The reconciliation of God's sovereignty and man's choice is a difficult subject and is probably impossible to understand. So why study it? Alcorn argues that, even though we can never fully understand it, we can better understand it. “And,” he writes, “in the case of God's sovereignty and human choice, while it's not imperative that I understand everything, it is important that I believe in both.” (2)
This book is essentially an investigation of Calvinism and Arminianism. He explains the views of both and shows the dangers of the extremes. He explores the continuum, with chapters on Hyper-Calvinism, Compatibalism, Molinism, Libertarianism, and Open-Theism. He looks at Scripture and what theologians have written over the centuries.
Alcorn describes himself as “mostly Calvinist who was once mostly Arminian.” I think he writes well on both viewpoints with balanced comments.
I appreciate Alcorn reminding us that God exists outside of the four dimensions by which we are bound. What might seem impossible to us because of our restricted frame of existence is entirely possible with God. (171) Our reconciliation of God's sovereignty and man's choice may be problematic only because we are finite, as is our reasoning. He includes a good section on painful and tragic events in our lives and their use by God.
He encourages us to keep at it. Verses that were once troubling are now a comfort to him. He also encourages us to base our opinions on Scripture and original writings of theologians, not on what we've been told each view believes. He reminds us that no theological system is perfect. He wants us to ultimately recognize the mystery and beauty of man and God working hand in Hand.
Alcorn encourages Christians to think deeply on this issue. There is a discussion guide included so the book would be a good one for a class or small group.
Food for thought:
“True humility and wisdom consist of recognizing how little we really know.” (3)
“Our state of mind determines whether the doctrine of God's sovereignty comforts or threatens us.” (47)
Randy Alcorn is a leading Christian apologist and founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries. He had previously been a pastor for fourteen years. He is the bestselling author of numerous books. He and his wife live in Gresham, Oregon. You can find out more about his ministry at www.epm.org where you can also follow his blog.
Multnomah, 230 pages.