The Crucial Questions Series, published by Reformation Trust, is a compact, five-volume series that introduces some of R.C. Sproul's writing in a new format. The first volume, Who is Jesus?, is solidly grounded in Scripture from the start in its presentation of Christ, yet it weaves other historical data throughout. It gives helpful insight into familiar titles for Jesus, such as Son of Man and Logos. The book tackles the Virgin Birth, the law of causality, and the whole realm of the miraculous. The concluding section on the significance of Christ's ascension was excellent, the implications of which are not often taught at any depth.
Volume 2 of the series, Can I Trust the Bible?, is Dr. Sproul's commentary on the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. In the volume on prayer, Does Prayer Change Things?, there is a helpful discussion of human freedom vs. human autonomy and divine sovereignty. There is also a brief exegesis of the Lord's Prayer, some encouragements to prayer, as well as some reasons for frustration in prayer, and a reminder of the conditions for answered prayer.
The question of whether a Christian can know God's will is addressed in the fourth volume titled, Can I Know God's Will? Dr. Spoul begins by explaining what is meant by the decretive will of God, the preceptive will of God, and God's will of disposition. He then illustrates how these three work themselves out in biblical interpretation, and gives an analogy from the judicial system. Under the heading “Knowing the Will of God for Our Lives,” I found it interesting that Sproul states, “. . . I find the practical question of the will of God pressing on my mind quite frequently. I doubt a fortnight passes that I am not seriously engaged by the question of whether I am doing what God wants me to do at this point in my life.” This is followed by a detailed look at man's will: is it free? If so, in what sense? How is it related to God's sovereignty?
In the last book of the series, How Should I Live in This World?, the following premise is put forth: ethical decisions affect every area of life. It then goes on to answer the question of how these decisions are made. Chapter One opens with an explanation of the historical distinction between ethics and morals, and contrasts the humanistic model of ethics with the Christian ethic: “God calls us out of the indicative by His imperative. Ours is a call to nonconformity – to a transforming ethic that shatters the status quo” (p. 5). Dr. Sproul illustrates the inconsistency of relativism, using the example of the moral and Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. He explains what is meant by an “ethical continuum,” or degrees of sin and righteousness, giving examples from church history and scripture. Other topics include the authority behind ethics and the sovereignty of God; the difference between freedom and autonomy, and between legalism and antinomianism; and the pros and cons of situation ethics. The specific ethical questions of war, abortion, capital punishment and materialism are also covered. The book concludes with a chapter on ethics and conscience.
R.C. Sproul has a unique gift for making intimidating topics accessible to a wide audience, and this series is an excellent example. – Pam Glass, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Does prayer make any difference? Does it really change anything? Yes, says Dr. R. C. Sproul in this Crucial Questions booklet. Though we cannot hope that our prayers will change God's mind, prevailing upon Him to act against His will, we can be sure that prayer does change things including our own hearts. Plus, it is one of the chief means by which God carries out His will in the world.
For these reasons, Dr. Sproul argues, prayer has a vital place in the life of the Christian. In short chapters packed with practical wisdom, he unveils the purpose, the pattern, the practice, the prohibitions, and the power of prayer, calling Christians to come before God's presence with joy and hope.