My review of R.C. Sproul’s book: What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the basics:
Honestly, I can’t remember where I got this book. I didn’t even really plan on reading the whole thing when I got it. I looked at the table of contents and thought that the chapter on “Covenant theology” would be helpful as I have been learning how the role of covenants have played into God’s relationship with humankind. The first three pages caught my attention with a story that the author told about visiting a Christian college in the Midwest. He made a distinction between the study of “religion” and the study of “theology” and why it was important. I kept reading and am glad I did. This book is simple to understand, yet deep in truth. I stopped highlighting because there were two many succinct, profound statements here.
Many people would begin an explanation of Reformed Theology with TULIP. However, Sproul used the first half of the book to build a foundation of Reformed doctrine. It begins with, and is centered on, God. Next, we build on that with God’s Word and the third stone is that it is committed to faith alone. The next two concepts begin to differentiate Reformed doctrine from others: It is built on the offices of prophet, priest, and king, and the covenants of the Bible. These make complete sense to me which is why the TULIP becomes a logical conclusion. However, he adjusts the acrostic, TULIP, to help explain it better. And his explanation was extremely helpful.
All of the five points of Reformed theology rest on the “T” of TULIP: Total depravity. However, Sproul’s definitions make much more sense because we know that no one is as bad as they could be. Therefore, the distinction of man’s sinfulness (aka corruption) is not in degree, but in extent. The five points are then better understood as 1) Humanity’s radical corruption, 2) God’s sovereign choice, 3) Christ’s purposeful atonement, 4) The Spirit’s effective call, and 5) God’s preservation of the saints.
The subtitle of this book is “Understanding the basics.” I completely agree and wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interesting in the study of God.