My new book hand in Hand was just released yesterday.
Why a book on this topic? Of all the questions we confront in life, none is larger and more perplexing than the question of God’s sovereignty and human choice. Are we really free to choose? Is God really free to be God?
These are vital questions not just for the theologically and philosophically oriented person, but for the average person who wonders how this all works.
Do they have to choose to believe in God’s sovereignty (“like the Calvinists”) or believe in free will (“like the Arminians”)? In fact, both schools of thought affirm both doctrines, but view them in different ways.
Does the Bible actually portray both sides of the paradox as compatible? People throughout the ages have grappled with these issues. The solution is not to shrug our shoulders and say “it’s impossible to understand,” but to explore the issue thoughtfully, then trust God that even if we can’t figure out everything, He knows, and we can trust Him.
If God is in control of the universe, and is accomplishing His ultimate plan, are people free to choose between good and evil? Does God choose to draw some people to Himself, but not others? Do people have the ability to accept or reject Him? hand in Hand is a thoughtful biblical examination of these issues.
What does it mean that God is sovereign? If He is accomplishing His will in the world, does that mean holocausts and tragedies are His will? If they are not His will, does that mean that demons, people and nature have power to thwart God? Are human beings really free, and if so, to what degree? Does the biblical teaching that people are in bondage to sin mean they’re not free to make any good choices? Can finite and fallen people still make meaningful choices for which God justly holds us responsible?
For the first ten years I knew Christ I was mostly Arminian, and now I’m mostly Calvinist. But I understand both theologies, and I don’t appreciate the way I often see both of them misrepresented. My approach is very respectful of opposing viewpoints. I quote directly from people with different perspectives rather than summarizing their viewpoint to make it a straw man that’s easily torched or dismantled. I try to fairly represent all positions, and show how each can be supported by some Scripture. I explain the need to bring all Scripture to the table, and to embrace paradox rather than rejecting one position in favor of another. My hope is that both Calvinists and Arminians (as well as those who don’t know what the terms mean or which they are) will be stretched to see what Scripture really says.
I look forward to sharing some excerpts from the book on my blog in the coming weeks. (You can also download and read the first chapter.)
P. S. Some of the material in hand in Hand was originally derived from six chapters in the middle of my book If God Is Good. However, I so substantially revised it and added so much new material, e.g. on Calvinism and Arminianism, that it is significantly altered. So it’s not just a spin-off, but a very different book that stands on its own. It also features a lot of diagrams and charts, which I hope will be helpful for readers.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.