Monday, November 18, 2013

Review of SALVATION BY GRACE by Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett's SALVATION BY GRACE is definitely a thorough look at the Reformed doctrine of effectual calling and regeneration. Barrett takes us on a historical journey of the debate between Calvinists and Arminians over the nature of God's grace, what sovereignty entails, and what the Bible teaches about the order of salvation. He draws from both Scripture and theological thinkers throughout history to make his case for effectual calling and regeneration preceding faith in an individual.

He's careful to approach all of the Scriptural texts that are relevant to the discussion. It's clear that he desires to do what Calvinists have sought to do throughout history, which is to elevate God's glory and give people an accurate perception of who God is.

While I think some of the arguments for effectual calling are strong, especially in the way they're presented, ultimately I haven't been able to buy into the position because I don't think the textual evidence is airtight in the direction of effectual calling, and I think it presents a God who randomly chooses those he will save and those he won't. Obviously, I know the arguments that God isn't being capricious in his election, but I don't think they're very strong arguments.

While I'm not a Calvinist, I did enjoy this book. I appreciate Barrett's desire to be biblical. The only other negative I came away with is Barrett's lumping of all non-Calvinists under the label of Arminian. If you want to know the ins and outs of the Reformed doctrine of effectual calling, this is the book to read.

Review copy provided by P&R Publishing

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