There is a new book out by a Pastor friend of mine named John Samson called Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election. Now I don’t review a lot of books here, only the books that I have read and thought others can benefit from. The mature Christian reader who may be a Calvinist or Arminian might be asking themselves, “Why do I need to read another book on this topic when there are many out there that I have already read, and so many that I haven’t”? Likewise there might be others that feel they don’t understand a lot of the deep teachings of the Bible and shy away from what they see as complicated issues. Still others might say that this issue is not important in my walk with God and I will leave topics like this to the Theologians to fight over. Finally, you might just be someone who goes to church on Sunday and takes what is said on issues like these and doesn’t question it, or sadly, maybe you go to church and topics like this are not even brought up. Well if this fits you, or if there are other reason why you think you don’t want to read a book on this topic such as you don’t have time etc. I encourage you to pick this one up and read it.
Let me tell you a little about the book and myself, then I will make the case for the above statement. Pastor Samson comes from a background much like mine although he is from England and I was born here in America. He was raised in church as was I and our early church experiences were very similar. We even both dreamed of becoming professional soccer players. Yes I call it soccer, and even John does now, leaving the language of his mother country behind where they call it “football”, which seems like a much better term for the game myself, but I digress.
Being raised in church John and I were subjected to many church traditions. We had a good understanding of the Bible and like many others thought that what was presented was not only the truth, but that there was no other interpretation or truth that was a Biblical option. Personally, I had questions about things such as premillennial dispensationalism back then, even though I didn’t know those terms, as well as the creation account and others. Most of the people in my church had no idea what to say about these issues, and they were rarely talked about. In my own mind I thought I knew the basics but was confused on many items that there seemed to be no answers to and this did not sit well with me.
One day, as John explains, he was challenged with Biblical truth that for the first time in years made him question his traditions and gave answers to some of the more difficult questions. For me there was a time I backed away from my set of traditions and went on a journey to find the truth and the answers that had evaded me up to that point. Both of us ended up in the same place after years of searching and study.
From that perspective, John has written a book confronting some of these question regarding election. Sure they are common topics that have been dealt with before such as free will, predestination, the foreknowledge of God, and reprobation, but typically they are found in difficult to read theologically based books with hundreds of pages and big words. The motivation behind the other books also differs in that they might be technical in nature, or simply written to prove that one side is right while the other is wrong. This is a very concise book with very short chapters, and while there might be some words the reader is not familiar with from time to time, Pastor Samson tries to explain them so they can be understood. He drives right at the verses in question and attempts to use sound exegesis in a fair and Biblical manner without getting too lengthy or theologically deep.
The best thing about the book though is the motivation behind it. Pastor Samson explains his personal story and how he arrived at the place where he was sent on a “surprising journey”. Unlike me, John didn’t purposely set out on his journey because of problems he had with his traditions and questions about his beliefs. In fact he was a preacher and felt quite comfortable with where he was. However once he understood the truth of scripture clearly the Bible blossomed like never before, and he saw just how much he had missed given the box of traditions that had in a way put up barriers to his knowledge and understanding of scripture.
Now he wants to share some of those things with you. Not because he wants to win an argument, but because he wants you to experience the power of the Gospel and God’s word in a more powerful way that he, by God’s grace, has been able to. The best part is that he does it in a way that is easy to read and has a personal touch where he reaches out to the reader in a way that is not found in other books on the topic. However, just because it is easy to read and short does not mean that it is short on doctrine and Biblical passages. These are found on nearly every page as John attempts to stay as close to the original languages as he can and interpret scripture with scripture.
I challenge and encourage you to take a short time and read this book while trying your best to put your traditional views aside and keep an open mind. You may be surprised at where it takes you, and be careful, you might find yourself starting down a journey that John and I have been on for many years that regardless of where you ultimately end up, will most definitely result in you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord which is what all of us are to do.
For those of you that like this book, or actually prefer a more in depth study of issues like these I recommend The Potters Freedom by Dr. James White from which Pastor Samson quotes from time to time in this book.