[Reading] ➬ Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension ➳ D.A. Carson – Moi-sosedi.info
This is not a complete review because I read only the introduction and the last two chapters The Soteriology of John and The Formulation of the Tension Maybe when I get sometime, I ll come back for the rest although I may have already gleaned most of the profit.With that caveat, I found the portions of this book that I did read incredibly helpful I found Carson saying many of the same things I have been taught muchclearly than I have ever heard them said before The chapter This is not a complete review because I read only the introduction and the last two chapters The Soteriology of John and The Formulation of the Tension Maybe when I get sometime, I ll come back for the rest although I may have already gleaned most of the profit.With that caveat, I found the portions of this book that I did read incredibly helpful I found Carson saying many of the same things I have been taught muchclearly than I have ever heard them said before The chapter on John would have been extremely difficult or impossible for me to follow had I not preached through John and read most of Carson s commentary on it first But having done those things, it was a big help.Carson s underlying commitment is to biblical theology over and above systematic theology , and that commitment guides his entire approach Most of the book consists of exegesis Even though Carson devotes seven chapters to intertestamental Jewish literature, I understand from the introduction that he does so primarily to set up the background of John.Given his commitment to biblical theology and based on his study of the Biblical data, Carson approaches the theological questions with an important presupposition the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility cannot be solved by finite human beings Carson says, To recognise this is already a major advance, for it rejects those easy solutions which impose alien philosophical constructions upon the biblical data, or which dismiss those elements of the biblical data not conducive to the investigator s system 2 In the concluding chapter, Carson states his commitment to this premise in even stronger language He says, If a person disagrees with this conclusion and seeks final solutions to the problem, we will enjoy little common ground in this debate 220 Thus the title of the book.That said, Carson adamantly rejects the claim that the tension itself is illogical He offers the following illustration The whole tension remains restless in our hands but it is the restlessness of having a few randomly selected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle when thousandsare needed to complete the design 218.In addition, Carson does not leave the reader without any direction Rather, to state the tensionbiblically and to expose unbiblical statements of it.So what does the Bible say about this topic, and what doesn t it say The following points come from Carson s concluding chapter, in which he applies logic to the fruits of his exegesis.Necessity of the TensionCarson says, It is axiomatic that any truly monotheistic religion is going to experience somewhere the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility 205 He is right, but I had never thought about that before This tension is a difficulty not only for Christianity, but for anyone who claims monotheism.Free WillCarson argues strongly that the Bible never presents free will as what he calls absolute power to the contrary In other words, no one can resist God s will However, he also argues that it is both exegetically and philosophically vital to affirm some form of free will He cites A.A Hodge a good Calvinist This matter of free will underlies everything If you bring it to question, it is infinitelythan Calvinism Everything is gone if free will is gone the moral system is gone if free will is gone you cannot escape, except by materialism on the one hand or pantheism on the other 207 Carson ultimately opts with Hodge for what Hodge calls free agency 209 , which I understand to be free will apart from power to resist God Carson argues that absolute power to the contrary cannot possibly be the essence of free will, or else God himself would not be free, since he cannot sin 207 Also, if free will consists of the ability to resist God, then we will be slaves for all eternity, since there will be no sin in heaven 208.Necessary Distinctions in the Statement of God s SovereigntyCarson argues that while God is completely sovereign over both good and evil, it is vital to maintain a distinction between his sovereignty over good and his sovereignty over evil, the latter being muchmysterious He also says that the concept of second causes which partly disassociates God from evil by asserting that he is never its direct cause is important to maintain 210 212 For what it s worth, this was the section of what I read that was the most difficult for me to understand.God s Sovereignty and TimeCarson argues that although it is true, the fact that God exists outside of time is not the final answer to the sovereignty responsibility tension and notes, The biblical data are unashamedly presented in terms of sequence 210.The Complexity of God s WillCarson maintains that there is a complexity to the will of God that we as finite mortals cannot understand He is not a big fan of any of the popular ways of stating this tension, but he seems to be least dissatisfied with the system that separates between God s moral and sovereign will 211 214.AnthropopathismsCarson is not a big fan of these He says, The doctrine of impassibility nevertheless depends on the dogmatic assertion that all contrary biblical evidence e.g Jer 31 20 Hos 11 8 is nothing but anthropopathism 215 He says, God takes both a rational and an emotional part in his relationship with his creatures 215.The Tension in the Experience of the Biblical CharactersCarson points out that the sovereignty responsibility tension does not seem to bother any of the biblical