15 August 2015

Book Review: hand in Hand

I grew up attending a Reformed church (RCA) and went to an RCA college, so Calvinism, which is often seen to stress God's sovereignty, is a part of my religious DNA. As I moved around for school, I subsequently attended Baptist, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, and non-denominational churches who each placed different levels of stress on God's sovereignty and human choice, respectively.

A few years ago, I more fully embraced a Calvinistic identity. I frequented reformed blogs (e.g., Challies, Desiring God), read books by reformed writers (e.g., John Piper, John MacArthur, RC Sproul), and even attended reformed conferences. In fact, I would go so far as to say everyone else (e.g., Arminians) were wrong, though admittedly, I never bothered to actually read what they were writing.

 In fact, the Internet breeds a religious subculture of people who spend innumerable hours debating Calvinism versus Arminianism. A year or two ago, I began to recognize the ugliness Christian brethren can have for one another when they hold different theological viewpoints. I stopped actively referring to myself as "reformed" in my thinking because I think the terms "Calvinist", "reformed", and "Arminian" carry too much baggage.

I suspect Randy Alcorn had similar feelings, so he wrote hand in Hand: The beauty of God's sovereignty and meaningful human choice (2014) to attempt to explore this difficult topic. Alcorn grew up in an Arminian church but now has more Calvinist leanings and he recognizes that in each camp, there are God fearing, Bible believing Christians though their sense of balance may be different. He argues that the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and what he calls meaningful human choice and we cannot sacrifice one at the cause of another.

Although the whole book was well researched, humble, and engaging, I particularly enjoyed his chapter "Voices from the past share timeless truths." In this chapter, he references numerous theologians through the history of the church, identifying their common ground--Arminians talking about God's sovereignty, and Calvinists talking about human choice. 

hand in Hand is an important book regardless of your theological frame of reference. It is a call to faith grounded in God's Word rather than a theological system. It is also a call to unity between believers. Regardless of your viewpoint, I would strongly recommend this book.

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