In our homeschool Esther has been going through the Omnibus curriculum with Miriam. Since one of the texts is R.C. Sproul’s Chosen by God, Esther asked me to read it and see what I thought of it.
I have enjoyed reading Chosen by God. The book is very clear and lucid and is a great place to start for anyone wanting to understand the reformed doctrine of predestination. I would highly recommend it, not least because predestination is one of those doctrines which typically attract opponents which have not really taken the time to understand the doctrine and all its nuances.
Chosen by God does not address all the complexities of predestination and for this reason the book can sometimes be frustrating. Yet it is not a scholarly work so we shouldn’t expect too much for it, and it is a great place to start.
The book contains both theological and philosophical arguments in favour of predestination. Occasionally the philosophical arguments can rest on false dilemmas and non sequiturs, although this is simply because the book doesn’t have space for more detailed argumentation, and an astute reader can mentally fill in the gaps in the arguments.
Sproul presents a fatal critique of the Wesleyian view which says that grace sufficient for salvation has already been given to all men. He also presents a knock-out argument for the fact that regeneration must precede repentence (which in my view is the crux of the whole TULIP).
One thing which I particularly appreciated about the book was that it helped me to understand the difficult line in the Westminster Confession about God forordaining everything that comes to pass. One of the reasons I have struggled with that is because it seems to implicate God in causing evil. But on page 26 and also chapter 7 Sproul shows that God’s sovereignty over evil choices is very different to His sovereignty over good choices. In the case of the former, God’s sovereignty is passive, in so far as He allows certain things to happen but does not actually cause them, whereas in the case of the latter, God’s sovereignty is active, in so far as He actually causes certain things to come about. (I had the chance to privately speak with R.C. Sproul Jr. at a recent church camp. R.C. Sproul Jr. is a superlapsarian and disagrees with his father on this point.)
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