- Paperback: 356 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic (March 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801022320
- ISBN-13: 978-0801022326
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace
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About the Author
Thomas R. Schreiner is professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Bruce A. Ware is associate dean of the school of theology and director of professional studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book commences with a very satisfying look at the sovereignty of God in the Old Testament, worked out carefully by Raymond Ortland Jr. Tom Schreiner's chapter on Romans 9 is likewise excellent and persuasive. Piper's chapter "Are There Two Wills in God?" is worthy of careful consideration for die-hard Calvinists. He offers a reconciliation between sovereign election and God's desire for all to be saved that is interesting . . . although I am not persuaded that his interpretation of I Tim. 2:4 is correct! Wayne Grudem's careful study of the Hebrews warning passages and the doctrine of perseverance is of special value. I highly commend it. His arguments are convincing and (I think) virtually impossible to refute. Packer's chapter on God's love is typically clear and concise and witty - but maybe a little too short for a book of this caliber. Carson's reflections on assurance offer food for thought by tying the issue together with other pertinent areas of theology. Baugh's look at foreknowledge and Schreiner's look at the Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace are also of value. Sam Storms, Jerry Bridges, and Ed Clowney offer helpful thoughts on the more pastoral issues.
The book is of special value in that it interacts well with opposing views and especially takes on Clark Pinnock and company who wrote "The Grace of God, the Will of Man" which is an attempted defense of Arminian theology. I think any theologian (from either side!) would benefit from a careful perusal of these pages.
Overall, this book was well-written, scholarly, and Biblical. I highly recommend it. While not an easy-read, it is one of the best defenses of Calvinism I have encountered, and it puts most Arminian parallels to shame. For links to essays and articles written by John Piper and other Calvinists on predestination, I recommend the site,
This website is a massive resource of arguments for and against Calvinism, and is the best I have seen on this issue.
Space does not allow for the detailed discussion each article deserves, so this review focuses on a few articles (particularly those other reviews have overlooked) and make some general observations on the book's contribution to the perennial predestination verses free will debate.
The collection kicks-off with Ray Ortlund's case studies on God's sovereignty in the Old Testament. In doing so it nearly shoots itself in the foot, at least for this reviewer! Whilst Ortlund's rather pugnacious article makes some reasonable exegetical points concerning Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1, his section on Jonah perpetuates the misunderstanding surrounding this great prophet. To call the first true missionary to the Gentiles (who, incidently, had a 100% success rate) a "nasty, sulky prophet...clearly he is the bad example we are not to follow" is a staggering insult. If apologising is in order in Heaven, Orlund will be joining what will probably be a very long queue to the prophet Jonah!
Robert Yarborough contributes a more conciliatory essay on Sovereignty in John (a response to Grant Osborne's thoughtful essay in Grace of God). Donald Westblade handles the Calvinist view of election in an equally thoughtful manner, but in not avoiding the stumbling stone of double predestination, for this reviewer he inadequately deals with the implications of divine foreknowledge.
Wayne Grudem's essay on Hebrews 6, as other reviewers have noted, is a highlight of the collection. Whilst Hebrews 6 is not the only problem passage for Perseverance to be found in the Bible (Ezekiel 18:24-26, 2 Peter 2: 20-22 and even John 15: 5-6 spring to mind), it is perhaps the most sustained teaching in the New Testament contradicting "Once Saved Always Saved". Grudem argues well for the passage to be read in a Calvinist light. Though he crowns his argument with the old cliché of "the backslider was never saved", the article ingratiates itself by neither quoting the Westminster Confession, nor trashing opposing views and by keeping its Biblical focus on the passage in hand, rather than wandering off into the warm, sunlit uplands of Romans 9-11, Ephesians 1-2 and certain parts of the Gospel of John. Would that more Calvinists took this approach!
Four articles deserve special consideration as between them they cover what is, in effect, the keystone of 5-point Calvinist doctrine. If Bruce Ware can prove Effectual Calling and Grace (those who are elect in Christ will be saved come what may), Thomas Schreiner can disprove Prevenient Grace (God's grace is extended to all, it is down to us to appropriate it in salvation - a key part of Wesleyan Arminianism), J.I Packer reconcile God's love being for all, but only saving the elect (without the elect having to do anything about it), and John Piper prove that there are two wills in God, then 5-point Calvinism has won the day and the emperor is truly clothed.
Though the arguments of these four authors are strong, and certainly scriptural, in the opinion of this reviewer, they are not compelling. Schreiner's comment that, "The scandal of the Calvinist system is that ultimately the problems posed cannot be fully resolved," sounds like an admission of defeat. He does not adequately resolve the passages which state that salvation (and hence God's grace) is offered to all, such as John 1:9-13 (note how easy it is to assume v.13 is predestinarian if you have already decided it to be so!) and John 3: 14-18. Ware uses scripture rather selectively in his defence of ECG. He admits that there are problems with passages such as Rom 10:13 but doesn't follow them through adequately. Packer writes a characteristically pithy article, but doesn't resolve the tension inherent in the question of whether God's love can still be for all in the face of limited atonement. The only true Calvinist resolution remains to go down Pink's route and make God's love truly selective. This would satisfy logic, but do a disservice to the Biblical revelation of God! Piper, probably Calvinism's leading apologist, rests too strongly on secondary sources. I also agree with another reviewer that he is wrong about 1 Tim 4:2. He is hamstrung by a false dichotomy between whether God's highest commitment is to his glory, or to a love relationship with the saved. Why should God have to choose - he is God after all!
Don Carson's article on Assurance is characteristically thoughtful, well written and rounded. In summarising Compatibilism (an attempt to reconcile the full Biblical revelation of God's character with 5-point Calvinism) Carson inadvertently reveals the problem: God's character as revealed in Jesus Christ through the Bible is too rich and multifaceted to fit into the confines of a theological system, even one as established as Calvinism. For this reason Still Sovereign is unlikely to be the last word on the subject.
Still Sovereign is a response to The Grace of God and the Will of Man, a collection of essays edited by Clark Pinnock in 1989. If time allows, reading the two volumes in parallel is highly recommended. As Grace of God is pre-Openness Pinnock (just - the germination of the Open Theist seed is obvious, and co-Open Theists Richard Rice and John Sanders feature prominently), the response in Sovereign is more measured and less knee-jerk than much of what has been published more recently. It is also a valuable introduction (and summary) of many of the contributors' theology, as well as contemporary 5-point Calvinist thought.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I read it through to the end and found myself agreeing with quite a lot of it - and reading other parts with gritted teeth. Where it succeeds (where, I am sorry to report, Grace of God fails), is to keep its focus on the Bible, rather than appeal to philosophy. Still Sovereign's contributors are given enough space to develop their arguments, and are not constrained by the editor. Calvinism remains the majority view in evangelicalism, and this book explains it well.
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