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5 Stars Out Of 5
December 28, 2011
I just finished reading the book and was very happy with it. Being a new Calvinist, it was very helpful and I learned quite a bit from it. It has given me a new perspective on Reformed Theology and I think that it is a great introduction to Calvinism/Reformed Theology. I would hope that all Calvinists would take the time to read this book and realize that God is so much bigger than our feeble attempts to place Him in a box no matter what your theological background may be.
Letters to a Young Calvinist by James Smith is the second book I have reviewed targeted at the Young Calvinists. The first was Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen. Both of these books seek to address the growing interest in reformed theology among a younger audience.
"Reformed theology often goes by the name Calvinism, after the renowned 16th-century Reformation theologian John Calvin. Yet even Edwards rejected the label, saying he neither depended on Calvin nor always agreed with him. Still, it is Calvin's followers who produced the famous acrostic TULIP to describe the "doctrines of grace" that are the hallmarks of traditional Reformed theology: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints." ~ Christianity Today
Smith's book is written much like its title. In each chapter "Smith" writes a letter to his younger self in the past whom he names Jesse and each chapter seeks to share some insight about Calvinism. The fictitious Jesse is having a run in with an Armenian and the author helps the young man arpaoch various subjects and doctrine from a more mature view.
I hope that Smith's attempt at writing this book was to somehow make reformed theology easier to understand, I know that is part and partial why I read it_ but even for me several of the chapters were very heavy and left my mind spinning. The chapters were written with the idea that you already had some reformed theology background, or at least were already heading off in that direction - so there were several times I wished there was some backstory to help me out.
There is a wonderful chapter that gives some reformed theology history_ but again it read like a history lesson and not as a letter between friends.
Actually, do you know what this book felt like? It's a cross between Brian McLaren's New Kind of Christian and The Screwtape Letters only the book was about Calvinism. So if THAT sounds interesting to you, then I would certainly pick it up.
This does not "sell" Calvinism but a Presbyterian viewpoint. Useful in parts. In spite of opening claim to respect others, denigrates Baptist Calvinism. In fact, it is a narrow view of the subject. Much better material is around. Bought with great hope. Closed with much disappointment.