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Here is a link to a thoughtful interaction and critical review of the book:
I’d like to give Fairbairn 4.5 stars, in fact. His book is an excellent work that draws heavily from the patristic period, primarily from Irenaeus, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria and Augustine. He also has snippets interspersed throughout the book giving crucial insights by these and other Fathers! This book is refreshing for its acquaintance with the early church tradition. Maybe this evangelical author is one of a handful of experts in Patristics that are within the conservative wing of Protestantism. His attempt to wed the early church’s notion of theosis to our sanctification and that seen as the primary aim of our relationship within the trinity, as Christians share in the intimacy of the Father-Son dynamic-relationality, is well conceived and well presented, even if I remain somewhat reluctant to embrace it fully. I still have some reservations about the Fathers for their neglect of forensic categories that the NT, in my view, makes dominant. Nonetheless, it is a helpful book and should attract a wide reading audience.
I want to comment on one other matter that struck me about the overall approach to sovereignty that is a generic criticism of the whole. In the book Fairbairn develops an idea that is repeated a few times that the world as it is now is not as God wanted it to be. The question that emerges is that once the redemption in Christ occurs and the eschaton is achieved, the net result seems to be a reversal of Eden’s fall and the attainment of “what God had in mind all along,” so to speak. I have no qualms about the this worldly focus of the expected eschatological renewal. My problem has to do with the unanswered question: “Why did God not stop the fall in the first place?” Or to put it another way, “If God did not get what He wanted, as this current world is not what God desired from the beginning, then what is to prevent another “Fall” in the redeemed world to come?” Fairbairn has attempted to side-step the landmine of Determinism/Free Agency and proposes a novel way of ascribing some sense of legitimacy to both horns of the dilemma, but surely the book fails to address the question of why the Fall happened in the first place from the perspective of God prior to the fall, and not merely as a reaction to the post-fall situation with the simple statement that “it is not as God intended!” From a robust standpoint of God’s supreme sovereignty, one may answer the implied question stating that the fall was part of God’s plan all along so that in the eschaton, we, that will be saved in the end, will receive something greater than what was lost in Adam. And God ordained the fall of the world just as much as He ordained the redemption of the inanimate world and of His elect.
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