“Decision Making and the Will of God”: A Review Article -- By: Charles R. Smith

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 04:1 (Spring 1983)
Article: “Decision Making and the Will of God”: A Review Article
Author: Charles R. Smith


“Decision Making and the Will of God”:
A Review Article

Charles R. Smith

Decision Making and the Will of God, by Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson. A Critical Concern Book. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1981. Pp. 452. $10.95.

As a seminary Director of Admissions I have had the opportunity of listening to scores of young men explain how they have discovered God’s will for their lives, or discuss their difficulties in doing so. Accordingly, both due to natural interest and to occupational necessity, I have attempted to stay abreast of any worthwhile literature relating to decision making by Christians. When this book was presented to me this past spring I skimmed it in about one hour and immediately dashed off a note to the author saying, “I wish I had written that!” This book should be in every pastor’s office and in every church library. It presents a sane and biblical approach to decision making. In harmony with the message of the book, Dr. Haddon Robinson remarks that “when we ask, ‘How can I know the will of God?’ we may be raising a pagan question.” He then adds that “a better question to pursue is, ‘How do I make good decisions?’“ (Foreword, p. 13). That is the essence of the book.

The book is well organized and outlined in detail. Part One consists of a typical presentation of the “traditional view.” Part Two critiques the traditional view and Part Three presents “the way of wisdom.” Part Four is an application of the “wisdom view” to the various decision making processes of life. In my opinion, the most important part of the book is its critique of the traditional view (Part Two). This adequately warns against many of the common errors in interpreting God’s Word and in “waiting” for divine guidance. Both Part Two and Part Three are worthy of extensive quotation in this review in order to convey the major ideas involved.

In responding to the common view that God has a detailed plan for each Christian’s life, a plan which must be deligently sought by each believer, Friesen responds as follows:

But is that really the case? Does the wise father guide his child by formulating a plan that covers every detail of the child’s life and then revealing that plan step-by-step as each decision must be made? Of course not. The father

who is truly wise teaches his child the basic principles of life. He teaches what is right and wrong, what is wise over against what is foolish. He then seeks to train the child to make his own decisions making proper use of those correct guidelines. Such a father is overjoyed when he knows that the child has matured to the point where he is able to function independent...

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