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Decision Making and the Will of God – Part 2

Chapter 3 in Friesen’s book marks the beginning of Part 2 of the book. Part 2, which contains chapters 3-7, is a critique of the Traditional View. Read my first installment of blogging through this book here.

I can remember, about 10-11 years ago when I started debating Calvinists online through email discussion groups.

As a Bible college trained Arminian I thought I had all the answers. I was willing to tackle the Calvinists. Little did I know that what I was taught about Calvinists at my Arminian Bible college were mere caricatures of Calvinism and not the real thing itself. I was willing to be open to their arguments. However, after what was probably more than a year of argumentation and debate I asked one of the Calvinists which book he’d recommend for me to read. He suggested The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner. This book is also available as a PDF document. This book was the turning point for me. After spending months reading it, I finally emerged the other side as a Calvinist. However, it was a difficult period in my life, since I had to unlearn everything I was taught and replace it with proper Biblical exegesis. I realized that what I thought was true in reality was not true at all.

It is really tough on a person in a situation like that. At the beginning of chapter 3, Friesen warns that a critique of the Traditional View “can be unsettling for someone used to applying the traditional view to decision making.”[1]

What Friesen is doing is to let out a warning that the reader could get upset about what he reads, especially if he is used the Traditional View.

One of the problems that Friesen highlights with the Traditional View is that if it is indeed the correct view, it has to be assumed that God cannot give defective guidance, and the person seeking guidance must therefore be defective! Of course, this can be hard to accept by the seeker. We are creatures of pride, after all.

In the Traditional View there are 3 facets of God’s will. There is God’s sovereign will, God’s moral will and finally God’s individual will. God’s individual will can be defined as “God’s ideal, detailed life-plan uniquely designed for each person.”[2]

In the Traditional View it is assumed that since God is our Father, Shepherd and King that He should also have a specially designed individual plan for each individual; however, does a father plan every detail of his children’s lives, or does a shepherd do the same for his sheep? The same question may be asked of the relationship between king and people.

In this chapter Friesen deals with some arguments from the Traditional View camp in favour of the Traditional View. Friesen handles their arguments from reason, experience and Biblical example. He dismisses the first two arguments with hardly a sweat.

Concerning the Biblical examples, Friesen points out some weaknesses.

The number of recorded cases are simply not sufficient to build a normative case for Christians to follow. Further, the examples that are found, especially in the New Testament, are just not comprehensive enough in the Biblical narrative. These examples do not show how God gives guidance for the decisions of every day life. Next, those that did receive specific guidance in the Biblical account were not the ordinary, run off the mill type Christians! These men occupied unique offices within the church. Even those who did not occupy unique offices in the church, but still received direct guidance, were strategic partners in the spread of the gospel in the early church. Finally, the means of communication for these instances of guidance were all supernatural events, and not the quiet type, still small voice for guidance, as promulgated by those who hold to the Traditional View.

The fact is that the type of language used to explain the Traditional View simply cannot be found in the Scriptures.

In closing, from Friesen himself:

“To sum up, a survey of the Biblical examples of specific guidance shows that they do not prove an individual will of God for every believer. They show only that God has broken into history at infrequent times to give specific guidance through supernatural revelation to selected people, usually for the purpose of evangelism. The exceptional proves only the exceptional. Such guidance is not normative according to any viewpoint. Nor is it necessary for normal decision making in the Christian life.”[3]

This chapter seems to be a summary of what is to come. It gives an idea of where Friesen stands on this issue, and I appreciate that.

I think that at this point of the book, if a person is completely sold on the Traditional View, and is not open to being convinced otherwise, that person would probably be fuming by now.

Read Part 3.

[1] Friesen, p39.
[2] Ibid., p41.
[3] Ibid., p51.

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