Item description for Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace by Thomas R. Schreiner & Bruce a. Ware...
Overview Scripture says that God is sovereign over all things, yet we have free will to determine our actions. So to what extent is God supreme? In this masterful examination of the sovereignty of God, 13 respected scholars help you understand the full authority of the Lord---and explain how to apply this knowledge to your life. Previously published as two volumes:The Grace of God and The Bondage of the Will.
Publishers Description The relationship between divine sovereignty and the human will is a topic of perennial theological dispute and one that is gaining increased attention among contemporary evangelicals. In Still Sovereign, thirteen scholars write to defend the classical view of God's sovereignty. According to the editors, "Ours is a culture in which the tendency is to exalt what is human and diminish what is divine. Even in evangelical circles, we find increasingly attractive a view of God in which God is one of us, as it were, a partner in the unfolding drama of life. . . . In contrast, the vision of God affirmed in these pages is of one who reigns supreme over all, whose purposes are accomplished without fail, and who directs the course of human affairs, including the central drama of saving a people for the honor of his name, all with perfect holiness and matchless grace." The fourteen chapters of Still Sovereign (originally part of the two-volume, The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will) are divided into three parts. Part 1 offers fresh exegesis of the biblical texts that bear most directly on the doctrines of election, foreknowledge, and perseverance of the saints. Part 2 explores theological and philosophical issues related to effectual calling, prevenient grace, assurance of salvation, and the nature of God's love. The final section applies the doctrines of election and divine sovereignty to Christian living, prayers, evangelism, and preaching.
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Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Miles V. Van Pelt (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages, academic dean, and director of the Summer Institute for Biblical Languages at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He also serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Reformed Church in Madison, Mississippi. He and his wife, Laurie, have four children.
Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is the executive vice president of Bible publishing and Bible publisher at Crossway. He serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible series and the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series, and is the author of several books, including Edwards on the Christian Life. He lives with his wife, Stacey, and their five children in Wheaton, Illinois.
Thomas R. Schreiner currently resides in Louisville, in the state of Kentucky.
Thomas R. Schreiner has published or released items in the following series...
Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Biblical Theology Christian Proclamation Commentary
Counterpoints: Bible & Theology
New American Commentary New Testament
New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology
Reviews - What do customers think about Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace?
A Solid Defense Of Calvinism Oct 2, 2007
Wayne Grudem, Chapter 6, Perseverance Of The Saints: (THEY WERE NEVER SAVED - HEBREWS 6)
'enlightened' Gk photizo Eph 1:18 'that the eyes of your enlightenment' and Heb 6:4 'having once being enlightened' : 'Contrary to the assertion of several interpreters, does not carry the sense of 'believed the gospel' or 'came to faith' in these or any of its 11 NT uses. It refers to learning and understanding, and therefore the most that can be confidently claimed for it is that it speaks of those who have heard and understood the gospel. Certainly such intellectual understanding of the facts of the gospel is an important step toward saving faith, but it does not in itself constitute the element of personal trust in Christ that is essential to faith.' pgs 141,142
'Another good parallel is seen in the false teachers described in 2 Pet 2:20-22. They had 'escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our (Kurios) and (Soter) Jesus Christ.' vs 20, which indicates that there had been both knowledge of the gospel and repentance, but then they had turned back to their previous ways. Moreover, they had never really been saved, for Peter says, 'It has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.' vs 22 - in other words, the repentance was only an outward cleansing , and did not change their true nature.' pg 148
Presents the Calvinist viewpoint well Jul 9, 2006
Although not a Calvinist (5 point, 4 point or otherwise), I felt duty bound to read this book as it presents most of the leading Calvinist theologians of today. It is almost a "who's who" of reformed Calvinist thought - only R C Sproul is notable by his absence. And, mark, this is 5-point Calvinism - yes, including the "L" of limited atonement! Those looking for the more moderate Calvinism of, say, R.T. Kendall will not find it here.
Space does not allow for the detailed discussion each article deserves, so this review focuses on a few articles (particularly those other reviews have overlooked) and make some general observations on the book's contribution to the perennial predestination verses free will debate.
The collection kicks-off with Ray Ortlund's case studies on God's sovereignty in the Old Testament. In doing so it nearly shoots itself in the foot, at least for this reviewer! Whilst Ortlund's rather pugnacious article makes some reasonable exegetical points concerning Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1, his section on Jonah perpetuates the misunderstanding surrounding this great prophet. To call the first true missionary to the Gentiles (who, incidently, had a 100% success rate) a "nasty, sulky prophet...clearly he is the bad example we are not to follow" is a staggering insult. If apologising is in order in Heaven, Orlund will be joining what will probably be a very long queue to the prophet Jonah!
