web site hit counter What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics

Availability: Ready to download

Few evangelical Christians today understand Reformed theology, even though it has become an immensely influential theological tradition. Recognizing only key terms relating to predestination or the five points, many Christians want a better explanation of the concepts and beliefs that make up a Reformed perspective. What is Reformed Theology? is an introduction to a doctri Few evangelical Christians today understand Reformed theology, even though it has become an immensely influential theological tradition. Recognizing only key terms relating to predestination or the five points, many Christians want a better explanation of the concepts and beliefs that make up a Reformed perspective. What is Reformed Theology? is an introduction to a doctrine that has eluded so many evangelical Christians. And who better to teach about Reformed theology than R. C. Sproul? In thoroughly expounding the foundational doctrines and five points, Sproul asserts the reality of God's amazing grace. For anyone wanting to know more about Reformed theology, this candid book offers a coherent and complete introduction to an established belief.


Compare

Few evangelical Christians today understand Reformed theology, even though it has become an immensely influential theological tradition. Recognizing only key terms relating to predestination or the five points, many Christians want a better explanation of the concepts and beliefs that make up a Reformed perspective. What is Reformed Theology? is an introduction to a doctri Few evangelical Christians today understand Reformed theology, even though it has become an immensely influential theological tradition. Recognizing only key terms relating to predestination or the five points, many Christians want a better explanation of the concepts and beliefs that make up a Reformed perspective. What is Reformed Theology? is an introduction to a doctrine that has eluded so many evangelical Christians. And who better to teach about Reformed theology than R. C. Sproul? In thoroughly expounding the foundational doctrines and five points, Sproul asserts the reality of God's amazing grace. For anyone wanting to know more about Reformed theology, this candid book offers a coherent and complete introduction to an established belief.

30 review for What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    All my life I've been taught to reject the teachings of this book. On July 17, 2009, at work, I truly trusted in Christ to save me. Now after having studied Romans, chapters three to eleven, every day since the day of my conversion, I see the Bible truly teaches what R.C. Sproul has written here. I've struggled to let go of religion and salvation by works ever since. Only love and faith remain. All else is vanity. All my life I've been taught to reject the teachings of this book. On July 17, 2009, at work, I truly trusted in Christ to save me. Now after having studied Romans, chapters three to eleven, every day since the day of my conversion, I see the Bible truly teaches what R.C. Sproul has written here. I've struggled to let go of religion and salvation by works ever since. Only love and faith remain. All else is vanity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Callie

