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.
"Calvinism," "Covenant Theology," "Reformed Theology"...what does it all mean? How is it distinguished from "Dispensationalism?" Does it really matter? These are questions that often haunt thinking evangelical believers. Where does one even begin find clarity when the Bible seems to support both the reformed and dispensational positions? I would recommend this book. Sproul avoids the pitfall of most theologians who employ dated terms that tend to confuse the 21st-century reader. Although regularly drawing support from Luther, Calvin, and the Westminster Confession, he does so with clear explanation. The first part of the book includes chapters on basic systematic theology (Theology Proper, Bibliology, Soteriology, and Christology), while part two adeptly walks the reader through the five points of Calvinisim (TULIP). Sproul actually renames each of those points in an effort to amplify their meaning from the reformed perspective. His illustrations are vivid and on-point. This book is ideal for both the one just beginning to investigate reformed doctrine, as well as those looking for a brief refresher course.
This is a very thought provoking book. Though it lays the groundwork for the principles of Reformed Theology as a whole, much of the book understandably focuses on defending the Calvinist approach. Sproul, who obviously is a very gifted expositor, presents the 5 points of TULIP in a way that becomes, as he might say, an almost Ã¢â¬Ëresistless logic.'
Sproul relies on Scripture to defend the Reformed views, but I will add that he also places much emphasis on the writings of the Reformers, as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith. Though we can learn much from the great saints of the Reformation era, we must remind ourselves that neither they, nor their writings, were infallible.
There are some points in the book to which I would take exception. Though the issue is not belabored, Sproul briefly alludes to Dispensationalism falling into the camp of semi-Pelagianism, and thus pits Dispensationalist thought against Calvinism, as if the two could not co-exist. I found this position to be a bit unsteady.
All in all, however, this is an excellent work, and Sproul offers compelling Scriptural support for many of his positions. One thing is for certain: Calvinists understand that salvation is wholly of God, without any semblance of human virtue or merit. This alone should cause us, whether Calvinist or not, to take notice of its teaching.