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Willing to Believe: The Controversy Over Free Will

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  420 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
What is the role of the will in believing the good news of the gospel? Why is there so much controversy over free will throughout church history? R. C. Sproul finds that Christians have often been influenced by pagan views of the human will that deny the effects of Adam's fall.
In Willing to Believe, Sproul traces the free-will controversy from its formal beginning in th
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Baker Books (first published 1997)
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Rachel Davidson Schmoyer
The doctrine of election says that God chooses who will believe in Him. This choice not based on anything that we did or said, but is dependent completely on God and His mercy and compassion. This doctrine has been hotly debated throughout church history. For some Christians, it’s a tough doctrine to swallow because in our American way of life, we like to preserve our independence and our belief that we are in control of our own destinies.

Just after he passed away, R.C. Sproul’s new book, Willin
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Thoughts:
I was drawn to this book because in Bible Study Fellowship, we are studying the book of Romans. At this point in the study we are in chapter 11: 33-36.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Ame
Davey Ermold
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soteriology
If the Lord tarries, I am convinced that R.C. Sproul will ultimately be considered one of the greatest thinkers and teachers in church history, alongside some of the men whose views he compiles in this book, "Willing To Believe." Subtitled "Understanding the Role of the Human Will in Salvation," Sproul focuses in on nine men and their theology concerning the ability of humanity (or lack thereof) to participate in salvation, whether they are synergistic (Pelagius, Cassian [as a Semi-Pelagian], Ar ...more
Darby Hughes
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Very informative historical survey of the development of theological views regarding free will, original sin, depravity, and salvation. Looks at the teachings of Augustine, Pelagius, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Edwards, Finney, and others.

Some of Sproul's books are a bit on the simple side for me, but this was substantial and well researched. As always, Sproul is careful when describing "the other side's" viewpoint, which is one of my favorite things about his teaching.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
R.C. Sproul died at the end of 2017, and as a way of honoring his legacy Baker Books republished his Willing to Believe: Understanding the Role of the Human Will in Salvation. Sproul marches through two thousand years of dogmatic history as it pertains to questions of salvation, determinism, and freedom. He finds much to appreciate in the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition, which informs much of his reading of the related history.

The work is structured so that nine figures important to the developm
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
What is the role of man’s will in his salvation? How fallen is fallen man? Has the fall ruined our ability to respond to God, or has the fall merely damaged that ability greatly? These questions have been asked throughout theological history, and the debate still carries on.

In Willing to Believe, R. C. Sproul does the scholar’s work of gathering for his readers the arguments of a set of theologians throughout the history of the church regarding the issue of the human will. Each chapter of this
Travis Heystek
Book Review: Willing to Believe by: R.C. Sproul

This book was not at all what I was hoping it would be. I grew up in the Christian Reformed Church, but have become Wesleyan pastor. I’ve grown to realize that, in my view, Wesleyan theology seems to better align with the way I interpret the bible. However, I also doubt that either tradition, Calvinist or Arminian, has it 100% correct. I picked this book up hoping that it would present a biblical view of Reformed theology, but I don’t feel that it d
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Willing to Believe: Understanding the Role of the Human Will in Salvation by R. C. Sproul discusses the debate between free will and determinism as the author explores our sin and our salvation. The book is definitely an educational one; we learn about the views of Pelagius (and the Semi-Pelagians), Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, James Arminius, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Grandison Finney, amd Lewis Sperry Chafer. Because we learn about these various historical figures throughout the text ...more
Dan Glover
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
In "Willing to Believe", R.C. Sproul has done the church a service by tracing out in plain language and accessible format the historic debate over human free will and the sovereignty of God, particularly in salvation. What makes this book of particular value is that it is easily accessible to folks who would not normally pick up a tome of church history or historical theology, much less read the various works of theology and the biographies of each of the men covered by this book. Sproul has don ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book was incredible writing and compelling to read with also help and offering us a chance to understand and learning from the main of a deep of the Christian history and discovery of how the debate will affect our understand if God’s righteousness, and grace. All of these are vital to Christian theology. This will be greatly demean the full character of God as revealed in Scripture. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “ I received complimentary a copy of this book from B ...more
Bryant Rudisill
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
From Pelagius to Lewis Sperry Chafer, and even modern-day dispensationalists like Dr. Norman L. Giesler, Dr. R.C. Sproul covers it all. Dr. Sproul finds no need to be build straw man caricatures in order to slander non-Reformed positions on the will of man. Instead he tackles the prevailing thoughts on the will throughout history and pulls it up by its roots. What I love about reading Dr. Sproul is that he finds no need in establishing what has already been said. In defending his views he presen ...more
Jeremy Lee
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Beginning with the heretical bishop, Pelagius, Sproul traces Christian thought concerning free will by focusing on the views of Augustine, the Semi-Pelagians, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Edwards, Finney, and Chafer. I appreciate that Sproul as usual works hard to accurately state the position of those with whom he disagrees, which made his chapter on Arminius one of my favorites. The chapter on Chafer and dispensationalists is the weakest because Sproul does not focus enough on primary sources for ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book functions as a primer on the controversy over free will. Key points: Augustine distinguishes between free agency (Arbitrium Liberium) and moral ability (libertas). Luther built on these in The Bondage of the Will. Calvin wrote little on predestination compared to Luther. Edwards builds on Luther and Augustine's construct by distinguishing between moral ability and physical ability. Edwards deconstructed Arminians terms to show that they do not know what they are talking about, and if t ...more
Dan Cogan
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read several books on the differences between monergism (Augustinianism/Calvinism) and synergism (Pelagianism/Arminianism) and while many of them take the same basic approach as Willing to Believe, this is, to-date, my favorite of the bunch.