Robert Yarborough contributes a more conciliatory essay on Sovereignty in John (a response to Grant Osborne's thoughtful essay in Grace of God). Donald Westblade handles the Calvinist view of election in an equally thoughtful manner, but in not avoiding the stumbling stone of double predestination, for this reviewer he inadequately deals with the implications of divine foreknowledge.
Wayne Grudem's essay on Hebrews 6, as other reviewers have noted, is a highlight of the collection. Whilst Hebrews 6 is not the only problem passage for Perseverance to be found in the Bible (Ezekiel 18:24-26, 2 Peter 2: 20-22 and even John 15: 5-6 spring to mind), it is perhaps the most sustained teaching in the New Testament contradicting "Once Saved Always Saved". Grudem argues well for the passage to be read in a Calvinist light. Though he crowns his argument with the old cliché of "the backslider was never saved", the article ingratiates itself by neither quoting the Westminster Confession, nor trashing opposing views and by keeping its Biblical focus on the passage in hand, rather than wandering off into the warm, sunlit uplands of Romans 9-11, Ephesians 1-2 and certain parts of the Gospel of John. Would that more Calvinists took this approach!
Four articles deserve special consideration as between them they cover what is, in effect, the keystone of 5-point Calvinist doctrine. If Bruce Ware can prove Effectual Calling and Grace (those who are elect in Christ will be saved come what may), Thomas Schreiner can disprove Prevenient Grace (God's grace is extended to all, it is down to us to appropriate it in salvation - a key part of Wesleyan Arminianism), J.I Packer reconcile God's love being for all, but only saving the elect (without the elect having to do anything about it), and John Piper prove that there are two wills in God, then 5-point Calvinism has won the day and the emperor is truly clothed.
Though the arguments of these four authors are strong, and certainly scriptural, in the opinion of this reviewer, they are not compelling. Schreiner's comment that, "The scandal of the Calvinist system is that ultimately the problems posed cannot be fully resolved," sounds like an admission of defeat. He does not adequately resolve the passages which state that salvation (and hence God's grace) is offered to all, such as John 1:9-13 (note how easy it is to assume v.13 is predestinarian if you have already decided it to be so!) and John 3: 14-18. Ware uses scripture rather selectively in his defence of ECG. He admits that there are problems with passages such as Rom 10:13 but doesn't follow them through adequately. Packer writes a characteristically pithy article, but doesn't resolve the tension inherent in the question of whether God's love can still be for all in the face of limited atonement. The only true Calvinist resolution remains to go down Pink's route and make God's love truly selective. This would satisfy logic, but do a disservice to the Biblical revelation of God! Piper, probably Calvinism's leading apologist, rests too strongly on secondary sources. I also agree with another reviewer that he is wrong about 1 Tim 4:2. He is hamstrung by a false dichotomy between whether God's highest commitment is to his glory, or to a love relationship with the saved. Why should God have to choose - he is God after all!
Don Carson's article on Assurance is characteristically thoughtful, well written and rounded. In summarising Compatibilism (an attempt to reconcile the full Biblical revelation of God's character with 5-point Calvinism) Carson inadvertently reveals the problem: God's character as revealed in Jesus Christ through the Bible is too rich and multifaceted to fit into the confines of a theological system, even one as established as Calvinism. For this reason Still Sovereign is unlikely to be the last word on the subject.
Still Sovereign is a response to The Grace of God and the Will of Man, a collection of essays edited by Clark Pinnock in 1989. If time allows, reading the two volumes in parallel is highly recommended. As Grace of God is pre-Openness Pinnock (just - the germination of the Open Theist seed is obvious, and co-Open Theists Richard Rice and John Sanders feature prominently), the response in Sovereign is more measured and less knee-jerk than much of what has been published more recently. It is also a valuable introduction (and summary) of many of the contributors' theology, as well as contemporary 5-point Calvinist thought.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I read it through to the end and found myself agreeing with quite a lot of it - and reading other parts with gritted teeth. Where it succeeds (where, I am sorry to report, Grace of God fails), is to keep its focus on the Bible, rather than appeal to philosophy. Still Sovereign's contributors are given enough space to develop their arguments, and are not constrained by the editor. Calvinism remains the majority view in evangelicalism, and this book explains it well.