    One of my book goals of the year was to read more books that will help me grow spiritually - and I realized in recent months that I have kind of neglected theological books in my reading plan this year. Time to catch up! I saw "What Is Reformed Theology?" by R.C. Sproul up for review, and I decided to request it. I have some friends who go to a Reformed Theology church, and I generally agree with them on doctrine, but I really didn't know what was meant by "reformed theology". I was hoping to le One of my book goals of the year was to read more books that will help me grow spiritually - and I realized in recent months that I have kind of neglected theological books in my reading plan this year. Time to catch up! I saw "What Is Reformed Theology?" by R.C. Sproul up for review, and I decided to request it. I have some friends who go to a Reformed Theology church, and I generally agree with them on doctrine, but I really didn't know what was meant by "reformed theology". I was hoping to learn more from this book. It did not disappoint! The first half of this book goes through points of sound biblical doctrine that I think all Christians agree on, but the part I liked is that it also included the church history that involved each point - including past heresies, and biblically why some of the great theologians came to the conclusions they did. A Few Negatives This book got a little sticky here and there. The section on the different views of communion, while educational for distinguishing between different denominations, made the whole subject pretty confusing to me. I feel like the author had a habit of lumping people together in groups, perhaps not always fairly. He used the term "dispensationalist" in a way that I have not heard before, and I don't agree with how he characterized this group. I have generally agreed with the (traditional) dispensationalist view of how to interpret Scripture, etc, but Sproul seemed to be picking on dispensationalism and contrasted dispensationalism with covenant theology. I have never heard these two terms put at odds with one another like this, and I don't think dispensationalism and covenant theology are mutually exclusive, as he seems to imply. He even says later that dispensationalists think that a person can be completely carnal and still a Christian because a new nature isn't necessarily given (in direct contradiction to Scripture) - I have never heard that and totally disagree. I may have to research more, but I grew up around people who described themselves as dispensationalists and I never heard anyone claim that, so I feel like he was being too rigid by lumping everyone together here. I have always just viewed dispensationalism as a way of interpreting Scripture literally that takes into account historical time periods; not as a complete theological system. I also felt in reading this book that the author focused too much on intellectual arguments and quotes from the reformers - which were excellent - but I would have appreciated a greater focus on the Scriptures that back up these points as well. There was plenty of Scripture in this book, but I just wished he had connected some of the points he was making to Scripture a little more clearly. A Brief Digression On Calvinism And Evangelism The second part of the book focuses on the five points of Calvinism, which is where the distinguishing feature of Reformed Theology lies. This is where a lot of you may stop reading, but let me just say, I think Calvinism gets a little bit of a bad rap in Christian culture today. This book explains the five points of Calvinism very well, I thought. The truth is, I tend to agree with Calvinism, because the underlying concepts are firmly rooted in Scripture. Even the doctrine of election, the one everyone likes to argue about, is really about who enables us to believe. Is it from our own virtue and intelligence, or is it because God has stirred our hearts and given us the ability, even to believe? I think the latter is what is in line with Scripture. But I still hesitate to call myself a Calvinist, not because I disagree with any of their points necessarily, but because I think Calvinism gets a little too hung up on the intellectual and neglects the practical. There is one point that I've never heard a Calvinist explain to my satisfaction, and I wish this book would have addressed it more clearly too - and that is the matter of evangelism. This book addressed evangelism in a cursory way by referring to the "external call", and then focusing on the Spirit's "internal call" that leads someone to salvation, but I wish it would have focused a little more on what we, as Christians, are to do as far as evangelism goes. In Scripture there is a clear call to evangelism, for Christians to tell others about the "good news" of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins. This is a pretty vital piece to the puzzle in how someone comes to know Jesus, and Scripture doesn't minimize it's importance. "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”" Romans 10:14-15 I feel like Calvinism in practical terms seems to minimize the importance of evangelism, when it is clearly something we are called to in Scripture. The focus seems to always be on the point of election (which to be fair, is forced upon Calvinists because other Christians are always attacking them on this point), and I wish we could all just chill out a little and remember that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His actions do not have to make perfect sense to our little human brains, but He is always righteous and good, and He owes explanations to no one. God told us what He needs us to know in His Word, which is truth, and it's just our job as Christians to believe His Word and do what He says, and pray and ask for clarity when something is confusing. I think there are some on the anti-Calvinist side who would do well to get back to a focus on and understanding of Scripture instead of rejecting the (biblical) concept of election outright because it doesn't jive with their own sense of justice. Our focus should ever be on Scripture because that is where the truth lies, and Christian culture today seems to be poorly lacking here. And I think there are some on the Calvinist side who would do well to stop hitting others over the head intellectually with the election concept and instead point other Christians to Scripture and pray for the Holy Spirit to make His truth clear. And we all need to recognize and remember that the concept of election has no bearing either way on the call to evangelism toward those who are still lost in their sin. Scripture makes it very clear that we are to proclaim the truth of the Gospel. So there you go, a little opinion on the Calvinism debate. Back to the book. Positives This book addressed the "justice" concern of some who don't agree with Calvinism very well, better than any other piece I've read on the subject. I like this quote: "The concept of justice incorporates all that is just. The concept of non-justice includes everything outside the concept of justice: injustice, which violates justice and is evil; and mercy, which does not violate justice and is not evil. God gives his mercy (non-justice) to some and leaves the rest to His justice. No one is treated with injustice. No one can charge that there is unrighteousness in God." pg. 187-188 I thought that explained really well why it is not correct to say God is not just when He chooses to save only some. Like I said, this book overall explains Calvinism (and Reformed Theology) better than any other book I've read. Whether you are a Calvinist, or have just been confused by any points of Calvinism in the past, I think this is a great resource if you really want to understand the beliefs of Calvinism clearly. And as for Reformed Theology, the defining point touches on something I mentioned earlier - the distinction between unconditional election, and conditional election. Conditional election says that God calls those who He foresees will accept Him, and this is where that point gets sticky: who gives those people the ability to accept Jesus? Is it something good in themselves that allows people to accept Jesus? I'd have to say no - based on Scripture (many of the supporting Scriptures are shared in this book), it is the Holy Spirit who calls the believer and enables them to believe, and without the Holy Spirit working in us, none of us would believe. We'd go on choosing our sin. Unconditional election (which is what distinguishes Reformed Theology) says that it is nothing in ourselves that enables us to be saved, but it is by God's grace in working in us to enable us to seek Him and find Him. In case you think that is a nit-picky distinction, you should be aware that this book is very intellectual and breaks each doctrine down to its elements, which I found very interesting, and very well done (though it perhaps falls into debating things that aren't as important here and there as well). If you have ever wanted to know more about the basics of Christian doctrine and how we get those basics, and what the Reformation was all about, pick up this book for the first half. If/when you want to learn more about where Calvinism gets it's five points, dive into the second half of this book. I think I'll just wrap up this review with my favorite quote from this book: "I cannot adequately explain why I came to faith in Christ, and some of my friends did not. I can only look to the glory of God's grace toward me, a grace I did not deserve then and do not deserve now." pg. 177 That's the bottom line, isn't it? For me, this book was a great reminder that it is not through any virtue of mine but only through His power and grace that I am saved, and that is a strikingly beautiful thing. Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review. This is my honest opinion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Maybe more like 3.5 Thank you, Ligonier Ministries, for the free copy of this book. This is a very clear and helpful explanation of the essential doctrines within Reformed Theology. One thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable is the constant reference to the Westminster Confession and the other Reformers in the support of RT. Sproul seems to quote from the WCoF as much as or more than Scripture itself. And though I appreciate the WCoF as a helpful synthesis of Scripture, it is not the inspired Wo Maybe more like 3.5 Thank you, Ligonier Ministries, for the free copy of this book. This is a very clear and helpful explanation of the essential doctrines within Reformed Theology. One thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable is the constant reference to the Westminster Confession and the other Reformers in the support of RT. Sproul seems to quote from the WCoF as much as or more than Scripture itself. And though I appreciate the WCoF as a helpful synthesis of Scripture, it is not the inspired Word of God. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. To be fair, Sproul does examine Scripture very carefully in this book and mentions toward the end that we must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, especially in cases of ambiguity or seeming contradictions. A proper view of the WCoF would be that it is descriptive, not prescriptive, of the Scriptures that Reformed Theology is based on and should be examined and reexamined against God's Word. Something that confused me a bit was Sproul's reference to Dispensationalism and Dispensationalist Calvinists. My understanding of Dispensationalism comes primarily from Michael Vlach's book Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths. Vlach emphasizes that Dispensationalism concerns itself only with the doctrines of the Church and End Times and that Dispensationalism and Calvinism are not mutually exclusive. So Sproul's brief treatment of Dispensationalist Calvinists as not real Calvinists confused me. Overall, I very much appreciate Sproul's clear explanation. There is much to continue to think about, pray about, and study. Even though I agree with much in this book, I'm not sure that I could unequivocally call myself a 5-point Calvinist. I don't think that I will ever really 'arrive' at full understanding of how seemingly opposing passages fit together, but it is my desire to continue to study and learn and let the Lord change my thinking.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Geaney

