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This review is from: The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance (Paperback)
The Race Set Before Us is a book which, after reading the introduction, I was excited to dive into. I had strongly agreed with Schreiner in his defense of the penal substitution view in The Nature of the Atonement (though with slight modification, which I will not go into here). Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed in reading his and Caneday's argument here. Though there were a couple of shining moments, there were three major problems in this work that, as a result, have prevented their argument from convincing me: 1) Logical fallacies, 2) a considerable amount of hypocrisy, and 3) the redundant nature of their argumentation.
1) Unfortunately, the fallacy the authors made concerns their main argument. It was the authors' primary concern to establish the fact that warnings in the Bible are not a sign that a person could possibly fall away: "Paying heed to the admonitions does not...threaten assurance but is the pathway by which assurance is maintained" (308). The logical problem here is obvious. Essentially, this makes the warnings in the Bible from God comparable to a father saying to a child, "Don't touch the sun; it will burn you!" To say that the warning to not touch the sun prevents the child from touching it is not simply superfluous; it is ridiculous. Since the author's say that the warnings prevent believers from falling away, they would have to contend that, should a regenerate believer happen to never read those specific warning verses, such a person could fall away.
2) The hypocrisy the authors commit relates to their point that we should not try to impose the warnings in scripture over the promises in scripture, so that we lose our assurance of salvation (205). This is a valid claim, but is not the issue. The problem is that the authors do the same thing, only in the opposite way. They impose the promises of scripture on the warnings, so that the warnings become exactly how I described them above: nonsensical and superfluous. For the authors, promise overrides warning, but they deny any attempt to claim the opposite, saying instead that "the two stand compatibly together" (205).
3) Even in those beginning portions when my optimism toward the book was high, I was still bogged down by the method the authors used in writing the work, for three reasons. First, they were highly redundant; they seemed to make each of their points several times, and then even came back to them again later. The argumentation could have been made more effectively in half the space. Secondly, the amount of details and side-arguments seemed way over the top, making it difficult to follow their line of thought. Finally, the book has a negative tone because they spend so much space refuting other views. While it is important to do this in moderation, they were often guilty of creating straw-man arguments. Sometimes they refuted other views by means of their own feelings, saying something to the effect that the opposing view did not offer a true sense of assurance to them. But we should use logic and not emotion to argue our points.
Even with these problems, the authors did make some good points. The here and not-yet aspects of salvation were generally very well presented, and they took the right position that it is not up to us to determine the salvation of other people (309-310). At least in the first chapter, they did a good job at presenting the opposing four views fairly. It is not as if I learned nothing from reading this book; it certainly helped me clarify my own views on salvation. Nevertheless, the three main problems given above have left me unconvinced.