Out of the same God Alone series by RC Sproul in his Renewing Your Mind broadcasts which prompted my own mini investigation and polemic against Charles Finney came a recommendation for his book Willing to Believe subtitled The Controversy over Free Will which I ordered from CBD.
This book is very readable, full of interesting insights as expected, charting the history of the controversy from Pelagius, through Augustine, Cassian (semi-Pelagian), Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Edwards, Finney and Chafer. This is just what I needed to get a handle on the differences and developments of the the understanding of grace and the monergistic work of God in salvation vs the various synergistic heresies developed along the way.
Luther particularly was delightful to read in the lengthy quotations and I shall definitely be ordering The Bondage of the Will (his polemical to response to the Diatribe of Erasmus of Rotterdam) which is full of passion and precision. The other person I was introduced to in this context was Edwards — his writing is clear and exceedingly precise. He is also a thorough going Augustinian in his theology not withstanding some comments by Rick Joyner to the contrary who spoke of his “softening” of the hard doctrines of Augustine/Calvin, but it appears that while they may be put in a very clear way they are not compromised at all, but rather established. Jonathan Edward’s books Freedom of the Will and The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended are also now added to my to-read list.
The chapter on Finney is devastating — I didn’t not know the book had a chapter on Charles Finney else I doubt I would have written on him, but more on Finney later… James Arminius was also well met, he seems a very godly and insightful man who had adopted a misguided assumption and was trying to defend the justice of God from that vantage point’s accusations. Some of his followers into modern times are on a path to outright heresy by following this assumption to the logical God-sovereignty-denying conclusions of Open Theology.
My one gripe with this book is that the footnotes are at the back of the book — nothing is more annoying than desiring to read every single footnote one has to flip back and forth. I much prefer the footnotes right there at the bottom of the page where I can view them in context, if I want to or not, without any intrusion in the reading experience.