    Some books are worth reading again and again. This is such a book. I am grateful to R.C. Sproul for introducing me to Reformed Theology. My life has been forever changed. 🌷

  5. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    A simple, succinct introduction to the basic tenets of reformed theology. Well worth the read for both new and veteran Christians, as well as those interested in reformed theology.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    This is the best summary of Reformed doctrine that I have read. It explains in clear language the Reformed faith and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone wishing a study of the basics of the Christian faith. This book will challenge you to search the Truth of God by examining Scripture. This is not an all-encompassing exposition but a great start to discovering Truth.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Excellent, excellent book! Even better than I had anticipated. Topics covered: what are the distinctives of reformed theology?, faith alone, Scripture alone, covenant theology, and the five points of Calvinism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Shirkman

    When it comes to explaining complex concepts in the simplest way, R. C. Sproul is one of the best. A great primer on reformed theology for those unfamiliar. Winsome and fair toward opposing view points, while being convincing of his own perspective and biblical convictions.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Konarski

    Wowza this book informed me more than i anticipated it would. For someone who knew the bare minimum of reformed theology, this book broke it down simply without making me feel like an idiot for not understanding things.

  10. 5 out of 5

    C.H. Cobb

    Love this book. Especially the final chapter on the Preservation/Perseverance of the saints. As someone who has all-too-often wrestled with assurance in moments of despair and discouragement, it was exactly what I needed. The doctrine itself never was an issue for me, but the way in which Sproul framed it was so encouraging. What a blessing! Bottom line: this is as good an explanation of the reformed faith as you are going to find. I quibble with one point, but it is a minor issue: Sproul's insis Love this book. Especially the final chapter on the Preservation/Perseverance of the saints. As someone who has all-too-often wrestled with assurance in moments of despair and discouragement, it was exactly what I needed. The doctrine itself never was an issue for me, but the way in which Sproul framed it was so encouraging. What a blessing! Bottom line: this is as good an explanation of the reformed faith as you are going to find. I quibble with one point, but it is a minor issue: Sproul's insistence that the reformed faith and covenantal theology are the same thing simply is not true. One can say that all covenantalists are reformed, but one cannot say that all reformed are covenantalists. Not being covenantal does not mean one is a full-blown dispensationalist, either. We are looking at a continuum between these two poles, and not everyone sits on one edge or the other. But that is a minor thing. Sproul is an incredible theologian and a terrific communicator. I recommend this book very highly--it's an outstanding piece of work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    wpschrec

    Really good introduction to Reformed theology. Written for the layman and covers a wide range of topics. Primarily TULIP, but also some church history and the reformation. He goes into the differences between Calvinism and Lutheranism, and Protestantism vs Catholicism (at least those during the reformation).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Harold Cameron

