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5 Stars Out Of 5
February 1, 2008
The book was written well before the Open View of God had become a hot topic and while there are seeds of the teaching in the book from the likes of John Sanders, Richard Rice, or Clark Pinnock, the teaching had not taken its place as it has now within theology.The book is a theological understanding of Arminianism looking at the Arminian understanding of the grace of God in salvation (conditional election, unlimited atonement) and the will of man as it relates to salvation. The articles are written by various Arminian authors with William Lane Craig throwing in an excellent chapter on the Middle-Knowledge of God view has first expoused by Catholic theologian Luis Molina. The chapter by Jack Cottrell on predestination is well worth reading and Cottrell reveals a good Arminian understanding of the teaching.Overall this book is well written and well worth reading. Even if you are a Calvinist, you may be suprised to see that Arminians do wrestle with the Scriptures and with Calvinism in general. Be assured that this book is before the Open Theism debates begin to take place and so the open theologians such as Pinnock are still somewhat in line at this point that the book was written.
In a time when reformed theology is on the rise, Pinnock and his co-authors seek to provide an Arminian understanding of Scripture. However, the book is strewn with problems. The authors claim that Gods love trumps other attributes like holiness and justice, but they give no scriptural support. Their arguments are based simply on our western sense of fairness. They make such appeals because they believe our moral sense reflects truth, instead of recognizing our fallen nature. In addition, they advocate making peace with the culture of modernity (27). Instead of letting Gods Word shape our thinking, they allow our lost culture to shape our view of Gods Word. 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.
The rating I gave this book is the overall rating. Several of the essays deserve a 5 as excellent treatments of Christian doctrine (ie. Marshall, Miethe, Cottrell, Macdonald, Abraham, and Osborne). Other essays range from questionably hetrodox to outright heretical. The editor, Pinnock, describes his "journey" from Calvinism to Arminianism to apostasy. These essays should be read with healthy discernment (I found the six authors mentioned above to be solidly evangelical and orthodox). For a solid treatment of Arminian belief I would refer the reader to Robert Shank's two books, "Life in the Son," and "Elect in the Son," and/or I. H. Marshall's "Kept by the Power of God."