Christians confess that God calls people to salvation. Reformed Christians, in particular, believe this is an effectual calling, meaning that God sovereignly brings about salvation apart from human works. But in what sense does God actually 'call' us? Does a doctrine of effectual calling turn people into machines that lack any personal agency?
In this lucidly written and carefully researched study, Jonathan Hoglund provides a constructive treatment of effectual calling that respects both the Reformed tradition and non-Reformed critiques, while subjecting the doctrine to a fresh reading of Scripture with special attention given to the letters of Paul. Hoglund interprets divine calling to salvation as an act of triune rhetoric, in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in a personal way to communicate new life. By bringing together theological exegesis, rhetorical theory, dogmatic reflection, and historical inquiry, Called by Triune Grace proves to be a feast—not only for the mind, but also for the spirit.
Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture, edited by Daniel J. Treier and Kevin J. Vanhoozer, promotes evangelical contributions to systematic theology, seeking fresh understanding of Christian doctrine through creatively faithful engagement with Scripture in dialogue with church.
"Jonathan Hoglund's account of the effectual call is deeply engaged with Scripture, respectful of various theological traditions, and sensitive to the doctrine's complexities. The treatment of the effectual call's content is particularly insightful. This book calls each of us to hear again the Word of the triune God, by the Spirit, that Jesus is our saving Lord."
"Here are the new ground rules for how to think well about God's effectual call. The deep structure of conversion may remain a holy mystery, but this book rescues it from being a theological muddle or the source of needless conflict. Hoglund's approach to the triune God's rhetoric of salvation is exegetically clarifying, ecumenically helpful, and evangelistically useful. This is a deeply persuasive book about the deepest kind of persuasion."
"Evangelism and conversion are topics of perennial concern, perhaps especially in a post-Christian society. Given the significant contributions of anthropology and sociology to such areas of study in recent years, we need solid help in developing a robust theological account of spiritual change—one that is rooted in careful reading of God's Word. To that end, Jonathan Hoglund helps us listen carefully—patiently, attentively, and with the communion of saints—to what Holy Scripture might say regarding God's action in summoning us into his saving lordship. This volume models dogmatic thinking on the effectual call that is attentive to the shape of doctrinal debate through the centuries and around the globe and, for just that reason, is resolutely exegetical in its orientation to the questions at hand. Much wisdom can be found and much gain can be had in going to school with Hoglund."
"Jonathan Hoglund presents an exegetically rigorous and historically informed case for refining the church's understanding of the doctrine of effectual calling. He meticulously explores the various biblical metaphors that reveal the manner by which the triune God calls sinners to salvation. One need not agree with every conclusion in order to benefit from this provocative study. Anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of this wonderful doctrine should definitely consult this book with great profit."
"Hoglund's work on the divine call is an elegant and richly informed study of the doctrine. He mines biblical exegesis, historical theology, and systematics in this profound work. At the same time, he construes God's call in terms of divine rhetoric. Hoglund's work represents an excellent example of theological interpretation that marries biblical exegesis and systematic reflection."
"How does God work on human hearts to convert what is initially darkened, hard, and implacably resistant to the truth of the gospel into something that rejoices in and welcomes it? If being born again is less an impersonal causal effect than an effectual personal call, how are we to understand the latter? Hoglund here provides what is to date the best response to these important and longstanding questions, making fresh proposals about the agent and content of the call as well as its peculiar efficacy. I especially appreciated the combination of serious exegetical analysis coupled with rigorous dogmatic reflection. This is theological interpretation of Scripture at its best."
"Jonathan Hoglund's book on effectual calling is very welcome for three reasons. First, it tackles a theological issue that has been relatively neglected in recent study. Second, it is a model of theological method, combining effectively careful exegesis of the Scriptures, insights from the history of discussion, and doctrinal considerations. Finally, the focus on divine speech provides a way to affirm God's initiative in the call to salvation without obscuring the personal relationships between Creator and created."
"Readers interested in plumbing the depths of a difficult theological question with careful nuance, precision, exegetical skill, and devotion will profit from this study."
List of Abbreviations
1. The Call to Salvation
2. God's Call as Speech
3. Calling in Paul: A Sovereign Summons
4. The Content of the Call
5. Divine Light and Conversion
6. Illumination and Testimony
7. New Birth and Resurrection
8. Resurrection as Culmination of the Call
9. Triune Rhetoric and Converting Change
10. God's Call and the Church