    "Understanding the Basics" "What do the "five points" of Calvinism really mean? Perhaps you've heard of Reformed theology, but you're not certain what it is. Some references to it have been positive, some negative. It appears to be important, and you'd like to know more about it. But you want a full, understandable explanation, not a simplistic one. What Is Reformed Theology? is an accessible introduction to beliefs that have been immensely influential in the evangelical church. In this insightful "Understanding the Basics" "What do the "five points" of Calvinism really mean? Perhaps you've heard of Reformed theology, but you're not certain what it is. Some references to it have been positive, some negative. It appears to be important, and you'd like to know more about it. But you want a full, understandable explanation, not a simplistic one. What Is Reformed Theology? is an accessible introduction to beliefs that have been immensely influential in the evangelical church. In this insightful book, R. C. Sproul walks you through the foundations of the Reformed Doctrine and explain how the Reformed belief is centered on God, based on God's Word, and committed to faith in Jesus Christ. Sproul explains the five points of Reformed theology and makes plain the reality of God's amazing grace." (From the Baker Books Website). About the Author: Dr. R. C. Sproul is the author of more than sixty books, the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, and a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Know Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My Thoughts About the Book: I would refer to this book as a Christian layman's primer as to what Reformed Theology is and what it isn't. In his well-written and easy to read and understand book, Dr Sproul clearly explains what the "Foundations of Reformed Theology or "Covenant Theology" (as it is some times called) are, and "What The Five Points of Reformed Theology are. And the five points are Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints - sometimes referred to as TULIP. In his book Dr. Sproul relies heavily on the Word of God as well as the writings of Reformed Theologians such as John Calvin, "the father of Calvinism," Martin Luther, J. I. Packer and others to educate us as to just what the Reformed Theology is. And throughout the book there are many helpful illustrations as well to aid us so that we can gain a greater understanding of the Theology. When it comes to matters of religion and philosophy many high-minded, over educated men try to make it out to be something more difficult to understand than it need be - like it were rocket science or something. But Dr. Sproul, who is very highly educated and would be considered by many to be one of the world's foremost scholars when it comes to the Word of God and Theology, stays to a plain and simple course of explaining Reformed Theology so ordinary people like me can get it. And because of this book I can say I got it...and you can too if you are confused about Reformed Theology. So, if you are new to the faith and the theological scene, or are growing in your faith as a young believer or are a seasoned member of the household of faith there is something to be learned by all in this book about Reformed Theology.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Montijo

    Though I disagree with Sproul's philosophy on certain points and definitions of faith and of the will, this book discusses heavy duty theology in a very readable manner without watering them down. It not only covers TULIP but also the history and theology of the Reformation. Sproul is a decent theologian overall, but his philosophy can be pretty bad, for he relies too much on Thomas Aquinas. "Our theology should be informed by both the Bible and nature" (18). I think Gordon Clark gives the best, Though I disagree with Sproul's philosophy on certain points and definitions of faith and of the will, this book discusses heavy duty theology in a very readable manner without watering them down. It not only covers TULIP but also the history and theology of the Reformation. Sproul is a decent theologian overall, but his philosophy can be pretty bad, for he relies too much on Thomas Aquinas. "Our theology should be informed by both the Bible and nature" (18). I think Gordon Clark gives the best, most biblical and consistently Reformed philosophy (see http://www.trinityfoundation.org/arch...). Sproul claims that "the presence of both notitia [understanding the Gospel] and assensus [assenting to or agreeing with the Gospel] is still insufficient for justification" (74) because "a third element must be present...fiducia, a personal trust and reliance on Christ... Fiducia also involves the affections" (74). I disagree, for the Bible simply says to "repent and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15), i.e., know the Gospel and agree with it. When describing the will of man, Sproul disagrees with determinism--that "our choices are controlled by external forces [including God]" (134)--and, in accordance with Jonathan Edwards' "self-determination," explains that "we choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment" (135). However, this makes God more of a "roof" that limits our wills but doesn't affect them directly. The Westminster Confession's and Gordon Clark's determinism sounds more Biblical: God is the ultimate cause of all things, including sin, but uses secondary causes (such as our wills) to accomplish His good purpose. His chapter on the Atonement ends abruptly too, and I think he should've quoted Roman Catholic sources directly when addressing them. Nevertheless, Sproul offers a great intro to Reformed theology, and I learned a great many things pertaining to covenant theology, historical theology, and more. Read it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom James

    Another clearly written book explaining theology and keeping it interesting by R.C. Sproul. The book explains what Reformed Christians believe about God, Christ, the covenants, and the five points. While I believe Scripture speaks of more covenants than three, Sproul's presentation of Reformed Calvinism is clear and, generally, persuasive. His treatment of the dilemma of Hebrews 6 is interesting, but I wish he would have developed it further. Another clearly written book explaining theology and keeping it interesting by R.C. Sproul. The book explains what Reformed Christians believe about God, Christ, the covenants, and the five points. While I believe Scripture speaks of more covenants than three, Sproul's presentation of Reformed Calvinism is clear and, generally, persuasive. His treatment of the dilemma of Hebrews 6 is interesting, but I wish he would have developed it further.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ziarnik

