Book Review: Salvation and Sovereignty

In recent years  Reformed theology has experienced a significant resurgence.  Books, blogs, seminaries . . . the evidence is hard to miss.  Several of the emphases of the Reformed resurgence have helped restore much-needed balance to evangelical Christianity.  It is unfortunate that the Reformed have often been branded with stereotypes that are ill-founded, unfair, and at times blatantly ignorant.

Many believers, however, are not comfortable with a fully Reformed soteriology. Neither are they willing to accept the alternative Arminian position.  Variously called “four-pointers,” “moderate Calvinists,” “Calminians,” and other less-repeatable epithets, they seek to reconcile two equally Scriptural truths: the free-will of man and the sovereignty of God.

In Salvation and Sovereignty, Dr. Kenneth Keathley advances the cause for just such a median position.  He argues for a soteriology that finds this balance, while avoiding the respective blind-spots of both alternative systems and remaining faithfully based in Scriptural truth.

Based on a Molinist understanding of God’s middle knowledge, the author replaces the familiar TULIP with a soteriology of ROSES:

R – Radical depravity,

O – Overcoming grace,

S – Sovereign election,

E – Eternal life,

S – Singular redemption.

Each point reconciles its respective aspect of the Biblical truths of the sovereignty and free will.

Whether the author is successful in this “balancing act” will largely depend on the presuppositions of the reader.  This book will not satisfy critics from either side.  In fact, this “middle ground” could become a theological “no-man’s-land.”  I suspect Keathley will be critiqued by both sides, with each labeling him as the other.  What the author does accomplish is to provide a valid alternative to the debate.  It is a well-written book that adds much to the discussion.

He argues his position well, while presenting opposing views in a civil and even-handed manner (Something theologians of all stripes could take note of). The presentation is scholarly, logical and most importantly, Scriptural.  One might disagree with his conclusions, but it would be difficult to deny the legitimacy of this position.

Regardless your theological persuasion, I recommend this book. For those who seek a scholarly, yet accessible presentation of a more balanced position, this book will provide it. It is the clearest, most understandable explanation of Molinism I have yet encountered, and I found the author’s balanced discussion both refreshing and enlightening.

Though it will not end this centuries-old debate, this approach certainly provides satisfactory answers to many of the pertinent questions of this debate.  Anyone seeking to understand Molinism can do no better than Salvation and Sovereignty.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Salvation and Sovereignty

  1. kansasbob says:

    Sounds like something I could have written. 🙂

    I usually point out that Christian Universalists and Calvinists are not all that much different in that they both hold to a view that entrance to heaven is a total God thing.

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