Part theology, part history, part apologetic, and part refutation of Roman Catholic doctrine, Sproul lays out the basic beliefs that define the reformed faith.
The book begins with an explanation of what theology is. From there Sproul goes on to enumerate what he calls the foundation stones of the reformed faith. Those stones as he sees them are: 1) Centered on God; 2) Based on Gods word alone; 3) Committed to faith alone; 4) Devoted to Jesus Christ; and 5) Structured by three covenants. Those three covenants are the covenant of redemption, the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace.
Sproul finishes the book with an explanation of TULIP. If you dont know what that is, TULIP stands for total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. The explanation of those five points takes up the second half of the book. These five points have come to be the defining marks of reformed theology although they are far from the only theological statements that define it.
Throughout the book Sproul contrasts reformed theology with other systems of belief. He disagrees strongly with Roman Catholic theology but also takes exception to other Protestant forms as well. The struggle that the early church had with understanding who Christ was and that understandings outworking in the councils appears throughout the book.
The book could be considered a basic primer on reformed theology although it does use a number of theological terms that will take some thought to understand. Sprouls style is easy to read and well though out. He may influence your opinion of reformed theology but most likely those who have at least a casual acquaintance with the belief system will use the book.
The current book is a reissue, having been originally published in 1997. It remains a good introduction to and review of reformed theology, especially for those not familiar with reformed Christianity.
Sproul begins by explaining the ways to study theology and the various ways to obtain knowledge about God. He explores the foundations of reformed theology. It is centered on God. He explains that how we understand God affects our understanding of everything else. Reformed theology applies the doctrine of God relentlessly to all other doctrines, making it the chief control factor in all theology. (31)
Reformed theology is based on God's Word alone. Sproul helps readers understand the various ways God reveals Himself. The Reformers had a high view of the Bible's inspiration and were assured of its infallability, inerrancy and authority. With the same attention to detail, Sproul explores the remaining foundations. That includes justification by faith alone, the person, work, and offices of Christ, and the importance of covenants.
Sproul then takes readers through the five points of reformed theology: humanity's radical corruption, God's sovereign choice, Christ's purposeful atonement, the Spirit's effective call, and God's preservation of the saints.
Sproul does an excellent job of showing how reformed theology is cohesive and firmly rooted in Scripture. With many contemporary theologians straying from long accepted doctrines, it is good to be reminded of doctrine firmly centered in the Bible. He explains the doctrines of reformed theology in an understandable way, even the hard to accept ones like predestination and limited atonement. He also clarifies the difference between orthodox Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism.
I highly recommend this book to those who want to understand reformed theology. It is an excellent introduction to the theology. Readers will see how the theology is evangelical, is consistent in logic, and is firmly rooted in Scripture.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
I always think when the title of a book is a question it is going to be full of heavy reading and tons of facts but lately that has not been true. However, the streak ended this week when What Is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics by R.C. Sproul arrived in my mail. I was intimidated to say the least but I did work through most of the book and I think I have more questions than answers on reformed theology. I am hoping Sproul will come out with an answer based kind of book on this subject because that would be a great companion book to this one. I know I should not be lazy in regards to finding out the answer to questions I have but sometimes I will not be able to access the numerous books that are available. Good read I just need more background information. I received a copy for this review from Baker Books and all opinions are my own.
I read the book in 8 days and it was a great read and I definitely learned more about Reformed Theology from it. But when I wanted to get this book I thought that it was filled with Scriptural support for each point, but I was disappointed. The 'Westminister Confession of Faith' is cited frequently, philosophical arguments, Calvin, Augustine, Luther, but I would've loved more Scriptural support for each of the 5 points of Calvinism.
R.C. Sproul is my favorite author. I love his intellect and insight. This book, however, is a bit of a "heavy" read. I am reading it slowly to absorb what he offers. No matter - I'll read anything Sproul offers.