Book Plunge Part 2: Decision Making and the Will of God

What do I think of Garry Friesen’s contribution to this book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I said at the start, Friesen is the one I know of who’s opinion on this topic I am most inclined to go with. Friesen did what his dissertation work was on, decision making and the will of God. He used to hold to the more traditional specific-view will and found it just didn’t work. He then went back to the Bible and found that the traditional view just really wasn’t there. While some Christians were pleased with this work, including myself, many were scornful of Friesen and at least one Christian speaker declared him a heretic.

Friesen’s view is the wisdom view. In his view, all moral commands of God that apply to us today are to be obeyed without question. However, there are times that we don’t have a moral command and there are two or more options that can be chosen from and none of them violate a moral command of God. Which one do you go with? Friesen has the incredible idea of actually looking at the options and weighing the pros and cons and making a wise decision.

What strikes me is that this view is at all controversial. In any other position in life, we go with the wisdom model. However, when it comes to being a Christian, somehow it’s a more holy model to think that you’re supposed to hear the voice of God just like everyone in the Bible supposedly did, although we only talk about the exceptional people.

Friesen in looking at the text notices, especially in Acts, that this happens many times. There’s even a passage where there is an open door, and yet Paul chooses to not go through it. The first missionary journey was indeed called out by God, but when it comes to the second, Paul and Barnabas just decide to revisit the towns and before that they get into an argument and end up choosing separate partners.

Having said that, there are some mild criticisms I have of the chapter.

First off, Friesen says the prophets had no doubt that God had spoken to them. I would like to have seen this fleshed out a bit. Gideon seems to be doubtful of God in Judges and Abraham is called by God and yet lies about his identity. John the Baptist saw miracles around Jesus and while in prison asks if He was the one to come still.

Second, while Friesen does go to Acts, I wonder what he would say about Acts 1 where lots were used to determine the replacement of Judas. Also, I would think it would be great to go to Acts 15, the first church council where you would think a word from God would be determinative, but none is given, except one possibility. The text does it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us. I would have liked some interpretation from him on this passage.

Third, while Friesen points to prayer, I would like to know how he thinks prayer is supposed to work for us here. How does God interact? Does He clear the head of the believer to make a wise decision? Can God indeed recall to mind a Scripture or something similar? Overall, how does God interact with our lives?

Finally, as a respondent says, what about the Holy Spirit? Friesen says little about Him in this chapter if anything. What roles does the Spirit play in our lives?

It has been several years since I read his main book on this topic so it could be there, but I would like something to go on in this chapter still. I agree with Friesen on the Wisdom view. I just want to see it fleshed out some more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)