Sproul takes great pains to charitably represent opposing views and shows them as brothers where he is able. The history of the debate is thoroughly, clearly, and succinctly as possible outlined.

I'm grateful for this work and grateful for the work and se
Michael Schmid
R.C. Sproul traces various beliefs through history on the free will of man and the question of whether faith in God ultimately comes from God Himself or from man. Individual chapters are devoted to the different views of Pelagius, Augustine, Semi-Pelagians, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Edwards, Finney and Chafer. Sproul seems to give an honest representation of the different views while still representing his own Reformed views. This book gives a good overview of the issue and related areas of theo ...more
I read this nearly 20 years ago, but I thought if I was going to read more about the Calvinism-Arminianism-Molinism debate again, I had better reread this. I'm glad I did. Sproul provides an even-handed historical and theological overview of Augustine, Pelagius, Semi-Pelagians, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Jonathan Edwards,Finney, and Chafer.
Leslie Christopher
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I usually love R.C. but this was not one of my favorites. Not that I don't agree with him because I do, but this book was just hard to read. Most of his stuff is very readable and accessible even for the theologically challenged, but not this one. Probably because it is heavy on Jonathan Edwards and 18th century English is just hard to read.

That said, if you are willing to plow through it, WILLING TO BELIEVE explains the whole "free will" issue very well from Edwards, Luther, and Sproul's posit
Allen Tsai
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
An enjoyable read, especially the introduction which lays out certain presuppositions and then the chapters on Augustine and Edwards. It was a good refresher on an oft-debated topic. I was a little confused as to what Sproul's last chapter on Chafer and dispensationalism had to do with this issue. Not sure I see the connection nor is it representative of dispensationalists I know. Overall, a helpful synthesis of what major players in the church have believed and taught.
R.P. Bosman
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theologie

The book van R.C. Sproul is in Dutch Vrij wil en genade. It’s a very interesting book if you want to know the thoughts about this subject during history. Sproul gives a good overview and shows inside in the different thoughts about this subject. Free will is not free at all when it is not find grace. Gods grace gives the freedom to the will, to do His will.
I told you this was interesting :-)
Lovely Loveday
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willing to Believe: Understanding the Role of the Human Will in Salvation
by R.C. Sproul is an easy to read and understand. This informative read is full of scripture with a non-bias teaching that represents both sides of view on this widely debated topic. A read that is sure to be an eyeopener for many. Sproul writing is full of history and research that helps to shed light on this topic.
Mark Gring
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a great overview that contrasts the Arminian versus Predestinarian (Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc.) views about salvation. Sproul is not condemning of the Arminians but shows the background and basis for the Arminian view versus the predestinarian view. Sproul is a very accessible author for those who are not familiar with the theology or philosophy behind these issues.
Ryan Wood
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Such a great book! Really enjoyed the approach of looking at the historical development of the conversation on free will and God's sovereignty. Wish there were more books that took this approach in regards to discussing a controversial doctrine.
Carl Hurst
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: r-c-sproul
Again what a brilliant man. I never get enough of hearing him speak. His teaching on free will sets the record straight. Only in the fictional mind of man can one come to Christ at his own choice on his own terms. Many have tried and not just failed but tried and died.
Amor Victorino
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read

R.C Sproul did an excellent job on defending the reformed doctrine of salvation. I highly recommend it to every Christian.
Stacy Moss
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another great work in discerning the truth about what the Bible says about the will of man.
Don Bryant
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
It lays out the issues but could be fairer with Arminianism.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Definitely worth re-reading, this book is a great overview of the history of the controversy over the role of the "will" in salvation. This is important stuff to think about.
Hank Pharis
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Excellent survey of the history of 'Christian' views of the nature of the human will
along with a case for the Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist/Edwardian view.
One of Sproul's best books.
Matt Mason
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Uniquely instrumental in re-shaping my theology
Wendy Rabe
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was helpful in revealing the unbiblical ideas about free will that are so prevalent in the church today and that rob us of the comfort of the sweet sovereignty of God.
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Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939–2017) was founder of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

Ligonier Ministries began in 1971 as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pa. In an effort t

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“When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it. John Calvin” 0 likes
“Free-will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good. Martin Luther” 0 likes
More quotes…