What Is Reformed Theology? by R. C. Sproul

Who better to write a book on the basics of Reformed theology than its poster boy, R. C. Sproul. Surely no one living knows this subject better than Sproul. Add to this Sproul’s gift of communicating deep subjects in an understandable way and you have a winning combination.

Sproul is not so much arguing for the Reformed position in this book as he is informing the reader exactly what the Reformed position is. To be sure he can’t help some arguing but mostly he sticks to his battle plan and simply teaches.

The book is divided into two sections, the first being the Reformed foundational theology which rest upon five key doctrines: the centrality of God, sola scriptura, sola fide, devotion to Jesus Christ and commitment to Covenant theology.

The second section concerns the so-called TULIP, or five points of Reformed theology’s soteriological teachings. Sproul rightly understands that the TULIP is so often misunderstood that he renames each of the five points to better communicate the Reformed message. Total depravity becomes humanity’s radical corruption, unconditional election is renamed God’s sovereign choice, limited atonement is termed Christ’s purposeful atonement, irresistible grace is stated as the Spirit’s effective call, and perseverance of the saints is now God’s preservation of the saints.

What Is Reformed Theology? is peppered throughout with excellent diagrams and illustrations which aid in getting Sproul’s message across. There is no doubt that Sproul is a master teacher.

I will have to say I was quite surprised by Sproul’s description of Paul’s trials in 2 Corinthians 4:7-16 as “the dark night of the soul” (p. 205). This is St. John of the Cross’ (a Roman Catholic mystic) terminology for the first stage of the unbiblical mystical experiences embraced by Catholicism. It certainly seemed contradictory for Sproul to be using a Roman “saint” and his mystical experience in a book on Reformation theology.

When reviewing a book of this nature, the question is not whether a person agrees with the author’s view or not. The question is, has the author correctly articulated his message? Here Sproul succeeds. Even if the reader radically opposes Reformed theology, at least he will know what he opposes after reading this book. It will be the first volume I will recommend to those who want to know what Reformed theology teaches.

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