The Other Side of Calvinism
Revised Edition, Laurence M. Vance, Vance Publications, Pensacola, (800-363-9604) 1999, $27.95, 788 pages, hardcover.
God created man and gave him the ability to make choices. We call that ability the "will." The part which man's will plays in salvation and the living of the Christian life has been the topic of theological debate throughout the Christian era. John Calvin and James Arminius have become synonymous with the two basic theological views that divide the Christian community. The two views are Calvinism and Arminianism.
For an in-depth examination and analysis of Calvinism from the other side's point of view you will find a definitive presentation in Laurence Vance's The Other Side of Calvinism. First released in 1991, the new Revised Edition contains ten chapters, seven appendixes, footnotes and an extensive bibliography. Finding information is easy, using the indexes that are arranged by subject, name, and Scripture reference.
Vance's critical analysis of the philosophical and theological implications of Calvinism is presented in a clear and detailed manner. The historical perspective given is quite thorough. Even Calvinists will find this book informative and challenging, as I did.
The Instructed Christian
William Lyford, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Morgan, PA, reprinted from the 1847 edition, 345 pages, $29.95, hardcover.
This reprint of a Puritan divine's work offers insight into the theological depth of an earlier messenger of truth. William Lyford (1598-1653), according to his introduction, was concerned about errors that had crept into the flock. He was likewise disturbed that the average church-goer was not knowledgeable of biblical truth that could confront and confound error. This book stands as a testament of his godly burden for the truth.
Proceeding in a logical order, Lyford points out that the proper application of Scripture can confound any error. The knowledge of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit establishes the bedrock of truth on which our faith stands. An unclear conception of any member of the Trinity leaves one open to many kinds of error. Truth begins with God, who through Christ provides redemption and salvation for all whom the Holy Spirit calls. As with most Puritan divines, the author has a steadfast conviction that God calls some to salvation and passes over others (see Chapter VI).
The necessity of predestination, according to Lyford, is rooted in God's character. Adam's violation of God's covenant with mankind plunged the future world into universal sin. The universal grace of God which proceeded from this sin led God to bestow His grace on some in order to demonstrate His sovereignty.
If one accepts this argument of God's grace and election, then the chosen believer owes his unflinching allegiance to God and Him alone. Is faith alone sufficient to save? True faith alone saves, but true faith leads to obedience in the revealed mind of God. "Faith is that which carries us on in the course of obedience, and the more faith we have to see God in His all-sufficiency and other attributes, the more constant, sincere, and sound we are in our obedience…" (page 319).
One who reads this book will probably want to read it slowly, for it contains a depth of theological truth not found in many popular books of today. Its antiquated type font may prove some distraction, but overcoming that hindrance will be worth the effort.
Glen H. Jones
The Other Side of Love
Gary Chapman, Moody Press, Chicago, 1990, 193 pages, $11.99, softcover.
Many believers have been taught that anger has no place in the Christian life. It is destructive to oneself and to those around us. Gary Chapman, long-time Christian counselor, offers a different view. Anger, he show us, has its proper place and resides alongside the greatest virtue-love.
According to Chapman, the right kind of anger is rooted in the character that motivates us to seek a solution to a wrong. If we are to perceive anger correctly, we must admit that at times we are angry. Failure to acknowledge anger tends to internalize it, which can lead to failure and frustration. The object of righteous anger must be confronted, as Jesus did when He drove the money merchants from the Temple.
The author also discusses long-term anger that has not been dealt with. He shows us the destructive power of unresolved anger. Further, he presents concrete suggestions to confront the situation that has existed for a long time.
After dealing with our own anger, we must learn to deal with anger in others. How do we deal with anger in our children? How are we to react when we meet an angry person? Dr. Chapman devotes several chapters on how to deal with inward anger and anger in others.
Glen H. Jones
The Inclusive Language Debate
D. A. Carson, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1998, 221 pages, $13.99, softcover.
The inclusive language debate stems from English translations that use masculine terms that can include both male and female. Some translators today want to make Bible translations "gender neutral," by using words that cannot distinguish male or female. "Gender inclusive" is slightly different: unless a word in the original language clearly refers to male or female, the translated version uses a neutral term.
In Chapter 2, Carson reprints two competing statements of biblical translation principles. The first has been named the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) report. The second is called the Colorado Springs (CS) committee report. Both reports seek to establish principles to guide Bible translators in dealing with gender translations. The first report (CBT) tends toward more gender-neutral language, while trying not to distort the original languages. The second committee report (CS) adopts many of the same principles as the CBT report, but tends to be less gender-inclusive.
Carson consumes most of the remaining chapters in reviewing the pros and cons of both committee reports. He points out that Bible translators must sometimes make extremely difficult decisions in dealing with cultural changes from one language to another.
Those who want to tackle this book will find it challenging but enlightening. However, if one is looking for a definitive answer on gender translations, he will likely be disappointed.
Glen H. Jones