Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Book Recommendation #2-Willing to Believe by RC Sproul

Whether or not man has free will, and what free will means is often a fiercely debated topic in the church, and yet many do not know about the history of this debate, the development of various doctrines concerning it, or the implications of what they believe. Consequently they may hold to a faulty view they’ve never worked through or examined in Scripture. WILLING TO BELIEVE by R.C. Sproul is a wonderful historic survey focused on this debate. Starting with Pelagius and Augustine, (Both born in AD 354), and going up to Lewis Sperry Chafer, (Who died in 1952), he looks at major players on all sides of the debate, (And some who tried to straddle it). None of the ideas related here have totally died out, as each generation either builds on the past (For good or bad), or ignores the past and repeats its mistakes. Unfortunately some of the false views are common in the church today.

This debate is important and has consequences. As Sproul points out in the introduction, “How we understand the will of man touches heavily on our view of humanity and God’s character…Any view of the human will that destroys the biblical view of human responsibility is seriously defective. Any view of the human will that destroys the biblical view of God’s character is even worse.” The debate also involves how we view man’s depravity and God’s effectual grace.

We encounter Pelagius, Augustine, The Council of Ephesus (AD 431), John Cassian, The Synod of Orange (529), Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, and Lewis Sperry Chafer. Sproul tracks history for us, both good and bad.

Sproul concludes by pointing out the close connection between one’s view of the fall, regeneration, and free will. They all affect each other. He praises God, who is salvation. Sproul’s approach and the historical context make it easy to follow.
It lets you sort things out for yourself.

Willing to Believe is published by Baker Book House & is 224 pages.


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