While the book, in an interesting way, exposes the errors of humanism in our society, its apologetic value is limited because of the author’s defense of the doctrine of free will. which leads him also to wrong conclusions about God’s providence in this world. It is worth reading if one is interested in knowing more of how humanism has a stranglehold on our culture, but it is of little value in helping one develop a biblical defense against this devilish heresy.
The problem of evil in the world has long attracted the attention of theologians and philosophers. Plantinga adds his bit to the discussion in a very interesting and worthwhile book which is written from the perspective of historic Calvinism.
After Plantinga discusses the three main kinds of evil in the world (natural, moral, and demonic) he gives an historical survey of the four major answers to the problem of evil as proposed by philosophers and theologians: evil as ultimate, evil as necessity, evil as non-being, and evil as alienation from God. In the latter part of the book Plantinga discusses various practical problems which arise in connection with the presence of evil in this world and exposes in this connection the shallow view which is held by modern “liberalism.” His conclusion to the whole discussion is that the believer’s only answer to evil is that ultimately God will triumph over it and gain the complete victory.
The book ought to be read by many, for Plantinga’s approach is always an effort to be biblical. It is, however, not all that easy to read since there are in it many philosophical discussions concerning the philosophical aspects of evil. It is not necessary, though, for one to be trained in philosophy to read and appreciate this book.
There is one serious flaw in the theology which Plantinga presents, a flaw which is not unexpected. It is a flaw of such a serious nature that, from a certain point of view, it seriously erodes the value of the book and places it outside, true Reformed thinking. I refer to the fact that Plantinga does not hold firmly to the idea of God’s sovereignty also over the devils and sin. He discusses this question, but it is less than satisfactory. This deficiency is even evident from his solution to the problem which he finds in the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God and the final overthrow of the forces of evil.
It is true that supralapsarians and infralapsarians have a different conception of God’s sovereignty over sin; but the fact remains that even a Reformed infralapsarian would not deny this crucial point. It is also true that we face here a great mystery of God’s providence; but mystery or not, we cannot deny the clear teaching of Scripture in this respect. If one denies the sovereignty of God over sin, one must, in some way, make sin a power in God’s world outside God’s control. This is unacceptable dualism which is not only contrary to Scripture, but which also robs the believer of his comfort.
It is at this crucial point that we demur from Plantinga’s writings.
Writing about the doubts Christians have relating to self identification, acceptance, and the direction and quality of life, Dr. Lee gives a mixture of current psychology and religion to help the Christian understand himself. A book of more Scripture and less psychology would be of more enduring value.
As anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the book of Revelation will know, it is impossible to treat adequately this important and difficult book of the Bible in a book of fewer than 150 pages. This is undoubtedly the weakness of this reprint. However, the explanation which this book gives of Revelation is basically sound. One may disagree with the interpretation of some of the details, but the overall explanation of the book is correct. For this reason the book has a certain value. It is a good, concise survey of Revelation and will assist the reader in grasping the whole of the book and the general outline of it. It can very well serve as an introduction to a more detailed study. It is recommended for that purpose.
Especially interesting is the author’s explanation of Revelation 20 which is, on the whole, correct. In it he also refutes the position of the premillennialists, but fails to point to their basic error: a denial of the kingship of Christ over His church.
The book could serve admirably for a study guide in societies which are making this book the object of their discussions.