God’s Sovereignty is an Inexhaustible Subject
This collaboration of writers have taken on the daunting task of exploring some of the difficult, far reaching yet comforting aspects of this, God’s attribute. While this collection of essays is a bit older, first published in 1995, and then a second edition in 2000, it should be a cornerstone of your theological library. I found this to be a brilliant treatment of passages, terminology and pastoral issues; which you are sure to read when the authors of the essays include names such as Packer, Grudem, Carson, Piper, Storms and Clowney.
Structured Approach of Still Sovereign
The book is divided into three parts: Biblical Analysis, which develops sovereignty themes in specific books and passages on Divine Election, Perseverance and Foreknowledge. Theological Issues, which focus on Effectual Calling, Grace, Assurance, and Love. Finally, Pastoral Reflections, which develop practical thinking and practice from the “on the ground” pastoral issues of Prayer, Preaching and Practice.
Of course, you are going to find many more theological exposition in the first essays. I found them to be very rich in mining through the rich veins of scripture on this subject. The first two parts of the book should be required reading for any person claiming Christ or wishing to know more about the Christian God. This central theme is that important, and I was struck by the urgency and weight that the writers brought into their essays.
The purpose of this collection is noted in the preface by Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware as a reaction:
“Ours is a culture in which the tendency is to exalt what is human and diminish what is divine….In contrast, the vision of God affirmed in these pages is 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 outline of the three sections are particularly effective, as the first part of the book focuses not solely on justifying God’s sovereignty, but also teaching it from primary texts in the Old Testament, the Book of John, and the Pauline epistles. Developing the Biblical basis for the doctrine of Sovereignty is key to the later essays and always is a necessary beginning of any discussion.
The exposition of Divine Election in Pauline Literature was particularly compelling. The development of the theme of Sovereignty throughout Paul’s writings was astounding, as Donald J. Westblade develops this theme from multiple angles in his brilliant essay. While addressing the more well known texts in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1, Westblade encompasses passages of giving, generosity, humility, sin, obedience to authority, and witness as all purposes pointing to glorifying God.
Specific Points of Interest
While the entire book is strong (and how could it not be with this line-up?), I found very dynamic issues that helped to develop better understandings. Controversial subjects debated from Arminianism set up specific arguments in Prevenient Grace, Effectual Calling, Perseverance and Foreknowledge. For someone looking to familiarize themselves with the primary different aces, or simply to deepen their understanding of difficult passages, these sections bear a particular importance.
One area that draws me over and over again to a reformed position is the willingness to drive headlong into passages that are difficult or, at first pass, may appear to be contradictory. This willingness is enabled because of the foundation from Sovereignty. By starting with God’s ultimate sovereignty in order to approach difficult texts, I repeatedly find the answers are more than satisfactory, but also develop and illuminate a better understanding of God’s character and attributes.
This book is a reflection of that willingness to address difficult issues, but enabled by the central focus that God is Sovereign, and all scripture reflects that key distinction.