Does God choose to save people because they believe in Jesus, or does God choose them so they will believe in Jesus?
I have as little patience for ivory-tower discussions about Predestination as I do for endless arguments over the End Times. Apart from the fact that after two millennia a clear answer appears to be beyond our grasp, it seems to me there are far more urgent matters at hand – like 2.5 billion people who live in places where they have virtually no opportunity to hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
But Sam Storms, founder of Enjoying God Ministries in Kansas City, Mo., has done us all a favor with his book, Chosen for Life. Many feisty Arminians and scrappy Calvinists actually do little more than set up straw men so they can knock them down. Much of the discussion about Free Will, Election, and Predestination is as obscure as it is arcane. Much of it is based far too much on human logic and far too little on Scripture. Some of it is downright rationalistic, determined to force cosmic questions into the confines of a puny human brainbox. A lot of it is very selective, emphasizing Scriptures that support the case and ignoring ones that don’t. Virtually all of it is doggedly either/or, when the truth probably is both/and.
Sam Storms, on the other hand, has produced an intelligent, readable book that tackles questions people really ask and discusses the issues without biasing his presentation in favor of one side. He doesn’t stoop to the “yo mama” rhetoric that swirls in the bowl of so many blogs and discussion groups. He doesn’t stint on quotations from Scripture. He doesn’t do an injustice to God’s Word by ignoring “problem passages.”
Yes, he comes down on the side of Calvinism. But he doesn’t do it by throwing darts at a cartoon of Arminius or John Wesley. And he doesn’t win his argument by putting opponents to sleep. If you are interested in an intelligent discussion of the topic from someone who gets to the point and handles the issues fairly, Sam Storms is your man, and Chosen for Life is your book.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Calvinist. Nor am I an Arminian/Wesleyan. I don’t care much for flying any man’s flag – theological, political, or otherwise. And partisan bickering rarely results in truth or justice. I’m not anti-intellectual; I just wonder about the value of endless discussions when “the fields are white unto harvest.” Getting head over heels in any everlasting debate is a distraction from the Mission – and it’s our engagement in the Mission, not our theological whirligigs, that identify us as God’s people.
I wholeheartedly (and without compensation) recommend Dr. Storms’ book. If you consider yourself an Arminian/Wesleyan, you’ll be challenged by the fairness and thoroughness of his presentation. If you’re a Calvinist, a readable book will be a nice change of pace for you. If you think the whole discussion is a waste of time, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the significance of the issues and the importance of “studying to show yourself approved” and being careful to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
And when you’re done, head over to your local AIDS clinic or crisis pregnancy center and volunteer to help out. I bet you’ll find someone God has predestined to be conformed to the image of his son.