Calvinism gets a bad press in Britain. It is easy to forget that at the heart of Calvinist theology are two simple truths: the absolute sovereignty of God, and salvation by grace. These are often expanded into the ‘Five Points of Calvinism’, known by the acrostic TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints.
John Piper is perhaps one of the greatest living exponents of Calvinism, and in this slim volume he mounts a defence of the five points. His biblical scholarship is, as ever, unimpeachable. But in devoting just 52 pages to weighty doctrines, he inevitably skirts over some big issues. How does ‘free will’ fit into the five points? If God is truly sovereign, why does he allow evil?
Piper’s treatment of the most problematic of the five points, limited atonement (the belief that the atoning death of Jesus was only for the elect), fails to address some of the many questions arising from this teaching. His rather terse dismissal of the alternative Arminian notion of ‘universal atonement’ is also strangely unsatisfying. Some food for thought, but I was left wanting more.
Jeremy Moody CEO of Embrace the Middle East