Review: Divine Sovereignty & Human Responsibility

“If God is absolutely sovereign, in what sense can we meaningfully speak of human choice, of human will?”

D.A. Carson addressed this and other, broader questions in his 1975 doctoral dissertation. I know, I’m late to the party, but questions regarding God’s sovereignty and “free will” still plague sincere believers today, and Carson’s treatment is a good antidote to some of the muddled thinking going on out there.

In Divine Sovereignty & Human Responsibility Carson explores the Old Testament’s apparent nonchalance about speaking both of God’s absolute sovereignty and, at the same time, man’s responsibility in choosing.

Carson also examines the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the Greek Septuagint, the apocrypha and psuedepigrapha, the targums and rabinnic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other intertestamental literature. To be honest, I skipped this. Call it lazy, but I went straight to the discussion of the tension as it appears in the gospel of John.

From John’s gospel Carson explores all the different ways in which the apostle expresses the theme of divine sovereignty, particularly with regard to how men come to have faith in Jesus.

Much of Carson’s discussion is technical, but much is also useful for pastoral concerns and the interests of laymen who wish to clarify their understanding of how God can be sovereign while man is held responsible, especially in the area of salvation.

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