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The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions [Paperback]

By F. Leroy Forlines (Author), Stephen M. Ashby (Foreword by) & J. Matthew Pinson (Foreword by)
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Item description for The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions by F. Leroy Forlines, Stephen M. Ashby & J. Matthew Pinson...

This invaluable tool seriously discusses profound truths that apply to every facet of life. Biblical truth should be made applicable to the total personality. The "inescapable questions of life" are answered from the standard of God's authoritative Word.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Randall House Publications
Pages   572
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.06" Width: 5.98" Height: 1.21"
Weight:   1.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 20, 2001
Publisher   RANDALL HOUSE #1256
ISBN  0892659629  
ISBN13  9780892659623  

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More About F. Leroy Forlines, Stephen M. Ashby & J. Matthew Pinson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! F. Leroy Forlines is a prolific author having published "Romans Commentary," "Biblical Systematics," "Classical Arminianism," and "Biblical Ethics." Forlines taught at Free Will Baptist Bible College for 50 years and continues to serve as Adjunct Professor. He is also Adjunct Professor of Theology at Russian Baptist Theological Institute at the Chelyabinsk Affiliate of he Moscow Theological Institute, under the auspices of Free Will Baptist International Missions. Forlines earned his B.A. from Free Will Baptist Bible College, M.A. from Winona Lake School of Theology, B.D. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Th.M. from Chicago Graduate School of Theology.

F. Leroy Forlines currently resides in Nashville, in the state of Tennessee.

F. Leroy Forlines has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Randall House Bible Commentary

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions?

well-studied and well-argued defense of non-Wesleyan Arminianism  Apr 14, 2006
Because the appearance of well-written, up-to-date, evangelical systematic theologies representing distinct traditions is relatively rare, the publication of Forlines's volume is highly significant. The work is a well-studied and well-argued defense of a non-Wesleyan Arminianism by the leading theologian of the Free Will Baptist Church. The author has greatly expanded and recrafted his earlier Systematics (Nashville: Randall House, 1975) into a new work. Though not indicated by the title, the book does function as a systematic or dogmatic theology except that the areas of pneumatology, ecclesiology, sacramentology, and eschatology are omitted and prolegomena is treated only briefly. Greatest emphasis is placed on anthropology, soteriology, and apologetics.

The work is designed to enable upper-level college and seminary students, pastors, and laymen to think through the Christian worldview. It is written with enough exegetical and theological material to serve as a textbook, but without the laborious detail, philosophical complexity, and polysyllabic vocabulary that tends to discourage the midrange reader.

Behind the author's "total personality" approach, which attempts to blend the search for objective truth with a passionate zeal (the author intentionally writes in the first person), are forty years of teaching systematic theology on the college level and ministering to the needs and problems of individual students. The author's years of study, reflection, ministry experience, decades of faithful Christian walk, and pastoral concerns, all come together to produce a book which is theological, pastoral, and apologetic.

The author first (chap. 1) presents his presuppositions (including inerrancy and premillennialism), his desire to present the basic truths of the Christian faith out of a heart for redemptive concern, and his approach that necessitates the interweaving of the academic, the practical, and the systematic in order to attempt to answer what he sees as the inescapable questions of life. He insists that truth will invariably touch four basic relationships: man's relationship with God, with other people, with himself, and with the created order.

Next the history of Western epistemology is traced briefly (chap. 2) from Copernicus to the postmodern era of doubt, ambivalence, and pluralism. The author sets forth four tests for evaluating a worldview in the contemporary setting: (1) Does it answer the inescapable questions of life? (2) Is there internal consistency? (3) Is there causal adequacy? and (41) Does it conform to that which is undeniably true? These tests are especially relevant in the postmodern intellectual milieu, which the author insightfully describes as a failed, but dangerous, experiment.

In contrast to secular epistemology is the author's bibliology (chaps. 3, 4). Included under general revelation is the fact that human beings, created in the image of God, are preprogrammed with a knowledge of what God is like. This revelation alone, along with special revelation that has been incorporated into Scripture (which is inerrant in the original manuscripts and must be interpreted according to the grammaticohistorical method), provides the much-needed answers to the inescapable questions.

