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God’s Sovereignty and Predestination Book Reviews
By Gary F. Zeolla
Below are reviews of reviews of books dealing with the difficult subjects of God's sovereignty and predestination. For details on my book Scripture Workbook mentioned in these reviews, see Scripture Workbook Preview.
Chosen by God
By R.C. Sproul
Sproul has the knack of making difficult subjects easy to understand, and this book is no exception. It presents the Calvinist viewpoint of predestination in an easy to understand way, at least as easy as this subject can get.
Sproul first discusses the struggle he went though when first confronted with the subject of predestination. As with most people, his natural mind rebelled against the idea of God’s sovereignty, not “free-will,” being the final determining factor in who is saved and who is not. But through the influence of John Gerstner, and most of all the Scriptures, Sproul came to accept the Biblical doctrine of predestination.
In this book, Sproul presents some of the main arguments for predestination and the five points of Calvinism in general. He also present and refutes some verses commonly cited against the five points. And he includes many Scripture references along the way. Many more supporting Scriptural references and refutations of proposed contrary verses are contained in the three chapters on this subject in my book Scripture Workbook: For Personal Bible Study and Teaching the Bible.
So if you have just been introduced to the subject of predestination or would like to learn what all the fuss is about, get Sproul’s book. It is probably the best introduction to this subject you can get. And for help in doing more detailed study on the subject, consult the chapters on this subject in my book.
Five Points of Calvinism: A Study Guide
by Edwin H. Palmer
A Scriptural study guide is exactly what one needs when making a decision on Calvinism vs. Arminianism. More often than not, when people are first confronted with Calvinism view of God’s sovereignty and salvation, they rebel against it. The concept simply goes against the natural mind’s idea of how things should be. But for the Christian, our personal feeling of how things “should be” should not be the determining factor on what to believe. The only thing that matters is: what do the Scriptures teach?
So if you are struggling with this topic, get this book and go through the studies. And most importantly, look up all of the Scripture references. And for more help in this regard, you might want to check out the three chapters on this subject in my book Scripture Workbook. These chapters list hundreds of verses upholding the absolute sovereignty of God and the five points of Calvinism.
Sovereignty of God
By Authur W. Pink
This book has convinced many of that the reformed viewpoint of God's sovereignty is the only Biblical view. But one has to be careful; you just might not like what you read!
A female friend of mine said this book caused her much emotional turmoil. When she tried to read it, she had to keep putting it down. The idea of God being absolutely sovereign simply went against her feeling of how things should be. But fortunately, she kept reading the book. And most importantly, she looked up all of the Scripture verses Pink mentioned. And after much study and emotional turmoil, she finally submitted to the Biblical teaching on sovereignty.
Pink references many, many Bible verses. In fact, this book was the source for many of the verses I reference in the chapter on “The Sovereignty of God” in my book Scripture Workbook. My book also has two additional chapters addressing other aspects of Calvinism.
So yes, get Pink’s book. But be prepared for some emotional turmoil, and most of all, to look up lots of Scripture verses. And for even more verses to consider see my book.
Predestination and Free Will:
Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom
By David Basinger, Randall G. Basinger, John S. Feinberg
Generally speaking, these “four views” book are a very good resource the Christian struggling over controversial issues. However, this book falls short of truly presenting the possible options.
The problem is, the person presenting the Calvinism view is writing from a “high-Calvinism” or “supralapsarian” viewpoint. This was the viewpoint of John Calvin. And the main idea in this view is that before (“supra”) the Fall (“lapse”), to glorify Himself, God decided He to humanity so that He could save some of them while damning others. The saved would then glorify God for their salvation when seeing the plight of the damned.
However, this viewpoint is NOT the viewpoint that most Calvinists subscribe to, nor is it the position of the Westminster Confession. The view of most Calvinists and the Confession is “low-Calvinism” or “sublapsarianism.”
In this view, to glorify Himself and to extend His love, God created humanity. Then, AFTER (“sub”) the Fall, God looked down the corridors of time and decided that out of the mass of sinful humanity He would, by His grace, save some while rightly damning the others for their sin. So this view does not have God creating people in order to damn them as the high-Calvinist view does. There are also other important differences between these two views.
Now in this book most of the arguments the non-Calvinists present against the Calvinist are actually directed towards the areas of Calvinism in which high-Calvinists and low-Calvinists disagree. IOW, the anti-Calvinists arguments would not apply to the version of Calvinism that most Calvinists subscribe to.
So when reading this book, one would not learn what the majority Calvinist viewpoint entails or proposed arguments against it. But my book Scripture Workbook does present this majority view in three chapters on God’s Sovereignty and the five points of Calvinism. And these chapters include hundreds of Scripture verses upholding the low-Calvinist viewpoint while refuting proposed arguments against it.
Given this omission of the predominate Calvinist view, I wouldn’t particularly recommend “Predestination and Free Will.” But if one does get it, then also get a book like mine that presents the low-Calvinist position.
For a follow-up to this review, see Human Elements in Predestination.
Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
By Jerry Bridges
From its title, you wouldn’t think this book is mainly about the sovereignty of God. But understanding God’s sovereignty is truly the best way to handle hard times.
Bridges presents three reasons why we can trust God:
1. God is omniscient, so He knows what is best for us.
2. God is sovereign, so He is able to bring about what is best for us.
3. God is love, so He wants us to have what is best for us.
Accepting these three truths provide a three-cord strand about God that one can and onto in hard times.
But the problem is, accepting the second reason is difficult for many. Our natural minds rebel against the idea of God being in control of events, including “bad” things that happen. But Bridges present many Scripture verses supporting the Biblical teaching of God’s absolute sovereignty. In fact, this book was the source for many of the verses I reference in the chapter on “The Sovereignty of God” in my book Scripture Workbook.
Bridge’s book is one of the best books I have ever read. I would highly recommend it for the person going through hard times. There is no better way to deal with problems in life than by understanding that God is in control. For that matter, get it even if your life isn’t currently “hurting.” Coming to understand God’s absolute sovereignty will prepare you for when the inevitable hard times hit. And consult my book for even more Scriptural proof of God’s sovereignty in all matters of life.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
The above book reviews were posted on this website in June 14, 2001.
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