God's will and the Christian
Author: R.C. Sproule
View: Wisdom View
The cover and the title look like your traditional "will of God" book. The maze on the front assumes there is one way through. But anyone who knows the careful teaching of Sproule will not make that assumption.
The reformed theologian in Sproule is evident from the start. He begins with definitions. His terms are those of the older theologians rarely even heard today. The sovereign will of God he calls the "decretive" will of God (15-16) since it relates to the sovereign decrees of God. What we have called the moral will of God he again uses the older term of "preceptive" will of God (17-24). He adds a third called the "will of disposition" (25) to explain the use of such verses as 2 Peter 3:9 where God is "not willing that any should perish." In this verse it means that God does not find it "pleasing and agreeable (25)."
None of these seem to equal the traditional view's "individual" will of God. He seems to ignore the concept though at times he speaks of God's will in a way that sounds like the traditional view (31-33) including that Jesus is in "the center of God's will (70)." The real issue for Sproule is the question of man's free will versus God's sovereign will (35-53) and the most crucial question is how the fall could have occurred (48). He follows Augustine's view. Man has freedom to choose what he desires, but he does not by nature desire the good. On the fall he concludes that we do not know or in Barth's words the fall of Adam is the "impossible possibility (48)."
His final two chapters look at vocation and marriage. He applies the preceptive will of God (moral) and wisdom to each decision. He does not assume that there is only one right decision. Vocation is matching your God-given gifts, and motivations. He faced six job opportunities and concludes, "I was convinced that the sixth position was the one that matched my abilities with the job that needed to be done (73)."
On marriage he draws no traditional individual will concepts out of 1 Corinthians 7:25-40. He says that both godly celibacy and godly marriage are acceptable to God. Desiring marriage is a good thing. "If I have a strong desire to marry, then the next step is actively to do something about fulfilling that desire (85)." As in the area of vocation "Marriage is no different; no magic recipe has come from heaven that will determine for us the perfect will of God for a life partner (85)." Indeed he argues, "It may sound outrageous, but I am convinced that if biblical precepts are applied consistently, virtually any two people in the world can build a happy marriage and honor the will of God in the relationship (89-90)." Such concepts fit 1 Corinthians 7 and the Wisdom view much better than the traditional view.
Sproule is basically the wisdom view though he sometimes uses traditional terminology. Nothing in his conclusions or decision making process argue for the traditional view, but all point to the priority of the Scripture and wisdom.