Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Book Review: Foundations of Grace

When I went to Resolved, both this past year and the one previous, my favorite preacher was Steve Lawson. He literally thundered from the pulpit, afraid of pulling no punches and repeatedly driving home solid biblical truths that convicted and renewed the soul.

I expected nothing else from Steve Lawson's book Foundations of Grace, that is intended to be the first in a series of five books covering church history and the sovereignty of God. This one was advertised to expound upon the truth of the 5 points of Calvinism from every book of Scripture. His intent was to demonstrate conclusively that each and every author of Scripture had one emphasis in mind, the sovereignty of God.

Now, I'm all in favor of the sovereignty of God. I'm probably a bit more on the "sovereignty of God" side (if there are sides to this discussion) than many people are comfortable with. I find a biblical emphasis upon the greatness and mongergism of God in salvation to be crushing to the pride and encouraging to the soul. I'm a 5 point Calvinist, and as one of my friends said once, if there was a 6th point I'd be that too. (It seems like Piper calls himself a 7-pointer sometimes =p)

All that said, I must say that I found this book to be quite possibly the biggest letdown of a read in terms of expectation to actuality for me. To be painfully honest, it seemed that Steve Lawson was just confused. Many of the passages that Steve Lawson wanted to expound upon were maybe tangentally related to the topic at hand, though it may have been applicable if he was willing to do his exegetical work, but instead all he really did was quote someone and then assert Calvinism as true. He tries this even with the difficult passages, which is where all the meat of Calvinism holds together! Mr. Lawson, asserting a position as true does not convince your audience, even if the position itself is true! Saying I was a little disappointed with the book would be an understatement, and I am doubly apologetic as I recommended the book to a couple friends before I read it.

That said, there are a couple of bright spots in this book -

The forward by John Macarthur as well as the first introductory chapters by Steve Lawson before he actually dives into the text are stupendous. One understand clearly the importance and consequences of such a big topic, and one also realizes that this is a man who believes firmly in the sovereignty of God and the glory of God. It was quite a shame to read the rest of it after such a great introduction. If you can find a way to read MacArthur's intro without buying the book, I would highly suggest it. It's stupendous.

There are a couple places where the book brings out verses that I had previously not noticed. When this happens, I'm often pleasantly surprised. Joshua and 1 Samuel and 1 Kings in particular jumped out at me. Good stuff. I suppose if the intent of the book was just to list off verses that touch on the sovereignty of God, then the book did a good job of that, just too bad about mixing in verses that didn't, or explaining those that did poorly. Finally, the treatment of "kosmos" - usually translated world, in the Gospel of John was really informative and very complete. I really appreciated that part.

All in all, if you're looking for an introduction to the 5 points of Calvinism, one can do far better. Try Putting the Amazing Back into Grace, or the book that brought me all the way from "what's theology?" to "Reformed, and always reforming", Back to Basics. If you're looking for a reference guide on various verses that are Calvinistic, one gets closer but can still do much better.

Borrow the book from me if you want to read it. Save your $25 bucks and buy your wife some flowers or something.


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Anonymous Zach said...

Reformed theology, Piper, Spurgeon, Horton, mathematics, brokenness over the evils of abortion... Looks like we have a lot of interests and perspectives in common.

I ran across a blog entry of yours which struck me as being surprisingly (perhaps I should say "refreshingly") Biblically balanced despite being a controversial topic. So I skimmed through a number of your other entries and was pleased to see the same sort of thing consistently.

I believe that the truth God has revealed to us is full of so-called "slippery slopes". This presents two major possibilites for error. One is that we slip down the slope. The other, possibly more subtle, is that we see the danger of slipping down the slope, and so fear it that we run the other way and most likely end up slipping down the opposite facing slope. God has called us, I believe, not to slip, and not to run, avoiding danger on both sides, and instead to tread forward cautiously and boldly, with dependence on His grace to uphold us, along the narrow ridge toward the summit.
Wow, that turned out more poetic than I first intended. But praise God, it is true. As a note of encouragement: from the posts of yours that I have looked through, it seems to me that you are seeking to tread that path. Keep at it brother.  


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