character until they are thrust into a situation in which it is difficult to believe that God can be both sovereign and good He refers to Job as a particularly helpful example, and he points out that Job s conclusion is that he has been guilty of over simplifying God In fact, the last part of the book of Job minus the short conclusion consists of God calling into question Job s ability to grasp the situation and calling Job to repent and trust him Hence, Whatever other answers to the problem of theodicy the biblical writers proffer it is clear that the transcendence of God figures most prominently as the solution par excellence 217 This observation attacks man s arrogance, defies the limits of his knowledge, and makes the only solution one of faith 218.Purpose of the TensionCarson argues that it is important to study not only what the biblical writers said, by why they said those things When it comes to what John says about God s sovereignty on the one hand and human responsibility on the other, Carson argues that John s purpose is to exalt God If a person believes in Jesus, it is because God chose and drew Him, and God gets the credit If a person rejects Christ, it is because he chose to do so, and he not God is to blame Thus, the maintenance of this tension turns out to be very important theologically Carson laments that some of the debate that has gone on in regards to this biblical tension has amounted to littlethan ignorant name calling 219 That is why we must study what the Bible and the various theologians actually say Carson recommends reading on both sides of the issue, including biographies of Whitefield and Arminius He also warns against jumping to the conclusion a certain theological position will be taken to an unbiblical length 221 He also expresses an appreciation for devout Christians on both sides of the issue 222 However, he recognizes that the conclusions of an individual or organization in regards to this tension will have an enormous effect on his ministry.Once again, this was a great book I would love to see at least the last chapter of it it added to the required reading list for many seminaries N A For what it is, an historical and literary overview of the foreknowledge debate, I haven t read anything else like it He covers Psuedopigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Targums, Apocalyptic literature, Old Testament, and the Gospel of John to put together a comprehensive overview on viewpoints This all comes down to what the title holds, that divine sovereignty and human responsibility are in tension throughout scripture and especially in the New Testament While God does call, give salvation freel For what it is, an historical and literary overview of the foreknowledge debate, I haven t read anything else like it He covers Psuedopigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Targums, Apocalyptic literature, Old Testament, and the Gospel of John to put together a comprehensive overview on viewpoints This all comes down to what the title holds, that divine sovereignty and human responsibility are in tension throughout scripture and especially in the New Testament While God does call, give salvation freely, and much , mankind must respond and has the free ability to do so This so far sounds like Carson s book isnt worth reading, after all, a summed it up in a few sentences However, if you think you have the whole thing sorted in your own mind, take a look into this book and realize there is muchto be considered I highly recommend, but only to those who can deal with highly technical language This is Carson s doctoral dissertation and as such it is a dense read, but very rewarding I have to admit that I skipped all of the intertestamental portions of the book, but thoroughly enjoyed the OT and NT portions.I think to start off it is important to understand the following The sovereignty responsibility tension is not a problem to be solved rather, it is a framework to be explored There are no easy solutions to this tension, but we must not deny what the bible says To admit we do This is Carson s doctoral dissertation and as such it is a dense read, but very rewarding I have to admit that I skipped all of the intertestamental portions of the book, but thoroughly enjoyed the OT and NT portions.I think to start off it is important to understand the following The sovereignty responsibility tension is not a problem to be solved rather, it is a framework to be explored There are no easy solutions to this tension, but we must not deny what the bible says To admit we do not possess enough pieces of the puzzle to complete the picture is a far cry from saying that the pieces belong to quite different puzzles and therefore could not be related to each other even if we were given the rest of them Carson goes through the OT and NT specifically John tofully explore and expound on this tension compatibility I found the book very helpful It is not a easy read for everyone, but if you are willing to put in the work it is rewarding About The Author D A Carson Is Professor Of New Testament At Trinity Evangelical Divinity School In Deerfield, Illinois He Is The Author Or Editor Ofthan Forty Books, Including From Sabbath To Lord S Day, The Sermon On The Mount, Exegetical Fallacies, Matthew EBC , Showing The Spirit, How Long, O Lord , The Gospel Of John, And The Gagging Of God Carson s work was insightful, but because of its scope and berevity, served mostly to whet one s appetite for the sovereignty responsibility tension found within Scripture Carson s treatment of the intertestemental literature is proficient and helpful, but his greatest contribution comes from his discussion of the tension as seen in the Gospel of John Carson maintains a humble attitude towards the mysteries of Scripture that many on both sides of the debate, including myself, could learn from. Excellent explanation of the theme compatibilism. Heavy wading, but well worth the effort. A good book and a good survey and interaction, but a little bit technical sometimes.