Wilmes’ passionate, absorbing debut explores soteriology, “the study of the phenomenon of salvation.”
At Indiana University, Wilmes became an atheist upon exposure to harsh questions from his fellow undergrads. He then became a counselor at a community health center in Ohio and gradually rediscovered his faith later in life. “As I learned more about the Bible and problems with the theory of evolution, I became a creationist,” he writes. Indeed, his book focuses not on the problems with evolutionary science but rather on the grace it pointedly refuses to offer, namely the chance of supernatural salvation, the “transition to eternity” that Wilmes believes happens to everyone regardless of their personal faith. “Believers and unbelievers alike will be subject to God’s judgment,” he tells his readers. “The entirety of one’s life will be timelessly presented to God as an all-encompassing singularity.” It’s the nature and workings of that final judgment that draw the bulk of his attention in these lean, readable pages. “We can do nothing to attain salvation,” Wilmes declares. “However, we must receive it!” And from such a standpoint he examines various schools of belief on the subject, from Arminianism, in which God gives sinners the tools but doesn’t interfere in their actions (“Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it”), to Calvinism, in which the will of the sinner is a slave to evil: “it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not—indeed he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm.” The result is an engaging, learned, and short treatise on the central doctrine of Christianity, in which the heart and the head are allied to save the soul. Christian readers will find a great deal of interest in these pages, though skeptics will remain so.
A scholarly yet accessible guide to Christian redemption of souls.