    Having dabbled in reformed theology off and on for the better part of 20 years, I came to this book already having a passing familiarity with much of what Sproul is intending to communicate. I wanted to read this so that I might have a better, deeper understanding of what Reformed theology is and is not, and this book lives up to that purpose. An excellent introduction into what exactly is meant by "reformed" theology, the first half of the book gives historical context and overview of reformed Having dabbled in reformed theology off and on for the better part of 20 years, I came to this book already having a passing familiarity with much of what Sproul is intending to communicate. I wanted to read this so that I might have a better, deeper understanding of what Reformed theology is and is not, and this book lives up to that purpose. An excellent introduction into what exactly is meant by "reformed" theology, the first half of the book gives historical context and overview of reformed theology and its distinguishing characteristics, while the second half of the book deals with the five points of Calvinism, which is an essential part of reformed thought. Interestingly, one can ascribe to Calvinism without being reformed, but one cannot be reformed without ascribing to Calvinism. At times the prose was a bit thicker than I anticipated, considering that the title includes the phrase Understanding the Basics, however, Sproul is usually pretty good at taking complex ideas and explaining them in an easily understood manner. There were some times I had to re-read a paragraph or two, but that was more common when he was block quoting Luther or Calvin. All in all, I can say that this book has helped me to more fully understand what I believe and why I believe it, and it will remain a permanent fixture on my bookcase.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Harold

    Great book - well organized, has depth of content but is still readable by laypersons. R.C. Sproul really takes these complex ideas and communicates them clearly and understandably. I think the book (being an extended argument for Reformed theology/Calvinism) could do a better job of presenting the Arminian side of the debate. Sproul does spend significant amounts of time articulating the non-Reformed positions on the "five points of Calvinism", but he doesn't present them in as charitable a lig Great book - well organized, has depth of content but is still readable by laypersons. R.C. Sproul really takes these complex ideas and communicates them clearly and understandably. I think the book (being an extended argument for Reformed theology/Calvinism) could do a better job of presenting the Arminian side of the debate. Sproul does spend significant amounts of time articulating the non-Reformed positions on the "five points of Calvinism", but he doesn't present them in as charitable a light as he could. I'm not well-read on Arminianism, but I don't think he presented their strongest arguments either - he never mentioned the Arminian concept of "prevenient grace". I understand that he's making a case for Reformed theology, but his failure to present the opposing side's best arguments suggests that he can't defeat them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    George Parker

    This book, as indicated by the title, covers the basics of Reformed theology. Sproul’s book is a little more technical than Horton’s book 'Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, in that Sproul sprinkles Latin theological terms throughout; however, he always explains them and includes a glossary of foreign terms at the back of the book. This is a solid book that sketches covenant theology and the 5-points of Calvinism. This book, as indicated by the title, covers the basics of Reformed theology. Sproul’s book is a little more technical than Horton’s book 'Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, in that Sproul sprinkles Latin theological terms throughout; however, he always explains them and includes a glossary of foreign terms at the back of the book. This is a solid book that sketches covenant theology and the 5-points of Calvinism.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Neil Verner

    An excellent book by Dr Sproul, which not only helped answer many of my questions regarding reformed theology but also changed my life. My entire understanding of God His sovereignty in Salvation was challenged and developed. I would highly recommend this volume to anyone like myself who had misunderstandings regarding this controversial subject.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elissa