The Scriptures point to a God who is personal, independent, immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, holy, loving, wise, good and truthful (chap. 5). His single essence is shared fully by three persons (chap. 6).

At this point Forlines pauses to develop his four tests for worldviews (chap. 7), tests which are validated by both man's constitutional makeup and the theistic arguments. They demonstrate the reasonableness and the singular ability of the Christian worldview to meet fully the needs of both the human mind and heart.

This apologetic leads to the author's anthropology (chaps. 8, 9) in which dichotomy and traducianism are defended. Man came into being, not through evolution, but through the creative work of God which took place during six solar days (hence a young earth). Man is a person created both in the rational and moral likeness of God and is designed for relationships. Because of man's personhood and its resulting interplay of dependence, independence, and interdependence, Forlines argues that "influence and response" are more appropriate terms for describing the interaction of the divine in the human decision-making process than the more determinative "cause and effect."

Sin has caused a malfunction in the divine image in man, so that while the constituent parts remain intact after the fall (sin is transmitted according to the natural headship view), man no longer thinks, acts, and feels in a way that is pleasing to God. Although man may rightly be described as totally depraved, as a person he retains the power of choice, but his will can be exercised only within the framework of possibilities established by God; hence it is not an absolute freedom. Therefore, influence can be brought to bear upon his will but cannot guarantee or determine its actions. "Dead in trespasses and sins" means that man is cut off from communion with God, not that he is totally deaf toward God's communications.

After anthropology the author presents his Christology (chap. 10). Christ, who came both to be man's kinsman redeemer and to reveal God to man, is fully human and fully divine in one person. He was impeccable, though his temptations and triumphs were real. He was raised, ascended, was exalted, and will remain forever in the same physical body which he possessed during his earthly life.

Christology is followed by the author's soteriology (chap. 11). He defends the penal satisfaction view of the atonement, which includes both the active and passive obedience of Christ, and rejects the governmental view held by a number of Arminians. Through union with Christ the benefits of Christ's atoning work become the believer's in a real, not merely declarative, sense. Consistent with the author's view of personhood is his defense of the traditional age of accountability at which time, but not before, infants are held liable for their sin before God.

By its nature the valid experience of justification necessarily results in sanctification, and it is only easy-believism which says otherwise (chap. 12). Scripture teaches that there is a basic change in the personality of redeemed people both in the conscious and sub-conscious levels, so that subsequent actions reflect the changed inner nature. Self-denial is required, but not the annihilation of the self. Sanctification involves the restoration of the functional likeness of God that was lost in the fall. Forlines defends the Classical Arminian view of conditional monergism in regard to justification and regeneration, which he sees as acts of God but acts which do not take place without the exercise of faith on the part of the recipient.

Salvation is conditioned upon a single, not double, response that may be described both as an attitude "from" sin and "to" Christ (chap. 13). Faith that involves a commitment to Christ, including his Lordship, is part of a framework of possibilities created by the Holy Spirit for the will. Forlines charges that if regeneration is the beginning of sanctification and God cannot enter with his sanctifying grace until the guilt is removed via justification, then Calvinism is in trouble with its view of regeneration as prior to justification. Furthermore, there can be no regeneration before faith because regeneration is a redemptive act. Justification is grounded on Christ alone but is bestowed only on the condition of faith.

By these Arminian principles Forlines concludes that it is possible for a person who has been truly saved to become once again lost and fall under the wrath of God, though this apostasy can occur but once (chap. 14). He attacks the popular "once saved, always saved" concept and counters Calvinism by arguing that the ability to fall away is necessitated both by the definition of a person and certain "apostasy" texts such as Heb 6:4-6 and 10:26-29. He further argues that while the Calvinistic "cause and effect" model is unable to harmonize the entrance of sin into the universe with the sovereignty of God, the "influence and response" model sees God's wisdom as bringing about the execution of his will, particularly using the conditional continuance of salvation in the matter of the believer's perseverance.

