entitled to salvation. - Universal salvation is a possibility. (Proverbs 16:4 and Romans 9 are not discussed.) - God is unable or unwilling to irresistibly change a human's will. (Paul's conversion is not discussed.)
The result is a presentation of a weak, helpless God. In fact, the authors state "it is more important for God to give himself to his creation than to rule the world or to be worshipped" (35). He is described not as ruling, but as "limited by humanity" (40) , vulnerable, and "the defenseless superior power" (175). The book has weak, humanistic argumentation, little scriptural support, and a harsh tone toward those who embrace reformed views, views said to be "theologically repugnant" (84). Do not waste your time with this book. While there are legitimate differences between Arminian and Calvinistic views and a place for dialogue, this book does not give dialogue but instead gives unsubstantiated claims that leave you with a helpless God not in control and not worthy of worship.
In case you do not know, the editor of this book embraces the view that God does not know the future.
Editor Pinnock wrote in the Introduction to this 1989 collection, "This book... carries on the ancient debate ... between proponents of two different evangelical accounts of how God works salvation and relates to his human creatures. The question can be put this way: Is God the absolute Monarch who always gets his way, or is God rather the loving Parent who is sensitive to our needs even when we disappoint him and frustrate some of his plans?... The writers of this book contend that it makes the difference between having good news or bad news to offer people whether we start with God's goodness or with his power... This book takes the position that God ... respects the integrity of the significantly free creatures he made and who relates dynamically with them in the working out of his purposes for the world... [God] expresses his power, not by having to control everything like an oriental despot, but by giving humanity salvation and eternal life under the conditions of mutuality... Insisting that God's will accounts for everything that happens creates tremendous intellectual and practical difficulties for Christians and almost insurmountable hurdles for seekers to jump over." (Pg. ix-xi)
In an essay, Pinnock recalls that he was brought up "in a liberal church and converted in my teens chiefly through the witness of my grandmother... most of the authors I was introduced to in those early days ... were staunchly Calvinistic... Theirs were the books that were sold in the Inter-Varsity bookroom I frequented... Therefore, it is no surprise that I began my theological life as a Calvinist who regarded alternate evangelical interpretations as suspect and at least mildly heretical... I held onto this view until about 1970, when one of the links in the chain of tight Calvinist logic broke. It had to do with the doctrine of the perseverence of the saints, likely the weakest link in Calvinian logic, scripturally speaking... I found I could not make very good sense of the vigorous exhortations [in the Book of Hebrews] to persevere (e.g., 3:12) or the awesome warnings not to fall away from Christ (e.g., 10:26)... the exhortations and the warnings could only signify that continuing in the grace of God was something that depended at least in part on the human partner. And once I saw that, the logic of Calvinism was broken in principle..." (Pg. 16-17) Later, he adds, "I had had to swallow hard and accept the Calvinian antinomy that required me to believe both that God determines all things and that creaturely freedom is real... I was relieved to discover that the Bible does not actually teach such an incoherence, and this particular paradox was a result of Calvinian logic, not scriptural dictates." (Pg. 20-21) He concludes, "it has become increasingly clear to me that we need a 'free will' theism, a doctrine of God that treads the middle path between classical theism... and process theism." (Pg. 26)
Another essayist asks, "If salvation is indeed a gift of grace (as all Christians claim), how can it be limited to those who jump high enough behaviorally and through the correct hoops ritually and theologically? Is not God's love in fact so persuasive that its rejection is unthinkable? Cannot the gospel triumph over human perversity?" (Pg. 43) I. Howard Marshall suggests, "The effect of my argument... is to suggest that, taken by themselves in their immediate contexts, the 'all' sayings in the Pastorals should be understood to teach that the grace of God truly appeared in Christ for all mankind and that behind this manifestation lay the will of God that all mankind should be saved. The offer of salvation is genuinely made to all in the gospel." (Pg. 64)
Richard Rice argues, "Since God knows the present exhaustively, he also knows everything that will happen as the inevitable consequence of past and present factors... This might explain the accurate accounts of Pharoah's actions, along with those of Judas' and Peter's behavior. Knowing their character as intimately as God knows, one could accurately predict what they would do in certain situations... This explanation is not helpful in cases where individuals do not yet exist, of course. So, in the case of a prophecy like the one concerning Cyrus, we must look elsewhere... At any rate, it is not necessary to provide a precise explanation for each particular prophecy... It is sufficient to show that prophecy is compatible with the view that future free decisions are not knowable in advance." (Pg. 135-136)
William Lane Craig contends, "God has thus providentially arranged for everything that happens by either willing or permitting it, and he causes everything that does happen, yet in such a way as to preserve freedom and contingency. For God's providential order is not necessary... things could go vastly differently were the creatures simply to choose differently, as they are free to do. But, of course, were they to so choose, God would have possessed different middle knowledge than he does and so would have chosen a different providential plan to bring about his ends. Although creatures are free, God's ends will certainly be achieved, since the infallibility of middle knowledge guarantees that God's providential plan cannot fail." (Pg. 155)
Another essayist says, "While I do not deny the corrupting influence of sin on our moral faculties, I would argue nevertheless that our moral faculties are part of the remaining image of God in man. As such they are a basically reliable reflection of God's love and justice. It is not sinful rebellion but sound moral insight to insist that a just God, not to mention a loving one, would not unconditionally damn anyone." (Pg. 274)
While perhaps weighted toward the the "Pinnockian" side of the scale, these essays will nevertheless be of considerable interest to any Christians studying such complex and controversial theological areas.