Limiting Omnipotence, by David Dunlap; published by Gospel Folio Press; price £10.95. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
In this 292 page book the author places Reformed doctrine under the microscope of the Biblical text and considers it to be wanting in many areas. His purpose is to "provide a greater understanding of what is called Reformed, or Calvinistic, theology. The aim is not to be overly critical, but hopefully gracious and fair to their views".
In coverage the book is amazingly comprehensive for a volume of its length. In any such work one expects discussions of sovereignty, election, double predestination and limited atonement. All these are presented and thoroughly examined as the author imputes to Reformed theology many misrepresentations of Biblical data. Other subjects, rarely seen discussed elsewhere, are also given a good airing. These include chapters on the reformed view of the "origin of sin", the law as the Christians "rule of life", "one-naturism" and the "imputed righteousness of Christ". Detailed treatments of Ephesians 2.8 and Romans 9 plus a chapter answering charges of Antinomianism add further weight.
The endnotes of each chapter indicate the author has read widely and clearly grasped the viewpoints of those whose positions he challenges. His approach is even handed and his tone irenic a balance not always achieved in discussions of this nature. The primary text is Scripture but he copiously cites secondary texts, including not only quotes from well known names of the past like Augustine, Calvin, Arminius, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Pink, but also modern reformed writers such as Lloyd-Jones, Packer, Sproul, and MacArthur. The work is abreast of the latest thinking of these prolific writers on the relevant topics.
While the book is clearly written, this is not to say that it is easy reading. The density of the argument in places only reflects the complexity of the subject, not any difficulty of the author. It will be most accessible to the interested reader who has already wrestled somewhat with these issues. A Scripture index would have been desirable, assisting in locating helpful discussion of many Bible texts. No budding theologian should neglect this illuminating volume.
The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel; published by Zondervan; price £7.99. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.
The Case for Faith is described by the Publishers as a book for everyone, for "seekers, doubters (and) fervent believers". It is also an interesting book from the pen of a legally-trained investigative journalist, who for many years described himself as an atheist. His atheism he traces back to the teaching of evolution at a point when he was rebelling against all that related to Christianity. It was in married life that the conversion of his wife caused him to seek reasons for the profound change he witnessed day by day.
This is the second book in a series that began with The Case for Christ. It starts with an interview with Charles Templeton, a close friend and fellow preacher with Billy Graham. But Templeton turned his back on Christ and penned the book Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. Swept away by the apostasy of the 20th century, Templeton had rejected all he ever claimed to stand for.
Arising out of that interview, Strobel identifies eight problems on which men like Templeton build their objections; he calls them "The Big Eight". They include issues like pain, miracles, creation and science, and doubt. The methods Strobel uses are those of the journalist: he seeks out leading authorities and interviews them. The digests of those interviews he presents in a easy-to-read style with which most readers would be familiar.
At times the interviewee offers a philosophical or scientific approach to Strobels questions. Rarely do they simply say: "Thus saith the Lord", although they do quote Scripture and accept its authority.
The Case for Faith counters human reasoning with arguments seeking to underpin faith, pull down strongholds and cast down the reasoning of evil men.