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The Will of God: Past and Present 

A walk through the Bible rather than a systematic discussion of the subject

The Will of God: Past and Present
By William Henry and Michael Penny
The Open Bible Trust: £8.75
ISBN: 9781908994059
Reviewer: Pieter Lalleman

The Will of GodThis book is a walk through the Bible rather than a systematic discussion of the subject. Thus in section 1 (pages 11-73) we get an overview of God’s will in the Old Testament and section 2 (pages 76-163) treats the New Testament. The selection of material from the Old Testament makes it look like a book of much doom and gloom. The message of the prophets is reproduced in a one-sided way, overlooking their concern for justice and righteousness.

The authors, who are professionals but not theologians, limit themselves to places where God’s commands to humans are explicitly stated. Thus Proverbs and the Psalms get some attention but Song of Song is overlooked. The discussion of the laws in the Pentateuch is rather brief and lacks theological depth.

In section 2 the authors argue that during the period covered by Acts, Jewish Christians still needed to keep the Law, but that it was abolished after Acts 28; they can say this because they misread Acts 28 and ignore the first eleven chapters of Romans. What they write about husband–wife relationships and leadership in the church is brief and unsatisfactory.

Section 3 (pages 166-199) covers the will of God for the 21st century and begins with a good analysis of Western culture, but the continuation is again marked by a lack of theological insight. On the practical side, there are useful suggestions for social involvement but the section is too short to convince.

An appendix (pages 200-207) argues that God does not have a specific plan with each individual and that we should not expect personal guidance for our every decision; instead we should apply biblical principles. These pages offer a valuable corrective to a modern misunderstanding and I recommend them warmly.

As in popular articles, key phrases from the text are repeated in text boxes to highlight them, and the chapters have handy summaries. Overall a book that left mixed feelings.

 

The Revd Dr Pieter Lalleman is Acadamic Dean and Tutor of New Testament at Spurgeon's College

Baptist Times, 27/03/2014
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