Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Book Review: The Doctrines of Grace

I didn't know this book was going to go through the five points of Calvinism and show the importance and relevance of the Calvinistic or Reformed theology in current age of Evangelicalism. I simply thought, initially, that, "ah, I was hoping to learn more about Grace, but I'm going to learn more about Calvinism." I was half wrong. I did learn more about Calvinism, but I also learned much more about grace. After reading the book, I am more thankful to the God of grace, and feel much more secure in our great God who is sovereign over all.
The book opens with some rationale for the book itself, then shows "the five points" of Arminianism (which is kind of on the opposite end of the table to the Calvinism). At this point of my reading, I was surprised to find myself thinking, "so these are the five points of Arminianism... hmm... what's wrong with it?" I thought I knew what Arminianism was in its essence, but I was not able to discern what the issue was at first. Then the book went through explaining what these really meant, that is, its implications and how those implications magnified human-efforts and status, rather than attributing all glory and grace to God Himself.
The book progressed into the famous five points of Calvinism, often remembered by the acronym, TULIP. The book helpfully explained that the traditional phrases and acronym is good for remembering them, but not so helpful in explaining what each point actually meant. I will not go into details here, but if you are curious, you should really read this book. It's excellent.
After the five points, it concludes with two chapters, showing how a true Calvinist should act, think, and live, and how often we fail to live out our theology of grace, then how this theology of grace can and should impact the whole of the society and culture through politics, arts, science, and in fact, any and every sphere of our lives.
It is an excellent treatment on the Calvinistic theology that is grounded on the grace of God to bring all glory to God. While touching on such weighty matter, I found it very readable and helpful that any layperson should be able to read through and benefit from it greatly.

On a little more personal note, I was not sure how to articulate my Reformed faith, and in my limited knowledge, I had some objections towards some parts of the five points of the Calvinism, especially the Limited Atonement. After reading this book, even with some lingering questions, neverthelss, I am persuaded to be a "five-pointer" Calvinist.

I would like to recommend this book I enjoyed thoroughly, and learned much from.
You can buy it from Koorong or Amazon.


AT & T said...

It's funny how I entered college last year being a 5-pointer guy and I left being 4 1/2ish :p

Yeah... limited atonement is the controversial point. I heard from a lecturer that Calvin himself may not have held to this view.

But I'll definitely like to investigate this book ;)

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Hey, Andy!
I think this book is good but probably not as in depth enough for college student level.
Regarding the Atonement bit of Calvinism, I think "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God" by D. A. Carson will probably help more. I haven't read the book, but check out this excerpt of the book: http://davemiers.com/2009/03/10/carson-on-the-atonement/