    This is an EXCELLENT theology book! Probably my favorite non-fiction book as well!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Excellent. When a person asks this question, this is my go to book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is a fairly lucid and easy to understand book. It is helpful to see how the 5 Solas are directly related to reformed theology. All is of grace!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Excellent. Thank you. I will read and reread.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This insightful compendium of Reformed theology is but another result of Sproul's knack for making profound truths accessible to the average lay person, without any dumbing down of the content. Two equally interesting parts – each comprising five chapters – sketch a broad overview of Reformed distinctives. From the outset, Sproul makes clear that Reformed theology is a system, not a religion, which is best carried out by studying nature (general revelation), the Scriptures (special revelation), This insightful compendium of Reformed theology is but another result of Sproul's knack for making profound truths accessible to the average lay person, without any dumbing down of the content. Two equally interesting parts – each comprising five chapters – sketch a broad overview of Reformed distinctives. From the outset, Sproul makes clear that Reformed theology is a system, not a religion, which is best carried out by studying nature (general revelation), the Scriptures (special revelation), and history (tradition). Of the three, Scripture naturally takes precedence. Part 1 - Foundations of Reformed Theology Chapter 1: Centered on God This introductory chapter explains how Reformed theology seeks to be theocentric (God-centered) rather than anthropocentric (man-centered) in its doctrine. Being theocentric starts with the study of Theology Proper, that is, the things of God himself. To this effect, Sproul details God's incomprehensibility, self-sufficiency (or aseity), and His holiness. Chapter 2: Based on God's Word Alone In accordance with the principle of sola Scripture (“by Scripture alone”), Reformed theology holds to a high view of the Bible as the supreme authority for the faith and life of believers. Quoting Calvin and Luther, Sproul refutes the argument of some that since the church was involved in finalising the canon of Scripture, the Bible is somehow subordinate to the church’s authority. In reality, all the church did was recognise the Bible’s inherent authority, by fallibly determining a collection of infallible books. We should be thankful that the legacy of the Reformation left the laity with the right to privately interpret Scripture, and to do so in the literal, plain sense. Chapter 3: Committed to Faith Alone The Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide) sees the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account as a legal declaration. Christ not only fulfills the law on behalf of the believer and gains the merit necessary for their justification, but accomplishes their salvation as well. In stark contrast, Roman Catholics believe one has to perform works of satisfaction to procure merit, or receive such merit from the treasury of the saints. Sproul points out that James 2:24 speaks of the manifestation, and not the imputation, of righteousness; repudiating the view that works are necessary for justification. Chapter 4: Devoted to Prophet, Priest, King This chapter looks at how Christ consolidates the Old Testament threefold office of prophet, priest and king, acting as a mediatorial go-between for the elect. I felt that Sproul could probably have touched on the redundancy of the ministerial priesthood under the New Covenant here. There is, however, a very helpful look at the different views on the Lord's Supper as a Christological issue. Chapter 5: Nicknamed Covenant Theology Reformed theology is structured by three covenants: 1. Covenant of redemption. The plan of salvation is Trinitarian. The Father sends the Son and the Spirit, the Son accomplishes redemption, and the Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to us. 2. Covenant of works. The initial covenant God made with unfallen creatures; promising life to mankind on condition of perfect obedience, which was violated by Adam and Eve and resulted in physical and spiritual death. 3. Covenant of grace. Made between God and sinners after the Fall. It does not annul the covenant of works. Christ’s perfect obedience fulfills the covenant of works on our behalf. Part 2 - Five Points of Reformed Theology Sproul examines the five "petals" which form the acrostic TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. Chapter 6: Humanity's Radical Corruption Total depravity means that our will is in bondage to sin and affects every aspect of our being, owing to the original transgression of our first parents. We have a hereditary corruption and inability to incline ourselves to the things of God. We are more willing to be disciples of Satan than God, for to “be spiritually dead is to be diabolically alive.” Chapter 7: God's Sovereign Choice According to the doctrine of unconditional election, there are no foreseen actions by the elect that cause them to be saved. God, according to His good pleasure, chooses some for salvation while passing over others. Jesus states very clearly in John’s gospel that no-one can come to him unless it is granted them by the Father. Although God passes over the reprobate, He does not actively work unbelief in their hearts, as espoused by the equal ultimacy of so-called “hyper-Calvinism”. Chapter 8: Christ's Purposeful Atonement Limited atonement teaches that the Father gave Christ a particular amount of people (the elect) to intercede for. “If God sent Christ to save everyone, then he must remain eternally dissatisfied with the results.” Christ’s atonement has unlimited sufficiency in its value, but is limited in its efficacy in line with the purpose or will of God. As Sproul points out, God’s purpose does not include redemption of the entire human race. Clearly, if there is a hell (and Jesus says there is), God is not a universalist. Chapter 9: The Spirit's Effective Call Irresistible grace is the inward call of the Holy Spirit which works our regeneration; with us being passive agents in the process. When the Holy Spirit calls, “we step out of our tombs of spiritual death.” This position is described by the term monergism, whereby God works to bring about the salvation of an individual, irrespective of the individual's cooperation. Semi-Pelagians, on the other hand, wrongly hold to a synergistic regeneration where the free will's cooperation with the Holy Spirit means that God's grace can either be accepted or rejected. Chapter 10: God's Preservation of the Saints We persevere in faith by the gracious preservation of God. This doctrine touches on the eternal security that the elect have in Christ; from whom the devil cannot snatch believers away. Although the believer may stumble or doubt, they will never fall away completely, or else they did not have a true profession of faith to begin with. For semi-Pelagians such as the Arminians and Catholics, there can be no positive assurance of salvation. If you're new to the Reformed faith, or simply need a refresher, I would highly recommend this book. It is certainly a valuable resource to keep on one's shelf.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    This was my first introduction into examining theology at such a granular level. What is "Reformed" after reading this? Well, it's mostly what I already believed - and what I've always been taught in Independent Baptist churches (minus Sproul's view on baptism itself). For me, the jury is still out on whether or not it is wise to add (that is to my own mental library) another term, "Reformed", or even an acronym "TULIP" for that matter to an ever-growing library of religious terminology. But Spro This was my first introduction into examining theology at such a granular level. What is "Reformed" after reading this? Well, it's mostly what I already believed - and what I've always been taught in Independent Baptist churches (minus Sproul's view on baptism itself). For me, the jury is still out on whether or not it is wise to add (that is to my own mental library) another term, "Reformed", or even an acronym "TULIP" for that matter to an ever-growing library of religious terminology. But Sproul walks through concepts in a logical manner, representing multiple angles that oppose the Reformed view and rebutting them effectively. This book helped refine my own views and provided a foundational context from which to have more meaningful conversations with the right people. Sproul forced me to think about things in a way I never had before. While the end result was simply a confirmation of what I already believed, it was the logical road to get there that I'd never considered at this level. I'm left desiring the simple and elegant stories of C.S. Lewis but, proportionately, I'm gifted a more sophisticated lens with which to read Lewis in the first place.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Beck

