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Perspectives on Election Paperback – November 1, 2006
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About the Author
Chad Brand is associate professor of Christian theology at Boyce College of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
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I suspect that most church people are fairly illiterate on what others believe so there will be head scratching asking "Do people really believe that???" and amazement at the gap between the various beliefs.
The doctrine of election debate is hardly new. It has been wagging for nearly 1000 years in the Church but sadly the debate is often full of rage and not godly love and respect. Not so in this book. While none of the authors completely close the argument, they do a good job of helping the reader see the various positions.
I give this book a five star rating and hope that more Arminian-Calvinist books such as this one come out soon.
Bruce Ware (Infralapsarian-Election to Salvation), Robert Reymond (Supralapsarian-Election to Salvation) and Jack Cottrell (Historic Arminian-Election to Salvation) truly write excellent and thorough works on the three traditional views of the Christian church on the nature of the Doctrine of Election. Each paper needs to be read by a church which today couldn't hope to tell you anything about this immensely important truth for the body of Christ. I commend each writer for their convictions and for the fairness and irenic spirit they use towards one another during the majority of their dialogue (Reymond occasionally is a bit perturbed).
What I do question from the book is allowing Clark Pinnock (Vocational, Corporate, Inclusive) to speak on behalf of the traditional Corporate view of the Arminian side. I question this because of his completely unbiblical view of openness in relation to God's foreknowledge. I believe his position on this essential attribute of God drastically undercuts the reality for opting for a Corporate View of Election. I wish someone who had an Orthodox view of God's foreknowledge had been given the chance to write on this view for the benefit of the Church. Someone like William W. Klein (not Arminian) comes to mind. At least a well-known Arminian like Robert Shank to posit the Arminian view of Corporate Election would have been advisable here.
I feel having Pinnock set forth the view makes this view look completely foolish because of his view on God's foreknowledge. Pinnock has been given enough publishing space in a multitude of other books to show his views on God's foreknowledge, I would have to agree completely with Dr. Reymond here that it is time for conservative, Protestant publishers to stop giving him (and others) such a freedom to teach their views. Clearly this is difficult for most publishers since whats 'New' is what sells.
Though this view is not new (as explained by Cottrell in his essays), what seems new is more attractive than what has already been taught. Does this always mean its wrong? Of course not, but it does mean we all must use discretion. Having said all that, I think much of what Pinnock said was good and biblical (so please don't just react initially). What I viewed as biblical was his views on the vocational/corporate degrees within election. But his views on foreknowledge really took away the ground the view may have gained, a serious mistake.
Thomas Talbott (Universal Reconciliation) is a strong advocate for his position and probably one of the most well-known currently. He holds to many biblical views regarding scripture and its authority, which normally you wouldn't think possible for someone holding to his views on election. His position is essentially an irresistible drawing of all people to Himself, through this life and through a post-mortem time as well. This is very reminiscent to Barth's 'Triumphant Theology', though nuanced slightly in certain areas. This is not to say I agree with him, but Talbott needs to be read for sure. I feel the other writers respond fairly to him and answer his arguments well, though I, too hold to a primacy of the single Election of Jesus as the essential focus of the Doctrine of Election (similar to Barth), yet disagree in how that plays out in the atonement/propitiation.
Overall, this is an excellent work. I cannot recommend books like these highly enough because THESE are the issues Christians need to be wrestling with, praying about, seeking the Spirit in guidance about. These truths are essential, yet rarely preached and even more rarely understood, and to what consequence? A dire lack of growth and maturity in the church. This is a must-read for every Christian. And yes, that was as brief as I could be.
I have chosen to give this book 5 stars because the publisher and editor did not choose inexperienced but well-respected, established and prolific theologians to present their respective view. The book mostly leaves it up to the audience to decide which view of election they find Scripture supports the best, and this is what a good book that presents different viewpoints should do, namely give a little guidance but allow/force the audience to think for itself and make up its own mind about the issue at hand.
A great book for those who want to think their way through the issue, and a welcome addition to my theological library.
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