If the Reformed tradition is a like a handful of jewels, as I believe it is, one of those jewels is Calvinism, or TULIP. Certainly there is a lot more to the Reformed tradition than just Calvinism (i.e. the Three Forms of Unity, covenant theology, liturgical worship, polity, piety, etc.), but the “five points” are a fundamental part of Reformed theology. I recently finished Richard Phillips’ What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008); it was a great reminder of the Bible’s teaching on total (radical) depravity, unconditional election, limited (definite) atonement, irresistible (sovereign) grace, and perseverance (preservation) of the saints.
I really appreciate What’s So Great because it is clear, straightforward, and concise. This small book is around 100 pages; each chapter is just under 20 pages. Chapter one is a biblical discussion about the sovereignty of God and the remaining five chapters cover TULIP. The chapters are structured the same: after a biblical discussion of each doctrine, Phillips handles common objections and then gives several reason why each doctrine is “so great.” He does a great job of simply laying out a biblical case for these truths and then shows how they are life-changing for the Christian.
Several women in the congregation I pastor told me about this book and how they appreciated it; after reading it I now plan on getting a few extra copies to give out to those who visit our church and have questions about TULIP. This is a good one for average readers who want either a solid review of TULIP or those who or want to learn more about these doctrines of grace. I’ll end with a few quotes.
“With sin corrupting our every faculty, we are no more able to will after God than a blind man can see, a deaf man can hear, or a mute man can speak.”
“We are not saved by believing we are elect; rather, we realize that we are elect because we have faith in Christ.”
“It is when you realize that even your faith is the out working of Christ’s saving death for you, by the electing will of the Father, as applied by the Spirit, that you know the solid ground on which your salvation stands.”
“Regeneration – the new birth – precedes faith, so that prior to being born again it is impossible for anyone to believe on Jesus.”
“…As faith is the gift of God’s grace, the Christian’s perseverance is the work of God’s continuing grace.”