    My first book on the subject. A game changer for my understanding of the Bible. Though I might quibble with some of Sproul's end times views in this book, nonetheless he lays out the soteriological points of reformed theology very well. My first book on the subject. A game changer for my understanding of the Bible. Though I might quibble with some of Sproul's end times views in this book, nonetheless he lays out the soteriological points of reformed theology very well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chad Warner

    Scholarly and logical yet understandable. Part 1 explains the origin and history of Reformed theology (Calvinism). Part 2 explains the basic doctrines of Reformed theology, centered around the Five Points (TULIP). It quotes the Bible and Westminster Confession heavily. Much of the content in Part 2 is similar to another of Sproul's books, Chosen by God. That book has better explanations, though a narrower scope. This book complements it well. Notes follow. Foundations of Reformed Theology "If God Scholarly and logical yet understandable. Part 1 explains the origin and history of Reformed theology (Calvinism). Part 2 explains the basic doctrines of Reformed theology, centered around the Five Points (TULIP). It quotes the Bible and Westminster Confession heavily. Much of the content in Part 2 is similar to another of Sproul's books, Chosen by God. That book has better explanations, though a narrower scope. This book complements it well. Notes follow. Foundations of Reformed Theology "If God never violates human freedom, it is not because of any limit on his sovereignty. It is because he sovereignly decrees not to." "Christ fulfilled the law for me and gained the merit necessary for my justification. This is the ground not only of my justification, but also of my assurance of salvation." When James 2:24 says a man is justified by works, it means true faith manifests itself in (produces) good works. The verser appeals to Gen 22 when Abraham showed he had true faith, just justifying his claim to faith. This use of "justification" is different than in Rom 3:27-28 which appeal to Gen 15, where God counted Abraham righteous the moment be believed, before performing any works of obedience. When we say we're justified by works, "by" refers to the works of Christ, the cause of our justification. We are justified by faith in the works performed on our behalf by Christ. God's first covenant with humanity was the covenant of works. THe penalty for violation was death (not limited to spiritual death) on the day the sin occurred. That Adam and Eve didn't physically die on the day of their first sin was due to God's mercy and grace. Originally all sin was a capital offense, so the OT penal code was actually quite merciful. The covenant of grace doesn't destroy the covenant of works; it makes it possible for the covenant of works to be fulfilled. Humanity's Radical Corruption (Total Depravity) Rom 3:9-18, 7:15-19; Eph 2:1-5; John 6:63-68 We can't convert ourselves or even prepare for conversion because "we have no desire for the righteousness of God, and free choice, by definition, involves choosing what we desire." Calvin: "man is said to have a free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion. … man is not forced to be the servant of sin, while he is, however … (a voluntary slave); his will being bound by the fetters of sin." "A person who is inclined in only one direction, whether to the good or to the evil, is still free in a certain sense. This freedom is real. For example, God is totally free, yet he is morally unable to sin. … This lack of desire for evil does not diminish God's freedom." Likewise, in heaven "we will still be free to choose what we want, but we will choose only the good because this is the only thing we will desire." God's Sovereign Choice (Unconditional Election) Eph 1:3-12, 2:8-10; Rom 8:29-30, 9:10-16; John 6:43-44, 64-68 Election "refers to God's active intervention in the lives of the elect to work faith in their hearts. [Reprobation] refers, not to God's working unbelief in the hearts of the reprobate, but simply to his passing by them and withholding his regenerating grace from them." God's hatred for the reprobate is different than human hatred. It's divine, holy, not malicious; it withholds favor. Christ's Purposeful Atonement (Limited Atonement) John 17:6-12 In John 2:1-2, "our" likely refers to Jewish believers, so "whole world" refers to Gentile believers. John 6:37-39 shows that Christ's work of saving the elect is certain; it's not a mere possibility of salvation for all. The Spirit's Effective Call (Irresistible Grace) Regeneration precedes faith because it's a necessary condition for faith. The order of salvation (Rom 8:29-30) refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order. We say faith precedes justification because justification is logically dependent on faith, not faith on justification. We are justified because we have faith. At the moment faith is present, justification occurs. Regeneration precedes faith because we can't exercise saving faith until we're regenerated. God's Preservation of the Saints (Perseverance of the Saints) Matt 24:13; 2 Pet 1:10-12; 1 John 2:19-25; Phil 1:3-6; Rom 8:31-36 Sometimes Scripture seems to forbid the impossible and command the impossible (e.g., Matt 5:48). It's in this way Scripture warns the elect not to fall away. By calling us to the highest standards, it drives us to depend on grace. Heb 6:4-6 speaks of regenerated Christians because it says they've repented, and only regenerated Christians truly repent. These verses may be an argument rather than a genuine warning; they may be an ad hominem argument, taking the other party's view to its absurd logical end (such as 1 Cor 15:17). Heb 6:9-12 supports this interpretation, because it shows confidence that the elect will do the things accomplishing salvation.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    turns out i am not a calvinist

