For Calvinism by Dr. Michael Horton.
Christians unfortunately can divide over trivial matters. But sometimes a matter is very weighty and worthy dividing over. One matter that every Christian should think through and come to definite convictions about concerns the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace and free will. Basically Christians have fallen into two traditions of thinking—Calvinism and Arminianism. Whatever church one goes to belongs to one of these traditions.
Back in 1990, I read what was then the standard presentation of Calvinism, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner. He presented the case for the five points, popularly known by the acrostic TULIP. He supported each doctrine with an abundance of scripture. And I had little problem accepting the doctrines as true.
Many believers considering Calvinism undergo a long and intense struggle, because they have been living by a different set of beliefs about God since their youth. I was still new to the faith and had no long standing Arminian convictions to overcome. So Boettner convinced of the Reformed doctrine in short. For me, this is biblical.
Since then, I have read several books on the subject, including introductory level works. Among the best treatments are The Doctrines of Grace by James M. Boice and Philip G Ryken and Why I Am Not an Arminian by Robert Peterson and Michael Williams. These are excellent works to give to people thinking about Calvinism and Arminianism.
The fact is we need faithful guides to help us through the subject matter. The theological terrain is a little rough going. Christ has given faithful teachers to the church to help us think through biblical doctrines and we should use these teachers (Eph. 4:11).
One such teacher is Dr. Michael Horton. His book For Calvinism is now my go to guide on the subject. Horton’s treatment is mature, irenic, and devoid of any sectarian spirit. He treats Arminianism accurately and charitable (no straw men or vilification). Yet he is hard-hitting where he needs to be. Though he presents the case for Calvinism, he doesn’t like the term, and prefers to use the expression “Doctrine of Grace.” He treats all the five-points, providing abundant scriptural support and takes up objections. I found his final three chapters to be the most informative and humbling. His chapter on the Reformed Churches and missions decisively lays to rest the charge that Reformed theology destroys missions. It is tour de force, and worth the price book. I’ve seen and read others defend Reformed theology against this accusation, but Horton’s treatment is far more detailed and thorough.
I would add one thought. There were times where I simply praised God as His grace was being described to me. In other words, not only is the book convincing, but just as important, or maybe even more importantly, it is doxological. It lead’s one to praise and thanksgiving to our Sovereign God.
I highly recommend it. Copies will be available at church to be read and or given to enquiring friends.
Rev. Tracy Gruggett