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Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: Four Views (Perspectives) [Paperback]

By Paul Helm (Author), Bruce A. Ware (Author) & Roger Olson (Author)
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Item description for Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: Four Views (Perspectives) by Paul Helm, Bruce A. Ware & Roger Olson...

Classical Calvinist, Modified Calvinist, Classical Armenian, and Open Theist views are evenly and productively discussed in Perspectives on the Doctrine of God.

Publishers Description
"Perspectives on the Doctrine of God" presents in counterpoint form four basic common beliefs on the doctrine of God that have developed over the course of church history with a goal of determining which view is most faithful to Scripture.
Contributors to this fifth book in the PERSPECTIVES series are Regent College J.I. Packer chair in Theology and Philosophy Paul Helm (Classical Calvinist perspective), editor Bruce Ware (Modified Calvinist perspective), Baylor University professor of Theology Roger Olson (Classical Arminian perspective), and Hendrix College assistant professor of Religion John Sanders (Open Theist perspective).

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Item Specifications...

Studio: B&H Academic
Pages   273
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.2"
Weight:   0.76 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 15, 2008
Publisher   Broadman And Holman
Series  Perspectives  
ISBN  0805430601  
ISBN13  9780805430608  

Availability  4 units.
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More About Paul Helm, Bruce A. Ware & Roger Olson

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Paul Helm was educated at Worcester College, Oxford, and was for many years a member of the Philosophy Department of the University of Liverpool. From 1993-2000 he was the Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King's College, London. In 2001 he was appointed J.I.Packer Chair of Philosophical Theology at Regent College, Vancouver. He is presently a Teaching Fellow there.

Paul Helm has an academic affiliation as follows - Regent College, Vancouver King's College London King's College London.

Paul Helm has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Contours of Christian Theology
  2. Perspectives (B&H Publishing)
  3. Princeton Theological Monograph
  4. Reason & Religion

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Perspectives On The Doctrine Of God?

Worthy Effort at A Deep Subject  Oct 30, 2009
Who can begin to understand God? As Paul wrote, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Romans 11:33 ESV). There is simply no way that a book presenting four views within the evangelical church could possibly satisfy any theological reader concerning the doctrine of God but I do believe this is a worthy effort on the part of the theologians writtting here.

This book, edited by Bruce Ware, was good, solid, deep, theological reading. The book, as the title suggests, presents four views ranging from the Classical Calvinist Perspective (Paul Helm) all the way to the Open Theist Perspective (John Sanders). In-between were the views of the Moderate Calvinist Perspective (Bruce Ware) and the Classical Arminian Perspective (Roger Olson).

The tone of the book is one of a "loving debate" between friends. Other than the two Calvinists taking shots at Sanders, most of the authors were quite civil and charitable in their defenses and in their critiques of the other positions.

Oddly, the first perspective is from Paul Helm and Roger Olson quickly points out that it seems Helm must not have received the same guidelines as the other theologians since Helm spends his entire time defending election instead of his view of God. Helm seems to defend the Classical Calvinist position simply by defending the doctrine of unconditional election. Even Ware, the moderate Calvinist, finds Helm's defense odd. Helm really never gives us the Classical Calvinist view but simply lays out the election views of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and Calvin. He then proceeds to defend his position against the others before they have yet to even have a word.

Ware does a good job of presenting the moderate Calvinist view of God. Unlike Helm, Ware clearly understood what the book was about and he lays out his views of God point by point. Ware is clearly a five point Calvinist and yet he seeks to add a "middle knowledge" view concerning free will decisions about sin. In this way, Ware seeks to avoid making God the author of sin which is difficult for Helm in his Classical Calvinist position. However, Helm, in his response to Ware, shows the fallacy of such a view. Both Roger Olson and John Sanders, holding to libertarian free will, reject both Helm's and Ware's views since both hold to causality from God. Olson notes that while Ware seeks to avoid making God the author of sin, he never really does so since he continues to hold in divine determinism.

Olson defends the Classical Arminian position and does a good job. He gleams from various Arminian authors including Arminius, Wesley, Jack Cottrell, Thomas Oden, and others. He clearly shows that while he holds to free will, the heart of Arminius' view of God was God's love and not people's free will. Further, Olson shows why Arminians distance themselves from both Calvinists and Open theism by presenting the Arminian view of God's sovereignty through His exhaustive foreknowledge. I also believe that Olson and Sanders were both quite kind in their responses to the others in contrast to the Calvinists especially Helm.