At this point the author presents his understanding of the doctrine of election (chap. 15). He argues against both the unlimited and limited views of determinism that he detects in various Calvinistic writers with their different orders of the decrees. He attempts to counter the Calvinistic doctrine of election on the basis of its three assumptions. (1) Against the principle that divine sovereignty requires unconditional election, he argues that man's personhood negates the "cause and effect" model while the "influence and response" model better fits the biblical anthropology. Forlines holds that God's inscrutable foreknowledge of events means that it is certain that they will occur but not that they are necessary. The sovereign and wise God is able to accomplish his purposes through the appropriate "influence and response." (2) Against the assertion that total depravity precludes the response of faith from a sinner before regeneration, Forlines maintains that the satisfaction view of the atonement implies that God cannot regenerate before the guilt of sin is removed through justification. (3) Against the statement that free salvation precludes conditional election, Forlines argues that there are conditional efficacious decrees, decrees to influence, and decrees to permit events such as sin, by which God works effectively.

To buttress his defense of the classical Arminian view of election, Forlines challenges the exegetical understanding of important texts used by Calvinists to support conditional election, such as Rom 9:14-29; 8:30; John 1:12-13; 3:14-15; 8:37-44; and Acts 13:48 (chap. 16). He concludes that none of these passages requires unconditional election; he furthermore believes that Romans 9 supports conditional election.

Having dealt with the "Calvinistic texts," Forlines proceeds to marshal biblical support for conditional election (chap. 17). He concludes from (1) his study of the Greek words proorizo (predestine), progin&ko (foreknow), eklegomai (elect), haireomai (chosen), and ekloge (elected); (2) the extent of the offer of salvation, including the broadness of those called and the "whosoever" passages; (3) the unlimited extent of the atonement, which he sees in verses such as John 3:16 and 1 Tim 2:6; (4) the logical requirement of avoiding universalism; (5) the necessity of avoiding a double payment with regard to sinners in hell; and (6) God's desire for the salvation of sinners (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9) that unconditional election is the biblical implication.

The author's final chapter (chap. 18) deals with communicating the Christian message in a postmodern culture. Forlines perceptively reviews the cultural shifts that have produced the postmodern mindset and asserts the importance and sole adequacy of both general and special revelation in ministering to the contemporary paradigm.

At the end of the book are two appendices, one on the sins of ignorance and presumptuous sins in both testaments and another on legalism in the book of Galatians. The footnotes for the entire book follow the appendices, and at the very end are the author/ subject and the Scripture indices.

The author is to be commended on a number of counts. He gives careful attention to exegetical detail and demonstrates an unusual combination of intellectual argument and spiritual application. He also takes "the high road" in his argumentation, avoiding ad hominem tactics. He evidences careful reading of the original works of those whom he opposes (principally Calvinistic writers) and carefully attempts to distinguish between their views and common caricatures of those views.

Calvinistic writers will disagree on a number of matters. They will be unsympathetic to the suggested adequacy of his "influence and response" model as an explanation of God's exercise of his sovereignty in regard to the human will. While not denying the integrity of human personhood, Calvinists operate with a far more radical and absolute understanding of total depravity and the condition of spiritual death, which can only be remedied by a cataclysmic act of the Holy Spirit. They will also object to the failure to distinguish adequately between the logical and the chronological orders of the decrees, a distinction that allows regeneration to come logically before faith and repentance. Reformed writers will also disagree on the interpretation of many texts involving unconditional election, perseverance, and eternal security.

But Forlines has presented to the Christian community an excellent practical presentation and defense of the classical non-Wesleyan Arminianism that is rarely represented in the systematic theology sections of academic and church libraries, a challenge for Calvinistic writers to answer, and an example of the necessary and fruitful wedding of doctrine and life directed toward the zealous ministry of the gospel toward the lost. --Lou Igou Hodges, JETS, Dec. 2002

