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Theological Book Reviews – The Sovereignty of God
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
The Sovereignty of God
by A.W. Pink
Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 1999.
269 Pages, Paperback.
One of the classic works on Predestination and the Sovereignty of God is this book. But there is a warning – if you are going to read this book, be sure to get the Baker edition rather than the Banner of Truth edition. The Baker edition did not remove chapter 5 on Reprobation, whereas the Banner of Truth edition did remove it (which is a tragedy).
Who is in control? Man? The Devil? God? Pink answers many of these important questions which most Christians ask concerning the topic of salvation, God’s sovereignty, and who is in control of the affairs of the earth. The theme of the book is well centered since it is completely Theocentric (centered on God Himself) and what He does in the affairs and life of men on the earth.
Pink’s style is easy and straightforward. He explains some difficult concepts with well founded illustrations and inquisitive exegetical insight, but in easy to understand language. In 12 chapters he cover such avenues as “The Sovereignty of God in Administration,” “God’s Sovereignty and Human Will,” and Difficulties and Objections” against the doctrines of grace. Pink is a Calvinist, and is often cited as having “hypercalvinistic tendencies” due to his chapter 5 – The Sovereignty of God and Reprobation. But this accusation is ill founded and Banner of Truth should have never taken the chapter out of the book. (What does this say about the Calvinism if banner of Truth?) Pink holds firm to the doctrines of the reformed, of Augustine, of Jesus Christ and the Bible, but his books does not lean into Hypercalvinism (which is abhorrent).
I especially enjoyed the book having already been grounded in the doctrines of grace. It was a refreshing reminder, or as Peter exhorts us, a “stirring up”. But as with any good exegetically responsible book, there is always something to learn or remember again. Pink does not disappoint in either case. I was happy with his responsible interpretation of Ezekiel 18 and 33 which is in the company of men like Greenhill and Gill, and is often misinterpreted. Pink deals with this in his treatment of the way God desires in His decrees.
He also added a series of appendices which attempt to further clarify concepts and some passages which would have slowed the reader down through the book. In these appendices he comments on the fall and Adam’s will, the will of God, the meaning of John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 in greater detail.
I would highly recommend this book to any reader.
“What is needed now, as never before, is a full, positive, constructive setting forth of the Godhood of God.”
“The Holy Spirit ought not to be here at all. That is a startling statement, but we make it deliberately. Christ is the one who ought to be here. He was sent here by the Father, but the world did not want Him, would not have Him, hated Him, and cast Him out. And the presence of the Spirit here instead evidences its guilt.”
“In conclusion, we would say that in forming Pharaoh God displayed neither justice nor injustice, but only His bare sovereignty. As the potter is sovereign in forming vessels, so God is sovereign in forming moral agents.”
“Remember that God is the Creator of the wicked, not of their wickedness; He is the author of their being, but not he Infuser of their sin.”