Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 117
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer. InterVarsity Press (1961). 126 pages, paperback, $7.99.
When the sovereignty of God in the saving of sinners is set forth to those who have previously had no exposure to it, almost without exception a deluge of questions begins. Among those most commonly asked are, “If all this is true, why be concerned about evangelism? What about the great commission? What about missions?”
It was to address questions such as these that J.I. Packer spoke at the Pre-Mission Conference of the London Inter-Faculty Christian Union on October 24, 1959. This original address was expanded and two years later made into a book titled Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.
In the forward Packer sets forth his purpose:
It is a piece of biblical and theological reasoning, designed to clarify the relationship between three realities: God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, and the Christian’s evangelistic duty (p.7).
Of these three, his major emphasis is on the latter, the Christian’s evangelistic duty. Packer aims to put to rest the unbiblical thinking that belief in the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation will paralyze evangelism “by robbing one both of the motive to evangelize and of the message to evangelize with” (p. 10). He in fact goes beyond this to show that faith in the sovereignty of God, so far from inhibiting evangelism, “is the only thing that can sustain it” and without it, “evangelism will inevitably be weak and lack staying power”(p.10). This Dr. Packer has done in his typical fashion.
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 118
Chapter one sets forth very simply the fact that God is sovereign. Packer contends that this truth is believed by all Christians by the very fact that they pray, especially regarding the conversion of sinners. Concerning God’s sovereignty he writes, “On our feet we may have arguments about it, but on our knees we are all agreed” (p.17). This then becomes his starting point for chapter two: “Our aim in the present study is to think out the nature of the Christian’s evangelistic task in the light of this agreed presupposition that God is sovereign in salvation” (p.18).
This might be one area where too much is presumed. Most people I have dealt with will gladly acknowledge and affirm God’s sovereignty to a point. Yet, these very same ones will argue vehemently against God’s sovereignty in the application of salvation. Although it was not his main purpose, some further development might have been given to chapter one for this purpose.
In chapter two Packer brings side by side the two biblical truths of sov...
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