Must-Read Arminian Theology!  Apr 14, 2006
Forlines's extensive conservative treatment of postmodernism and his "total personality" approach to systematic theology make this a worthwhile read for those wanting a conservative evangelical approach to systematic theology. Thus, I would recommend this book to all who want to understand evangelical theology. Forlines writes the book in a conversational manner reminiscent of the late Southern Baptist theologian Dale Moody, complete with illustrative anecdotes. While this might be offputting to a few scholarly readers, it makes the work more engaging and human--even, one might say, postmodern! But what will attract most readers to this book is what Forlines calls "Classical Arminianism"--that is, the Arminianism of Arminius. Forlines is what some are now calling "Reformed Arminian"--i.e., like Arminius, he is much closer to Calvinism in his approach to depravity, grace, the satisfactional nature of atonement, justification, imputation, sanctification, etc. Furthermore, Forlines presents a much more grace-oriented Arminian approach to the doctrines of perseverance and apostasy. Thus he is not semi-Pelagian like so many contemporary Arminians. This is a fascinating read, even for those who are not Arminian. The Arminian theology of this book is overlooked because it is a larger systematic. However, Forlines's treatment of Arminianism is itself well worth the price of the book. I recommend the book without reservation.
A Modern Classical Arminian Systematic Theology  Jan 2, 2004
The Quest for Truth is Dr. Forlines' reworking of his Systematics (1975). As both works are really systematic theologies, the old title is much better but the work as a whole is a welcome classical Arminian counter-balance to the predominance of Calvinist and Dispensational systematic theologies in modern times. In my view, this is the great value of the book - although Dr. Forlines would likely see his "total personality approach" as equally important.

What I regard as the book's greatest value is in two main areas. The first is in correcting a number of Calvinist misconceptions of what the classical Arminian viewpoint really is, and the second is in generally going on to present the classical Arminian view of things (although, as will be seen below, he does occasionally depart from the classical Arminian view). For instance, in correcting Calvinist misconceptions of the classical Arminain viewpoint, we find Dr. Forlines making a strong defence of (i) the authority of Scripture, (ii) God's foreknowledge of contingent events, (iii) fallen man's inability to come to salvation apart from divine grace, (iv) the priority and necessity of grace for salvation, (v) the view that justification consists of the imputation of Christ's own righteousness to the believer by faith and (vi) the view that sanctification is both distinct from and a necessary result of justification (thereby rejecting the easy-believism views of folks like Charles Stanley and Zane Hodges). The second main value of the book is in a number of Dr. Forlines' attacks on Calvinist errors. For instance, he defends the view that faith and repentance preceding justification in saying that "there can be no divine action based on justification that has not already occurred" and, as a result, that "regeneration cannot precede faith." (p. 262) Similarly, in arguing that election is conditional on faith in Christ, he answers John Piper and shows that Arminianism is compatible with the Sovereignty of God by saying the following: "The question that I am concerned about is not whether some constraint is imposed on God outside His will. I do not believe that is the case either. The question is whether His own holy nature forbids Him to choose anyone for salvation apart from Christ. ... Will not His holy nature forbid Him from performing a redemptive act on a person before the death and righteousness of Christ is imputed to him? I think it will." (p. 263)

There are two main things that I regard as drawbacks to The Quest for Truth, however. The first is the treatment and attention given to "post-modernism". As has been noted in at least one other review, there is a noticeable lack of footnotes when that topic is dealt with, but in my view the portrayal of the current attitude in society is not quite accurate. In short, while I would agree with Dr. Forlines that there is an increase in relativism in the area of beliefs relating to religion, culture and ideals, I would maintain that the areas of "private morality" and so-called "social justice" are better explained without reference to the rather vague concept of post-modernism. With respect to "private morality", it appears to me that the general view in society today is that of libertarianism in that people generally feel they have both a legal and moral right to choose whether or not to have an abortion or to engage in pre-marital sex or homosexual conduct. On the other hand, with respect to issues of "social justice" it appears to me that the various positions of the political left are becoming more and more dominant in society to the extent that positions of relativists, libertarians or conservatives are regarded as evil and a bigger role for government is generally seen as something that is positively good. This, however, is a minor complaint with Dr. Forlines' analysis. In my view, the second negative thing about the book is more serious and comes with Dr. Forlines' use and explanation of his "total personality approach". Although he explains this approach in more detail, I was left with the distinct impression that it places much more emphasis on self-worth and the alleged value of man than Arminius ever dreamed of advocating, and thereby occasionally distorts the classical Arminian view, while also bringing the danger of oversimplify the issues at stake between Calvinists and Arminians. For instance, in dealing with the question of the Perseverance of the Saints, although Dr. Forlines correctly mentions that some only hold to this point among the five Calvinist points (and would therefore be "Arminian" on the other 4 points), he goes on to state that "the theological foundation that supports the possibility of becoming lost again after a person is saved is found in what it means to be made in the image of God." (p. 276). Similarly, in speaking of the debate over Unconditional Election, Dr. Forlines writes that he feels "it has been a mistake over the centuries to focus the conflict between Calvinists and Ariminians on whether fallen or redeemed man has a free will. The real question is: Is fallen man a personal being or is he sub-personal?" (p. 313). And, again, rather than focusing on God's gracious provision of salvation for undeserving sinners in having His sinless Son come to die for us, Dr. Forlines remarks that "The purchase price is to be given consideration in giving an estimate of the value of a person" (pp. 461-462). In my view, that type of argument is not only incorrect, but carries the danger of encouraging readers to prejudge the issue on methodological or philosophical grounds rather than deal the Scriptural texts.

