Knowing God's Will and Doing It!
Author: J. Grant Howard
View: Traditional View with Wisdom Leanings
This book is easy to read and full of practical wisdom. That is clear. Does it represent the traditional or the wisdom view? That is not as clear.
The traditional view usually includes three concepts of God's will: sovereign, moral and individual. The wisdom view only accepts the first two: sovereign and moral. Howard uses two concepts that at first glance look like the wisdom view: God's "determined will" (sovereign) and His "desired will." It slowly becomes clear that he is following the traditional view, but has combined the moral and individual wills into the "desired" will.
The confusion that can come is obvious. When he is talking about finding God's will, does he mean the moral or individual will? Sometimes his comments show he means moral will. Other times he is clearly referring to the individual will. Sometimes he may have both concepts in mind. His more simple terminology, in the end, only makes the traditional view a bit more complicated.
His use of terms is clearest at the very end. He charts two categories under the "Desired Will of God": (1) "in the Word of God" and (2) "in the Work of God" through circumstances, counsel, consequences, conscience, common sense, compulsion, and contentment." This two tiered system must be kept in mind when you read, "The only place to get the knowledge of His will is from the Word of God (43)." That is only half of the full story, but the emphasis in this book.
Howard is especially good at summarizing the biblical passages on the topic of each chapter. Howard also avoids the traditional pitfall of the "second best" will of God. He takes sin very seriously, but does not conclude that after sin you may be left with a second best will since you have made decisions that preclude ever returning to God's "perfect" will.
Howard includes a provocative chapter on "Questions About the Will of God (110ff)." If you only read this chapter you might conclude that Howard holds the wisdom view. For instance "Is it the will of God that I marry one specific person? (111)" The traditional view normally answers in the affirmative since that is the whole point of the individual will of God and especially important when it comes to major decisions like marriage, but he departs from the teaching of the traditional view in his response.
His answer: "Yes and no. Yes, with regard to God's determined will. If you marry, you will marry the person God sovereignly planned for you to marry. No, with regard to God's desired will. His desired will is that you marry a believer with whom you can develop a relationship that is in harmony with all that the Word of God says about marriage and the family. This person could conceivably be only one of a number of men or women (112)." He counsels the single to be "looking for that person with whom you can best put into effect the biblical roles and responsibilities of being partners and parents (112)."
I like his answer. It fits the moral will of God and wisdom as revealed in 1 Corinthians 7 very well. It does not fit the traditional view. I conclude that this book probably is a traditional view presentation that is leaning unconsciously toward the wisdom view.