One of the things I enjoyed about this work of Sam Storm’s is its clarity. Chosen for Life work was first published by Baker in 1987, but this revised and expanded edition published by Crossway in 2007 was my first encounter with Storms as an author.
The book starts with an engaging story about Jerry and Ed, nineteen-year-old, identical twins with evidently identical lives until a mysterious distinction is revealed. This hypothetical relationship plants Storms’ proceeding discussion in the soil of real life. He often calls readers to reflect on the story of Jerry and Ed to force an honest handling of what can often be a merely theoretical topic.
Storms guides the reader carefully through the crucial biblical passages, devoting three chapters to the handling of Romans 9 alone .As an added bonus Chosen for Life has two closing chapters which concisely answer “Crucial Questions Concerning Election” as well as the appendices on problem passages in scripture, prayer and evangelism, and the justification of God’s eternal decrees. Storms’ commitment to scriptural exegesis and the humility of his language commends his work to the reader. Those who rejoice in God’s Sovereignty – and those who subsequently will shall find personal faith strengthened by confidence in God’s good sovereignty. Those who disagree will at the least be called to pause and reflect deeply on their own grounds for confidence in God’s goodness.
Another shining aspect of this book is the integration of perhaps the best collections of quotes in a popular non-academic type book. Luther, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Stott, Packer, and others are all invited into the conversation. You could easily use Chosen for Life’s index as a quick-reference for historical statements on the doctrine of election. Furthermore, Storms’ quotes the best of the Arminian’s as he seeks to accurately present their view in Chapter 2. In my opinion, he states an Arminian position in a way that would please even the most ardent exponent of it. This book may just aid you as a Calvinist not to have a caricature of the Arminian position, but rather to appreciate its attempt to remain a view that can uphold Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria
I really appreciate the pastoral accuracy of Chosen for Life. By opening with the parable of Jerry and Ed, Storms begins right where I have found most of us begin, with the agonizing desire to help others know the Saviour. Concluding the discussion, after walking the reader through some very thorny issues of conscience, Storms reminds us of the purpose of it all. “We must be extremely cautious in pursuing theological constructions that serve only to confuse and have a tendency to reduce the personal to mere abstractions. The purpose of theology is doxology.” (p. 214) Storms deepest concern as his writes is clearly that the glory of God be worshiped.
Chosen for Life is not primarily targeting scholars or those new to the faith, who have not yet grappled at all with these ideas. The book’s strengths are to personally effect and pastorally equip believers who are searching through these issues, or need to have a thoughtful reminder of what they believe> It will suit small group leaders, and all those who take seriously their role as missionary labourers for Christ. This book will be a blessing to the Christians with its reasonable accessibility, pastoral application, and scholarly attentiveness around one of the most difficult doctrines of Scripture.