Book Review: A Biblical Defense of Predestination, by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Synopsis: There has always been doctrinal conflict in the Church, as Kenneth Talbot points out in his foreword to Gentry's defense of predestination; but in modern times, no controversy has been as widespread or as heated as the controversy over the doctrine of predestination. So why enter into a discussion that is certain to spark disagreement and dissension? Would it not be better just to overlook differences, and find unity in common ground? Dr. Gentry has presented a compelling case that even though â€“ or perhaps because â€“ the doctrine of predestination is so controversial, it is nevertheless a vital subject to broach, if for no other reason than that, the bible has much to say on the topic, and one's understanding of it will deeply affect his view of the character of God and the nature of his salvation. Not only has Gentry provided a compelling survey of the biblical testimony to predestination, he has also given compelling and practical reasons to spend the necessary time and energy to study and defend these deep and intricate truths. For anyone seeking a straightforward, non-abrasive explanation of both the what and the why of biblical predestination, for himself or others, this will certainly prove to be a resource of tremendous value.
The doctrine of predestination is certainly a biblical one, and in his book, Gentry has laid out a very compelling case from the scriptures alone. But before he even begins to discuss the scriptural witness to the specific question at hand, he provides the necessary framework from which to examine the issue by first laying out the scriptural teaching on the nature of the sovereign God and the nature of sin-marred fallen man â€“ the two parties involved in the bible's teaching on predestination. Then, in a final and eminently helpful introductory portion, he examines some of the doctrine's special difficulties, together with the principles we may derive from the scriptures of the methods we must employ and the attitude we must take as we begin our study. This introduction is a very wise and thoughtful approach toward dealing with a controversial subject, and places the entire subject within the context of the similar difficult questions and topics about which all Evangelicals have a unified understanding, in order to facilitate as open a mind as possible among those opposed to the doctrine.
The next portion of the book, in which Gentry defends the Reformed doctrine of predestination, is marked by an overwhelming abundance of scriptures, which give clear testimony to every facet of this manifold truth. Only with a handful of the most important passages, including Ephesians 1, Romans 9, and 2 Timothy 1:9 does he provide substantial exegesis; but everywhere else, he categorizes and displays a daunting catalog of scriptures that speak very clearly to one point or another on the teaching of God's sovereign foreordination of all that comes about in history, and in particular, the salvation of certain, specific individuals. In this portion, Gentry not only shows the overwhelming biblical evidence, but also displays the continuity of his position with the teachings of the Reformation, particularly as they find expression in the Westminster Confession, from which he quotes liberally.
Finally, the book lists and addresses many common arguments against the doctrine of predestination, applies this doctrine in very practical and hortatory ways to the believer's life and understanding of God, and concludes with a survey of opposing contemporary perspectives, and a passionate appeal to be searching the scriptures honestly and diligently for an accurate understanding of this difficult and demanding, but equally precious and fruitful doctrine.
All in all, A Biblical Defense of Predestination is a well-structured, historically-grounded, clearly worded and supremely scriptural presentation of a position that has a very strong foundation in the broad testimony of the bible. It is graciously polemical and invitingly non-technical enough to be a very welcome tool for all Evangelical Christians who are either mildly or rabidly opposed, agnostic, or indifferent to the precious and altogether scriptural teaching on the eternal predestination of the good and sovereign God of the bible. May it find a wide and accepting audience, by the Spirit and power of the Lord.
Available at Monergism Books.