How Then Should We Choose, Gen. Ed. Douglas S. Huffman (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009) 269 pp. paper $11.99
As the subtitle explains, this is a book that examines “three views on God’s will and decision making.” Huffman has identified the dominate views found within evangelicalism and gathered champions of each position to present his case and interact with the other systems.
The “specific-will” view is represented by Henry and Richard Blackaby: “The core belief of this perspective is that God not only has a specific will for individuals but also communicates that will to people so they can follow it” (p. 33). The Blackabys believe that the Lord communicates His specific will independent from Scripture and mostly through an inner witness. As a result they teach “the key to knowing God’s will is being able to recognize when He is speaking to you. Even a cursory examination of the Bible reveals that God communicates with individuals” (p. 53). The essence of the specific-will position is that the Lord is constantly speaking to us in our hearts, directing us in the decisions we need to make. The Christian needs to learn how to distinguish the inner voice of God from the other internal voices he hears. The Blackabys are confident that we can learn to do this.
The wisdom view is defended by Garry Friesen. Friesen believes that God communicates to us through Scripture by giving us His moral will and principles to make wise decisions. Rather than expecting God to tell us what to do in various situations, the wisdom view teaches that we can make any number of proper choices based on the Word with the goal of glorifying God. Friesen does leave room for supernatural revelation from God (pp. 112, 227) but sees no example or promise in Scripture of inner prompting or communication from the Lord.
Finally, the relationship view, represented by Gordon Smith, offers a mystical approach to God’s guidance. Concerned that the wisdom view is too impersonal and not as concerned with specific decisions as the Blackabys are, Smith sees the important issue as that of our relationship with God. This approach would offer a good balance except that Smith’s position emerges largely from the mystics: e.g. Origen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Ignatius of Loyola (pp. 189-201). The source of the relationship view is ultimately not Scripture but men.
The authors put feet on their position by discussing three case studies: determining where to go to college, who to marry and what church to attend. As is common in such books, each author also critiques the other positions which is quite helpful.
My stand would be a modified wisdom view. The one area in which I disagree with Friesen is that Friesen believes God will occasionally speak to His people through supernatural means today. I believe His final revelation for this age is found in Scripture alone and supernatural revelation has ceased for now. I call this the “sola-scriptura” approach to decision making.