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Michael V. Baxter
5 Stars Out Of 5
September 17, 2008
Michael V. Baxter
In contrast to the widely accepted protestant view of Calvinistic Determinism, Dr. Boyd has laid forth the early Jewish and Church's understanding and view of God's foreknowledge, free agency, and evil as it is experienced. This view is definitely in more harmony with the totality of Scripture rather than the selective and illogical view of Calvinism.The main premise is that Love Requires Freedom (choice), thus, a holy, righteous and loving God cannot arbitrarily force or cause agents to "love" Him nor suffer damnation if they are not the initial cause of their "choices." Subsequently, free agents' choices may cause suffering, as we witness today in the physical and spiritual realm. Since Christ never attributed evil to be an element of "God's Plan" neither should His disciples today.Mr. Boyd does, though, get sidetracked addressing various views concerning each premise which is unneeded since once the truth is unearthed, the counterfeits will be clearly exposed. Highly recommended, especially chapters 1-3.
Think you have your Christian theology nailed down? This book will send you back to the Bible for detailed analysis of some popular Christian traditions that are an integral part of some mainline Christian churches. Thank you Greg Boyd!
This is a significant and ambitious book. In essence, it is an attempt to explain the problem of evil from a non-Calvinistic viewpoint. Calvinism would state, briefly, that God foreknows and foreordains all things, including evil, though He is not the author of evil. Boyd (and I agree) finds this unsatisfactory. Calvinism overlooks many other historic Christian ways of explaining evil and sometimes embitters people towards Christianity when it is presented as the only possible explanation.Essentially, Boyd says that evil happens because God wanted His creation (people) to be able to love, and love must be freely chosen and is therefore risky, and that this freedom cannot be revoked at the first sign of abuse or else it is not truly freedom. Thus, evil results from the abuse of freedom in both humans and angelic beings (a.k.a. demons).The final chapters draw practical implications from these ideas in the areas of prayer, "natural" evil (which Boyd contends is caused entirely by the abuse of freedom), and hell. He offers some helpful ideas in these chapters (such as how prayer really does affect things), though his explanation of hell is very dense and not overly convincing.This is an excellent book not afraid to make bold conclusions that offer a satisfying alternative to traditional Calvinistic answers. Those new to these topics might do well to first read Boyd's GOD AT WAR, which is much more accessible to a non-specialist.