Book Review: Can I Know God’s Will?

CAN05BP_200x1000The question of what it is that God intends for us, is a question that vexes Christians everywhere. Especially for those who are young in the faith, or just young in general, questions about how God will direct and lead our lives dominate much of our thoughts. Today I’ll be reviewing Can I Know God’s Will? by R.C. Sproul, an entry in the Crucial Questions series.

Like most of the other books in this series, Can I Know God’s Will?, is not intended to be a long exposition on the question. Rather, Dr Sproul attempts to give a brief overview of the various theological and practical questions that need to be addressed to answer the thesis question.

The first two chapters are theological statements regarding to specific questions. The first is that of God’s will, and its various expressions (Decreetal, Prescriptive, etc). The second is that of Man’s will and how it relates to God’s.

After that, Sproul tackles the two major questions that most Christians encounter that bring about a, sometimes unhealthy, focus on seeking God’s will. The first being career (and I think college/grad school selection could be included), the second being marriage.

While I have no major beef with the first two chapters, it seems to me that the target audience of this book would not be helped in large part by the supplied information. Long discussions on natural will vs. moral will, the four-fold state of the will, and the various ways that God wills what he wills don’t really help much in understanding how I can know what God desires (both of and for me). It seems to me that people who pick up this book are not so much looking for theological dialog, but practical application.

The second half of the book delivers on that need, however I fear that many readers who came looking for that kind of practical import wouldn’t make it that far before deciding that this book didn’t have what they need and setting it aside.

Where this book does come into play, would be as an assigned reading for a confirmation or youth group lesson. It is short, approachable, and helps people to understand what questions they need to ask. However, I have a tough time thinking that someone who is asking this question would really turn to this book on their own.

Beyond that, some of the sections within each chapter seem a bit disjointed from the overall question. Knowing how Sproul approaches this, as someone who has followed Sproul’s work, it makes sense… but to someone who is just picking this up the strings might not seem to connect.

Please note: Reformation Trust / Ligonier Ministries has provided me with an electronic version of this book for review purposes, and will be providing me with a hard copy edition in exchange for this review. They do not require positive reviews, nor have they edited or modified this review in any way.