Book Review - Is God Really In Control?
The degree to which God controls the world is a topic that has received much debate in Christian circles through the past two or three decades. Where Christians once uniformly affirmed God’s absolute sovereignty over this world, today this is an area of great dispute. The aftermath of recent natural disasters has shown that there are two distinct beliefs within Christendom. Some claim that God is absolutely sovereign and controls everything within His creation. Others claim that God is in no way responsible for tragedy as disaster is just a natural occurence within a sinful world. These people claim that God does not have absolute control.
Into this fray steps Jerry Bridges in his upcoming book Is God Really In Control?. Bridges writes that this book “summarizes my ongoing wrestling with this very difficult - but finally comforting - theological issue. It was born out of the results of addressing needs in my own life and realizing that many other believers have similar questions and doubts. It is written from the perspective of a brother and companion to all those who are tempted at times to ask, ‘Can I really trust God?’” The book is written not for academicians but for the average person who has not necessarily encountered a major disaster, but who struggles with the typical adversities that every person faces.
Bridges affirms the clear teachings of Scripture that there are three essential truths about God that we must believe if we are to trust Him in times of adversity:
- God is completely sovereign.
- God is infinite in wisdom.
- God is perfect in love.
He summarizes these truths as they relate to us as follows: “God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.” He teaches the utmost importance of believing these principles, for “if there is a single event in all of the universe that can occur outside of God’s sovereign control then we cannot trust Him.” If God’s purpose can be thwarted, our confidence in Him is shattered.
Bridges teaches that all people, whether believers or unbelievers, experience anxiety, frustration, heartache and disappointment. “But what should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows into our lives only what is for His glory and our good.”
In short, Bridges affirms the truths that are clearly taught to us in Scripture. He only briefly mentions the errant doctrine of open theism, yet this book stands as a entry-level refutation to that dangerous doctrine.
This book will equip believers to respond in a godly fashion when they encounter the pain, disappointment and frustration that life can bring. It will encourage the believer to trust that God is in control as much today as He was when he laid the foundations of the earth. It will teach some valuable truths of Scripture that need to be reaffirmed in the minds of today’s Christians. I am glad to recommend this book.