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stefani

    Well, shoot. It only took 7-1/2 years to go from heretical Pelagian to 100% Reformed/Calvinist, and with several Reformed/Calvinist books and lectures during that span of time, this book is what finally brought me the rest of the way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    What is Reformed Theology? I get asked this question a lot and for good reason. Most of those who asked simply want a short summary; a sort of one-liner to better understand what differentiates the Reformed expression of Christianity from others. Unfortunately, such a concise definition doesn’t exist, and for good reasons– Reformed Theology is not exactly monolithic and not every Reformed Christian believes the exact same thing on every point. However, while we may not have a concise definition What is Reformed Theology? I get asked this question a lot and for good reason. Most of those who asked simply want a short summary; a sort of one-liner to better understand what differentiates the Reformed expression of Christianity from others. Unfortunately, such a concise definition doesn’t exist, and for good reasons– Reformed Theology is not exactly monolithic and not every Reformed Christian believes the exact same thing on every point. However, while we may not have a concise definition at our disposal there are a handful of beliefs which characterize Reformed theology. Thanks to R.C. Sproul, we now have an excellent (and concise) book which should satisfy most people who are new to reformed theology. R.C. Sproul is a wonderful theologian and a very precise thinker. Nowhere is he more precise than in his use of language and this holds true throughout What is Reformed Theology? If this sounds intimidating don’t worry… Sproul includes a handy thesaurus at the end of the book to define the foreign terms (predominately Latin but also German and Greek). That said, I have read a few reviews of this book which bemoan the fact that Sproul does not define English theological terms and this does appear to be the case in a few instances. If you find yourself struggling to understand his theological vocabulary, feel free to email me my via the contact link and I’d be happy to help explain what he is saying. I remember being new to theology myself and am grateful for those who patiently endured all my questions. What is Reformed Theology is a wonderful resource which captures the basic tenants of Reformed doctrine in an accessible manner. This book is (by necessity) a broad overview of Reformed theology rather than a detailed exposition of the Confession; and that is a good thing. By presenting the doctrine in broad strokes, Sproul is able to capture the essence of Reformed theology without excluding any of the various expressions found within the Reformed camp. There was a point in my life when this would have annoyed me because I thought that Reformed tradition that I held to was the only one that could truly be called Reformed. However, the more that I have come to know Reformed Christians from differing traditions the more I have come to realize that their perspective thoroughly orthodox and, while I don’t embrace it, I believe that they are simply doing the best with what God has revealed to them. I put myself in this category as well. I am simply dong the best with the evidence I see before me and while I am convinced that I am right in my beliefs (obviously… or I wouldn’t believe it!) I am also convinced that I could be wrong. For this reason I applaud the simplicity and broad approach taken by Sproul. His exposition of the Reformed tradition is narrow enough to accurately define it, while not so narrow as to exclude those who are from various Reformed backgrounds. The book is structured in such a way as to first define the key elements which set Reformed theology apart from Roman Catholic theology. It focuses on the key ideas born out of the Protestant Reformation and then moves on to further define Reformed theology in light of the Doctrines of Grace and Covenant theology. The former differentiates Reformed theology from Roman Catholicism and the latter differentiates it from other Protestant theologies such as Wesleyianism, Arminianism, and Dispensationalism. This is a book that would make a wonderful addition to the library of anyone who desires to understand what we Reformed people believe. The book can, with some extra vocabulary research , be understood and studied by high school aged children and would be great for college age adults and older. This is a must for church libraries. Click here to purchase What Is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics from ChristianBooks or click HERE to purchase on Amazon Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rock Conner

    STRONG introduction to Reformed theology.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.