1. What is the book about?
‘What is Reformed Theology?’ is a book by R.C Sproul that explores the core beliefs and doctrines held by Reformed churches, such as beliefs about God, the Bible, saving faith, covenants, and Jesus. Throughout the Bible, we read of the importance of knowing God through his Word so that we can love him deeply and grow in our faith in Him. However, how do we know that our understanding of fundamental beliefs are true to God’s Word? There are often misconceptions regarding theology (study of God) in today’s society so we can easily be swept up in believing lies about how much faith we should put in God’s Word and what the ‘requirements’ for salvation are.
The book has 2 main sections:
- The first section focuses on the ‘Foundations of Reformed Theology’. It explores why the Reformation occurred and how Protestant theology differs from Catholicism.
- The second section goes through what is called the ‘Five points of Calvinism (TULIP)’ which helpfully introduces critical doctrines that we ground our faith upon and an acronym that helps us to remember them too!
2. What did I learn?
Previously, I had thought that Reformed theology was a really scary term that only the ‘elite’ or ‘knowledgeable’ Christians would know about. But through this book, I learnt that knowing theology is not just for pastors or leaders, but every Christian. I discovered what Reformed theology actually is and how it differs from other religions, Catholicism and other various worldviews.
Sproul explores many foundational concepts and beliefs, but what stood out to me was the concept of free will and predestination in terms of our salvation. Often, we think that we’re better than we actually are – good people with good moral consciences. However, the Bible reveals our innate self – that we are ‘radically corrupt’ and contribute nothing towards our salvation. God doesn’t foresee that we will have faith in the future and then chooses us as his elect; he chooses us purely because of his grace – not our future faith. This helped to enhance my understanding of the order of salvation – “where all whom God has foreknown, he also predestined to be inwardly called, justified, and glorified” (Romans 8:30). I learnt that faith is the result of election and that regeneration occurs because of faith. This opened my eyes to the true goodness of God’s grace and how indebted we are to his overflowing and abundant love for His people.
3. What did I enjoy?
I really enjoyed how R.C. Sproul explained the core principles of Reformed theology and argued why Reformed theology makes sense logically and biblically, especially in comparison to other views. Sproul tests the Protestant view against other different Christian worldviews such as Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism and Dispensationalism. This highlighted the reasons why our faith should be centred on God and based on His Word; not on our works.
I also enjoyed how R.C Sproul touches on differing views about Christ’s atonement, namely who it is and is not for, and what that reveals about the character of God. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God is not loving if he doesn’t save everyone, but we know Christ is purposeful in his atonement for the elect. Learning more and more about God’s good, purposeful, sovereign character and will is really uplifting, and will foster a greater appreciation and praise for God in your daily life.
4. Why should other people read it?
Whether you are a recent convert or a long time believer, this book will give you greater insight into the foundational beliefs of our faith and is a friendly introduction to the seemingly ‘intimidating’ concept of Reformed theology. It will allow you to take ownership of your faith and actually understand the concepts that our pastors or leaders talk about in sermons and bible studies.
This book will also be a good stepping stone into reading about particular concepts that you have trouble understanding, are grappling with or are interested in. It showcases the reality of God’s amazing grace for those in Christ. By having a reformed knowledge about Reformed theology, we will have more confidence to engage with non-believers in tough conversations and offer restoration and hope to their broken souls.