All in all, though, the book makes the vast majority of its arguments from Scripture and generally does an excellent job at presenting the Arminian position. As such, it is worth getting not only for Arminians but also for those seeking to balance their libraries with a scholarly work something other than a Calvinist or Dispensationalist perspective.

Free Will in a Postmodern World  Jan 4, 2003
In a more comprehensive follow up to his "Systematics" of the 1970's, Leroy Forlines presents the tenets of "reformed" Arminianism in language easily understood by the uninitiated. He goes beyond the typical, "dry" theological presentation, arguing persuasively for his position on the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. His argument, however, does not cower in ecclesiastical irrelevance. Instead, it confronts the Postmodern mood of the culture bringing the systematic truth of scripture into sharp conflict with the narcissism our current age.

He deals with the various familiar doctrines standing for the plenary verbal inspiration of scripture and the traditional doctrine of the trinity. His view of the nature of man acknowledges total depravity, but he diverges from some Calvinists, saying that the image of God remains in man to the extent that he is able to choose Christ of his own volition (aided of course by the drawing of the Holy Spirit.) While some may misunderstand this as a semi-pelagian view, he blunts that criticism with his explanation of what the image of God really means and with his insistence that man, apart from the wooing of the Holy Spirit, cannot choose Christ.

Forlines reserves much of his book (about 25%) for a detailed defense of the classic Arminian view of Conditional Election. This section is "must reading" for those who may be disciples of Calvin, having never read a full Arminian explanation of the subject. His reasoning is tight; his scriptural support, impeccable; and his arguments hard to refute. Instead of an arbitrary and arrogant dismissal (a response so often employed many Calvinists), his work on this subject deserves a reasoned, detailed response from those who disagree.

I would offer only two criticisms: First, while this book is certainly accessible to the uninitiated student, it lacks some weight because it doesn't appeal to as many primary sources as one might expect. (For instance, his second chapter, "The Acquisition of Upper Story Knowledge," while an obvious reference to the noumenal/phenomenal ideas of Kant, cites not Kant but Francis Shaeffer.) This will hurt the text as a college reference, but it will probably help the text in its appeal to the general population.

The second criticism is really more of a request. I would like to see Forlines expand this edition, including several chapters on eschatology, the nature and function of the church, and a more complete development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

That being said, I believe that this work is a welcome addition to the field and a cogent presentation of classical Arminianism. Perhaps a presentation like this will aid the understanding of those believers who have heard only caricatures of Arminianism, but never really understood what it means. Who knows, they may even find themselves agreeing!

A practical yet scholarly work of theology  Aug 7, 2001
Perhaps no study is needed in churches today more than this cogent study by F. Leroy Forlines. The work is comprehensive, balanced, and in touch with contemporary thought. The approach of the work is especailly refreshing. The author effectively interacts with the postmodern mindset so prevalent today. In addition, the author pursues in systematic fashion a biblical alternative to the fatalistic bent of current works of theology. This book pursues the biblical course of 'influence and response' and provides irrefutable logic concerning the true meaning and effectiveness of such weighty matters as atonement, predestination, election, and perseverence. For those seeking a more biblical alternative to Calvinistic theologies, this is a must-have work. All in all the book is engaging and extremely worthy of thoughtful study.

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