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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tackling Tough Theology--on Vacation

While at family camp, Mr. Edwards and I enjoyed a theological group discussion about the doctrine of election and man's will. The following resource list is adapted from an email I wrote to the discussion participants following up with some helpful resources on this topic.

The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink (1930). This slim book tackles the big issues related to God's sovereignty in election and in (gulp!) reprobation. (Reprobation is the flip side of the election coin, that is, that God has ordained some to be lost, as he did Judas.) Pink doesn't shy away from any of the hard verses, handles the issue of evangelism (the Gospel must be proclaimed), and even addresses the two most Arminian verses: John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 (both of which were mentioned in our conversation at camp).

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer (1961). Another slim book packed with good stuff. Packer explains why it is an error to conclude that God's sovereignty in salvation makes evangelism meaningless. My understanding is that Billy Graham had this book and made all sort of notes in the margins. (According to Josh Harris.) 

Spurgeon's Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit  by Charles H. Spurgeon (1865). The sermon "The Holy Spirit compared to the Wind" on John 3:8 ("The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.") is not available to read online, but is included in this collection. It is sermon # 630 if you have access to another Spurgeon collection. 

John Piper also preached on John 3:8, "The Free Will of the Wind," and my link will take you to a transcript and to the audio.

John Piper has also preached on John 3:16 "God So Loved the World, Part 1" and "God So Loved the World, Part 2" . You can read the sermons or listen. It is the second sermon, Part 2, that includes the classic quote from D. L. Moody (John Piper speaking in the quote below):

My father, who was a great evangelist who led more people to Christ than I ever will, used to quote D. L. Moody like this: Written on the outside of the gate of heaven are the words, “Whosoever will may come.” And on the other side of that gate, which you can read from the inside, is written: “Chosen before the foundation of the world.”

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology podcast. If you'd rather listen than read, this podcast of Grudem teaching a Sunday School class systematic theology is excellent. There are dozens of lectures here, but the three most related to this issue are "Doctrine of Election and Reprobation Part 1 & 2" and "The Gospel Call and Effectual Call" and "Doctrine of Regeneration." Grudem would probably be described as "reformed" but he does a good job of presenting all the views, I think.

I think it is also helpful to keep in mind that the "Calvinists" or "Reformed" people that you meet are not all the same. Some are paedobaptists (infant baptizers who follow a covenant theology that influences their views of the spiritual formation of children--this would be R.C.Sproul, for instance, but not John Piper) and some are postmillenialists (as was John Calvin; today Douglas Wilson is a vocal proponent, but again, not Piper who is pre-mill). 

If you are interested in a more philosophic treatment of the free will-predestination tension, Jonathan Edwards is probably the best resource. Edwards's essay "The Freedom of the Will" (1754) is a difficult read, but makes the argument through philosophy as well as Scripture that God is sovereign over our will. Another fantastic and somewhat easier read from Edwards is "The End For Which God Created the World" which is included in its entirety in John Piper's book "God's Passion for His Glory", a book that you can download for free online. This book is not about TULIP, per se, but shows that God's creation exists for His glory. (TULIP would be the short-hand for the "five points" of Calvinism, explained by John Piper in this article.)

For my blog readers, I've mentioned some of these resources before and you may remember these posts quoting Spurgeonthese posts mentioning Jonathan Edwards's writing, and this post recommending Grudem's podcasts.


Davesgirl said...

Thank you so much for these great resources all in one place! This family camp sounds like such a wonderful place to be encouraged and built up in the Lord. God bless!

Mrs. Edwards said...

It is good to hear from you, Davesgirl! I hope you have some time to enjoy some of these resources. I've learned so much from them over the years.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

Great resources. We were just talking about this particular area of faith last Sunday. It is a particular area of interest to me and my Mr.
I would probably stand in another 'camp' regarding the issue ('forknew'), but non-the less feel very strongly about understanding words that often make us 'gulp'. I once visited in a ladies class at a Presbyterian church, with a dear friend, for a quarter. And along the way one sister spoke up and asked how we knew who was elected & predestined. She was sincere. So many areas of faith, many just don't understand even about their own theology. ( I stand in that camp-- lack of understanding). But given some time to study, read and trust God's wisdom in all things, one can be confident in thought & always in His love and care for us. I really like what your Dad said.. beautiful.
will be reading many of these links. Thanks as always.

Mrs. Edwards said...

I love what you said: "given some time to study, read and trust God's wisdom in all things." After all, when we study God and His character, it isn't a matter of opinion, like a debate on amnesty or gun control or tax cuts, it is a process of discovering the truth about God's character and attributes that He has revealed to us.

It is a blessed thing to, in humility, approach this issue as one of discovery. After all, it isn't what I think God should be or what makes sense to my mind that matters. It is what He says about Himself. Sometimes I don't particularly like or understand what He says about Himself (who can understand that Jesus is fully God and fully man?), and yet, in faith I put my trust in Him and accept His design.

I love your comments, Laura! Keep 'em coming. May God be with you as you begin the new school season in a new place.

Kellie said...

Thank you for all the links -- I have a friend who has been asking a lot of questions on election, so I will send her a link to this post. But I'd also like to look into some of these resources. : ) A book that really helped me is The Five Points of Calvinsim by Edwin H. Palmer.

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