Sanders ends the book with his presentation on the doctrine of God by presenting the Open View. Both Helm and Ware dealt with the open view in their defenses of their positions so by the time you get to Sanders you are aware that Helm and Ware consider Sanders on the verge of heresy. Sanders does make some statements that most evangelicals would have a tough time reading. For example, Sanders makes the claims that God "learns" from passages such as Genesis 22:12 or that God does not know the future completely. Sanders presents the open view with much grace but I tend to agree with Olson that Sanders' views have many holes in them and lack sound exegesis. Overall Sanders is the weakest of the four theologians despite probably being the most gracious toward the others.

Overall this is a great read. If you enjoy theology, you will indeed enjoy this book. I recommend it.
Thought Provoking  Aug 28, 2009
Helpful in seeing the different perspectives on God, particularly with regards to the issues of his sovereignty and his eternity and how that plays out with man's free will. Ware, Olson, and Sanders explain their views well, Helm not as well. Part of the fun in reading these "view" books, too, is to "hear" the tone with which each writer treats the other perspectives. Some are charitable; some aren't so much. This book is well worth the investment in terms of sorting through one's understanding of Scripture's revelation of God.
2 Perspectives on God?  May 8, 2009
I am only slightly joking when I say that there are two perspectives on the doctrine of God present in this book. There clearly are 4 different perspectives presented throughout, but only 2 of the essays actually articulate a doctrine of God and the God-world relation (Ware and Sanders). Paul Helm's essay is devoted almost exclusively to the doctrine of predestination. John Olson's response to Helm is ironic. Olson really chides Helm for not articulating a doctrine of God which is the whole point of the book. (Olson actually gets a bit snarky at this point.) The irony is that Olson does not articulate a doctrine of God in his essay either. With only 3 pages left in his essay Olson finally asks, "What model of God does classical Arminianism assume?" (page 170). Both of the essays by Helm and Olson have virtues in their own right, but in regards to articulating a doctrine of God and the God-world relation they are lacking.

On the whole the book is readable and the responses to each position are charitable. Helm's critiques are often pointed and thought provoking. His understanding of the relationship between philosophy and theology comes out nicely as well.

Ware's responses--as well as his essay--show a thorough understanding of Biblical exegesis and systematic theology. I think his philosophical theology could use a bit more work at several points such as God's relation to time. Ware tries to employ an Incarnational "qua move" to claim that God is both timeless and temporal. It is not entirely clear how one ought to interpret this.

Sanders' essay and responses show an understanding of philosophical theology and philosophy of time. His critiques of the other positions are fairly strong for the most part. I found his handling of scripture to be questionable on a few points. However, it offers a good taste of how open theists interpret various passages.

Overall this book is worth a careful read for anyone interested in systematic theology.
Arguments of Calvinism  Aug 20, 2008
This was an excellent book which was fair to every issue. It explains Calvinsim and its opponet theologies in a manner that is easy to read and understand. For the student of Theology it does an excellent job of explaining theologies in a manner that provides real understanding and information and that can be used in understanding the different theologies of the reform traditions.
A readable, scholarly achievement  Aug 15, 2008
One of the age old agreements of the theological community remains...God is. Yet there are a plethora of perspectives about who God is. In this readable and enjoyable repartee of argumentation, noted theologians Paul Helm, Bruce Ware, Roger Olson and John Sanders battle, respectfully mostly, about the Doctrine of God from the Classic Calvinist, Modified Calvinist, Free Will and Open Theistic views. The writing is scholarly, and thought provoking, but assessible for the reader. Most intersting is their rebuttals of one another's essays which makes for a marvelous and spirited read. While each are strong in their perspectives, Ware tends to be the most extensive, possibly because he has to somehow explicate a modified position. Olson and Sanders are also particularly well written. the one weak link is Helm because he tends to be more defensive in his discourse. This text, while read for a class, is one I would read for theological enlightenment. It opened my eyes to come to grips with my own view of God. A great read!

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