Thoughtful, challenging explanation of Reformed theology Apr 25, 2002
This book is a condensation of "The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will," which was a 2 volume work written to defend Calvinism, and as a response to 2 books by Clark Pinnock: "The Grace of God" and "The Grace of God, the Will of Man." A few chapters have been removed to make the original into one book, but most of the terrific articles remain.
To many people today, Calvinism is an anachronism. After the 11th September outrage, How can people take a teaching seriously which proclaims that God is good, and yet completely in control of the world? Could a good God really be all-powerful, and yet allow (or even ordain) atrocities like that?
The contributors show that a proper understanding of the Bible involves believing that God is indeed sovereign, yet also loving, just and good.
John Piper's helpful chapter asks the question "Are there 2 wills in God?" And then seeks to show that God does indeed "fulfil all his will" and yet "is not willing that any should perish."
S.M. Baugh discusses the meaning of "foreknowledge" in the Bible, and argues persuasively that God's foreknowledge must mean a lot more than knowing what is going to happen in the future.
Jerry Bridges shows that a belief in the sovereignty of God has practical implications for everyday living, while Samuel Storms explains how it is worth praying to a God who has already decreed "the end from the beginning." In fact, he argues that there is not much point in praying to a God who is not in complete control of his world.
This book has been one of the most helpful explanations of Calvinism which I have read. Highly recommended.
Best Available Apr 5, 2001
If you are looking for single, sustained, scholarly, and Biblical defense of predestination, then this book is a must-read. Several scholars join forces in this work to show that Arminianism is Biblically indefensible. Thomas Schreiner argues in his essay that Romans 9 teaches "individual election unto salvation," and his presentation is, in my mind at least, irrefutable. John Piper shows that the Calvinistic God is loving, and sincerely desires the salvation of all men, but still ordains only some to heaven. His essay on the "two wills of God" is one of the most enlightening articles I have read. Wayne Grudem spends a massive fifty pages exegeting passages in Hebrews that Arminians have claimed show that genuine Christians can lose salvation. His conclusion is that the Reformed doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints" stands firm, despite the warning passages of the book of Hebrews. S. M. Baugh's essay on the Biblical meaning of the term "foreknowledge" is more than a rehashing of the traditional Calvinistic prooftexts, and offers some fresh insights into the meaning of this word.
Overall, this book was well-written, scholarly, and Biblical. I highly recommend it. While not an easy-read, it is one of the best defenses of Calvinism I have encountered, and it puts most Arminian parallels to shame. For links to essays and articles written by John Piper and other Calvinists on predestination, I recommend the site,
This website is a massive resource of arguments for and against Calvinism, and is the best I have seen on this issue.
Stimulating Scholarship on Sovereignty Aug 25, 2000
This stimulating and scholarly book was condensed from the two-volume "The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will" published by Baker in 1995. Fourteen of those original chapters are included here, dealing with three areas of concern: 1. Biblical Analyses, 2. Theological Issues, and 3. Pastoral Reflections. Contributors include such renowned scholars, theologians, and pastors as Thomas Schreiner, D.A. Carson, J. I. Packer, John Piper, and Wayne Grudem.
The book commences with a very satisfying look at the sovereignty of God in the Old Testament, worked out carefully by Raymond Ortland Jr. Tom Schreiner's chapter on Romans 9 is likewise excellent and persuasive. Piper's chapter "Are There Two Wills in God?" is worthy of careful consideration for die-hard Calvinists. He offers a reconciliation between sovereign election and God's desire for all to be saved that is interesting . . . although I am not persuaded that his interpretation of I Tim. 2:4 is correct! Wayne Grudem's careful study of the Hebrews warning passages and the doctrine of perseverance is of special value. I highly commend it. His arguments are convincing and (I think) virtually impossible to refute. Packer's chapter on God's love is typically clear and concise and witty - but maybe a little too short for a book of this caliber. Carson's reflections on assurance offer food for thought by tying the issue together with other pertinent areas of theology. Baugh's look at foreknowledge and Schreiner's look at the Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace are also of value. Sam Storms, Jerry Bridges, and Ed Clowney offer helpful thoughts on the more pastoral issues.
The book is of special value in that it interacts well with opposing views and especially takes on Clark Pinnock and company who wrote "The Grace of God, the Will of Man" which is an attempted defense of Arminian theology. I think any theologian (from either side!) would benefit from a careful perusal of these pages.