The Five Points of Calvinism by Herman Hanko and David J. Englesma. Published by the British Reformed Fellowship, 2008. www.britishreformedfellowship.org.uk.
TULIP is once again in full bloom, thanks to the British Reformed Fellowship publication of The Five Points of Calvinism by Herman Hanko and David J. Englesma. Some may only see a dry, ugly tulip bulb buried beneath the soil when they see the five points of Calvinism, but those who love the triune God as revealed in the Bible know the beauty of the truth stored in that bulb when it is brought into full bloom. This is not a book that chronicles a detailed dissection of Calvinism, but serves rather as a guide to enjoying the simple, hearty beauty of the truths of God’s sovereign and particular grace.
The book begins by standing back, so to speak, and taking a look at the truths of God’s sovereign and particular grace as they have been carried by the church throughout history and expressed their beauty from time to time. Inasmuch as the truth in itself is glorious and beautiful, the cultivation of this precious truth brings on the wholesale assault of enemies of the truth. These doctrines are at the heart of biblical truth and therefore are always found at the hottest part of the church’s battle. To follow this history is to trace the amazing faithfulness of our God and the miraculous preservation of His church. Professor Hanko calls the readers to sally forth where the battle continues to rage in all its fury, join the battle, and experience the victory.
Following the introductory chapter, each of the five points of Calvinism is then treated in individual chapters. The authors demonstrate how each point is central to the gospel and important for the life and comfort of the child of God as he or she learns in this life to love God. The book is packed with Scripture, history, the glory of God, and comfort for the children of God. A wonderful illustration of how the Christian life is not simply an emotional high worked up with a professional praise team, but rather the fruit of knowing the doctrine of Scripture.
The following quotes, one from each of the five points of Calvinism, are but a small sampling of what you will find in this gem of a book.
T – Total Depravity “Our abiding in Him and fruit-bearing were Jesus’ purpose with His instruction in John 15:5. He taught us that we can do nothing apart from Him in order to motivate us to heed His exhortation in verse 4 to “abide in me,” so that we bring forth fruit in a life of good works. … Disciples of Christ need to know the truth of total depravity” (p. 82).
U – Unconditional Election “The call declares that Christ will receive, and in no wise cast out, every one who comes. And the call will assure all those who do come to Christ that they come because God gave them to Christ in eternity” (p. 37).
L – Limited Atonement “If one denies the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ in any respect, including the particularity of the atonement, one destroys the gospel of Jesus Christ…. One destroys what every believer needs to know and wants to know” (p. 41).
I – Irresistible Grace “We may stagger into church on Sunday morning weary with the struggle against sin, aware of all our failures and shortcomings, and afraid to appear before God, because of the grief of our souls. But then come the words of Christ: “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” (Matt. 11:28), and the Spirit applies that Word irresistibly to our hearts, overcoming our grief and fear and drawing us to Christ by the power of the Word preached” (p. 99).
P – Perseverance of the Saints “Dreadful—dreadful beyond all telling—is the terror of the possibility of the falling away of the saints. … All Roman Catholics live and die in this terror. Most evangelicals, fundamentalists, and charismatics, committed as they are to the Arminian theology of salvation dependent upon the free will of the sinner, live and die in this same terror. Today in North America, this same terror is being spread in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the United Reformed Churches by the heresy of the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision.” (p. 116).