Flowers, Leighton. The Potter’s Promise - A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology. Middletown, Delaware. Trinity Academic Press, 2017.
Leighton Flowers has put forth a most helpful book on a very intriguing and consequential topic. There is a dual purpose to this work. First, Mr. Flowers attempts “to help others understand why he cannot support Calvinistic interpretation of the Scripture” any longer (1). Second, He writes to help the reader understand non-Calvinistic interpretation of the Scripture (5). The entire thought flow (and debate) of the book is contained in two quotes (one from John Calvin, and one from a non-Calvinistic approach to soteriology).
"By predestination, we mean the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.... Some are predestined to salvation, others to damnation... Regarding the lost: it was His good pleasure to doom to destruction... Since the disposition of all things is in the hands of God and He can give life or death at His pleasure, He dispenses and ordains by His judgment that some, from their mother's womb, are destined irrevocably to eternal death in order to glorify His name in their perdition... All are not created on equal terms, but some are predestined to eternal life, others to eternal damnation."
"By predestination we mean the predetermined redemptive plan of God to justify, sanctify, and glorify whosoever freely believes (Romans 10:11; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:1-14). All people are created with equal value as image bearers of God (James 3:9; Genesis 1:27). Because God desires mercy over justice [Matthew 5:38-41; Matthew 9:13] and self-sacrificially loves everyone (James 2:13; Matthew 9:13; I John 2:2), He has graciously provided the means of salvation to every man, woman, boy, and girl. No person is created for damnation, or predetermined by God to that end (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4; Ezekiel 18:30-32). Those who perish only do so because they refused to accept the truth so as to be saved (II Thessalonians 2:10)."
"Christ self-sacrificially loves a preselected number of individuals."
"Christ loves every single person so much that he died for them all."
"Before the world began, God predestined some individuals to salvation and the rest to eternal damnation based on nothing having to do with the individual's choices or actions."
"God has predestined every individual who is "marked in Christ" through faith to be saved (Ephesians 1:13), and it is each individual's responsibility to humble themselves and trust Christ in faith (Luke 18:8-14)."
Chapter one seeks to explain how Flowers ideas, related to the character of God, slowly began to change. He began to see God displaying His glory by sacrificing Himself for the undeserving vessels and not by making vessels so as to condemn them, to display his glory. Chapter two examines the Potter’s choices. In this chapter we see how God made several distinct choices (Matthew 22) in his redemptive plan to ensure the fulfillment of His promise (none of which involve choosing to effectively save and / or condemn people before the world began). Chapter three discusses the subject of divine sovereignty, and how this reality in no way impinges on what he calls “Libertarian Free Will.” Chapter four seeks to understand the promise that God made to Abraham and how it sets the stage for a greater understanding of God’s redemptive plan. This chapter includes a discussion of Judicial hardening (A most important doctrine to understand fully - 68, 72) / Messianic secret. Chapter five deals with the three most often quoted proof texts that Calvinists use to support their doctrinal positions. And finally, Chapter six summarizes the plan of God and shows how God is keeping his promise to redeem men and how he is truly showing mercy to all the families of the earth.
Although some of the reading is tedious, and on occasion one gets lost in the arguments because of their meandering lengths, it is my opinion that the purpose for which this book was written has been adequately fulfilled. He uses several rhetorical methods to engage and subtly infiltrate the reader’s mind. He uses questions (e.g. 16, 25), theories (55, 56) and scenarios (63, 171-172). All of these methods are designed to engage and involve the reader and make them an active participant in the reading.
As helpful as this book is, there are several places where the author makes erroneous statements, or at least makes statements in a way that leaves one wondering if he adequately explained his meaning. For example, on pages 36, 37 he attempts to make an argument that Calvinists deny God’s eternal attribute of omnipotence in their effort to protect the temporal attribute of sovereignty. It is difficult to see how any of God’s attributes could be considered temporal. Anything that God is, he is eternally….thus none of his attributes should be considered temporal. Again, on page 66, he makes the statement that, “God hid his presence from Pharaoh.” I am not sure how he can justify that statement when Moses and his God were the main characters on the stage! Another example of this is found on page 175 where the author states that, “Scripture never once says that we will perish because of Adam’s sin.” I would like to hear more of Mr. Flowers on this topic, especially since it flies in the face of the doctrine of imputed sin (Roman’s 5:12-21).
With the resurgence of Calvinism in our day from men like Arthur Pink, John MacArthur, James Packer, John Piper and others, and seeing how this doctrine has been creating much dissension among the ranks of Christians and churches, it is very important to have a working knowledge and understanding of this issue so that one might carefully and skillfully guide a fellow believer to avoid the error of Calvinism in his life.